What is it that makes the Gospel so unique? There have been people with “Messiah Complexes” all through history.
3:5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding;
6 in all your ways submit to him,
and he will make your paths straight.
Jesus made some claims about Himself that were pretty unbelievable–unless He is who He says He is. These claims can be found listed at Jesus’ Unique Claims About Himself. The main one is His claim to be able to rise from the dead:
17 The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life—only to take it up again. 18 No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father.” John 10:17-18
21 From that time on Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life. Matthew 16:21 (also 17:22-23 and 20:17-19)
So, the question is, Did He? We have four eye-witness accounts, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John that say He did. We also have indicators of many more who wrote about it, but those accounts have not survived,
1 Many have undertaken to draw up an account of the things that have been fulfilled among us, 2 just as they were handed down to us by those who from the first were eyewitnesses and servants of the word. Luke 1:1-2
We have testimony that Jesus appeared to over five hundred brothers and sisters (Christians) at one time, and several received personal appearances (1 Corinthians 15:5-7), His last appearance being John on the Isle of Patmos (Revelation 1:10-18).
Foundational to the Christian faith are these points:
- The Incarnation– God came down and dwelt among us in the flesh as Jesus Christ.
- The Life– Jesus lived in perfect union with God the Father through God the Spirit as God the Son.
- The Passion– Jesus willingly laid down His life for all mankind.
- The Resurrection– God the Father raised God the Son from the dead through God the Spirit.
- The Ascension– Jesus ascended in front of witnesses into the heavens, returning to His throne, and is seated at the right hand of God the Father. We know this last part through Stephen’s testimony in Acts 7:55 (although Jesus was standing when Stephen saw Him, we presume that He was standing in front of His seat beside the Father).
(The Return could be added here, but since it hasn’t happened yet, the facts are still “up in the air.”)
Based upon the five foundational points made above, we now have what is referred to as dogma, which is “a settled or established opinion, belief, or principle.” All else is interpretation based upon the writings of early Christian writers, specifically Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Paul, the writer of Hebrews, James and Peter. In our faith in Jesus, let us hold closely to dogma. It is the first ring in the Concentric Circles of Theology: