In this “What is Truth?” series, we have seen how vital it is to know sufficient information about the identity and history of Yahweh in order for a person (or ourselves!) to have a confident faith in God and his Word.
Many presentations of the gospel focus mainly on Jesus’ work on the cross. But then comes the question, “Who is Jesus?” It is not sufficient to say, “He is God,” because then you must explain what God is like. In this series, we’ve seen that it is vital to explain God’s identity and history if we are to expect people to trust him.
The same principle extends to trusting Jesus for our personal salvation. We need to know the identity and history of Jesus before we will trust him. We sort of intuitively know this but we often skip to the story of the cross without really nailing down the identity of Jesus. The identity of Jesus is that he is the Creator God. We simply cannot assume a person knows or believes that to be the case.
It is no coincidence that the identity of Jesus is the one area that cults and other religions most commonly assault.
It is no coincidence that the identity of Jesus is the one area that cults and other religions most commonly assault. They make Jesus out to be a lesser god, a prophet or maybe a good man, but not the Creator God of the Bible. It is also no coincidence that the Apostle John began his gospel with the clear statement that Jesus was the Creator God. He then reinforces that identity with eight miracles that confirm his deity. Only once that is nailed down can we really explain the historical reality of Christ.
The history of Jesus Christ centres around the events of the cross and tomb, but here, too, we benefit immensely from having a little historical background. Many ask, “Why did Jesus need to die on the cross? Why didn’t he just pronounce forgiveness on our sins? Did he have to die the way he did?” Those kinds of questions, gone unanswered, have been often cited as reasons why people leave the faith. They simply didn’t understand the identity and history of Christ and so begin to question their own faith. Clearly it is vital that we have a firm grip on the identity and history of Christ.
Those kinds of questions, gone unanswered, have been often cited as reasons why people have left the faith.
Dr. Andy Woods, author and teacher, says the whole reason for the necessity of the cross and tomb can be found in Genesis 3, where God gives his first promise of a Messiah to the newly fallen Adam and Eve. Dr. Woods quotes W.H. Griffith Thomas when he says, “[Genesis 3] is the pivot on which the whole Bible turns.” (1)
“[Genesis 3] is the pivot on which the whole Bible turns.”W.H. Griffith Thomas
There in Genesis 3, we read of the sad history of mankind. We learn of the choice to trust Satan instead of God, the first human sin. We also learn about about the shared identity of all humanity – our sin nature – and the consequence of that sin – eternal death. In Genesis 3, we also learn the early history of the Promised Messiah when God says to Satan, “I will put hostility between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring [the Messiah]. He [the Messiah] will strike your head [a fatal blow], and you will strike his heel [a temporary wound].” (2) This then becomes the first of many prophecies pointing to a coming Saviour.
“If you don’t understand what happened in Genesis 3, you have no idea what the rest of the Bible is really talking about.”Dr. Andy Woods
Dr. Woods goes on to say, “If you don’t understand what happened in Genesis 3, you have no idea what the rest of the Bible is really talking about. You have no idea why Jesus had to come into this world to die on a cross if you don’t understand Genesis chapter 3.” (1) This is why we must investigate and understand the identity and history of mankind and of our Saviour. Unless we grasp the awful truth of the sin nature we all carry and the consequences along with it, we will miss why we so desperately need a Saviour. Unless we understand the process that God instituted in later chapters whereby we could be made right with him, we will have difficulty understanding why Christ had to die on the cross in the first place.
Let’s be sure we take sufficient time and care in our gospel presentations to ensure our listeners grasp their identity and history and that of their Saviour. Doing so can make all the difference in the faith walk of a believer.
- “Revelation 072-Identification Through Omission,” last modified February 23, 2020, accessed June 22, 2020, https://slbc.org/sermon/revelation-072-identification-through-absence/#transcriptlink.
- Genesis 3:15.