An Invitation to Simple Christianity

The religious world can be a frustrating place if you are looking for the truth. There are so many denominations, each offering its own “truth” about important questions. With so much confusion, who should we trust? To which church should we listen?

Is God Confused?

Obviously the source of the confusion isn’t God. Paul said, “God is not the God of confusion, but of peace” (1 Corinthians 14:33). If religious confusion doesn’t come from God, then where does it come from? It must come from men.

The disorder in the religious world is not God’s fault; it’s man’s fault. Instead of simply following the Bible, man has introduced doctrines, opinions, and traditions. Today’s denominations do not respect the word of God; they have their own creeds, books, traditions, councils, and governments. This has resulted in the confusion and differences we see today.

This also produces a false religion that does not please God. Jesus said to the Pharisees about their own traditions,

“So for the sake of your tradition you have made void the word of God. You hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy of you, when he said: ‘This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me; in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’“ (Matthew 15:6-9).

When we follow the traditions and doctrines of men, we serve man instead of God. Our worship is useless, and our souls are in peril.

What Does the Bible Say?

With all the confusion in the religious world, who should we trust? The answer might surprise you: no one. All men make mistakes, and if we trust in the wisdom of a human (even a scholar or a wise pastor), we are guaranteed for religious disaster. We can only confide in God and his word. Paul says, “Let God be true though every one were a liar” (Romans 3:4). We shouldn’t ask then, “what does my church say?,” but instead we should ask “what does the Bible say?” and study it for ourselves.

If we want a way out of the confusion in today’s religion, if we want to return to the intention God has had for man from the beginning, if we want to worship God in the simple ways he desires and if we want to go to Heaven, we have to return to the simple plan God left for us in the Bible.

Imagine a group of men and women devoted only to Christ and his word. Imagine religion without confusion of sects or traditions of men. Imagine Christians given to praise, prayer, service, and good works, in ways prescribed in the New Testament. Imagine a people who strive to live righteous lives, who care for their poor and sick, who teach others and teach themselves. This describes simple Christianity. It is the religion desired by Christ & his word and it’s still within our reach today.

We are a group of Christians striving to do the will of our Lord Christ Jesus. We do not belong to any denomination, sect, or church made by man. We belong only to Christ. We invite you to study the Bible with us so we can all better understand the will of God.

David Raif

Does God Speak Today? – Yes!

Obviously God spoke in Bible times. Jehovah used prophets like Moses and Isaiah and apostles like Paul and Peter through which the Holy Spirit spoke to the people of God. But does God speak today somehow? At the beginning of our study, I’ll tell you that the answer to this question is yes. God speaks today. But maybe not in the way you thought.

If man is going to come to know God, God has to reveal himself. In 1 Corinthians 2:11 & 16, Paul says that no one can know thoughts of another man unless he reveals himself. You cannot know what I believe or think unless I tell you or write it down. In the same way, Paul says that no one can know the thoughts of God. However, through revelation, we have the mind of Christ. Through this revelation we can know how to please God and how to be saved.

God has not rejected his people and still wants to be known today by all. So of course God speaks today, but the real question is how does God speak today? People have a lot of differing ideas and answers for this. Some say today God speaks through dreams or even through a person’s feelings. Others will even tell you they themselves are inspired by the Holy Spirit. But what does the Bible say?

How did God speak in the past?

Often, we take the Bible for granted. Today, the Bible is easy to find and read. Almost everyone has one. Even people who don’t believe in the inspiration of the Bible usually have a copy. If we don’t have a Bible, it’s easy to find one inexpensively or even free.

It wasn’t so easy for people in Biblical times. In general, books were very expensive. The first printing press was not invented until AD 1455 by Gutenberg, so before that, all books were written by hand, word by word. Imagine how much time it would take to write the whole Bible by hand!

Besides the cost, for several years after the beginning of God’s church, the New Testament did not even exist. While Paul was writing his letters to the Corinthians or the Philippians etc., the books we call the New Testament were being written and collected, and this process was not completed until more or less 70 years after Christ’s death.. During this time, a person wanting to know what Jesus said about a particular subject couldn’t just read Matthew, Mark, Luke or John. When a Christian wanted to know how he should worship God, he couldn’t search all the scriptures we have now.

How did Christians in the first century come to know God if God has to reveal himself (1 Corinthians 2:11, 16)? The Bible speaks of miraculous spiritual gifts given to man as God’s chosen method to reveal himself. For example, in 1 Corinthians 12:8-10, we have a list of some of these gifts. The majority speak about special or supernatural revelation: words of wisdom, of knowledge, of faith, and of prophecy, the discernment of spirits, and tongues (languages). Though the words of the apostles and through these spiritual gifts, the early Christians were able to know God and his will for them.

From what we read in the Bible, God gave miraculous power to man for two purposes: to reveal and to confirm.

  • To reveal – God used many of the miraculous spiritual gifts to reveal his will to man. They were needed when the books of the Bible had not been written. Jesus commented to his apostles that the Spirit would come to give them his words (Matthew 10:16-20). Later, Paul said that the things he spoke and wrote were inspired by the same Spirit (1 Thessalonians 2:13; Ephesians 3:3-5).
  • To confirm – God also used spiritual gifts to confirm the spoken word. When a man came and said he spoke by the inspiration of God, how would one know if this were true? If the man truly were from God, he would perform a miracle in order to confirm origin of his words. We read in the account of Mark that Jesus promised spiritual gifts and that the miracles confirmed the words of the apostles (Mark 16:14-18, 20). Even in the written New Testament, the recorded miracles served to confirm the written word (John 20:30-31). If a stranger told you he talks to God, would you easily believe him? Would you believe him more easily if he could raise people from the dead?

How does God speak today?

Miracles and special revelation were useful and necessary to fill the space when the Bible was not available. When the Bible was finished, the necessity of these spiritual gifts came to an end. The Bible itself speaks of a time when special revelation and miracles would end (1 Corinthians 13:8). When was this time? The context gives us the answer.

In 13:9-10, Paul describes spiritual gifts as only part of something greater and says that when the perfect (the complete) came, the incomplete (that which was in part, miracles) would be done away with. This makes sense. If someone has a tool that only does half the job that is needed and then later buys a tool that does everything that is needed, he is not going to use the old tool any more. Why would he use the old tool, if the new one is better and does everything he needs?

Could he go back and use the old tool? He could, but the question is, why would he? If he has a perfect tool that does everything he needs, why would he go back to use a tool that only does part of the job? Does God have the power to use miracles after the arrival of “the perfect”? Of course. God is all powerful and can do whatever he wants, but again the question is, why would he use miracles among men if he already has his perfect tool and no longer needs the old one?

Paul uses the illustration of a growing child in v. 11. When a man grows, he leaves behind the childish things. When I was a child, I used to sit in a highchair, but now that I have grown up, I have left behind my highchair (childish things). Its purpose has been completed and there is no more necessity for it. As an adult, could I still go sit in my highchair if I wanted to? I guess I could, but again, why? I have no more need of it. Could God use miracles among men even after having the perfect if he wanted to? Surely God has the power, but Paul describes miracles as childish things. With “the perfect” God and man would have no more need of them.

In v. 12, Paul says that in the first century current situation, Christians saw dimly and knew partially, but in the future they would see clearly, face to face, and would know fully. In the first century, mirrors were not like the mirrors we have today. They were more like a piece of polished metal. One could see the face, but the image was not clear. Paul said they saw as if through a mirror, but later, with the perfect, would see face to face. Before marriage, my wife and I spent a lot of time talking on the phone because we lived in different states. Talking on the phone was something we enjoyed, but when we had opportunity to visit in person, I never said, “Wait a minute. I want to talk to you – I’ll get my phone and call you.” The phone was useful, but when were together, face to face, we had something perfect.

God used miracles as a tool to reveal and confirm, but they only did part of the job. When “the perfect” came (complete revelation), the incomplete was done away. God no longer gave men miraculous spiritual gifts or special, supernatural revelation.

The critical question is what is “the perfect”? What is perfect and complete revelation? Today, we have something that the early Christians did not: the complete Bible. 2 Timothy 3:16-17 says that the scriptures are complete and that they give revelation that makes the man of God complete and equipped for every good work. In Ephesians 3:3-4, Paul says that through his letter, we can understand about the mystery of Christ. Jude 3 says that the faith was revealed once for all time. The Bible is complete. According to the word of God, in our hands we have the fullness of revelation, “the perfect”. Now, God has his perfect tool and through this book, we have everything he wants us to know. And now, what did he promise to do with that which was in part (miracles)?

Some today believe that God speaks to us through prophets, through other recent books, through dreams and feelings, etc. But we need ask, if we have the Bible, what else do we need? What is the Bible lacking? We need to be careful when a person says he has more revelation than is given in the Bible: an extra book that we have to read to be saved, or a modern-day prophet we have to hear to know the revelation of God. Let us understand and appreciate the blessing we have in the Bible, God’s full and complete revelation, and let us read the Bible and listen to the voice of God. Does God speak today? Yes! He speaks through his written word. In the Bible, “we have the mind of Christ” (1 Corinthians 2:16).

–David Raif

The Story of the Bible – the Seed Promise

The Bible is one of the most well known books in the world. Publishers have sold more Bibles than any other book. It might be that one has not read it or does not believe it, but nearly every person has at least one copy of the Bible in his home.

Everyone knows something about the Bible. Perhaps he knows the story of Adam and Eve, of Noah and the flood, of Moses and the 10 commandments, or of Jesus and the cross.

However, while the Bible is well known by the world, at the same time, it is not known well by many. In reality, few know the message of the Bible

Many who call themselves “Christians” cannot put many of the major events of the Biblical story in order or may not even be able to remember all the books of the Old or New Testament.

For this reason, it is critical that we take some time to understand the overall story of the Bible.

The Old Testament

 In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth and put man in this creation (Genesis 1:1, 27). The earth was “very good” (1:31).

But everything changed with the sin of man (3:6). Man was thrown out of the Garden of Eden, far from the tree of life. Adam and Eve began to die physically and spiritually. With Adam and Eve began the problem of sin.

However, God had a plan. In Genesis 3:15, while cursing the serpent for his part in the rebellion, God predicted a war between the serpent (Satan) and the seed of woman: “He shall bruise you on the head, and you shall bruise him on the heel.” In this battle, the seed of woman would be wounded, but Satan would be given the fatal blow.

Essentially, in the first three chapters, we have the entire Bible story: man and his problem with sin, and God and his salvation brought about by the seed.

But who was this seed? How was God going to fulfill his promise of hope? This is the rest of the story.

After the first sin, the problem only got worse. Each man chose to sin – even to the point that “every intent of the thoughts [of man]…was only evil continually” (6:5). Only the family of Noah found favor in the eyes of God (6:8). God saved Noah from the wickedness of men by a world-wide flood (6:7).

< Through Noah and his sons the earth was repopulated, and through the coming generations (literally, his seed) arrived a man of faith, Abraham. To Abraham, God gave three promises (12:1-3):

The Promise

  • A nation
  • A land
  • A blessing
The Fulfillment
– Israel
– Canaan
– The seed

These promises were not just given to Abraham (22:17-18), but also repeatedly to his sons, Isaac (26:4) and Jacob (28:3-4, 13-14).

In the course of events, Jacob (Israel) had twelve sons. To each one, Jacob gave promises as well. The promise of Judah is especially interesting (49:10). Using the language of the seed promise, Jacob said, “The scepter shall not depart from Judah…until Shiloh comes.” The kings of the nation of Israel were to come from children of Judah.


 The children of Jacob were carried to Egypt and made slaves by Pharaoh. But God blessed them. Four hundred years later, at the beginning of the book of Exodus, the children of Israel had grown to be a great nation. God raised up a man, Moses, to save the people through 10 plagues. In the end, all of Israel crossed the Red Sea, and God guided them to Mount Sinai to receive the law and covenant with God.

Even during this time, God was thinking about his promise to man. Still at the foot of Sinai, in Leviticus 26:40-42, God affirmed he would remember the promise he made with Abraham, conditioned on the obedience of the people.

After Sinai, the Israelites passed forty years through the desert and arrived at the Promised Land, Canaan (Numbers and Deuteronomy). Under the direction of Joshua, they conquered the peoples in the land. The Israelites lived many years in Canaan, governed by God and his judges.


 However, the people were not content with the judges. Wanting to be like the other nations, they asked for a king. Saul was the first king, but he was not obedient to God, and so Jehovah replaced him with David, a king after God’s own heart.

During the reign of David, more or less five hundred years after the exit of Egypt, God gave David the seed promise (2 Samuel 7:12-13). He promised a son who would build a temple and would have power forever. David’s son Solomon did build a physical temple in Jerusalem during his reign. But this prophecy had a broader view than just the life of Solomon.

 The story of God’s people after Solomon is tumultuous. During the reign of his son Rehoboam, a division occurred between the twelve tribes: ten tribes to the north (Israel) and two tribes to the south (Judah). All of the kings of the northern kingdom were evil, not giving attention to the laws of God and serving the idols of the nations. So, God punished Israel, sending them to captivity in Assyria. The kings of the south were a little better. For a longer period of time, they retained their relationship with Jehovah. They worshipped in his temple in Jerusalem, but in the end, they sought after other gods, and Judah was carried away into Babylonian captivity.

Even in this dark time for Israel, with the physical temple destroyed and God’s nation carried into a foreign land, Jehovah remembered his promise to Abraham. Through the prophet Jeremiah, God told of a “Branch” that would reign justly and would save his people (23:5-6).

 After many years of captivity, God permitted a portion of the Jews to return to their land. They rebuilt Jerusalem and the temple, but never attained the former glory of Israel. During this time God gave hope to Israel through the prophet Zechariah. Again, a “Branch” would govern as king and priest and rebuild the temple (6:12-13), this while the Israelites were currently rebuilding the physical temple.

And so the Old Testament ends: the mystery of the seed promise, the promised king, and the new temple still unresolved for the Jews. This mystery is not revealed until four hundred years later…


The New Testament

Matthew 1:1-17 – The first book of New Testament, Matthew, opens with a list of men, the ancestors of Jesus. The purpose of this list is also the purpose of the book of Matthew: to show Jesus as descendant of Abraham and David. Jesus is the promised king and the fulfillment of the promise to Abraham (1:1).

Luke 3:23-38 – Another gospel, Luke, also has a list of genealogy. This list does not merely trace Jesus’ lineage back to David or Abraham. This list goes back to the very beginning and reminds us of the promise first given to Adam and Eve; the seed of woman promised inGenesis 3:15 has come. The message of Luke is that Jesus has come as Savior of all – not just the Jews.

Galatians 3:16-17, 26-29 – The apostle Paul speaks in Galatians about the fact that salvation is not just for Jews only; it is also available to the Gentiles (everybody else). Christ comes as fulfillment of the promise of Abraham; Christ is the promised seed. Although we might not be sons of Abraham physically, we can be heirs of the blessings that God promises to all the families and nations of the earth (Genesis 12:3). See also Romans 4:16-18.

Ephesians 3:3-6 – In his letter to the Ephesians, Paul speaks again about the opportunity for the Gentiles to be citizens of the kingdom of God without being Jews. This fulfills the promises of the Old Testament, a message that was a mystery to the Jews. Now, with new revelation through the apostles, we can understand this mystery.

Hebrews 2:14-16 – The writer of Hebrews says that finally, through the death of Jesus Christ, God cancels out the power of the devil, the power of death. In the cross, the serpent receives his fatal wound (Genesis 3:15) and all men are given opportunity to be freed from the power of sin and death.

The message of the Bible

Simply put the message of the Bible is Christ.

  • The Old Testament – Christ is coming.
  • The Gospels – Christ is here.
  • The Epistles – Christ is coming again.

–David Raif

Is It Reasonable to Believe in God?

What is Faith?

Many people think believing in God means throwing out reason. They assume one who has faith in deity chooses to be blind to the facts. The God of the Bible, however, demands His followers be true to evidence.

In 1 Peter 3:15, the Bible says we need to be “ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you.” God encourages us to have reason or evidence for our. In fact, faith without evidence is not the faith of the Bible.

Look how the Bible defines faith in Hebrews 11:1: “Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” Although we cannot see God, we can have a conviction of his existence – but only after seeing the evidence.

But is it reasonable to have faith in something one cannot see? Do you believe in the existence of the Eiffel Tower in Paris, France? Maybe you have seen it, but even without having seen it, one can still believe in its existence, can’t he? He can read the news about the Eiffel Tower. He can see pictures of Paris. He can listen to his friends about the tower. And, all of this information (evidence) leads a person to the conviction of its existence without ever seeing it with his own eyes. This is faith based in evidence, and this is how faith works in the Bible.

The Big Bang and Faith

Many today claim that the Big Bang and evolution are “scientific facts.” But what is a “scientific fact”? Usually we call something a “fact” when one can observe it and measure it. Can anyone today observe whether the Big Bang really happened with his naked eye? Not unless he’s really old. Many are convicted of the Big Bang…convicted in something they cannot see. That sounds a lot like “faith.”

Faith is a conviction that you arrive at from the evidence that is presented. That is much like what Paul had in mind in Romans 10:17, “So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ.” Faith is seeing the evidence and becoming convinced that something is true.

So the question is, what does the evidence say about our origins?

Reasons for Faith in God

Let’s say you were hiking out in the woods and found several stones like the ones below. Would you say these stones’ unique shape was the product of time and chance or that these stones were made by someone? Or, let’s say you were walking on the same path and you came across a watch like the one below. Could I convince you that this watch was the result of several strange natural occurrences?

It is easy to tell when something has been made by an intelligent being or when something is the result of natural occurrences, isn’t it? We can see design in an object. Also, it is logical to say that if there is design, there has to have been someone to design it. The principal: design requires a designer.

Design in the Solar System

Psalm 19 begins, “The heavens declare the glory of God.” If there is a Creator, creation should tell us a little bit about Him, right? Taking a look at the solar system reveals great design.

For instance, we take life on earth for granted, but did you realize that the Earth hangs precariously in a balance between burning up and freezing. Notice the factors that play into this delicate arrangement.

    • Distance from the Sun
      The sun provides all the energy that the Earth needs to sustain life. But the Earth has to be a certain distance from the sun. If it were too close to the sun, it would burn up; if it were too far, it would freeze. There is a narrow life zone (the shaded area to the left) in which the Earth is neatly placed to sustain life.
  • The Speed of Rotation
    The speed at which the Earth rotates ___ is also a factor that contributes to its ability _ to sustain life. If the Earth did not rotate, one side of the Earth would bake while the other side would freeze. It can neither spin too quickly or too slowly. The Earthy rotates perfectly every 24 hours.
  • The Tilt of the Earth
    With reference to the Sun, the Earth is tilted at 23.5º. As a result, parts of our planet are seasonally farther from the Sun and some parts closer and receive more and less light respectively. This slight difference is enough to cause the Earth to have seasons. While the Northern Hemisphere is enjoying warm summers, the Southern population is bundling up for cold winters. If the Earth were tilted a little bit differently, the seasons would be too harsh to sustain life.

Our Solar System is perfectly designed to permit life on Earth. The probability of all these things happening by chance is staggeringly low.

Design in the Human Body

Even more intricate than the solar system is the human body. David, the psalmist, marveled at God’s power when he wrote, “I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Wonderful are Your works, And my soul knows it very well” (Psalms 139:14). Look at the design involved in our bodies.

  • We start as a single cell with one set of instructions, and as we grow into adults that same set of instruction in one cell produces an ear and in another, a nose. That’s design!
  • Our cells continue to divide replacing old cells and helping us grow. Modern science still cannot unlock all the mysteries of the cell.
  • Our hearts pump for a life time without resting. Though we have artificial hearts, engineers cannot replicate the human heart.
  • The nervous system, the lymphatic system, the respiratory system, the circulatory system, etc. are all working together at the same time to service the body.
  • Our skin repairs itself. It is water proof. It tans to protect from the sun.
  • Our eyes are made up several different parts that cannot work without the others. All parts would have had to evolve at the same time for the eye to function properly.

You Tell Me

If I had a paper bag with watch parts, what are the odds if I shook the bag for an indefinite amount of time that I would be able to reach into the paper bag and pull out a watch, fully wound, ready, and set to the correct time?

How can we say the universe, the Solar System, Earth, and people came into existence and into perfect working order by time and chance if these systems are designed far better and are far more complex than a simple watch? “For every house is built by someone, but the builder of all things is God” (Hebrews 3:4).

Design implies a designer. Creation implies a creator.

–David Raif

What does it mean to belong to Christ?

Can you believe this guy? He was imprisoned, beaten, and threatened for following Jesus, and yet he said he wanted to know Jesus better and serve him more. That’s right, and this “guy” was the apostle Paul. He gave himself completely to Jesus Christ. He belonged to Jesus and wanted others to do the same. But what does it mean to belong to Jesus Christ?

Belonging to Christ means being related to Christ
Paul described his relationship with Christ this way: “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me” (Galatians 2:20). Paul describes a wonderful relationship – one that every person may have with Jesus Christ.

We are able to have a relationship with Christ because he loved us first and gave himself to die for us. In this great act, Jesus made it possible for our sins to be forgiven. Any and everybody can come to Christ by believing in and being baptized into him. A man asked Paul before Paul was a Christian, “Now why do you delay? Get up and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on His name” (Acts 22:16).

Belonging to Christ means following Christ
There are several ways the Bible describes this relationship between Christ and his people (Christians). Jesus Christ is the …

  • king of his people, who make up his kingdom (Matthew 16:18-19, 28; 1 Peter 2:9-10).
  • husband of his people, who are his bride (Ephesians 5:21-33).
  • shepherd of his people, who are his sheep (John 10:14).
  • head of his people, who form his body (Ephesians 1:22-23; 4:4).

All these wonderful relationships share a central idea. Each one implies that Christians follow the instructions and authority of Christ. Citizens of the kingdom are under the rule of the king. A wife is subject to her husband. Sheep listen to the voice of the shepherd. The body takes instruction from the head. Belonging to Christ means following him – listening to and obeying his words.

Belonging to Christ means following only Christ
Jesus said, “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments” (John 14:15). Because we love Jesus who died for us, we obey him. But this means loving and obeying only him and no other. Think about it. When a citizen of a kingdom obeys another king, it is treason. When a wife goes after another man, she is unfaithful. When the physical body does not take instruction from the brain, this is a serious medical problem.

The apostle Paul wrote to people who had given allegiance to others: “Now I mean this, that each one of you is saying, ‘I am of Paul,’ and ‘I of Apollos,’ and ‘I of Cephas,’ and ‘I of Christ.’ Has Christ been divided? Paul was not crucified for you, was he? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul?” (1 Corinthians 1:12-13). Those Christians were claiming to belong to Paul, Apollos, and Cephas. Paul’s point is that Christians belong to Christ and to Christ only.

If we belong to Christ, our spiritual allegiance is to him only, not to people or religious organizations. Sadly, today, some claim to be Christians, but they bind themselves to the teachings of uninspired men. For example, Lutherans follow religiously the teachings of Martin Luther. Catholics follow the instructions of the Pope. Some today claim to belong to Christ, but give allegiance to man-made sects or denominations. Some say, “I am a Christian, but I’m also a Baptist” or “I am a Christian, but I’m also a Pentecostal.”

This is not what God planned for his people. Read the New Testament and you’ll see that Christians under the direction of Jesus’ apostles did not belong to denominations. They were simply Christians and they simply belonged to Christ. We can do the same today by the reading the Bible for ourselves and just doing what it says. I belong to Christ. Won’t you belong to him, too?

David Raif


Who Do You Say that I am?

Matthew 16 shares an important moment in the life of Jesus. In 16:13, he asks his disciples what the people say about his identity. There are many answers: John the Baptist, Elijah, one of the prophets of old. But then, he directs the question to his disciples themselves, “Who do you say that I am?” Peter responds immediately with his well-known confession, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”

We might wonder why Jesus was asking these questions. Surely he had heard the comments of the people. One does not need special powers to know the opinion of the crowd. And why did he interrogate his disciples personally with the same question? Really, Jesus already knew where the loyalties of his disciples lay. The Bible says that God can see the heart of man.

Jesus asked them to make a distinction. “The people say many things, but what do you say?” It was a personal question to force his disciples to ask themselves, “Who do I say that Jesus is?” They had to respond. They could not just say “I don’t know, ” and they couldn’t just offer the popular responses of the people. They had to think about the question and answer for themselves. Who do I say that Jesus is?

Jesus is asking us the same question today, “Who do you say that I am?” We have to give an answer.Matthew 10:32-33 says Jesus listens to what we say about him, and he will judge us by our words. We have to answer him and he wants an individual response. It doesn’t matter what the world says; Jesus asks, “Who do you say that I am?”

The Son of God – The Nature of His Being

Peter answered Jesus by saying, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” To which Jesus practically responded, “Yes, that’s right.” “Blessed are you , Simon Barjona, because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but My Father who is in heaven” (16:17).

Today, the world says many things about the nature of Jesus. Of course, there are some who doubt the very existence of Jesus. There are men who make Jesus out to be a fraud or a crazy man. However, the Bible paints Jesus in a different light. He was not just a man; he was the Son of God.

John opens his gospel beautifully, introducing Jesus as “the Word.” “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God…and the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us” (John 1:1, 14). Jesus was not man; he is God, but he made himself man and came to the earth to live among us. Paul says that while Jesus was equal to God, he left behind his deity in order to save mankind (Philippians 2:5-11).

Incredible! The creator made himself a baby that needed the nourishment and comfort of a mother. The All Powerful made himself man to be tempted and to conquer temptation. Jesus was the Son of God, Jehovah in the flesh.

That is what the Bible says, but what do you say? Jesus is asking you “Who do you say that I am?” It’s one thing to read the Bible and to know what the Bible says, but we have decide to believe or not. Do you believe that Jesus is the Son of God?

The Christ – The Nature of His Purpose

“You are the Christ, the Son of the living God” (Matthew 16:16). Peter said that Jesus was the Son of God, but also he was the Christ. “Christ” was not the last name of Jesus. We say Jesus and Christ together so often that sometimes we think of “Christ” as a name. However, “Christ” is a title that has the same meaning and usage as the word “Messiah” in Hebrew.

It means “the Anointed One” and refers to the custom of anointing the kings to initiate their reign (1 Samuel 10:1). Also the priests and the prophets were anointed in a similar manner (Exodus 28:41; Leviticus 4:3, 5, 16; 1 Kings 19:16; Psalm 105:15).

But “the Christ”, “the Anointed One”, also referred to one promised in the Old Testament who would come as prophet, priest, and king at the same time. While the Old Testament says time after time, “Christ is coming”, it is the purpose of the gospels in the New Testament to say “the Christ is here” and his name is Jesus. At the beginning of his ministry, Jesus read from the book of Isaiah in a Jewish synagogue declaring his identity as the Anointed One, the Christ (Luke 4:17-21).

However “Christ” was not just a title to wear; it was also a purpose to fulfill. The Jews were waiting for a Messiah that would save his nation from the Romans, a king that would reign physically in Jerusalem and a warrior who would fight a physical battle. Even Peter, who was first to say, “You are the Christ” in Matthew 16 did not fully realize the significance of his words.

Peter did not understand at the cross, when Jesus was nailed to wood, when he died by the hands of man in order to save all mankind. Then Peter and the rest of the disciples, who had sworn their loyalty to Jesus, fled.

They did not understand or remember Jesus’ words in Matthew 16:21, that the Christ must, “be killed, and be raised up on the third day.” So as he prophesied and as the prophets of the Old Testament prophesied, on the third day, his tomb was empty. He rose from the dead as the Messiah, the Christ, conquering death and sin for you and me. Jesus is the Son of God, Jehovah in the flesh, who came to the earth to be the Christ, the Savior promised in the Old Testament, who saves us from our sins.

That’s what the Bible says, but what do you say? Jesus is asking you “who do you say that I am?” We have the looked at what the Scriptures say, but do you believe that Jesus is the Christ and that Jesus is the Son of God?

The Lord – The Nature of His Authority

After Peter gave his confession about the identity of Jesus in Matthew 16, Jesus spoke these words about his purpose and authority, “I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it” (16:18). With the words of Peter as a basis or a rock (that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God), he would build his church.

The word “church” does not refer to a building or to a denomination or to an institution. “Church” means literally an assembly of people. So with the belief in Jesus as the Christ and as the Son of God, Jesus was going to build his church (or the Bible sometimes says his people) in the sense that he was going to gather people to himself.

But we need to understand that the verse says he would build his church. By means of the death of Jesus the Christ, we can have a relationship with him and we can be one of his church, one of his people. But in this relationship, we as a people belong to Jesus, and we have to recognize him as Lord in our life.

In his first sermon on the day of Pentecost, Peter said to the Jews that through the resurrection, God had made Jesus both Lord and Christ (Acts 2:32-36). Jesus was not just the Christ; he was also Lord. If we are Christians, we belong to Christ. Paul says it this way in Galatians 2:20, “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no long I who live, but Christ lives in me.”

Jesus is the Son of God, Jehovah in the flesh, who came to the earth to be the Christ, the Savior promised in the Old Testament. But it also says that he is Lord, reigning in our heart and life.

That’s what the Bibles says, but what do you say? Jesus is asking you “Who do you say that I am?” It might easy for us to believe that Jesus is the Son of God and to agree with the salvation that comes through him being the Christ. But are you ready to call Jesus the Lord of your life? This is a little more difficult, isn’t it?

In Acts 2:37-38, after calling Jesus Lord and Christ, Peter told the Jews that they had to do something. “Repent and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins.” Is Jesus your Lord? Have you been baptized for the forgiveness of your sins?

Also, if we belong to Christ, he is our Lord and we have to leave behind the passions and desires of the flesh. “Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires” (Galatians 5:18-21, 24). Have we genuinely changed our life for our Lord?

Are we ready to say Jesus is Lord? Do we treat him as Lord? Jesus is asking you now, “Who do you say that I am?” Can I say without reservation that he is the Christ, the Son of God, and the Lord of my life? Who do I say Jesus is?

David Raif