Is Jesus the Messiah?
Commentary for June 1, 2006 — The Basic Issue
Many people claim to be Christians. Still others put forth a facade of being spiritual by not quite making it clear what they believe. Simply because someone is involved with biblical or religious matters in their work does not mean they have a spiritual understanding. On the other hand, those who read the ASK website should have no doubt what we believe.
It is certainly proper to ask such people what they believe and what the basis for their belief is. In fact we ourselves should be ready to give an answer to questions about our faith.
The basic question to ask people who you think may be Christians or who claim to be Christians and claim that Jesus is their Savior, is this: “Do you believe that Jesus is the Messiah of the Jews and Gentiles?” It is important to emphasize word “is” because the New Testament teaches that Jesus is now the Messiah seated at the right hand of God the Father in heaven. It is also important to emphasize “the Messiah” because Jesus is the Messiah, the prophesied anointed of God, out of several anointed people throughout biblical history. He is the only “messiah” who is alive at this moment.
When you ask someone what they think of Jesus, they, like you, should always be ready to give an answer for their belief, preferably with reasons, even if their answers may be incomplete (as perhaps yours were at one time). This is especially true if that person performs a function that you are supporting financially. All too often we are embarrassed to ask such a question of people because we ourselves feel inadequate to give an answer about our faith. This is the reason the apostle Peter wrote what he did:
“But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asks you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness [humility] and fear [respect] : having a good conscience.”Other manuscripts, as reflected in most modern translations, have the word “Christ” where the KJV has “God.” This would yield the following translation:
• 1 Peter 3:15–16
“But sanctify [the] Lord the Christ [the Messiah] in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asks you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear: having a good conscience.”If the Lord Messiah (Jesus Christ) is sanctified in your hearts — which means to keep him holy — that, says Peter, should motivate you to be ready to answer everyone who honestly seeks an answer about your hope.
• 1 Peter 3:15–16
[ By the way, the Greek word for “answer” has the noun root “apologia” which is the common Greek term for a verbal defense. This is what the apostle Paul gave before Felix in Acts 24:10 and before Festus in Acts 25:16 where the term is translated “answer.” In Acts 26:2 the verb form “answer” is used in the sense that Paul actively defended himself. He gave an apology. It is the same Greek word Paul used in Philippians 1:7 and 17, and when he gave a “defense” of himself before the crowd standing on the stairs after his arrest in the Temple (Acts 22:1). ]Note also that the text says “to every man that asks,” not just those you like. You should give your answer “with meekness and fear: having a good conscience.” After all, at some time in the future:
“For to this end Christ [Messiah] both died, and rose, and revived, that he might be Lord both of the dead and living. … for we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ [Messiah]. For it is written, ‘As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God.’ So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God.”Most Greek texts do not have “judgment seat of Christ” in verse 10, but the have “judgment seat of God.” Nevertheless, Christ’s resurrection is the subject of the passage (verse 9). The word “confess” in verse 11 is from the Greek root verb exomologeo (out speaking) which means to acclaim or to speak out that the Messiah died, rose and lives today.
• Romans 14:9–12 (see also 1 Peter 4:5)
This Month’s Article
This month’s article is by Dr. Ernest L. Martin and it is titled “Types of Messiah in the Old Testament.” Read the “June 2006 Newsletter” first. This article, along with two that I wrote “Christ and Messiah” and “The Gospel of Messiah,” and Dr. Martin’s “A Major Proof of the Bible,” all show that the resurrection proved Jesus was the expected Messiah and that He fulfilled every prophecy from the Old Testament far beyond the literal meaning of the text.
The question might be asked, “Well, so Jesus is the Messiah ... so what?” This month’s article will provide the most most important answers to that question.
Let me present to you a passage from Romans chapter 10. This passage has a large number of archaic English terms from the 1600s, so I simplified the text:
“For Christ [Messiah] is the end [telos, the finish, consummation, fulfillment] of the law for righteousness to every one that believes [and only for those who believe]. For Moses describes the righteousness which is of the law, That the man which does those things shall live by them. But the righteousness which is of faith speaks on this wise,If you cannot make such a confession, if you cannot so believe, then you will not be saved in the 1st resurrection to the Kingdom of God, although you will be saved in the consummation of all things (1 John 4:2–3, 15; 1 Corinthians 15:23–24).
Say not in your heart, Who shall ascend into heaven? (that is, to bring Christ [Messiah] down from above) Or, Who shall descend into the deep? (that is, to bring up Christ [Messiah] again from the dead)
But what says it? [What is it saying?] ‘The word is near you, even in your mouth, and in your heart’ [quoting Deuteronomy 30:14]: that is, the word of faith, which we preach: That if you shall confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus, and shall believe in your heart that God has raised him from the dead, you shall be saved. For with the heart man believes unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.”
• Romans 10:4–10
“For many deceivers are entered into the world, who confess not that Jesus Christ [Messiah] is come in the flesh. This is a deceiver and an antichrist. Look to yourselves, that we lose not those things which we have wrought, but that we receive a full reward.”That would be a sad and terrible loss. Paul encourages us to do everything to receive our full reward.
• 2 John 1:7–8
The word of faith that Paul preached and summarized in Romans 10:4–10 was this: confession is made with the heart and the mouth — representing the whole person — for a public declaration “that God raised Him [Jesus] from the dead.” If you do not believe this then you are a Christian in name only.
This passage does not mean that you wear your Christianity on your shirtsleeve or that you go to the Public Square, city hall, or courthouse and harass people by shouting your beliefs to the world. It means that at the proper time and circumstance, in the proper forum, you should have a faith, a confidence, even the courage of your convictions to declare publicly (even under duress, if it should come to that) your belief that Jesus Christ died, was resurrected, and now lives as the Messiah and Savior of all mankind.
In the passage of Romans 10:4–10 above the apostle Paul (and other writers, in some 500 uses of the term “Christ” in the New Testament) clearly identifies Jesus as the Christ, the Messiah (which is what Christ means). Read the Romans 10:4–10 passage again and note that Paul builds his argument to show how central the resurrection of Jesus is to the belief and faith that Jesus is the Messiah. The Messiah (Christ) is the telos (the consummation) of the Law and the beginning of faith unto salvation.
Paul made a particular reference to “the secret of Christ” or in Greek “the secret of the Messiah” that he was given to preach (Colossians 4:3–4). Then in the following verse he gives advice to all:
“Walk in wisdom toward them that are without [outside the faith, not believers], redeeming the time. Let your speech [word] be always with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer every man.”You cannot know who is in the faith and those “that are without” unless you ask them about their belief in Jesus, His resurrection, and His current status as the living Messiah seated with God the Father.
• Colossians 4:5–6
The resurrection of Jesus is central to faith. It is inescapable from this passage alone. It should be inescapable in your belief. It should be inescapable — and recognizable — in your life.
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