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The Jeremiah Johnston Show

Your unanswered questions – part 1

November 16, 2019

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The Jeremiah Johnston Show

Your Unanswered Questions: Part 1

 

Answering your questions on Biblical archaeology, the historicity of Jesus, the crucifixion, resurrection, and more with Professor Craig Evans. In this collection of questions you have sent in to the show and gathered at Christian Thinkers Society events.

No matter how much you know about Christianity or how long you’ve adhered to the faith, you should remain inquisitive and be open to growth, says New Testament scholar, professor, and author, Dr. Craig Evans.

“Questions are important. They are wonderful because, when you ask an honest question, you’re open to new information and the truth.”

Whether one is a skeptic or devout, understanding the need for Jesus’ crucifixion can be bewildering. Addressing the argument that Jesus’ violent death was gratuitous, Craig sets the scene of the crucifixion within its historical context. And he explains that the message of the cross begins at the dawn of humanity.

“From the very beginning, there are some ‘dos’ and ‘don’ts.’ The law is for our own good. God doesn’t just revel in rules, but things are there for our benefit. Humanity has turned its back on God. There are consequences; the beauty is, God said, ‘I will share the consequences.’”

Rather than show cruelty, the violent death and ensuing resurrection of Jesus demonstrate God’s love in a dramatic way in allowing His Son to suffer for us. Craig describes the love of God as a radical concept in the ancient world.

“What God was saying is, ‘I love humanity, and I want to redeem humanity, and I will take risks. If it means Jesus dying on the cross, I will go that far.’ No god outside of the God of Scripture believed that people were made in God’s image – gods in antiquity would not go that far. It’s only in the Judeo-Christian tradition that God speaks of humans with love and speaks for their benefit.”

While God set laws in place, He still came down to help struggling humanity, and to restore us to Himself. That is the message the world needs to hear.

Dr. Craig Evans is the John Bisagno Distinguished Professor of Christian Origins at Houston Baptist University. He is a sought-after biblical scholar and New Testament expert. His books and teaching have encouraged many.

The Jeremiah Johnston Show

The Infancy Narrative and Unlikely Characters

 

Danial Darling discusses the group of misfits, societal outcasts, and overlooked characters in the Nativity story. God used each one of them for his divine plan and why is worth thinking about more than once a year. A look at Daniel’s new book “The Characters of Christmas.”

Daniel Darling has authored books on practical faith and relatable theological issues. His latest book, “The Characters of Christmas,” focuses upon the everyday people of the Nativity story. He talks with Dr. Jeremiah Johnston about the work.

“I loved working on all my books,” he says. “This last one was really fun and I enjoyed being able to dig into the Gospels and the story of the incarnation of Christ, and the ordinariness of the characters and how they were part of God’s sovereign plan for history.”

Like many people, Darling enjoys the Christmas season. “We have a whole month to soak in the beauty and the wonder of the coming of the Son of God,” he says. “If you think about it, it’s what separates Christianity from other religions. He is not a distant, angry deity. He visits humanity in Jesus. He loves His image-bearers.”

In “The Characters of Christmas,” Darling takes a closer look at teenage Mary, her betrothed, Joseph, her cousin, Elizabeth, Zechariah, the shepherds, and more. “Each character points us to Jesus and tells us something about who God is, and the Kingdom of God,” Darling says.

While Christians rightly focus upon the story of Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection, the story of the manger has its own rich, theological implications, Darling says. The announcement of the long-awaited Messiah came in a shepherd’s field among some of the simplest people in the culture, demonstrating God’s humble heart. The wise men represent generosity and going anywhere to follow Jesus. The genealogy of Jesus demonstrates that God values and uses women for His purposes, and He redeems stories. The coming of Jesus into Mary and Joseph’s lives shows that Jesus sometimes interrupts our plans.

“One of the things Christians need to do is meditate deeply on the story of Christmas and who Jesus is,” Darling advises. “Let’s be so overcome with the joy of Christ, people will ask, ‘Why is it you love Christmas and why should I care about it?’”

Daniel Darling is the vice president for Communications for the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention. He is a pastor, author, speaker, and columnist. His latest book, “The Characters of Christmas,” was released in 2019.