2007-07-19 14:22:33 UTC
Some time ago, a brilliant young medical student from another land, a
follower of an Eastern religion, came to see me. Through the preceding
months, we had become good friends.
I asked this young man several questions: "In your opinion, who is the
greatest leader the world has ever known? Who has done the most good for
After a moment of hesitation, he replied, "I'm sure Jesus has done more
good than anyone who has ever lived. I would say He is the greatest
Then I asked, "Who do you think is the greatest teacher?"
No doubt he considered Socrates, Aristotle, Plato, Confucius, and other
great philosophers of ancient and modern times. But he answered, "The
greatest teacher is Jesus."
Finally I asked, "Who in the entire history of man do you believe has
lived the most holy life?"
Immediately he answered, "There has never been anyone like Jesus."
I have posed these questions to knowledgeable people of all religions, as
well as atheists and Communists. The answer is always the same: "Jesus."
Indeed, there has never been anyone who could compare with Jesus of
Nazareth. He is unique among all human beings.
No other person in history has influenced the world for good more than
Jesus Christ. His life and message have greatly changed the lives of
people and nations. History is His Story, the story of the life of one
man. Remove Jesus of Nazareth from history, and it would be a completely
For the past 2,000 years, He has been the centerpiece of humanity. Charles
Spurgeon, an English theologian, wrote:
Christ is the great central fact in the world's history. To him everything
looks forward of backward. All the lines of history converge upon him. All
the great purposes of God culminate in him. The greatest and most
momentous fact which the history of the world records is the fact of his
Consider today's date on your calendar. It gives witness to the fact that
Jesus of Nazareth, the Christ, lived on this earth. "B.C." means "before
Christ"; "A.D." is the abbreviation of anno Domini, the Latin phrase that
is translated "in the year of our Lord."
Jesus has influenced the whole world. The New Testament declares that in
Christ there is neither male nor female, slave nor free. Wherever Christ
has gone, human worth and personal rights have been recognized and
Also, institutions of higher learning and facilities for medical care have
been established; child labor laws have been enacted; slavery has been
abolished; and a multitude of other changes have been made for the good of
It would be impossible to show the magnitude of Christ's influence on the
world. I can only help you step closer to the mural of history to examine
a few of the ways in which His life and message have made a dramatic
difference in civilization.
Jesus fed the hungry, healed the sick, comforted the bereaved, and loved
Hundreds of millions of believers through the centuries have followed His
example. The more serious the social problems, the greater the desire of
Christian men and women to find remedies for these ills.
From the beginning, the followers of Jesus treated individuals with
dignity and worth unknown to their pagan culture. As a result, wherever
missionaries took the true gospel of Christ, social conditions
dramatically improved and cultures were enriched.
Christians established hospitals and schools, moved for prison reform,
established orphanages, provided famine relief, raised the status of
women, and worked to abolish cruel social customs, including cannibalism
and human sacrifice. Other Christian leaders, such as William Booth, who
founded the Salvation Army, began endeavors to relieve human suffering in
Today, committed Christian believers are fighting to halt abortion and
euthanasia; they are working diligently to reduce child abuse, drug
addiction, and alcoholism; they are seeking to eliminate pornography, and
are taking a stand against homosexuality. Christian organizations are
coordinating actions against age-old problems such as prejudice, poverty,
gang violence, crime, famine, and family dysfunction.
Jesus Christ also felt compassion for those who suffered from disease and
handicaps. He cured the leper, healed the lame, and gave sight to the
blind. In the process, He taught His disciples to show the same
Believers have cared for the sick ever since the time of Christ. The Red
Cross, founded by Christians, rose to care for the ill, encourage public
health education, and relieve suffering. For multitudes of disadvantaged
people today, Christians bring the love of Christ in word and deed through
The principles Jesus taught have made an impact on the world of business.
The early church taught the dignity of labor, and believers were
admonished to work hard and to shun laziness. During the Middle Ages,
monasteries improved agriculture by increasing crop yields and developing
methods of tillage. The church also insisted on a just price for goods and
fair wages for the worker.
The Reformation inspired dramatic changes in the world of business. By
emphasizing every vocation as a "call" from God, Christians encouraged the
growth of a new urban middle class.
In more modern times, under the leadership of John Wesley and George
Whitefield, many Christians, individually and in groups, began striving
for reform in the workplace. Some fought for regulations to protect women
and children in mines and industry. Others opposed forced labor, helped
enact child labor laws, and formed labor unions.
And many godly men such as J. L. Kraft of Kraft Cheese and J. C. Penney,
who founded a merchandizing empire by that name, built businesses based on
biblical principles and sought to make work conditions fair and profitable
for their employees.
Christianity has had a profound influence upon science as well. The
biblical view of an orderly and dependable universe formed and held
together by a divine Creator became the foundation for many of history's
Christ's teaching inspired the thinking of many celebrated forerunners of
modern science, including Roger Bacon, Nicolaus Copernicus, Johannes
Kepler, Galileo, Blaise Pascal, and Isaac Newton. Christian thought also
was foundational to applied science-fostering industrialization, medical
progress, space research, and advances in other scientific fields.
Although during the 19th and 20th centuries many scientists tried to
separate science and religion, recent discoveries and developments have
shown the emptiness of science without Christ. Today, an increasing number
of scientists are joining a long list of famous forerunners who have
embraced a biblical faith in Christ.
Law and Government
Christian principles have had a significant effect on law and government.
The early Christians promoted justice. Converted politicians worked for
legislation on behalf of widows, orphans, and the poor, and against
immoral and harsh practices. Christ's influence strengthened resistance to
barbaric invasion and brought orderly living to pagan tribes.
English common law was developed from the idea that man is accountable to
a higher law based on the Bible. Similarly, biblical principles of freedom
and justice provide a basis for the Constitution of the United States.
Arts and Culture
Christian ideals are reflected in art and culture. The early Christians
redirected the pagan focus of the arts where they lived. Beginning with
the New Testament, believers created a vital new body of liter- ature in a
dying Roman civilization. By the 6th century, the arts were preserved and
developed almost exclusively within the church.
After the Reformation, artists were inspired by many different Christian
schools of thought. Lutheranism introduced a new hymnody; Roman
Catholicism influenced Rembrandt; Michelangelo, Leonardo DiVinci, and
Raphael expressed biblical themes in their art and sculpture.
The dynamic spiritual music of Bach, Beethoven, and Handel rings down
through the ages. John Bunyan, Dante, and Milton created their literature
around scriptural motifs. Even artists who claimed no allegiance to Jesus
Christ used Christian symbols and imagery in their work.
One of the most consistent and important influences of Jesus Christ lies
in education. In the first centuries, the church took upon itself the task
of increasing literacy so that every believer could read the words of
During the Dark Ages, the church alone maintained schools, founded
universities that became seats of intellectual activity, and developed
great libraries. Eventually the Reformation brought learning to the
masses, and literacy spread among women. A reconstruction of educational
methods and curriculum resulted. Hundreds of Christian colleges were
established-many of which are listed today among the most prestigious
institutions in the world.
Wherever Christian missionaries settled, a rise in literacy followed.
These devout believers gave written form to hundreds of languages and
taught millions of people to read and write. Today, many mission groups
continue their work in disadvantaged areas of the world.
The influence of Jesus is still revolutionizing our world. Christianity
has spanned cultural diversities, prejudice barriers, and political
I have visited hundreds of campuses around the world and talked to
hundreds of thousands of college men and women about Jesus Christ. I have
met professors and students alike who were militantly antagonistic toward
Him. Some of them contended that He is a myth or that He is a great man
and nothing more. Later, however, some of these same people have, out of
intellectual honesty, reversed their thinking and become followers of
I was deeply moved while reading about one such scholar in the magazine
section of the Los Angeles Times early one Sunday morning in 1953. My eye
fell on a picture of a venerable old professor, Dr. Cyril E. M. Joad, and
the dramatic story of the change that had taken place in his life.
One of the world's greatest philosophers, Dr. Joad was for years head of
the Philosophy Department at the University of London. He and his
colleagues-Julian Huxley, Bertrand Russell, H. G. Wells, and George
Bernard Shaw-had probably done more to undermine the faith of the
collegiate world of the last generation than any other group.
Dr. Joad believed that Jesus was only a man and that God was a part of the
universe. Should the universe be destroyed, he taught, God would also be
destroyed. He believed that there is no such thing as sin and that man was
essentially good and was destined for utopia.
The article described the many years he had been antagonistic toward
Christianity and how he denied the existence of sin. However, he said that
two world wars and the imminence of another had conclusively demonstrated
to him that man was indeed sinful. Now he believed that the only
explanation for sin was found in the Bible and that the only solution for
sin was the cross of Jesus Christ. Before his death, Dr. Joad became a
zealous follower of Christ.
Another example is Lew Wallace, a famous general and a literary genius. He
set out to write a book that would forever destroy the myth of
Christianity. Mr. Wallace tells how he spent two years in leading
libraries of Europe and America looking for information for the book.
Before he finished the second chapter, he found himself on his knees
crying out to Jesus saying, "My Lord, and my God." The evidence proving
the deity of Jesus that he discovered overwhelmingly convinced him that
Jesus Christ was the Son of God, the only Savior of man. Later Lew Wallace
wrote Ben Hur, one of the greatest novels ever written concerning the time
Consider, too, the example of C. S. Lewis. A writer and professor at
Oxford and Cambridge Universities in England, he was an agnostic for
years. He tried to convince himself that Christianity was invalid. But
after a long process of searching for answers, he received Christ as his
own Savior and Lord while he was at Oxford. He describes that moment:
You must picture me alone in that room in Magdalen, night after night,
feeling whenever my mind lifted for even a second from my work, the
steady, unrelenting approach of Him whom I so earnestly desired not to
meet. That which I greatly feared had at last come upon me. In the Trinity
Term of 1929 I gave in, and admitted that God was God, and knelt and
prayed: perhaps that night, the most dejected and reluctant convert in all
C. S. Lewis became a devout follower of Jesus and wrote many books
advocating his belief in Christ. In Mere Christianity, he writes:
You can shut Him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and kill Him as a
demon; or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us
not come up with any patronizing nonsense about His being a great human
teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.?3?
C. S. Lewis concluded that Jesus is indeed more than a good moral teacher:
He is the Savior of the world.
Who is Jesus of Nazareth to you? A myth? A mere man? Or the Son of God?
Your response to these questions will determine your eternal destiny-and
the quality of life you can experience on this earth.
The Son of God
People sometimes ask, "Is Christianity really established on historical
facts?" When I talk about Christ to great scholars today, I am appalled to
find that many of them do not believe Jesus is the Son of God, our Savior.
Nearly always, these man are ignorant of the basic truths of the gospel.
They take issue with something that they do not fully understand.
But I have yet to meet a person who has honestly considered the
overwhelming evidence proving the deity of Jesus of Nazareth who does not
admit that He is the Son of God.
Yes, I have met some who do not believe that Jesus is the Son of God. But
as we have talked and reasoned together, they have been honest in
confessing, "I have not taken the time to read the Bible or to consider
the historical facts concerning Jesus."
Their rejection and sometimes resentment of Christ has inevitably been
based upon a lack of knowledge, an unfortunate emotional experience, the
inconsistency of some Christian, or perhaps upon the influence of a high
school teacher or college professor. Yet they have always admitted that
they have not honestly considered the person of Jesus Christ and His claim
on their lives.
God's Word provides abundant testimony to the deity of Christ. Paul writes
in Colossians 1:13-17, 20:
[God] has rescued us out of the darkness and gloom of Satan's kingdom and
brought us into the kingdom of his dear Son, who bought our freedom with
his blood and forgave us all our sins.
Christ is the exact likeness of the unseen God. He existed before God made
anything at all, and, in fact, Christ himself is the Creator who made
everything in heaven and earth, the things we can see and the things we
can't...all were made by Christ for his own use and glory. He was before
all else began and it is his power that holds everything together.
It was through what his Son did that God cleared a path for everything to
come to him-all things in heaven and on earth-for Christ's death on the
cross has made peace with God for all by his blood (TLB).
Hebrews 1:1-3 records:
Long ago God spoke in many different ways to our fathers through the
prophets [in visions, dreams, and even face to face], telling them little
by little about his plans.
But now in these days he has spoken to us through his Son to whom he has
given everything, and through whom he made the world and everything there
God's Son shines out with God's glory, and all that God's Son is and does
marks him as God. He regulates the universe by the mighty power of his
command. He is the one who died to cleanse us and clear our record of all
sin, and then sat down in highest honor beside the great God of heaven
Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is the only answer to our world's needs
today. There are many things that He can do for us that no one else can
do. Here I want to concentrate on four specific things.
First, Jesus is the only one who can pardon us from our sin. Second, He
alone gives purpose for life. Third, only He can give us peace when our
heart is troubled. Finally, He alone can give us power to live an abundant
Jesus Alone Can Pardon Us from Sin
The Bible proclaims that God is holy and that man is sinful. The psalmist
says, "The Lord our God is holy" (Psalm 99:9). The apostle records, "All
have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23).
Sin is more than lying, stealing, or living an immoral life. It is an
attitude; it is turning our back on God and going our own independent way.
Sin creates a vast gulf between us and God that even our most noble
efforts cannot bridge. This makes it impossible for us to have a personal
relationship with Him.
In a careful study of the most popular religions of the world, you would
soon become aware that no provision is made for the forgiveness of sin
apart from the cross of Jesus Christ. Most religions embrace the
philosophy of good works as a means to salvation. Man subscribes to the
concept that if his good works outweigh his bad works, he will go to
heaven, but if his bad works outweigh his good works, he will go to
hell-if there is a hell. Of course, he cannot know until his life is over
whether he will go to heaven or to hell. What a tragedy! How inadequate
such a religion or philosophy is. But God has promised that we can know
Him, and have fellowship with Him now and for all eternity, through His
Son, the Lord Jesus Christ.
In the Old Testament, the Israelites brought their sacrifices-an
unblemished lamb, dove, or bullock-to the priest. The animal was slain,
and its blood was sprinkled by the priest on the altar as a temporary
covering for sin. This offering pictured the coming of God's one special
Lamb, whose blood would not just temporarily cover man's sin, but would
wash them away forever.
The fulfillment of this Old Testament picture is recorded in the New
Testament. Jesus said:
O God, the blood of bulls and goats cannot satisfy you, so you have made
ready this body of mine for me to lay as a sacrifice upon your altar. You
were not satisfied with the animal sacrifices, slain and burnt before you
as offerings for sin...See, I have come to do your will, to lay down my
life, just as the Scriptures said that I would (Hebrews 10:5-7, TLB).
God sent His only Son, the Lamb of God, without spot or blemish, to shed
His blood upon the cross for the forgiveness of our sins. This means that
through Jesus Christ, you can know God and have fellowship with Him now
and for all eternity.
Even while you were yet a sinner, God loved you enough to send His Son to
die on the cross for you that you might have eternal life. Like a prisoner
facing certain execution who is suddenly freed, you can be pardoned from
your sin through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Such love is beyond our human comprehension. God's love is unconditional,
undeserved, and based purely on His mercy and grace. He loves us in spite
of our disobedience, our weakness, our sin, and our selfishness. Because
of His special love, He wants to set us free to live an abundant, joyful
life. We need not fear Someone who loves us so perfectly. We can trust Him
with our entire life.
Because of His unconditional love, God forgives us absolutely. He cleanses
us thoroughly, and He forgets our sins completely.
After I finished speaking at a mid-western university campus, a group of
students remained to learn how they could become Christians. Among them
was a young Hindu scholar from India who was pacing up and down, angry and
impatient. As we talked he said, "I resent you Christians. I resent the
arrogance with which you say that you have the only way to God. I believe
that Christianity is one way, but only one way. Hinduism is another.
Buddhism, Shintoism, and others are all ways to God."
I called his attention to the writings of the great Hindu leader Mahatma
Ghandi, who, for all of his devotion to his religion, states in his
autobiography, "It is a constant torture to me that I am still so far from
Him whom I know to be my very life and being. I know it is my own
wretchedness and wickedness that keep me from Him."
This gifted young man said he had once believed that Ghandi was God but,
or course, he no longer believed this. In addition to being devout, the
young man was unusually brilliant. He was completing a double
doctorate-one in physics and another in chemistry.
As we talked together, his anger began to subside, and he began to see
that Christianity was different. He saw that it was not just another
man-made religion of philosophy, but that it made provision for man's
basic need: forgiveness of sin. He admitted also that he had not found the
answer to his needs, though he was a devout follower of his religion,
diligent in the reading of the sacred Hindu writings, and faithful in his
times of prayer and all the rituals of his faith. He had to confess that
he had never found God. I called his attention to the difference in the
lives of Christian friends. He admitted that they had something he did not
possess. It was obvious that that "something" was the Savior who had come
to live within them and had forgiven them of their sins.
For nearly an hour we discussed the difference between Christianity and
the religions of the world. For example, you can take Buddha out of
Buddhism, Mohammed out of Islam, and in like manner the founders of
various religions out of their religious systems, and little would be
changed. But if you took Christ out of Christianity, nothing would be
Biblical Christianity, on the other hand, is not a philosophy of life or a
code of ethics. It is a personal relationship with God, the Creator of the
universe, who revealed Himself to man through His only begotten Son, the
Lord Jesus Christ.
Finally, the light came on, and this young Hindu understood the great
truth of pardon for sin through our Savior's sacrifice on the cross.
Quietly he bowed his head. This dear young scholar, with all of his heart,
now prayed that Jesus of Nazareth-the risen, living Son of God-would come
into his heart, pardon his sin, and become his Lord and Master.
The Bible says:
There is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved
Only Jesus can pardon us from sin.
1 Sherwood Eliot Wirt and Kersten Beckstrom, Living Quotations for
Christians (New York: Harper & Row Publishers, 1974), No. 1749.
2 C.S. Lewis, Surprised by Joy: The Shape of My Early Life (New York:
Harcourt and Brace, 1966) pp. 228,229.
3 C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity (New York: The MacMillian Company, 1960),
Bright, B. (1994). 10 Basic Steps : The Uniqueness of Jesus
[Introduction. Orlando, FL: NewLife Publications.