Would you have believed Him turned against Him or checked up on Him, Which? Don’t be too sure! Here’s a way to test yourself.
Just for a moment, suppose you were living in Jerusalem when Jesus Christ was teaching, you are walking along with a friend and you came upon a small group, and standing in the center was a man talking, answering questions, he was Jesus of Nazareth and you stop to listen.
What would have caused you to stop with this little group, do you know? The reason probably is not what you think. You may suppose that it was the over-awing appearance of Christ that would have stopped you. But notice what happens next.
Two men came walking by. It is an unusual coincidence, because one is deaf, and he is leading a man who is blind. The deaf man notices the little group standing, sees the man Jesus in the midst talking to them, is completely unimpressed, continues walking on by. But suddenly the blind man tugs at his arm, stops, pulls the deaf man back. He wants to listen.
Nothing the deaf man saw caused him to stop. But what the blind man heard aroused his attention, surprised and shocked him.
And what about you and your friend? Your friend at your side is suddenly astonished, angered and resentful. You find yourself caught with mingled feelings of surprise, curiosity and shock. But it was nothing in Jesus’ appearance that would have startled you! When Jesus returned to the town of His youth, the people of Nazareth were astonished just like other people. But not because of anything out of the ordinary about his looks. To them He looked just like an ordinary local boy now grown to manhood. The people of Nazareth mocked Him jeered at Him. Yet they were astonished angered, even as you would have been.
Put in today’s expressive language this is approximately what they said: “Now where does he get that stuff? Who does he think he is, anyway? The very idea! An ordinary local man like he is, saying such ridiculous things! He’s only the son of that carpenter who lives down the street. We know his mother, Mary. We know his brothers and sisters. They’re all just common ordinary folks like we are. Who does he think he is, saying things like that?” (Compare Matt. 13:54-58).
Yes, what Christ said aroused carnal surprise, indignation and anger in the people of Nazareth? You will notice, in verse 54 of Matthew 13, they were astonished not at His appearance, not at anything unusual in His voice, but at what He said! He wore no halo over His head!
Had you lived in that time and at that place, you, too, probably would have been astonished, when you stopped to join this little group. The reason is very important to you now!
Had you lived then, you would have been born knowing nothing at birth even as you were born in our day, knowing nothing. Your mother would have fed you, cared for you, taught you as you grew up, even as mothers do today.
You would have been taught and reared in the concepts, beliefs, ways and customs of that time and place, even as you actually have been reared in the ways and concepts of this day in your country. Yes, and you would automatically have taken for granted, without question, the beliefs, teachings, and ways of life of that people and time just as today you have grown up assuming as perfectly natural, the general way of life and general beliefs of this time.
Whatever society accepts, and does, seems perfectly natural. It becomes part of one’s life, indeed it is his life! It was the same in the time of Jesus Christ.
Had you lived then, and chanced to walk by this little group, and your ear had caught a few of the words from the lips of Christ, you, too, in all probability, would have been astonished! You would have heard this very ordinary-looking man from Nazareth making positive, dogmatic statements totally at variance with the concepts and beliefs you had always heard, been taught, and taken for granted. You would have heard Him expounding the scriptures in manner absolutely contradictory to what you had been brought to believe. You would have heard things utterly different from what everybody believed. Certainly it would have sounded like fanaticism!
And here is the strange paradox: in spite of yourself, what you would have heard Him say would have sounded quite logical and plausible, it would seem, and somehow, to ring true you would find yourself half admitting that it made sense! Perhaps that is the very reason your friend would have become suddenly angry and resentful. Down deep, he would be forced to the half-realization that he had been absolutely wrong!
Nothing wounds human vanity quite so much as being told one is wrong! And when one really senses it is true, when one simply cannot refute this emphatic correction, it is humiliating, indeed.
Surely, you would reason, all these religious denominations, recognized by the society of your country, so highly esteemed, could be wrong! Surely the people of your whole nation could not be wrong!
And yet what Jesus said did seem reasonable, even though it hit you at first as being some strange new and fanatical religion. You probably would have found your head swimming. You would have felt all mixed up. You would have found yourself unable to answer Jesus’ sayings or to show anyone where He was wrong. Yet everything within you would have rebelled against believing He could be right. Could this man speaking these unheard-of things be a real prophet, bring truth? Or was he just a clever false prophet after the money or a following?
Would you have said to yourself: “I know what I’ll do I’ll check up on this man from Nazareth, I’ll go to the chief ministers of the big reputable established denominations. I’ll ask them about this man from Nazareth. I’ll ask them whether he is properly explaining and expounding the Scriptures.” Would you have done this, or would you have simply gone to the sacred Scriptures direct, yourself, and searched through the Scriptures with an open mind, without prejudice, yet cautiously, to prove all things, deciding to believe what you found there with your own eyes?
There is a test given later in this article by which you can test yourself to know what you would have done.
Had you gone to the officials or top men of the larger recognized and established religious denominations, do you realize what they would have answered?
They would have done everything in their power to discredit Jesus. They would have assured you He was a false prophet even as they did accuse to those who did listen to them. They would have warned you against Him.
For they, the very highest ministers of the most reputable established denominations, the chief priest were the very ones who not only sought to discredit Christ and turn people against Him they are the very ones who plotted and conspired to murder Him!
Finally, as more and more of the people began to believe what Christ was preaching (John 7:31), “the Pharisees and the chief priests sent officers to take Him (v. 32). Many people began to believe Jesus, others did not. “So there was a division among the people because of Him (v. 43). Then the officers returned to the chief priests, who said to the officers, “why have ye not brought him” (v.45)?
“The officers answered, Never man spake like this man’” (v. 46). That was precisely why the chief priests were trying to discredit and even to murder Christ. See how they answered.
“Then answered them the Pharisees,’ Are ye also deceived? Have any of the rulers of the Pharisees believed on him’” (vs. 47-48)?
These chief ministers of the big established and reputed denominations said Jesus, the very Christ, was a false prophet. They asked; have any of the leaders of recognized established religious groups believed Him? The argument was, if these reputable and important mend did not believe Him, then you shouldn’t!
Yet it was these very same religious leaders of the big reputable denominations who conspired, and paid Judas 30 pieces of silver to turn traitor and betray Jesus. It was they who stirred up the crowd against Jesus, to demand that He be put to death, when He stood before Pilate. It was they who jeered at Him, mocked Him, and caused Him to be murdered!
And He was the Son of God! He was the true Messiah! He was your Saviour!
Would you, had you lived there, and then, have gone to the big religious organizations and asked whether Jesus spoke the truth?
What a terrible, tragic mistake you would have made, had you done that!
Or would you have done as the Bereans were commended for doing when they heard the Apostle Paul? Paul, too, came speaking the same Gospel as Jesus. He, too, preached a Message altogether different from the beliefs and customs of the time. These Bereans did not just gullibly swallow whatever Paul said without checking. How could they know? Possibly this Paul was a false prophet. But they did not go to the chief preachers or the big established denominations. They went directly to the scriptures! Yes, they checked up on Paul!
But they went to the right place to check up! They did not go to men who could easily have partisan interests to protect. They did not go to Paul’s critics or opponents. They went to God! They knew the Scriptures were God’s Word! They received Paul’s word without prejudice for or against, with an open mind, yet they checked up, they proved all things, “they searched the Scriptures daily, whether those things were so” (Acts 17:10-11).
And that is precisely what you should do today! But, had you lived in Jesus’ day, what would you have done? There is a test that will tell you.
Years ago, people were astonished at a radio program called The World Tomorrow, on that program Herbert W. Armstrong and Garner Ted Armstrong claimed to be preaching the very same Gospel Jesus preached. They literally preached the Bible, They expounded it, as Jesus did, and the people were astonished by what they heard, because it was different from what they had been brought up to believe, as Jesus’ teachings were different from what people then believed!
The Church of God New World Ministries is preaching that same message, and people are astonished, surprised often shocked, and down deep, it does seem to ring true! It does seem to make sense! But it is so different from what many have been brought up to believe. Surely this couldn’t be right!
What should you do? Remember, when reading these articles and listening to our sermons, don’t believe us, don’t believe men, check up in your Bible, believe what you see with your own eyes. That is what you should do!
Today, as in the time of Christ or of Paul, if you go to men, or to religious denominations and put your trust in men, do you know what they will tell you?
Yes, that’s right! Just as those teaching things different from Jesus’ teaching in that day accused Him of being a false prophet, so it is today!
Stop and think! If any religious person does not teach the same gospel of the same Christ that we teach right out of the Bible, he cannot endorse us or what we proclaim! If he did, then he would have to preach the same truth, also!
Nowhere does your Bible tell you to rely on men. Don’t go to men to learn whether we preach the truth! Unless they accept it, too, they cannot endorse it! Your Bible tells you not to put your trust in men (Ps. 146:3). So we say don’t put your trust in us or in any man or men. Don’t believe it because we say so. Check up, in your own Bible, for yourself. Believe your Bible! Believe God, not man!
Now back to our original question. If you had lived in the days of Jesus Christ, what would you have done? Would you have gone to the chief priest, the scribes and Pharisees, and believed them? Would you have allowed them to cause you to reject the very Saviour, and His truth?
Again, don’t be too sure! There is a test that will tell, definitely and absolutely, what you would have done! It is a Bible Test! Jesus Christ Himself gives this test.
To those who then denied Him, turned against Him, rejected the very living Gospel, the Message of life sent by God the Father through Christ He said: “You say, if we had been in the days of our fathers, we would not have been partakers with them in the blood of the prophets” (Matt. 23:30). Yet those who said “If we had lived back in that day, we would not have been partaker in the killing of the prophets God sent” were the very ones who did partake in murdering the chief prophet of all the greatest ministers God ever sent!
Jesus says, then, in plain language, that the test is this: Whatever you do today, is precisely what you would have done then. They did participate in murdering the Greatest of all Prophets! Most certainly they would have been party to killing a lesser prophet, had they lived in a previous generation.
Today Jesus Christ has raised up a work. It is God’s Work! It is proclaiming the very same identical message, the same gospel Jesus brought and proclaimed. Jesus only started this Work. Today, He continues it from heaven where He directs those of His choosing. He said that if they persecuted Him, they would persecute those of us whom He sends (John 15:16-20)!
Today many listen to our sermons and read our articles, then go to God by checking in the Bible. They prove for themselves whether these things be true. And if, seeing the truth with their own eyes in their own Bibles, they believe it and follow it, then these are they who, had they lived in Jerusalem in Jesus’ day, and had heard Him, would have believed and followed Him!
But if there are any today who hear and read this same gospel on our website, are astonished at Christ’s Gospel, which may sound as strange as it did decades ago on the World Tomorrow TV program, who then go to men, and take the word of partisan men about the Message of Christ, they are the ones who, had they lived then, would have gone to the chief priests and the Pharisees, Christ’s enemies! They are the ones who would have believed these enemies instead of Christ! They are the ones who would have rejected Christ and His message, who would have been party to murdering the very Saviour!
Strong words, but Jesus Christ Himself has given you the test! What would you have done, had you lived then? Precisely what you do today!
If you will not hear and believe Christ’s Message today, even if heard from one persecuted, defamed, warned against by some men (even as Christ Himself was), then you would not have believed Jesus Christ, not followed Him, if you lived then! That is Christ’s own test! It is His Word! And it is the word that shall judge you at the final judgment!
Again and again we say, don’t’ believe us; don’t follow us or any men. Go to your Bible! “To the Law and to the Testimony: If they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them” (Isa. 8:20). The expression “law and testimony” simply means the Bible.
But if we do speak according to this Word, then you had better believe God’s Holy Word! It is life-giving knowledge! Even though some label it a “strange religion” - even though astonishing, believe God’s Word, regardless of men.
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