Tag Archives: Jesus

Jesus at Radio City Music Hall?

Post Author: Bill Pratt

Several years ago my family attended the Christmas Spectacular at Radio City Music Hall in Manhattan.  It was one of the most phenomenal shows I have ever seen, and for one surprising reason.  It was full of worship.  Yes, that’s right.  In the middle of New York City at Radio City Music Hall, my family experienced a wonderful time worshiping God.  If you don’t believe me, and many don’t when I tell them, read this short essay below that was scrolled across a giant screen at the close of the show, right after the live nativity scene.

One Solitary Life


Here is a man who was born in an obscure village, the child of a peasant woman. He grew up in another village. He worked in a carpenter shop until He was thirty. Then for three years He was an itinerant preacher.

He never owned a home. He never wrote a book. He never held an office. He never had a family. He never went to college. He never put His foot inside a big city. He never traveled two hundred miles from the place He was born. He never did one of the things that usually accompany greatness. He had no credentials but Himself…

While still a young man, the tide of popular opinion turned against him. His friends ran away. One of them denied Him. He was turned over to His enemies. He went through the mockery of a trial. He was nailed upon a cross between two thieves. While He was dying His executioners gambled for the only piece of property He had on earth – His coat. When He was dead, He was laid in a borrowed grave through the pity of a friend.

Nineteen long centuries have come and gone, and today He is a centerpiece of the human race and leader of the column of progress.

I am far within the mark when I say that all the armies that ever marched, all the navies that were ever built; all the parliaments that ever sat and all the kings that ever reigned, put together, have not affected the life of man upon this earth as powerfully as has that one solitary life.

This essay was adapted from a sermon by Dr James Allan Francis in “The Real Jesus and Other Sermons” © 1926 by the Judson Press of Philadelphia (pp 123-124 titled “Arise Sir Knight!”).

Why Do We Celebrate Easter?

Post Author: Bill Pratt

We celebrate Easter because it commemorates the resurrection of Jesus Christ.  Christians believe that Jesus was killed by crucifixion on a Friday and then actually came back to life on the following Sunday.

Some may ask, “So what?”  Why is it important that Jesus rose from the dead?

There are many answers to that question, including the fact that Jesus predicted this miracle ahead of time as proof that he is the Son of God.  But today I want to highlight a passage from 1 Cor. 15 where the apostle Paul explains why the resurrection is important to believers in a very practical way.

But if it is preached that Christ has been raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead?  If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised.  And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith.  More than that, we are then found to be false witnesses about God, for we have testified about God that he raised Christ from the dead. But he did not raise him if in fact the dead are not raised. For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either.  And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost.  If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men (1 Cor. 15:12-19).

Christ’s resurrection is the central teaching of Christianity.  According to Paul, if he wasn’t resurrected, then Christianity is a complete sham; all who believe in Christ for salvation are still in their sins and to be pitied if Christ was not raised.

For those of us who are believers, the resurrection is extremely important.  If Christ was not raised, we have no hope.

But Paul does not leave us hanging.  In verse 20, he makes clear what really occurred: “But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep” (1 Cor. 15:20).

Paul concludes his treatment of the resurrection with these words: “Death has been swallowed up in victory” (1 Cor. 15:54).

The resurrection of Christ is the ultimate reassurance to all believers that death has finally been defeated.  We will all be resurrected, just as Christ.  Once you understand that Easter is a celebration of the defeat of death, you will finally understand why we celebrate this holy day.

Thanks be to God for a risen Savior!

An Illustration of the Incarnation from the Movie Avatar

Post Author: Bill Pratt

Although I have written negatively of the overall theme and message of Avatar, there is an interesting analogy of the Incarnation of Christ that can be taken from the film.  I heard this analogy in a podcast by William Lane Craig, and I think it may help some people understand this important Christian doctrine.

Craig was debating a Muslim recently and he wanted to help the Muslim audience understand how Jesus could be both God and man at the same time.  The doctrine of the Incarnation states that Jesus is one person who possesses two natures, one divine and one human, but Muslims sometimes struggle with this concept, thinking that if Jesus is human, he cannot also be God.

Here is where the movie Avatar comes in.  The hero of the movie, Jake Sully, is a crippled human that cannot walk.  As the movie progresses, Sully is able, through technology, to take on the nature of one of the natives of the planet Pandora, the Na’vi.

Sully’s mind unites with a Na’vi body, and for the rest of the movie he is both human and Na’vi; he possesses two natures.  Like Jesus, Sully is one person with two natures.  Sully can do things in his Na’vi nature that he cannot do in his human nature, like moving his legs and physically connecting his mind with the planet Pandora.  Likewise, Jesus is able to do things in his divine nature (e.g., raise people from the dead, still storms)  that He cannot do in his human nature.

Like any analogy, this one has its weaknesses, but I thought it was an interesting way to illustrate the Incarnation using the plot of a popular movie.  If it helps you, great!  If it doesn’t help, forget about it.

Why Did Jesus Allow Lazarus to Die?

Post Author: Bill Pratt

One of the most common complaints against God is that he allows evil to occur in the world.  Christians respond that God has good purposes for allowing evil, but can we back this up with Scripture?

Actually, there are many good examples from Scripture, but one of the best is the story of Lazarus in John 11.

Lazarus, a man likely in the prime of his life and a good friend of Jesus, becomes ill and dies.  Yale scholar Greg Ganssle  imagines the friends of Lazarus witnessing the evil that has occurred, the evil of Lazarus’ death, “and after three days of mourning [coming] to the conclusion that there is no reason for this.  Therefore, God doesn’t exist.”

Jesus arrives at Bethany after Lazarus has been in the tomb for 4 days.  Upon his arrival, Lazarus’ sisters, Mary and Martha, bemoan the fact that he did not come sooner to heal Lazarus; now it is too late.  Jesus’ purpose for not coming to heal Lazarus is a mystery to these women.

Now we all know what happened next.  Jesus commanded Lazarus to rise from the dead, and so he did!  What possible reason could Jesus have had for delaying his arrival, allowing Lazarus to die, and then resuscitating him?

He explains first, ““Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?”  The resuscitation of Lazarus was done so that those who witnessed it could see the glory of God.

But there was a second reason.  In verse 42, Jesus prays to the Father and explains that his actions are meant to convince those who witness the resuscitation that Jesus was sent by God.

The effect was so dramatic that many who witnessed Jesus raise Lazarus placed their faith in him.

Now, it certainly seemed at first that there was no good purpose for allowing the death of Lazarus.  But subsequent events placed his death in a completely different context.  According to Ganssle, “In light of this context, Lazarus’s death is seen to be part of a much greater good than anyone in Bethany could imagine.”

Just because we cannot see a good purpose for some evils does not mean that there aren’t good purposes.  Since God is omnipotent, omniscient, and omnisapient, he can bring good out of all sorts of evil.  We may not be able to immediately see the good reasons for every evil, but we can be confident that the reasons exist.  The story of Lazarus beautifully illustrates this principle.

Why Don’t We See Miracles Today? – #5 Post of 2009

Post Author: Bill Pratt

Many people wonder why we don’t see miracles such as the parting of the sea, the raising of the dead, and people walking on water.  It seems like miracles were pretty common in the Old and New Testaments, but today nothing like that seems to happen.  Why?

First of all, I believe there are indeed miracles being performed by God today, as I have certainly heard many accounts from Christians that I know and trust.  Most of these accounts, however, are hard to verify as true supernatural events, and they are never captured on CNN for the whole world to see.  So even though miracles seem to be occurring today, they still aren’t typically the public displays of supernatural power displayed in the Bible.

I think one reason we don’t see these public miracles is that God is not confirming new revelation today.  You see, the Bible records some 250 miraculous events, but they are concentrated, according to Norman Geisler and Frank Turek, in three time periods: 1) the time of Moses, 2) the time of Elijah and Elisha, and 3) the time of Jesus and his apostles.

According to the Bible, God used miracles as signs to confirm his messengers (prophets)  to skeptical populations.  Read the Gospel of John to see how John records seven miraculous signs performed by Jesus to prove he was from God.  Likewise, consider Elijah on Mount Carmel (1 Kings 18).  One of the ways God confirmed his messengers was through miracles.

There were hundreds of years recorded in the Bible with no miracles, so it is false to say that miracles occurred all throughout biblical times.  They did not.  They primarily occurred when God was confirming a new revelation from his prophets.  By the way, this is one reason why Jews and Christians rejected Muhammad as a prophet of God while he was alive.  He did not perform any miracles (Sura 3:181–184).

So, today we do not have new revelation coming from one of God’s prophets, because Jesus and his apostles were the final revelation from God.  Everything God wants us to know about himself, through his prophets, is recorded in the Holy Scriptures.  Since there is no need for new prophets to tell us new things about God, then the need for public displays of supernatural power is absent.

Can God do miracles today?  Of course.  But we should not expect the same kinds and numbers of miracles today as when Moses, Elijah, and Jesus lived.

Did Jesus Want Us to Think?

Post Author: Bill Pratt

According to Martin Lloyd-Jones, the answer is “yes.”  Below is a quote from Lloyd-Jones where he is commenting on Matt. 6:30, from the Sermon on the Mount.  He argues that Jesus’ words indicate that he expected his listeners to be actively using their minds to make logical deductions from the evidence around them.  The source of this quote is Tim Challies’ blog.

Faith according to our Lord’s teaching in this paragraph, is primarily thinking; and the whole trouble with a man of little faith is that he does not think. He allows circumstances to bludgeon him. …

We must spend more time in studying our Lord’s lessons in observation and deduction. The Bible is full of logic, and we must never think of faith as something purely mystical. We do not just sit down in an armchair and expect marvelous things to happen to us. That is not Christian faith. Christian faith is essentially thinking. Look at the birds, think about them, draw your deductions. Look at the grass, look at the lilies of the field, consider them. …

Faith, if you like, can be defined like this: It is a man insisting upon thinking when everything seems determined to bludgeon and knock him down in an intellectual sense. The trouble with the person of little faith is that, instead of controlling his own thought, his thought is being controlled by something else, and, as we put it, he goes round and round in circles. That is the essence of worry. … That is not thought; that is the absence of thought, a failure to think.

Can All Religions Be True?

Post Author: Bill Pratt

If you actually know anything substantive about major world religions, you know the answer to this question is an emphatic “no.”

The only people claiming that all religions are the same or that all religions are equally true are those people who know little to nothing about world religions, or who are unable to do a little bit of critical thinking.

The major religions of the world profess profoundly different views of the nature of God, the nature of man, the afterlife, the source of evil, and a host of other weighty topics.  It is true that the ethical teachings contained in major religions have some commonality, but ethics are but one portion of what constitutes a religion’s core beliefs.

If you are a Christian, then you believe that Jesus is the third person of the Triune God.  No other major world religion recognizes Jesus as God in this sense, so clearly somebody is wrong!  We can’t all be right because Jesus can’t both be God and not God at the same time and in the same sense.

If  Christians are right about Jesus being God, then other religions who deny this fact are wrong about who God is.  They get God wrong, in other words.  I would say that is a serious error which dramatically undermines the claim that all religions are true.

Is Extraordinary Evidence Needed to Prove the Resurrection?

Post Author: Bill Pratt

I sometimes hear skeptics say that they need extraordinary evidence to believe that Jesus rose from the dead.  The reason they need extraordinary evidence, they claim, is that the resurrection is an extraordinary claim.

It is true that the resurrection is an extraordinary claim, but there are many extraordinary claims made about the past that we accept based on historical testimony.  For example, how do you get more extraordinary than the conquests of Alexander the Great?  His accomplishments are virtually unparalleled in history, yet we believe they really happened.

Or take a look at the Guinness Book of World Records some time.  Most of us have no trouble accepting the things recorded in there, but none of us were there to see all of them.  We have to rely on the testimony of those who were there.

The point is that multitudes of bizarre and outlandish marvels have transpired in the past, but for some reason skeptics are quite willing to accept these marvels as real, but not the resurrection of Jesus.

The standard for proving the resurrection should be trustworthy testimony from those who saw what happened, just like any other historical event.  In fact, all we need is eyewitness testimony that Jesus was alive, that he died, and that he was alive again.  If we know from history that these three things occurred, then we know Jesus rose from the dead.

There is nothing difficult about understanding this line of thinking.  If you are a skeptic, go study the historical testimony that shows Jesus lived, that he was then killed by crucifixion, and that he was then seen again by over 500 people.  There are libraries of both scholarly and popular level books that delve into these historical evidences.  Why not go read some of them, with an open mind to the evidence?

If the historical evidence is there, as I claim it is, you have some serious thinking to do.

If Only I Could See a Miracle, I Would Believe

Post Author: Bill Pratt 

If you are a person who says this about Christianity, excuse me for being skeptical.

God performed miracles through Moses, and yet Pharaoh did not believe.

God performed miracles through Elijah, and yet Jezebel did not believe.

Jesus performed numerous miracles that confirmed his power over sickness, weather, and even death.  Ultimately he rose from the dead.  Yet still some who saw these miracles did not believe.

God has provided plenty of evidence that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and rose from the dead.  If you are a person who has heard the gospel message and understood it, but you continue to demand more evidence in the form of miracles, ask yourself if there isn’t another problem.

Is it possible that you just don’t want to believe?  Is it possible that no matter how much evidence you are shown, that no matter how many times God reveals himself to you, that you just will not believe?

If that is the case, search your own heart and figure out why you don’t want to believe.  Where is this barrier of belief coming from?  We can answer your questions about Christianity, but until you deal with your will, our answers will remain unpersuasive.

Is the God of Christianity the Same as the God of Islam?

Post Author: Bill Pratt 

Imagine the following scenario: two people claim to know the same professional football player.  The football player’s name is Alex and he plays in the NFL.  The first person who knows Alex the football player describes him this way:

He is 6′ 6″ tall, he weighs 305 lbs., he plays left tackle, he is married, and he plays for the Carolina Panthers.

Now the second person describes Alex the football player:

He is 6′ 2″ tall, he weighs 256 lbs., he plays middle linebacker, he is single, and he plays for the Atlanta Falcons.

When when we started out, we were pretty confident that these two people were talking about the same Alex the football player.  Once we asked for more details, though, we quickly discovered that they are not the same person at all, but two different people.  We just needed a little more information about Alex from each person.

This is the same situation with the God of Islam and the God of Christianity.  Both are claimed to be the God of Abraham and both are monotheistic creator-God’s.  If we stop there, we might conclude that they must be the same God.

Unfortunately, there is a slight problem.  Christians believe that God is three persons in one nature, a Trinity.  The three persons are the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  Muslims flatly reject the Trinity.  There is only one person who is God, not three.

Second, Christians believe that Jesus Christ is the God-man – he is fully God and fully man.  Muslims completely reject this idea of Jesus as God-man.  They view Jesus as a mere human prophet who is less important than the final prophet, Muhammad.

There are more differences in the God of Islam and the God of Christianity, but we need go no further.  Just based on the differences highlighted above, we are 100% sure that these two Gods are not the same.

One final note.  We must admit that there are some similarities in the God of Islam and the God of Christianity, and when Christians speak to Muslims about God, we can use these similarities as launching pads to share our faith.  However, just because there are some similarities, we must not fall into the trap of papering over the very real and very significant differences.  Closing our eyes to the key beliefs of these two religions doesn’t get us anywhere.