A WORLD WITHOUT JESUS. . ?

 

 

 

 

 

 

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A World without Jesus. . ?

By Larry R. Lasiter

2000

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

"He never had a family or owned a home. He never set foot inside a big city. He never traveled two hundred miles from the place He was born. He never wrote a book, or held an office. He did none of the things that usually accompany greatness."

"While He was still a young man, the tide of popular opinion turned against Him. His friends deserted Him. He was turned over to His enemies, and went through the mockery of a trial."

"He was nailed to a cross between two thieves. While He was dying, His executioners gambled for the only piece of property He had,- His coat. When He died, He was taken down and laid in a borrowed grave."

"Nineteen centuries have come and gone, and today He is the central figure for much of the human race. All the armies that have ever marched, and all the navies that have ever sailed, and all the Parliaments that ever sat, and all the kings who ever reigned,- put together, . . .have not affected the life of man upon this earth as powerfully as this ONE SOLITARY LIFE!" (Author Unknown)


The life of Jesus has affected the world in ways that are far too numerous to even fully comprehend.

HIS LIFE CHANGED THE WORLD

"Regardless of what anyone may personally think or believe about Him, Jesus of Nazareth has been the dominate figure in the history of Western Culture for almost twenty centuries."

"If it were possible, with some sort of super-magnet, to pull up out of that history every scrap of metal bearing at least a trace of His name, how much would be left?"

"It is from His birth that most of the human race dates its calendars, it is by His Name that millions curse and in His Name that millions (billions now) pray." (Jesus, Through the Centuries, by Jaroslav Pelikan)
 

"Into this world of craving for salvation the preaching of Christianity made its way. Long before it had achieved its final triumph by dint of an impressive philosophy of religion, its success was already assured by the fact that it promised and offered SALVATION,- a feature in which it surpassed all other religions." (Mission and Expansion, Harnack)

RENAISSANCE

The development of character in the individual person was a major theme of the Renaissance period and came to Europe through the teachings of Jesus Christ.

"The very concept and name Renaissance (rinascimento) whatever the ultimate origins of the idea may have been, had come into the vocabulary of European civilization principally through the teachings of Jesus."(Jaroslav Pelikan, Sterling Professor of History at Yale)

THE WORLD BEFORE JESUS
 

The World's religions consisted of Judaism and Paganism. The Concept of Judaism was that Israel alone was God's chosen people. Although there was proselyting by Jewish Rabbis to gain a following for themselves, they generally did not recruit non-Israelites. God never told the Israelites to "go forth and make disciples of all nations" as Jesus told His Apostles to do. (Matt. 28)

Paganism was polytheistic in nature with its devotees worshiping a wide variety of gods, and for varying reasons. Some gods were worshiped in a spirit of appeasement because of fear. Countless millions of children have been sacrificed to appease the anger of ancient pagan gods.

At times, in the Greek world, up to 75% of the people were slaves to the 25%, and were treated as such,- nothing more than property.

Notice how the Apostle Paul taught the principles of Christianity to a slave-owner named Philemon,- "For perhaps he (slave) was for this reason parted from you for a while, that you should have him back forever, no longer as a slave, but more than a slave, a beloved brother." (Philemon vs 15-16)

Even during the debate over the slavery issue in the United States prior to the Civil War, the measuring rod used was whether the teachings of Jesus permitted slavery or not.

"It is for FREEDOM that Christ has SET US FREE. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery." (Galatians 5:1)

By His loving sacrifice Jesus has indeed set us free from slavery to sin and death, which is the greatest yoke one could ever bear, or be freed from.

Until Jesus, women had virtually no rights.

His disciples were amazed when they found Jesus talking to a woman at a well in Samaria. Not only was she a hated Samaritan, but also a lowly woman.

Men had long put away their wives as they lost their beauty. When asked by Jews whether it was lawful to put away a wife by giving a writ of divorce, Jesus answered that Moses had permitted divorce only because of the hardness of their hearts, but that in the beginning God had made BOTH man AND female to become ONE FLESH. Jesus then said,- "Let not man tear apart what God has joined together."

Christianity is often ridiculed by Feminists, but the driving force behind the very concept of being fair comes from the teachings of Jesus of Nazareth.

"Husbands, love your wives just as Christ also loved the church and gave His life up for her". . ."So husbands ought also to love their own wives as their own bodies." (Ephesians 5)

This was a radically different teaching which the world as a whole had never heard. Historians have often searched for mercy and kindness in pre-Christian cultures but have found very little.

Before the teachings of Jesus influenced the cultures of the world, it was believed RIGHT that the strong should dominate the weak, the young dominate the old, the rich have favor over the poor and men treat women and children as property.

I once heard a story from a Christian missionary in a non-Christian culture, who said that he witnessed men comfortably sitting on the porch playing checkers as he could see one of their wives yoked next to an ox pulling a plow in the field.

Such has been the plight of women for much of history. WHAT CHANGED, you might ask? Was it that women finally just got "fed-up" with their situation and brought about the changes themselves? I think not. Because the very reason men gave ear and took notice of the unfair treatment of women. . .the reason it even mattered enough to men to desire to help bring about change, . . .was the influential, humane teachings of Jesus. HOW CAN WE BE SURE? . . .It is only in cultures that have been touched by Christianity that these changes have come about.

"You husbands likewise, live with your wives in an understanding way, as with a weaker vessel, since she is a woman; and grant her HONOR as a FELLOW-HEIR of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered." (1 Peter 3:7)

The teachings of Jesus brought about a different type of relationship between husband and wife in the Church of God. Husband and wife were to be a team composed of "one flesh", held together in the bond of love and commitment toward one another. Christian husbands are to love their wives, Christian wives are to submit to the authority of their husbands.

Rome was considered the most civilized culture at the time of Jesus' walk upon the earth, yet in the Roman world, women had few rights and children none.

A Roman citizen could divorce, sell into slavery or even kill his children as he wished. Babies of unwanted births were regularly taken into the forest and left to die or be eaten by predatory animals. This all gradually changed under pressure from the benign teachings of Jesus. (This is not to suggest that Rome truly converted to Christianity from the heart, but the empire's way of life was influenced dramatically over a period of time)

Before Christian missionaries came to India, widows of deceased husbands were sometimes expected to throw themselves onto the burning bodies of their husbands in self-sacrifice.

Sometimes a living husband who was displeased with his wife would douse her with oil and set her aflame. A practice that still occurs occasionally, though it is now illegal.

Some years back, Readers Digest ran the following story,- "Asraf's body was brought to his father. There was to be a traditional burial, which meant that Asraf's body would be placed in a wooden cart and taken to a certain spot, where it would be burned."

"Here was a frightened girl, (wife of deceased) "I am so sorry", "How sad to lose your husband", said Roshanara. The girl was suddenly on her knees saying,- Help me, Roshanara, do not let me burn!"

"But she was told,- "There will be the funeral, the funeral pyre. And you must throw yourself into the flames."She screamed "No!" But was told that the Great Khansmah says you must do it because your husband's father wishes it done as a symbol of respect for his son."

"Then suddenly the girl said, "No, no, that is suttee,- it is forbidden under British rule." India, once a British colony had the humane treatment of women forced upon it by parliamentary law. Where did the British learn this concept? From the humane teachings of Jesus Christ.
 

British Expansion Brought Christian Principles

At the peak of British expansion it was commonly said,- "The sun never sets on the empire of Jesus the King."As in past centuries of Christian conversion, the missionary and the military sometimes went hand in hand, each serving the purposes of the other, and not always in a manner or a spirit in harmony with the spirit and teachings of Jesus Christ. The medieval method toward missionary endeavors was to conquer a people in warfare and then baptize the survivors in the nearest river.

It is evident that Christian principles were enforced using non-Christian methods. It is also true that those doing the enforcing were not themselves practicing the true teachings of Jesus. The hypocrisy is without escaping notice, and in fact, even glaring. Still, marvelous changes took place wherever Jesus' basic teachings regarding man's responsibility toward each other settled.

Did real Christianity come to many through these expansions? I think not, because real Christianity does not need to be enforced by parliamentary law. True conversion is of the heart of man, creating a change from within that manifests itself in outward practices.

But having said that, the fact still remains that countless millions have been blessed and have been spared much suffering by the simple teachings of Jesus though they may have been introduced in hypocrisy.

Before Christian missionaries came to Africa, the wives and concubines of some tribal Chiefs were killed after his death.
One such custom called for a river to be damned in order that a hole could be dug in its bottom. Upon completion, the deceased Chief was placed onto his throne and then into the hole, then anchored down. His wives and concubines were then tied to his throne. Afterwards, the river was released and they all drowned as the water swept over them.


Before missionaries reached the Aztec civilization, mass sacrificial murder was common. 
In religious rituals thousands were slashed open from bottom to top and dropped over the edge of the high place of worship.

The pagan god, Molech was worshiped with human sacrifices. Sometimes he was represented as a horrible idol filled with fire within. Babies were offered and placed into his red-hot out-stretched arms.

In case the parents should relent after handing their child to the priest, loud noise was made on drums to hide the screams. The word for drums is "tophim" from which comes the word, "tophet" meaning "fireplace" which is mentioned in Jeremiah 7:31. While drums sounded, bands played, and the priests chanted, crying babies were devoured in the flames of Molech.

"And they have built the high places of Topheth, which is in the valley of the son of Hinnom, to burn their sons and their daughters in the fire, which I did not command, and it did not come into My mind."

In pre-Christian Ireland, the Druid priests demanded that the early Irish offer one third of their children to the pagan deity, Cromm Cruac. This practice was abolished by the missionary work of Patrick.

Many of the native Americans had terrifying religious practices prior to the arrival of Christian missionaries. Slavery among tribes was common.

The Mandans were a North American Indian people who lived in the upper Missouri River area. Known to traders as "the polite and friendly Mandans."

But in a four-day annual religious ceremony, young men underwent torturous initiation rites in order to appease good and evil spirits. The initiates entered the lodge following the "first and only man", who arrived in the village the day before. He made sure the boys did not eat, drink or sleep for four days and nights. On the last day, the young men were cut on the chest, shoulders, arms and legs. Splints were then put through the wounds. They were hung up, with weights on their arms and legs.

They were spun around with a pole until they lost consciousness, then each were cut down and left alone as "entirely dead", and in the keeping of the "Great Spirit." Each boy had to recover by himself if he was to live.

Temple prostitutes, both male and female, inhabited the temples of the pagan deities of fertility. 
The pre-Christian Greek and Roman world worshiped their fertility gods and goddesses with sexual orgies also in wooded areas the Bible calls "groves." God only knows how many thousands suffered or even died as a result of sexually transmitted diseases due to these acts of pagan worship. WHY ARE THESE NO LONGER TAKING PLACE? Because of the influential teachings of a carpenter from Nazareth.

Before Jesus, everyone under Roman rule was to believe that Roman emperors were gods and were required to worship them.

The original Apostles traveled widely, teaching and making converts. These converts then set up local Churches. Soon, there were many Christian Churches all around the Mediterranean.

This new faith was attacked by the Roman authorities because it refused to recognize the Roman emperors as gods, nor would the early Christians worship the Roman idols. Many were martyred because of this. During a time, Christians were burned to illuminate the emperor's Nero's gardens. Others were fed to hungry lions as sport in the arenas. Sometimes children were clothed in sheep skins, put in the arenas with ferocious dogs with only their helpless parents there to try in vain to defend them.

WHY DID THEY SUFFER SO? WHY DIDN'T THE EARLY CHRISTIAN CONVERTS RECANT AND WORSHIP THE EMPEROR? Because of their conviction of the true teachings of Jesus Christ, which gave them the ability to stand where others would fall and to endure things not thought endurable.

Although the Roman empire never truly turned to the teachings of Jesus, overtime, because of the influence of Christian principles, Roman emperors were no longer thought of as gods, and temple prostitutes lost their place of prominence.

Christianity preserved learning during the Dark Ages through its monasteries. Monks were often the only educated people. They wrote chronicles and kept libraries of handwritten manuscripts.


Christianity strongly affected political and intellectual life during Medieval times.

 

JESUS IN GENTILE PROPHECIES

There were prophecies concerning the birth of a child from God, born of a virgin in the Gentile world. Perhaps the most dramatic was the prophecy of the Roman poet, Vergil, in the fourth of his Eclogues, saying- "Under YOUR GUIDANCE, whatever vestiges remain of our ancient WICKEDNESS, once DONE AWAY with, shall free the earth from it incessant fear."

"For YOUR SAKE, O CHILD, the earth without being tilled, will freely pour forth for you caressing flowers. The serpent too shall die."

"Assume Your great honors, for the time will soon be at hand, dear child of the gods, great offspring of Jove! See how it totters,- the world's vaulted might, earth, and wide ocean, and the depths of heaven, all of them, look, caught up in joy at the age to come."

This example in Gentile prophecy shows that there was a "Messianic hope" among the Gentiles. Vergil's fourth Eclogue anticipated a "new heaven and a new earth", looked forward to a time when one's citizenship could be, not in Rome, but Heaven

It predicted the "abolition of the ancient religious wickedness and their practices" which had clung to human nature for thousands of years. It described Satan's defeat, the crushing of the serpent which God had promised Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. And it predicted a "Divine Child would be born to a virgin."

Notice what the Apostle Peter told the Gentile converts to Christianity,- "For the time already past is sufficient for you to have carried out the desire of the Gentiles, having pursued a course of sensuality, lusts, drunkenness, carousals, drinking parties and abominable idolatries." (1 Peter 4:3)

Does it seem difficult to believe that a pagan Roman poet could possibly know anything pertaining to the coming of Jesus of Nazareth? Notice that the "wise men from the East" who followed the star seeking to pay honor to the newborn "King of the Jews,- were "Magi", who are pagan priests of Mithra; yet they knew things concerning the birth of Jesus.


 

MUCH OF THE WORLD HAS CHANGED SIGNIFICANTLY UNDER THE WEIGHT OF THE RADICAL TEACHINGS OF JESUS.

JESUS DIDN'T RAISE AN ARMY TO ENFORCE HIS VIEWS, . . .HE JUST SPOKE. . .AND SAID THESE WORDS. . .

 

God is your FATHER and He wants you to pray to Him with that in mind. God as a tender, loving "Father?" Unheard of in the pre-Christian world as Jesus taught it!

 

You are God's CHILDREN and are HEIRS of HIS KINGDOM. Man's destiny is to actually be born into the very family of God, possessing His Nature and Glory. The Apostle John wrote,- "See how great a love the Father has bestowed on us that we should be called the CHILDREN OF GOD." (1 John 3:1)


God the Father so loved you that He gave His only Son. And Jesus willingly laid down His sinless life for you and me, even while we were committed to sin.

Love your neighbor as you love yourself.

Love and pray even for your enemies.

Bless those who curse you.

The meek shall be the greatest in the Kingdom.

Have mercy even on your slave.

To be forgiven, you must first forgive
.

Give to him who asks. Turn the other cheek.

Greatest must serve rather than be served.

Men and women are equal heirs of God's Kingdom

Fathers, don't discourage your children.

Husbands, love your wives. Wives submit to your husbands. Children, honor and obey your parents.


Blessed are those who make peace.

Remember, and care for the poor and needy.

"By this shall all men know that you are indeed My disciples, . . .that you love one another." (John 13:35)


While on earth Jesus declared that heaven and earth would ultimately pass away, but His WORDS would endure forever.

Not only have they endured, they have literally changed the very complexion of the world.

Have there been terrible atrocities committed in the name of Jesus?

The answer is Yes.

Have corrupt governments and corrupt religious figures done much evil in the name of Christ?

Yes, again.

But Jesus warned that many would come in His name and mislead multitudes. (Matt. 24)And He told us not to follow them.

But putting aside what corrupt men have done in His name, let us never forget what He actually taught and how He lived His life while on earth.

He never conquered a people by military force.

He was never convicted of corruption of any kind.

Jesus' life has affected the world in countless physical ways, but His life has affected the Christian in spiritual ways infinitely more.

How about you?

Have you allowed Him to personally transform You?

 

 

 

 

 

Points of Truth Ministries