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About this series
Jesus Loves Me
Christian Essentials for the Head and the Heart
Do you know the core beliefs of Christianity? Forget what churches, denominations, or notable pastors say for a second - what do God and His Word actually state are the essential truths to being a follower of Jesus? In this 10-part series, journalist, author, and pastor John Dickerson helps us uncover the foundational building blocks of the Christian faith. By using the simple children’s song - Jesus Loves Me - John reveals what these lyrics tell us about God, His love for us, and the reliability of the Bible. So whether you’re a new Christian looking for guidance or you’ve been a believer your whole life - and you need a refresher, John’s words will encourage you!More from this series
We can summarize this series with a verse from Romans chapter 1, verse 16. It says, “I am not ashamed of the gospel,” and that word gospel is really what we are learning in this series. The good news. How do you kind of summarize the message of Jesus? Well, when it comes to Jesus, we need to believe that He is God.
One of my challenges as I have prayed for all of you in this series is: How do I take this and help us understand that this is not hypothetical, this is not just like seminary stuff or big churchy words like divinity and Trinity. This is very real. This is very tangible.
Did you know that today, one out of three people in the world identify as Christians? That is two point two billion people. To put that into context, the biggest celebrities on Instagram have about one hundred million followers.
Multiply their followers by ten, then multiply that by two and then add another two hundred million. That’s how many followers Jesus has, not who just think He’s a nice guy or want to see pictures of Him on vacation, but who bow down and worship Him as God.
This is the most influential person in all of human history. And so, the question of who do you believe Jesus is is the most important question that you’ll ever answer in your life. You see, if it’s all made up and He’s not God, but you choose to believe that, what will be the end result? Well, you’ll live a more moral life and you’ll have better relationships by following His example. But let’s say that it’s true that He actually is God. Let’s say that His claims that He is the way, the truth, and the life are true. Well, then the stakes are eternal. Belief in Him either leads to an eternal life or an eternal death.
Secondly, Jesus is fully human without sin. This is part of what it means to be the Messiah. The Messiah had to be human and feel our pain. He knows the sting of emotional rejection, He knows what it means to be made fun of as a kid, He knows the pain of a splinter under a fingernail, He knows the salty warmth of tears on His face. He felt our pain. He was one of us. Almighty God humbled Himself and took upon Him the form of a man.
And He further humbled Himself by going to the cross. We’ll explore what that cross was and why it’s the ultimate symbol of love. When we say, “Jesus loves me,” we are talking about what He did on the cross. But to do that, He had to be God and He had to be man.
Third, Jesus is the one true God within the Trinity. Now, you don’t have to fully understand the Trinity to get this and you don’t even have to memorize this little saying. Really the gist of today is that Jesus is God, okay? But here’s what is beautiful about everything in the Christian life and everything with Jesus. You only have to have a childlike faith to receive it. And a four-year-old can understand it.
But if you want to go deeper, it just gets richer and richer and richer. And that’s how it is with understanding the Trinity. The Bible is very clear and Jesus’ teaching is very clear that there is only one God. Theologians call this monotheism. One God.
And, yet, Jesus taught over and over that He is God and He has God the Father and then there is this third part called God the Holy Spirit. And we know this from many, many verses. Probably the most famous one is at the end of Jesus’ life on earth, before He ascended back to heaven, He said to His disciples, “Go and make more followers of Me, teaching them to obey all my commands, and then baptize them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.”
So, it’s one God in three persons. It is a mystery, okay? If you’re like, That doesn’t quite totally make sense, I agree. Okay? It’s a mystery. Our minds are a little bit smaller than the mind that created the universe. But what I want to say here is that if you want to know more about the Trinity, or even know more about Jesus’ divinity, that is that He is God, you can be a self-feeder.
So, we talk here often about packaging of the Bible that is called The Life Application Study Bible. Now, the words of God in Scripture are unchanging, but what a study Bible is is it’s a Bible where you’ve kind of got some notes that walk you through: What does this mean? And this is a Bible that really changed my life, because it’s all about how does the Word of God apply to your life?
And I’ll just show you for example, if you were at home and you were wondering, What do I need to believe about Jesus? You could look up in the back of your Life Application Study Bible: Jesus. And here’s the first passage it would take you to. John chapter 1, verse 1. John 1, verse 1 says, “In the beginning was the Word,” capital W. It’s a title for Jesus. And the Word was with God and the Word was God.” So, Jesus is God. But then here’s what this little footnote says, if you’re like, “What does that mean?” It says this: John, the author of this book, shows Jesus as fully human and fully God. Although Jesus took upon Himself full humanity and lived as a man, He never ceased to be the eternal God who has always existed, the Creator and Sustainer of all things and the Source of eternal life. This is the truth about Jesus and the foundation of all truth.
So, anytime you’ve got questions, you can come here [to church]. That’s why we are here. That’s why I get up in the morning is to answer these questions, okay?
But my desire for you as a shepherd and as a brother is for you to have a good study Bible like this so that throughout the week, day by day, you’re able to learn more and go deeper, even on your own.
Now, we are talking today, how do we access this power of God that leads to salvation? And we have learned that Jesus wasn’t just a good teacher or a human, He was the Christ or the Messiah.
This message that I’m not ashamed of, the power of God that leads to salvation is that Jesus is the Christ, the Messiah, the one true God.
Well, I don’t know if you have ever heard the saying “a watershed issue.” Maybe you have heard that. I had heard that for a while and I didn’t know what it meant so I looked it up.
Watershed is very simply where water goes when the rain falls. You know, it runs downhill, eventually it finds a creek. That creek runs downhill and finds a river and keeps going to find a lake. And eventually most water ends up back in the ocean. And that’s called the watershed. The path that the water takes.
Well, there are places around the world where there’s a divide, you know, at the top of a mountain. And if you were to drop a bucket of water there, one half of it will end up in one ocean and the other half will end up in the other.
It’s called a watershed issue. So, this is a literal place where if you were to drop a big bucket of water right here, half of it would eventually end up in the Pacific Ocean and the other half would end up in the Atlantic. Now, if you need to brush up on your geography, those are really far apart. Okay? So, it starts close, but it ends up in two totally far apart destinations. In fact, here’s a map of some of these continental divides, the watersheds around North America.
So, there are places all along this where within one square foot it’s a world of difference.
And this is why our beliefs in Jesus are so important. If Jesus is just one god among many, then many of the things He said are not true and He doesn’t have the power to save us. If Jesus is just a man and a good teacher, but not God, He also doesn’t have the power to save us. To experience the power of God that brings salvation, I must believe, intellectually, but then in my heart, that Jesus is the one true God.
And this is where your will becomes involved. Your parents can’t decide this for you, your spouse can’t. Only you can say, “I believe Jesus is God.” That’s why we call out to Him to change us and rescue us and save us and set us free, because He’s God, not just a good teacher, but Almighty God.
I want to show you a story of this power of God that changes us from the inside out. We know it existed two thousand years ago, because it launched this viral movement that has taken over the globe, but this power is alive today. And I could tell you so many stories. You’re sitting in a room full of stories of people who have experienced the power of God.
But let me show you just one. This is an NFL athlete who was a very powerful man and, yet, when he encountered Jesus, he encountered an even stronger power. Go ahead and take a look.
[Video Starts] When I was about five years old, I got a rude awakening about who I was and what my color was all about. My uncle took me out in the back yard one day and he says, “Ken, I want to tell you how rough your life is going to be growing up and living in Alabama.” And he got down in a football stance and he took off as fast as he could go, hit me, bang! I flipped over, rocks and dust flying, and I could not believe he had hurt me so badly. I said, “What are you doing?” And he says, “Shut up. Stand back up there.” Bam! Bam! Five, six times. Bam! And I will never forget what he said, he took me and he stood me up and he says, “Let me tell you something. Whites can never be trusted. You always have to keep your guard up. You must be better or they will make you worse.” My life changed that day. I believed my uncle.
And I graduated with honors and living that life. I was so mad and so prejudiced. All the times I walked into the back of that bus. It was about me. All that frustration. That’s right. I was a maniac. I hated everybody. Anybody got in my way. I was driven by hatred. Driven. My life was miserable. There was just emptiness. Not knowing God had a plan for this stubborn, prejudiced, hateful, unbelieving heathen.
Do you think that there is anything on this earth that can change that type of prejudice? Well, I’m here to tell you I ran into Jesus Christ. What God said is, “Let me tell you something, boy.” And God can call you “boy” so that’s fine with me. He says, “I died for whites too.” And if God died for everyone, who am I to have a prejudiced thought towards any of God’s creatures?
Before I became a Christian, it was all about me. It was what I wanted, it was about my revenge, it was about my prejudice. And I dropped that hatred for whites into the love of Christ. And that’s why to this very day I will fight for White, Black, Red, Yellow, Brown, because the love of Christ changed me, protected me, accepted me. And I do the same for all people.
Now, that old prejudiced guy married one of the whitest white women in the world. I got a cross-culture family. My wife is German descent, I’m Black, we got four German chocolate kids. Two boys, two girls. Gorgeous. They take after their mom. Praise God. Senior pastor of a large church. Sixty-five percent of the church is white. Thirty-five percent is all ethnic groups. Black, white, brown, red, yellow. Woo! That is the power changing, Holy Spirit of God. And He can do the same for you. My name is Ken Hutcherson and I am second. [Video Ends]
The power of God that brings salvation is alive and well in our time. It can change anyone prejudiced of any background. All of us have broken things that have been done to us and part of the brokenness of humanity is that this injustice and this evil, things like racism and hatred, when they bump into us, very often our response is to then continue it on to someone else and abuse becomes perpetual and cyclical.
Racism becomes perpetual. Prejudice becomes perpetual. And the God who made us and who designed us to live a life of unity and love with Him and others, when He looked down and saw all of humanity drowning in the sickness of our sin, He didn’t walk away. But He humbled Himself. He became human in the person of Jesus. He showed His power with miraculous deeds. And then He showed that He is God by raising from the dead.
And then He made a prediction that is documented two thousand years ago. He said to a little ragtag group of a hundred and twenty people, “The Holy Spirit is going to come upon you. And you’re going to go and you’re going to make followers of Me in Jerusalem and Judea and Samaria. And this movement of Mine will spread to the ends of the earth.”
And Jesus made that prediction two thousand years ago. That’s not controversial. That’s well-documented. What are the chances of someone in the ancient world saying, “My followers will spread before there are airplanes or automobiles or electricity or even fax machines. My followers will spread all around the globe.”
And here we are two thousand years later. And that impossible prediction has come true. Also, His prediction that He will set captives free. Also, His prediction that those who are weary and burdened and come to Him, that He will give them rest has come true over and over again.
Ken, our brother who you saw on that video actually is in heaven now. Ken had a cancer condition and at age sixty-one went home to be with the Lord. And the same power of Jesus that transformed him from a person defined by hate and the past and fear transformed him into a person defined by love and the future and optimism. That same power is the power that gave Ken the ability to face death knowing the end of life here is not the end, it’s just the beginning of an eternal life. And I can’t wait to see Ken in heaven.
And we are sitting in a room who, just like Ken, very many of us have seen this kind of transformation. And we are not all NFL athletes. Our stories aren’t all quite as dramatic, but many of them are if you dig into the details.
And God is in the business of changing people today, because a proper belief in Jesus is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes.
So, I just want to ask you three simple questions as we sort of review what we have learned today.
Jesus is the one true God. First, did you know it’s this simple? You don’t have to learn those terms like Trinity, divinity, some of those big words I threw around. You don’t have to know all those words to understand Jesus is the one true God. Do you know that?
Second, do you know it’s this important that it is a watershed issue whether or not you believe Jesus is God?
And most importantly, have you decided what you believe? Do I want to be forced to worship Him as someone who resisted Him or do I want to be part of His family and spend eternity with Him?