Liar, Lunatic, or Lord?
by John MacArthur
The world will tell you that Jesus Christ was a good teacher—a noble moral leader, but nothing more. They’ll heap flattering laurels and accolades on Him, calling Him a religious revolutionary who changed the world with a philosophy of self-sacrifice and unconditional love. In fact, it seems almost any description of Christ is acceptable, as long as it’s not shaped by or based in the actual words of Scripture.
But this idea of Jesus as merely a good teacher is a complete fabrication, one born out of a desire to undercut or discredit the truth of His life and ministry. It’s a concoction of platitudes meant to placate Christians so that they will direct their evangelistic efforts elsewhere. In simplest terms, it’s a lie.
C.S. Lewis described the inherent foolishness of claiming Christ as nothing more than a good teacher in his book Mere Christianity. He wrote:
I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: “I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept his claim to be God.” That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic—on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg—or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse. 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 with any patronising nonsense about his being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.
Liar, lunatic, or Lord. Those are the only options to consider when it comes to determining the truth about Christ.
And yet we’re on the cusp of another season in which many more theories and perspectives on the Person and work of Christ will be presented. The months between Thanksgiving and Easter often bring new supposed discoveries and revelations about who Jesus really was and what His message means for us today. These theories—whether they appear in best-selling books, popular documentaries, or elsewhere—will shape the public discussion and understanding of the life and work of Jesus Christ.
It's critical, then, that we not sit by and watch as the world further distorts and perverts the truth about Christ. We need to be bold, clear voices for the truth of Scripture, and we need to be able to defend what it says about the life and ministry of our Savior.
With that in mind, we’re going to spend the next few weeks looking intently at the life and death of Christ. For now, though, we want to hear from you. What do you hear about the Person and work of Christ from your unbelieving friends and family? And how do you respond when someone claims Jesus was merely a “good teacher”?
#1 Posted by
William Stinson | Monday, September 09, 2013at
It is so hard to share the TRUTH with a person who thinks they are a Christian because in the "World" they are considered a good person or they go to Church Christmas, Easter, and Thanks-giving. It's the old story they look not for the truth but people that agree with their truth they want believe so they can continue to lead a sinful life and convince themselves they can do what ever, and still be acceptable in GOD's eyes, when in fact they live a life that is "HELL on Wheels".
#2 Posted by
Rodolfo Quinones | Monday, September 09, 2013at
Thanks Pastor John for your faithfulness to the Truth.
I often hear people say that Jesus was a great moral example. In fact I've heard some people claim to be "Christians" in the sense that they follow Christ's example.
Of course none of them is willing to accept Jesus Christ as Lord, Master and King of their lives. They know this would imply turning from their sinful behavior, something they are not able to do because they love the darkness rather than the light (cf. John 3:19).
May God use this blog series to strengthen us as Christians in the knowledge of the truth. And may this be an instrument the Lord will use to show the beauty and excellence of Christ to unbelievers.
God bless you!
#3 Posted by
Damon Collier | Monday, September 09, 2013at
Thank you John for preaching Gods TRUTH in season and out of season. We need the truth preached with boldness and that is what you do year after year. God bless you and praise His Holy name.
#4 Posted by
Sunny Shell | Monday, September 09, 2013at
Interestingly, this very thing happened to me recently while at my newest doctor's office (a urologist) while finding out I had another serious health issue that required an emergency surgery.
Trying to lighten the visit a bit (since it was my first time meeting him), Dr. M (who's Jewish) asked what I did for living. I told him, "I'm a daughter of the Most High God, a wife, mother and Christian writer." He said, "Oh wow, a Christian writer? What does that mean? What do you write about?" I said, "I write about Jesus Christ and all that exalts and honors His name." Then he said, oh, you mean like that Reza Aslan guy who just published a best seller, 'Zealot' about the life real life of Jesus?"
I smiled and gently responded, "No, not quite. Reza Aslan is not even a Christian. He's an ex-Muslim, ex-Christian and reconverted Muslim...a very spiritually confused man who wrote a book based on his misunderstanding and the Muslim misrepresentation of who Jesus is. Muslims say Jesus was a good teacher and prophet."
Dr. M said, "Well, what's wrong with that?" I said, "Because Jesus also claimed to be God." Dr M, "Again, what's the problem, isn't God the best teacher?" I agreed, "Yes! He most certainly is, but if Jesus Christ claimed to be God, how could anyone consider Him a good teacher or prophet? To claim equality with the Almighty is to blaspheme." Dr M, "Oh, yes, I agree. I didn't think about it that way." Then I ended with, "If you know Jesus claimed to be God, you either have to deem Him a lunatic, liar or Lord, but you can't consider Him a good teacher or prophet."
He agreed and began testing me for cancer, which we recently found out I don't have, thanks be to God!
I know God has stricken me with this rare metabolic disease for such things because strangely enough, these conversations are more the norm than rarities. I suppose it's always for the same reason Dr. M did it...because people feel bad for me because I'm so ill and they try to make me feel better by asking me what I do and naturally, being a slave of Christ, I cannot speak without mentioning my Master.
Thank you Pastor MacArthur for remaining steadfast in our Lord and faithfully teaching the truth in a time where truth has been so muddied by many professing Christians, it's difficult for an unbeliever to know who Jesus Christ really is.
May the Lord bless you and multiply His grace and peace to you.
#5 Posted by
Kim Eriksen | Tuesday, September 10, 2013at
Thank you pastor John a "friend" of mine Laura pray for her..she doesnt understand doctrine she wants to "witness: to JW I told her they dont believe that Jesus is God yes they do..i have a hard time with her and she doesnt like to be rebuked or corrected..please keep me in prayer as this is satan trying to keep me off guard/balance and i will not allow this seeking my Father in this and asking for his peace & wisdom..any feed back would be appreciated..thanks and
John and Patricia happy anniversary!!! Gods richest blessings upon you!
#6 Posted by
Robert Jones | Wednesday, September 11, 2013at
Thank You John, from my heart, for blessing my life with your ability to convey the truth of God's Word. God used YOU to save my wretched soul from my sin. Words cant express my gratitude.
I try so hard to express to my unsaved loved that Jesus is God and use the Scripture to show them that he did indeed make this claim. I tell them that if God became a man he would do and say the things that Jesus did. I have prayed for their salvation so many times and for whatever reason, to no avail, the Holy Spirit has yet to awaken their dead hearts. I fear I am too bold and lack some amount of compassionate love to win their hearts and minds. What else can I do? This topic is very timely and eternally important.
#7 Posted by
Tony Smith | Wednesday, September 11, 2013at
The lie that I come across more often is that Jesus is not the only way. A young person recently told me that she believed in Jesus, that she knows Jesus died for her but that He is not the only way for everyone and that God will accept others attempts to reach Him via their own personal beliefs, whatever they may be. I was taken aback by the depth of this 17 year old's relativism. She was incapable of even considering the logical and rational defenses of Christ and the Gospel. When presented with the overwhelming love and sacrifice of Christ on her behalf she rejected the Truth because in her mind a God who would reject other religions just because the people got it wrong is evil. She also admitted that she doesn't read the Bible and has no plans to and she feels that it can be interpreted any way a person wants to interpret it. Finally, she admitted she could not love God more than she loves her own mother. This girl needs to meet the LORD Jesus and not the Jesus she has concocted in her mind.
#8 Posted by
Cherie C | Wednesday, September 11, 2013at
I remind them what Jesus said in Mark:
And Jesus said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God
Thank you Pastor MacArthur for standing for the faith. The arrows fly, but your stance is solid upon the Word of God. You don't see that often from Pastors today.
But then, as God has warned us, in the end times we will hear many false things. God has blessed us with Godly men that stand upon the Word of God no matter what. I thank God that you are one of those men Pastor MacArthur.
In my search for truth after coming out of an apostate church, it has brought me to many ministries, some good, some really bad, but no one is without error. What I try to look for is core doctrine. The preaching of Law and Gospel (Law and Grace) is the core we should all look for in a preacher/pastor. If that pastor is not preaching sin and repentance, and the Faith once delivered to the saints, then we must leave that church. And we must also be careful to always have a closed mind and and an open Bible when we listen to anyone. A closed mind to twisting of Scripture, and an open Bible to:
2 Timothy 4:2
Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all long suffering and doctrine.
Be a Berean.
As the day draws closer we will hear more and more outlandish things about Jesus Christ. As He said in Matthew 24:25-26
25 Behold, I have told you before.
26 Wherefore if they shall say unto you, Behold, he is in the desert; go not forth: behold, he is in the secret chambers; believe it not.
I will continue to pray for all brothers and sisters in Christ Jesus for Godly discernment, strength to stand for the faith, and the wisdom from God to avoid false teaching, teachers and the broad path that leads to destruction.
1 Thessalonians 5:21
Prove all things; hold fast that which is good.
2 Timothy 1:13
Hold fast the form of sound words, which thou hast heard of me, in faith and love which is in Christ Jesus.
your sister in Christ Jesus,