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2002 Conversations


Ron McManus: Leadership center launched (December 30, 2001)

Norman Arnesen: History's supreme event (December 23, 2001)

Dr. Everett Bartholf: Help for the holidays (December 16, 2001)

"Auntie" Anne Beiler: God has a plan (December 9, 2001)

Mary Inman: Raising seven sons for Christ (November 25, 2001)

Tony Hall: Feeding the hungry, one person at a time (Novemer 18, 2001)

John Maracle: A growing Native American Fellowship (November 11, 2001)

Al Peterson: Praying for national leaders (October 28, 2001)

Beverly LaHaye: The family is God's gift (October 21, 2001)

Terry Meeuwsen: Putting family first (October 14, 2001)

Dennis Gaylor: Changing the world, one student at a time (September 30, 2001)

Nate Cole: You are not alone (September 16, 2001)

George Cope: Training pastors, missionaries and evangelists (September 9, 2001)

Thomas E. Trask: Breaking down the barriers (August 26, 2001)

John Kilpatrick: The blessings and challenges of revival (August 19, 2001)

Marie Colwill: A passion for evangelism (August 12, 2001)

Lottie Riekehof: The Joy of Signing (July 22, 2001)

John Castellani: Teen Challenge: The Jesus factor (July 15, 2001)

Mike and John Tompkins: Publishing newspapers and proclaiming the Good News (July 8, 2001)

Chuck Girard: Music, marriage and ministry (June 24, 2001)

Stanley Burgess: The value of a godly father (June 17, 2001)

Dennis Franck: Single Adult Ministries Agency (June 10, 2001)

Thomas E. Trask: The work of the Holy Spirit (May 27, 2001)

Stephen Tourville: The changing church in America (May 20, 2001)

Margaret Columbia: Raising 17 children for Christ (May 13, 2001)

Donna Fahrenkopf: Wanted: a life change (April 29, 2001)

Sean Smith: Spiritual attacks on young people (April 22, 2001)

Josh McDowell: Is the Bible true? (April 15, 2001)

Joyce Meyer: Being a practical Christain (April 8, 2001)

Paul Drost: Multiplication (March 18, 2001)

Bill Bright: Fasting for 40 days (March 11, 2001)

Beth Grant: Women in ministry (February 25, 2001)

Alicia Chole: His people and His presence (February 18, 2001)

Cris Carter: Playing on God's team (January 28, 2001)

Randall K. O'Bannon: The value of life (January 21, 2001)

Dennis Gaylor: Secular colleges: a vital mission field (January 14, 2001)

Is the Bible true?

(April 15, 2001)

Since 1964, Josh McDowell has been a traveling representative for Campus Crusade for Christ and heads the Josh McDowell Ministry international organization located in Dallas. He has spoken to more than 7 million young people in 84 countries, including on 700 university and college campuses. McDowell is the author or co-author of more than 75 books. Among his most popular books are several offering clear defenses for the Christian faith: New Evidence That Demands a Verdict, More Than a Carpenter and Right From Wrong: What You Need To Know To Help Youth Make Right Choices.

McDowell recently spoke with Scott Harrup, general editor.

Evangel: How has Christ changed your life?

McDowell: After I set out to refute Christianity intellectually and couldn’t, I came to the conclusion the Bible was true and Jesus Christ was God’s Son. On December 19, 1959, at 8:30 at night I placed my trust in Christ as Savior and Lord and asked Him to come into my life and forgive me.

Over time things began to change. Where I once constantly lost my temper, I found myself arriving at a crisis and experiencing peace. Where I once believed people were there to be used, I started thinking of other people first. I once had a lot of hatred, mainly toward my father, an alcoholic. I despised him. After I came to Christ, I could look my father in the eyes and say, "I love you." That shook him up after some of the things I had done. As a result, it brought him to Christ also.

Evangel: Some might say that your testimony is just subjective experience. What makes a Christian’s claims more valid than those of a Buddhist or atheist, for example?

McDowell: I always ask people, "What is the objective basis for the subjective experience?" I am not a Christian because God changed my life; I am a Christian because of my convictions about who Jesus Christ is. He is the Son of God. He died on a cross for my sin, was buried, was literally raised from the dead on the third day.

Evangel: What distinguishes the Bible from other religious works?

McDowell: It is a book that is based in history with historical evidence and data. In Luke 3, for example, there are eight or nine historical references in the first verse. The Bible is not just a theological dissertation; it’s a theological dissertation set within history that can be checked out.

I once thought all I had to do was refute Christ’s philosophy and my case was won. But I came front to front with history – with a Person named Jesus Christ, with a book called the Bible that was based within history.

Another difference is in the message of the Bible – that man is sinful, man has fallen and there is nothing man can do to get out of it without God taking initiative to reach him. That message separates the Bible from so much other religious literature.

Finally, the Bible presents God becoming Man. Its whole message is revolutionary.

Evangel: Critics say that Jesus never claimed to be more than a teacher. Where does Jesus claim divinity?

McDowell: I wrote a book, Jesus: A Biblical Defense of His Deity, because the deity of Christ is found from Genesis to Revelation. Several passages in the Gospels are some of the strongest. For example, in Mark 2, Jesus said to a paralytic, "My son, your sins are forgiven." Now, whenever you read any historical document, you always evaluate it in light of the historical context. When you consider the audience He spoke to and the meaning in that context, it was a bold statement.

We’re commanded to forgive others who wrong us, but Jesus took a person who had sinned against God the Father and said, "I forgive you." Immediately the Jews said, "Why does this Man speak that way? He is blaspheming. Who can forgive sins but God alone?" And Jesus said, "That’s right. I forgive you." That’s one of the boldest claims to deity.

John 10 talks about Jesus’ sheep. Jesus says, "My Father who has given them to me is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of my Father’s hand, for I and the Father are one." You might say, "I and the Father are one" in spirit. But that’s not what Jesus said in the context of His audience. He said, "I and the Father are one" in essence and meaning. Look how the Jews, Jesus’ audience, responded. They picked up stones to stone Him. And Jesus answered: "I showed you many good works from the Father. For which of them are you stoning Me?" And the Jews answered Him, "For a good work, we do not stone You. But for blaspheming, because You, being a Man, make yourself out to be God." To the audience He was addressing, Jesus made a direct claim to deity.

Those are two of about 40 related passages.

Evangel: Why are Christ’s claims valid?

McDowell: My presupposition is that Jesus’ claims are valid because He is God in human flesh. But Jesus said, "If you do not believe me for my words only, at least believe me for the sake of the miracles that I have done." He said, "The blind see, the lame walk, the sick are healed." Christ confirmed His message, as did the disciples, through miracles and healing.

Christ also fulfilled prophecy, substantiating His claims. I have a whole section in my books on 333 messianic prophecies in the Old Testament all fulfilled in one Person, Jesus Christ.

Another point would be how Jesus appealed to the Father and gave credit to the Father and stated He was God in human flesh. The Resurrection was probably the biggest proof. I recently did an interview for an Easter special on CBS on the Resurrection. I went over and over how the Resurrection confirms that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. And here is what is unique and even makes the Bible different from other books: Other people claim to have been raised from the dead, but their power is always from someone else. Jesus claimed He had the power to raise himself from the dead and His followers would be raised from the dead. That’s a unique claim in the literature of religion.

Evangel: Some say Christ’s disciples made up the story of His resurrection. Is there evidence of the Resurrection?

McDowell: Here’s the simplest answer: Within weeks, the disciples proclaimed the resurrection of Jesus Christ, that He had been bodily raised from the dead and appeared to them. Where did they do that? Jerusalem. Where did the Resurrection allegedly take place? Jerusalem. If they had connived a scheme, and Christ had not been raised from the dead, where would have been the hardest place on the face of the earth to convince anyone? In Jerusalem. A 15-minute walk would have exposed the body in the tomb. They preached it in the hardest place in the world to convince anyone that Christ had been raised from the dead if it was a fraud.

Evangel: How can one Person’s death 2,000 years ago change someone’s life in the 21st century?

McDowell: If Jesus was not who He claimed to be – the Messiah, the Son of God, the Redeemer – then it couldn’t. He might be a model for you, a motivation. If you study the life of Abraham Lincoln, you might live for others and take bold stands. But Jesus claimed to be God. He claimed that unless we are personally related to Him we are still in our sins and we are not saved.

If Jesus Christ was who He claimed to be, and He did die on a cross at a point of time in history, then, for all history past and all history future it is relevant because that is the very focal point for forgiveness and redemption. So, a Person who died on a cross for the sins of humanity has an impact on a person’s life today in forgiveness.

Second, Jesus not only died on the cross for sins, but also was buried and raised from the dead, ascended to heaven and sent the Holy Spirit. Because Christ lives, 2,000 years later He has that capacity to enter a man’s or a woman’s life and to change that life from the inside out. Jesus is relevant in forgiveness and through indwelling power.

Evangel: In your travels what continuing evidence do you see of Christ’s influence on the world?

McDowell: One of the biggest is the impact through His followers in compassion for the hurting – like the Convoy of Hope. I wish every denomination had a ministry like that. Convoy of Hope, Operation Carelift, Samaritan’s Purse, World Vision – everywhere I go there are demonstrations.

And there’s the power of forgiveness that I see in so many believers in some of the most heart-wrenching situations.

Then there is the growth of the Church. In some of the most difficult parts of the world people are responding to Christ in spite of the circumstances, showing the power of God at work today.

 

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