Oprah Winfrey calls him Jesus. Ghandi called him Jesus. Shoot, growing numbers of evangelicals refer to him only as Jesus.
But I like to call him Jesus Christ .
Jesus the Messiah.
This is what his friend, Peter, called the man from Nazareth who fulfilled the will of the Father by dying on a cross for the sins of mankind.
"Jesus" is okay; people know to whom you are referring, mostly. But then again, do they?
There is so much biblical illiteracy in our culture today - we should take a clue from the African and Chinese churches - one wonders just what percentage of the population really understands the significance of Jesus Christ. Presumably, most did in 1940. Or 1873. America's founding fathers most certainly knew who Jesus Christ is.
In front of George and Martha Washington's tomb at Mt. Vernon, Virginia, there is a stone pillar with scripture etched on each side. The verses talk about the hope of the resurrection.
You wouldn't know it from reading history textbooks today, or even from listening to a tour guide at Mt. Vernon, but George Washington most assuredly knew Jesus Christ.
Upon the president's death in December, 1799, Martha moved to an upstairs bedroom. She never again entered the room where her beloved husband has passed from this life. One can safely assume that she knew they would be reunited, and that that happy day was possible because of the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross.
In churches today, youth hear about Extreme! programs. They hear about managing relationships. They listen to talks - sermons and preaching are passÃ© - about a whole host of things, including important topics like purity. Quite a lot of youth ministries, I imagine, are quite good at teaching truth.
But the fact remains that the vast majority of American youth wander from one vice to the next. One spiritual endeavor to the next. If only they knew Jesus Christ personally. If only they understood what faith in Him really means.
The Messiah was prophesied as coming to serve as a substitute for all people, who were born into sin and had no hope of cleansing themselves enough to satisfy their Creator's demands for holiness. This is what the Bible teaches, from cover to cover.
Yet the Jesus our youth hear about emerges as a large black woman in a popular novel. He is presented as a master teacher, who came to promote social justice. Youth hear about Jesus an enlightened teacher who traveled to and from India, learning and teaching.
If there is a single truth hated more than any other on Earth today, it is this: Jesus Christ came to Earth as God in human form. He interacted with people for 30 years, then fulfilled His destiny here by paying the penalty for our sin. The Creator has always demanded that someone pay the penalty for sin; Adam and Eve were no doubt horrified when an animal was killed as a sacrifice for their own disobedience.
But here is a painful fact: legions of American youth today no longer believe that happened. In a shocking new book from Master Books, Already Gone: Why Your Kids Will Quit Church and What You Can Do To Stop It , Ken Ham reveals a survey done of a thousand young people.
The survey shows that evangelicals aged 20-30, who used to attend church, have now left the institution. Not only that - hold on to your hat - those who faithfully attended Sunday school now no longer attend church and more than that, they are less likely to believe the Bible is true!
How can this be?
Dr. G. Thomas Sharp, who founded Creation Truth Foundation ( www.creationtruth.com ) 20 years ago, was an educator first. He has keen insight into the state of American schools and churches today, and utilizes a unique method for conveying real history - and thus, the truth about Jesus Christ.
"The dinosaur story, as told today in the classical evolutionary context, is among the top two or three conditioning tools effectively used to dissuade Christian youth against Biblical faith. This is particularly true for those between the ages of three and 10 years."
Sharp and his CTF staff travel the country with one of the most extensive dinosaur skeleton collections available anywhere. The evolutionary idea that dinosaurs died-out 60 million years before hominids appeared has devastated Biblical truth in churches. CTF's new DVD, "Darwin's Legacy", was shot on location in Europe and the U.S., and details the fascinating slide into unbelief that typifies Western society.
As Ken Ham has pointed out, "At church, we teach Bible stories." The implication is that these stories have as much credibility with modern audiences as Jack in the Beanstalk. Meanwhile, public schools and theistic evolutionists teaching in churches and seminaries have gained credibility with youth.
Ham has also rightly pointed out that "The Gospel of Jesus Christ is predicated on the fact that Adam and Eve were real people." Without this historical event, there is no reason for a Redeemer/Substitute to come to Earth to save mankind.
While pastors, youth ministers, and even apologists debate the importance of origins issues, millions of students see the implications of Ham's statement about Adam and Eve. If we are okay with Genesis 1-11 being some part myth or legend, then youth quite correctly respond that they can't then be sure Jesus Christ even existed.
This is the unpleasant truth that scores of Christian leaders do not want to address; it might be "controversial."
Of course it is. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is not received well by many, because they label it "intolerant." That's why a "substitute Jesus" has been crafted by media figures and certain Christian leaders.
Listen to what Ham says about the shape of the American church:
" Unless the facts behind the Christian faith are clearly and convincingly communicated in a way that students can learn and remember, their faith will not stand the assault of doubt from the world. It's not enough to just tell students "Believe in Jesus!" Faith that is not founded on fact will ultimately falter in the storm of secularism that our students face every day.
"Regardless of what's happening in the Sunday school youth groups, pulpit, and Bible studies of your church, the responsibility for ministry to our kids has never been removed from the parents. It's time to pick that ball up again and jump in the game."
Let's heed his words, so that we can ensure that our children win it all and don't lose everything.