Three Coffees

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FAQ

Why does the Western World’s dating system reflect the life of Jesus?

How can we be sure that evidence of Jesus’ life wasn’t faked?

If Jesus was ‘for real’ – the Son of God – then why did he allow himself to be killed?

Why did Jesus choose Judas Iscariot as a disciple if he knew he was going to betray him?

If Jesus really was and is the Son of God how could he have been killed? Surely God can’t die?

How do we know that Jesus really died though?

What independent evidence is there that Jesus was truly resurrected from death?

What part does our ‘conscience’ play?

If God loves us all so much why does he still allow suffering to happen in this world?

How can a “God of love” send someone to hell?

What about murderers, evil dictators and people who do really terrible things – would God really accept somebody like that?

Who created God if He created everything else?

Does becoming a Christian mean I have to stop having fun?

People aren’t perfect – What if I make mistakes?

If Church was started up by Jesus then why have so many evil things been done by churches and Christians in history?

Is it possible to be a Christian and not go to church?

How do I ‘do the deal’ then and start off this relationship with Jesus?

Now I’m a Christian – What do I tell my friends?

How do I react to people who don’t like my decision to follow Jesus?


Why does the Western World’s dating system reflect the life of Jesus?

In the vast majority of the Western world, as well as commercially and scientifically worldwide, the Gregorian calendar is used. Under this system, years after the traditional birth of Christ are prefixed with the letters AD, whereas those before are followed with the letters BC. The monk Dionysius is credited with conceiving the Anno Domini system in around 525AD. Before him, a number of other systems were used, many of which had a highly local focus.

Although not the first to use Jesus’s supposed birth in 1 BC as a reference point, the Venerable Bede is often credited with its popularisation in his 8th-Century work Historia Ecclesiastica Gentis Anglorum. As a scholar working at a time where many, often short-lived, kings ruled a fragmented Britain, the birth of Christ provided a useful fixed date to record history.

In an increasingly secularised Western world it’s interesting to note that the whole of our dating system, after 2 millenia of development and ‘progress’ still hinges around the birth of this one incredible man – Jesus Christ!

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How can we be sure that evidence of Jesus’ life wasn’t faked?

We can almost reconstruct the gospel just from early non-Christian sources: Jesus was called the Christ (Josephus), did “magic,” led Israel into new teachings, and was hanged on Passover for them (Babylonian Talmud) in Judea (Tacitus), but claimed to be God and would return (Eliezar), which his followers believed – worshipping Him as God (Pliny the Younger).

With few exceptions, scholars in the fields of biblical studies and history agree that Jesus was a Jewish teacher from Galilee who was regarded as a healer, was baptized by John the Baptist, was accused of sedition against the Roman Empire, and on the orders of Roman Governor Pontius Pilate was sentenced to death by crucifixion. So the evidence confirming Jesus’ existence isn’t just religious propaganda. It’s commonly affirmed by as many non-Christian historians as it is by Christians!

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If Jesus was ‘for real’ – the Son of God – then why did he allow himself to be killed?

The Bible declares that it is by Jesus’ stripes we are healed! It is His death that paid the penalty mankind could not pay-death! We are all sinners and have fallen short of what God demands. We deserve to die. Jesus, in His obedience to His Father, died for us, so through faith in His atoning act we could measure up to God’s standards! God loved each of us so much that He gave His only begotten Son, Jesus, to bear our sin and die in our place.

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Why did Jesus choose Judas Iscariot as a disciple if he knew he was going to betray him?

Jesus’ goal while He was ministering on earth was: Matt 9:13 “For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” NIV. This was true also among His disciples. None were righteous (worthy of God’s love). Not one of them! None could boast of their own merits. Every one received the opportunity to know Jesus personally and be saved, Judas included. Judas made his choice unfortunately and Jesus was well aware when He choose Judas that he would betray him. That didn’t stop Jesus from loving him and reaching out to him.

Every opportunity was given to Judas to accept salvation from Jesus. He chose not to take that amazing offer up and suffered terrible consequences. How will you respond to Jesus offer to you? Something to think about!

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If Jesus really was and is the Son of God how could he have been killed? Surely God can’t die?

Jesus is more than just a man. Although he is 100% human, he is also 100% God, the Creator of the universe. He is all-powerful. Although evil men killed his physical body, he easily had the power to restore life to his body again. He is God and so is far beyond all of our human limited thinking, understanding and physical restrictions. Some aspects of this can be proven, as you’ll see next session. Other aspects have to be accepted by faith in the fact that God is God and we are not!

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How do we know that Jesus really died though?

Appealing to history and medicine, to archaeology and even Roman military rules, every loophole to argue against Jesus genuine death on the cross is locked shut: Jesus could not have come down from the cross alive.

But you may still question further. “Is there any possible way—any possible way—that Jesus could have survived this?” Dr. Alexander Metherell, a research scientist who has studied the medical data concerning Christ’s death answers that question with a resounding reply, “Absolutely not. Remember that he was already in hypovolemic shock from the massive blood loss even before the crucifixion started (due to the severe whippings he received from the trained Roman soldiers that were historically proven to have killed many men even before they were crucified). He couldn’t possibly have faked his death, because you can’t fake the inability to breathe for long. Besides, the spear thrust into his heart would have settled the issue once and for all. And the Romans weren’t about to risk their own death by allowing him to walk away alive.”

There is just no reasonable way that Jesus could’ve survived the torture he endured at the hands of Roman soldiers who killed people for a living and were very good at their jobs! Jesus died for us, once and for all, so that we could be forgiven and have relationship with God, once and for all!

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What independent evidence is there that Jesus was truly resurrected from death?

The historian Luke (who wrote the New Testament gospel of Luke) wrote of “authentic evidence” concerning the resurrection. Sir William Ramsay, who spent 15 years attempting to undermine Luke credentials as a historian, and to refute the reliability of the New Testament, finally concluded: “Luke is a historian of the first rank . . . This author should be placed along with the very greatest of historians.”

Here’s another quote to digest, “I claim to be an historian. My approach to Classics is historical. And I tell you that the evidence for the life, the death, and the resurrection of Christ is better authenticated than most of the facts of ancient history . . .” E. M. Blaiklock, Professor of Classics, Auckland University.

Professor Thomas Arnold, for 14 years a headmaster of Rugby, author of the famous, History of Rome, and appointed to the chair of modern history at Oxford, was well acquainted with the value of evidence in determining historical facts. This great scholar said: “I have been used for many years to study the histories of other times, and to examine and weigh the evidence of those who have written about them, and I know of no one fact in the history of mankind which is proved by better and fuller evidence of every sort, to the understanding of a fair inquirer, than the great sign which God hath given us that Christ died and rose again from the dead.”

This is just the ‘tip of the iceberg’ of evidence of Jesus’ genuine resurrection from death. Jesus rose again, defeated the power of death and sin and hell and makes his amazing offer of freedom from sin available to you today and everyday. Will you take it?

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What part does our ‘conscience’ play?

The Holy Spirit works with the believer’s conscience. The Holy Spirit plays a critical role in creating and maintaining a clear conscience. In Romans 9:1, Paul said the Holy Spirit confirmed his conscience. Once we have received Christ and the Holy Spirit resides within us, the Holy Spirit will work with our consciences. The Spirit works both to confirm a clear conscience and to convict a guilty conscience.

We all naturally prefer to ignore our sin. The one part of us that does not ignore it is our conscience. For that reason the Holy Spirit deals with conscience first, not with our intellect or emotions. You might think of the relationship this way: the Holy Spirit plants conviction in the soil of conscience. If ignored, the conviction will usually grow and grow.

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If God loves us all so much why does he still allow suffering to happen in this world?

While there is a lot of evil in the world, there is even more that is good. This is proved by the mere fact that people normally try to hang on to life as long as they can. Furthermore, everyone instinctively recognizes that “good” is a higher order of truth than “bad”. God hates suffering, evil and injustice more than we ever could and he has given us the ultimate example of unjust sufferings through the life and death of Jesus. See what you make of this story:

The Long Silence

“At the end of time, billions of people were seated on a great plain before God’s throne. Most shrank back from the brilliant light before them. But some groups near the front talked heatedly, not cringing with cringing shame – but with belligerence.

“Can God judge us? How can He know about suffering?”, snapped a pert young brunette. She ripped open a sleeve to reveal a tattooed number from a Nazi concentration camp. “We endured terror … beatings … torture … death!”

In another group a negro boy (sic) lowered his collar. “What about this?” he demanded, showing an ugly rope burn. “Lynched, for no crime but being black!”

In another crowd there was a pregnant schoolgirl with sullen eyes: “Why should I suffer?” she murmured. “It wasn’t my fault.”

Far out across the plain were hundreds of such groups. Each had a complaint against God for the evil and suffering He had permitted in His world. How lucky God was to live in Heaven, where all was sweetness and light. Where there was no weeping or fear, no hunger or hatred. What did God know of all that man had been forced to endure in this world? For God leads a pretty sheltered life, they said.

So each of these groups sent forth their leader, chosen because he had suffered the most. A Jew, a negro (sic), a person from Hiroshima, a horribly deformed arthritic, a thalidomide child. In the center of the vast plain, they consulted with each other. At last they were ready to present their case. It was rather clever.

Before God could be qualified to be their judge, He must endure what they had endured. Their decision was that God should be sentenced to live on earth as a man.

Let him be born a Jew. Let the legitimacy of his birth be doubted. Give him a work so difficult that even his family will think him out of his mind. Let him be betrayed by his closest friends. Let him face false charges, be tried by a prejudiced jury and convicted by a cowardly judge. Let him be tortured. At the last, let him see what it means to be terribly alone. Then let him die so there can be no doubt he died. Let there be a great host of witnesses to verify it.

As each leader announced his portion of the sentence, loud murmurs of approval went up from the throng of people assembled. When the last had finished pronouncing sentence, there was a long silence. No one uttered a word. No one moved.

For suddenly, all knew that God had already served His sentence.”

Jesus knows more than anyone what it means to suffer and has died for us, in our place, so that we can live life to the full. In this life we will have problems and struggles, but we have a sure and certain eternal hope because of what Jesus has done for each of us.

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How can a “God of love” send someone to hell?

The fact is actually that God doesn’t send anyone to hell. You send yourself there. God has done everything He possibly can to keep you out of hell, in sending Jesus to take the punishment we deserve for the things we’ve messed up, and still leaves you as a person with free will and not just a robot. That’s the way He made us-after His image, after His likeness, the power to say “yes” or the power to say “no,” the power to reject our own Creator, and of course to take the consequences.

God’s passionate desire is reflected in 2 Peter 3:9, when Peter’s writing about the second coming of Jesus and says that, “The Lord isn’t really being slow about his promise, as some people think. No, he is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent.” (NLT).

That’s God’s heart and love for all of us who deserve nothing from Him. If we choose to turn God down then we need to be fully informed of the consequences of that too! If we receive His incredible offer then we’ve got an incredible, eternal future to look forward to!! Which will you choose?

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What about murderers, evil dictators and people who do really terrible things – would God really accept somebody like that?

The quick answer to this question is “yes”: bad, murderous people who turn to Jesus in faith can enter heaven. On the flip side, those who continue to insist that they are good enough for God, and don’t want the death of Jesus in their place for forgiveness and reconciliation, will not enter eternal life. Only God can make it happen. Whether people consider themselves “good” or “bad” is not the crucial point; whether people turn to Jesus for salvation and life is the critical thing that determines where people spend eternity.

God’s justice would normally dictate that all of us – good or bad in our worldly moral terms – deserve nothing from God but judgment and punishment. But those of us, however terrible our mistakes have been, who are humble enough to admit our need of God, ask His forgiveness and strength to live each day in a way that honours God, will be saved and accepted by God. Ephesians 2:8-9 confirms: “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.” (NIV).

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Who created God if He created everything else?

This is a common question and seems an obviously intelligent one at first. The problem is though that when you break it down it totally misses the point of the Christian belief in God.

Anyone who looks into Christian beliefs in God will soon understand that by definition God is the uncreated creator of the universe, so the question ‘Who created God?’ is illogical, just like asking the question ‘How tall was that plant that never sprouted?’ If the plant didn’t sprout, it didn’t need or possess any ‘tallness’!

It’s just the same with the uncreated, almighty God. He’s is Creator, not created, so didn’t need or have to be created. The whole process of life, existence, purpose and meaning in the universe had to begin somewhere, with something or someone and that someone is God!

Since God, by definition, is the creator of the whole universe, he is the creator of time. Therefore He is not limited by the time dimension He created, so has no beginning in time God is “The high and lofty one who lives in eternity, the Holy One” Isaiah 57:15. (NLT)

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Does becoming a Christian mean I have to stop having fun?

There is a great misconception that Christians don’t have any fun. Many non-believers think that Christians need to feel guilty if they are having fun, and that God’s rules are designed to make Christians miserable. However, the Bible tells us that God meant for Christians to have fun in a number of ways. Being a believer means great celebration and joy, both in our lives here on Earth and after.

There are some activities that may seem fun but can have long-term physical and spiritual consequences. If the “fun” activity involves sin, then it isn’t something edifying to God. When your “fun” is self-involved or indulgent it takes away from your faith and your witness. Just as if our child or someone we loved was just about to jump out of a window for “fun” we’d try to stop them because we love them and know the dire consequences, so God has put some really clear guidance down in the Bible for us to avoid the stuff that will mess our lives up.

God places even more emphasis though on the things to do to live life to the full. God’s created us with a huge capacity for joy and laughter and loves us having fun within the parameters of His almighty wisdom of the true fun that will be good for us and the world’s kind of “fun” that will hurt God and end up hurting us.

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People aren’t perfect – What if I make mistakes?

Only 1 human being has ever walked the face of the earth and been perfect. That man is Jesus Christ, the perfect, pure, loving, saviour who died in our place.

All the disciples made huge mistakes before they knew Jesus, during the time Jesus was physically with them and after Jesus had gone back to heaven. They were a real rabble of people from different backgrounds, social classes and with a whole realm of strengths and weaknesses.

One thing they all had in common was their love for Jesus, desire to live for Him and determination to fail forwards in life i.e. not allowing their mistakes to hold them back from living life God’s way, but learning from them and maturing in their faith instead.

Every Christian you know is like the ‘prodigal son’ Jesus spoke about in Luke 15:11-32 – lost, messed up people needing God’s grace and needing to be ‘found’ by God’s love everyday to thrive and flourish. We all make mistakes most days if we’re honest, but being a Christian means we get the amazing forgiveness of God to set us free from guilt and shame and the incredible power of the Holy Spirit alive in us to help us to learn, mature and live life to the full more and more, God’s way!

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If Church was started up by Jesus then why have so many evil things been done by churches and Christians in history?

Christianity is supposed to be the representative of Jesus who taught love, forgiveness, sacrifice, unity, and humility. Though that may be true to a large extent, Christians have done some terrible things in history in the name of the Church.

However, the role of the Church in specific atrocities in history needs to be weighed against the overwhelming amount of evidence of the positive impact of the Church upon the world over the last 2000 years.

In 1999 the BBC produced a TV show called “100 Greatest Britons.” A nationwide survey was carried out and several memorable Christians appeared on that list – John Wesley, William Wilberforce, William Booth, Florence Nightingale.

Recently a Worldwide survey was conducted about ‘leaders who made a difference and who you could not ignore.’ First on that list was Mother Theresa and second on the list was Bishop Desmond Tutu. All of these people were Christians, key members of the Church, and had one thing in common – passionate love for Jesus and commitment to God’s purposes that drove them into fighting injustice and standing up for the poor in Jesus’ name.

Churches are full of imperfect people, seeking to live life God’s way. Christians are no better or more deserving of God’s love than anyone else. They’ve just made a decision to commit their lives to Jesus, admit their mistakes and aim to live life in a way that reflects Jesus Christ. Some of the things done in the name of Church have certainly dishonoured God and betrayed His plans for what the Church is designed to achieve but far more things have been said and done by the Church that have honoured God, served the poor and the needy and impacted the world for good.

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Is it possible to be a Christian and not go to church?

It is vitality important for Christians to attend church events and activities to grow and mature and give and receive encouragement with like-minded people who are all seeking to become more like Jesus. Ultimately though we don’t “go” to church—you are the church!

Church is the people and not the building! But we all need each other to keep living life God’s way when there’s so much temptation within us and around us to do stuff that hurts God. You can be a Christian and not go to church – but it’s not God’s plan at all and you’d be missing out on so much if you did!

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How do I ‘do the deal’ then and start off this relationship with Jesus?

Only through the death of Jesus on the cross us that massive chasm of our sin – that stands between us and God – bridged. Jesus has made the way possible. So to ‘do the deal’ make that first step today to surrender your life to Jesus and start off today the most amazing adventure you could ever dream of – a lifelong relationship with the God of time and space and Saviour of the world! Why not pray this short prayer and start the adventure today:

Lord Jesus Christ, I’m really sorry for the things I have done wrong in my life. Please forgive me and help me to turn away from all the stuff in me that hurts you.
Thank you Jesus that you died on the cross for me so that I could be forgiven and set free to live life to the full.
Thank you that you offer me forgiveness and the gift or your Spirit. I now choose to receive that gift.
Please come into my life by your Holy Spirit to be with me now and forever.
Thank you so much Lord Jesus. Amen.

Congratulations! If you prayer that prayer to God and meant it you’ve just made the most fantastic decision and the best one you could ever make! You’re saved! You’re part of God’s family! There’s a huge party in heaven right now because of you!!

Why not come along to church this Sunday and come along to our ‘Three Coffees’ events to hear more amazing stories of people who’ve prayed that prayer and the difference Jesus has made to their lives. Ask your friend for the date of the next one and see you there!

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Now I’m a Christian – What do I tell my friends?

What would you do if you just had a baby? What would you do if you inherited £1,000,000? What would you do if you got a promotion at work or passed your GCSEs?
Keep exciting, life-changing news like that to yourself or tell everyone you love and care about it so they can share your excitement and celebrate with you?

Most of us would do the latter. When you get great news, you want to tell everyone. There just isn’t any better news in life than the ‘good news’ of Jesus love for us and of starting a relationship with Jesus that guarantees eternal life in heaven. It’s just the most incredible gift and miracle there is!

So, when you start out as a Christian, tell your family, your friends, and all people you care about. Let them know the changes that have happened in your life and the difference Jesus has made.

Don’t preach at them, respect their right to doubt or question your experiences and try to make connections to what’s going on in their lives. But just ask God to give you wisdom and don’t water down in any way what an exciting and life-changing experience you’ve had. It’s the good news, the best news you can ever tell anyone!

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How do I react to people who don’t like my decision to follow Jesus?

You’re a Christian now and that means loads of amazing promises are yours, eternal life is yours, God’s constant presence in your life is yours and so much more. It also means you will get the mickey taken out of you, get misunderstood and get hurt by people you thought you could trust sometimes.

Being a Christian is the best possible path you can take. It’s also sometimes the toughest path as you’re going against the tide of a majority people in our secular Western society. So be ready for some unexpected reactions – some people you thought might react badly could be the first ones to listen and become Christians themselves! Others you thought would be cool with it might react really badly.

Now you’re a Christian your aim is to develop the character of Jesus Christ. That means asking God to help you grow in His love, grace, humility, courage, confidence, joy, peace, goodness etc. All the good and inspiring stuff from the example of Jesus’ life.

So try react to people who don’t like your decision in the way you imagine Jesus would. Love them, listen to them, pray for them, respect their right to hold a different view and stand your ground, stand up for your faith and your Saviour in gentleness, humility and confidence. Let your changed life be the best example they can see that Jesus truly is alive in you and making the difference!

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