The Christian worker will sometimes encounter those who acclaim Jesus as the greatest religious leader who ever lived, as the most influential person in our planet’s history, but who nonetheless refuse to accept Him as Savior and Lord.
The person and work of Jesus Christ is the predominant theme of the Bible: He is God. He became a human being, died by crucifixion, was buried, and rose again from the dead. He is the only and the all-sufficient Savior of the world.
The following outline should provide structure for a discussion as you help the inquirer better understand what the Bible reveals about Christ.
Jesus Christ Is God
Deity is the only possible explanation for all that Christ was and all that He did:
1. He was preexistent with God the Father: “He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made” (John 1:2–3; see also John 17:5; Colossians 1:17).
2. He is the Son of God:
• His enemies observed: “He . . . said that God was His Father, making Himself equal with God” (John 5:18).
• Peter confessed: “Also we have come to believe and know that You are the Christ, the Son of the living God” (John 6:69).
• Jesus affirmed: “I and My Father are one” (John 10:30).
3. He was sinless, as only God can be:
• Jesus challenged His enemies: “Which of you convicts Me of sin?” (John 8:46).
• Peter testified: “Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps: ‘Who committed no sin, nor was guile found in His mouth’” (1 Peter 2:21–22).
• Paul stated: “For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Corinthians 5:21).
4. He forgives sin, as only God can:
• The scribes said: “Who can forgive sins but God alone?” (Mark 2:7).
• Jesus said: “. . . but that you may know that the Son of Man has power on earth to forgive sins” (Matthew 9:6; see also John 8:11).
• Peter wrote: “. . . who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness—by whose stripes you were healed” (1 Peter 2:24).
5. He performed miraculous works:
• He healed the sick (Matthew 8:9–13; Luke 4:31–41; 5:12–15; John 4:43 to 5:16; and other references).
• He fed the hungry (Mark 8; John 6).
• He raised the dead (Luke 7:11–18; John 11:1–46).
Jesus Christ, Who Is God, Became a Man
“And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us . . . full of grace and truth” (John 1:14; see also Philippians 2:7–8).
1. His miraculous birth was prophesied 800 years before His coming: “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel” (Isaiah 7:14).
2. The prophecy was fulfilled to the letter: “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name Jesus” (Luke
3. While on earth as a man, Jesus demonstrated human characteristics: He became tired (John 4:6), He thirsted (John 19:28), He ate food (Luke 24:40–43), He showed feelings (Mark 6:34; John 11:35), He knew temptation (Hebrews 4:15), and He died (John 19:30).
Jesus Christ Accomplished the Work His Father Had Sent Him to Earth to Accomplish:
1. He died on the cross. This is the fundamental theme of the Gospel:
A. The fact of His death: One-fourth of the material in the four gospels relates to Christ’s death and resurrection:
(1) The cross was the purpose for which He came into the world (John 12:27).
(2) His death was prophesied hundreds of years before He came (Isaiah 53:3–8).
B. The meaning of His death:
(1) It was a ransom for sin (Matthew 20:28; Romans 3:24; 1 Peter 1:18).
(2) It was to pay the penalty for sin (Romans 3:24; 1 John 2:2; 4:10). Mankind is the object of God’s wrath because of rebellion and sin, but God took the initiative in satisfying His wrath by sending His
own Son to Calvary.
(3) It is a reconciliation. Because of Christ’s death, the enmity between us and God has ended (Romans 5:10) and we are restored to fellowship with God (2 Corinthians 5:18–19).
(4) It is a substitution: He died in our place (2 Corinthians 5:21; 1 Peter 3:18).
(5) In summary, the problem of sin has been completely dealt with by Christ’s death (Hebrews 9:26; 10:12; 1 Peter 2:24).
2. He was resurrected from the dead: This event was unique in human history and is fundamental to Christianity:
A. The reality of the Resurrection (John 20:1–10; 1 Corinthians 15:4).
B. The credibility of the Resurrection:
(1) Jesus predicted it (Matthew 20:18–19; Luke 24:1–7).
(2) The tomb was empty (John 20:11–13).
(3) Many witnesses saw Him alive: the women (Luke 23:55–56); Mary Magdalene (John 20:1–2, 11–18); Peter and the other disciples (John 20:3–9, 19–20, 24–31; 21:1–14).
The Results of His Work
1. He ascended to His Father (Luke 24:49–53; Acts 1:6–11).
2. He is our eternal mediator (1 Timothy 2:5; Hebrews 8:6; 1 John 2:1).
3. He is our Savior: “You shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21). “Him God has exalted to His right hand to be Prince and Savior, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins” (Acts 5:31):
A. He is the only Savior: “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12, NIV).
B. He is a complete Savior: “Therefore He is also able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him, since He ever lives to make intercession for them” (Hebrews 7:25).
C. He is a personal Savior: “If you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes to righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made to salvation” (Romans 10:9–10).
The Consummation of His Work
1. He shall return again to this earth (John 14:3; Acts 1:11; Hebrews 10:37).
2. Believers in Christ shall be physically resurrected to begin a new, everlasting life (1 Corinthians 15:51–58; 1 Thessalonians 4:17–18).
3. He will reign as King of kings and Lord of lords over His new creation (2 Peter 3:10–13; Revelation 22:3–5).
The greatest response we can make to Jesus Christ and His claims is to:
1. Receive Him as Lord and Savior. Ask the inquirer if he or she has done this. Share the gospel – Christian Biblical Counsel: STEPS TO PEACE WITH GOD
2. Enthrone Him as Lord of our life: “These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me” (Matthew 15:8, NIV). “Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will” (Romans 12:1–2, NIV).
3. Witness for Him as He commands: “That which we have seen and heard we declare to you, that you also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ” (1 John 1:3). “You shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth” (Acts 1:8).
John 1:1–3; 8:56–59; 10:30–33; 17:5; Philippians 2:6–11; Colossians 1:15–19; 2:8–9; Revelation 5:12–14.
Matthew 1:18; Mark 6:34; Luke 1:30–33; 24:40–43; John 1:14; 10:30; 11:35; 19:28; Philippians 2:5–8; Hebrews 4:15.
Isaiah 53; Matthew 27:32–56; Mark 15:20–47; Luke 23:26–49; John 19:1–42; 1 Corinthians 15:24; 2 Corinthians 5:21; 1 Peter 1:18–19; 2:22–24; 1 John 3:5–8.
Matthew 28; Mark 16; Luke 24; John 20–21; Acts 2:24–36; Romans 10:9–10; 1 Corinthians 15; Galatians 2:20; 1 Thessalonians 1:10; 1 Peter 1:19–21.
His Second Coming:
Matthew 24:30, 42–44; John 14:1–6; 21:23; Acts 1:11; 1 Corinthians 15:51–57; 1 Thessalonians 4:13–18; 2 Thessalonians 2:1–11; 1 John 3:2–3; Revelation 1:7.
The Billy Graham Christian Worker’s Handbook; World Wide Publications, 1984, 1996
Jesus: Is He God?
Is the Deity of Christ Defendable?
by June Hunt
During His days on earth and throughout the centuries following, opinions about Jesus have varied greatly. Jewish dignitaries of His day saw Him as a deceiver. Roman officials saw Him as a threat to civil peace. His half brothers heckled Him. One of His followers betrayed Him. Another denied Him. Many abandoned Him. Although He spoke the truth, most did not have ears to hear. Nevertheless, during His short time on earth, He spoke clearly as to who He was, where He was from, why He was here … and earth has never been the same. Nor is anyone the same, anyone in whom Jesus comes to dwell.
Consequently, in your own lifetime, you will also have to respond to two crucial questions about Jesus: First, “Do you believe He is God?” and second, “What will you do with Him?” In truth, Jesus stated clearly to His followers …
“You are from below; I am from above. You are of this world; I am not of this world. I told you that you would die in your sins; if you do not believe that I am the one I claim to be, you will indeed die in your sins.”
To this very day, differing beliefs about Jesus abound. Some say He was just a teacher of truths … or just a prophet of peace … or just a man of miracles—but certainly not God. A few even allege that Jesus never lived.
Yet throughout the centuries, committed Christians have continued to say, “He is my Savior and Lord—my God and King!” But who do you say that Jesus is? That is the very question Jesus asked His closest disciples …
“ ‘What about you?’ he asked. ‘Who do you say I am?’ ”
A. How Do You Distinguish the Different Names of Jesus?
Biblical names (and many places and events) had intentional meanings that descriptively represented something in their lives. Isaac, the Hebrew word for “he laughs,” is the name given to the promised son of the aged couple, Sarah and Abraham. The thought of having a baby so late in life made them laugh. And the birth of twin boys: Esau, which means “hairy one,” and Jacob, which means “he grasps the heel or supplants,” foreshadowed their future struggle over birthrights and parents who were partial to one child over another. The Bible is full of interesting names and their literal associations, but none are more divinely selected than the names for Jesus and their pertinent, powerful meanings.
“To all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God—children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.”
• What Does Jesus Mean?
— The name Jesus means “Savior” or “the Lord saves.” This Greek name is the personal name of Jesus.
— The name Joshua in Hebrew is the same name as Jesus in Greek and has the same meaning. Joshua saved the Jewish people from wandering in the wilderness and led them into a new life. Likewise, Jesus saves people from spiritually wandering in the wilderness and leads them into a new life.
“She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” (Matthew 1:21)
• What Does Messiah Mean?
— The word Messiah means “the Anointed One.”
— The word Messiah describes the Anointed One of God as Prophet, Priest, and King, the One prophesied in the Bible to lead God’s people.
“The first thing Andrew did was to find his brother Simon and tell him, ‘We have found the Messiah’ (that is, the Christ).” (John 1:41)
• What Does Christ Mean?
— The word Christ is the Greek translation for the Hebrew word Messiah, both meaning “the Anointed One.”
At His baptism, God anointed Jesus for His earthly ministry.
“You know what has happened throughout Judea, beginning in Galilee after the baptism that John preached—how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power, and how he went around doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil, because God was with him.” (Acts 10:37–38)
— Originally Christ was not part of Jesus’ name, but later the title Christ became a part of His name.
“The law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.” (John 1:17)
• What Does God Mean?
— The word God refers to the Supreme Being, the Creator, and the Ruler of the universe, who is perfect in power, wisdom, and innate goodness.
— The phrase “God over all” is used by the apostle Paul when referring to Christ.
“Theirs are the patriarchs, and from them is traced the human ancestry of Christ, who is God over all, forever praised!” (Romans 9:5)
— The name Mighty God is used prophetically by Isaiah for the child who would one day be born as the Messiah.
“To us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” (Isaiah 9:6)
• What does Lord Mean?
— The word Lord or lord (spelled with lower case letters) means “master, ruler, owner” in both Old and New Testaments. The Greek word kurios and the Hebrew Adonai are both translated “Lord” and carry a title of honor and respect for both God and man.
— The word Lord, spelled with small capital letters, is seen only in the Old Testament and refers only to “YHWH” or “Yahweh,” the divine name of God. When Lord is the translation in the New Testament, the spelling is the lower case Lord, but always designates Jesus as God. For example, the apostle Paul quotes Joel 2:23, referring to Yahweh but, in context, he is speaking of Jesus.
“If you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.… For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile—the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him, for, ‘Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.’ ” (Romans 10:9, 12–13)
B. Arguments against Calling Jesus “God”
Argument #1: Jesus would not have called Himself Son of God if He was really God.
Answer: The title “Son of God” indicates that He is of the same essence or substance as the Father (just as a human son shares the same essential substance with his father), yet He is distinct from the Father as the eternally begotten One, the second person of the Trinity. This title expresses two primary truths concerning Jesus.
• First, Jesus, as Son of God, is fully God.
“He was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God.” (John 5:18)
• Second, the Son of God is a unique person within the Trinity.
This title is used of Jesus to demonstrate both His nature as deity and His person as distinct from the Father. While He is of the same essence, nature, and substance as the Father, He is a distinct person as the Eternal Son.
“I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does.… That all may honor the Son just as they honor the Father. He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father, who sent him.” (John 5:19, 23)
• The Jewish leadership clearly understood Jesus’ claims through His revolutionary teaching and His miraculous works, which both threatened them and resulted in their plotting His murder.
“The Pharisees went out and began to plot with the Herodians how they might kill Jesus.” (Mark 3:6)
“The Jews picked up stones to stone him, but Jesus said to them, ‘I have shown you many great miracles from the Father. For which of these do you stone me?’ ‘We are not stoning you for any of these,’ replied the Jews, ‘but for blasphemy, because you, a mere man, claim to be God.’ ” (John 10:31–33)
Argument #2: The phrase “Son of Man” means that even Jesus knew that He was merely a human man, certainly not God.
Answer: The phrase “Son of Man” has different nuances.
• Son of Man can literally refer to the son of a human being.
• Son of Man is used in the Book of Daniel to describe one who would receive authority over all from God and who also participated in activities reserved for God.
“In my vision at night I looked, and there before me was one like a son of man, coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days and was led into his presence. He was given authority, glory and sovereign power; all peoples, nations and men of every language worshiped him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and his kingdom is one that will never be destroyed.” (Daniel 7:13–14)
• Jewish leaders writing in the period between the end of the Old Testament and the beginning of the New developed the title “Son of Man” into a figure at least closely resembling the image of the Jewish Messiah who possessed both human and divine qualities.
• “Son of Man” was further developed by Jesus and is used over 80 times in the Gospels to express His unique position of being fully man and fully God. This messianic title spotlights His heavenly origin and His earthly mission.
“Jesus remained silent and gave no answer. Again the high priest asked him, ‘Are you the Christ, the Son of the Blessed One?’ ‘I am,’ said Jesus. ‘And you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven.’ ” (Mark 14:61–62)
Argument #3: In the Hebrew Bible, God’s name is YHWH, not Jesus.
• YHWH in the Hebrew Bible is the Lord’s divine name (sometimes spelled JHVH). Because the fourth commandment prohibits taking YHWH’s name in vain, the Israelites were hesitant to even speak this sacred name. In fact, when they put vowels in the Scriptures, they substituted the vowels in God’s name with those from the word Adonai, “My Lord.” The resulting name, Yehowah (or Jehovah), is probably not the correct pronunciation, but rather “Yahweh.”
• Yahweh, according to some biblical scholars, derives from an archaic version of the verb hayah, “to be,” so that His name means something like “The One Who Is.” This usage is found in Exodus 3:13–15, where God reveals himself as “I AM WHO I AM” and also as Yahweh. Many centuries later, Jesus told the Pharisees that Abraham experienced joy in seeing Him. He identified himself with the same terminology used to describe Yahweh in the Old Testament: “I am.” Then the Jews said to Him,
“ ‘You are not yet fifty years old,’ the Jews said to him, ‘and you have seen Abraham!’ ‘I tell you the truth,’ Jesus answered, ‘before Abraham was born, I am!’ At this, they picked up stones to stone him, but Jesus hid himself, slipping away from the temple grounds.” (John 8:57–59)
Argument #4: If Jesus was God, He would have claimed to be God.
Answer: Jesus did claim to be God in numerous ways.
• Jesus claimed to be God by saying He was the great “I AM” of the Old Testament (John 8:58). The name God gave Himself when He appeared before Moses in the burning bush is “I AM.”
God instructed Moses to go before Pharaoh and appeal to him to free the Israelites from Egyptian bondage.
“Moses said to God, ‘Suppose I go to the Israelites and say to them, “The God of your fathers has sent me to you,” and they ask me, “What is his name?” Then what shall I tell them?’ God said to Moses, ‘I AM WHO I AM. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: “I AM has sent me to you.” ’ ” (Exodus 3:13–14)
— When confronted about His identity, Jesus did not hesitate to equate himself with the “I AM” of the Hebrew Bible. Such a claim almost got Him stoned for blasphemy!
— The Pharisees’ violent reaction to His bold “I AM” title proves that they thought His claim was blasphemous—Jesus was claiming to be God.
• Jesus claimed to be God by saying, “I and the Father are one” (John 10:30).
Jesus said that He was equal to and united with the heavenly Father …
“ ‘I and the Father are one.’ Again the Jews picked up stones to stone him, but Jesus said to them, ‘I have shown you many great miracles from the Father. For which of these do you stone me?’ ‘We are not stoning you for any of these,’ replied the Jews, ‘but for blasphemy, because you, a mere man, claim to be God.’ ” (John 10:30–33)
— The purpose of John’s Gospel is to show that Jesus is God. The apostle John—was an eyewitness of Jesus’ life—John faithfully reported the forthright statements in which Jesus claimed to be God.
Jesus claimed to be God by saying,
“Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father.” (John 14:9)
Jesus said to Thomas,
“If you really knew me, you would know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.” (John 14:7)
Philip responded to Jesus,
“ ‘Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us.’ Jesus answered: ‘Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, “Show us the Father”?’ ” (John 14:8–9)
By making this statement, Jesus was claiming to be God.
Argument #5: The Bible never presents that Jesus is fully God.
Answer: The Bible does present that Jesus is fully God chiefly because Jesus possessed and displayed divine attributes.
God alone has the power to create the universe, and we see Jesus’ participating in creation:
Chapter 1of John states that all things were made through Him.
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.… Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.” (John 1:1, 3)
Chapter 1 of Colossians states that all things were created by Him and for Him. Jesus created all things.
“He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him.” (Colossians 1:15–16)
Chapter 1 of Genesis states that God created the heavens and the earth.
“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.” (Genesis 1:1–2)
Notice in verse 2, “the Spirit of God” was a part of creation. But what about Jesus? He is not mentioned here … yet He is mentioned elsewhere. Jesus was a part of this creation based on the statements made in John chapter 1 and Colossians chapter 1! Through Divine revelation, progressively revealed, we understand that there is one God consisting of three persons: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
“I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever—the Spirit of truth.… I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.… But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.” (John 14:16–18, 26)
Argument #6: If Jesus made Himself nothing in becoming a man, then He was obviously no longer God but just a man like any other man.
Answer: Jesus making Himself “nothing” means not that He gave up His divine attributes, but that He temporarily gave up the outward form, majesty, and glory of God. The glory He previously had with the Father was veiled when He was a man but has been unveiled now that He is the risen Christ.
“I have brought you glory on earth by completing the work you gave me to do. And now, Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world began.” (John 17:4–5)
• Jesus making Himself “nothing” states the sharp contrast of God leaving heaven in order to take on humanity with its weaknesses and limitations. Clearly, Jesus retained full deity while becoming fully human. The Bible says,
“[Jesus] who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death—even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name.” (Philippians 2:6–9)
Argument #7: If Jesus is God, how could He pray: “Our Father who art in heaven”?
Answer: In both Old and New Testaments, the Bible teaches that there is only one God. At the same time, the Bible presents the concept of the Trinity—three coequal persons who are God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit—not three Gods but three persons who are one in essence. There is only one God. When Jesus gave “The Great Commission,” He said,
“Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” (Matthew 28:19)
C. What Roles Did Jesus Fill?
During Old Testament times, God established three significant offices to help meet the spiritual and physical needs of His chosen people. All three of these roles of leadership represented the roles Jesus, the Messiah, would ultimately hold and fulfill:
• Prophet—He represents God before the people.
As prophet, He speaks for God with words that are truthful and trustworthy.
“ ‘What things?’ he asked. ‘About Jesus of Nazareth,’ they replied. ‘He was a prophet, powerful in word and deed before God and all the people.’ ” (Luke 24:19)
• Priest—He represents the people before God.
As priest, Jesus offered to God the Father the final sacrifice for our sins—His death on the cross.
“Unlike the other high priests, he does not need to offer sacrifices day after day, first for his own sins, and then for the sins of the people. He sacrificed for their sins once for all when he offered himself.” (Hebrews 7:27)
• King—He rules the people for God.
As King, Jesus is the ultimate ruler over all, requiring our absolute allegiance and obedience to Him.
“ ‘You are a king, then!’ said Pilate. Jesus answered, ‘You are right in saying I am a king. In fact, for this reason I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.’ ” (John 18:37)
Question: “If Jesus was really sinless, why did He have to be baptized? He wouldn’t have had sins that needed to be washed away. Obviously, Jesus wasn’t really God.”
Answer: The baptism of Jesus occurred not for the remission of sins, but for the anointing for ministry. Just as David was anointed as king over Israel, so too was Jesus anointed as the Messianic King over Israel.
“Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the presence of his brothers, and from that day on the Spirit of the Lord came upon David in power.” (1 Samuel 16:13)
II. Characteristics of Christ Jesus
While Jesus is certainly unique—the only one of His kind—can He be fully God and fully man at the same time? Can He bridge the gap between creature and Creator by being both human and divine? And can that bridge enable us to approach God? Yes, as both perfect man and perfect God, Jesus has not only the human ability to sympathize with our sufferings, but also the divine authority to grant mercy and forgiveness of our sins.
As both man and God, Jesus can be an example for us to emulate and a redeemer for us to rely on … a kinsman who connects with us and a king who comforts us … a counselor who communicates with us and a leader who listens to us … a brother who bears our burdens and a priest who brings us peace … a sufferer who shares our sorrows and a physician who heals our heartaches … a friend who forgives our failures and a benefactor who buys our freedom. He became one with us that through Him we might become one with the Father. This required that He be both fully man and fully God.
“We do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet was without sin. Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”
A. How Do the Old and New Testaments Present Jesus as God?
Many prophecies in the Old Testament regarding the Messiah were fulfilled by Jesus and recorded in the New Testament, thus verifying that He is God. All these Old Testament quotations are found in the New Testament in the context of their fulfillment in Jesus or in reference to Him as God.
• Old Testament Scriptures fulfilled in the New Testament present Jesus as God.
|— Jesus is the Lord introduced by the forerunner, John the Baptizer, as prophesied by Isaiah.|
|“A voice of one calling: ‘In the desert prepare the way for the Lord; make straight in the wilderness a highway for our God.’ ” (Isaiah 40:3)||“This is he who was spoken of through the prophet Isaiah: ‘A voice of one calling in the desert, “Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him.” ’ ” (Matthew 3:3)|
|— Jesus is the First and the Last.|
|“This is what the Lord says—Israel’s King and Redeemer, the Lord Almighty: I am the first and I am the last; apart from me there is no God.” (Isaiah 44:6)||“When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. Then he placed his right hand on me and said: ‘Do not be afraid. I am the First and the Last.’ ” (Revelation 1:17)|
|— Jesus is the Lord, who provides salvation.|
|“Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved; for on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there will be deliverance, as the Lord has said, among the survivors whom the Lord calls.” (Joel 2:32)||“Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” (Romans 10:13)|
Question: “Since the word virgin can mean either a virgin (one who has never had sexual relations) or merely a maiden (one who is unmarried), who can be sure that the birth of Jesus was a true miracle—a virgin birth?”
Answer: The Hebrew word for virgin can refer to either a virgin or a maiden. However, when the Old Testament was translated into the Greek Septuagint, the word parthenos was used, which can only mean “virgin,” and that is the word used in Matthew 1:23.
The Septuagint is the oldest translation of the Jewish Bible (from Hebrew to Greek), begun around 200 BC by 70 Jewish scholars. These Jewish scholars used this specific word (parthenos) for “virgin” in Isaiah 7:14, “The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son.”
Likewise, in the Gospel of Matthew, the Greek word for “virgin” can mean only “one who has never had sexual relations.”
“This is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be with child through the Holy Spirit.… All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: ‘The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel’—which means, ‘God with us.’ ” (Matthew 1:18, 22–23)
|• God and Jesus have the same functions.|
|— Jesus is the Creator.|
|“Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom.” (Isaiah 40:28)||“Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.” (John 1:3)|
|— Jesus is the originator and sustainer of the universe.|
|“You alone are the Lord. You made the heavens, even the highest heavens, and all their starry host, the earth and all that is on it, the seas and all that is in them. You give life to everything, and the multitudes of heaven worship you.” (Nehemiah 9:6)||“By him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.” (Colossians 1:16–17)|
|— Jesus is worshipped.|
|“Do not worship any other god, for the Lord, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God.” (Exodus 34:14)||“When God brings his firstborn into the world, he says, ‘Let all God’s angels worship him.’ ” (Hebrews 1:6)|
|• God and Jesus have the same titles.|
|— Jesus is the Good Shepherd.|
|“See, the Sovereign Lord comes with power, and his arm rules for him. See, his reward is with him, and his recompense accompanies him. He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young.” (Isaiah 40:10–11)||“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.” (John 10:11)|
|— Jesus is the Savior.|
|“I will make your oppressors eat their own flesh; they will be drunk on their own blood, as with wine. Then all mankind will know that I, the Lord, am your Savior, your Redeemer, the Mighty One of Jacob.” (Isaiah 49:26)||“Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord.” (Luke 2:11)|
Question: “Why was it necessary that Jesus be born of a virgin?”
Answer: Two reasons made it necessary for Jesus to be born of a virgin:
— First, in being conceived of a virgin, Jesus did not inherit an earthly father’s sin nature but His heavenly Father’s sinless perfection.
“God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” (2 Corinthians 5:21)
— Second, Jesus had to be both God and man in order to be the promised Messiah. The Old Testament prophecy said,
“The Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.” (Isaiah 7:14)
The New Testament record shows the fulfillment of the prophecy.
“All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: ‘The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel’—which means, ‘God with us.’ ” (Matthew 1:22–23)
B. How Does the Bible Present Jesus as Human?
Why is it important to prove that Jesus was human when most people are trying to prove that He is God? Only because Jesus was human, could He die on the cross as our substitute in payment of our sins. Only because Jesus was human, could He be tempted just as we are and identify with our present temptation. Only because Jesus was human could He identify with and provide an example for us as human beings.
Because Jesus suffered as we suffer, He can identify with our suffering, and we can identify with His. Because He was human, yet made right choices, He is our example of being human, and we too can make right choices. The Bible addresses His humanity this way …
“For this reason he had to be made like his brothers in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people. Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.”
|• He had a human mother and was raised by human parents.||Luke 1:31; 2:51|
|• He was born as a baby.||Luke 2:6–7|
|• He was circumcised.||Luke 2:21|
|• He grew.||Luke 2:40|
|• He increased in wisdom.||Luke 2:52|
|• He had flesh and bones.||Luke 24:39|
|• He had a physical body that was able to be touched.||1 John 1:1|
|• He became weary.||John 4:6|
|• He became thirsty.||John 4:7|
|• He wept.||John 11:35|
|• He wore clothing.||John 13:4|
|• He bled.||John 19:34|
|• He was tempted.||Matthew 4:1|
|• He was hungry.||Matthew 4:2|
|• He slept.||Matthew 8:24|
|• He ate food with others.||Matthew 9:10|
|• He suffered.||1 Peter 2:21|
|• He was crucified.||Matthew 27:38|
|• He died.||Matthew 27:50|
|• He was buried.||Matthew 27:59–60|
Question: “Since the Bible teaches that God cannot sin, if Jesus was truly tempted to sin, then Jesus truly could have sinned—so how could He be God?”
Answer: There are two theological views about the wilderness temptation from Matthew chapter 4 and Luke chapter 4. In these biblical accounts, the Greek word peirazo, which means either a “temptation to sin” or a “test to prove,” is used.
— View #1—Jesus was, indeed, tempted to sin. However, because Jesus is God, He didn’t want to sin and, therefore, chose to not sin.
— View #2—Jesus could not be tempted to sin. Thus, the temptation was not to see if Jesus would sin, but rather to prove that He would not sin.
Regardless of which view you hold, the fact that Jesus never ever sinned proves that He is God and that He has broken the power of sin in the lives of those who entrust themselves to Him and who live out of His resources.
“We know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin.” (Romans 6:6)
“Count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus. Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires.” (Romans 6:11–12)
III. What Causes Confusion about Jesus?
A few people are confused about the existence of Jesus of Nazareth—they wonder, Did Jesus ever exist? However, most of the confusion about Jesus centers on His true identity. The two key questions come down to this: “Is Jesus more than a prophet, more than a great teacher, more than a good example to follow?” and “What is His nature: If Jesus is God, could others attain His same status?”
Since the Bible unequivocally answers these questions, why the continued confusion about Jesus? People stay confused because their perception of Jesus is not based on what the Bible teaches. Therefore, one of the following is true …
• They are uninformed about the truth.
• They are deceived about the truth.
• They are rejecting of the truth.
The Bible says,
“The time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.”
(2 Timothy 4:3)
A. Did Jesus Ever Exist?
Some skeptics claim that Jesus Christ of Nazareth was a fictitious person whom the early Christians invented—a mythological figure made up in the minds of many people. What is true? Is there any evidence to consider? Realize that according to history, nearly every one of Jesus’ first disciples died as Christian martyrs because of putting their faith in Him. Certainly those followers would not have died for someone they had created in their own minds! This can be called circumstantial evidence that Jesus did exist.
Likewise, five passages in the Book of Acts refer to the followers of Jesus as “the Way.” Therefore, if He did not exist, how could Jesus have followers? For example, the Jewish zealot Saul went to the high priest “so that if he found any there who belonged to the Way,” he could take them as prisoners (Acts 9:1–2). Saul did cause the death of many Christians, but also experienced a changed life through Christ and a changed name to “Paul”—the brilliant apostle Paul, who became one of the most influential Christians in history.
More convincing is the fact that both early Jewish and Roman historians (non-Christians) attest that Jesus Christ did indeed exist in history.
Ancient Non-Christian Sources
• Josephus—a prominent Jewish historian in the first century recorded the existence of Jesus.
— “Now there was about this time Jesus, a wise man, if it be lawful to call him a man; for he was a doer of wonderful works, a teacher of such men as receive the truth with pleasure. He drew over to him both many of the Jews and many of the Gentiles. He was [the] Christ.” (Antiquities of the Jews 18:63)
— “When, therefore, Ananus … assembled the Sanhedrin of judges, and brought before them the brother of Jesus, who was called Christ, whose name was James, and some others, [or some of his companions]; and, when he had formed an accusation against them as breakers of the law, he delivered them to be stoned.” (Antiquities of the Jews 20:200)
• Tacitus—considered the greatest historian of ancient Rome (AD 55–120), recorded the existence of Jesus.
— “Nero [the Roman Emperor] created scapegoats and subjected to the most refined tortures those whom the common people called “Christians” … the author of this name, Christ, during the reign of Tiberius, had been executed by the procurator Pontius Pilate.” (Annals 15.44)
• Pliny the Younger—a Roman Governor, wrote in AD 96 to Trajan, the Roman emperor, about his first encounter with Christians who worshipped Christ.
“They were in the habit of meeting on a certain fixed day before it was light, when they sang in alternate verses a hymn to Christ, as to a god, and bound themselves by a solemn oath, not to any wicked deeds, but never to commit any fraud, theft or adultery, never to falsify their word, nor deny a trust when they should be called upon to deliver it up.…” (Pliny the Younger, Letters 10:96–97)
Question: “Why are there two genealogies of Jesus in the Bible?”
Answer: The two genealogies serve two different purposes:
— Matthew traces Joseph’s line of descendants from Abraham and David to Joseph because Jesus’ title to the throne of David would come to Him as the legal son of Joseph. Since Matthew was written primarily to the Jews, it was critical that Jesus fulfill both the Abrahamic covenant (Genesis chapter 12) and the Davidic covenant (2 Samuel chapter 7) in order for him to be recognized as the Jewish Messiah.
— Luke, however, traces Mary’s line of descendants back through Abraham to Adam to establish that Jesus is the Son of Man in order for Him to be acknowledged as the Savior of all humanity, not just the Messiah of the Jews.
“ ‘That you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins.…’ He said to the paralyzed man, ‘I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home.’ ” (Luke 5:24)
“If anybody does sin, we have one who speaks to the Father in our defense—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.” (1 John 2:1–2)
B. Was Jesus Only a Great Teacher Who Never Claimed to Be God?
Many teachers throughout history had followers who accepted teachings as “truth.” But Buddha, Confucius, Muhammad, and others were still merely teachers. They never claimed to be God. Unlike these founders of world religions, Jesus is neither merely a man nor merely a teacher. Jesus is God in human form. He did and still does far more than these leaders ever did or could do. To live in His light of truth is to avoid confusion.
“In him was life, and that life was the light of men.”
Many people argue that Jesus never claimed to be God
What is true—what are the facts? Just looking at one book, one chapter, and one small passage in the Bible, we see the unapologetic claim of Jesus that He and the Father are equal. In eight short verses of John chapter 5, Jesus presents His position of equality with the heavenly Father seven different times. According to His own claim …
Jesus and the heavenly Father both have
#1 Equality in activity, both doing the same work
“Jesus gave them this answer: ‘I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does.’ ” (John 5:19)
#2 Equality in knowledge, nothing is hidden
“The Father loves the Son and shows him all he does. Yes, to your amazement he will show him even greater things than these.” (John 5:20)
#3 Equality in giving people life after death
“Just as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, even so the Son gives life to whom he is pleased to give it.” (John 5:21)
#4 Equality in passing judgment on people
“The Father judges no one, but has entrusted all judgment to the Son.” (John 5:22)
#5 Equality in receiving honor from people
“That all may honor the Son just as they honor the Father. He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father, who sent him.” (John 5:23)
#6 Equality in bestowing eternal life to people
“I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life.” (John 5:24)
#7 Equality in being self-existent, both always in existence
“As the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son to have life in himself.” (John 5:26)
Jesus made all these bold statements just after healing an invalid on the Sabbath—thus raising the ire of the Jewish leaders. Not only did Jesus claim equality with God, but the Jews recognized His claim of equality with God. The Bible says,
“For this reason the Jews tried all the harder to kill him; not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God.”
Question: “Why did Jesus question a man for asking Him what good thing he should do and then tell the man that only God is good? Was He denying His deity?”
Answer: While some interpret Jesus’ words to mean that He was denying His goodness and ascribing goodness only to God, a close examination of the complete text reveals the error of such an interpretation. In responding as He did, Jesus was challenging the inconsistent faith of the man who asked. He was pointing out that this man was implying that Jesus was God.… The man asked Jesus this question because only God is good and therefore only God could tell him what good thing he should do. Jesus was clearly good because He was clearly sinless.
Notice, Jesus did not refute that He was good, but made it clear that the question should be asked only of God. The fact that Jesus answered the question rather than ducking it, gave credence to the appropriateness of it being asked of Him. By answering a question only God could answer, Jesus was affirming that He was God, not denying it!
“A man came up to Jesus and asked, ‘Teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life?’ ‘Why do you ask me about what is good?’ Jesus replied. ‘There is only One who is good. If you want to enter life, obey the commandments.’ ” (Matthew 19:16–17)
C. What Are Major False Teachings about Jesus Christ?
Even though the Scriptures are clear about who Jesus is, certain critics who call themselves “Christians” continue to skew the truth. They can easily make false statements that sound true to those who do not know the Word of Truth. While some teach false doctrine out of ignorance, others do so for financial or personal gain. The apostle Paul said,
“Such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, masquerading as apostles of Christ.”
(2 Corinthians 11:13)
#1. LIBERALISM: “Jesus was a great moral teacher, but was not God.”
Biblical Response: Jesus is fully God.
Among many statements that communicate His position as God, Jesus said,
Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6)
Apologist C. S. Lewis gave his now classic response to this “Great teacher/not God” argument: “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 a 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 patronizing nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.”
“The woman said, ‘I know that Messiah’ (called Christ) ‘is coming. When he comes, he will explain everything to us.’ Then Jesus declared, ‘I who speak to you am he.’ ” (John 4:25–26)
“There is no Trinity. Jesus is Father, Son and Holy Spirit. God merely appears at different times in history as a different person or manifestation.” (Taught by Oneness Pentecostals with the United Pentecostal Church International.)
Biblical Response: Jesus is fully God, distinct from God the Father and God the Spirit.
Some teach that Jesus appeared as God the Father in the Old Testament, God the Son in the New Testament, and God the Holy Spirit following the ascension of Jesus into heaven. Jesus merely appeared in “different” modes at different times. However, modalism is not biblically possible as seen in the account of the baptism of Jesus. Look at this event like a snapshot in time. As John baptizes Jesus, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit reveal themselves at the same time.
— Jesus comes up out of the water.
— The Spirit of God descends like a dove.
— The heavenly Father’s voice is heard from heaven.
Each of the three individual persons of the Trinity was in the same place at the same time, but each of their actions was different.
“As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and lighting on him. And a voice from heaven said, ‘This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.’ ” (Matthew 3:16–17)
#3. MORMONISM: “Jesus is God’s Son, but He does not have a unique essence that makes him unique from other human beings. Jesus was only one of many spirit sons of God, as was His brother Lucifer.”
Biblical Response: Jesus is the unique Son of God, fully God and fully man.
Read Joseph Smith’s exact words:
“I will go back to the beginning before the world was, to show what kind of a being God is.… God himself was once as we are now, and is an exalted man.
“I am going to tell you how God came to be God. We have imagined and supposed that God was God from all eternity. I will refute that idea, and take away the veil, so that you may see.
“He was once a man like us; … God himself, the Father of us all, dwelt on an earth, the same as Jesus Christ Himself did.… Here, then, is eternal life—to know the only wise and true God; and you have got to learn how to be gods yourselves, and to be kings and priests to God, the same as all gods have done before you.…”
This foundational teaching of the Latter Day Saints actually conflicts with their own authoritative holy books.
The Book of Mormon:
“For I know that god is not a partial God, neither a changeable being, but He is unchangeable from all eternity to all eternity.” (Moroni 8:18)
Regardless of the statements that a man can become a god, the Bible says,
“Before the mountains were born or you brought forth the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God.” (Psalm 90:2)
#4. ISLAM: “Jesus is merely a prophet, but not God.”
Biblical Response: Jesus is fully God.
Consider the following two logical reasonings:
— All faithful Muslims believe that Jesus was a prophet. They also believe that, according to Mohammad, a prophet would not lie. Among many miracles in the Gospels, Jesus not only healed a paralytic man, but also forgave his sins. Since only God could forgive sins, the people accused Jesus of blasphemy.
“Why does this fellow talk like that? He’s blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?” (Mark 2:7)
Therefore, because Jesus is a prophet who cannot lie, and because Jesus did what only God can do—forgive sin—Jesus must be God.
All faithful Muslims believe that “He [Allah] … sent down … the Gospel (of Jesus) … as a guide to mankind” (Surah 3:3). They also believe that Allah would not lie.… The Gospel of John records that the disciple called Thomas doubted the deity of Jesus, not believing that Jesus arose from the dead. But when Thomas saw Jesus with the nail scars in His hands, He finally realized that Jesus was God. Since Muslims accept the Gospels as authoritative and since Thomas declared Jesus as “God” in the Gospels, Jesus must be God.
“Thomas said to him, ‘My Lord and my God!’ ” (John 20:28)
Conclusion: Because Allah sent “the Gospel of Jesus” and because Allah would not lie, Thomas’ account must be true: Jesus is both Lord and God.
Argument: “The Bible’s portrayal of Jesus is wrong. The Christians have corrupted the Bible to support their claim that Jesus is God. The Qur’an is the uncorrupted direct revelation from God.”
Answer: While Muslims claim that the Bible is corrupt, they cannot present proof that the Bible has been so corrupted that its message has changed. Muslims must insist that the Bible is corrupt, for they claim that the biblical prophets taught the same message that Islam proclaims.
• In fact, the Qur’an’s own words about the Bible support the Bible’s accuracy, for the Qur’an claims that no one can alter God’s words. (Muslims strongly assert that the Qur’an cannot be altered.)
“There is none that can alter the Words (and decrees) of Allah.” (Surah 6:34—in the Qur’an)
• The Qur’an acknowledges that the Old Testament Law and the Gospel came from God.
“It was We who revealed the law (to Moses): therein was guidance and light.… And in their footsteps we sent Jesus the son of Mary, confirming the law that had come before him: we sent him the Gospel: therein was guidance and light, and confirmation of the law that had come before him: a guidance and an admonition to those who fear Allah. Let the People of the Gospel judge by what Allah hath revealed therein. If any do fail to judge by (the light of) what Allah hath revealed, they are (no better than) those who rebel. To thee We sent the Scripture in truth, confirming the scripture that came before it, and guarding it in safety.” (Surah 5:44, 46–48—in the Qur’an)
• When did the Bible become corrupt? Obviously not before the Qur’an was written, or Muhammad would have told his followers which copies of the Bible were not corrupted.
• Therefore, if the Bible was corrupted, it must have been after the Qur’an was written (about AD 650). But we possess manuscripts older than AD 650 for all the books in the Bible, and they all contain the same message found in the modern Bible.
Conclusion: The Bible cannot be corrupted as Muslims claim. If a Muslim accepts the Qur’an’s teaching that the Bible is revelation from God, then they must also accept the Bible’s message about Jesus Christ, that He is God.
#5. JEHOVAH’S WITNESSES: “Jesus is not God, but a created being.”
Biblical Response: Jesus is fully God.
To someone who believes in the authority of the Bible, yet is confused about the deity of Jesus, sensitively ask these three questions and wait for a response after each question:
— “Who is mentioned in Isaiah 44:6?”
“This is what the Lord says—Israel’s King and Redeemer, the Lord Almighty: I am the first and I am the last; apart from me there is no God.” (Isaiah 44:6)
The answer will typically be the Lord.
— “And who is referred to in Revelation 1:5–8?”
“From Jesus Christ.… To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood, and has made us to be a kingdom and priests to serve his God and Father—to him be glory and power for ever and ever! Amen. Look, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him; and all the peoples of the earth will mourn because of him. So shall it be! Amen. ‘I am the Alpha and the Omega,’ says the Lord God, ‘who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty.’ ” (Revelation 1:5–8)
(The “Alpha and Omega” means the “first and the last” because they are the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet.)
— “Do you see that God’s holy Word clearly shows that Jesus Christ, who is the First and the Last (the Alpha and the Omega), is actually Jehovah, the Lord Almighty?” Isaiah says there is no other God. And the end of Revelation reinforces the fact that Jesus is the “First and Last.”
“I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.… I, Jesus, have sent my angel to give you this testimony for the churches. I am the Root and the Offspring of David, and the bright Morning Star.” (Revelation 22:13, 16)
Question: “Christ is called the ‘firstborn over all creation’ (Colossians 1:15). Since Christ was born like every other human being, how can He be God?”
Answer: Jesus’ birth is unique in human history—not like that of any other human being. While fully and always God, Jesus also became a human being during the incarnation. Carefully read John 1:1 and John 1:14: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.… The Word [Jesus] became flesh and made his dwelling among us.”
“Firstborn” in Colossians 1:15 indicates the preeminent position Christ holds: He is Head over all creation. Notice that the next verse (v. 16) says He created all things—an act that only God can perform.
“By him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him.” (Colossians 1:16)
D. Root Cause of Denying the Deity of Christ
Years ago, the French philosopher Blaise Pascal wisely said that every person is born with a God-shaped vacuum that only He can fill. Such a vacuum leads each of us to either find God or create a god.
“No matter how much evidence the Bible provides concerning Jesus, I still cannot believe He is God; therefore, I cannot put my faith in Him. Regardless of the accounts of the miracles, I don’t want to accept Jesus as God.… I don’t see a need for Him in my life.”
“Even after Jesus had done all these miraculous signs in their presence, they still would not believe in him.” (John 12:37)
“I accept the evidence of the Bible concerning Jesus Christ. I see that Jesus is God and that He has the power to forgive me, cleanse me, change me, and give me eternal life.”
“These are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.” (John 20:31)
Question: “Why is it important that Jesus is God? Isn’t it enough that He, like Abraham, was a righteous man (Romans 4:3)?”
Answer: Unlike Abraham, Jesus was sinless, making Him the only pure sacrifice (shedding His blood on the cross) that can take away the sins of all humanity. Only by being God, does Jesus have the power to grant forgiveness and eternal life to those who entrust their lives to Him.
“It was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect.” (1 Peter 1:18–19)
IV. steps to solution
To know Jesus personally is to know God personally … and to have your sins forgiven, to have His power over sin, to have eternal life with Him forever. Millions of people from different cultures throughout the centuries have experienced the changed life that comes when they realize that Jesus is God and choose to place their trust in Him. Once we give Him control of our lives, our lives will inevitably change.
“If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!”
(2 Corinthians 5:17)
A. Key Verse to Memorize
The following Scripture is the clearest, most direct statement declaring that Jesus is God. In this passage, Jesus is called “the Word.”
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”
John 1:14 reveals that “the Word” is Jesus.
“The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.”
B. Key Passage to Read and Reread
The Gospel of John
The four Gospels (literally, “good news”) are four biographies revealing the good news about the life and plan of Jesus Christ. Each biographer had a different audience and a different purpose.
• Matthew was written to the Jews to show Jesus as the Promised Messiah.
• Mark was written to the Romans to show Jesus as the Obedient Servant.
• Luke was written to the Greeks to show Jesus as the Perfect Man.
• John was written to the world to show Jesus as the Almighty God.
Because the primary purpose of John’s Gospel is to show that Jesus is God, if you want to know the truth of John’s teaching, read each chapter with paper and pen. Make a list of every name given to Jesus, as well as every situation indicating that Jesus is, indeed, God.
Chapter 1: The Word is the Creator God who comes in human form.
He is God in flesh, the Creator of all and the sacrifice sufficient for all sin.
Chapter 2: The Miracle Worker prophesies His own resurrection.
He demonstrates His power over creation by changing water to wine, and proclaims His power over death.
Chapter 3: The Son of Man offers salvation.
He reveals that eternal life is possible only through experiencing the “new birth” through faith in Him.
Chapter 4: The Messiah quenches spiritual thirst with living water.
He is the Living Water, who alone is capable of satisfying our empty souls.
Chapter 5: The Son of God explains His equality with God the Father.
He is equal to yet separate from the Father and is the Source and Lord over all life.
Chapter 6: The Bread of Life feeds 5,000 people by miraculous means.
He is the Bread of Life, who provides life through His death for all who believe.
Chapter 7: The Christ stuns the Jews with His teaching.
He possesses divine authority, is the promised Messiah, and predicts the indwelling of the Spirit within His followers.
Chapter 8: The Light of the World sets people free.
He teaches that He is equal in power, glory, and substance to the Father, who sent Him into the world.
Chapter 9: The Light heals blindness.
He is the Light of the world demonstrating His deity by healing physical and spiritual blindness and revealing the guilt of those who reject Him.
Chapter 10: The Shepherd saves the sheep.
He is the Good Shepherd, who lays down His life for the sheep, takes it up again, and protects the sheep.
Chapter 11: The Resurrection and the Life raises Lazarus from the dead.
He shows that He is the source of life and has power over death by raising Lazarus from the dead.
Chapter 12: The King of Israel experiences an anointing and fulfills prophecy.
He is the promised Messiah, whose death can unite all humanity through faith.
Chapter 13: The Servant predicts His betrayer.
He is God and He is man who prepares to sacrifice Himself out of love for us and commands us to love each other in the same way.
Chapter 14: The Way and the Truth and the Life explains His oneness with the Father.
He reveals the unique relationship His followers have with the Father through the ministry of the Holy Spirit because of the merits and achievement of Jesus Himself.
Chapter 15: The True Vine produces fruit through branches.
He causes you to bear spiritual fruit for the kingdom of God as you abide in Him and draw your life and sustenance from Him, depending on Him to be your Need-Meeter and your source for success.
Chapter 16: The Conqueror overcomes the world.
He teaches that the Holy Spirit is coming to His followers, the One who abides in you and empowers you to resist the lure and pull of the world and to live righteously before Him even while you are still in the world.
Chapter 17: The Intercessor prays for His followers.
He represents you before the Father, who has given you to Him as an eternal inheritance to be united with all fellow believers in a dynamic relationship with the Holy Trinity.
Chapter 18: The Nazarene overwhelms the soldiers with His powerful presence.
He demonstrates His innocence before Pilate and the Jewish authorities, while confirming His authority and power without using it to escape the coming crucifixion.
Chapter 19: The King of the Jews fulfills prophecies through His death.
He lays down His life for you and for all sinful humanity because of His love.
Chapter 20: The Lord God rises from the dead, salvation is secured, and skepticism is satisfied.
He purchases you with His blood, having met the righteous demands of the Law of God. Now you are the beneficiary of His grace, the recipient of His great salvation.
Chapter 21: The Lord of Love fills the net and restores Peter.
He has reconciled you to the Father and forgiven all of your sins—past, present, and future—and through your confession of future sin, He will continuously restore you to right fellowship with the Father, just as He did with Peter.
Question: “How could Jesus have been both God and man? Two contradictory natures cannot coexist in one person.”
Answer: The miracle of the Incarnation, that God became man, is a mystery difficult to grasp. Jesus Christ is one person with two natures, fully God and fully man. These natures are not divided or separated, neither are they intermingled or confused. The distinct human and divine qualities in Christ are not altered or lost or contradictory. He is of one substance with the Father while also being of one substance with humanity, except in relation to sin. He is the Son of the Father and also the Son of the Virgin Mary. He exhibited both human and divine characteristics.
— He hungered, and yet He had the power to multiply fish and bread.
— He thirsted, and yet He had the power to turn water into wine.
— He walked from place to place, and yet He had the power to move a ship instantly across a lake.
— He always acted in unity of person, while displaying both human and divine qualities.
“That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched—this we proclaim concerning the Word of life. The life appeared; we have seen it and testify to it, and we proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and has appeared to us. We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ.” (1 John 1:1–3)
C. Proof That Jesus Is God
If you were to consider hiring a certain man for a significant job, would you want to see his work history? Would you look for any other evidence that could help you discern capabilities and character? You would read his resume, consider his accomplishments, and look at letters of recommendation. After checking his references, your aim is threefold: find out the truth of how he really functions, how he performs on the job, and clear up any questions or confusion. It is no small thing to claim to be both the Promised Messiah and God.
Now consider the claims of Christ. Your eternal destiny is at stake in your evaluation of such claims. Therefore, in making a judgment about Jesus, your quest should be to uncover the ultimate truth about the identity of Christ.
“The heart of the discerning acquires knowledge; the ears of the wise seek it out.”
Apply the following steps to determine whether Jesus is who He says He is:
• Read His resume.… Who is He, and what is His background?
• Consider His accomplishments.… What major events in His life prove what He says about Himself?
• Read letters of recommendation.… What was said by those who personally knew Him and those who saw His accomplishments?
• Check personal references.… What current impact did or does He have on the lives of others?
• Evaluate His natural abilities.… How did He naturally function?
• Resolve unanswered issues.… What unanswered questions or objections need to be resolved?
If you have questions about Jesus, you need to be discerning about His qualifications. If you really want to know His core identity—“Is Jesus really God?”—seek the truth about Him with all your heart.… When you do, He will prove Himself to you. It is His heart’s desire to be known by you and to have an intimate relationship with you. The Lord’s promise to you is …
“ ‘You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you,’ declares the Lord, ‘and will bring you back from captivity. I will gather you from all the nations and places where I have banished you,’ declares the Lord, ‘and will bring you back to the place from which I carried you into exile.’ ”
“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.”
Proof Validates the Verdict
The question of the deity of Christ is not one to be put off or ignored. Sufficient proof exists that both confirms and validates the truth that Jesus is God. Jesus Himself said, “Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father” (John 14:9). Jesus was sent to earth to give us an understanding of what God is like by showing us God. Jesus is the eternal God, and when we are “in Him” (placed into His family), we are given eternal life. Both the actions and the teachings of Jesus paint a picture of the Father.
“We know also that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know him who is true. And we are in him who is true—even in his Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life.”
(1 John 5:20)
The following is an acrostic of the word PROOF:
Prophecies fulfilled by Jesus—Compare the Old Testament prophecies with their New Testament fulfillments.
“The testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.” (Revelation 19:10)
Resurrection of Jesus from the dead—Compare the false theories with the true facts of the resurrection.
“Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born.” (1 Corinthians 15:7–8)
Oral testimony of witnesses and martyrs—Listen with your heart to witnesses who risked their futures and lost their lives because of their faith in the deity of Christ. The disciple Stephen was the first to be stoned.
“All who were sitting in the Sanhedrin looked intently at Stephen, and they saw that his face was like the face of an angel.… While they were stoning him, Stephen prayed, ‘Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.’ Then he fell on his knees and cried out, ‘Lord, do not hold this sin against them.’ When he had said this, he fell asleep.” (Acts 6:15; 7:59–60)
Oral testimony of changed lives—Consider how those who have placed their faith in Christ have new lives.
“We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.” (Romans 6:4)
Functions of Jesus that only God can perform—Examine the supernatural acts of Jesus that are unique to God.
“He said, ‘Throw your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some.’ When they did, they were unable to haul the net in because of the large number of fish.” (John 21:6)
Proof of the Deity of Christ
Look at each letter in the word PROOF.
Prophecies Fulfilled by Jesus
When Jesus appeared on earth as Messiah, His arrival was greatly anticipated. For hundreds of years the Old Testament prophets had made many proclamations regarding the coming Messiah. In fact, when you look at the prophecies, no one but Jesus could have fulfilled all of them. All these prophecies were from the heart of God and were written for you that you might recognize His Son and receive Him as Savior.
“We have the word of the prophets made more certain, and you will do well to pay attention to it, as to a light shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts.” (2 Peter 1:19)
|Old Testament Prediction||New Testament Fulfillment|
|Messiah’s lineage from Abraham|
|“Through your offspring all nations on earth will be blessed, because you have obeyed me.” (Genesis 22:18)||“The promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed. The Scripture does not say ‘and to seeds,’ meaning many people, but ‘and to your seed,’ meaning one person, who is Christ.” (Galatians 3:16)|
|Messiah’s lineage from Judah|
|“The scepter will not depart from Judah, nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet, until he comes to whom it belongs and the obedience of the nations is his.” (Genesis 49:10)||“Then one of the elders said to me, ‘Do not weep! See, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has triumphed. He is able to open the scroll and its seven seals.’ ” (Revelation 5:5)|
|Messiah’s lineage from David|
|“You said, ‘I have made a covenant with my chosen one, I have sworn to David my servant, “I will establish your line forever and make your throne firm through all generations.” ’ ” (Psalm 89:3–4)||“After removing Saul, he made David their king. He testified concerning him: ‘I have found David son of Jesse a man after my own heart; he will do everything I want him to do.’ From this man’s descendants God has brought to Israel the Savior Jesus, as he promised.” (Acts 13:22–23)|
|“You, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times.” (Micah 5:2)||“After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, ‘Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star in the east and have come to worship him.’ ” (Matthew 2:1–2)|
|“ ‘See, I will send my messenger, who will prepare the way before me. Then suddenly the Lord you are seeking will come to his temple; the messenger of the covenant, whom you desire, will come,’ says the Lord Almighty.” (Malachi 3:1)||[Spoken about John the Baptist]“This is the one about whom it is written: ‘I will send my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way before you.’ ” (Luke 7:27)
|Messiah’s ministry in Galilee|
|“There will be no more gloom for those who were in distress. In the past he humbled the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, but in the future he will honor Galilee of the Gentiles, by the way of the sea, along the Jordan.” (Isaiah 9:1)||“When Jesus heard that John had been put in prison, he returned to Galilee. Leaving Nazareth, he went and lived in Capernaum, which was by the lake in the area of Zebulun and Naphtali—to fulfill what was said through the prophet Isaiah: ‘Land of Zebulun and land of Naphtali, the way to the sea, along the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles—the people living in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned.’ ” (Matthew 4:12–16)|
|Messiah’s role as prophet|
|[Spoken by Moses]||[Spoken by the Jewish disciple Peter about Jesus]|
|“The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among your own brothers. You must listen to him.” (Deuteronomy 18:15)||“Moses said, ‘The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among your own people; you must listen to everything he tells you.’ ” (Acts 3:22)|
|Messiah’s entry into Jerusalem on a donkey|
|“Rejoice greatly, O Daughter of Zion! Shout, Daughter of Jerusalem! See, your king comes to you, righteous and having salvation, gentle and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.” (Zechariah 9:9)||“Jesus found a young donkey and sat upon it, as it is written, ‘Do not be afraid, O Daughter of Zion; see, your king is coming, seated on a donkey’s colt.’ ” (John 12:14–15)|
|Messiah mocked and insulted|
|“All who see me mock me; they hurl insults, shaking their heads: ‘He trusts in the Lord; let the Lord rescue him. Let him deliver him, since he delights in him.’ ” (Psalm 22:7–8)||“The people stood watching, and the rulers even sneered at him. They said, ‘He saved others; let him save himself if he is the Christ of God, the Chosen One.’ ” (Luke 23:35)|
|Messiah sold for silver|
|“I told them, ‘If you think it best, give me my pay; but if not, keep it.’ So they paid me thirty pieces of silver.” (Zechariah 11:12)||“[Judas] asked, ‘What are you willing to give me if I hand him over to you?’ So they counted out for him thirty silver coins.” (Matthew 26:15)|
|Messiah betrayed by a friend|
|“Even my close friend, whom I trusted, he who shared my bread, has lifted up his heel against me.” (Psalm 41:9)||“While they were reclining at the table eating, he said, ‘I tell you the truth, one of you will betray me—one who is eating with me.’ ” (Mark 14:18)|
|Messiah’s clothing divided by casting lots|
|“They divide my garments among them and cast lots for my clothing.” (Psalm 22:18)||“When they had crucified him, they divided up his clothes by casting lots.” (Matthew 27:35)|
|“Dogs have surrounded me; a band of evil men has encircled me, they have pierced my hands and my feet.” (Psalm 22:16)||“ ‘Look at my hands and my feet. It is I myself! Touch me and see; a ghost does not have flesh and bones, as you see I have.’ When he had said this, he showed them his hands and feet.” (Luke 24:39–40)|
|Messiah offered vinegar and gall|
|“They put gall in my food and gave me vinegar for my thirst.” (Psalm 69:21)||“They offered Jesus wine to drink, mixed with gall; but after tasting it, he refused to drink it.” (Matthew 27:34)|
|Messiah prays for His persecutors|
|“He … made intercession for the transgressors.” (Isaiah 53:12)||“Jesus said, ‘Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.’ ” (Luke 23:34)|
|Messiah commits His Spirit to God|
|“Into your hands I commit my spirit; redeem me, O Lord, the God of truth.” (Psalm 31:5)||“Jesus called out with a loud voice, ‘Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.’ When he had said this, he breathed his last.” (Luke 23:46)|
|Messiah’s bones not broken|
|“He protects all his bones, not one of them will be broken.” (Psalm 34:20)||“When they came to Jesus and found that he was already dead, they did not break his legs.” (John 19:33)|
|Messiah’s body pierced|
|“I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and supplication. They will look on me, the one they have pierced, and they will mourn for him as one mourns for an only child, and grieve bitterly for him as one grieves for a firstborn son.” (Zechariah 12:10)||“One of the soldiers pierced Jesus’ side with a spear, bringing a sudden flow of blood and water.” (John 19:34)|
|Messiah’s raised body experienced no decay|
|“You will not abandon me to the grave, nor will you let your Holy One see decay.” (Psalm 16:10)||“Seeing what was ahead, he spoke of the resurrection of the Christ, that he was not abandoned to the grave, nor did his body see decay.” (Acts 2:31)|
Argument: “Jesus, who knew the Hebrew Scriptures, simply manipulated His words and actions so that He would fit into ‘the mold of the Messiah’ and thereby fulfill the Messianic prophecies.”
Answer: To feign being the Messiah would have been an impossibility! Jesus could not have possibly conformed His actions to match most of the messianic prophecies. Even if you discount some of His words and actions, which, in theory, Jesus could have controlled, most of the messianic prophecies He could not have controlled.
Prophecies That Are Not Self-Fulfilling (in part):
— Being given the throne of David
(prophesied in Jeremiah 23:5–6—fulfilled in Luke 1:31–32)
— Being called Emmanuel
(prophesied in Isaiah 7:14—fulfilled in Matthew 1:23)
— Being born in Bethlehem
(prophesied in Micah 5:2—fulfilled in Matthew 2:5–6)
— Being worshipped by wise men and presented with gifts
(prophesied in Psalm 72:10—fulfilled in Matthew 2:11)
— Being given a forerunner to prepare the way
(prophesied in Malachi 3:1—fulfilled in Luke 7:27)
— Being betrayed for 30 pieces of silver
(prophesied in Zechariah 11:12—fulfilled in Matthew 26:14–16)
— Being killed by crucifixion—with pierced hands and feet—a method of capital punishment not used by the Jewish people
(prophesied in Psalm 22:16—fulfilled in John 19:17–18)
— Being stripped of His garments and having them gambled away
(prophesied in Psalm 22:18—fulfilled in Luke 23:34 and John 19:23–24)
— Being killed without having any bones broken
(prophesied in Psalm 34:20—fulfilled in John 19:33–36)
— Being buried in a rich man’s tomb
(prophesied in Isaiah 53:9—fulfilled in Matthew 27:57, 59–60)
— Being resurrected from the dead—to live forever
(prophesied in Psalm 16:10—fulfilled in Matthew 28:2–8)
Resurrection of Jesus from the Dead
Like the miracles Jesus performed during His earthly ministry, His resurrection also bore witness of His deity. None of the individuals who were temporarily restored to life in the biblical accounts ever claimed that their restored health was proof of their deity, nor did any inspired prophet or apostle claim deity. On the other hand, Jesus did, and New Testament writers affirmed it. (Read John 2:19.) His resurrection was different because of who He was and is—fully God and fully man. Consequently, His resurrection represents the most important proof of His deity. And His resurrection assures the resurrection from the dead of all who place their faith in Him. His past resurrection guarantees our future resurrection. After all, all that He did, He did for us.
“Regarding his Son, who as to his human nature was a descendant of David, and who through the Spirit of holiness was declared with power to be the Son of God by his resurrection from the dead: Jesus Christ our Lord.” (Romans 1:3–4)
Four False Theories of Jesus’ Resurrection
Many people are “doubting Thomases”—they refuse to believe the clear evidence for the resurrection of Jesus from the dead. This evidence is strong—so strong that only a prejudice against Jesus or the denial of His existence could cause a person to deny His resurrection.
“Thomas (called Didymus), one of the Twelve, was not with the disciples when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, ‘We have seen the Lord!’ But he said to them, ‘Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe it.’ ”
Theory #1: The disciples stole Jesus’ body and claimed that He rose from the dead
This is the earliest false theory of Jesus’ resurrection. Matthew tells us that the Jewish leaders created this story to account for the missing body.
“When the chief priests had met with the elders and devised a plan, they gave the soldiers a large sum of money, telling them, ‘You are to say, “His disciples came during the night and stole him away while we were asleep.” If this report gets to the governor, we will satisfy him and keep you out of trouble.’ So the soldiers took the money and did as they were instructed. And this story has been widely circulated among the Jews to this very day.” (Matthew 28:12–15)
— Fact: The disciples gave up everything, including their lives, to preach that Christ was raised from the dead. Certainly they would not have done this if they were lying about the resurrection!
“After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep.” (1 Corinthians 15:6)
Theory #2: The women went to the wrong tomb
This theory is not plausible. The women knew which tomb Jesus was buried in. They would not have made this mistake. Even if the women had gone to the wrong tomb, the disciples would have gone to the right tomb and found His body. And surely Joseph knew where His tomb was located and would have taken the disciples to it.
“The women who had come with Jesus from Galilee followed Joseph and saw the tomb and how his body was laid in it.” (Luke 23:55)
— Fact: On the Sunday following the Crucifixion, Jesus’ tomb was found empty by a group of his women followers.
If the early church had made up the story of the empty tomb, certainly it would not have been said that women were the first witnesses of the empty tomb. A woman’s testimony was nearly worthless in first century Palestine. Even the twelve disciples did not believe the women’s report of Jesus’ resurrection until they had investigated it for themselves.
“It was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the others with them who told this to the apostles. But they did not believe the women, because their words seemed to them like nonsense. Peter, however, got up and ran to the tomb. Bending over, he saw the strips of linen lying by themselves, and he went away, wondering to himself what had happened.” (Luke 24:10–12)
Theory #3: The Resurrection is only a metaphor for Jesus’ continuing spiritual significance to His followers.
This theory contradicts the New Testament writers’ assertion that Jesus rose bodily, not just spiritually, from the dead. They believed in a bodily resurrection, not simply a spiritual resurrection. No spiritual resurrection theory can explain the empty tomb.
“What I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Peter, and then to the Twelve. After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep.” (1 Corinthians 15:3–6)
— Fact: On multiple occasions and under various circumstances, different individuals and groups of people experienced appearances of Jesus, bodily alive from the dead.
Paul provides a list of individuals who saw the bodily resurrected Jesus (1 Corinthians 15:5–8). The resurrection appearances in the Gospels provide other witnesses to Jesus’ bodily resurrection.
“He appeared to Peter, and then to the Twelve. After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born.” (1 Corinthians 15:5–8)
Theory #4: Jesus’ resurrection is simply a legend
Those who hold to this view claim that the disciples were so distraught over Jesus’ death that they were hallucinating when they thought they saw Him raised from the dead. But over 500 people saw the resurrected Jesus. Some of them, like Paul, who encountered Jesus on the way to Damascus to persecute Christians, were not grief-stricken. Nothing less than a miracle would have caused over 500 people to share the same hallucination! Jesus’ brother James, who did not believe that Jesus was the Messiah before the Crucifixion, also saw his brother’s resurrected state and thus believed. The empty tomb and the hundreds of witnesses are proof that Jesus did, indeed, rise from the dead.
“Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born.” (1 Corinthians 15:7–8)
— Fact: The followers of Jesus did not believe that their Messiah would die, much less be resurrected. Because Jesus was crucified, He would have been considered a heretic according to the Old Testament Law. The Jews believed in resurrection, but only in a resurrection for everyone at the end of the world. They did not believe individuals would be resurrected before that time. The original disciples believed that Jesus was risen from the dead despite their having every reason not to.
“Simon Peter, who was behind him, arrived and went into the tomb. He saw the strips of linen lying there, as well as the burial cloth that had been around Jesus’ head. The cloth was folded up by itself, separate from the linen. Finally the other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, also went inside. He saw and believed.” (John 20:6–8)
Even doubting Thomas became a believing Thomas when the Lord presented him with living proof of His resurrection.
“He said to Thomas, ‘Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.’ Thomas said to him, ‘My Lord and my God!’ Then Jesus told him, ‘Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.’ ” (John 20:27–29)
What Is Your Verdict?
There will always be those who refuse to believe that Jesus rose from the dead. However, these evidences continue to be recognized by many scholars as strong proof that the early church did not fabricate the resurrection story. Those who are wise will keep an open mind to all the facts before becoming persuaded or convinced that the resurrection is false.
“When they heard about the resurrection of the dead, some of them sneered, but others said, ‘We want to hear you again on this subject.’ ”
Question: “Why is Jesus’ resurrection from the dead important?”
Answer: The Christian hope is based on Jesus’ resurrection from the dead. It is the proof that the sacrifice made by Jesus in payment for our sins was acceptable to God and that payment for our sins has been made in full. We are now no longer under the spiritual death penalty. Pardon is available to all who accept Jesus as Savior and Lord. If Jesus did not rise from the dead, then there is no victory over sin and death, no forgiveness of sins, and no hope of eternal life.
“If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins.” (1 Corinthians 15:17)
Oral Testimony of Witnesses and Martyrs
The first disciples proclaimed that Jesus was the Messiah, the only Savior and the one true God. Most of them died because they continued to proclaim this message. And over the course of the last 2,000 years, many others have lost their lives as a result of proclaiming this same message. If they had not been completely convinced of Jesus’ identity, they would have stopped testifying about Christ because they knew that such witnessing put their lives in severe jeopardy. The apostle Paul shed light on his own personal persecution as he witnessed for Christ.
“Are they servants of Christ? (I am out of my mind to talk like this.) I am more. I have worked much harder, been in prison more frequently, been flogged more severely, and been exposed to death again and again. Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea, I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my own countrymen, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false brothers.” (2 Corinthians 11:23–26)
What Do Different Books of the Bible Say about the Deity of Christ?
• Paul refers to Jesus as “God and Savior.”
“While we wait for the blessed hope—the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ.” (Titus 2:13)
• Peter refers to Jesus as “God and Savior.”
“Simon Peter, a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who through the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ have received a faith as precious as ours.” (2 Peter 1:1)
• Thomas refers to Jesus as “My Lord and my God.”
“Thomas said to him, ‘My Lord and my God!’ ” (John 20:28)
• John refers to Jesus as “the Word” and states, “the Word was God.”
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” (John 1:1)
• Jesus even says that He and God the Father are one.
“I and the Father are one.” (John 10:30)
• In Hebrews, Jesus is called “God.”
“About the Son he says, ‘Your throne, O God, will last for ever and ever, and righteousness will be the scepter of your kingdom.’ ” (Hebrews 1:8)
• In 1 John, Jesus is called “the true God and eternal life.”
“We know also that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know him who is true. And we are in him who is true—even in his Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life.” (1 John 5:20)
• In Philippians, Jesus is described as being “in very nature God.”
“Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped.” (Philippians 2:5–6)
• In Colossians, Jesus is fully God.
“In Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, and you have been given fullness in Christ, who is the head over every power and authority.” (Colossians 2:9–10)
• In the Gospel of John, Jesus is called the great “I am.” (See Exodus 3:14.)
“ ‘I tell you the truth,’ Jesus answered, ‘before Abraham was born, I am!’ ” (John 8:58)
• In Romans, Jesus is called “God over all.”
“Theirs are the patriarchs, and from them is traced the human ancestry of Christ, who is God over all, forever praised!” (Romans 9:5)
Oral Testimony of Lives Changed
What do countless thousands of alcoholics, adulterers, homosexuals, prostitutes, thieves, swindlers, and wicked men and women who have accepted Jesus Christ as their personal Lord and Savior have in common? They all have experienced the internal life transformation that can come only from Jesus Christ. Only Jesus provides forgiveness of sins and the power of the Holy Spirit to transform a person from sinner to saint.
“Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.” (1 Corinthians 6:9–11)
• Martin Luther: A troubled soul finds God’s peace.
— A frightened Martin Luther entered the priesthood but found that religious activities could not remove the guilt that filled the emptiness in his soul. When he accepted the truth from Scripture that salvation comes by faith, not by works, God removed the guilt, and Luther experienced peace with God. Luther humbled his heart and entered into a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, trusting Him alone for salvation.
• Perpetua: A young adult forfeits her life for honoring God’s command.
— The Roman emperor Septimius Severus required that everyone offer sacrifices for the emperor. But Perpetua, a twenty-two-year-old girl, was a Christian—she would not practice idolatry. She and her friends were murdered in the arena because of their faith in Jesus Christ.
• Augustine: An immoral man experiences Christ’s cleansing.
— Augustine was an immoral man who could not stay away from his mistress no matter how hard he tried. When he finally realized the truth of his sinfulness and accepted the redemption that comes from Christ, God changed his life, and he ceased his immoral affair.
• William Cetnar: One trapped by a cult receives God’s freedom.
— William Cetnar was in the grip of the Jehovah’s Witnesses for many years. After being disfellowshipped from the group because of the issue of blood transfusions, Cetnar investigated the Scriptures afresh. Without the influence of the Jehovah’s Witnesses, William Cetnar was able to see the truth—Jesus is God, and salvation comes only through Jesus Christ.
• C. S. Lewis: A skeptic proves rather than disproves God’s existence.
— C. S. Lewis, the brilliant writer and philosopher, became an avowed agnostic as a teenager and considered religion in general as “nonsense.” Then in his early 30s, after much internal and intense research, this Oxford and Cambridge professor became a Christian—not out of personal preference but by default. His explorations, investigations, and research left him with no alternative to Christian faith. As he said, “The Great Angler played His fish and I never dreamed that the hook was in my tongue.”
• John and Betty Stamm: A husband and wife become martyrs as a witness to God’s love.
— As Christian missionaries in China in the 1930s, they knew they were in danger from the Communist soldiers. But they also knew that this was where God wanted them to be. They remained faithful to Christ even to the moment of their martyrdom. No power on earth could keep them from the love of God and the certainty of eternal life with Him.
• Charles Colson: A powerful lawyer goes from the White House to the jailhouse only to discover true freedom in Christ.
— Charles Colson was referred to as the “evil genius,” the “hatchet man” of American President Richard Nixon’s administration from 1969–1973. Feared by even the most powerful politicians of his day, the press considered him “incapable of humanitarian thought.” His political downfall came in 1974 when he was incarcerated for seven months for his part in the infamous “Watergate scandal.” While awaiting trial in 1973, Colson read C. S. Lewis’ Mere Christianity and placed his faith in Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord. Although his conversion was met with skepticism by the press and others, in 1976 Colson founded Prison Fellowship Ministries, now the world’s largest outreach to prisoners, ex-prisoners, crime victims, and their families. In 1983 Colson established Justice Fellowship, now America’s largest faith-based criminal justice reform group. Colson is a modern day testimony of the life-changing power of Jesus Christ in the heart of those who entrust their lives to Jesus.
Consider the Changed Lives of Those Who Trust in Jesus
Placing your trust in Jesus Christ is a serious act and the most important decision you could ever make. By entrusting your life to Christ you experience forgiveness of your sins, freedom from the power of sin, and peace with God. Nothing in this world can take away God’s eternal love and peace that comes when you place your trust in Jesus. When Christ is in your heart, you truly receive a new life.
“If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!”
(2 Corinthians 5:17)
Functions of Jesus That Only God Can Perform
Jesus did not come to earth making an outright initial proclamation that He was God in human form. Instead, He did the deeds that only God could do. While His opponents could have disputed any self-claims Jesus may have made, they could not overlook His many miraculous deeds.
“ ‘The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.’ Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him, and he began by saying to them, ‘Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.’ ” (Luke 4:18–21)
What Did Jesus Do While He Was on Earth?
With a high speed camera, the Gospel of Mark captures with gusto the miracle-ministry of Jesus. In 16 short chapters, Mark reports 19 miracles in rapid succession. Eager to share his eyewitness story, he exclaims, Look what Jesus did! Look at how what Jesus did proves who He is!
• Jesus performed miracles.
Of Jesus’ miracles, over 35 were recorded while many were not (as stated in John 21:25). The first of Jesus’ miracles was performed at the wedding feast in Cana when He turned water into wine. His disciples saw His glory—He reflected God Himself!
“This, the first of his miraculous signs, Jesus performed at Cana in Galilee. He thus revealed his glory, and his disciples put their faith in him.” (John 2:11)
The following is a partial list of the miracles of Jesus:
|— He told his disciples where to catch boatloads of fish.||Luke 5:4–6|
|— He cast out an evil spirit from a man in Capernaum.||Mark 1:23–27|
|— He calmed a raging storm immediately. (He controls natural law.)||Mark 4:39|
|— He raised Jairus’ daughter to life from the dead.||Mark 5:41|
|— He fed 5,000 and their families with 5 loaves and 2 fish.||Mark 6:30–44|
|— He walked on the water. (He is above natural law.)||Mark 6:45–51|
|— He fed 4,000 and their families with 7 loaves and a few fish.||Mark 8:6–7|
|— He provided money from the mouth of a fish.||Matthew 17:27|
|— He caused an unfruitful fig tree to wither instantly.||Mark 11:14|
|— He produced a miraculous catch of fish.||John 21:4–14|
• Jesus healed people.
As a natural part of medical training, physicians observe the physical illnesses of patients. Luke, the physician—author of the Gospel of Luke and the Book of Acts—as a natural part of His medical profession, observed and recorded with meticulous detail the physical illnesses of people and Jesus’ supernatural power to heal them.
“When the sun was setting, the people brought to Jesus all who had various kinds of sickness, and laying his hands on each one, he healed them.” (Luke 4:40)
|— He healed the Capernaum demoniac.||Luke 4:35|
|— He healed Peter’s mother-in-law.||Luke 4:39|
|— He healed a paralytic.||Luke 5:17–26|
|— He healed a withered hand.||Luke 6:10|
|— He healed a great number of people of their diseases.||Luke 6:17–19|
|— He healed a centurion’s servant.||Luke 7:1–10|
|— He healed a demon-possessed man.||Luke 8:26–38|
|— He healed a woman with internal bleeding.||Luke 8:43–44|
|— He healed a boy with an evil spirit.||Luke 9:42|
|— He healed an epileptic.||Luke 9:37–42|
|— He healed a woman crippled for 18 years.||Luke 13:10–13|
|— He healed a man of dropsy.||Luke 14:1–4|
|— He healed ten lepers.||Luke 17:12–14|
|— He healed a blind man.||Luke 18:42|
|— He healed a soldier’s ear that Peter had cut off.||Luke 22:51|
“The news about him spread all the more, so that crowds of people came to hear him and to be healed of their sicknesses.”
Question: “Were Christian beliefs stolen from other religions, as some allege?”
Answer: Christianity is not a compilation of beliefs from various other religions, but the fulfillment of Judaism—a faith that goes back over 4,000 years. Since Jesus and the founders of the early church lived in a culture that contained both Jewish and Greek influences and traditions, it is logical that the expressions of their faith would reflect that fact. After all, the New Testament was written in Greek, not Hebrew. However, the tenets of their faith—belief in one omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent God, belief in the deity of Christ and the Holy Spirit, and belief in the resurrection of Jesus—were unparalleled in Greek culture. Clearly Christianity did not come from pagan religions, but rather as the fulfillment of Jewish prophecies. Jesus makes this clear by saying,
“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.” (Matthew 5:17)
D. Consider How Jesus Suffered on the Cross for You
The death of Jesus was neither quick nor painless. He suffered severely before He died. Although He is the King of Kings, He died the type of death reserved for common criminals. He suffered and endured the shame because of His great love for you!
• The scourging of Jesus was severely painful.
— The whip contained one or more leather strands to which lead balls or bone fragments were tied. When the victim was struck by the centurion, the whip bit deep into the victim’s flesh.
— Scourging caused loss of blood that could lead to shock.
“Wanting to satisfy the crowd, Pilate released Barabbas to them. He had Jesus flogged, and handed him over to be crucified.” (Mark 15:15)
• Death by crucifixion was a means of torture.
— Victims were nailed to the cross. One nail went through each wrist, considered by the Jews to be part of the hand (not hands, as popular art portrays), and the feet were placed on top of one another and one nail was driven through them. These were not small nails, but large spikes—large enough to hold the victim’s body to the cross.
— The entire weight of the victim hung from the three points where he was nailed to the cross. The pain was immense.
— The cross was made of rough lumber. The scourged back of the victim rubbed against the rough wood, creating even more pain and blood loss.
— Hanging on a cross distorted the chest cavity, resulting in shallow breathing. In essence, the victim died slowly by asphyxiation. Jesus could pull Himself up only by pushing down on the nail through His feet and by pulling Himself up on the nails in His wrists. If the centurions broke His legs, He would only be able to pull Himself up by His wrists, thus death would come more quickly.
“When they came to Jesus and found that he was already dead, they did not break his legs. Instead, one of the soldiers pierced Jesus’ side with a spear, bringing a sudden flow of blood and water.… These things happened so that the scripture would be fulfilled: ‘Not one of his bones will be broken.’ ” (John 19:33–34, 36)
• Death by crucifixion was a shameful death reserved only for criminals.
— The Romans used crucifixion for political opponents and criminals. Crucifixion was public. Victims usually hung naked on the cross for days before they died.
— Once dead, the Romans usually left the dead body on the cross as a warning to others. Meanwhile, birds would come to feed on the corpse. (In Judea, the Romans took down the body on the same day as the death because of Jewish law.) To be crucified was to be shamed in the worst way.
“Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Hebrews 12:2)
— According to Jewish law, anyone who was hung on a tree (which also applied to crucifixion) was cursed by God.
“Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: ‘Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree.’ ” (Galatians 3:13)
Question: “Who killed Jesus?”
Answer: No one group put Jesus to death. The Jewish leaders condemned Jesus, but were forbidden to kill him by Roman law. The Romans condemned Jesus and crucified Him. It was God’s plan and by God’s authority that Jesus would die to pay for the sins of the world. Truly, in that respect, we all killed Jesus.
“Herod and Pontius Pilate met together with the Gentiles and the people of Israel in this city to conspire against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed. They did what your power and will had decided beforehand should happen.” (Acts 4:27–28)
While all may be seen from a certain perspective to bear guilt in the crucifixion of Jesus, we must also remember that no one was able to take life away from Jesus, but he offered his life willingly.
“The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life—only to take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father.” (John 10:17–18)
E. The Suffering of Jesus Was a Fulfillment of Prophecy
Hundreds of years before the crucifixion of Christ (around 700 BC), the prophet Isaiah wrote about a suffering servant who would die for the sins of the world. To grasp the prophecy fully, first read all the verses from Isaiah 52:13 through Isaiah chapter 53 listed in the left column. Then return to the beginning and read each point in Isaiah’s Old Testament profile along with the New Testament (Covenant) parallel.
|Isaiah’s Profile||New Covenant Parallel|
|“See, my servant will act wisely; he will be raised and lifted up and highly exalted.” (Isaiah 52:13)||“The crowds that went ahead of him and those that followed shouted, ‘Hosanna to the Son of David!’ ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!’ ‘Hosanna in the highest!’ ” (Matthew 21:9)|
|Messiah disfigured by suffering|
|“Just as there were many who were appalled at him—his appearance was so disfigured beyond that of any man and his form marred beyond human likeness.” (Isaiah 52:14)||“He [Pilate] released Barabbas to them. But he had Jesus flogged, and handed him over to be crucified. Then the governor’s soldiers took Jesus into the Praetorium and gathered the whole company of soldiers around him.… They spit on him, and took the staff and struck him on the head again and again.” (Matthew 27:26–27, 30)|
|Messiah amazes kings and nations|
|“So will he sprinkle many nations, and kings will shut their mouths because of him. For what they were not told, they will see, and what they have not heard, they will understand.” (Isaiah 52:15)||“After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, ‘Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star in the east and have come to worship him.’ ” (Matthew 2:1–2)|
|Messiah not believed|
|“Who has believed our message and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed? He grew up before him like a tender shoot, and like a root out of dry ground. He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.” (Isaiah 53:1–2)||“Even after Jesus had done all these miraculous signs in their presence, they still would not believe in him. This was to fulfill the word of Isaiah the prophet: ‘Lord, who has believed our message and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?’ ” (John 12:37–38)|
|“He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering. Like one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not.” (Isaiah 53:3)||“The people stood watching, and the rulers even sneered at him. They said, ‘He saved others; let him save himself if he is the Christ of God, the Chosen One.’ ” (Luke 23:35)|
|“He took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted.” (Isaiah 53:4)||“This was to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet Isaiah: ‘He took up our infirmities and carried our diseases.’ ” (Matthew 8:17)|
|“He was pierced for our transgressions …” (Isaiah 53:5)||“One of the soldiers pierced Jesus’ side with a spear, bringing a sudden flow of blood and water.” (John 19:34)|
|Messiah—the spiritual healer|
|“… he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed.” (Isaiah 53:5)||“He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed.” (1 Peter 2:24)|
|“We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.” (Isaiah 53:6)||“Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive by the Spirit.” (1 Peter 3:18)|
|Messiah’s silent suffering|
|“He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth.” (Isaiah 53:7)||“Jesus made no reply, not even to a single charge—to the great amazement of the governor.” (Matthew 27:14)|
|Messiah cut off|
|“By oppression and judgment he was taken away. And who can speak of his descendants? For he was cut off from the land of the living; for the transgression of my people he was stricken.” (Isaiah 53:8)||“ ‘In his humiliation he was deprived of justice. Who can speak of his descendants? For his life was taken from the earth.’ The eunuch asked Philip, ‘Tell me, please, who is the prophet talking about, himself or someone else?’ Then Philip began with that very passage of Scripture and told him the good news about Jesus.” (Acts 8:33–35)|
|Messiah’s burial in a rich man’s tomb|
|“He was assigned a grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death …” (Isaiah 53:9)||“As evening approached, there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who had himself become a disciple of Jesus.… Joseph took the body, wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, and placed it in his own new tomb that he had cut out of the rock. He rolled a big stone in front of the entrance to the tomb and went away.” (Matthew 27:57, 59–60)|
|Messiah’s sinless behavior|
|“… though he had done no violence, nor was any deceit in his mouth.” (Isaiah 53:9)||“He [Jesus] committed no sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth.” (1 Peter 2:22)|
|Messiah—the guilt offering for the people|
|“It was the Lord’s will to crush him and cause him to suffer, and though the Lord makes his life a guilt offering …” (Isaiah 53:10)||“Live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.” (Ephesians 5:2)|
|Messiah’s resurrection from the dead|
|“… he will see his offspring and prolong his days, and the will of the Lord will prosper in his hand. After the suffering of his soul, he will see the light of life and be satisfied …” (Isaiah 53:10–11)||“Seeing what was ahead, he spoke of the resurrection of the Christ, that he was not abandoned to the grave, nor did his body see decay.” (Acts 2:31)|
|“… by his knowledge my righteous servant will justify many, and he will bear their iniquities.” (Isaiah 53:11)||“Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many people; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him.” (Hebrews 9:28)|
|Messiah numbered with the sinners|
|“I will give him a portion among the great, and he will divide the spoils with the strong, because he poured out his life unto death, and was numbered with the transgressors. For he bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.” (Isaiah 53:12)||“It is written: ‘And he was numbered with the transgressors’; and I tell you that this must be fulfilled in me. Yes, what is written about me is reaching its fulfillment.” (Luke 22:37)|
|Messiah’s prayer for those who crucified Him|
|“He bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.” (Isaiah 53:12)||“Jesus said, ‘Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.’ ” (Luke 23:34)|
Question: “How can I trust that the Jesus of the Bible fulfilled the messianic prophecies in the Bible? Since those prophecies and their ‘fulfillments’ are all contained in the same book, how can they be considered objective proofs?”
Answer: In one sense, the Bible can be seen as two books in one: the Old and the New Testaments. Yet there was a great time separation between the writing of the Old and the New Testaments. If the prophecies were self-fulfilling, they could not be considered objectively authoritative. For example,
— The only “prophecy” in the Qur’an was that Mohammed would return to Mecca, and he did. But because Mohammed himself wrote the Qur’an, this was a self-fulfilling prophecy.
— Much different are the messianic prophecies in the Old Testament. These predictive passages about the lineage, birth, ministry, suffering, death, and resurrection of Christ are found in the Jewish Scriptures, which were completed at least 400 years before Christ’s birth.
— Not one skeptic involved in “higher criticism” has ever suggested that these prophecies were written after the birth of Christ. Therefore, these messianic prophecies are not self-fulfilling.
“No prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation. For prophecy never had its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.” (2 Peter 1:20–21)
F. Reflect on What Jesus Provides for You
Christianity is not just a religion, but rather a relationship with Christ, the Savior. He desires a dynamic relationship with you that can help you fulfill the purpose for which you were created. Jesus wants to give you salvation, eternal life, and a peace that passes all understanding. You can receive this by trusting that He died in your place—to provide forgiveness of your sins—and by trusting that he rose from the dead—to provide you real life with Him now and throughout eternity.
• Jesus provides salvation for you.
“If you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” (Romans 10:9)
• Jesus offers the forgiveness of your sins.
“I want you to know that through Jesus the forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you.” (Acts 13:38)
• Jesus is your advocate with God the Father.
“My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have one who speaks to the Father in our defense—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One.” (1 John 2:1)
• Jesus is your high priest, offering the one sacrifice needed to pay for your sins.
“Because Jesus lives forever, he has a permanent priesthood. Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them.” (Hebrews 7:24–25)
• Jesus gives you the Holy Spirit when you place your trust in Him.
“Christ redeemed us.… So that by faith we might receive the promise of the Spirit.” (Galatians 3:13–14)
• Jesus delivers you from God’s condemnation.
“There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” (Romans 8:1)
• Jesus secures you in God’s love.
“I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:38–39)
• Jesus brings you into God’s family.
“He predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will.” (Ephesians 1:5)
• Jesus gives you peace with God.
“Since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Romans 5:1)
• Jesus gives you abundant life.
“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” (John 10:10)
• Jesus offers rest from your burdens.
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28–30)
• Jesus provides an example for you to live by.
“To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps. ‘He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth.’ When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly.” (1 Peter 2:21–23)
• Jesus empowers you to overcome sinful patterns.
“His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.” (2 Peter 1:3–4)
• Jesus is coming again to gather believers.
“At that time the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and all the nations of the earth will mourn. They will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky, with power and great glory. And he will send his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other.” (Matthew 24:30–31)
Question: “Doesn’t the fact that Jesus did not know the time of His return at the second coming prove that He isn’t God?”
Answer: When God became a man, He [Jesus] did not become less than God. However, as a man He chose to live dependently on the Father and to relegate the use of His divine attributes to situations requiring Him to do miraculous things in order to accomplish His Father’s will. Otherwise, He lived within the human limitations He assumed in becoming a man. This means that there were times when He foreknew and prophesied about future events and other times when He denied Himself the right He had as God to know all such events.
It seems reasonable to conclude that it must not have been necessary for Jesus to know the exact time of His return in order for Him to accomplish His Father’s purposes, or He would have known it. Since it was not necessary, He denied Himself that knowledge.
“No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.” (Matthew 24:36)
It also seems reasonable to conclude that in His present glorified state, Jesus has no need to limit the use of His divine attributes and therefore fully knows everything.
“[This is] the revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show his servants what must soon take place. He made it known by sending his angel to his servant John.” (Revelation 1:1)
G. What Will You Do with Jesus?
Details of Jesus’ life were predicted hundreds of years before He lived on earth: where He would be born, in what family line, how He would die, and more. Historians agree that He existed. The question each individual must answer is what this life meant. He was more than a great teacher and a prophet. He claimed to be God. The Crucifixion was not a plan gone wrong. It was the plan. Why was His death necessary? This is the single most important question you will ever answer. Below is a summary of how all the information you have just read relates to you personally. Consider it and respond to the question, “What will you do with Jesus?”
How Can You Know Jesus as Your Lord, Your Savior, and Your God?
There are four spiritual truths you need to know.
#1 Your Problem—You (like everyone else) have chosen to sin.
We all have chosen wrong, we all have sinned—not one of us is perfect. Each time we choose to go our own way, not God’s way, the Bible says that we “sin.”
“We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way.” (Isaiah 53:6)
#2 Your Position—Your sin separates you from God (spiritual death).
Because God is without sin (God’s character is perfect), our sin is an offense against God. This offense results in a penalty or a consequence. The Bible says that the consequence of our sin is to be separated from God’s presence. This separation is called spiritual death.
“Your iniquities have separated you from your God.… The wages of sin is death.” (Isaiah 59:2; Romans 6:23)
#3 Your Provision—God provided the way for you to be relieved from the consequence of death.
Sin is serious because it separates us from God. Because God is just, He can’t ignore our wrongdoing. But because of His love for us, He doesn’t want us separated from Him. What does He do? He has to punish sin, yet He does not want us to die and be permanently separated from Him. This is why the heavenly Father sent His own Son, Jesus, to come to earth for the purpose of dying on the cross for our sins—Jesus actually chose to pay the penalty for our sins. We should have died, but instead, Christ died for us.
“God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8)
Not only did He suffer in our place but He also rose from the dead, validating His sacrificial death, His deity, and His message of forgiveness.
“What I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures.” (1 Corinthians 15:3–4)
#4 Your Part—You can move from spiritual death to spiritual life now.
only acceptable plan for salvation is through the completed work of Jesus Christ. Jesus said,
“I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6)
By believing in (relying on) Jesus alone to pay the penalty for your sin, you are truly forgiven of your sins. And when you are forgiven, you are not only cleansed from all of your sin (past, present, and future), but also saved from eternal separation from God (spiritual death). The Bible says,
“God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.” (John 3:16–17)
“If you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” (Romans 10:9)
If you desire to be fully forgiven by God—if you want to move from spiritual death to spiritual life—you can tell Him in a simple, heartfelt prayer like this:
|“Lord Jesus, I need You. I admit that I have sinned. I understand that the punishment for my sin is death—to be spiritually separated from You. Yet, because of Your love, You have a plan to save me. I believe what You said in Your Word is true, that You sent Jesus Christ to pay the penalty that I should have to pay. Jesus, thank You for dying on the cross for my sins, taking the punishment in my place, and rising from the dead to offer me salvation. Right now I acknowledge that You are my Lord and my God, and I ask You to come into my life to be my Savior. Take control of my life and make me the person You created me to be.Thank You for Your unconditional love. And thank You for Your mercy.
In Your holy name. Amen.”
If you sincerely prayed this prayer, listen to what God says!
“I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.”
Question: “If Jesus was God, how could He possibly have been human at the same time?”
Answer: The truth is that Jesus had to be both God and man or He couldn’t have qualified as the perfect offering for the sins of mankind. Because Jesus was God, He was without sin, and because He was man, He had a body to be sacrificed. The apostle Paul wrote to the Colossian Christians that “in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form” (Colossians 2:9). So the man Jesus was flesh and blood and fully human, sharing in the humanity He came to save. Likewise, He was fully God, sharing in the sinless perfection of deity. Being human He qualified to be the substitute for humanity on the cross and to die the death humanity deserved because of sin. Being God He qualified to be an acceptable sacrifice.
“Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might destroy him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil.” (Hebrews 2:14)
H. How Does the Bible Describe Jesus?
In biblical history, the name of a person communicated a specific insight, a significant “something” about that person: a physical trait, a family characteristic, a fact at birth. Such is true about Jesus of Nazareth, whom the Bible identifies with over 100 names. If you really want to know Jesus, take time to know His names.
“Those who know your name will trust in you, for you, Lord, have never forsaken those who seek you.”
The following list contains many of Jesus’ names, titles, and descriptions:
• Advocate—1 John 2:1—He pleads our case before the heavenly Father.
• Almighty—Revelation 1:8—He is all-powerful.
• Alpha and Omega—Revelation 1:8; 22:13—He is the First and the Last, Sovereign over all of human history.
• Apostle—Hebrews 3:1–2—He was sent to us with a message from God.
• Atoning Sacrifice—1 John 2:2; 4:10—He is our advocate and atoning sacrifice.
• Author and Perfecter—Hebrews 12:2—He is the creator and finisher of our faith.
• Blessed and Only Ruler—1 Timothy 6:15—He is the Sovereign Ruler of the universe.
• Brazen Serpent—John 3:14 (KJV)—He is the symbol of healing. (See Numbers 21:5–9.)
• Bread of Life—John 6:35—He is the essential sustainer of our lives.
• Bridegroom—Matthew 9:15—He loves, protects, and provides for us, His Bride, the church.
• Bright Morning Star—Revelation 22:16—He is the brightest light, shining wisdom into our hearts and lives.
• Christ/Messiah—Matthew 1:16; John 1:41—He is the Anointed One chosen by God, the Father.
• Cornerstone—Ephesians 2:20—He makes the foundation of our life secure.
• Deliverer—Romans 11:26—He is the One who saves us from the penalty of our sins.
• Descendant from David—2 Timothy 2:8—He is the promised Messiah through the line of David.
• The Gate—John 10:7—He is our only way to experience eternal life with God.
• Exact Representation of God—Hebrews 1:3—He represents God to us with complete accuracy because He is God.
• Firstborn—Hebrews 1:6—He has the preeminence over all.
• Firstfruits—1 Corinthians 15:23—He is the first to be resurrected from the dead never to die again.
• Forerunner—Hebrews 6:20 (ESV)—He is the first to enter God’s presence on our behalf.
• Friend of Sinners—Matthew 11:19—He offers forgiveness of our sins.
• Gift of God—2 Corinthians 9:15—He is a present given to us for our salvation.
• God—John 1:1—He is the second person of the Trinity, God the Son.
• Head of the Church—Ephesians 5:23—He is the leader of His church.
• Heir of All Things—Hebrews 1:2—He owns all creation.
• High Priest—Hebrews 3:1; 7:17—He is our highest spiritual authority, our bridge to God.
• Holy One of God—Mark 1:24—He is set apart to God, like no one else.
• Holy Servant—Acts 4:30—He is set apart as the supreme example of a servant.
• Immanuel—Matthew 1:23—He is the very presence of God—“God with us.”
• I Am—John 8:58—He is Yahweh, the Lord God, of the Old Testament.
• Judge—Acts 10:42—He is the just judge over the living and the dead.
• King of Kings—Revelation 17:14; 19:16—He is the sovereign ruler of all rulers.
• Lamb of God—John 1:29, 36—He is the sinless sacrifice to take away our sins.
• Life—John 14:6; 1 John 5:11—He is the embodiment of eternal life.
• Light of the World—John 9:5—He sheds spiritual light on our world of darkness.
• Lion of the Tribe of Judah—Revelation 5:5—He is the chief member from the line of Judah, the Messiah (Genesis 49:9).
• Lord of Lords—Revelation 19:16—He is the sovereign authority over all authorities.
• Mediator—1 Timothy 2:5—He is our arbitrator, who reconciles us to God.
• Mighty God—Isaiah 9:6—He is divine, possessing all power.
• Morning Star—2 Peter 1:19—He is the morning star illuminating our hearts and minds.
• One and Only Son of the Father—John 1:14, 18—He is the unique and only Son of the heavenly Father.
• One God Loves—Ephesians 1:6—He has a special place in the Father’s heart … the Beloved.
• Our Hope—1 Timothy 1:1—He is our certainty for salvation as we place our faith in Him.
• Overseer—1 Peter 2:25—He is the overseer of the church.
• Passover Lamb—1 Corinthians 5:7—He gave His blood to purchase our salvation.
• Physician—Matthew 8:5–13—He is our great healer.
• Prophet—Acts 3:22—He proclaims the truth of God.
• Rabbi—John 3:2—He is our ultimate teacher of spiritual truth.
• Radiance of God’s Glory—Hebrews 1:3—He shows to us the greatness of God’s glory.
• Ransom—1 Timothy 2:6—He paid the price with His life to save us from eternal death.
• Reaper—Revelation 14:15—He is the One who will gather the unrepentant for their ultimate destiny.
• Redemption—1 Corinthians 1:30—He paid the price for our sins and reconciles us to God.
• Resurrection—John 11:25—He is the One who raises us from the dead.
• Rising Sun—Luke 1:78—He is like the dawn driving away darkness, lighting our way.
• Root of David—Revelation 22:16—He is the source and the offspring of David, necessary if He were to fulfill prophecy about Messiah.
• Ruler—Matthew 2:6—He is sovereign over all.
• Savior—Luke 2:11—He is the One who redeems us.
• Seed of Abraham—Galatians 3:16, 19—He is the promised Messiah from the line of Abraham, through which both Jews and Gentiles can receive redemption.
• Shepherd—John 10:11, 14—The Good Shepherd—He knows and protects His sheep and lays down His life for His sheep.
— Hebrews 13:20—The Great Shepherd—He guides us to do God’s will.
— 1 Peter 5:4—The Chief Shepherd—He is the ultimate example of a shepherd who lovingly cares for His flock.
• Son of David—Matthew 21:9—He is the true King of Israel, who came in the name of the Lord.
• Son of God—Matthew 16:16—He is deity in human form.
• Son of Man—Matthew 8:20—He is fully human as well as fully God, who therefore identifies with our human weaknesses and sufferings.
• Son of Mary—Mark 6:3—He is born of Mary and the Spirit of God.
• Son of the Most High—Luke 1:32—He is the Son of God, whose reign will never end.
• Stumbling Stone—Romans 9:33—He is the rock of offense to those seeking God through works, not by faith.
• Truth—John 14:6—He is the embodiment of all wisdom, all truth.
• Vine—John 15:1—He is the provider and sustainer of spiritual strength on whom we are to live dependently.
• Way—John 14:6—He is our only way to know God.
• Wisdom of God—1 Corinthians 1:24—He is the embodiment of God’s perfect mind and heart.
• Word—John 1:1—He is the personal expression of God to us.
Question: “Isn’t the story of Jesus simply one of inspiration but nevertheless made up? Specifically, didn’t the story of Jesus and the virgin birth come from pagan mythology?”
Answer: No. In Greek mythology, pagan gods lusted after women, engaged in sexual—often adulterous—relations with them, and conceived children. However, the biblical account of the virgin birth of Jesus never even hints of any sexual relationship between Mary and anyone else but maintains that she was a virgin when she gave birth to Jesus. The virgin birth of Jesus came about as the fulfillment of Isaiah 7:14, not from pagan mythology. The story of Jesus was foretold centuries before His miraculous birth through Scripture after Scripture. And the purpose of His life and death is like no other, for indeed He came to be the Savior of the world. Firsthand witnesses who testified of His truthfulness, who knew His perfect purity, who saw His matchless sinlessness, said of Jesus …
“We have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world.”
(1 John 4:14)
Achtemeier, Paul J. “Jacob,” Harper’s Bible Dictionary. 1st ed. (electronic edition) San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1985.
Bell, Albert A., Jr. Exploring the New Testament World. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1998.
Blomberg, Craig L. “Gospels (Historical Reliability).” In Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels, edited by Joel B. Green, Scot McKnight, and I. Howard Marshall, 291–97. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 1992.
Bock, Darrell L. Studying the Historical Jesus: A Guide to Sources and Methods. Grand Rapids: Baker, 2002.
Boyd, Gregory A. Oneness Pentecostals and the Trinity. Grand Rapids: Baker, 1992.
Cetnar, Bill, and Joan Cetnar. Questions for Jehovah’s Witnesses “Who Love the Truth” 2 Thess. 2:10. Kunkletown, PA: William I. Cetnar, 1983.
Copan, Paul, ed. Will the Real Jesus Please Stand Up? A Debate between William Lane Craig and John Dominic Crossan. Grand Rapids: Baker, 1998.
Copan, Paul, and Ronald K. Tacelli, eds. Jesus’ Resurrection: Fact or Figment? Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 2000.
Craig, William Lane. The Son Rises: The Historical Evidence for the Resurrection of Jesus. Chicago: Moody, 1981; Eugene, OR: Wipf and Stock, 2000.
Edwards, W. D., W. J. Gabel, and F. Hosmer. “On the Physical Death of Jesus Christ.” Journal of the American Medical Association 255 (1986).
Elwell, Walter and Philip Comfort. Tyndale Bible Dictionary (electronic edition). Wheaton: Tyndale House, 2001.
Gesenius, Wilhelm and Samuel Prideaux Tregelles. “Esau.” Gesenius’ Hebrew and Chaldee Lexicon to the Old Testament Scriptures (electronic edition). Bellingham, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc, 2003.
Harris, Murray J. 3 Crucial Questions about Jesus. 3 Crucial Questions. Grant R. Osborne and Richard J. Jones, Jr., gen. ed. Grand Rapids: Baker, 1994.
Harris, Murray J. Jesus as God: The New Testament Use of Theos in Reference to Jesus. Grand Rapids: Baker, 1992.
Hengel, Martin. Crucifixion in the Ancient World and the Folly of the Cross. Translated by John Bowden. Philadelphia, PA: Fortress, 1977.
Hunt, June. Counseling Through Your Bible Handbook. Eugene, Oregon: Harvest House Publishers, 2007.
Hunt, June. How to Forgive … When You Don’t Feel Like It. Eugene, Oregon: Harvest House Publishers, 2007.
Hunt, June. How to Handle Your Emotions. Eugene, Oregon: Harvest House Publishers, 2008.
Hunt, June. Seeing Yourself Through God’s Eyes. Eugene, Oregon: Harvest House Publishers, 2008.
Lewis, C. S. Mere Christianity. revised and enlarged. New York: Collier, 1960.
“The Martyrdom of Perpetua.” Christian History 17 (1988). electronic edition.
McDowell, Josh, and Don Stewart. Handbook of Today’s Religions. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1983.
Pliny the Younger. Letters, with an English Translation. Translated by William Melmoth. Revised by Winifred Margaret Lambart Hutchinson. Loeb Classical Library. New York: Macmillan, 1915.
Smith, Joseph, Jr. History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. 2nd ed. 7 vols. Salt Lake City: Deseret, 1978.
Stewart, Robert B. “Is Mormonism Christian? An Evangelical Critique of LDS Scholar Stephen E. Robinson’s Arguments for Recognizing Mormonism as Christian.” Journal of Christian Apologetics 1, no. 2 (1997).
Wilkins, Michael J., and J. P. Moreland, eds. Jesus Under Fire. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1995.
Willmington, Harold L. Willmington’s Guide to the Bible. Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House, 1981.
Wright, N. T. The Resurrection of the Son of God. Christian Origins and the Question of God, vol. 3. Minneapolis, MN: Fortress, 2003.
 Hunt, J. (2008). Biblical Counseling Keys on Jesus: Is He God? Is the Deity of Christ Defendable? (1–52). Dallas, TX: Hope For The Heart.