Monday, February 9, 2015

How do we know that Jesus was God?

How do we know Jesus was really God and not just some super human being who was enlightened? Jesus tells us in John's Gospel, "I and My Father are one." He told the Jewish leaders, "Most assuredly, I say to you before Abraham was, I AM."  This was the Jewish name for God and the name God used when Moses asked him what to call Him at the burning bush. Jesus also was able to forgive sins, something according to Jewish tradition only God was able to do. 

Then on Mount Tabor He revealed His divinity to three of His disciples. In Matthew 17 the event of His Transfiguration is recorded. He went with John Peter and James to the top of the mountain and as it is recorded, Jesus was "transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and His clothes became as white as the night." Then Moses and Elijah appeared to them.  It was for these few moment that Jesus was not of this world but was part of eternity. God said to them, "This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased." This event terrified the disciples and they fell on their faces and Jesus had to come and comfort them, saying, "do not be afraid." 

Some claim that he was a good moral teacher but not God. C.S. Lewis replies to this thought, 
"A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic––on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg––or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God: or else a madman or something worse."
Cambridge University Professor F.J.A. Hoyt, who spent twenty-eight years in a critical study of the New Testament text writes: 
"[Christ's] words were so completely parts and utterances of Himself, that they had no meaning as abstract truth uttered by Him as a Divine oracle or prophet. Take away Himself as the primary (though not the ultimate) subject of every statement and they all fall to pieces."
We have to choose. He claimed to be God and His claim is either true or false. If it were false either he knew it was false or He didn't. Was He a liar?  If He was lying then He was a hypocrite because he taught others to tell the truth. He would also have to be a demon because He told people to trust Him for their eternal destiny. Maybe He was a fool. His claims to be God led Him to His Crucifixion. He had the chance to back away from His claims as God at the last minute but He only reaffirmed that He was "I Am." I don't think it's logical to call Him a fool. How could He be a great moral teacher and be such a deceiver, a liar, a hypocrite? Neither does this make sense based on what we know about His life and what He taught.

Historian Philip Schaff writes:
How in the name of logic, common sense, and experience, could an imposter––that is a deceitful, selfish, depraved man––have invented and consistently maintained from the beginning to end, the purest and noblest character known in history with the most perfect air of truth and reality? How could he have conceived and carried out a plan of unparalleled beneficence, moral magnitude, and sublimity, and sacrificed His own life for it, in the face of the strongest prejudices of His people and age.
If He wanted power based on having followers, why would He have chosen the Jewish nation who so thoroughly beloved in the notion of one God. Why wouldn't He have gone to Egypt, Greece or Rome where they all believed in various Gods. There He might have been better able to convince people that He was another one of their Gods. But He chose the center of the Jewish faith, the most difficult place to sway people away from their Belief in one God and develop a mass of followers. 

Could He have been Lunatic, a crazy man? The problem with this is that we do not observe the imbalance and abnormalities that you find with deranged people. If He was crazy, its truly amazing how He could hide it in his ongoing behavior. He did not have a bloated ego. Even when He was adored by so many He kept his balance always knowing where He was going and what He was doing.

It is not logical to accept that He was a liar or a lunatic. The New Testament itself shows that He was truly God, truly divine. These were documents written within fifty years of His Crucifixion. The writings of the early Church fathers such as Justin Martyr, Ignatius, and Irenaeus all saw Him to be divine.

Ignatius of Antioch (AD 110): "God incarnate...God Himself appearing in the form of man."
Justin Martyr (AD 100-165): "...being the First begotten Word of God, is even God."
Irenaeus (Ad 177): "...the Father is God and the Son is God; for He who is born of God is God."

There are some who follow the story line of the well known novel, The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown, which proclaims that it was Constantine the emperor who declared Christ to be God and called the Council of Bishops a Nicea to make this declaration official. There is no historical basis for this claim. It is totally false as Jesus was known to be God from the time of His Incarnation. The Council of Nicea only affirmed what was taught from the time of the Apostles to refute a claim by an errant presbyter from Egypt, Arius, who taught that Jesus was only a super Human being, not fully God as well as fully Human. 

The whole idea of the Incarnation of God, of Jesus as both fully Human and Divine, defies human logic. But what was recoded by eyewitnesses clearly shows the reality of this event. The Gospel writers leave us a record for us to know who He was, fully God as well as full human, the Creator of this world with infinite powers who took on flesh. We are His creatures and like a clay pot cannot know its potter, we can never fully comprehend the full nature of our Creator. The integrity of the Gospels has been protected for over 2000 years, wooing us His true nature.

Make your choice, either He is truly the Son of God as recorded in history by eyewitnesses, or He is a liar, a fool, or a lunatic.

Reference: More than a Carpenter by Josh McDowell and Sean McDowell

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