Is Jesus God?

It is impossible to know for certain that God exists and what He is like unless He takes the initiative and reveals Himself to us. A clear clue is found in the stable in Bethlehem. The paranoid Herod had all male children age two and younger murdered; the slaughter of the innocents (Matthew 2:1-18). We see Jesus at age twelve in the temple, “My Father’s house” (Luke 2:49). He lived in obscurity for about thirty years until He started His public ministry. Common people heard Him and they marveled at His words spoken with authority (Matthew 7:29).

Jesus said He was the Son of God:

He had many shocking statements that began to identity Him more than just a remarkable teacher or prophet; He clearly claimed deity. The question for Peter and all of us, “Who do you say that I am? (Matthew 16:16-17). What was the impact of His words? The Jews sought to kill Him, no mistake of what Jesus was claiming (John 5:18, 10:33). Not only did He claim deity in His words, but also in His actions. He healed and forgave the paralytic’s sins (Mark 2:5-7).

The title of Son of Man asserted His deity. The High Priest asked Him if He was the Christ, the Son of the Blessed One, and Jesus answer, “I am.” (Mark 14:61-64). John Stott puts it this way,

  1. to know Him was to know God (John 8:19, 14:7);
  2. to see Him was to see God (John 12:45, 14:9);
  3. to believe in Him was to believe in God (John 12:44, 14:1);
  4. to receive Him was to receive God (Mark 9:37);
  5. to hate Him was to hate God (John 15:23);
  6. to honor Him was to honor God (John 5:23).

Only four possibilities:

  1. Liar – He claimed to be God and He knew that it was false. If this is the case, there is no way that He could be revered as a good moral teacher.
  2. Lunatic – He claimed to be God and He did not know that it was false. If He is deceived in the area of His identity, He cannot be trusted with much else. But there is no evidence of an emotional imbalance we find in a deranged person.
  3. Legend – He was a man who had enthusiastic followers who centuries later put words into the mouth of Jesus. Evidence shows that four individual biographies were written within the lifetime of the contemporaries of Jesus; no later than AD 70. If the claims of deity were not true, people in the day would have repudiated the claim. The story would never have gotten off the ground. Besides, there are simply not enough generations to elevate these claims to the status of legend. The documents have an early dating.
  4. Lord – Claims don’t mean much, talk is cheap. What credentials do we bring to substantiate the claim? Miraculous signs backed up what He claimed (John 10:38).

What were Jesus’ credentials?

  1. His character – He was unique in that He was sinless (John 8:46). We read of His temptation but no prayers of forgiveness (what He told His followers to do). This lack of moral failure is in contrast to the history of those called saints. As people are drawn to God, they are overwhelmed by their sinfulness. John, Peter and Paul mentions the sinlessness of Jesus (1 Peter 2:22, 1 John 3:5 and 2 Corinthians 5:21). Pilate found no fault in Him (John 18:38), and the Roman centurion recognized the uniqueness of Jesus (Matthew 27:54).
  2. His power – He could calm a raging storm and the question arises, “Who is this?” (Mark 4:41).
    1. He turned water into wine (John 2:9-11)
    2. He fed 5000 men with five loaves and two fish (John 6:10-13)
    3. He raised people from the dead (Matthew 11:4-6, Mark 5:40-42, John 12:1)
    4. He healed people of disabilities and diseases (John 9:25, 32) – lame walk, blind see, mute speak.
  3. His resurrection from the dead – He predicted that He would rise from the dead, and did it to prove He was right (Matthew 12:40, 26:61, Mark 8:31, 9:31, John 2:19).

Our own Christian experience combined with historical evidence give us a solid conviction that Jesus is exactly who He said He was. He changed the world, the calendar and the lives of people for centuries.

Study questions:

  1. In what ways did Jesus claim to be the Son of God?
  2. What are the four possibilities in evaluating these claims?
  3. What is the evidence for and against the theory that Jesus was a lunatic?
  4. What evidence do you remember that the gospels account for an actual person rather than a legend?
  5. How do you answer a person that says Jesus was just a good moral teacher and not God?
  6. How did Jesus prove His claim to be God?

Why Does Atheism Reject God?

Dinesh D’Souza takes on leading critics of the church from E.O. Wilson to Richard Dawkins, from Sam Harris to Christopher Hitchens, extolling how Christianity is at home in the arena of science and philosophy and can offer a recipe for lasting happiness in a disillusioned world. While considering the book, I found this review very insightful, An Argument Against the Atheists:

 

“Today’s Christians know that they do not, as their ancestors did, live in a society where God’s presence was unavoidable. No longer does Christianity form the moral basis of society. Many of us now reside in secular communities, where arguments drawn from the Bible or Christian revelation carry no weight, and where we hear a different language from that spoken in church.”  That is the opening salvo from author Dinesh D’Souza in his new book, What’s So Great About Christianity

 

Why does atheism reject God? This is the part I found fascinating, especially since it has been my conclusion for years!

 

Al Mohler writes: D’Souza’s strongest analysis comes when he considers the true character of the new atheism. It is, he suggests, a “pelvic revolt against God.”  In other words, it is a revolt against Christian morality — especially sexual morality. This is not a new observation or argument, but D’Souza makes it exceptionally well: 

 

My conclusion is that contrary to popular belief, atheism is not primarily an intellectual revolt, it is a moral revolt. Atheists don’t find God invisible so much as objectionable. They aren’t adjusting their desires to the truth, but rather the truth to fit their desires. This is something we can all identify with. It is a temptation even for believers. We want to be saved as long as we are not saved from our sins. We are quite willing to be saved from a whole host of social evils, from poverty to disease to war. But we want to leave untouched the personal evils, such as selfishness and lechery and pride. We need spiritual healing, but we do not want it. Like a supervisory parent, God gets in our way. This is the perennial appeal of atheism: it gets rid of the stern fellow with the long beard and liberates us for the pleasures of sin and depravity. The atheist seeks to get rid of moral judgment by getting rid of the judge. 

 

I have thought this for years, not so much the sexual immorality part, but the fact that modern atheism wants to be accountable to no one. That statement sounds as if atheists are evil people, desiring to eliminate all moral codes. Not true. As a recent media report puts it, atheists want to spread the message that “we’re good people, just not God people.”  

 

In the new book, unChristian, the author states that modern apologetics do not work in our postmodern relativistic society. Christianity just does not “click” using logical rational arguments for God’s existence. I believe we all evaluate the facts as we see them and choose to believe what we do based upon our interpretation of those facts. For atheism, I can’t help but think D’Souza’s point is valid.

The Origin of Time and Could God Really Exist?

I read a lecture by Stephen Hawking about Space and Time Warps. It’s not that I had extra time on my hands (no pun intended) but because of a comment on my post regarding Blind Faith or Logical Reasons to Believe God Exists. His comment was that the laws of physics break down prior to the Big Bang, so the state of things prior to the singularity is irrelevant because there is no standard for measuring them. It’s a great observation and shows he is a well-read person.

In another lecture on the origin of the universe, Hawking says,

“The General Theory of Relativity and the discovery of the expansion of the universe shattered the old picture of an ever existing and ever lasting universe. Instead, general relativity predicted that the universe, and time itself, would begin in the big bang.”

In the Space and Time lecture, Hawking addresses time travel, technology, wormholes, warped space, and even what I call “Back to the Future” issues. Hawking says:

We thus have experimental evidence from the bending of light, that space-time is curved, and confirmation from the Casimir effect, that we can warp it in the negative direction. So it might seem possible, that as we advance in science and technology, we might be able to construct a wormhole, or warp space and time in some other way, so as to be able to travel into our past. If this were the case, it would raise a whole host of questions and problems. One of these is, if sometime in the future, we learn to travel in time, why hasn’t someone come back from the future, to tell us how to do it.

As a fan of the Sci-Fi Channel, the lecture was definitely interesting for me, but the quote above caught my attention… Hawking, who is perhaps the greatest scientific mind in our generation, admits we have only “experimental evidence” in what he addresses.

Rather than comment on my previous post, I thought a new post regarding this new topic was in order.

If laws of physics break down prior to “creation” of the universe as we know it, does not the Bible also claim to reveal the same information? Genesis 1:2 says that prior to the creation singularity the earth was formless and void, which many biblical commentators would translate “chaos.” OK, let’s leave the Bible out of this since many people do not see it as an authoritative document.

I find myself looking more at the philosophical side of arguments to “prove” God’s existence. The argument from creation (the cosmological argument) states that since science and philosophy would indicate the universe had a beginning (therefore not eternal), and for the universe to have a beginning it would have to be caused by something outside of the known universe. Since infinite regress is not possible, the universe must have been caused by an uncaused, always existing, eternal Being (which many people call God).

As far as the Big Bang and life on this planet, the logical first question would be, “Where did the elements that caused the Big Bang come from?” Hawking’s lecture on Life in the Universe does not seem to address this concern, rather stating, “The early appearance of life on Earth suggests that there’s a good chance of the spontaneous generation of life, in suitable conditions. Maybe there was some simpler form of organisation, which built up DNA.” To me it takes more faith to believe that something spontaneously comes from nothing, unless God (the first uncaused cause) is part of the equation.

But as I read Hawking’s lecture, I was amazed at the wonder of the universe and how much we cannot even fathom. Then came my next logical question, “Since this universe is so vast and complex, and great thinkers like Hawking can communicate such complex ideas, does this not logically indicate that there must be a Designer of all of this?” For example, a walk along the beach might reveal interesting sand designs caused by the waves. On the other hand, if I notice “Billy loves Suzie” written in the sand, I must assume this information came from a literate person who is capable of loving someone else. There is complexity in the message that assumes there is an intelligent sender of the message.

So, when we see the complexity of this universe, or even of the human body (made up of nerve cells, brain cells, skin cells, bone cells, all different from each other, yet similar) we must assume there was an intelligent Designer (which we may call God). Evolution does not explain how life moves from a simple cell organism to what we see in the complexity of, let’s say, an eye. Can the eye and an optic nerve be the product of time + chance?

The second law of thermodynamics tells us that the amount of usable energy in a closed system (like the universe) is decreasing, which means that everything tends to move from order to disorder, complex to simple, life to death. This is why we have to paint the house every few years, things run down rather than get better over time.

To me, this teleological argument also points to a beginning for the universe. And since the universe has a wonderful and complex order, there must be a Designer that set it in motion at some point in the past. Laws of physics do not need to break down before the Big Bang if we recognize a Creator that not only created matter, but also time and space as well.

Blind Faith? It’s a leap of faith, and without faith it is impossible to please God (Hebrews 11:6), but when one chooses to believe in God after proper research, it is anything but blind.