Friday, November 1, 2013

Is Jesus Christ God?

There is much debate and confusion regarding the identity of Jesus Christ. This confusion is not limited to nonbelievers, but extends to Christians as well. Was Jesus a prophet? Was He the messiah? Was He God Himself? Let's look at a couple scriptures and attempt a clear answer to the question- Is Jesus Christ God?

After leaving Egypt, Moses is in the desert and sees a bush consumed with fire but not burned. From the bush, God Almighty instructs him to return to Egypt and free His people- the Israelites.

'Then Moses said to God, “Indeed, when I come to the children of Israel and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they say to me, ‘What is His name?’ what shall I say to them?”

And God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM.” And He said, “Thus you shall say to the children of Israel, ‘I AM has sent me to you.’” Moreover God said to Moses, “Thus you shall say to the children of Israel: ‘The Lord God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you. This is My name forever, and this is My memorial to all generations.’ Exodus 3:13-15

Here, God proclaims His unique name to Moses. God calls Himself 'I AM.'

Now let's go to the book of John, written by the Apostle John; the same John who wrote 1,2,3 John, and The Revelation of Jesus Christ. In Chapter 8, Jesus is questioned about who He is. He responds with an interesting statement:

"Your father Abraham rejoiced to see My day, and he saw it and was glad." Then the Jews said to Him, "You are not yet fifty years old, and have You seen Abraham?" Jesus said to them, "Most assuredly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM." John 8:56-58

Here Jesus gives Himself God's name. The name given to Moses in the desert- I AM. The Jews reacted to this proclamation strongly by attempting to stone Jesus (verse 59).

Is believing that Jesus is God required for salvation? Let's look again at John chapter 8.

Starting in verse 24, Jesus says, "Therefore I said to you that you will die in your sins; for if you do not believe that I am He, you will die in your sins."

The listeners respond by asking "Who are You?"

And Jesus said to them, "Just what I have been saying to you from the beginning…  when you lift up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am He…" John 8:24-28.

In verses 24, and 28, we see the words 'I am He.' However, the word He is italicized, which means it has been added and is not in the original language. What Jesus actually said in these two verses was "I AM." Jesus calls Himself God, and tells them that unless they believe Him to be God, they will die in their sins. This leaves us with the obvious answer- Yes, believing that Jesus is God is required for salvation.

How do His hearers respond to this? Did they understand the significance of His statement? We see their response clearly in John 8:59: 'they took up stones to throw at Him.'

Let's look at another usage of this Name by Jesus.

In John chapter 18, 'a detachment of troops and officers from the chief priests and Pharisees [show up] with lanterns, torches, and weapons.'

'Jesus therefore, knowing all things that would come upon Him, went forward and said to them, “Whom are you seeking?” They answered Him, “Jesus of Nazareth." Jesus said to them, “I am He. 

Again, the word He has been added. How did the troops bearing weapons respond?

Now when He said to them, “I am He,they drew back and fell to the ground.

Had Jesus simply stated, Yes I am Jesus of Nazareth, would the entire fleet of troops had fallen to the ground? Why did they fall to the ground? Because Jesus called Himself God. Because Jesus proclaimed to be the I AM.


For it is written:
As I live, says the Lord,
Every knee shall bow to Me,
And every tongue shall confess to God."

Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name
 which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Did Jesus' disciples believe He was God? We find an answer in the book of John. (Don't you just love John? That man had a clear message to share with us!) After Jesus died on the cross, and then rose from the dead, we find Thomas, one of Jesus' twelve disciples doubting the resurrection.
"Unless I see in His hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe." (John 20:25)
Eight days later, Jesus shows up, and says to Thomas, "Reach your finger here, and look at My hands; and reach your hand here, and put it into My side. Do not be unbelieving, but believing." And Thomas answered and said to Him, "My Lord and my God!"
Jesus did not rebuke Thomas. Jesus did not correct Thomas. Instead Jesus said to him, "Thomas, because you have seen Me, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed."
Jesus proclaimed to be God, and His disciples believed Him to be God. Is it enough to simply believe Him to be a prophet? Can we merely accept Him as a great teacher or even the Son of God, and not believe Him to be God Almighty? C.S. Lewis offers an answer better than any I've heard.
“I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept his claim to be God. That is the one thing we must not say. 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. 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.” ~C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity

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