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"Who is Jesus Christ?"

Reader comment on item: Counting Islamists
in response to reader comment: Good but also, don't forget about the last prophet, he whom Jesus spoke

Submitted by Lactantius Jr (United Kingdom), Nov 3, 2008 at 08:22

Dear Mr Williams

We are, as you say "in disagreement on the nature of Jesus," and you recommend I "do some research on the original message of Jesus, as well as his followers."

The original message of Jesus and His followers, is contained in the primary source of reliable information about Him, the New Testament documents, which clearly document who He is, for example,

"Christ is the visible image of the invisible God. He existed before anything was created and is supreme over all creation."

Colossians 1:15

"For God in all His fullness was pleased to live in Christ."

Colossians 1:19

"For in Christ lives all the fullness of God in a human body."

Colossians 2:9

"We are filled with hope, as we wait for the glorious return of our great God and Saviour Jesus Christ."

Titus 2:13

You also say that "The true message of Jesus, Moses and the Last Prophet is kept alive forever through the memorisation and daily recitation of the Quran," with the Qur'an saying this to the People of the Book about what they are standing on, and He is where I stand Mr Williams, "fastened to the Rock which cannot move, grounded firm and deep in the Saviour's love" as the hymn "Will Your Anchor Hold?" puts it.

"Say: ‘O People of the Book! ye have no ground to stand upon unless ye stand fast by the Law, the Gospel, and all the revelation that has come to you from your Lord.' It is the revelation that cometh to thee from thy Lord, that increaseth in most of them their obstinate rebellion and blasphemy. But sorrow thou not over (these) people without Faith."

Surah 5:68

  • "Jesus Never said ‘I am God'"

No He didn't. Neither did He ever say "I am not God, do not worship me," and neither did He ever say "I am only a man," or "I am only a prophet. What really matters though, is not the existence of the statement "I am God," but whether there is clear evidence that He is indeed God, no matter in which form He issued the claim. If there is clear proof for His divine identity, then we have to worship Him, even if the wording of His self-description is not exactly the way we think it should be. We cannot prescribe for God how He has to reveal Himself before we accept it. It is not necessary for Jesus to utter the three words "I am God" in order for us to determine whether or not He is divine. Jesus may not have said the exact sentence "I am God" but He did claim the divine name for Himself (Exodus 3:14 with John 8:58) and He also received worship (Matthew 2:2; 14:33; 28:9; John 9:35-38).

Compare and contrast Jesus' acceptance of worship with the Apostles' Paul and Barnabas' reaction, when a crowd started to worship them as gods:-

"While they were at Lystra, Paul and Barnabas came upon a man with crippled feet. He had been that way from birth, so he had never walked. He was listening as Paul preached, and Paul noticed him and realized he had faith to be healed. So Paul called to him in a loud voice, ‘Stand up!' And the man jumped to his feet and started walking. When the listening crowd saw what Paul had done, they shouted in their local dialect, ‘These men are gods in human bodies!' They decided that Barnabas was the Greek god Zeus and that Paul, because he was the chief speaker, was Hermes. The temple of Zeus was located on the outskirts of the city. The priest of the temple and the crowd brought oxen and wreaths of flowers, and they prepared to sacrifice to the Apostles at the city gates. But when Barnabas and Paul heard what was happening, they tore their clothing in dismay and ran out among the people, shouting, Friends,why are you doing this? We are merely human beings like yourselves! We have come to bring you the Good News that you should turn from these worthless things to the living God……………………………..' "

Acts 14: 8-15

Jesus never did say "I am God," but just look at what happened when He said "I Am." This happened during a discussion with the Jews during which Jesus had made one of the "I am the light of the world" statements (John 8:12). But the argument had gone on from that point, with Jesus eventually saying to His audience, that those who keep His word will not see death (John 8:51). At this, the Pharisees pounce. Abraham, the greatest Jew, and all the prophets are dead. Is Jesus therefore greater than Abraham? Is Jesus therefore greater than the prophets, for they also are all dead? And if so, who or what does Jesus claim to be?

Jesus replied that Abraham had seen His day coming, and had been glad about it (John 8:56). His reply causes scorn. ‘How could that be?' was the response. Had Jesus Himself seen Abraham, and Him, Jesus, being a man of less than 50 years old? Jesus replies,

I tell you the truth, before Abraham was born, I am.'

John 8:52-58

At the Burning Bush on Mount Horeb, Moses was commissioned by God to lead the children of Israel out of captivity in Egypt. He declined for various reasons, but once he had been persuaded otherwise, the one question he asked was this: "When I go to them and say, the God of your fathers has sent me to you," they will say, "What is His name? what shall I reply" It seems that the ‘the God of your fathers' would not do (Exodus 3:13). God replies: "I AM WHO I AM. Say I AM has sent me to you (Exodus 3:14) going on in verses 15&16 to tell Moses what else to say to the Israelites, and uses the more traditional names of ‘the LORD God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.' But the important statement had been made earlier. God had revealed Himself as the Self-Existent One, Whose fullest Name, is I AM, YAHWEH, JEHOVA. Ever afterwards, I AM (JHWH), transliterated as Yahweh, (and in the Authorised version of the Bible as Jehova), was known to the Jews as the great and most holy Name of God. By tradition, that Name was so holy that it was not to be spoken, and whenever it appeared in the Scriptures, a pious Jew would (and still does), substitute the name God (Elohim or Adonai) for speaking the passage. So, when Jesus said to the Jews, "Before Abraham was born, I am" (John 8:58) they understood Him to be claiming to be God, His words immediately linked with the I AM of the Burning Bush. This is why the Jews picked up stones to stone Him. (John 8:59) they understood very well His claim to be God, and thinking it to be blasphemy, were prepared to carry out the lawful penalty.

"anyone who blasphemes the Name of GOD must be put to death. The entire congregation must stone him. It makes no difference whether he is a foreigner or a native, if he blasphemes the Name, he will be put to death."

Leviticus 24:14

Later, Jesus claimed to be one with the Father and the Jews wanted to stone Him again, because they said to Jesus, "You, being a man, make yourself out to be God." Jesus had taken the divine name for His own, and the Jews wanted to kill Him for it. Therefore, from Jesus' own mouth we see that he was claiming to be God.

" ‘The Father and I are one' [said Jesus]. Once again the Jewish leaders picked up stones to kill Him. Jesus said, ‘At My Father's direction I have done many things to help the people. For which one of these good deeds are you killing Me?' They replied, ‘Not for any good work, but for blasphemy, because you, a mere man, have made yourself God.' "

John 10:30-33

Here Jesus claimed to be One with the Father, and the Jews wanted to stone Him again because they said to Jesus, "You, being a man, make yourself out to be God." Jesus had claimed the divine name for His own, and the Jews wanted to kill Him for it. Therefore, from Jesus' own mouth, we see that He was claiming to be God.

And here is what Jesus says elsewhere, not just about existing before Abraham was born 2,000 years previously, but having existed since "before the world existed."

"And now, Father, glorify Me in your own presence with the glory that I had with You before the world existed."

John 17:5

Compare this with John's prologue:

"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him was not any thing made that was made… He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, yet the world did not know Him… And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen His glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth."

John 1:1-3, 10, 14

Not only did Jesus Christ exist before the world itself, He also created every created thing.

Jesus claimed certain functions and abilities that were those of God alone. He said that He had authority to forgive sins, a claim understood by His hearers as usurping divine prerogative, blasphemy in fact:-

"Several days later Jesus returned to Capernaum, and the news of His arrival spread quickly through the town. Soon the house where He was staying was so packed with visitors that there wasn't room for one more person, not even outside the door. And He preached the word to them. Four men arrived carrying a paralyzed man on a mat. They couldn't get to Jesus through the crowd, so they dug through the clay roof above His head. Then they lowered the sick man on his mat, right down in front of Jesus. Seeing their faith, Jesus said to the paralyzed man, ‘My son, your sins are forgiven.' But some of the teachers of religious law who were sitting there said to themselves, ‘What? This is blasphemy! Who but God can forgive sins!'

Jesus knew what they were discussing among themselves, so He said to them, Why do you think this is blasphemy? Is it easier to say to the paralyzed man, Your sins are forgiven or get up, pick up your mat, and walk? I will prove that I, the Son of Man, have the authority on earth to forgive sins. Then Jesus turned to the paralyzed man and said, Stand up, take your mat, and go on home, because you are healed!' The man jumped up, took the mat, and pushed his way through the stunned onlookers. Then they all praised God. ‘We've never seen anything like this before!' they exclaimed."

Mark 2:1-12

Jesus can forgive sins on the basis of His having the divine authority to do so, and as a result of His forfeiting His own life as a ransom for others. Again, the only way Jesus can forgive sins and die as a ransom, is if He were sinless. Otherwise, He would need to be forgiven of His own sins and would be in need of a ransom.

Jesus said He was the ultimate judge of all, the One to determine every human beings destiny:-

"Knowing the correct password--saying ‘Master, Master,' for instance--isn't going to get you anywhere with Me. What is required is serious obedience--doing what My Father wills. I can see it now--at the Final Judgment, thousands strutting up to Me and saying, ‘Master, we preached the Message, we bashed the demons, our God-sponsored projects had everyone talking.' And do you know what I am going to say? ‘You missed the boat. All you did was use Me to make yourselves important. You don't impress Me one bit. You're out of here.' These words I speak to you are not incidental additions to your life, homeowner improvements to your standard of living. They are foundational words, words to build a life on. If you work these words into your life, you are like a smart carpenter who built his house on solid rock. Rain poured down, the river flooded, a tornado hit--but nothing moved that house. It was fixed to the rock. But if you just use My words in Bible studies and don't work them into your life, you are like a stupid carpenter who built his house on the sandy beach. When a storm rolled in and the waves came up, it collapsed like a house of cards. When Jesus concluded His address, the crowd burst into applause. They had never heard teaching like this. It was apparent that He was living everything He was saying--quite a contrast to their religion teachers! This was the best teaching they had ever heard."

Matthew 7:21-29

You say you can't find the word "trinity" in the Bible. Neither can I find the word "tawhid" in the Qur'an, and wherever the concept of Allah's absolute mathematical unity came from, it is not "taught" in the Qur'an, anymore than the all-Holy God of the Bible's Unity in tri-Unity is "taught" in the Bible, and let me say, I can't "explain" the all-holy God of the Bible to you; I can attempt to describe Him to you, but like the late Dr S.M.Lockridge (Shadrach Mesach Lockridge!!) I have to admit, "I wish I could describe Him to you, but He's indescribable!!" Here's Dr Lockridge trying to describe "My King, the seven-way King," at,

http://lukeplant.me.uk/articles.php?id=7

and I have to say an understanding of His Unity in tri-Unity is arrived at by a careful examination of His self-revelation recorded in the pages of the Bible, it being the case that we can know nothing of God, except what He graciously chooses to reveal of Himself to us, and I conclude by saying, if He was small enough for me to understand and "explain" to you, He wouldn't be big enough for me to worship.

  • The Holy Spirit Has as you say, come many times, He is indeed a Person, not an "it" or a "thing," and He is mentioned as early as the second verse of the Bible, at Genesis 1:2,

"The earth was without form, and void; and darkness was on the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters."

He is the Spirit Who breathed in Creation and sustains all life on earth. He is the Spirit Who empowered the mighty acts of those who served God over many generations. He is the Spirit Who spoke through the prophets , inspiring their commitments to speak the truth,

"Above all, you must understand that 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

He is the Spirit Who anointed the kings, and Who ultimately anointed the King of kings, Jesus Christ, the servant King, and because the all-holy Triune God is a saving Father, and because Jesus is a saving Son, the saving Holy Spirit is sent by both Father and Son, to point men and women, sons and daughters, young and old, to the One in Whom alone they can be saved, even Jesus Christ, the King of kings and Lord of lords, the sinners all-sufficient Saviour.

The case for the deity of Christ doesn't rest on a few proof-texts, the New Testament, which is the primary source of reliable information about Him, from beginning to end clearly reveals Jesus' divine identity, and shows that belief in Jesus as God was the conviction of His original Jewish followers, rooted in Old Testament theology, and in what Jesus Himself said and did. Jesus shares the honours due to God, Jesus shares the attributes of God, Jesus shares the Names of God, Jesus shares in the things that God does, and Jesus shares the seat of God's throne.

This life is short, and eternity is, well, eternity is eternity, and soon we will meet Jesus face to face, the Bible telling us that "It is appointed for all men to die once and then to face judgement" Hebrews 9:27

Jesus will be the Judge – "For He has set a day when He will judge the world with justice by the man He has appointed. He has given proof of this to all men by raising Him from the dead "Acts 17:31

"For we must all appear before the judgement seat of Christ" 2 Corinthians 5:10 It is Jesus who will sit on the great white throne Revelation 20:11 and when Jesus comes to ‘judge the quick and the dead,' we won't extend a hand to shake His, saying it's great to put a face to the Name, we'll fall at His feet and worship Him, and the time to start doing that is now.

You're going to live forever Mr.Williams, choose your address.

With kind regards and best wishes

Lactantius Jr

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