To the Seeker with Intellectual Questions
Who Do You Say Jesus Is?
Seven Major Distinctions Which Identify the Biblical Jesus Christ by M. Tyner, M.A., Christian Apologetics
I. The Biblical Jesus Gives Us Eternal Life (in Heaven).
The most important question anyone will ever answer is, “Who do you say Jesus is?” In the Bible, Jesus asked the Pharisees, “What do you think about the Christ? Whose Son is He?” (Matthew 22:41-46). Every person's eternal destiny depends on his response to that question! In today's pluralistic world, there are many religions and religious philosophies, each with its own perspective of who Jesus Christ is. However, only the Biblical Jesus is the Son of God and Savior of mankind! Only the Biblical Jesus paid the tremendous price necessary to offer us eternal salvation. In John 14:6, Jesus Himself declared: “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” And in John 10:27-28, Jesus said: “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. And I give them eternal life, and they shall never die.”
II. The Biblical Jesus is God Who Came to Earth in Human Form.
The Bible teaches that Jesus Christ was God Himself who came to earth in the flesh (I Timothy 3:16). The God of the Bible is one God who is triune. There are three distinct Personalities in the one Godhead: God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. They are co-equal, co-existent, and co-eternal. The Biblical Jesus is identified as the “Son of God” (which means subordinate in relationship to the Father) and yet also “God the Son” (which means equal in nature to the Father). In John 1:1-2, the Bible proclaims that: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God.” In verse 14, “the Word” is clearly identified as Jesus: “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us” (John 1:14).
III. The Biblical Jesus Claimed to Be God.
Jesus Christ claimed to be the only begotten Son of God (deity). For example: (1) Jesus said in John 14:11: “Believe Me that I am in the Father and the Father in Me, or else believe Me for the sake of the works themselves.” (2) In John 5:18, the Jewish religious rulers of the day sought to kill Jesus because He said that “God was His Father, making Himself equal with God.” (3) In Luke 22:66-71, when Jesus was being tried by the Sanhedrin (council of priests and scribes), they demanded to know if He was the Son of God. And Jesus replied, “You rightly said that I am.” (4) And in John 8:56-58, Jesus said: “Most assuredly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM.” The words “I Am” indicate Jesus was eternal, existing before Abraham (Exodus 3:14). Jesus was the unique God-man. He was fully God and fully man.
IV. The Biblical Jesus Willingly Died on the Cross to Take Away Our Sins.
According to the Bible, at the moment Adam and Eve disobeyed God in the Garden of Eden, humanity became flawed, and sin and death entered the world. Therefore, we are all born separated from God in the condition of “sinners in need of a Savior” (Romans 3:23). Even though the consequences of our sin is death, the gift of God is eternal life to us through Christ (Romans 6:23)! Only Jesus Christ could redeem us by bridging the gap between holy, perfect God and flawed, imperfect humanity. And it was out of His incomparable love that Jesus willingly gave His life at Calvary to pay our penalty. The Good News (Gospel) is: “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16).
V. The Biblical Jesus Redeemed Us Because of God's Amazing Grace.
Romans 5:8-9 says, “God demonstrated His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” This chapter goes on to say that we are justified (set free) by His shed blood and saved from wrath. Such unconditional love and amazing grace! God's Grace is defined as “undeserved, unearned favor toward man.” G-R-A-C-E can stand for “God's-Riches-At-Christ's-Expense.” In other words, we can have the riches of going to heaven someday because of what Jesus did for us on the cross at Calvary. It is through no human effort that we can become acceptable to God. The only way we can stand before a holy God is in the righteousness of Christ. Salvation is a free gift. Ephesians 2:8-9 declares: “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.”
VI. The Biblical Jesus Rose from the Dead.
Jesus not only claimed to be God, He even predicted that He would rise from the dead to demonstrate it (Matthew 12:38-40). Three days after Jesus' crucifixion and burial, His tomb was empty. He came back to life and walked this earth forty more days, performing many more miracles, and teaching about the Kingdom of God. Then He ascended into heaven where He is alive today, seated at the right hand of the Father. The resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead sets Christianity apart from all major world religions. By His resurrection miracle, Jesus conquered sin and death! Our merciful God “has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 1:3). Jesus Himself declared, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live” (John 11:25).
VII. The Biblical Jesus is Distinct from "Cultic" and Other Unbiblical Jesuses.
Tragically, pseudo-Christian cults unknowingly promote an unbiblical Jesus who cannot save us (1 Timothy 2:5). The Bible warns us that there will be false christs and false gospels (Matthew 7:15, 24:24; 2 Corinthians 11:3-4). Hence, we are to test the spirits (1 John 4:1-3) and contend earnestly for the faith (Jude 3). Two common marks of a cult are: (a) They add to the Bible another book or source of revelation from God (Jude 3, 4); and (b) Their beliefs are centered around a “human” religious founder, saint, guru, or messiah (Hebrews 12:2, 4:14; Luke 21:8; Ephesians 1:22-23). Examples of “cultic” Jesuses and other unbiblical Jesuses are:
• “Jesus” of Mormonism is one of many gods, who attained godhood through obedience and devotion (he was the spirit brother of Lucifer).
• “Jesus” of Jehovah's Witnesses is a created being, the First Creation by God (he is Michael the archangel).
• “Jesus” of Scientology is a man who worked toward godhood through levels of knowledge (yet never attained the highest level of Scientology).
• “Jesus” of Christian Science is a human who demonstrated the “Christ” (the Divine Idea).
• “Jesus” of New Age (Hinduism) is a good person or sage or prophet indwelt by the Christ or Cosmic Consciousness (he became awakened).
• “Jesus” of Baha'i is one of several “manifestations” of God (Ascended Masters), and he is one of the ways to God.
• “Jesus” of the Unification Church is a man who attained deity, is not God Himself (he will be reincarnated in an Eastern country).
• “Jesus” of Islam is one of many prophets of Allah, and he was superseded by the prophet, Muhammad.
5-Step Scriptural Defense for the Deity of Christ:
1.) Jesus claimed to be God. (John 14:11; John 5:18; Luke 22:66-71.)
2.) Jesus shares the essence (and attributes) of God. (John 1:1-3, 2:23-25, 17:5,24; Colossians 1:17, 2:9; Titus 2:13-14; Matthew 18:20; Mark 1:24; Acts 1:24, 3:14.)
3.) Jesus is eternal. (John 17:5; Philippians 2:5-6; I Peter 1:20.)
4.) Jesus is the divine/human interpreter of the invisible God. (Hebrews 1:3; John 1:18; Matthew 11:27.)
5.) Jesus was worshiped as God. (Luke 24:51-2; Matthew 8:2; Matthew 2:8-11, 14:33, 16:16, 20:20, 28:16-17; Mark 7:25-30; John 9:32,35-38.)
In addition, eight passages clearly asserting Jesus' deity are: Romans 9:5; John 1:1-3; John 1:18; John 20:28; Hebrews 1:8; Titus 2:13; 2 Peter 1:1; Acts 20:28.
C. S. LEWIS QUOTE:
“The Son of God became a man to enable men to become sons of God.”
Mere Christianity, p. 154.