Many times Jesus referred to His own deity, both directly and indirectly. Although Jesus confirmed that He was the Messiah (Mark 14:62,63), He did not use the term Messiah to refer to Himself, perhaps to differentiate his deity from the widespread expectation of a human Messiah. Jesus used the terms “Son of Man” and “Son of God” often. Both referred to His divine nature (Daniel 7:13,14; Matthew 26:63,64). Jesus also used the specific words I am (Ego eimi in Greek, Ani bu in Hebrew) on several occasions (e.g., John 8:56-58). God used these same words to describe Himself to Moses. Jesus also states specifically that He and God are “one” (John 10:30), meaning, the same substance, nature and essence.
And Jesus clearly indicated He had authority over issues were controlled only by God, such as forgiveness of sin (Mark 2:5-10), the timeless power of His words (Matthew 24:35), and reception of glory (John 17:5). Perhaps as significant was Jesus’ acceptance of worship (Luke 5:8; John 20:28). The intense monotheistic foundation of the Jews would absolutely forbid any worship of anything but the one true God. Overall analysis of Jesus’ life, His compassionate miracles, His perfect lifestyle, and His love, indicate that His claims alone are trustworthy, and perhaps the strongest evidence of His divinity.
Did Other People Consider Jesus to Be God?
The disciples clearly came to view Jesus as God in human flesh, and they worshiped Him as such (Luke 5:8; John 20:28). Certainly, the witnessing of the resurrection and the transfiguration (Matthew 17:1-5) provided irrefutable evidence to them. New Testament writers and early Christian writing define Jesus to be God … our Lord … here on earth (1 Corinthians 8:6, 1 Timothy 2:5).
Is There Other Evidence of Deity?
Many people say that Jesus’ miracles are evidence of deity. But miracles have been recorded as being performed by other individuals (in the Bible and elsewhere). The Bible states that perfect fulfillment of prophecy proves God’s intervention (Deuteronomy 18:21,22). The odds of all Old Testament prophecies about Jesus coming true in any one man is beyond statistical possibility without divine intervention. And Jesus prophesied with perfect accuracy regarding such things as the precise timing of His death, the detailed manner of His death, His resurrection, and His later appearance in Galilee. Prophetic perfection combined with a claim to be God verifies Jesus’ deity.
Why Do People Reject Jesus?
The evidence regarding Jesus is so overwhelming that it seems incredible that many people still reject Him. After all, the promises of inner peace and joy on earth and eternal life in heaven are not bad promises … and they’re easy and free. Rejection of the Messiah, however, should not be surprising. It was often prophesied (Isaiah 53:1-3; Psalm 118:22; Matthew 21:42-46; Luke 16:19-31).
Ignorance – Perhaps the greatest reason for nonbelief in Jesus is ignorance. Most people take far too little time to investigate their religious beliefs. As a result, world opinion often becomes the basis for the most important issue in life. Views about Jesus may come from a family belief, friends, or a dominant church in the community. People sometimes think a church is teaching biblical Christianity when it’s not. We are individually responsible for comparing teaching to the Bible. In the end, it doesn’t matter what the reason is, if you are wrong. Nor does sincerity matter. As history has shown too often, people can be very sincere, yet sincerely wrong.
Apathy – Many times people have a false sense of security that God will take care of everyone. This idea is sometimes accompanied with the thought that hell doesn’t exist, or that God will send everyone who “tries to be good” to heaven anyway. The Bible reveals that God’s promises are reserved for His people, and there are many reasons why others “don’t hear” (Matthew 13:11-43). The reality and horror of hell is clearly stated, including the narrow path to get to heaven, which is available to all (Matthew 7:13).
Fear – Some people fear that becoming a Christian means “giving up fun” or living a strange, secluded life without friends. Nowhere in the Bible does it say that we must start a dull life and turn away from having parties with other people. It says the opposite. The Bible promises that knowing Jesus will let us live life to the fullest (John 10:10). And not only will such freedom draw us to have fun with friends, the Bible says even the angels in heaven throw a party when we accept Jesus as Lord (Luke 15:10).
Tradition – This reason for rejecting Jesus is often the strongest. But we are each accountable for our own actions. Even society doesn’t send parents to jail for their children’s crimes. Jesus knew He would, at times, cause people to break away from traditional family beliefs (Matthew 10:21,22).
Some people think that believing in Jesus and being good are the secret to heaven. The Bible says otherwise. It says that religion, speaking in Jesus’ name, and being good are of no value if Jesus doesn’t know us (see Mathew 7:21-23). Knowing Jesus is more than just a belief about Jesus. It means repenting and accepting Jesus’ sacrifice and His claims to be God.
Jesus Shows God’s Love for Us
We are all separated from God by imperfection. Even the most righteous people have had unholy thoughts considered sinful by God (see Matthew 5:28). Since God is perfect and holy, His requirement for an eternal, heavenly relationship with Him is perfection that no human can ever offer. So God provided an alternative method to rejoin us with Himself through one perfect sacrifice, forgiving all of our imperfections. The only way for God to have such a perfect sacrifice was for God to fulfill it Himself. By sending His Spirit into Mary (Luke 1:35), God essentially came to earth in human form as Jesus, to be sacrificed and who His love for mankind (see John 3:16). To fully appreciate God’s love, we need to be aware of the excruciating pain and humility Jesus willingly suffered for many who hated (or now hate) Him.
Rejecting Jesus Shows Our Disdain for God
Jesus can be rejected in two ways: 1) by a decision to reject Him or 2) by simply not accepting Him. Knowing about Jesus, even believing the gospel story, is not accepting Him nor showing love for God. Even demons and Satan believe the gospel (see Mark 5:6-17). Love for God means acceptance of Jesus. It means turning our lives completely to Him for guidance. The Greek word used in the Bible for “believe” (as in John 3:16) is pisteuo, which literallly means to trust, or have faith in. This means more than intellectual knowledge. Imagine the disdain we show God by not accepting His very precious and loving sacrifice.
God’s Unaccepted Gift?
Imagine sending your only child to deliver a gift to show forgiveness to an adversary. Imagine knowing that your child would die painfully while delivering it. Now suppose that person never opened the gift, never accepting forgiveness. Would you choose to be with him forever?
Acceptance or Rejection Is for Eternity
The Bible frequently reveals God’s judgment. This does not conflict with God’s love and forgiveness, most emphatically shown through the sacrifice of His Son. But it does reveal that God is just. In the end, the Bible clearly states that there will be a separation of those who trusted Jesus as God, and those who didn’t. This separation is forever (see Luke 13:23-30; Revelation 20:12-15).
How do we know the Bible is accurate?
First, the integrity of original biblical manuscripts has been demonstrated by the vast number of manuscripts, precisely copied during the time of eyewitnesses and verified as unchanged by the Dead Sea Scrolls. Secondly, archaeology has shown complete consistency with what we know as the history of the world. Third, hundreds of ancient prophecies contained in the Bible and showing 100 percent accuracy indicate divine guidance and accuracy. And finally, the Bible is 100 percent consistent with established facts of science … corroborated by many of the finest scientists in the world today.
Why do some people claim the Bible has contradictions?
After hundreds of years of challenge, the accuracy of the Bible has stood the test of time. Common types of misunderstandings include:
1. Details that once seemed to contradict science or archaeology. Often our information is too limited to know that the Bible is right. For many years, scholars believed the earth was flat, while the Bible indicated a spherical shape. Likewise, critics scoffed at the mention of the early Hittites, or cities like Sodom and Gomorrah, all thought to be nonexistent, yet verified as fact today. Scientist have recently “proven” Einstein’s definition of the universe (consistent with the Bible), which has superseded Newton’s more limited view. The list goes on and on. As archaeology and science learn more, the Bible is verified and has yet to be proven wrong.
2. Different accounts by different authors. Details contained in different Gospels may at first seem contradictory. However, the accounts simply report events from different vantage points. For example, Matthew records that Mary Magdalene and “the other Mary” went to the tomb. Mark records Mary Magdalene and Mary, mother of James, and Salome as going to the tomb. Luke records “the women,” and John records Mary Magdalene. Are the reports contradictory? No. Different people report different facts. Placed side by side, they just give a more complete picture of what happened.
The Chronological Visit to the Tomb.
The three women went to the tomb, saw a “young man” who told them of the resurrection and also told them to go tell the disciples. They left and returned with Peter and John, who viewed the tomb. The disciples then “returned home” and the women stayed. At that time, Jesus appeared to Mary Magdalene.
Like witnesses to an event today, when all testimony is pieced together, it makes perfect sense and a more complete picture is given.
The Bible extensively reviews heaven, hell, Satan, angels, and demons in many of its 66 books. Surveys show that many more people believe in heaven than in hell. Some nonbiblical religions even deny that hell exists. Yet, Jesus actually spoke more about hell than about heaven. So it would not be wise to ignore hell. Jesus’ parable in Luke 16:19-31 gives us a very poignant warning regarding heaven and hell.
It would seem wonderful if there was only a path to heaven with no hell. Not surprisingly, false prophets attempting to design a religion for man’s desires try to do away with hell, or convince man that he is God. The Bible is specific concerning the path to heaven, and indicates that other paths lead to hell.
How Do We Know What Religion is Right?
No religion is “right” in and of itself. The Bible is about man’s relationship with God, the right way and the wrong way. Any religion that is totally consistent with the Bible’s teaching is right. Any with teaching that is counter to the Bible is wrong.
So the reliability of the Bible as a guideline is vital. As indicated, the original biblical manuscripts are a miracle in and of themselves. Evidence of reliability, includes: (1) and explosion of credible, corroborative writing, (2) verifiable at the time by eyewitnesses, (3) with eyewitnesses dying for testimony they could affirm to be true, and (4) with many other people, able to know historical facts, also dying for the same beliefs. If the New Testament is true, then the Old Testament is also broadly verified by Jesus (Luke 16:16,17) by over 700 cross-references, by the Dead Sea Scrolls evidence, and by “mathematical proof” of hundreds of prophecies.
A problem arises when man starts changing or adding to the Bible. Several things would indicate that such inspiration is not from God. First, the Bible commands us not to add to, delete, or change it (Revelation 22:18,19). Secondly, Jesus verified it would not change (Luke 16:17). And third, why would a perfect God change His original, perfect Word? The Bible is very clear that the path to heaven is defined as Christs:
John 14:6-9 Matthew 27:51-53 John 3:16 Ephesians 2:8
Acts 4:12 Colossians 1:15-23 John 6:48-58 Hebrews 10:26-31
Avoiding false gods – The Bible warns against the following false gods:
l A god that is not a single God of the universe (having no peers – including man) is not the God of the
Bible (1 Timothy 2:5; Isaiah 44:6).
l A god not manifest as God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit is not the God of the Bible
(Luke 12:8-10; John 1:1,2,14; Acts 5:3,4).
l A god that does not proclaim Jesus Christ as the ultimate sacrifice for redemption of those committing
themselves to Him, is not the God of the Bible (Matthew 27:51-53; Mark 14:24; John 6:48-58; Acts
4:12; Colossians 1:15-23).
How Can We Ensure the Right Relationship to Go to Heaven?
When Jesus said not all who use His name will enter heaven (Matthew 7:21-23), He was referring to people who think using Christ’s name along with rituals and rules is the key to heaven. A relationship with God is not based on rituals or rules. It’s based on grace, forgiveness, and the right relationship.
How to Have a Personal Relationship with God?
1. Believe that God exists and that He came to earth in the human form of Jesus Christ (John 3:16;
2. Accepts God’s free forgiveness of sins through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ (Ephesians
3. Switch to God’s plan for life (1 Peter 1:21-23; Ephesians 2:1-5).
4. Express a desire for Christ to be Director of your life (Matthew 7:21-27; 1 John 4:15).
People who sincerely take the preceding steps automatically become members of God’s family of believers. A new world of freedom and strength is then available through prayer and obedience to God’s will. New believers also can build their relationship with God by taking the following steps:
l Find a Bible-based church that you like, and attend regularly.
l Try to set aside some time each day to pray and read the Bible.
l Locate other Christians to spend time with on a regular basis.
By Jeff Allen