The Reliability of Scripture
“All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”
A Call to Stand in the Gap
In just a moment I am going to read several passages of Scripture that give God’s directions to us as we are faced with the onslaught of questions that are coming up since the book “The Da Vinci Code” came out and especially since the movie has been released.
A survey by Decima Research, Inc. showed out of those polled, one out of three Canadians who have read the book now believes there are descendants of Jesus walking among us today. (Exploring the Da Vinci Code) An ABC special on the book involved an interview with a Scottish man who truly believes that he is a descendant of Jesus Christ. (Sermon by John Ortberg) According to pollster George Barna, 53% of Americans who have read the book said it had helped them in their personal spiritual growth and understanding.
(Exploring the Da Vinci Code)
Many believe the book is harmless because it contains fictional characters and states on the front cover (of the hardcover edition, at least), “A Novel.” However, Dan Brown begins his book on the page just preceding the prologue with the boldfaced heading “FACT,” then he tells his readers supposed “facts” regarding the Priory of Sion and Opus Dei and then states: “All descriptions of artwork, architecture, documents, and secret rituals in this novel are accurate.” (Exploring the Da Vinci Code) Because of this convincing statement many people who do not have the time or resources to check things out are being misled in some very important areas.
The Bible gives clear instructions on how the Lord feels about the delusions that come upon mankind. His first plea is found in Ezekiel 22:30, “I looked for a man among them who would build up the wall and stand before me in the gap on behalf of the land…” Sin makes a gap in the hedge of protection that is around people of which good things will pour out and through which evil things like to crawl in.
There are Biblical ways of standing in the gap: 1.) Calling the sinner who is introducing the sin to repentance. 2.) Praying that God’s Holy Spirit would reveal truth and draw willful sinners to Christ. 3.) Reformation, meaning to be “reformed” (yasar) literally “let oneself be instructed.” (The truths found in this part of the message came about as the Holy Spirit led me to the teaching of these materials, The NIV Bible; Matthew Henry Commentary; The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia; The New American Commentary; The Expositors Bible Commentary)
I would propose to you that there are born again Christians who are called to stand in the gap and all Christians are to be ready in and out of season to share the reason for their hope. To those who are called to stand in the gap the Bible says, “…When I say to the wicked, `O wicked man, you will surely die,’ and you do not speak out to dissuade him from his ways, that wicked man will die for his sin, and I will hold you accountable for his blood. (Ezekiel 33:8)” To all Christians Peter writes, “…Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. (1 Peter 3:15)”
Just what questions have come up in the minds of those in the world and even in the hearts of church attendees regarding the accuracy of The Da Vinci Code? I am not going to talk about the art criticism or give you a literary critique of the book; I am not qualified to do that. I will address some Biblical issues and share with you what I have had time to study so far.
Exactly how reliable are the Scriptures?
One of the questions that has been brought up in the minds of those who have read Dan Brown’s red-hot page-turner is, “Exactly how reliable are the Scriptures?” Teabing, one of the characters in the Da Vinci Code says, “The Bible is a product of man, my dear, not of God… The Bible as we know it today was collated by the pagan Roman Emperor Constantine the Great in 325 AD.”nThis is an error. Historical studies show the idea we have the New Testament Gospels today because of the councils put together by Constantine is way off the mark. More than one hundred years before Constantine, a man by the name of Origen said, “The four gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John are the only undisputed ones in the whole church of God throughout the world.” This quote from at least a century before Constantine and the Council of Nicea shows that the gospel existed and was not the work of men in Constantine’s time. According to Rev. John Ortberg, research indicates that there is evidence that when the Council of Nicea met they were formally recognizing the authority of Scripture that had already been guiding the followers of Christ for centuries. (Sermon by Rev. John Ortberg – Jesus and the Da Vinci Code)
It is important to know how the New Testament canon of Scripture came about and how the church recognized it as being in divine unity. There are focal points of authority in the earliest church, all of which were ultimately important as factors in selecting the New Testament canon. They are: 1.) The Word of the Lord, 2.) The place of the Spirit, and 3.) The authoritative position of the apostles. (The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia) There are several practical approaches to helping you understand how the canon of the New Testament came together.
The one we are going to focus on today is that to be accepted as Scripture document must have its roots connected to one of the apostles by either being written by an apostle or by a student or associate of the apostles. For example, Matthew, who wrote the Gospel of Matthew was one of the twelve apostles selected by Jesus. (Matthew 10:3) John Mark, the writer of the Gospel of Mark was a spiritual son of the Apostle Peter and he became Peter’s interpreter and was led by the Holy Ghost while being in very close relationship with the apostolic authority of Peter. The author of the Gospel of Luke and the Book of Acts was Luke, the physician who was a second-generation Christian who was able to carefully “investigate everything from the beginning” that which was “handed down” by the “first eyes witnesses.” (Luke 1:2,3) He accompanied the Apostle Paul on his missionary work and Luke was Paul’s close companion. (Colossians 4:14; Philemon 24; 2 Timothy 4:11)
The Gospel of John is written by the Apostle John who was one of the twelve apostles chosen by Christ and an eye witness to the works of Christ. (Matthew 10:3; John 7:37-39; 18:28) He was with Christ at His Transfiguration (Matthew 17:1) and Crucifixion. (Matthew 19:25-27) John was a close associate to the Apostle Peter and a pillar of the early church. (Acts 3:1-11; 4:13-20; Galatians 2:9) He was able to hear both of Jesus’ public and private discourses and would have been actively engaged in the development of the church from its inception.
The Pauline Epistles–, 1 and 2 Thessalonians, 1 and 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Romans, Philemon, Colossians, Ephesians, Philippians, 1 and 2 Timothy, and Titus– were written by the Apostle Paul. Paul’s call into the ministry with Christ was supernatural and confirmed in a vision to Ananias. (Acts 9:1-19) Paul spoke in at least three different letters of his anointed calling (Romans 11:13; 1 Timothy 2:7) and other noted pillars of the early church recognized God’s grace given to him. Paul writes in Galatians 2:8-9, “For God, who was at work in the ministry of Peter as an apostle to the Jews, was also at work in my ministry as an apostle to the Gentiles. James, Peter and John, those reputed to be pillars, gave me and Barnabas the right hand of fellowship when they recognized the grace given to me.” “Grace” (charis) means the power and equipment for ministry.
It is traditionally considered that James, the half brother of Jesus wrote the Book of James. He was the most prominent leader in the church at Jerusalem. It is very likely that James was not converted to true belief in Jesus as being the Son of God until after the resurrection of Christ. One thing is for sure, the Lord Jesus did appear to James sometime after the Lord was raised on the third day. (1 Corinthians 15:4-8) James knew first hand the life of Christ and was an eye witness to the living Christ before and after His Crucifixion.
First and Second Peter were written by the Apostle Peter. He was one of the original twelve called forth by Christ. (Matthew 10:3) At least three different times in the Gospel of Mark we read of Peter being included with James and John in the inner ring, meeting with Jesus or doing something of some real significance. (Mark 5:37; 9:2; 13:3 and Luke 8:51) Peter was present with Jesus at the Transfiguration and heard the voice of God endorsing the Son-ship of Christ as well as the command to obey what Jesus taught and said. (Mark 9:7; Luke 9:35; 2 Peter 1:18) The Bible records Peter’s confession of Christ when asked of the Lord, “Who do you say that I am?” (Matthew 16:15) The Bible says, “Simon Peter answered, ‘You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God.” Listen to what Jesus said, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by man, but by My Father in heaven. Peter was a man who could receive revelation from God and he had enough illumination of that truth to become one of God’s preachers of the truth.
John wrote the Gospel of John, First, Second and Third John as well as the Book of Revelation. We know that by gathering external evidence, which is derived from the testimony of other writers. We also know it by examining the internal evidence which is derived from what author says in his own writings. The external evidence regarding the writings of John is powerfully supported by what is known as “Sub-apostolic Literature” or more commonly known as the writings of the “Apostolic Fathers.” These Apostolic Fathers were authors of church writings of the 1st and early 2nd centuries. These works are important because their authors knew the Apostles or their associates. Writing out of pastoral concern, their writings are similar in style to the New Testament. As a matter of fact some of their writings were given as high of respect as Scripture until the official canon was decided.
One of our Apostolic Fathers was Polycarp, who was Bishop of Smyrna. This church is identified in the book of Revelation as being under persecution. Polycarp was a disciple of the apostle John and has been called the last surviving direct disciple of an apostle. He referred to the Book of 1 John in the beginning of the second century (the early 100s AD).
First John was quoted by Papias and Irenaeus. Papias, was one of the early leaders of the Christian church working in the first half of the second century. One of our most trusted encyclopedias says, (Wikipedia) “Papias’ own authority being ‘the presbyter John’ and hearers of the Apostles.” Irenaeus, was one of the great men of God who came right after the apostles. Irenaeus died in 202 AD and much of his work falls in the period of 100-170 AD. He delighted himself with the unadulterated teachings of the gospel taught through Polycarp of Smyrna. He kept himself faithful to the true faith in Christ through his entire life.
Origen was a Christian Scholar and theologian, He was considered to be one of the most distinguished of the fathers of the early church. He wrote, “John, besides the Gospel and Revelation, has left us with an epistle [1 John] with a few lines and also a 2nd and 3rd [epistle]…” Other early Christian writers wrote about John’s writings (Dionysus of Alexandria, Cyprian, Athanasius and Epiphanius). There is plenty of external evidence of the authenticity of John’s writings.
There is also strong internal evidence that the same person who wrote First John also wrote the Gospel of John. There is so much resemblance in the mode of expression and in the topics referred to. For example the gospel of John says, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God… In Him was life, and that life was the light of men… The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us.” First John 1:1 says, “That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched – this we proclaim concerning the Word of life. The Holy Spirit is writing through the Apostle John, expressing the same truth in the same expressions on the same topic without having someone attempting to imitate the language of another. These expressions are seen at least fifteen times in the Gospel of John and the Book of 1 John. (John 1:1,4,14/1 Jn. 1:1; Jn. 14:23/1 Jn. 5; Jn. 13:34/1 Jn. 2:8; Jn. 11:10/1 Jn. 2:8,10; Jn. 17:3/ 1 Jn. 2:13,14; Jn. 1:12/1 Jn. 3:1; Jn. 17:24/1 Jn. 3:2; Jn. 8:44/1 Jn. 3:8; Jn.15:20/1 Jn. 3:13; Jn. 3:16/1 Jn. 4:9; Jn. 1:18/1 Jn. 4:12; Jn. 20:31/1 Jn.5:13; Jn. 14:14/1 Jn. 4:14; 17:2/1 Jn. 5:20)
Another comparison is John 3:16, “For God so loved the World that He gave His one and only Son, so that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.” And 1 John 4:9 says, “This is how God showed His love for us; He sent His one and only Son into the world that we might live through Him.” These passages of Scripture show John’s style; showing his mind and personality as both books cover the same points. These Scriptures show the same man who was writing again on the same subject and expressing himself in way as not to be copying. Although John is expressing the same truths that are found throughout the Bible, it is evident that the Gospel of John and the Book of 1 John are not written by Matthew, Mark, Luke or the Apostle Paul. The evidence is overwhelming in who wrote the Gospel of John, 1, 2 and 3rd John and the Book of Revelation.
The Book of Jude was written by Jude who identifies himself as the brother of James, the leader of the Jerusalem church (James 1:1; Acts 15). Both Jude and James were the half brothers of the Lord Jesus. Jude is listed among Christ’s half brothers in Matthew 13:55 and Mark 6:3. Like James, Jude very likely did not come to true belief in the messiah ship of Christ until after the Lord’s Resurrection. (John 7:5; Acts 7:14) Three of our Apostolic Fathers, Tertullian, Origen and Clement of Alexandria, all knew of the Book of Jude and Clement wrote, “…the Epistle under Jude’s name is a production of a prophetic mind.”
Origen wrote, “[the epistle] is full of heavenly grace.” Five of our early church fathers referred to the epistle of Jude as being the “the work of an apostle…” The four gospels and the other epistles passed a key test, that of being connected to the apostles. They were written by one of the first of the original twelve or from a student of one the apostles or lastly an associate of one the original twelve. These twenty-seven books were written in a time frame of where eyewitnesses could either yet challenge the things written in them as being false or could bear witness to the truths found in them. They have stood the test of time and intense scrutiny of Biblical and secular scholars alike as being authentic. (The truths found in this part of the message came about as the Holy Spirit led me to the teaching of these materials, The NIV Bible; The Ryrie NIV Study Bible; Who’s Who in the Bible; Thru the Bible; William Barclay; Papias of Heiraspolis; Irenaeus; Polycarp; The Pulpit Commentary; Matthew Henry Commentary; Tertullian; The Expositor’s Bible Commentary; Vines Dictionary of the New Testament; Barnes Notes; The New International Standard Bible Encyclopedia; Wikipedia Encyclopedia)
The historical truths of the canon of the New Testament are proof of the reliability of the Scriptures. What is more reliable is the truth of our key text about Scripture. 2 Timothy 3:16 says, “All Scripture is God-breathed…” (NIV) This is one of the greatest texts in the New Testament on how the Bible came about.
“God-breathed” (theopneustos) means literally “Prompted by God, divinely inspired.” Scripture is the production of God. The Lord in His greatness chose to use men who were sold out to Him and His Son to bring forth revelation by the leading of the Holy Spirit. 2 Peter 1:21 says, “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.” God breathed His truth into the hearts and minds of the writers of Scripture. This gives excellency to Scriptures and therefore the Bible is God’s Word and is infallibly true. The prophets and the apostles did not speak from themselves, but what they received from the Lord as the Holy Ghost moved them to write or speak. Therefore the Bible presents to us God’s truth, purity and doctrines that should be desired to be lived out by man.
When the Holy Spirit moved Paul to write “All Scripture” he was referring to Old Testament and New Testament, from the Book of Genesis to Revelation. The Apostle Peter considered the writings of Paul to be Holy Spirit inspired and they are not to be distorted. (2 Peter 3:16) Peter warns Christians in 2 Peter 3:3, “First of all, you must understand that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires…” When scoffers arise, and they are arising today, Peter tells us to, “…recall the words spoken in the past by the holy prophets, and the [commands] given by our Lord and Savior through [the] apostles.” Peter is asserting that the same level of authority of the Old Testament is to be given to the writings of the apostles. All sixty-six books of the Bible as originally given are God-breathed. The truths in them are from God. (The truths found in this part of the message came about as the Holy Spirit led me to the teaching of these materials, The Complete Word Dictionary; Barnes Notes; Thru the Bible; Jamison, Fauset and Brown; Edwin Blum; Robert Tuck; Word Meanings in the New Testaments; The NIV Bible; Thayer’s Greek-English Lexicon; The Pulpit Commentary; The Expositors Bible Commentary; A Commentary, Critical and Explanatory)
David Haun told the story of a mother reading the Bible to her young son. When they came to John 3:16, the little boy said “Oh, I know this one…” We can become so familiar with Scripture that when we read or hear a passages of Scripture quoted we can find ourselves just becoming too blind to the reality that these are the Words of God, the heart of God being revealed to us. Our familiarity can close our hearts to what the Lord wants to do with every Word that come from mouth of God. When mankind does not look to the Holy Scripture as being inspired by God he will disregard what God has to say about His will for them. Mankind will do whatever he can to confirm in his mind that the Bible is just written by people who write about God as they see Him. A sinful person wants to create his own image of God.
Christians who accept the truth of the Bible as being divinely directed by God will be found prayerfully reading the Word of God regularly, studying and meditating upon it. They grow in their knowledge and devotion to the Lord Jesus Christ.
The Word of God was a blessing to Edwin Hodder and he wrote this poem:
Thy Word is like a garden, Lord
With flowers bright and fair;
And every one who seeks may pluck
A lovely cluster there.
Thy Word is like a deep, deep mine;
And jewels rich and rare
Are hidden in its mighty depths
For every searcher there.
Thy Word is like a starry host
A thousand rays of light
Are seen to guide the traveler,
And make his pathway bright
Thy Word is like an armory,
Where soldiers may repair,
And find for life’s long battle-day
All needful weapons there.
Oh, may I love thy precious Word;
May I explore the mine;
May I enjoy its fragrant flowers glean;
May light upon me shine.
Oh, may I find my armor there;
Thy Word my trusty sword,
I’ll learn to fight with every foe
The Battle of the Lord…
Biblical revelation of God about Christ
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us.” John 1:1, 14
I had a friend in Christ send me a cartoon this week. In the background of this cartoon was a movie theater with a sign saying, “The Da Vinci Code.” It showed lots of people running to get in to watch the film for their own entertainment. Lying on the ground is a man that was trampled under foot with footprints leading to the theater door. The man lying on the ground had a beard and you could see two feet sticking up out of the dirt that had nail scars on them. The point I got from looking at the cartoon was that Jesus is getting stepped on and trampled down underfoot for the pleasure and greed of mankind.
I would propose to you that what you believe about Jesus Christ determines where you are going to spend eternity. The beloved John wrote down these words spoken by Jesus Christ in His discourse with the Pharisees (John 8:13), “…You are from below; I am from above. You are of this world; I am not of this world. I told you that you would die in your sins; if you do not believe that I am the one I claim to be… (John 8:23-24).” Jesus is speaking to all who live in an attitude of unbelief, those you resist Biblical revelation of God about Christ. To reject Christ as God in the flesh is to completely reject His person and His claims about Himself. (The Expositors Bible Commentary) Listen to what the beloved John wrote about Jesus, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us John 1:1, 14).”
In the book “The Da Vinci Code,” Dan Brown’s character, Sir Leigh Teabing has many positive things to say about Jesus Christ. He calls Jesus a great historical figure and perhaps the most inspirational leader the world has ever seen. This is nice but not pleasing to God. Muslims and Bahais consider Jesus to be a great prophet. Hindus, Buddhists and even some atheists find many of our Lord’s teachings respectable. The Da Vinci Code makes a startling charge: that Jesus’ followers only considered our Lord to be a human being until Emperor Constantine “upgraded” His status to deity almost three hundred years after His death. Who do you think Jesus Christ was? Was He a myth, a great man, just a wise teacher, a prophet or God who became man? Can you fulfill your Christian mandate and give a Biblical reason for the hope you have in Christ? (1 Peter 3:15)
The Christ of the Bible must be understood in both aspects, being fully man and fully God
The Christ of the Bible must be understood in both aspects, being fully man and fully God. “The Da Vinci Code” charges Emperor Constantine with omitting gospels that portrayed the human side of Christ. A simple look at the Word of God shows us this is not true. Before Constantine we have the writings of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John and they tell us this about Jesus’ human traits.
Luke 2:6-7 says, “[When it came time] for the baby to be born, [Mary] gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped Him in cloths and placed Him in a manger…” Here we see the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy, “But you, Bethlehem… though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for Me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times (Micah 5:2). “ Doctor Luke gets right down to the little human details in giving us the account of the birth of Christ being perfectly human while being manifested as God in the flesh.
Jesus grew as a normal child except without sin. Dr. Luke gives us a report of those silent years when Jesus was growing to adulthood. He writes, And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men (Luke 2:52).” Wisdom (sophia) meaning He grew in purity of heart and life before God. As Jesus grew into manhood he was given understanding, insight, common sense, prudence and discretion. He understood the practical application in applying God’s truths in different matters. He was able to grasp the great truths of life. He could see answers to problems of life and see the difference between good and evil.
In his investigation into Jesus’ life on earth as being fully man, Luke took notice how Jesus grew in “stature” (helikias) meaning with full vigor, in normal development mentally, physically, socially and spiritually for all these are what is involved in growing to manhood. Our Lord was certainly all man. Jesus knew what it was like to have to work. In Mark 6:3 we see the people were amazed at His teaching and knew about the miracles He had performed, yet they recognized Him as only being a carpenter. In saying, “Isn’t this the carpenter (Mark 6:3)?” The town’s people were recognizing Jesus as being a common laborer like the rest of them. The people of Nazareth despised Jesus because he was a working man a common person. To Christians that is great because it means that God, when He came to earth, claimed no exemptions. He took upon Himself the common life with its difficult tasks. A man’s status in birth, his fortune and pedigree have nothing to do with growing into true manhood that is pleasing to God. Jesus became hungry and thirsty just like any man would (Matthew 4:2; John 19:28). He became tired and fatigued (Mark 4:38). He experienced sadness and sorrow (John 11:35). He became amazed (Matthew 8:10), angry (Mark 11:15-16; John 2:13-17) and apprehensive about His impending suffering (Matthew 26:38). He felt disappointment in His disciples (Matthew 26:40-45). He bled and died a physical death (John 19:33-34).
Knowing and understanding the nature of Christ being fully man brings pure joy and hope to the illuminated child of God. The Holy Spirit has brought to life in his heart the truths found in Hebrews 2:17-18, “For this reason He had to be made like His brothers in every way, in order that He might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that He might make atonement for the sins of the people. Because He Himself suffered when He was tempted, He is able to help those who are being tempted.” The nature of the work Jesus came to accomplished demanded the incarnation, the Word becoming flesh and making His dwelling among us. Jesus did this because God is merciful and the Lord is faithful, He can be relied upon. He always accomplishes His mission. His service was to make atonement for the sins of the people.
As we moved forward in the importance of knowing that Jesus was fully man and yet at the same time being fully God, it is imperative that you understand the difference of Jesus being tempted here in Hebrews 2:18 compared to man being tempted in James 1:14. James, the half brother of Jesus tells us that man is tempted by the evil desire that is within his own heart (James 1:14). He also tells us that “God cannot be tempted by evil (James 1:13).” The application for “tempted” (peirazo) in Hebrews 2:17 is better understood as “tested.” Meaning that God tried Jesus through adversity to prove Him genuine, thus giving us cause and all the proof we need to fully trust in Christ.
When Dr. Jay Vernon McGee was a small boy, he grew up in West Texas in a very small town that sat very close to the Brazos River. One year a winter rainstorm washed out the wooden railroad bridge that crossed the east fork. The railroad company came in and replaced the old wooden one with a steel bridge. When it was completed the railroad company brought in two huge steam engines and placed both of them on the new steel railroad bridge. They then opened their whistles and the whole town came running. One boy asked, “What are you doing?” The engineer said, “We are testing the bridge.” So the boy asked, “Do you think it will fall down?” The engineer laughed and said, “Of course it won’t fall down!” Another person asked, “So, why are you doing this?” The engineer answered: “We are putting these two steam engines on the bridge to prove that it will not fall down so when the next train comes through, those riding on it will have confidence that the bridge will hold them up.”
Jesus, you see, was tested to prove that He was who He claimed to be and it is very important that He, being fully man was tested and He being fully God withstood all tests thrown at Him, even in His obedience unto death.
The Holy Spirit moved through the author of the Book of Hebrews to tell us about the hope we can have in Christ. He writes, “Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has gone through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are–yet was without sin. Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” (Hebrews 4:14-16) The Word “help” (boetheo) in Hebrews 2:18 means “To run on the hearing of a cry, to give immediate assistance.” Jesus is alive at this moment standing at God’s right hand interceding for every believer in Christ at this very moment. (Truths found in portion of the message came from prayerful study of the NIV Bible; Thru the Bible; The Expositors Bible Commentary; Vines Amplified Dictionary; The Complete Word Study Dictionary; Practical Word Studies; Word Meanings in the New Testament; The Bible Knowledge Commentary; Daily Study Bible Series; Analytical Lexicon of the Greek; Dictionary of Biblical Languages)
Listen to His claims of who He is
Because Jesus became fully man to give His life to redeem fallen man from eternal separation from God, everyone should listen to His claims of who He is.
Last week we looked at the “Reliability of the Scriptures.” The gospels hold the claims of Christ regarding His Divinity. What are His claims in comparison to the Da Vinci Code’s allegation that it was men in Emperor Constantine’s time that upgraded the Lord’s status to deity almost three hundred years after the death of Christ?
Jesus makes a powerful claim about Himself in the Gospel of John 8:58, “I tell you the truth,… before Abraham was born, I am!” Jesus is no doubt proclaiming His deity. “Was born” (ginomai) is better translated as “became.” This Greek word is often used when referring the birth of a person. When used as an active verb it speaks of a person that is entering into a new state or condition of existence. This is the word that is used in our key text today, “The Word became (ginomai) flesh… (John 1:14).” It can be translated as “The Word was born flesh.” The words “I am” implies continuous existence, including existence when Abraham appeared or was born. Remember the Holy Spirit gives us this truth, “…the Word was God (John 1:1).” Christ is the living, incarnate Word of God and the beloved John’s writings are some of the most profound, wonderful works penned through inspiration of the Holy Spirit. In writing “In the beginning was the Word” John is speaking of Jesus’ as being eternal. In writing “He was with God” John is referring to the personality of Christ. And in writing, “He was God” John is speaking of Jesus’ Deity.
The Bible gives many titles or names to Jesus and when He is called the “Word” we are reminded of His role in the Godhead from the beginning. Therefore, Jesus is God in the flesh expressing Himself to the world through Christ. The gospel of John tells us, “No one has ever seen God, but God the One and Only, who is at the Father’s side, has made Him known.” (John 1:18) The life and words of Jesus are more than an announcement; they are an explanation of God’s attitude toward men and of His purpose for them.
Christ spoke to Phillip directly on the truths of His divinity. Philip had said to Jesus, “‘Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us.’ Jesus answered: ‘Don’t you know Me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen Me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father?’ Don’t you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in Me? The words I say to you are not just my own. Rather, it is the Father, living in Me, who is doing His work. Believe Me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in Me…’” (John 14:8-9) Phillip had seen a greater revelation of God than Moses and Isaiah. He had seen face to face God in the flesh and had been with Him and walked in His very presence for three years.
Jesus claims that to know Him is to know God. When the Pharisees challenged the validity of Jesus’ testimony about Himself He said, “‘You do not know Me or My Father,’ Jesus replied. ‘If you knew Me, you would know My Father also.’” (John 8:19) Bluntly, Jesus told the Pharisees how He knew of their ignorance of God. The tragedy here is that all through history God had made the way for them to recognize His Son when He came; but they had become so involved in their own ideas, so intent on their own way, so sure of their own conception of what religion was that they had become blind to the true God, thus missing His visitation upon the earth. So it is with many today who claim to have belief in God. They are so involved in what they are doing, so sure of their own conception of religion that is based on traditionalism, legalism, denominationalism, faddism and worldliness that they miss worshiping the Christ of the Bible.
Jesus claims that He should be honored just as much as God. John 5:23 says, “all may honor the Son just as they honor the Father. He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father…” The Greek word for “honor” (timao) here means to give the same reverence to Christ as you would to God, the very same honor that is to be given to a Supreme Being.
Jesus claims, “He who hates Me hates My Father as well (John 15:23).” The implication is that to hate Jesus is to hate God and this stresses the great divide that is between Jesus and the world, as matter of fact between God and the world. One cannot attack the deity of Christ and claim to have true belief in God.
Jesus said, “I and the Father are one (John 10:30).” Here we see the individuality of two Persons in the Godhead. The Greek word for “one” (hen) asserts unity of equality. The Jews were quick to apprehend this statement and reacted by preparing to stone (John 10:31) Jesus for blasphemy because He, a man, had asserted that He was one with God. For them Jesus’ language did not mean simply agreement of thought or purpose with God but carried an implication of deity.
In His prayer for Himself Jesus claims He had been with God in heaven before the world began and shared divine glory. Jesus prayed, “…Father, glorify Me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world began (John 17:5).” Five different times in His prayer for Himself Jesus used the word “glory” or to “glorify.” It is a very important word. To “glorify” (doxazo) means to recognize Him for Who and What He is, to celebrate with praise, worship and adoration. Jesus clearly asked for the same glory that God has and what He had when He was in heaven, the glory worthy of deity.
Jesus accepted worship and being called God. In John 20:28-29 we see Thomas giving Jesus Christ proper worship when he said, “…My Lord and My God!” Jesus told Thomas, Because you have seen Me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” Here is the last of the testimonies that John recorded to the deity of Jesus Christ and you will never find a higher testimony to the Lord than this one made by Thomas. This testimony made by Thomas is one of the great confessions of Scripture. In light of the Resurrection, Thomas applied to Jesus the titles of the Lord (kyrios) and God (theos). In the Greek as they are used here, both Lord and God were titles of deity. Pliny, a governor writing near the probable location of John’s readers two or three decades after John, reports that Christians sing Hymns to Christ “as to [God.]”
Jesus claims He would judge the world at the end of time. In John 5:22 we read of Jesus saying, “Moreover, the Father judges no one, but has entrusted all judgment to the Son.” Jesus is going to judge all men someday. Whether saved or lost, they are going to appear before Him. Christians will appear before Him at the judgment which we call the Bema seat of Christ to see whether they receive a reward (2 Corinthians 5:10). The lost will come before Him at the Great White Throne (Revelations 20:11-15). Jesus did not come to judge the first time, but He will come as judge the next time, and all judgment is committed to Him.
Considering how Jesus has full authority to judge, everyone who desires to live a repentant life should look to Him. Jesus Christ claims to have authority to forgive sin. In Mark 2:10 we read of Jesus saying, “that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins . . . .” The phrase “Son of Man” is used forty-three times as a distinctive title of Jesus being Savior. This Messianic title was used by Jesus to expresses his heavenly origin, earthly mission and glorious future coming. Some of our contemporary scholars spend way to much time trying to prove that Jesus is just pointing people to His human nature, but in doing so they are missing the truths of His heavenly origin and the divine dignity of Jesus centered around His manifestation in human form. In all that Jesus did in healing the paralytic, He was showing the forgiving power that is in Him. He has the right and power here on earth to forgive sins here and now without waiting for the Day of Judgment. This is great news for those you come to Him, they can know and enjoy the benefits of His forgiveness right now.
Jesus is the way to the Father and He claims that He will hear and answer prayers that are offered for God’s good purposes. Jesus said to those who are sold out to God’s will, You may ask Me for anything in My name, and I will do it (John 14:14). We must keep these word’s of Jesus in proper balance with what the Holy Spirit moved the beloved John to write in 1 John 5:14, “This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us–whatever we ask–we know that we have what we asked of Him.”
After the Lord’s resurrection, Jesus claimed that He is omnipresent. In the giving of the Great Commission Jesus said, “And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age (Matthew 28:20).” In His teaching on the Holy Spirit who is promised to His obedient children Jesus said, “If anyone loves Me, he will obey My teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him (John 14:23).” (The truths found in the portion of the message came about as I prayerfully studied the NIV Bible together with quality Bible study material: “The Expositors Bible Commentary; The Complete Word Study Dictionary; Thru the Bible; Wiersbe’s Expository Outlines; Willmington’s Bible Handbook; The Teacher’s Commentary; Barnes Notes; William Barclay; The Exposition Commentary; The IVP Background Commentary; Tyndale Bible Dictionary; The Bible Knowledge Commentary; A Commentary, Critical and Explanatory)
What you believe about Jesus Christ determines your final destiny
Jesus taught, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me. If you really knew Me, you would know My Father as well. From now on, you do know Him and have seen Him (John 14:23).” Jesus is speaking to His disciples in this passage of Scripture. Through the Scriptures Christians have the claims of Christ, the one who died for their sins and His claims should be held above every other claim. This is especially true when they stand against the claims that He has made about Himself and what the entire Word of God says about Him.
British Pastor John Stott wrote, “Jesus made it very clear by word and deed that to know Him was to know God, to see Him was to see God, to believe in Him was to believe in God, to receive Him was to receive God, to reject Him was to reject God, and to honor Him was to honor God.”
C.S. Lewis wrote, “Either this man was, and is, the Son of God or else a madman… You can spit on Him… or fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come to any patronizing nonsense about Him being [just] a great teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.”
What you believe about Jesus Christ determines your final destiny. God always gives man the opportunity to live according to his free will. The Holy Spirit offers this question. Which Jesus will you live for and serve, the Christ of the Bible or the Christ made up in the minds of fallen man? Let us pray!