Why Believe in God? Part 2

Because of Jesus Christ
Every person, religious or not, must decide what to do with Jesus. This was the predicament Pilate found himself in when Jesus stood trial. Pilate had tried to be upright in his dealings with Jesus and reached the conclusion He was faultless. However, the crowd demanded, “Crucify him!” (Mk. 15:14).  After the crowd chose the release of the murderer and robber Barabbas, Pilate asked, “What shall I do then with Jesus which is called Christ?” (Mt. 27:22). This very question must be dealt with by every individual alive today, however, the consequences of the answer are much more serious for us.

If it can be proven historically that Jesus is who He claims to be, then He is the meaning of everything. If He is not who He claims to be, then we have been duped into believing an elaborate hoax. The questions now before us are: (1) who did Jesus claim to be, and (2) is there evidence to validate His claims?

Who Did Jesus Claim to Be?
In John’s Gospel, Jesus makes several “I am” statements to identify who He claimed to be. He tells us, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me” (Jn. 4:6). He also asserts, “I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live” (Jn. 11:25). Both of these statements provide excellent insight into the nature of Jesus. They are statements signifying that life, eternal life, is only found in Him. It is such exclusive claims that cause so such controversy today.

Jesus makes an even bolder claim than His claim to be the only way to eternal life! In John 8:58, Jesus affirms, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am.” Let there be no doubt or confusion—Jesus Christ claims to be God! The Jews revered Abraham as the father of their nation. However, when Jesus states, “Before Abraham was, I am,” He is saying He was in existence before Abraham. It is the last part of the statement that infuriates the Jews, Jesus simply said, “I am.” There is no doubt Jesus claimed to be God. When Moses asked God Who He was, Moses was told, “I AM THAT I AM: and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you” (Exod. 3:14). This passage was so well engrained in the minds of the Jews they understood completely and immediately that Jesus was claiming to be Deity.

There are other passages of Scripture where Jesus, in a similar fashion, claims to be God. Instead of referencing them let us get to the heart of the matter, can we know if the claims of Jesus are true? If so, what credible evidences are available to prove such? In a concise manner, let us examine a few.

The prophets of old set forth many Messianic prophecies. Such predictions concerning the Christ, the Son of God laid out many specific and minute details. Jesus Christ fulfilled over 300 prophecies to confirm He is who He claimed to be. A complete and detailed list would be rather lengthy, however here are a few for your consideration.

  • Born in Bethlehem – Micah 5:2, Mt. 2:1
  • The Preaching of John the Baptizer – Isa. 40:3, Mt. 3:1-6
  • He would be mocked – Psa. 22:7,8; Mt. 27:39-44
  • He would be hit and spit upon – Isa. 50:6, Mk. 14:65
  • Not a bone would be broken – Psa. 34:20, Jn. 19:33
  • Betrayed by a friend – Psa. 41:9, Mt. 27:3
  • Buried with the rich – Isa. 53:9, Mt. 27:60
  • Body would not decay (resurrection) – Psa. 16:10, Acts 2:31

Despite the obvious and overwhelming fulfilled Messianic prophecies there are still those who refuse to accept Jesus. Some claim He is an imposter. They believe Jesus designed to live His life to give the appearance that He fulfilled the prophecies. This ridiculous claim is easily refuted by Eric Lyons and Kyle Butt in 5 Reasons to Believe in Jesus:

Such a contention cannot be reasonably maintained in light of the fact that many of the prophecies were far beyond His control. Obviously, it would be impossible for a person to arrange who his ancestors were or where he would be born. Furthermore, it would be near impossible to coordinate events so that He could make sure that He was crucified among thieves, while also buried in the tomb of a rich man. How could the betrayal price of Judas be manipulated by Jesus? And how, pray tell, would Jesus have managed to arrange it so that soldiers cast lots for His clothing? The idea that Jesus manipulated all of these events to make it appear as if He was the Messiah not only is indefensible, but it also speaks to the fact that Jesus obviously was the fulfillment of the Old Testament, Messianic prophecies (pg 8-9).

It is absurd that one would turn a blind eye to such powerful evidence. Jesus, in fulfilling the Messianic prophecies, provides ample evidence of His claims. Any honest heart desiring to know the truth about Jesus clearly sees the connection.

The Resurrection

The focal point of the gospel of Christ is His resurrection. Paul speaks of the importance of this event, he said, “if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins” (1 Cor. 15:17). Thus, the resurrection is essential to our faith. Josh McDowell writes of the historical evidences for the resurrection. In A Ready Defense, he speaks of a rationalistic lawyer by the name of Frank Morrison. He writes,

Dr. Frank Morrison, a lawyer who had been brought up in a rationalistic environment, had come to the opinion that the resurrection was nothing but a fairy-tale happy ending…He felt that he owed it to himself, and to others, to write a book that would present the truth about Jesus and dispel the myth of the resurrection. Upon studying the facts, however, he, too, came to a different conclusion. The sheet weight of the evidence compelled him to conclude that Jesus actually did rise from the dead. Morrison wrote his book – but not the one he had planned. It is titled, Who Moved the Stone? The first chapter, very significantly, is called, “The Book That Refused To Be Written.””  (pg. 217).

If it can be proven historically the resurrection was an actual event, then Jesus is who He claimed to be. So what historical points can be offered to prove His bodily resurrection? Allow me to propose five.

  • Jesus died by means of Crucifixion.
  • The tomb was empty.
  • The disciples believed and proclaimed the resurrection.
  • The conversion of the skeptic James.
  • The conversion of the church persecutor Saul of Tarsus.
  • All five of these points are proven both Biblically and historically. Regardless of how any person feels about Jesus, they cannot deny any of these five. It is our intent in another article titled “By Many Infallible Proofs” to explain each point in light of Scripture and history.

We have barely scratched the surface in looking at the abundant evidence establishing the claims of Jesus Christ. However, I am hopeful this small treatise establishes your faith or prompts you to dig deeper into analyzing the claims of Jesus Christ. Lyons and Butt write,

“Fulfilling hundreds of ancient, inspired prophecies and working all manner of miracles, all the while claiming equality with God, makes Jesus different than any other person who ever walked the Earth. When we examine the evidence, like the apostle Thomas, we can come to the logical conclusion that Jesus is “Lord” and “God.”” (pg. 26)

It was the purpose of the New Testament writers to affirm the truth of Jesus, John exclaims, “That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word of life; (For the life was manifested, and we have seen it, and bear witness, and shew unto you that eternal life, which was with the Father, and was manifested unto us;)” (1 Jn. 1:1-2)

Article by: Brad Shockley