Is Jesus the Christ, the Son of God? (III)
Grant B. Caldwell
One reason for believing that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, is that he and others claimed that he was. It would be a mistake to ignore the claims made in behalf of the Sonship of Jesus. One might think this to be an unacceptable proof as to the matter under consideration. The argument (made possibly by infidels and believers alike) would be that the claims made by Christ and by others could be lies and fabrications. Some would say that we are begging the question by saying we believe Jesus to be the Son of God because of his claims and we believe his claims because he was the Son of God. Such circular logic is unacceptable to most and rightfully so.
However, if Christ made no such claims and no claims were made for him, it would be equally fair for the infidel to charge us with an extension on the evidence. Since the claim was made by Jesus and others, we should be aboveboard about the matter. We should look not only for the truth of the conclusion, but the truth of the premises as well.
The Claims of Christ
Jesus claimed to be the Son of God. In John 10: 36, he said, "I said, I am the Son of God." Just back one chapter, he made a similar claim. (John 9:35-37). In Mark 14:61-62, he was specifically asked if he was the Christ, "and Jesus answered, I am."
Jesus also claimed to be sinless. Such a claim would be the disastrous end of a fraud. But even the enemies of Christ found no fault in him. He challenged any to show sin in his life. (John 8:46)
He claimed to be equal with God. This claim made him as unpopular as anything he did. (John 5:17-18) Yet, even in the face of charges of blasphemy, he claimed to be one with the Father. (John 17)
He allowed his disciples to believe he was the Son of God. (Matthew 16:18) He accepted worship which many desired to give to him (Matthew 8:2; 9:18; 28:9; John 9:35-38; 20:26-29), even though only God should be worshipped. (Matthew 4: 10) He claimed to be the fulfillment of the Old Testament prophecies concerning the Messiah to come. (John 5:39)
It should be noticed that if Christ was not the Son of God, he was not the good man many claim him to be. If he was not the Son of God, he was a liar, an imposter, and a blasphemer. Good men do not conduct themselves in such manner as this. He was a good man only if he was indeed who he claimed to be.
The Claims of John
John the Baptist made claims also in behalf of Christ. He constantly spoke of the one to come after him, "the lamb of God," etc. Listen to John as he speaks concerning the Christ, "And John bear witness, saying, I have beheld the Spirit descending as a dove out of heaven; and it abode upon him. And I knew him not: but he that sent me to baptize in water, he said unto me, Upon whomsoever thou shalt see the Spirit descending, and abiding upon him, the same is he that baptizeth in the Holy Spirit. And I have seen, and have borne witness that this is the Son of God." (John 1:32-34)
The Claims of God
"This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased." (Matthew 3:17; 17:5) "Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee." (Psalms 2: 7; Hebrews 1: 5) These claims ought to finish forever the controversy over the Sonship of Jesus. The Father himself claimed that he was.
The Claims of the Apostles
Peter claimed, "Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God." (Matthew 16:18)
The apostles as a whole claimed "Of a truth, thou art the Son of God." (Matthew 14:33)
When Saul was converted, the claim remained "Jesus, that he is the Son of God." (Acts 9:20)
In Pauls preaching, he equated "the Son of God" and "Jesus Christ." (2 Cor. 1: 19) He boldly affirmed that our high priest is "Jesus the Son of God." (Hebrews 4:14)
John frequently referred to Jesus as "the Son of the Father" and "the Son of God." (I John 4:14-15; 2 John 3)
The Claims of Historians
Throughout the writings of the historians of this period, Christ appears as a magnificent character. Writers such as Ignatius, Barnabas, Polycarp, Clement, Hermas, Irenaeus, Justin Martyr, etc., all wrote concerning Jesus, the Christ.
Yet more interesting than the ones who made claims of being of the faith as those just mentioned, are those who made no claims to a part in Christianity. These wrote of Jesus as well.
Consider the works of such men as Tacitus, Suetonius, Pliny, etc. We quote from but one. This is perhaps the most famous of all statements found in secular history concerning Christ Jesus, though its genuineness is disputed by some. From the writer Josephus we read,
"Now there was, about this time, Jesus, a wise man, if it be lawful to call him a man; for he performed many wonderful works. He was a teacher of such men as received the truth with pleasure. He drew over to him many of the Jews and also of the Gentiles. This was the Christ (emphasis is mine, gbc). And when Pilate, at the instigation of the principal men among us, had condemned him to the cross, those who had loved him from the first did not cease to adhere to him. For he appeared to them alive the third day, the divine prophets having foretold these and ten thousand other wonderful things concerning him. And the tribe of Christians so named for him subsists to this time." (From Jewish Antiquities, Book 28, chp. 3, section 3)
Either Christ was the Son of God or he was not. He claimed he was. Others claimed he was. Both friend (John 11:27) and foe (Matthew 27:54; Luke 4:41) agreed that Jesus was the Christ, the Son of God.
TRUTH MAGAZINE, XVI: 36, pp. 6-7