By Wayne Walker
One of the Bible doctrines most frequently attacked by modern liberal theologians and religious “scholars” is the deity of Christ. The Bible expressly teaches the Godhood and unique Sonship of Jesus (see John 1:1-2; Col. 2:9). Peter made the confession, ‘Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God” (Matt. 16:18). Later, this same apostle told a group of Jews, “That God hath made that same Jesus whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ” (Acts 2:36). For the Bible believer and the one who impartially reads the gospel record, there can be no other conclusion. However, men who are enslaved by their own biased opinions have conceived several other explanations of Jesus’ existence. Everyone, even the modernist, must admit that a man named Jesus lived in first-century Palestine and had such an effect on the world that we number years by His earthly incarnation.
The most common explanation of Christ is that He was a great moralist, philosopher, and teacher, but not a divine being. Those who try to uphold His ethical teaching but deny His divinity say that He really never claimed to be divine, that these claims were made for Him after His death by His followers. However, a quick glance at the first four New Testament books will destroy this idea. When asked by the high priest if He were the Christ, the Son of the Blessed, He replied, “I am” (Mark 14:61-66). At least the Jews so claimed in John 10:30,36. If this were not His claim, He could have saved Himself a lot of trouble by saying so! In addition, when Peter made his confession, Jesus said nothing to the contrary (John 6:68). Now a “great moralist” certainly would not have allowed His followers to believe a lie, would He?
So Jesus indisputably claimed to be the Son of God. If that claim be not true, then we are left with two other alternatives. The first is that He claimed to be God, but was not; rather, He was a charlatan, a trickster, a fraud. However, this is incongruous with the fact that He placed a great deal of emphasis on the truth: “And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:32). Are these the words of an imposter? Hear again: “If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself” (John 7:17). Would a conscious deceiver continually speak about truth and open Himself to complete investigation? Finally, in John 8:46, Jesus asked if anyone could convict Him of sin. One should think if Jesus were a cheat that someone, somewhere could have laid a finger of blame on Him-but no one did. This man not only claimed to be the Son of God; He lived the part. Certainly such a one was not an intentional liar.
This leaves us with the theory that He thought He was actually the Son of God, but was mistaken. This world make Him a lunatic, a nut. A preacher once said that if Jesus were a mere man claiming to be divine, it would be just as reasonable for someone to claim to be a poached egg. (They have places for people like that!) Even a casual survey of the account of Jesus’ life refutes any such motion. The character of Christ is not that of an insane man. He was completely rational; witness the logic of His answer to the Saducees’ question of the resurrection (Matt. 22:23-34). Also notice that every situation was firmly within His control. When, He was asked trick questions, as in Matt. 22:34-40, never did He lose His composure or temper; nor was He ever at a loss for words. See also the effect of His reasoning on His listeners (Matt. 22:15-22); they marveled at His sensibility. Surely, no unbalanced person ever behaved in this manner.
We have now exhausted our options. The only other estimate of Jesus, and the one which best fits the facts, is that He is exactly who He claimed to be-the divine Son of God and Savior of the world. Thomas was there, he saw, he knew what he was talking about when he said, “My Lord and my God.” We have not been permitted to examine the evidence firsthand as was he, but we have the word of those who did (John 17:20); and Jesus’ response to Thomas was, “Blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed” (John 20:2829). John concludes this scene is verses 30-31 by adding, “And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book: but these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name.” The purpose of the scripture and of all true gospel preaching is to cause men to say with Martha, “Yea, Lord: I believe that thou art the Christ, the Son of God, which should come into the world” (John 11:27). Thus may we live eternally with Him, “For if ye believe not that I am he, ye shall die in your sins” (John 8:24).
Truth Magazine XXII: 25, p. 402
June 22, 1978