IN THE VAULT
Answering A Jehovah's Witness
Is Jesus God? Did Jesus ever claim to be God?
Jesus is never recorded in the Bible as saying the precise words, “I am God.” That does not mean, however, that He did not proclaim that He is God. Take for example Jesus’ words in John 10:30 “ I and the Father are one.” We need only to look at the Jews’ reaction to His statement to know He was claiming to be God. They wanted to stone Him for this very reason; “you, a mere man, claim to be God”
John 10:33. The Jews understood exactly what Jesus was claiming—deity. Notice that Jesus does not deny His claim to be God. When Jesus declared, “I and the Father are one”John 10:30, He was saying that He and the Father are of one nature and essence. John 8:58 provides another example. Jesus declared, “I tell you the truth, before Abraham was, I am!” The response of the Jews who heard this statement was to take up stones to kill Him for blasphemy, as the Mosaic Law commanded them to do.
"What did Jesus mean when He said 'I AM'?"
Jesus, in response to the Pharisees’ question “Who do you think you are?” said “Your father Abraham rejoiced at the thought of seeing my
day; he saw it and was glad.’‘ You are not yet fifty years old,’ the Jews said to him, ‘and you have seen Abraham!’ ‘I tell you the truth, Jesus answered, ‘before Abraham was, I am!’ At this, they picked up stones to stone him, but Jesus hid himself, slipping away from the temple grounds.” The violent response of the Jews to Jesus’ “I AM” statement indicates they clearly understood what He was declaring that He was
the eternal, incarnate God. Jesus was equating Himself with the "I AM" title God gave Himself in Exodus 3:14.
If Jesus had merely wanted to say He existed before Abraham’s time, He would have said, “Before Abraham, I was.” The Greek words translated “was” in the case of Abraham, and “am” in the case of Jesus, are quite different. The words chosen by the Spirit make it clear
that Abraham was “brought into being,” but Jesus existed eternally (see John 1:1). There is no doubt that the Jews understood what He was saying because they took stones to kill Him for making Himself equal with God John 5:18 That statement, if not true, was blasphemy and the punishment ascribed by the Mosaic Law was death (Leviticus 24:11-14). But Jesus certainly committed no blasphemy; He was and is God,
the second Person of the Godhead, equal to the Father in every way.
Jesus used the same phrase “I AM” in seven declarations about Himself. In all seven, He combines I AM with tremendous metaphors which express His saving relationship toward the world. All appear in the book of John. They are: I AM the Bread of Life (John 6:35,1,48,51);
I AM the Light of the World (John 8:12); I AM the Door of the Sheep (John 10:7,9); I AM the Good Shepherd (John 10:11,14); I AM the Resurrection and the Life (John 11:25); I AM the Way, the Truth and the Life (John 14:6); and I AM the True Vine (John 15: 1 and 5).
John reiterates the concept of Jesus’ deity: “the Word was God” and “the Word became flesh” (John 1:1 and 14). These verses clearly indicate that Jesus is God in the flesh. Acts 20:28 tells us, “Be shepherds of the church of God, which he bought with his own blood.” Who bought the church—the church of God—with His own blood? Jesus Christ. Acts 20:28 declares that God purchased His church with His own blood. Therefore, Jesus is God!
Thomas the disciple declared concerning Jesus, “My Lord and my God” (John 20:28). Jesus does not correct him. Titus 2:13 encourages us to wait for the coming of our God and Savior, Jesus Christ (see also 2 Peter 1:1). In Hebrews1:8, the Father declares of Jesus, “But about the Son
He says, ’Your throne, O God, will last forever and ever, and righteousness will be the scepter of your kingdom." The Father refers to Jesus as
“O God” indicating that Jesus is indeed God.
In Revelation, an angel instructed the apostle John to only worship God (Revelation 19:10). Several times in Scripture Jesus receives worship (Matthew 2:11,14:33,28:9,17; Luke 24:52; John 9:38). He never rebukes people for worshiping Him. If Jesus were not God, He would have told people not to worship Him, just as the angel in Revelation did. There are many other verses and passages of Scripture that argue for Jesus’ deity.
The most important reason that Jesus has to be God is that if He is not God, His death would not have been sufficient to pay the penalty for the sins of the world (1 John 2:2). A created being, which Jesus would be if He were not God, could not pay the penalty required for sin against an infinite God. Only God could pay such an infinite penalty. Only God could take on the sins of the world, die, and be resurrected, proving His victory over sin and death. Only God can be free of sin and absolutely pure enough to provide the necessary sacrifice.
Concerning God there are two parallel scriptures that are well worth considering when we begin to see just who died for us. John 3:16 states;
“For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son, that whosoever believeth on him should not perish but have everlasting life.” In conjunction with that examine I John 3:16 which states; “Hereby perceive we the love of God because he laid down his life for us; and we ought
to lay down our lives for the brethren.”
Interestingly enough, the preceding verses do not mention the name of Jesus Christ from verse one of this chapter through the last verse (verse 24), but rather verse 16 tells us that God laid down his life for us. We know that it was Jesus who actually laid down his life for us, so it must be understood in the context of the verse that Jesus as God laid down his life for us.
Let's look at the word God in the Greek in this instance. The Greek word for God in this verse is “Theos.” which means a deity or the Supreme Divinity. If Jesus were not God this verse would be blasphemy strictly because it is saying that the Supreme Divinity laid down his life for us. This same word for God is used exclusively throughout the New Testament. There is no way of getting around this. John 3:16 tells us that God gave
his only begotten son, and in I John 3:16 it says it was God who laid down his life. It can't be God the Father who laid down his life because John 3:16 says that God gave his son, and we know that Jesus was the one who was crucified on Calvary not the Father.
Another scripture in the Old Testament that is remarkable is Isaiah 9:6 - “For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given, and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace.”
This verse is prophecy of the coming of Jesus Christ.
SOME THINGS TO CONSIDER
When Jesus and the disciples were in the boat and Christ was sleeping, the disciples feared as a storm was coming and they began to be afraid that the boat would capsize and they would all be drowned. They woke up Jesus in their frightened state, and Jesus rebuked them for their little
faith and then spoke to the wind and the storm and the waves and said “Peace be still.” The scripture tells us that they immediately stopped and everything was calm. The disciples are recorded as saying; “What manner of man is this that even the wind and the sea obey him?” Consider that only God has power over the elements that he created. No man before or after Christ has been able to stop a storm and calm a raging sea merely by commanding them to stop, but Christ, as God, had that power. If he wasn't God how could he command the elements and cause them to cease what they were doing by merely speaking a command to them?
In Matthew 10:1 – Jesus sent the disciples out to preach and heal the sick. It is noteworthy that in verse 1 it reads, “And when he had called unto him his twelve disciples, he gave them power against unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal all manner of sickness and all manner of disease.” No man before or after Jesus Christ has ever given anyone power to do these miracles and they are supernatural in nature. As God, Jesus owns all the power in the universe and so dispensing some of that power to his 12 followers was not a big issue to him. If he wasn't God how could he just give power to men by speaking it?
On one, possibly more, occasions, Jesus was in the presence of Jewish spiritual leaders, and they were thinking things without speaking them. The Bible says that “Jesus knew their thoughts.” Further, upon knowing their thoughts he spoke directly to them and asked
them why they were thinking what they were thinking. How could Jesus know the inner
thoughts of men without being God?
A note of great importance in the light of this and all Bible Study!
Whether Jesus is God or not isn't the primary issue facing people on their death bed. The primary issue is whether the person lying there and dying is prepared to meet God on the day of judgment when all the universe stands before him. So then we must deal with the
vitally important issues of sin, repentance and the salvation of the souls of mankind. Everything else pales in comparison to this when it comes to the day of our death! To be ready is more important than any other thing you or I will ever hear, speak, think or do in this life. We only have this life to be sure we are ready to die and face God. The preparation for that day recorded in Revelation 20:11-15 is clearly shown in scripture. The following is that way to my understanding and through my experience of coming to Christ from the lifestyle I was delivered from.
1. First and foremost was the fact that I was convicted by the Holy Spirit that I was a sinner and that God was holy. With that in mind I felt the weight of my sin and knew that I was not ready to meet God on the day of judgment.
2. I was genuinely and deeply sorry for my sin and wanted relief from the guilt associated with it and forgiveness. The Bible says, “godly sorrow is what works repentance in us.” I certainly had that!
3. I repented. That is, I bowed in the presence of God and told him how sorry I was for the evil things I had thought, said and done throughout my whole life. I was 31 years old at that time, and had lived without Christ that whole time. In that moment of time I believed in my heart
that God would hear my prayer, and that he would answer me. I didn't have any theological training that would convince me of that, I just
knew it. After all these years of study, I now know that it was the Holy Spirit that gave me that inner witness of God's willingness to hear
me and answer me.
4. God met me at my point of need and totally forgave me. The cleansing was so complete that I was overwhelmed in his presence, but I
had that same unswerving knowledge that I was clean and forgiven that only comes through the revelation God alone can give. I have now
had a wonderful relationship with God for over 39 years that is personal and absolutely fulfilling. It transcends the natural thinking of men
(I Corinthians 2:14) because salvation is supernatural/spiritual in nature and cannot be grasped with the human mind apart from God's help!
All the theology and/or theological arguments in the world will be of little use on that day when we draw our last breath. The only thing that will matter will be our relationship with Christ or refusal to seek that relationship and secure it prior to our death. Immediately following death we
will be in eternal damnation or at peace with God and in the presence of Jesus forever. THERE IS NO PLACE IN BETWEEN THE TWO. In the story of the rich man and Lazarus (Luke 16) Jesus tells us that there is a great gulf fixed between the location of the saved and the unsaved
verse 26 using the illustration of the rich man in Hell who is talking to Abraham who is in the presence of God, and Lazurus the poor man is with Abraham.
A word on Hell here for those who reject the concept of Hell: Hell as it is truly understood by Christians is not the final place for those who reject the gospel and die in their sins. Revelation 20:14 makes it plain that death and Hell are cast into the “Lake of Fire.” That is the final place for the ungodly and the unrepentant sinners which are one and the same. If you go back to the tenth verse of that chapter you will see that it is eternal. “Day and night, forever and ever.” Fast forward again to verse 15 of the same chapter, and see that those whose names are not found in the “Lambs Book of Life” are cast into the Lake of Fire – which will last forever for them as well. I don't believe it will last forever for the devil and false prophet and not for those who believed their lies and died serving him. In Revelation 14:9-11 the Bible speaks of those who take the mark of the beast as being in torment and the smoke of their torment ascending up forever and ever.
In the Old Testament book of Daniel he speaks in Daniel 12:2 and says, “And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake;
some to ever lasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt.” Everlasting in this verse means just what it says – everlasting, eternal,
and without end. If Hell was the grave, then everlasting contempt couldn't exist for us because it would not be of any effect on us. Torment
forever and ever would be a lie if no conscience after death was a fact that lines up with the scripture, but scripture proclaims it - not denies it.
Anyway, back to the rich man and Lazarus in Luke 16... If damnation is eternal scripture teaches (Mark 3:29), then the most important thing anyone should consider is avoiding eternal damnation. The answer lies in what Jesus did when he died on Calvary. It was his blood that was
shed for you and I that is the only hope and cure for our wickedness. He suffered, died and resurrected from the dead to give sinners forgiveness and hope of eternal life with him. This is the central theme of the scripture prophecy in the Old Testament that leads to the New Testament fulfillment of prophecy in Jesus Christ in the New Testament. Psalms 22:16-18 speaks of his crucifixion. The gospels all tell of its fulfillment. Over 300 prophecies of the Old Testament are fulfilled in the life of Jesus Christ, which is amazing since the possibility of only ten of them being fulfilled in one person is 1 in over 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 according to scholars who have studied this issue of prophecy. Imagine the probability then of over 300 prophecies being fulfilled in the life of Jesus Christ! The number is unimaginable! God went to great lengths to assure the gospel message was clear and impossible to duplicate in the exact same way again in history!
Your part is simple mentally, but not so simple spiritually. Mentally we all agree that we are sinners. Spiritually, only God through the Holy Spirit can convince us of our need of a Savior to deliver us from our sin and eternal separation from God and eternal damnation. All the writing and speaking in the world will not do anything to convince a person who is bound by strong intellectual belief in some other way of gaining
God's favor. The Holy Spirit takes the words to the heart of an individual and makes the gospel message real to them to the point that they understand that Jesus alone can deliver them.
The key is found in Proverbs 3:5-6- “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart, and lean not to thine own understanding.” It takes divine revelation to understand enough to repent and trust Christ alone for your salvation. It begins in the mind, is revealed as truth through the Holy Spirit and then becomes real in the life of all who believe. Apart from this salvation there is only false hope which, in reality, is no hope at all. As the old hymn says; “My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus blood and righteousness.” May it be so with all of us!
Some further notes on Hell throughout the Bible
Hell is not and never has been a popular subject to discuss, and there are many who don't have any problem with eternal heaven but absolutely refuse to see that heaven can't be eternal and the lake of fire not eternal. Remember that Hell as understood by Christians is not eternal but will
be cast into the Lake of Fire. So with that backdrop here is some further information on Hell itself.
The word Hell in the Old Testament is “sheol” throughout, and allows no exceptions. The Hebrew word sheol is pronounced sheh-ole. Sheol means hades, or the world of the dead (as if a subterranean retreat) including all its accessories and inmates, grave, pit.
Hell in the New Testament is three different words; gehenna, tartaroo and hades. Tartaroo pronounced tar-tar-o-o is only found in
2 Peter 2:4 and it means the deepest abyss of hades, to incarcerate in eternal torment.
The word gehenna – pronounced gheh-en-nah and stands for the Valley of Hinnom which is a figurative meaning based on a dump, but really means place (or state of) everlasting punishment. This word is found in the following verses: Matthew 5:22, 29 and 30,10:28, 18:9, and 23:15
and 23:33, Mark 9:43-47, Luke 12:5, and James 3:6.
The word hades – pronounced hah'-dace means the place (or state) of departed souls, grave. This word is found in Matthew 11:23, 16:18,
Luke 10:15, 16:23, Acts 2:27 and 2:31, Revelation 1:18, 6:8, and 20:13-14.
It is noteworthy that in the New Testament Jesus uses the word Hell more than anyone else as you can see by the references in Matthew, Mark, Luke and Revelation 1:18 above. As a matter of fact he spoke more of Hell than he did of Heaven. In some of those references he combines
the word Hell with fear as in “Fear not him who can kill the body and after that can do no more, but fear him who can cast both body and soul into Hell.” That person obviously is God.
There is much more that could be said about this subject, but I believe this is a good start for anyone wanting to pursue a study on it.
C R Lord © 2013
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