"We see, in many a land, the proudest dynasties and tyrannies still crushing, with their mountain weight, every free motion of the Consciences and hearts of men. We see, on the other hand, the truest heroism for the right and the greatest devotion to the Truth in hearts that God has touched. We have a work to do, as great as our forefathers and, perhaps, far greater. The enemies of Truth are more numerous and subtle than ever and the needs of the Church are greater than at any preceding time. If we are not debtors to the present, then men were never debtors to their age and their time. Brethren, we are debtors to the hour in which we live. Oh, that we might stamp it with Truth and that God might help us to impress upon its wings some proof that it has not flown by neglected and unheeded." -- C.H. Spurgeon . . . "If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." John 8:31, 32

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Monday, February 27, 2012

JESUS IS GOD – The WORD Incarnate a.k.a. the MESSIAH of Israel – Part FIVE






















By James Fire

Disciples Alleged Counter-claims to Jesus’ Deity –

Obviously the arguments that deny the deity of Jesus Christ must have some substantiation (supposedly) from the Scriptures, but when examined carefully such arguments fall apart. Let’s start with one of these, often used by Jehovah Witnesses based on the first verse in the Gospel of John:

John 1:1
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God
.

Jehovah Witnesses claim that in the Greek, this verse states that “…the Word was a god” not “the God”; that there is no definitive article preceding the word for God.

So is the “Deity of Christ” actually biblical? Another article from Got Questions? has some pertinent and biblical insights into the Scriptures, both Old Testament and New:

Is the Deity of Christ Biblical?.
According to Dr. Norman Geisler, “This misunderstands both the language and the verse. In the Greek, the definite article is normally used to stress the individual and when it is not present the rerfence is to the nature of the one denoted. Thus, the verse can be rendered, ‘And the Word was of the nature of God.’ In the context of the following verses and the rest of John (for example, 1:3; 8:58; 10:30; 20:28) it is impossible that John 1:1 suggests that Jesus is anything less than divine. The rest of the New Testament joins John in forthrightly proclaiming that Jesus is God (ex. Col. 1: 15-16; Titus 2:13).”

There are examples where the definitive article is used in order to denote Jesus’ divinity (Heb. 1:8). Let us consider this verse from Colossians,

Col 1:15
Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature:


At first this verse would seem to imply that Jesus is a created being, the first creation ever made; yet here again this supposition is contrary to the context of the verse because in the following verse it simply and clearly states that “all things” everywhere (including where He Himself dwells) were created by Jesus Christ, and further, that He is “the fullness of the Godhead” (Col. 2:9).

The term ‘firstborn’ is an interesting one; it defines one as being the first of others who are born, certainly, but it must by biblical definition mean more than this:

Reuben was the firstborn of Jacob (Israel) according to Gen. 35:23; 46:8; and 49:3; presumably since the LORD God granted this child to Jacob and his wife, God would look upon Reuben as well as the firstborn. Yet in Scripture, God confesses others to be the firstborn, such as Ephraim in Jeremiah 31:9. Yet the status of ‘firstborn’ is not necessarily granted to the one who was physically born first. It represents a birthright, which can be transferred to another, as is the case with Reuben and the sons of Joseph (See 1 Chron. 5:1 as well as Gen. 48: 18-19; and a contrivance of relinquishing one’s birthright is seen in Gen. 25:29-34). The status of the firstborn is that of recognized preeminence and entitlement.

In this way, Jesus is the firstborn of all creatures; that is, of all living things, be they of mankind or angelic kind, even of cherubim kind, Jesus is still the one of preeminence; “greater (better) than the angels” as in Heb. 1:4-6 (note in vs. 6: “firstbegotten”).

Rev 3:14
And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write; These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God
;

Dr. Geisler points to this verse as well as one used by critics of the divinity of Christ Jesus. This verse at the outset would seem to imply that Jesus was the first being created; however once again, knowledge of the language is necessary – Christ is the “beginner” of the creation, not the beginning. The same Greek word is used of the Father in Rev. 21: 6 – 7. Jesus is the Author of creation, just as He is of our faith (Heb. 12:2).

“I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish things that people often say about Him [Christ]: ‘I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept His claim to be God’. That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would rather be a lunatic – on a level with the man who says he is a poached egg – or else he would be the Devil of hell.” C. S. Lewis.

Liar, Lunatic, or Lord from Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis

Dr. Geisler supplies a list of criterion that evidentially from the prophecies of Scripture, proves that Jesus is the Messiah, and that the Messiah Himself would be the manifestation of the Godhead in human form (as previously demonstrated in this series).

“To say that Jesus and His disciples claimed that He was God in human flesh, does not in itself prove that He is God. The real question is whether there is any good reason to believe the claims. To support His claims to deity, Jesus showed supernatural power and authority that is unique in human history.” Dr. Norman Geisler.

Messianic Divinity as Portrayed in Prophetic Scripture, Fulfilled in Jesus of Nazareth –

1. Born of a woman (Gen. 3:15; Gal. 4:4).
2. Born of a virgin (Isaiah 7:14; Matt. 1:21).
3. Cut off [criminal punishment and execution] (Dan. 9:24).*

* - 483 years after the edict had gone forth to rebuild the city and temple at Jerusalem, the Messiah presented Himself as King in those same streets of Jerusalem; precisely according to the prophecy made by Daniel.

4. The seed of Abraham (Gen. 12: 1- 3; 22: 18; Matt. 1:1; Gal. 3:16).
5. Of the tribe of Judah (Gen. 49: 10; Luke 3: 23, 33; Heb. 7:14).
6. A descendent of David (2 Sam 7:12; Matt. 1:1).
7. Born in Bethlehem (Micah 5:2; Matt. 2:1; Luke 2: 4-7).
8. Anointed by the Holy Spirit (Isaiah 40:3; Matt. 3:16-17).
9. Heralded by a messenger (Isaiah 40:3; Mal. 3:1; Matt. 3:1-2).
10. A worker of miracles (Isaiah 35: 5-6; Matt. 9:35).
11. Cleanser of the Temple (Mal. 3:1; Matt. 21:12).
12. Rejected by the Jews (Ps. 118: 22; 1 Peter 2:7).
13. Died a humiliating death (Psalm 22 and Isaiah 53; Matt. 27: 31). His rejection would involve enduring rejection by His own people (Is. 53:3; John 1:10-11; 7:5, 48); standing silent before His accusers (Is. 53:7; Matt. 27: 12 – 19); being mocked (Ps. 22: 7-8; Matt. 27: 31).
* Having hands and feet pierced (Ps. 22:16; Luke 23:33).
* Being crucified with thieves (Is. 53: 12; Mark 15:27 – 28).
* Praying for His persecutors (Is. 53: 12; Luke 23: 34).
* Piercing of His side (Zech. 12:10; John 19:34).
* Burial in a rich man’s tomb (Is. 53: 9; Matt. 27: 57-60).
* Casting lots for His garments (Ps. 22: 18; John 19: 23-24).
14. Being raised from the dead (Ps. 2:7; 16:10; Acts 2:31; Mark 16:6).
15. Ascending into heaven (Ps. 68: 18; Acts 1:9).
16. Sitting at the right hand of God (Ps. 110: 1; Heb. 1:3 [“standing” Acts 7: 56]).

All of these prophecies were recorded by writers and prophets of the Old Testament several hundreds of years before the birth of Christ. The precision of the details are far too accurate to be coincidental. Surprisingly, there are still those that maintain that the fulfillment of these prophecies by Jesus were merely coincidence!

In answer to this flawed allegation, we turn once again to Dr. Chuck Missler, who examines the mathematical (statistical) probabilities of Jesus fulfilling just eight (of the hundreds) of the prophecies of the Messiah and what the odds are – this is outstanding!

Mathematics of Messiahship: Why do we believe Jesus is the Messiah? Check out Part 4 of this Five Part series; This presentation is based upon Dr. Stoner’s work, author of the book, Science Speaks.

Probability of Jesus Christ Fulfilling Prophecy.

Dr. Norman Geisler comments:

“It is humanly impossible to make clear, repeated and accurate predictions 200 years into the future. The fulfillment of these prophecies in a theistic universe is miraculous and points to a divine confirmation of Jesus as the Messiah.


A Miraculous and Sinless Life –

“The very nature of Christ’s life demonstrates His claim to Deity. To live a truly sinless life would be a momentous accomplishment, but to claim to be God and offer a sinless life as evidence is another matter (something no religious founder has ever been able to do). Some of Jesus’ enemies brought forth false accusations against Him, but the verdict of Pilate at his trial has been the verdict of history: ‘I find no basis of charge against this man’ (Luke 23:4). A soldier at the cross agreed, saying ‘Surely this was a righteous man’ (Luke 23:47). And the thief on the cross next to Jesus said, ‘this man has done nothing wrong’ (Luke 23:41). But the real test is what those who were closest to Jesus said about His character. His disciples had lived and worked with Him for three years at close range, yet their opinions of Him were not diminished. Peter called Christ, ‘a lamb without blemish or defect’ (1 Peter 1:19) and added ‘no deceit was found in His mouth’ (2:22). John called Him ‘Jesus Christ, the Righteous One (1 John 2:1; 3:7). Paul expressed the unanimous belief of the early church that Christ ‘had no sin’ (2 Cor. 5: 21), and that the writer of Hebrews says that He was tempted as a man ‘yet was without sin’ (4:15). Jesus Himself onec challenged His accusers, ‘Can any of you prove me guilty of sin?’ (John 8:46)” – try asking your enemies that kind of question and see if they remain mute for more than a second or two!

“Beyond the moral aspects of His life, the miraculous nature of His ministry is a divine confirmation. Jesus performed an unprecedented display of miracles. He turned water into wine (John 2:7), walked on water (Matt. 14:25), multiplied bread [and fish] (John 6:11), opened the eyes of the blind (John 9:7), made the lame to walk (Mark 2:3), cast out demons (Mark 3:11), healed the multitudes of all kinds of sicknesses (Matt. 9:35), including leprosy (Mark 1: 40-42), and even raised the dead to life on several occasions (John 11:43-44; Luke 7:11-15; Mark 5:35). When asked if He was the Messiah, He used His miracles as evidence to support the claim saying, ‘Go back and report to John what you hear and see: the blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised’ (Matt 11:4-5).
“The special outpouring of miracles was a special sign that Messiah had come (See Isaiah 35: 5-6). The Jewish leader Nicodemus even said, ‘Rabbi, we know you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the miraculous signs you are doing of God were not with him’ (John 3:2).
“To a first century Jew, miracles such as Christ performed were clear indications of God’s approval of the performer’s message. But in Jesus’ case, part of that message was that He was God in human flesh. Thus His miracles verify His claim to be true deity.

The Resurrection –
“Nothing like the actual, physical resurrection of Jesus Christ is claimed by any other religion, and no other miracle has as much historical confirmation. Jesus Christ rose from the dead on the third day in the same physical body, though transformed, in which He died. In this resurrected physical form He appeared to more than 500 disciples on at least of twelve different occasions over a forty-day period and conversed with them (Acts 1:3; 1 Cor. 15: 3-6).”

Some months ago, I read a book entitled Did Jesus Rise From the Dead? The Resurrection Debate with Gary Habermas and Anthony Flew – I actually found a youtube presentation of this debate and you can watch this here.

(Please note: TTUF does not necessarily endorse everything from the Veritas Forum, and definitely does not endorse specific people who have participated in this ministry.)

However, the entire debate from start to finish is almost two hours long! So you might well save this viewing for a later time.

“The nature, extent, and times of these appearances remove any doubt that Jesus indeed rose from the dead in the numerically same body of flesh and bones [absent the blood] in which He died. During each appearance He was seen and heard with the natural senses of the observer. On at least four occasions He was touched or offered Himself to be touched. At least twice He definitely was touched with physical hands. Four times Jesus ate physical food with His disciples. Four times they saw His empty tomb, and twice He showed them His crucifixion scars. He literally exhausted the ways it is possible to prove that He rose bodily from the grave. No event in the ancient world has more eyewitness verification than does the resurrection of Jesus. What is so amazing is that both the Old Testament and Jesus predicted that He would rise from the dead. This highlights the evidential value of the resurrection of Christ in a unique way.

Old Testament Prediction of the Resurrection –“Jewish prophets predicted the resurrection in specific statements and by logical deduction, the apostles applied specific Old Testament texts to the resurrection of Christ (Psalm 2:7; cf. Heb. 1:5 and Acts 13:33). Peter says that since we know that David died and was buried, he must have been speaking of the Christ when he said “you will not abandon me in the grave, nor will you let your Holy One see decay” Ps. 16:8-1, quoted in Acts 2:25-31). No doubt Paul used this and similar passages in the Jewish synagogues when “he reasoned with them from the Scriptures, explaining and proving that the Christ had to suffer and rise from the dead” (Acts 17:2-3).”

Scripture reveals that the Messiah was to die (Ps. 22; Is. 53) and yet at the same time, reign in an enduring kingdom without end, from Jerusalem (Is. 9:6; Dan. 2:44; Zech. 13:1; also Luke 1: 30-33).

This contradiction has but one answer, seeing how there are not ‘two Messiahs’ as Judaism has been fond of teaching; that is, that the Messiah after He had died, must rise from the dead. It is sobering to consider that during the last days, the Beast of Revelation is not alone on the world stage, but another Beast – the false prophet – is also given a prominent place of power. Could Israel for a time, be deceived by thinking that these are the two Messiahs long believed to come to the nation?

Once the LORD Jesus died for the sins of the world, rose from the dead three days after His burial, and then came to His disciples, they asked Him if the kingdom would commence at that time; the assumption was a logical one, as the very office of Messiah includes the ruling of Israel as promised to David, the prophets and Mary, the wife of Joseph. The answer that the LORD gave was “It is not for you to know the times and the seasons which the Father has put in His own power” (Acts 1: 7). Our LORD didn’t deny that such a kingdom would eventually transpire; simply that the timing of such is directed by the Father and that until such a time, the disciples were to be focused on the preaching of the Gospel.

Jesus’ Prediction of His Resurrection –

“On several occasions Jesus also predicted his resurrection from the dead. In the earliest part of his ministry he said, “Destroy this temple [of my body] and I will raise it again in three days” (John 2:19, 21). In Matthew 12:40, he said, “As Jonah was three days and nights in the belly of a huge fish, so the Son of Man will be three days and nights in the heart of the earth.”“To those who had seen his miracles and stubbornly would not believe, he said “A wicked and adulterous generation asks for a miraculous sign! But none will be given it except the sign of the prophet Jonah” (Matt. 12:39; 16:4). After Peter’s confession, “he then began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things . . . and that he must be killed and after three days rise again” (Mark 8:31). This became a central part of his teaching from that point until his death (Matt. 27: 63; Mark 14:59). Further, Jesus taught that he would raise himself from the dead saying of his life, “I have authority to lay it down and I have authority to take it up again” (John 10:18).

“Philosopher of Science, Karl Popper argued that, whenever a ‘risky prediction’ is fulfilled, it counts as confirmation of the theory that predicted it. If so, then the fulfillment of Jesus’ prediction of his own resurrection is a confirmation of his claim to be God. For what could be riskier than predicting your own resurrection? If a person will not accept these lines of evidence as support of Christ’s truth claim, then he has a bias that will not accept anything as evidence.”

Summary of Dr. Geisler’s Treatment –“Jesus claimed to be God and proved it by a convergence of three unprecedented sets of miracles: fulfilled prophecy, a miraculous life, and his resurrection from the dead. This unique convergence of supernatural events confirms his claims to be God in human flesh. It also answers David Hume’s objection that, since all miracles have similar claims, their proof claim are mutually canceling. Not all religions have like miracle claims [however]. Only in Christianity does its leader claim to prove to be God by a convergence of unique supernatural events such as Jesus offered. Hence only Christ is miraculously confirmed to be God and, by virtue of that, to be believed in whatever he teaches as true.”

Another popular question asked by many is that if Jesus is God, then why is He praying to God in John chapter 17? Was He really just praying to Himself? For answers to this and other questions see the following article from Got Questions? ministry –
If Jesus was God, how could He pray to God?
Was Jesus praying to Himself?

MY PERSONAL OBSERVATIONS in the SCRIPTURES THAT REVEAL CHRIST’s DEITY –

John 2:19
Jesus answered and said unto them, Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up
.

Here the LORD specifically states that He would be responsible for raising up His own body, in the resurrection (See also John 10:18); yet in the book of Acts, in Peter’s sermon the Scripture declares:

Acts 2:23-24
Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain:

Whom God hath raised up, having loosed the pains of death: because it was not possible that he should be holden of it
.

Either there is confusion as to who is responsible for the raising up of Jesus again from the dead or this is a testimony to the Deity of Christ Jesus as a member of the Trinity (“Godhead”). See also Heb. 13: 20; also 1 Peter 3:18 where the Holy Spirit is accredited for the resurrection of Jesus.

Titus 1:3-4
But hath in due times manifested his word through preaching, which is committed unto me according to the commandment of God our Saviour;

To Titus, mine own son after the common faith: Grace, mercy, and peace, from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ our Saviour.
Titus 2:13
Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ
;

To reiterate a point made previously, it would seem, according to these verses that there are two saviors; yet in the book of Isaiah, it states:

Isaiah 43:10-11
Ye are my witnesses, saith the LORD, and my servant whom I have chosen: that ye may know and believe me, and understand that I am he: before me there was no God formed, neither shall there be after me.

I, even I, am the LORD; and beside me there is no saviour
.

Some might suggest that under the Old Testament, one Savior is specified, but not under the New; such reasoning is inadequate and illogical; we are dealing with the proclamation of an Eternal Being Who knows all things from the beginning to the end; had their been a need for another Savior under the New Covenant, God would not here state “beside Me there is no savior”. Again, what we see here is reasonable Scriptural proof that there is indeed One Savior, and that His Name is Jesus Christ, who spoke to Isaiah in this 43rd chapter.

Other passages in Scripture seem rather plain and obvious in regards to the Deity of Jesus Christ, the Son of God –

1 Tim 3:16
And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory
.

It is interesting to note that in many of the modern translations, it reads: “He was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit . . .” etc. Yet in the Greek, the word used is specifically ‘theos’ denoting ‘God’. Its especially glaring in the Westcott and Hort text where the Greek word for ‘he’ is transposed over the authoritative extant autographica in parchment remnants found.

Hebrews 1:8
But unto the Son he saith, Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: a sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of thy kingdom
.

It can’t get any plainer than in the above passage, and a more detailed treatment of this verse, and the original Scripture in Psalms, quoted by Paul has been accomplished earlier in this series. As the Father is God, so likewise His Son who is “one with the Father” (John 10:30) is God as an echad (“united one”) Being.

Col 1:15
Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature:
Col 2:9
For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily
.

To express the fullness of God, such that no remainder of that which is God is left out, and incorporated into a human being, that human being must by matter of course be more than merely human or angelic for that matter. The image of God represented in a living Person and not some inanimate object – images captured in a mirror or a photograph or painting, and that image being exact (“express image” as in Heb. 1:3), must by definition be the manifestation of God Himself, not in part but in whole or “fullness”.

Acts 20:28
Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood
.

In John 4: 24 Jesus declares that “God is Spirit” and yet by Divine unction and inspiration, Luke wrote in the verse above, concerning God, whose church was purchased, not with the blood of another, but Himself! Question: Since when did God who is Spirit, possess blood? Answer: When He was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit in the womb of Mary!

Rev 1:5-6
And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood,

And hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen
.

All of us who love and read the Bible, God’s Word are accustomed to reading the phrase, “God our Father” throughout the Scriptures; thus, even after decades of reading this above passage, I never caught what it was actually saying until just a few years ago!
We who are born again of the Spirit of God, genuine Christians and considered saints in the biblical sense, are destined to become “kings and priests” unto Who? God - - and His Father! Thus this is attributing Deity to someone other than the Father, namely the one mentioned in context, in the previous verse, Jesus Christ the faithful witness!

The following is a series of verses that lead to an undeniable conclusion; we begin with some passages from the book of Isaiah:

Isaiah 41:4
Who hath wrought and done it, calling the generations from the beginning? I the LORD, the first, and with the last; I am he
.

Remember that when “LORD” is all capitalized, it’s a reference to the YHWH, the tetragrammaton, signifying the LORD God. Here God takes on the title of “the first and the last” and we see this repeatedly in Isaiah, such as the following:

Isaiah 44:6
Thus saith the LORD the King of Israel, and his redeemer the LORD of hosts; I am the first, and I am the last; and beside me there is no God
.

Also, besides “the first and the last” note that this declaration is made by the LORD the King of Israel but also “his redeemer, the LORD of hosts”, so even here in the text, we see not One, but Two Who claim to be the LORD! And yet the scripture goes on to say, “beside me there is no God”; thus a tribute to the truth of the trinity! But let’s go on . . .

Isaiah 48:12
Hearken unto me, O Jacob and Israel, my called; I am he; I am the first, I also am the last
.

Again, God labels Himself with this title of “the first and the last”. From here, let’s go to the book of Revelation:

Rev 1:8
I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty
.


Here we see a slightly different rendering to “the first and the last” but it’s essentially the same declaration – that the LORD God is One Who exists in eternity, and is Himself the beginner and ender of all things within the space/time continuum. The Alpha is the first letter in the Greek alphabet; Omega is the last.

Rev 21:5-6
And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. And he said unto me, Write: for these words are true and faithful.

And he said unto me, It is done. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely
.

The speaker here once again is God Himself (see vs. 5 and 7), and the designation of “Alpha and Omega, the beginning and end” is once again the appellation He ascribes to Himself. The same can also be seen in Rev. 22: 12-13.

Now let’s turn back to the second chapter of Revelation and see what we can see:

These verses are among the seven letters to the seven churches as dictated by the LORD Jesus Christ to the apostle John, who wrote this book; in the letter to the church of Smyrna there is a startling statement made:

Rev 2:8
And unto the angel of the church in Smyrna write; These things saith the first and the last, which was dead, and is alive
;

“The first and the last” . . . was dead? “and is alive”? Who then, can we conclude that Jesus Christ, the First and the Last, is – if not God (the Son) Himself?

Some last links to other articles on the DEITY of JESUS CHRIST:

The DEITY of the LORD Jesus Christ

Beyond Blind Faith

Also, last but not least, an article unedited and unabridged, posted on FROM the MIND of FIREThe Deity of Jesus Christ by Dr. R.A. Torrey; this is an excellent article and not to be passed over!

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