Monday, October 21, 2013

Was Jesus Really Who He Claimed to Be?

My topic has shifted from what I originally decided to write about in this series of Bible Study blogs. Before we can talk about how the Bible speaks to certain issues in our culture, we first have to look at the Bible itself. What authority does it have to speak to our culture?

These days, most people are not convinced that the Bible is anything other than a collection of myths, legends, exaggerated history and man's idea of how things should be. This is tragic not only because of the eternal implications of such a belief, but also because when viewed properly (as a document inspired by an all-knowing and all-powerful God), the Bible is truly the greatest book of history, wisdom and practical instruction, as well as being the greatest and truest love story of all time.

And so, I am endeavoring to convince the unconvinced in this series. No small task, I know...but a worthy task nonetheless. It is a topic that I am intensely passionate about. The Bible is the basis of my entire life-because and only because I believe it is inspired by The almighty God. 

More about that later...

Let's talk about Jesus. Who was he, really? Was he God? Just a man? A good moral teacher perhaps?

Jesus of Nazareth truly did live. He is not a fictitious character, not a myth or a legend. There is more than enough historical evidence to support the claim that he was a real man who walked upon the earth, had a following, was crucified and somehow rose from the dead. 

Many people believe that Jesus did live, but are skeptical as to whether or not he was really God. I've heard many people say in my own life that they believe Jesus was a good man, an advocate for social justice, a great teacher. Nothing more, nothing less. 

What many of them don't understand is that Jesus intentionally left no room for this assumption. C.S. Lewis said it this way on page 52 of his book "Mere Christianity."

"I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: '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 either 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. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God: or else a madman or something worse. You can shut him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and kill Him as a demon; or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come with any patronizing nonesense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to."

In another great book, "The New Evidence that Demands a Verdict" by Josh McDowell, the author presents to us the "Trilemma," or the three alternatives we have for consideration. Either Jesus was a lunatic, a liar or He is Lord and God: 

Jesus claimed to be God in the flesh. Either his claim is true or false. If it is false, he either didn't know they were false and was therefore a lunatic, or he knew they were false and was deliberately lying-in which case he was a complete fool for dying for something that wasn't true. On the other hand, if his claim was true, then he is God! The choice is yours, whether you wish to accept Him or reject Him. Either way, your choice does not affect the truth of His claim. 

Because of time restraints (I am after all a senior in college) and because of the sheer volume of research and information available on this topic, I just can't cover it all. But I would like to leave you with a few resources if you would like to consider doing more of your own research on this topic. 

Most of the research for this blog came from "The New Evidence that Demands a Verdict" Josh McDowell. It's a wonderful resource to have. I refer to it often.

"Mere Christianity" by C. S. Lewis is another great resource. It is considered one of his greatest works. 

Also: "The Case for Christ" by Lee Strobel.

In this blog, I briefly dealt with Jesus' claims about himself. In the next I will hopefully be dealing with claims the Bible makes about Jesus and the historicity of the Resurrection. Stay tuned! God bless! :)

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