Jesus Claimed to be God

Bob Martin November 4, 2000

I. Welcome:


We’re glad you could join us for fourth session our study on Reasons to Believe.

Believer. We hope that this series will help you with your evangelism and strengthen you faith.

Non-believer: For some of you, this is your first time in a church and you may be apprehensive. We welcome you as our friends. We hope that your evening here will be comfortable, entertaining, encouraging, educational and life changing.

II. What is the series?


Our goal has been to show you compelling evidences to demonstrate why Christianity is the true religion and anything that opposes it is false.  Pastor Dutton and I teach a class that covers this material in much greater detail than we will cover here.  We’d like to invite you to participate in that class.


III.  Review


1. For this study on defending the faith or APOLOGETICS, our theme verse for us as a church family has been 1 Peter 3:15 But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear” (stressing the importance of living a godly life).
2. We’ve been saying that there are two forms of belief:  Belief THAT something is true and a belief IN something. Apologetics only deals with a belief that God exists, Jesus is God, and the Bible is the Word of God. Only the Holy Spirit can bring someone to the salvation experience of believing in God, Titus 3:5.
3. We want to meet people where they are:
a. We recognize that God’s word (Hebrew 4:12) is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.
b. But what if the person doesn’t believe in the Bible as the Word of God? Then asking some probing questions to get them where they need to be is helpful. Do they:
• believe in truth?
• understand Law of Non-contradiction?
• believe God exists?
• know the Bible historically reliable?

III Series Overview


So far we have covered the following points:
In week 1:
1. Truth exists, is knowable, absolute & exclusive
2. Law of Non-contradiction: opposites cannot both be true at the same time in the same way.


In week 2:
3. We demonstrated from general revelation (Psalm 19:1 and Romans 1:19-20) that God exists using several lines of argumentation
A. The Cosmological argument
(1) Whatever begins to exist has been caused to exist by another
(2) The universe began to exist
(3) Therefore the universe was caused to exist by another
B. The Teleological argument (Design Argument)
(1) A design implies a designer
(2) The universe demonstrates design
(3) Therefore the universe had a designer
C. The Moral argument.  
(1) A moral law implies a moral law giver.
(2) There is a moral law
(3) Therefore there is a Moral “Law-giver”
Last week we demonstrated that:
4. The New Testament is a historically reliable document.
A. Bibliographic test reviewed by Pastor Steven Viars
(1) The number of existing manuscripts
(2) The similarity of Existing manuscripts
(3) The age of the existing manuscripts
(4) Agreement of the Bible writers
B. Internal evidence
(1) When contradictions are claimed. Ask “Name one”
(2) There are difficulties but not contradictions!
(3) When we think we have found an error in the Bible we have probably made one of any number of interpretation mistakes. The Bible is infallible but our interpretation is not.
(4) The unresolved internal details do not invalidate the message or historic evidence that overwhelmingly supports the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
       C. External evidence
(1) Combining secular sources (Josephus, Tacitus, Lucian, Suetonius, Pliny the Younger, the Jewish Talmud, etc) reveals a story line congruent with the NT.
1) Jesus was crucified under Pontius Pilate at Passover time.
2) He was believed by his disciples to have risen from the dead three days later.
3) Jewish leaders charged Christ with sorcery and believed he was born of adultery.
4) The Judean sect of Christianity could not be contained but spread even to Rome.
5) Nero and other Roman rulers bitterly persecuted and martyred early Christians.
6) These early Christians denied polytheism, lived dedicated lives according to Christ’s teachings
    and worshiped Christ.
This picture is perfectly congruent with that of the New Testament

(2) Archeological
• Jewish archaeologist Nelson Glueck summed them up by stating, “No archaeological discovery has ever controverted a Biblical reference.” [Rivers in the Desert; History of Negev, 31.]

• World-renowned archaeologist William Albright wrote: “There can be no doubt that archaeology has confirmed the substantial historicity of the Old Testament tradition.” [Archaeology and the Religion of Israel, 176.]

What remains is to demonstrate that:
5. Miracles are Possible.
6. The NT says Jesus claimed to be God
7. Jesus’ claims were miraculously confirmed
8. Jesus is God
9. The Bible is the Word of God.

Tonight my friend Sherlock will discover that miracles are possible and that Jesus made claims to be God.

My friends the Bereans will be present to remind me of important Biblical truths that I will need to communicate to my friend in a way he will understand.

Please welcome my friend Sherlock.

Sketch [Sherlock enters]

Sherlock:  Hi Bob, missed you last week!

Bob:  Yeah, but I’ve been thinking about you!  I hope you enjoyed your visit to my church!

Sherlock: I had a great time.  I was a little nervous about going to a church, but I want to say that I noticed your church was very friendly to me – and I was a complete stranger.  They may not think it’s a big deal, but I noticed!

Bob:  I’ll pass that on to them.  By the way, what did you think of Pastor Viars message?

Sherlock:  Well, I have to admit, the reliability factor went up after that sermon.  But Bob, the Bible says some rather unbelievable things -- you call them miracles. I don’t think I can accept that!

Bob:  But Sherlock, if God exists, then miracles are possible. By showing that God exists, we have already shown the biggest miracle by demonstrating creation -- that fact that God created this universe and everything in it, out of nothing.

Remember, you only have 4 options:  1) the universe either came from nothing or 2) it caused itself to exist – both of which are impossible, 3) It couldn’t have existed forever -- remember the second law of thermodynamics and the evidence that the universe “banged” into existence?  So the only option is that 4) it was created!

We refer to that creator as God, and if God can create this universe, He’s certainly capable of acting in it and performing miracles!

Sherlock:  Well, that does seem to make sense.

Bob: Let me ask you a question:  If the God of the Bible exists, could He act now in human events? 

Sherlock:  Sure.

Bob: Would the God of the Bible ever allow a miracle to be performed to confirm the message of a false prophet?
Sherlock:  What do you mean?

Bob:  Let’s do a little review! [Sherlock answers ‘yes’ to each of these]
1)  Do you believe that truth exists? 
2)  Do you believe that truth is knowable?
3)  Do you believe that truth is absolute?
4)  Do you believe that truth is exclusive?

Bob:  OK, good -- now, do you remember the law of non-contradiction?

Sherlock:  Oh yeah, that says that opposites cannot both be true.

Bob: (continuing the sentence) . . .At the same time and . . .

Sherlock:  (completes the sentence) . . .in the same manner. And, if I argue against that law, I am in effect using that law to prove my point -- and that would be illogical!

Bob: OK, so do you believe THAT the God of the Bible exists?

Sherlock:  Well, if He doesn’t, I have no idea what or WHO caused everything to exist!  But while the arguments are compelling, I’m still not sure I believe IN your God!

Bob:  That’s OK, for now.  But let me ask you this:  Do you believe that if the God of the Bible does exist, He could perform miracles?

Sherlock:  Sure, if He could create the universe as big as this, I suppose He could do just about anything He wanted!

Bob: And He would use those miracles to confirm His message.

Now, do you remember my friend, Judge I.M. Moral?

Sherlock:  Yeah!  He made the point that every moral law has a moral law giver.  And he showed me that there are some absolute moral laws (like murder is wrong, rape is wrong, no matter what culture, etc.)

Bob:  And his conclusion was . . . what?

Sherlock:  There must be an absolute standard of morality!

Bob:  So, assuming that absolute moral standard is God, would He use those miracles to confirm a LIE?

Sherlock:  I don’t think so -- not the God you’ve described.

Bob:  Now, in light of what Pastor Viars presented, in all honestly, is the NT a historically, reliable document?

Sherlock:  I would have to be honest, though reluctantly, and say ‘yes.’  In fact, I spent the last week looking for errors -- (sheepishly) but I couldn’t find any.  And some of the ones I thought were errors, another friend of mine who has been working on me about as hard as you have, showed how those (quote) ‘errors’ affect no major doctrine of the Bible -- I think Pastor Viars even commented on that last week.

I guess I’m sort of running out of excuses, aren’t I?

Bob: (let’s that comment pass)  Sherlock, let’s talk about what the Bible actually says -- is that OK? 
Because the major point that Pastor Viars made last time was that a person who has trouble with the Bible, really isn’t having trouble with the reliability of the text, but instead is struggling with what?

Sherlock:  (convictingly/stammers & stutters a bit)  The mm . . . me…me… I can’t say it!

Bob: (interjects) Come on, you can say it!

Sherlock:  OK, the . . . MESSAGE of the text.

Bob:  Do you feel better now?

Sherlock:  Yeah, I feel great!

Bob: [holding his Bible]  Sherlock, at this point, we are saying that if the NT documents say Jesus said it, it is reasonable to believe that He probably did. 

I’m not asking you to accept all that the Bible says, yet, just to listen to what the NT says about the life of Jesus Christ.

He made some rather incredible claims – is it OK if I share some of them with you?  Can I use my Bible?

Sherlock:  Ooooo, now he’s getting out THE Bible! Sure, that’s OK – I admire you for waiting this long!.

Bob: [Handing Sherlock a bible]  Here, I brought this for you!

Sherlock: [takes the Bible]  Wow, you gave me a Bible – [looking at the inside, front cover] What’s this?  “Presented to Joe Blake”

Bob:  [sarcastically] Yeah I got it out of lost and found.  It’s been there for weeks!

Sherlock:  I hope this Joe guy doesn’t mind.  Hey, my friends use to do this all the time – [to Bob] Will you sign my Bible?

Bob: [pushes it away] – Saying, “No I’m not going to sign your bible.”

Sherlock:  Do you think Pastor Viars will sign my bible?

Bob:  Sherlock, seriously, hang on to your shirt -- cause here’s my point I’m about to make:  Jesus referred to himself in the same way that God referred to Himself.

Sherlock:  What do you mean?

Bob:  I mean, there are several examples of Jesus referred to Himself as God – the first one is (#1) His claim to be the “I AM”!

Sherlock:  The great I AM what? – Finish the sentence; you’ve got me in suspense!

(DING -- Bereans)

Berean A:  Dr. Martin, he doesn’t understand that God referred to Himself as the I AM when He spoke to Moses in Exodus 3:14 “And God said to Moses, "I AM WHO I AM"; and He said, "Thus you shall say to the sons of Israel, 'I AM has sent me to you.'"

Berean B:  Yeah, that’s why when Jesus said in John 8:58 "Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was born, I am”, in essence, Jesus was clearly claiming to be God!

Berean A:  That’s why they wanted to kill Him – by stoning!

Bob:  (to Bereans) Thanks for the help, guys. I appreciate that reminder.

(To Sherlock) By saying that He as the “I AM” – He was claming to be God!

Sherlock:  Well, I guess I know what that means, and I think that’s pretty bold of Him!

Bob:  I know, but that’s what the NT records. And the NT is a . . .

Sherlock:  I know, . . . a historically reliable document!

Bob:  In addition to claiming to be the great “I AM”, (#2) Jesus also claimed to be Jehovah By having eternal glory with the Father.  Let me show you a comparison between what the NT records that Jesus said and what the OT says about God:

I’ve put this together for you so you could see this more clearly [Bob hands him a piece of paper with this chart]

Jesus claimed to be Jehovah by claiming to:

1) Have eternal glory with the Father
New Testament Old Testament
>  Bob read the NT verses: >  Sherlock read the OT verses
John 17:5 "And now, glorify Thou Me together with Thyself, Father, with the glory which I had with Thee before the world was. Isaiah 42:8 "I am the LORD, that is My name; I will not give My glory to another, nor My praise to graven images.”
>  Bob read the NT verses: >  Sherlock read the OT verses
2) Be the First and the Last
Revelation 1:17 And when I saw Him, I fell at His feet as a dead man. And He laid His right hand upon me, saying, "Do not be afraid; I am the first and the last” Isaiah 44:6 "Thus says the LORD, the King of Israel And his Redeemer, the LORD of hosts: 'I am the first and I am the last, And there is no God besides Me.
> Bob mentions 3)
3) Be the Light of the world

(DING – Bereans)

Berean A:  Listen to this verse from the New Testament book :  John 8:12 Again therefore Jesus spoke to them, saying, "I am the light of the world; he who follows Me shall not walk in the darkness, but shall have the light of life."

Berean B:  Yeah, and David’s words in the Old Testament in Psalm 27:1 are totally awesome -- The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The LORD is the defense of my life; whom shall I dread?

Berean A:  And what about this passage . . .

Bob:  Slow down Bereans -- we’ve gotten this far -- let’s not beat Sherlock over the head with the Bible.  Remember our theme verse -- 1 Peter 3:15 ‘with meekness and fear.”

But I do appreciate your enthusiasm and your love for the Word of God and your genuine desire to see Sherlock come to know the Lord.  It’s good to see someone excited about bringing people to Jesus.

But now we need to let the Word of God do what God said it would do!

Bob:  (turning back to Sherlock)  I could go on . . . there are more examples.  I just don’t want to overwhelm you.

Sherlock:  I appreciate you taking it easy and not rushing things!

(DING - Bereans)

Berean A:  Dr. Martin, you gotta tell Sherlock about (#3) Jesus claiming to be equal with God by claiming to forgive sins.  Remember when Jesus healed the guy would couldn’t walk?  Mark records in Mark 2:5 And Jesus seeing their faith *said to the paralytic, "My son, your sins are forgiven."

Berean B:  [grabs Berean A’s arm]  But some of the people around Him really got mad about that statement and accused Him of blasphemy!

Berean A:  [excitingly to Berean B] But Jesus never backed down from His claims!

Berean B:  And if this isn’t enough to lay ole Sherlock flat on his back, what about Jesus’ claim to having power to raise and judge the dead . . . and His claim to being honored as God

Berean A:  Come on Dr. Martin . . . GET HIM!  (grabs Berean B and puts him in a head lock) GET HIM and give him the Word. . . tell him about what Hoseh said about . . .

Bob:  Guys . . . Guys . . . (the Bereans stop—look amazed—and say, “What?”)  “Get him?”  You want me to “GET HIM?”

Berean A:  [holding Berean B in a head lock] Yeah!

Bob:  You want me to put him in a headlock?

Berean B:  [standing up and looking serious] Well, maybe we got a little carried away.

Bob:  Yeah, a little.  Remember, we’re here to reach Sherlock, not to “GET HIM!” 

But I assure you, I will look for ways to communicate that Jesus claimed to have the power to forgive sins!

Berean A & B:  [exhausted and breathing heavy] OK, we’ll be quiet . . . for now!

Bob:  [to Sherlock]  Can I mention a couple of other claims that Jesus made?

Sherlock:  We’ve come this far . . . why stop now.

Bob:  Well, let me mention a couple of points . . . you OK?. #4:  Jesus claimed to be the Messiah—God

Sherlock: He claimed to be the what?

Bob:  The Messiah from the OT  – literally, the Anointed one. 

The leader appointed by God to carry out the special mission of redemption and liberation of the Jews.

(DING – Berean)

Berean A:  This is what the writer of the New Testament book Hebrews says in Hebrews 1:8 But of the Son He says, "THY THRONE, O GOD, IS FOREVER AND EVER, AND THE RIGHTEOUS SCEPTER IS THE SCEPTER OF HIS KINGDOM.

Berean B:  Listen to this verse in the Old Testament book Isaiah 9:6 For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; And the government will rest on His shoulders; And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.

Bob:  You guys keep praying, we’re getting closer with Sherlock.

Bob:  [to Sherlock] Well, it gets better.  Can I show you  a couple more?  Look at the next one:  #5:  Jesus claimed to be God by accepting worship

Look at this verse [shows Sherlock from his Bible] Matthew 28:17 And when they saw Him, they worshiped Him.  That’s a major event – they worshipped Him like God!

And look at the next one:  #6: Jesus claimed to have equal authority with God. 1)  He actually claimed the authority of God . . .

Sherlock:  [interrupts] I’ve heard this next verse since I was a kid . . . [reads] Matthew 28:18 And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, "All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 19 "Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit

Bob:  That is a very familiar verse to many of us. We call it the Great Commission!

Bob:  Did you know also that Jesus 2)  Claimed His word would never pass away? 

Look at Matthew 24:35 "Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words shall not pass away.”

Lastly, Sherlock, #7:  Jesus’ immediate disciples acknowledged His claim to be God.

(DING – Bereans)

Berean A:  [intense, but controlled] Dr. Martin, this really shows what the disciples believed about Jesus – they called Jesus God, they attributed other titles of deity to Christ!

Berean B:  And that’s not all, they also attributed the powers of God to Jesus – the power to raise the dead, forgive sins, and more!  They associated Jesus with God's name in prayer and other ways

Berean A:  [intensity raising] And they considered Jesus superior to angels

[Both Bereans look at each other, then at Bob and say together] Just to mention a few!

Sherlock:  You know Bob, all this is pretty powerful, if it’s true!

Bob:  Is the NT a historically, reliable document?

Sherlock:  Well, yeah.

Bob:  Then we have to accept what is written as literally true.  And that means Jesus claimed to be equal with God.

Sherlock:  I guess I’ve got something to think about!  I’m getting a little nervous!

[Bob’s friend Dr. “D” (Brent Aucoin) enters]

Bob: Sherlock I am going to be gone for the next several weeks and I didn’t’ want to leave you without someone to ask questions of.  I want to re-introduce you to a very special friend of mine.  You met him a couple of weeks ago.

Sherlock:  Oh, it’s time to call in the reinforcements!  (Just kidding)

Bob:  Sherlock, this is Dr. “D”, remember him.  He’s been a great influence in my life and a very close friend.

[Greeting takes place]

Bob:  Hey, listen, I have to go take care of some business -- you guys chat for while!

Bob:  Hey Doc, can I see you for a second?

Doc: Sure!

Bob:  [Off to the side – whispering] Remember how I was before I came to Christ (or when you led me to Christ)?

Doc:  I sure do!

Bob: Well, he’s twice as bad!  But we’re getting close.  I really think the Lord is working in his heart.

Doc:  OK, I’ll try not to mess it up!  You go do what you have to do

(DING - Bereans)

Berean B:  Dr. Martin, remember Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians “some plant, some water, but God gives the increase”?

Doc:  Thanks for that reminder, Bereans.  That’s good for both of us to remember!

Doc: [to Sherlock]  So, I understand you and Bob have been talking about a few things.  I know he asked me to get involved that one time.  What else have you and he discussed?

Sherlock: Well, it’s pretty simple -- now that I look back on all this:
1)  Truth exists -- it’s knowable, absolute, and exclusive
2)  We’ve talked about how God exists (that’s when I met you)-- not only does the Bible presuppose that, but the factual, scientific evidence points perfectly to Bob’s worldview as a Christian. You know that!
3)  Last week, he took me to church with him and his pastor did an excellent job explaining the historical reliability of the NT
4)  Today, he just shared with me how the NT teaches that Jesus claimed to be God

Doc: What does that mean? I mean, what do you have to do or what is the next step for you?

Sherlock:  I’m not sure.  I need to think about everything Bob’s shared with me.

Doc:  Sometimes people believe THAT God exists, but they don’t believe IN God.

Sherlock:  Yeah, but I’m not ready to go that far!

Doc:  You know that what Bob and his friends, including Pastor Viars, has shared with you is true.  You need to exercise faith IN God.

Sherlock:  Well, I’m not sure I understand everything yet.

Doc:  Sherlock, from what Bob has said, I think you understand better than you admit.  Is the real problem you have is with the message of the Bible -- the fact that there is only one way to heaven!

Sherlock:  (pensive)  Maybe you’re right.  Listen, I have to go.  I’ll see you next week!

Doc (to Bereans): Well, what do you think?

Berean A:  Dr. D., Sherlock reminds me of the Rich Young Ruler.  The guy who the Bible says walked away from Jesus because he didn’t agree with Jesus’ answer on how to receive eternal life.

Doc:  You’re right.  But remember, we never, ever give up on a person.  We don’t have the right to say that a person will NEVER trust Jesus.  Our responsibility is to cultivate the soil, plant the seed, water the seed -- and let God reap the harvest.

Berean B:  Dr. D., what a privilege it is to be an ambassador for Christ.  To realize He doesn’t need us, but He chooses to use us in the process of winning others to Him.

Berean A:  What will you talk to Sherlock about next week.

Doc:  Well, I think Sherlock will come back with some questions -- he’s been asking a bunch of them.  You keep praying that God will use the Word that we have shared with him -- God’s Word is a powerful tool.

Doc:  Remember Hebrew 4:12 For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.

[Dr. D closes out the session]
To the audience:
Christians:
1)  Are you praying of the lost around you?
2)  Are you growing and seeking to be salt and light?
3)  Are you cultivating the soil and seeking to build friendships with the unsaved where you can be positive influence in their lives?
4)  Are you getting out the message about truth, God, the reliability of His Word, and the message of His Word -- that Jesus claimed to be God!
5)  Next, week, I’ll bet Sherlock comes up with a few questions regarding what proof did Jesus have to claim to be God -- it’s one thing to claim deity, it’s another or prove it!

Unbelievers:
1)  Are you fighting against the existence of truth?
2)  Are you trying to rationalize God out of existence?
3)  Have you been questioning the historical reliability of the NT?
4)  Are you looking for ways to deny the message that Jesus claimed to be God?

This series is really about our view of God and our submission to Him.  If all these things are NOT true (i.e. 1-4 just mentioned), then you really don’t have to submit to God and your life doesn’t have to change.

But if they are true, then you must face accountability before God -- you can’t do that on your own.

1 Timothy 2:5 For there is one God, and one mediator also between God and men, the man, Christ Jesus.

He was God, and He died on the cross to take away your sin.  Will you receive Him, or reject Him?

 

Bob Martin

  • M.D. - Southern Illinois University School of Medicine
  • M.A. - Southern Evangelical Seminary
  • Professor of Apologetics - Faith Bible Seminary

Bob is married to Deb with five adult children and practices medicine in southern Indiana. He has been on faculty at Johns Hopkins, Case Western Reserve, Southern Illinois, Indiana Universities, and Purdue Pharmacy School.