By Hedieh Mirahmadi
Why do I believe Jesus is God?
Why does Christianity Claim to Be Right? Pastor Jack Hibbs, Calvary Church Chino Hills
I accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior largely based on a personal experience I had hearing Him call my name. I was in desperate need of a direct relationship with God and I asked Him to reveal himself to me. Jesus answered my call. It was that clear and convincing. However, a believer should always be able to objectively articulate why we believe salvation comes only through faith in Jesus and why the Bible is the infallible, living word of God.
In this sermon by Pastor Jack he gives simple, clear reasons why everyone should believe the bible is God’s word and therefore the only true way to reach Him. Religion by its definition is man’s attempt to reach or find God. But God cried out to us to meet him face to face, to be in a relationship with Him. That goes way beyond a set of rules of religion. He communicates this desire to humanity through the Bible. The defense of Christianity is not based on a feeling, it must be based on a reality. That reality is rooted in the transformative experience of the believer when he/she accepts Christ. If your life doesn’t change then that is not being in a relationship with Christ. It is not just answering an altar call or getting baptized. It’s not pinned to an act you perform or deeds you do in the church, it is a radically personal experience with God.
So what are the ways in which we can objectively defend that the Bible is the word of God?
The apostles Luke and Peter both claim they wrote as eyewitnesses to Jesus’ life and miracles and what they wrote was based on inspiration by God through the Holy Spirit.
Luke 1:2-4: just as those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word delivered them to us, 3 it seemed good to me also, having [b]had perfect understanding of all things from the very first, to write to you an orderly account, most excellent Theophilus, 4 that you may know the certainty of those things in which you were instructed.
2 Peter 1:16 For we did not follow cunningly devised fables when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of His majesty.
Both of them witnessed Jesus’ miracles and say it was not fantasy. So how can we test they were telling the truth?
- Honesty Test: Did the authors write anything embarrassing about themselves that bolster the claim of its veracity? This hypothesis centers around the notion that a historical account that includes disparaging details about the author is significant because it implies that he/she is more concerned about telling the truth than telling an amazing story about themselves. Otherwise they would have changed the facts to make themselves look better, if they were making up a lie. In Peter’s gospel he said Jesus called him Satan and was upset that the disciples fell asleep in Gethsemane, despite repeated requests to stay awake in prayer. Both Luke and Peter explain how all the disciples abandoned Jesus when he was arrested. They all denied knowing Jesus and even hid after he died. Furthermore, all the authors of the gospel except John died gruesome deaths. Why would they be willing to die for a lie? All they would have to do is renounce their faith but they didn’t. They were so committed to relay the truth, they were willing to die for it.
- Telephone test: Did the documents come to us accurately? One way to test that is the time gap: when was the first copy written after the actual events occurred? Handwritten documents of historical or spiritual significance are referred to as manuscripts before they are made into copies and reproduced. The manuscripts we have about Caesar, were written 1000 years after his life and for Plato it is 1200 years. The time gap of the New Testament is ONLY 50 years after the life of Jesus. The first biography of Alexander the Great bio is 400 years after he lived but no one doubts he lived. Jesus’ time gap is far less then all of these figures and far less than any other major event in ancient history. How many manuscripts are there about Jesus’ life? Everything about Caesar was in only 10 manuscripts, Plato had 7 but the New Testament has over 24, 633 original manuscripts! The closest is the Iliad by Homer which has only 643. But everyone believes the others and contest Jesus??
- Corroboration Test: What other historical material confirm or deny the facts in the Bible? There are 9 non christian sources that mention Jesus within 100 years of his death, and 33 additional sources written by Christians, 42 in total. Ceaser has only 10. Jesus’s life, his crucifixion, his reappearance and his ascension was corroborated 4 times as much but yet people still deny that he died and rose again.
The bible passes all 3 tests by dramatic proportions. Even the skeptic should take pause and consider that the Bible IS the living word of God. The Bible is more than a book, it’s God’s living word and he wants to talk to each of us through its words. God wants to tell each and every one of us that we are loved. It is through His word that He can send this message of Love to all of us, throughout humanity and for all time.
People meet their mates online through the internet and can live all their lives in love with that person. In the old days, people would write letters to each other and become romantically involved by what was expressed. The written word is how God taught us to communicate love. If we can believe in love for another person coming through the written word, why can we not accept that from God? Test it. Read the bible and pray about what God is trying to communicate to you. Do you read it and believe He loves you? I pray you do. The bible communicates a message to all of us, if you have an open heart to hear it.