As I stated previously, the historical Jesus made incredible truth claims of being God in human flesh some twenty five times in the New Testament. These claims certainly jump out at anyone when they are considering the issue of God’s existence and looking at the vast array of gods currently being worshipped. Jesus is certainly unique in that He left no room for this idea of Him being a great prophet, a mere religious leader, a good man pointing the way to God, a social revolutionary leader, a man aspiring to divinity or a crazy man looking for followers. When people throughout history make claims about being divine, we generally chuckle to ourselves and write them off. Once they die, we know they were a little delusional. But, when Jesus made the claim to being divine, it isn’t so easy to dismiss His truth claims. Yes He died but He rose again as predicted. I know, you might be thinking, He never claimed to be God so lets look at one of the many times He claim divinity…
On yet another occasion, Jesus explicitly told the Jews, “I and the Father are one.’ Again the Jews picked up stones to stone him, but Jesus said to them, ‘I have shown you many great miracles from the Father. For which of these do you stone me?’ ‘We are not stoning you for any of these,’ replied the Jews, ‘but for blasphemy, because you, a mere man, claim to be God’” (John10:30–33)
The Jews got it. He was claiming to be Yaweh. He was undoing their worldview and they couldn’t remain silent about His claims. If He was God, it demanded them to listen and follow, If He was a liar then He was evil and He causes people to stray from the one true God. His statements concerning His identity demands an answer. What does Jesus use to help prove His credentials? He says “I have done GREAT MIRACLES from the Father”…The Jews respond by saying “We are not stoning you for any of these…miracles”. They don’t contest that He did miracles, just His claim to divinity. Jesus had offered them real proof to support His claim. He wasn’t referring to miracles in some far away country but things they saw and heard about directly. You see, God does offer people proof but sometimes people can’t receive it. Spiritual blindness swells up from pride and our desire to remain autonomous from God keeps one from acknowledging Him. If God doesn’t exist, then one only has to answer to himself.
Jesus didn’t expect people to accept His identity just because He said He was God anymore than you should believe something just because someone told you so. We all require proof of some kind before we throw all our trust behind a claim. Knowing that mankind would require some kind of validation as to His true identity, He offered many proofs during His ministry. He used Scripture, prophecy, miracles never seen before. He reasoned with people, provided evidence they needed, used eyewitness testimony. He suspended the laws of nature, acknowledged the supernatural world of angels and demons and had authority over it. He would appeal to peoples senses, tell them of their past, foretell future events they would do and look into their soul and know their deepest thoughts. Everything He did laid the foundation and basis for His Messianic claim that God had come down to earth and become a man. God was not some distant mysterious personage that required some mystical experience for one to know Him. He became like you and I so that we could experience Him and see Him revealed so that we may know Him. You see, God wants you to know Him. He’s totally convinced that if you would come to know Him and follow Him your life would be forever transformed.
Jesus didn’t believe that mankind could be saved by apologetic evidence. Norm Geisler states that Jesus “understood the difference between belief that, which requires evidence and belief in, which involves an act of the will. Evidence merely provides the ground for belief that something is true”. It becomes an act of the will to appropriate it into our lives which brings about that transformation. This spiritual transformation comes only by the power of the Holy Spirit. (John 3:5-7, 16:7-8) It is the Holy Spirit that convicts mankind of His sin and it is He that does the transforming. The change of heart and will comes under the power of the Holy Spirit making us aware of our great need for God. The image of God imparted into mankind, hidden by our sinful rebellion against God is now restored through the power of the Holy Spirit.
In the New Testament, Jesus never encounters an atheist or agnostic. Unfortunately today, one not only encounters many atheist. They seem to dominate the intellectual community. They’ve become very vocal these days and wish to claim the intellectual high ground. Scripture does have something to say about them…
Psalms 14:1 The fool has said in his heart, There is no God. They are corrupt, they have done abominable works, there is none that does good.
Psalms 53:1 The fool has said in his heart, There is no God. Corrupt are they, and have done abominable iniquity: there is none that does good.
Fools? Aren’t these people who just lack enough evidence to know if God exist or not? (I’ve heard atheist tell me that if they die and show up before the living God they will just explain to Him how there just wasn’t enough evidence presented to them to confirm His existence. Really??? I actually think they will be a little speechless at that point because they will have realized they have sealed their fate and destiny.) People that reject God do so not because they lack enough evidence. It’s a matter of ones will.
Romans 1:18-20 tells us that people…. “suppress the truth by their wickedness, 19 since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. 20 For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.” Ouch, that stings. “Without excuse”. So much for pleading your atheistic philosophy before God.
Look, I’m not trying demean people or speak ill of those who fail to acknowledge that God exist. In many ways I was like that some 40 years ago. I may have said that I believed there is a God but I lived as though He didn’t exist. That’s for sure. The hope of this article is to get people to think about the reality of God while you’re still alive and able to. No one knows for sure when their days are over. If you reject God in this world and have no desire to know your creator, then God will grant your wish and you will live apart from Him eternally. That will be a most miserable existence for sure and it need not be. God wants you to know Him. You merely have to ask Him to make Himself real and to provide the evidence you need to place your trust in Him. He will do that. He knows you inside out because He made you. “His invisible qualities” are all around us if we care to notice. For those who know Him already, we are called to help make Him known. Our job is to be those shining lights that reveal His image to those who doubt He exist. Can we prove God? He seems to think its pretty plain for Him to be seen, if you care to look. The breach is not on His side, it’s on ours but it doesn’t have to be that way.