What If UR Wrong

“Jesus was God spelling Himself out in language humanity could understand.”

S.D. Gordon

Is Jesus God?

                                     

by Mark Karapetyan

A few months ago, while I was speaking in Virginia on the topic of “God,” a skeptic approached the microphone during the Q&A. She objected: “I completely disagree with you that Jesus was God. Jesus was a clever teacher and a good man, perhaps a great man, but he definitely was not God.”

“Fair enough” I replied. “Answer me this then,” I requested. “For you to say that someone definitely is or is not God, means that you know the standard of measure in which God is measured and defined. If you assume that person A is God, but person B is not, that means  you are comparing both persons A and B, against a standard of measure, in which that standard of measure will tell you  which person is God and which person isn’t. What is your standard of measure?”

The skeptic didn’t quite grasp what I was trying to explain. I was asked to simplify my question.

“Let me try to rephrase it this way” I responded. “It is only after comparing the fake to the real that we are able to distinguish authentic from counterfeit. We must have both standards to compare them with each other. For you to know that someone is not God means that you first know who God is. If you want to know whether a watch is fake or not, you must first have an idea of what a real, authentic watch looks like. If you say Jesus is a fake God, you must first know a real God. How can you say that Jesus is not a real God when you have not the slightest idea what a real God is? What’s your standard of measure that tells you this is God and this isn’t?”

The skeptic glazed at the floor for a few seconds and then responded: “I am the standard. I decide whether or not Jesus is God.”

“You form your reality based on your personal views and beliefs?” I grilled.

“YES, why not?” the skeptic yelled.

“What If I took the same approach as yours, and based on my own views and beliefs concluded that Jesus is indeed God himself? Would I be correct?” I questioned. 

“No, of course not!” she angrily countered.

I took a step closer toward the skeptic and gently scolded: “When you and I use the same standard of measure -our personal views and beliefs- to determine truth, how can you be right and I be wrong? Why can’t it be the other way around?”

Without batting an eyelid, the skeptic shouted: “I’m right because I know Jesus is not God.”

Instantly I shot back: “Yes I get that, but why and how are you right? Where’s your evidence to show me that Jesus is not God?”

“No evidence needed; I just know I’m right” the skeptic mocked.

“This is puzzling to me,” I interrupted. “You claim that Jesus is not God without providing a shred of evidence, and you want us to believe you. Would you also believe me if I made the claim that Jesus is God without giving you any proof?”

“I don’t care if you believe what I’m saying or not. I know I am right.” The skeptic doubled down, and then left in a hurry for an important appointment.

It is fascinating to me that many people, such as our skeptic friend, make the bold claim that Jesus is not God without providing any evidence, or explaining their view logically and coherently. In fact, I hear this objection almost everywhere I speak. Muslims, for example, tell me that they believe Jesus is only a prophet. Jehovah’s witnesses inform me that Jesus is Michael, the arc angel. Mormons explain to me that Jesus is the spirit brother of Lucifer. Atheists, agnostics, and others, deny Jesus altogether.

I will not take the time to refute all of these allegations against Jesus, because in all reality, if Jesus is really God, then they are all greatly mistaken in their false assumptions.

I can’t emphasize enough how important it is for us to understand that the distance between our personal belief and factual reality determines the status of our mental health. The wider the gap, the more problematic and serious the issue becomes.

If I told you that I were the best writer in the world, you might chuckle and call me a prideful fool. If I claimed that I truly believed I were the president of the United States of America, you would perhaps call me insane because my belief is borderline crazy. You see, my personal belief that I am the POTUS is far greater than my belief that I’m a much better writer than Shakespeare, which in turn makes my second claim more serious and outrageous than the first.

Things, however, would quickly change from bad to worse if I constantly went around and told you and everyone else, that I am God. Don’t you think?  I guarantee that you would immediately grab your iPhone and ask Siri to find the nearest mental hospital.

It is evident then that the more shocking and preposterous one’s claims, the heavier weight lies on one’s shoulders to back up those same claims with facts and evidence. In the event that facts fail to support the claims, the person loses credibility.

Out of the major world religious leaders, Jesus is the only one who claimed to be God. The others believed, in their own ways, that they were directing or pointing us to God.

For those who maintain that nowhere in the Bible does it say that Jesus claimed to be God (Muslims, Jehovah’s witnesses, and others), let me take you back to the Bible itself and show you what Jesus said:

In John 10:30-33, we read: “Jesus answered them, “I and My Father are one.” Then the Jews took up stones again to stone Him. Jesus answered them, “Many good works I have shown you from My Father. For which of those works do you stone Me?” The Jews answered Him, saying, “For a good work we do not stone You, but for blasphemy, and because You, being a Man, make Yourself God.”

It is clear that the reason the Jews wanted to stone Jesus was that he claimed to be the God of the Old Testament, a claim the Jews considered blasphemy.

At one point, while Jesus was debating with the Pharisees, he made a shocking claim that infuriated the Jews: “Your father Abraham rejoiced to see My day, and he saw it and was glad.”  Then the Jews said to Him, “You are not yet fifty years old, and have You seen Abraham?”  Jesus said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM.”

Then they took up stones to throw at Him; but Jesus hid Himself and went out of the temple,[a] going through the midst of them, and so passed by. (John 8:56-59)

When Jesus made the “before Abraham was I AM” claim, the Jews knew who he was referring to, and they understood that he was making himself equal to YHWH. This is another clear example that Jesus Himself claimed to be God.

On many different occasions, Jesus claimed to be the source of life itself. “I am the bread of life,” “I am the way, the truth, and the life,” “I am the light of the world,” “I am the resurrection and the life,” “I am the true vine,” “I am always with you to the end.”

We can clearly see that Jesus claimed to be God by making these unusual claims while on earth. Next time someone tells you that Jesus never alleged he was God, you know how to respond.

So far, I have demonstrated that words matter, and that personal views and beliefs tell us plenty about who we are. I have also shown you that Jesus clearly believed he was the Creator God Himself.

However, claiming to be someone doesn’t make it true. Where are the facts and the evidence? Muhammad, Joseph Smith, Charles Taze. Russell, Ellen G. White, and Buddha never dared claim to be God, because they knew they couldn’t back up their claims with proof. In fact, when Muhammad, for instance, was asked to perform a miracle in front of everyone to authenticate that he was a true prophet; he refused to do so and told them that“he only gives them the Quran as a miracle because no one can produce a chapter like it.” (Quran 17:88)

Let’s go back to our question: where is the evidence that Jesus is God?

Before I clarify this issue, I would like to remind you of the dialogue I had with the skeptic about the real, and the fake watches. If you recall, I explained that for us to recognize a fake watch, we must first know what a real watch looks like so that we can compare them with each other and distinguish the authentic from the counterfeit. Similarly, if we want to know whether Jesus is God, we must first have an idea of a real God to compare them with each other (although I am aware that it’s impossible to comprehend God, we can at least try to define him with our limited brains).

If you asked anyone to define God, they would almost all agree that God must be powerful, unlimited, eternal, a creator, etc, because that’s what we expect from a higher being that created everything. In other words, God must have attributes that belong only to God.  God must be a force that alone is capable of performing tasks we humans cannot perform. For example, God must be very powerful; in fact, he must be more powerful than anything else in the universe, otherwise, God could be overpowered by more powerful forces or agents, which in turn, disqualifies God from his divine throne. Also, you would expect a supernatural God to be able to perform miracles to confirm his message. It is reasonable to assume that God can easily control the forces of nature because he created nature. God must also be eternal, with no beginning and no end. If God had a beginning, then God was created; if God has an end, then God will one day perish, which in either case makes God not eternal.

Let’s summarize a few of God’s attributes to try to understand who God is. It is safe to assume that God must be a powerful, all- knowing, eternal, endless, miracle worker.

Remember, if we want to know what a real watch looks like, we must know some things about the real watch. For example, the casing must be made from gold; the battery must be a Swiss-made 1-volt battery; the wristband must be made from genuine brown leather that only exists in India; the glass cover of the watch must be hand-made and scratch-resistant.

With these kinds of qualities in a genuine watch, we can easily detect a fake one. Who among the religious or historical figures of the world do you think possesses the kind of attributes that belong to the God we just mentioned?

Let’s examine Jesus:

Jesus performed his thirty-seven recorded miracles not in private, but before his friends, casual acquaintances, and foes. As a matter of fact, even his enemies could not refute the fact that Jesus performed genuine miracles; they, however, attributed his miracles to Satan, because they didn’t know what else they could do to discredit him.

Jesus went from town to town, from city to city, and healed all kinds of sick people. The Jews were there watching him every step of the way. They knew exactly what was going on. They understood that only God could perform miracles. They could not understand how an ordinary carpenter’s son all of a sudden was able to open the eyes of the blind, and the ears of the deaf. Those acts puzzled them and challenged their beliefs. What’s even more interesting is that no historical document, Christian or secular, refutes Jesus’ miracles. They all agree that the Nazarene indeed performed these miracles; they just credit them not to the divinity of Jesus, but to different sources.  How was it then, that Jesus alone, and not the other “so called prophets” was able to perform these extraordinary feats?

Another important point to consider: during his earthly ministry, Jesus exercised power over nature, demons, and even death. If I command winds to immediately calm down, order demonic spirits to leave, and you all watch me do these things, you will instantly recognize my powers, even if you initially had doubted me.

Imagine if I die tonight, and you all attend my funeral and shed barrels of tears, and say the nicest things about me (because I’m such a nice guy and I deserve them), and then, a few days later, see me at the grocery store shopping, laughing, and talking to people as if nothing happened to me. Seriously, what would you do or say?

What if you just remembered that a month before my death, I predicted my death, and told everyone that I was going to rise up and be present at the grocery store, alive and well again. Wouldn’t that be baffling?

In your mind, you are going to wonder if I was really dead to begin with, because you know dead people don’t rise up. Wait a second; you are sure that I died because you saw me looking handsome and all like a Hollywood movie star in the gasket at the viewing. Not only that, you touched my hands when you said your last goodbye and kissed my head. I was stone-cold, I was dead! How can this be? What makes it even more puzzling for you is that you were present at the funeral when they lowered me to the ground and buried me six feet under. You do remember, don’t you? At that exact moment, you started wailing and pulling your hair off your head because you loved me so much and you realized you weren’t going to see me again. You were 100% sure I was dead, but now I’m walking and shopping as if I was never even diseased. Huh?

That’s when you would come to the conclusion that something supernatural must have happened to me. Somehow, I did the impossible and rose from the dead, but you can’t explain it. Somehow, I came back to life and you haven’t got the slightest clue how.

This is similar to what happened to Jesus’ followers. They witnessed his arrest, scourging, crucifixion, and burial. Then, all of a sudden, Jesus appears in the upper room out of nowhere. Do you know why they were startled when they saw the resurrected Jesus? Because they knew for sure that Jesus had died days before. It took Thomas a while to believe, Peter and John had to run to the tomb to make sure that what the women told them about the empty tomb was true. They wanted to know for sure that it wasn’t a crazy story, because everyone knew that dead people don’t come back to life.

What known forces are you aware of that can bring dead people to life? (If such forces ever existed, politicians would own them before anyone else). I know of one-the life giver himself- and only he can do so. If God is powerful enough to create humans from nothing, how challenging is it for him to bring dead men back to life?

Remember, Jesus didn’t say that the father would bring him back to life. He said He would resurrect himself after three days which gives him the same power as a God who creates. Jesus answered and said to them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” (John 2:19) 

In addition, before everyone’s eyes, Jesus resurrected others also. He resurrected the widow of Nain’s son (Luke 7:11-17), Jairus’ daughter (Luke 8:52-56), and Lazarus of Bethany (John 11). If God only is powerful enough to resurrect, and Jesus resurrected others, what does that make Jesus?

Some of you might point out that later on, the apostles also brought dead people back to life but that doesn’t mean they were God also. That, however, is exactly my point. It was only through the power of God-a supernatural power- and not of themselves that the apostles were able to do the miraculous. Only God has the ultimate power to create and resurrect, and in each of these cases, Jesus proved to do both.

Those who do not believe that the Bible is the word of God will naturally dismiss everything I have said so far, and refuse to consider the testimony of the four Gospels as sufficient evidence to prove Jesus’ deity. They demand “extra-biblical” and “non-Christian” verifications and confirmations before they believe. If a Christian resorts back to the New Testament to demonstrate that Jesus is God, they immediately cry circular reasoning and require non-biblical sources to validate the claim.  Isn’t it interesting that the same people always resort to their own religious books and beliefs to defend their positions?

If you ask Atheists, Muslims, Mormons, and Jehovah’s Witnesses for example, how do they know that Jesus is not God? They instantly cite the Quran, the Book of Mormon, and the New World Translation as enough proof to counter the claim. They use their own books to discredit the Christian’s claim, but when the Christian refers to his/her own book to make his/her point, then they do not accept that biased source…how odd!

You see truth must always be based on facts and not on mere opinions and views. Whether you believe it or not, history clearly demonstrates based on oral accounts and traditions, that two thousand years ago, there was a man from Nazareth called Jesus, who claimed to be God, the creator of the universe. The last three years of his life, he lived as someone with the authority of God. He never begged or apologized, never corrected or contradicted himself nor misspoke with uncertainty. He performed the works of God through his amazing miracles. He accepted worship as God, forgave sins as God, and equated himself to God. You and I cannot live one week making these claims because we well know we can’t back them up with evidence. Do you think his followers would have stuck by him for three years and then died to defend his message if they knew that his words weren’t backed by his actions?

Logically, there are only two choices when it comes to Jesus. Either Jesus is God, or he isn’t. If he is, then the matter is settled and we can all bow down our knees before him. If he isn’t, then you have no right to call him a righteous man.

C.S. Lewis puts it brilliantly when he says: “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 nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.”

Set aside for a moment your own personal views and beliefs, and try to search this matter with an open heart and a clear mind. Look for facts and documented evidence. You might find the truth there. If not, I have a challenge for you: If you really wish to know who God is, all you have to do is ask him. God will reveal himself to those who earnestly seek him. Go ahead, pray in the name of all world prophets or leaders and see if you hear anything back. Then, when all fails, pray in the name of Jesus of Nazareth, and send me an email.

Remember, if God exists and we as humans are too limited to approach him because of his infinite power and mystery, then, it is logical to assume that God can reach out to us in a form where we are able to relate to him-a human form. By doing so, God has one foot in the divine, and another in the human.

Jesus Christ is the God-man who out of love for humanity wanted to redeem us all, so He came to earth looking for you and me. Do you see Him?

 

 

“Christ is the humility of God embodied in human nature; the Eternal Love humbling itself, clothing itself in the garb of meekness and gentleness, to win and serve and save us.”

Andrew Murray

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