Article Introduction: With respect to man’s quest for meaning and salvation, there are two major belief systems in our twenty first century. One originates with God and the other originates in man. One comes from divine revelation, one comes from personal “enlightenment.” One is God centered, and one is man centered. One deifies God; one deifies man. Both present formidable arguments and are based on their own foundational suppositions. The two belief systems are Christianity and the teachings of Buddha.
Ethics East and West
Buddha taught,. “Do not look long, do not look short, for not by hatred is hatred appeased; hatred is appeased by not-hatred (the renouncing of hatred) only.”
E.A.Burtt, op.cit., p.40.
“A man should hasten toward the good, and should keep his thoughts from evil; if a man does what is good slothfully, his mind delights in evil… Even an evildoer sees happiness so long as his evil deed does not ripen; but when his evil deed ripens, then does the evildoer see evil… Let a man avoid evil deeds, as a merchant, if he has few companions and carries much wealth, avoids a dangerous road; as a man who loves life avoids poison.”
E.A. Burtt, op.cit., pp. 58-59.
Buddha uses the words “evil” and “good.” Buddha’s concept of right and wrong appears to have been presupposed by the norms of his historical culture.
In today’s post- modern culture the definitions of evil and good are relativistic. They are fluid and behavior which was considered abhorrent becomes tolerated, accepted and soon enough desirable. The predominant philosophy is “do what you feel is right.”
“What you feel is right,” may very well be what fulfills one’s selfish desires but harms others. We all have an amazing ability to rationalize wicked objectives or selfish cravings. In the absence of a Higher Moral Law, the Word, fallen man does not know what is absolutely right and what is wrong. Man’s bloody history, proves that “what you feel is right” doesn’t work. Despite our “scientific enlightenment” murders, rapes, poverty, wars proliferate.
"The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you are spirit and they are life." (John 6:63 NIV)
| He “said” let there be light and there was light.
God through his Word created everything. He “said” let there be light and there was light. He “called” the light day. He “said” let there be an expense between the waters.
(Genesis 1:3-10 NIV)
3And God said, "Let there be light," and there was light. 4God saw that the light was good, and He separated the light from the darkness. 5God called the light "day," and the darkness he called "night." And there was evening, and there was morning—the first day.
6And God said, "Let there be an expanse between the waters to separate water from water." 7So God made the expanse and separated the water under the expanse from the water above it. And it was so. 8God called the expanse "sky." And there was evening, and there was morning—the second day.
9 And God said, "Let the water under the sky be gathered to one place, and let dry ground appear." And it was so. 10 God called the dry ground "land," and the gathered waters he called "seas." And God saw that it was good.
"Jesus answered, It is written: 'Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.'" (Matthew 4:4)
And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness ….So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. (Genesis 1:26-27 KJV)
Of his own will begat he us with the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures. (James 1:18 KJV)
No man hath seen God at any time, the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him. (John 1:18 KJV)
God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth. (John 4:24 KJV)
God is rational. Man is rational.
Nature of the Soul - Buddha:
In contrast to Christ, Buddha taught that humans do not have a soul. Buddha’s “no soul” doctrine is called anatta.
According to Buddha, the craving for a soul results in suffering as it produces harmful thoughts, causing selfish desires. Individuals become enlightened when they lose their desire for a soul.
Speculation on whether a person has a soul or does not have a soul is harmful and does not lead to enlightenment. It leads to a continued thirst for the “germs of renewed life,” bringing on another incarnation.
“The thirst of a thoughtless man grows like a creeper; he runs from life to life, like a monkey seeking fruit in the forest. Whomsoever this fierce thirst overcomes, in this world, his sufferings increase like the abounding Birana grass.”
E.A.Burtt, op.cit., p.68
Buddha taught, one should control one’s mind to gain enlightenment and be freed from recurring incarnations. It is not the soul which reincarnates but the “germs of renewed life,” the patterns of craving. Since inception Buddhist philosophy has struggled with the issue of how there can be reincarnation and a continued striving for Nirvana without a surviving self represented by a soul.
Buddha’s explained his anatta doctrine with the imagery of a flame being passed from candle to candle. The flame in the last candle is not meaningfully the same as the original flame, but there is a causal relationship from the original flame to the last flame.*
Although there is a chain of causation threading one incarnation to the one preceding it, a human being’s will remains free, free to become an “Awakened One.”
* Huston Smith, The Religions of Man. New York: Harper and Row, 1965, p. 127.
So in other words, if one were riding a Ford Mustang at Point A, going to Point B, and one’s Mustang were totally destroyed along the way and one were “snuffed” out of existence, only one’s “attitude” (cynicism, temper, romantic predisposition, and love of money) would reappear as a newborn at Point B. One’s brief case, glasses and soft drinks, would not make it, nor would one’s excess weight. One’s predisposition to overeat, however, would manifest itself in the newborn and agglomerate with one’s “attitude,” for another lifetime in a new body.
The argument can be made that without a reincarnating soul, how can there be a transmission of karma (habit patterns) from one life to the next, assuming that reincarnation is even a viable theory. How can the karmic “report card” of previous incarnations be transmitted for “amelioration” in the next incarnation?
The Human Problem
In Christianity original sin taints all creation and is responsible for the human problem. Sin results in man’s alienation from his Creator, God. Buddha taught that ignorance, not sin results in the human problem. Concerning sin, he counseled, “If a man commits a sin, let him not do it again; let him not delight in sin.”*
*E.A. Burtt, op.cit. p.58.
Christianity: Human Problem Arises From Sin
(Genesis 3:1-6 NIV)
1Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, "Did God really say, 'You must not eat from any tree in the garden'?"
2The woman said to the serpent, "We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden
3but God did say, 'You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.' "
4"You will not surely die," the serpent said to the woman. 5 "For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil."
6When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it.
(Romans 3:23 KJV)
For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;
(Romans 6:23 KJV)
For the wages of sin is death;
(Proverbs 14:12, New International Version)
There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death.
(John 3:19, New International Version)
This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil.
(1 John 1:5, New International Version)
This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all.
The God of Christianity, the Triune God, is a God who is morally perfect and because of His perfection finds sin loathsome and repelling. He is light (1John 1:5) and in him there is no darkness (1 John 1:5) All darkness, however slight will be destroyed by His divine presence. For God there is no degree of sin. All sin contravenes who He is and is unacceptable in His presence.
Every man and woman is tainted by the original sin of Adam and Eve, the sin of rebellion against a loving God, and as such fall short of God’s absolute standard of moral perfection. That absolute standard of moral perfection is given to us by revelation in the Bible and its propositions, its commandments regarding behavior.
Human kind is flawed by sin. There is no way we can attain through our own efforts God’s standard of moral perfection. We may work hard at it but given our flawed nature sooner or later we all sin. We may attempt to follow God’s every commandment, but then fall into sin because of pride.
David in the Old Testament was a man who God loved despite the fact that David, as all of human kind, was subject to temptation. When David sinned, as when David had Uriah killed so he could steal his wife, God made known his displeasure to the prophet Nathan. Nathan confronted David for his sinful behavior. David immediately sought forgiveness and repented.
The God of Christianity knows men and women are weak and will all fall to temptation so he has provided by revelation His Word as a moral compass, a light shining in a dark place.
Romans 1 tells us that God’s existence and righteousness are evident within us and made evident to us. Yet many professing to be wise, became fools and started to worship man and the creation rather than the Creator. We ignored our God given inner compass and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator. Taking our orientation away from God, the source of all good and light in the universe, we became depraved.
“My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge”
The bedrock of the moral code elucidated in the Word are the Ten Commandments. Beginning with Exodus Chapter 20:3
- You shall have no other gods before Me.
- You shall not make for yourself an idol.
- You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not leave him unpunished who takes His name in vain.
- Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.
- Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be prolonged in the land which the Lord your God gives you.
- You shall not murder.
- You shall not commit adultery.
- You shall not steal.
- You shall not bear false witness.
- You shall not covet your neighbor’s property.
Jesus raises the bar even higher. Jesus looks at the heart of the law, not just the law and as such calls us to a much higher standard of behavior.
In Matthew 5:21 Jesus says, “Under the laws of Moses the rule was, “If you kill, you must die.’ But I have added to that rule, and tell you that if you are only angry, even in your own home, you are in danger of judgment! If you call your friend an idiot, you are in danger of being brought before the court. And if you curse him, you are in danger of the fires of hell.”
In the Gospel of Matthew (5:20) Jesus says that unless we exceed the righteousness of the Pharisees we shall not enter the Kingdom of God. The Pharisees were the most legally righteous people of Jesus' day with strict codes of behavior to make their actions acceptable to God.
Jesus says in Matthew 5:27-30:
“The law of Moses said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say: Anyone who even looks at a woman with lust in his eye has already committed adultery with her in his heart. So if your eye – even if it is your best eye! - causes you to lust, gouge it out and throw it away.
(Matthew 22:36-40 NIV)
36"Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?" 37Jesus replied: " 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.'
38This is the first and greatest commandment. 39And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' 40All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments."
“Better enter the Kingdom of God half blind than have two eyes and see the fires of hell, where the worm never dies, and the fire never goes out – where all are salted with fire” (Mark 9: 47)
“Temptation to do wrong is inevitable, but woe to the man who does the tempting. And if your eye causes you to stumble, pluck it out, and throw it from you. It is better for you to enter life with one eye, than having two eyes, to be cast into the hell of fire.”
Some may think they’re saved but their actions condemn them. They’re really destined for hell.
“Not every one who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,” will enter the kingdom of heaven; but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven.
Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?
And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; DEPART FROM ME, YOU WHO PRACTICE LAWLESSNESS,’
Therefore every one who hears these words of Mine and acts upon them, may be compared to a wise man, who built his house upon the rock.”
Addressing the Church of Corinth, those who are saved, in 1 Corinthians 6:9 Paul states: “Do you not know that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, shall inherit the kingdom of God.”
Regarding some who are saved 1 Timothy 4:1 says: “The Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by giving heed to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons.” This concerns Christians who have abandoned their faith. 2 Timothy 2:12 states: “If we endure, we shall reign with him; if we deny him, he also will deny us.”
He will never leave us or forsake us but we have the freewill to leave Him. We are not created as robots and God won’t force salvation upon us.
“If anyone sins deliberately by rejecting the Savior after knowing the truth of forgiveness, this sin is not covered by Christ’s death; there is no way to get rid of it. There will be nothing to look forward to but the terrible punishment of God’s awful anger, which will consume all his enemies.
Think how much more terrible the punishment will be for those who have trampled underfoot the Son of God and treated his cleansing blood as though it were common and unhallowed, and insulted and outraged the Holy Spirit who brings God’s mercy to his people.”
“For it is impossible to restore again to repentance those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, and have become partakers of the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the age to come, if they then commit apostasy, since they crucify the Son of God on their own account and hold him up to contempt. For land which has drunk the rain that often falls upon it, and brings forth vegetation useful to those for whose sake it is cultivated, receives a blessing from God. But if it bears thorns and thistles, it is worthless and near to being cursed; its end is to be burned.”
“He who is not with Me is against Me; and he who does not gather with Me, scatters.”
There must be action, investigation, seeking of Him, receiving Him, obeying Him. The only way to truly prove that you love him is to obey Him and your actions should reflect this.
Jesus said in John 14:15:
“If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.”
If you truly love Him you will prove it by your obedience to Him and there is no other way. Jesus said if you don’t keep my commandments, you don’t love Me.
If there are so many who claim they have accepted Christ why is the world in such a sad moral state?
“They profess to know God, but by their deeds they deny Him, being detestable and disobedient, and worthless for any good deed” (Titus 1:16)
God judges because although good he is also just. Because God is just he will not allow sin, which is the transgression of his commandments, to persist forever. Otherwise the whole human race would be infected and “defiled”. There would be rampant lawlessness. God will judge our actions in this life and in the life to come.
The penalty for those who are evil is hell, “a place of outer darkness where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth” (Matthew 22:13).
In Matthew 10:28 Jesus says, “ Don’t be afraid of those who can kill only your bodies – but can’t touch your souls! Fear only God who can destroy both soul and body in hell.”
The wicked will be thrown “into the fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth” (Matthew 13:42).
In Revelation 14:10 we are told that anyone who worships the Beast (the Antichrist) or receives his mark on his forehead or his hand will drink the cup of God’s wrath and will “be tormented with burning sulphur in the presence of the holy angels and of the Lamb. And the smoke of their torment rises forever and ever. There is no rest day or night …”
Hebrews 10:31 says: “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of an angry God.”
In the final great white throne judgment we are told (Revelation 20:15):
“If anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.”
The Law is rock hard and no man, woman, or society can afford to violate its precepts without risking destruction. The violation of any commandment will bring eternal destruction. Applying the first commandment, a man who makes himself “god” will be selfish, ruthless, greedy, proud, inconsiderate, angry, tempestuous, bitter, petty, nasty, lustful, covetous, oppressive, a thief, a liar, a deceiver, a tyrant and a murderer. In the wake of his “godhood” will be misery, confusion, pollution, alienation, loneliness, anxiety, depression, restlessness, sorrow, diminishment, corruption, evanescence and a physical and spiritual death. Man without God is truly an island, a barren, diseased, putrid island reflected in an immoral political system. Nietzche’s superman has risen and his stench is abominable. Abandoning any other of the Ten Commandments will bring similar personal and societal disintegration.
By jettisoning the Triune God’s moral Law, twenty first century man has fully embraced an existential philosophy where man or woman is the center of the universe. In postmodern man we find a being who is a law unto himself.
Ideas matter. Beliefs matter. Lack of beliefs matters. Twenty first century man is the product of the man centered subjectivist philosophies of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Kierkegaard and Schleiermacher glorified piety while sacrificing reason and divine revelation. Non fideistic existentialists such as Heidegger, Satre, and Camus focused on man’s struggle for meaning without God.
“Existentialism is a philosophy of the meaninglessness of life, of the nihility and mortality of human existence which is devoid of any prospect or future; in a word, it is a philosophy of crisis. It attracts modern man by appealing to his attitude toward life which is often characterized by doubt, despair, futility and nihilism … Existentialism is extremely obscure and vague in its constructions and manners of expression and its various representatives are even contradictory in their positions.”
Lit-Sen Chang, Zen-Existentialism: The Spiritual Decline of the West, Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Co., 1969, pp. 114-115.
In Second Corinthians the Apostle Paul urges believers in Christ to cast down “imaginations, and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God” (2 Corinthians10:3-5).
The primary sin of twenty first century men and women is existentialism. Just like Adam and Eve they have made the conscious decision to rebel against the Triune God. Unlike Adam and Even, twenty first century men and women have for the most part banished God from their consciousness or are openly hostile to the very idea of loving but just God.
We are far from the “noble savages” Jean Jacques Rousseau portrayed us to be. One simply has to look at humanity’s history of incessant bloody wars to realize that we are born in sin. The great cult leaders surrounded by their hypnotized, enraptured followers eventually reveal their bloody fangs. We simply have to look at Pharaoh, Julius Caesar, Napoleon, Adolf Hitler, Stalin, Mao and more recently Jim Jones. Human beings love to place other mortal beings on pillars and worship fellow sinners. This trust in never justified and always short lived. It is only a sinless God and his only incarnation, Christ the Lord, in whom there is no sin, who is worthy of adoration.
Answer To the Human Problem (Salvation)
Buddha taught that the human problem could be overcome by intense self effort. “Those who follow the way,” according to Buddha, “might well follow the example of an ox that marches through the deep mire carrying a heavy load. He is tired, but his steady gaze, looking forward, will never relax until he comes out of the mire, and it is only then he takes a respite. O monks, remember that passion and sin are more than the filthy mire, and that you can escape misery only by earnestly and steadily thinking of the Way.”
Quoted in Huston Smith, The Religions of Man. New York: Harper and Row, 1965, p. 121.
“And what, have I explained? Misery, have I explained; the origin of misery have I explained; the cessation of misery have I explained; and the path leading to the cessation of misery have I explained.”
E.A. Burtt, op.cit. p.36.
Like a psychoanalyst, one searching for enlightenment is to search for the cause of everything, including moods and emotions. One can overcome misery and sin through understanding. Alertness and self-examination combat ignorance. Everything has to be seen as “it really is.” Just like in Hinduism’s mantra yoga, thoughts and feelings swim in and out of our awareness but are not to be considered part of us or permanent. They are to be witnessed by our perception as transient visitors.
Thus by meditating on something we might find repulsive, such as the corpse of a rotting animal, we eventually, according to Buddha, overcome it via understanding life’s transience. We can overcome sin in the same fashion.
By coming to understanding of all aspects of life through meditative contemplation, the disciple comes to understand that there is no lasting value to feelings, thoughts and all phenomena. They are all passing visitors and the disciple should not become attached to them. Strings of attachment produce karma which result in the misery of rebirth.
Buddha compared his teachings to a raft that should be left behind once the other side of the river has been reached.
It is reported Buddha’s last words were, “Buddhas do but point the way; work out your salvation with diligence.”
Mahayana Buddhism has deified Gautama as a savior.
Jesus, “I am the way, the truth and the life,” there is no way to God except through me. Salvation is a free gift. No cross plus. No works. Christianity offers an eternal anchor of hope.
|Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God gets baptized by John the Baptist.
When John the Baptist first saw Jesus, he fully realized Jesus' Deity. As Jesus was coming to him he said, "Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!" (John 1:29). Again, the next day, John was standing with two of his disciples as Jesus was walking by, and said, "Behold, the Lamb of God!" (John 1:36) and John's two disciples followed Jesus.
In the Garden of Eden, because of the sin of Adam and Eve, God introduced death into the creation by killing animals to clothe Adam and Eve with their skins. Subsequently, men, to atone for their sins, offered God animal sacrifices. In Egypt it was the blood of a spotless lamb sprinkled on the doorposts and lintels of the Israelites that protected their households from the death of their first-born.
There is only one perfect sacrifice. That sacrificial offering had to be unblemished by sin. Since the creation was tainted by the fall of Adam and Eve, only God is without sin. The perfect sacrifice had to be God Himself. The Living God, the God of the Universe, had to take the form of a man to die on a cross so that the entire creation would be redeemed.
Jesus told Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews and a Pharisee who came to Jesus for counsel, "As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up" (John 3:14). Jesus was comparing himself to the bronze serpent that Moses set on a pole in the Israeli camp by the Red Sea after leaving Egypt. Many of the Israelites were speaking against God and Moses, "Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? For there is no food and no water, and we loathe this miserable food" (Num. 21:5).
God sent fiery serpents among the people. They bit the people, and many died. The people went to Moses and acknowledged they had sinned by speaking against the Lord. They asked Moses to intercede with God so that the serpents might be removed. God told Moses to make a fiery serpent and set it on a pole. Whoever was bitten merely had to look at this bronze serpent on a pole and would live. In the same fashion, Jesus was "lifted up" on a pole, a cross, that whoever looks up to Him does not die, but lives. Jesus’ entire statement to Nicodemus is as follows:
(John 3:14-16 NIV
14Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the desert, so the Son of Man must be lifted up,
15that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life.
16"For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
Note that the prerequisite for eternal life is a belief in Jesus.
|Jesus Christ on the cross being crucified between two criminals.
Jesus was crucified between two criminals. An inscription above Jesus said “THIS IS THE KING OF THE JEWS.” One of the criminals ridiculed Jesus by telling him that if he were the King of the Jews he should save himself and them (the two criminals).
The other criminal protested, “Don’t you even fear God when you are dying? We deserve to die for our evil deeds, but this man hasn’t done one thing wrong. Jesus remember me when you come into your Kingdom” (Luke 23:40-41).
Jesus replied, “Today you will be with me in Paradise. This is a solemn promise.”
Did the repentant criminal have a sufficient belief in Jesus Christ so as not to perish in his sins and have eternal life? For Jesus Christ, the incarnation of the Triune God, it did. There is no better authority on the subject of salvation. We don’t have to go any further.
In the ten seconds it took the criminal to turn to Jesus by asking him to “remember me when you come into your kingdom,” he received eternal life. He did not secure eternal life through his good works.
The man was a criminal, sentenced to die for undoubtedly a very serious offence. He had probably been a criminal most of his adult life, breaking God’s commandments. He admitted, “We deserve to die for our evil deeds.” The criminal, in his darkness and suffering, sensed Christ was different. He discerned the purity, the goodness, the light of Christ. Of Jesus, he said, “this man hasn’t done one thing wrong.” In contrast, he felt dirty, evil. He knew he deserved nothing but death, and some part of him was uncomfortable. He was uneasy with his total depravity. The criminal whose life was about to be snuffed out in sin, whose soul would have been damned for eternity under the Law for breaking God’s commandments, yearned for the purity of Christ. He wasn’t satisfied with the life he’d lead in darkness. He pleaded, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your Kingdom.” The words indicate that the criminal was reaching out for the Son of God, the Light of the World.
The Westminster Confession defines conversion as a sinner’s initial turning to the mercy of God in Christ upon an apprehension of sin as contrary to the righteous law of God.
Did the criminal believe that Christ was the Son of God? Scripture does not inform us that the criminal knew anything about Christ or his claims of deity. However, salvation is through faith alone, faith in the proper Person worthy of faith. Jesus informed the woman who had lived a life of sin, but wet his feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair then kissed his feet and poured perfume on them, “Your sins are forgiven …. Your faith has saved you; go in peace” (Luke 7 NIV). He informed the blind man, “Receive your sight; your faith has healed you"(Luke 18:42).
And where does faith come from? Ephesians 2:8-9 NIV tells us we are saved by grace through faith. Faith is the free gift of God to sinful man. It is a free gift so none can boast about it. Both the criminal on the cross and the woman who lived a life of sin were given by God the gift of faith. By putting their faith in Jesus Christ, he gave them the right to become “children of God” (John 1:12).
Christ said to the criminal, “Today you will be with me in Paradise. This is a solemn promise.” In his sovereign will, Christ granted him life beyond the grave.
By dying on the cross Jesus takes away our sins. His blood washes away our sins. All we have to do is reach out to him. The repentant criminal recognized he’d done evil and simply asked Jesus to remember him. He didn’t ask for forgiveness. He just asked to be remembered. That desire was sufficient to receive eternal salvation.
Was the desire to reach out to Jesus and receive eternal salvation placed in the criminal’s heart by the Triune God ?
God, in his infinite love and wisdom, elects who he ordains to save. This, however, does not preclude anyone from “voting for God” by accepting his Son and repenting from sin, thereby having eternal life. God knows from the foundation of the earth who will be saved and who will perish. Indeed he ordained it. Nevertheless, we can still choose to believe in Christ, God’s only provision for sin, whose blood washes our sins away.
In John 8:47 Christ said, “He who belongs to God hears what God says. The reason you do not hear is that you do not belong to God." He who hears God’s Word is of God. Christ says if you do not hear, you are not of God. “”Election is prior to and the cause of regeneration, not the other way around.”* It is through the grace of God and God’s will that a person is saved.
*John W. Robbins, Lecture on Defending the Faith: The Apologetics of Jesus and Paul, The Trinity Foundation, Unicoi, Tennessee.
Jesus said, “No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day (John 6:44 KJV).” The Father has to draw the person to be saved. The Father drew the repentant criminal to reach for Jesus. Paul in his epistle to the Romans informs us that Rebekah was told by the Lord, “The older will serve the younger” (Genesis 25:23). Esau would serve Jacob.
The Lord also said, “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated” (Malachi 1:2-3). He said this before the twins were even born, before they had done anything good or bad. He loved Jacob because he had “elected” him (Romans 9:11). Jacob was a spiritual man, who had a heart for God despite his all too human shortcomings.
Esau on the other hand was a worldly man, a hunter, who gladly sold his birthright for a bowl of pottage. Esau wasn’t interested in God and things of the spirit. But God did not “elect” Jacob because he foresaw Jacob’s good works. Romans 9:12 says that God elected Jacob, “not by works but by him who calls.” God chose to grant grace to Jacob in his sovereign will from the foundation of the earth. It is simply God’s prerogative to extend grace to those he pleases.
In Romans 11:1-8 regarding his people, Paul says that God did not reject the people, “who he foreknew.” After having been given by God a great victory against the prophets of Baal, Elijah fled in the wilderness and appealed to God against Israel, but God informed Elijah that he had reserved for himself seven thousand who have not bowed the knee to Baal. This was a remnant chosen by grace and not because of their works.
The rest were hardened. Paul quotes Scripture, “God gave them a spirit of stupor, eyes so that they could not see and ears so that they could not hear, to this very day.” God elected to dull their spiritual eyes, in his sovereign will. Why then did God elect to dull the spiritual eyes of the house of Israel, aside from a remnant? Is it because he bears ill will to certain individuals or people groups?
The major presupposition of Christianity based on Biblical propositional truth is that God is good. They young ruler in Luke 18 asked Jesus, “Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus replied, "Why do you call me good?" Jesus answered. "No one is good—except God alone.” Jesus does not deny he is good. In fact he accepts his goodness, assenting to his identity with God, by proceeding to answer the question.
Scripture affirms the goodness of the Triune God. The Triune God has no evil or moral flaw in him. Light is representative of the good, darkness of evil. “God is light; in him there is no darkness at all” (1 John 1:5 NIV). . Light cannot coexist with darkness. God’s light was brought to man through the incarnation. Jesus said, “While I am in the world, I am the light of the world” (John 9:5 NIV).
Jesus informed us of the sower who sowed seed on the wayside, which was trodden down and devoured by birds; on rock, which withered as soon as it sprung up because it lacked moisture; among thorns, which was choked as it sprang up by the thorns (Luke 18). Some of the seed, however, fell on good ground, sprang up, and bore fruit one hundredfold.
He explained to his disciples that the seed is the word of God. The seed which falls by the way side represents those who hear, but then the devil comes and takes it from their hearts to prevent them from believing and being saved. The seed which falls on rock represents those who hear the word with joy and, since they have no root, fall away due to temptation. The seed which falls in the thorns represents those who have heard, go forth, but are choked with the cares and riches of this life and bring no fruit.
God is Light
Is it God who wills that in some men the word takes up residence and flourishes while in others it withers and dies? To answer this question, we need to gain and understanding of who God is.
John informs us that although no one has seen God at any time, Christ has explained him (John 1:18). By looking at Christ we understand God’s nature. Jesus said that only God is good (Mark 10:18, Luke 18:19). As the incarnation of God, his every word and act revealed that goodness. Christ showed unparalleled empathy towards men and women. He was concerned about them. He grieved when Lazarus died and because he couldn’t countenance death, resurrected him. He fed the multitudes and healed the sick. He showed mercy to sinners.
Since the Triune God is good and there is “no darkness at all” him, his actions cannot be evil. Dulling the spiritual eyes of the Israelites cannot be imputed as evil. God in his sovereign will decides who is to be saved and who is not to be saved. God makes this very clear in his instructions to Isaiah, “Make the heart of this people hardened, make their ears dull and close their eyes. Otherwise they will see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts and turn and be healed,” (Isaiah 6:10).
To quote Gordon C. Clark from his book Christian Philosophy, “God is neither responsible nor sinful, even though he is the only ultimate cause of everything. He is not sinful because in the first place whatever God does is just and right. It is just and right simply in virtue of the fact that he does it. Justice or righteousness is not a standard external to God to which God is obligated to submit. Righteousness is what God does … By definition God cannot sin.”*
The Apostle Paul instructed Timothy, “God our Savior, wants all men to be saved and come to a knowledge of truth” (1 Timothy 2:4). The Lord is not willing that any should perish, but desires that all should come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9 KJV). The Apostle John informs us, “God sent his Son into the world not to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved” (John 3:17). Scriptural authority makes clear the caring and loving intentions for man of God for men and women. He wants all men and women to be saved. That is why he took a body of flesh and revealed himself to man, providing atonement by sacrificing himself on a cross as a substitutionary sacrifice for our sins.
*Gordon C. Clark, Christian Philosophy, Unicoi, Tennessee, The Trinity Foundation 2004 John W. Robbins, p. 269.
“For God has already given you everything you need … He has given you the whole world to use, and life and even death are your servants” (Living Bible: 1 Corinthians 3: 21-22)
(2 Corinthians 5:6-8 KJV):
6Therefore we are always confident, knowing that, whilst we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord:
7(For we walk by faith, not by sight:)
8 We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord.
(Matthew 22:30-32 KJV):
30For in the resurrection they neither marry, nor are given in marriage, but are as the angels of God in heaven.
31But as touching the resurrection of the dead, have ye not read that which was spoken unto you by God, saying,
32I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob? God is not the God of the dead, but of the living.
Paul tells us that the answer to what type of bodies we will have is in our own garden. "When you put a seed into the ground it doesn’t grow into a plant unless it ‘dies’ first. And when the green shoot comes up out of the seed, it is very different from the seed you first planted. For all you put into the ground is a dry little seed of wheat, or whatever it is you are planting, then God gives it a beautiful new body - just the kind he wants it to have; a different kind of plant grows from each kind of seed." In effect a metamorphosis occurs. A new body "sprouts" out of the old one. The earthly body is shed and a spiritual one replaces it.
"And just as there are different kinds of seeds and plants, so also there are different kinds of flesh. Humans, animals, fish, and birds are all different. The angels in heaven have bodies far different from ours, and the beauty and the glory of their bodies is different from the beauty and the glory of ours. The sun has one kind of glory while the moon and stars have another kind. And the stars differ from each other in their beauty and brightness."
"In the same way, our earthly bodies which die and decay are different from the bodies we shall have when we come back to life again, for they will never die. The bodies we have now embarrass us for they become sick and die; but the will be full of glory when we come back to life again. Yes, they are weak, dying bodies now, but when we live again they will be full of strength. They are just human bodies at death, but when they come back to life they will be superhuman bodies. For just as there are natural, human bodies, there are also supernatural, spiritual bodies."
"The Scriptures tell us that the first man, Adam, was given a natural, human body but Christ is more than that, for he was life-giving Spirit. First, then, we have these human bodies and later on God gives us spiritual, heavenly bodies. Adam was made from the dust of the earth, but Christ came from heaven above. Every human being has a body just like Adam’s, made of dust, but all who become Christ’s will have the same kind of body as his - a body from heaven. Just as each of us now has a body like Adam’s, so we shall some day have a body like Christ’s."
"I tell you this, my brothers: an earthly body made of flesh and blood cannot get into God’s kingdom. These perishable bodies of ours are not the right kind to live forever" (1 Corinthians 15:36-50, Living Bible).
"For we know that when this tent we live in now is taken down - when we die and leave these bodies - we will have wonderful new bodies in heaven, homes that will be ours forevermore, made for us by God himself, and not by human hands. How weary we grow of our present bodies. That is why we look forward eagerly to the day when we shall have heavenly bodies which we shall put on like new clothes. For we shall not be merely spirits without bodies. These earthly bodies make us groan and sigh, but we wouldn’t like to think of dying and having no bodies at all. We want to slip into our new bodies so that these dying bodies will, as it were, be swallowed up by everlasting life. This is what God has prepared for us and, as a guarantee, he has given us his Holy Spirit “(2 Corinthians 5:1-5).
Death of the Body and Passing into Eternal Life?
Buddha, unlike Christ, succumbed to physical death and corruption. Buddha taught that ordinary people who are attached to the world by strands of finite desire are fated to reincarnate until eventually that desire is “blown out,” as with a flame of a candle and they attain Nirvana.
A wandering ascetic, Vaccha, asked Buddha if the Arhat, an enlightened one, who has extinguished all strands of finite desire continues to exist?
“If a fire were blazing in front of you, Vaccha, would you know that it was?”
“Yes, good Gotama.”
“And would you now the reason for its blazing?”
“Yes, because it had a supply of grass and sticks.”
“And would you know if it were to be put out?”
“Yes, good Gotama.”
“And on its being put out, would you know the direction the fire had gone to from here – east, west, north, south?”
Buddha continues to explain that for an Arhat, an enlightened one, feelings, perception, impulses, consciousness, “all have been god rid of, cut off at the root.” The Arhat has completely lost his finite self. After dying the Arhat, “is, or is not, or both is and is not, or neither is nor is not …”
Vaccha’s question about whether an enlightened one ceased to exist is not really answered. The implication is that just like a fire which runs out of kindling, the Arhat is “snuffed out.” But then, Buddha goes on to say that the Arhat “is or is not.” Something either is or is not, and cannot be and not be. If the enlightened one has morphed into something else, Buddha does not say. The issue is left unexplained.
E.A.Burtt, op.cit., pp.115-116.
The language is poetically appealing, but does not communicate. We are left grasping at nuances.
Some have speculated that Buddha avoided precision on this issue because he really meant, “the ultimate destiny of the human spirit is a condition in which all identification with the historical experience of the finite self will disappear while experience itself not only remains but is heightened beyond anticipation.” *
Huston Smith, The Religions of Man. New York: Harper and Row, 1965, p. 131.
In which case, the logical retort is how can the experience survive if the consciousness which had the experience were extinguished? How can a motion picture exist if the celluloid on which it was recorded burned? How can human sensory data survive without the perceiver? Furthermore, how can historical experience be accentuated, “heightened,” without the party who had that experience, perhaps experiencing a heightened memory of that experience.
"For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all shall be made alive" (1 Corinthians 15:22, NASB). It is only in Christ that you can be made alive. Jesus said it was to our advantage that he went, because the Holy Spirit would not come to us unless he went. Jesus sends the Holy Spirit. "I will send Him to you. And He, when He comes, will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness, and judgment" (John 16:7-9, NASB). When God grants us eternal life through his Son Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit indwells in us (John 14:17). It is the power of the Holy Spirit which raises men and women from the dead.
"Yet, even though Christ lives within you, your body will die because of sin; but your spirit will live, for Christ has pardoned it. And if the Spirit of God, who raised up Jesus from the dead, lives in you, he will make your dying bodies live again after you die, by means of this same Holy Spirit living within you" (Romans 8:10-11, Living Bible).
By looking at the resurrection of Jesus Christ we can get a good perspective on the type of body we are promised having accepted Him. Jesus’s resurrected body transcended physical limitations and could pass through shut doors (John 20:19). At times His body was not recognizable (Luke 24:13-16; John 20:14, 15; John 21:4,12; Mark 16:12), however Jesus by breaking bread or the tone of His voice had the power to make himself known.
For a believer in Jesus Christ, death is a transition into a vibrant, joyful eternity in which he or she will have never been so much alive. "Now we look forward with confidence to our heavenly bodies, realizing that every moment we spend in these earthly bodies is time spent away from our eternal home in heaven with Jesus" (2 Corinthians 5:6, Living Bible). Just like the plunge into an ocean where one marvels at spectacular coral reefs and incredibly beautiful sea creatures, so is the transition of the physical body to the eternal, superhuman body. Residing for eternity in the company of He who is the source of life will be the reward of all those who are granted God’s free gift, salvation through faith in the Son of God.
Death for those who are in Christ is not a time of mourning. We will all die sometime. Because of the sin of Adam death of the flesh is unfortunately inevitable. However, death for those who through God’s grace trust in Jesus Christ has lost its sting. "His weak, human body died on the cross, but now he lives by the mighty power of God" (2 Corinthians 13:4, Living Bible).
Paul in Romans 8:11 explains, "If the Spirit of God, who raised up Jesus from the dead, lives in you, he will make your dying bodies live again after you die, by means of this same Holy Spirit living within you" (Romans 8:11, Living Bible). Jesus’ words are clear, " I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: and whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die" (John 11:25,26, KJV). Our physical bodies will die, but our spirits will live eternally with God, who is Beauty, Love, and Joy.
The literal meaning of Nirvana is extinction. The word means etymologically “to blow out” or to “extinguish.” Deprived of fuel a fire goes out.
An early disciple of Buddha, Nagasena, asked Buddha for an illustration of Nirvana. Buddha answered with a question, “ Is there, sir, what is called wind?”
“Yes, revered sir.”
“Please, sir, show the wind by its colour or configuration or as thin or thick or long or short.”
“But it is not possible, revered Nagasena, for the wind to be shown; for the wind cannot be grasped in the hand or touched; but yet there is the wind.”
“If, sire, it is not possible for the wind to be shown, well then, there is no wind.”
“I, revered Nagasena, know that there is wind; I am convinced of it, but I am not able to show the wind.”
“Even so, sir, there is Nirvana; but it is not possible to show Nirvana by colour or configuration.”
E.A. Burtt, op.cit., p. 115.
(Matthew 24:35 KJV):
Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away.
Thy dead shall live; my dead bodies shall arise. Awake and sing, ye that dwell in the dust; for thy dew is as the dew of herbs, and the earth shall cast forth the dead.
1And at that time shall Michael stand up, the great prince who standeth for the children of thy people; and there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation even to that same time: and at that time thy people shall be delivered, every one that shall be found written in the book.
2And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt.
(John 5:25-29 NASV):
25Verily, verily, I say unto you, The hour cometh, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God; and they that hear shall live.
26For as the Father hath life in himself, even so gave he to the Son also to have life in himself:
27and he gave him authority to execute judgment, because he is a son of man.
28Marvel not at this: for the hour cometh, in which all that are in the tombs shall hear his voice,
29and shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of judgment.
These are physical bodies which will come out of the tombs to face judgment. Our physical bodies will stand before God. This isn’t a Gnostic scenario where the body is considered evil. God does not want disembodied souls in his presence. To appear before God we will have to do it in our physical bodies. That is what He has decreed before the foundation of the earth.
(Revelation 20:4-6 NIV):
4I saw thrones on which were seated those who had been given authority to judge. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony for Jesus and because of the word of God. They had not worshiped the beast or his image and had not received his mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with Christ a thousand years. 5 (The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended.) This is the first resurrection. 6Blessed and holy are those who have part in the first resurrection. The second death has no power over them, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with him for a thousand years.
(Revelation 20:11-14 NIV):
11Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. Earth and sky fled from his presence, and there was no place for them. 12And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books. 13The sea gave up the dead that were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them, and each person was judged according to what he had done. 14Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second death.
Christ told his apostles that he was leaving, ascending to heaven, to prepare a place for them. When we gaze at the majestic beauty in nature, even in its fallen and polluted state, we have a pale reflection of the incredible beauty which is Heaven, a place where only life radiates, a place without entropy and decay, a place created by the Supreme Artist of incomprehensible beauty. Above all, Heaven is a place where we will be able to worship God, resplendent in all his divine attributes.
The Evidence for Christ
(Matthew 12:39-40 NIV):
39He answered, "A wicked and adulterous generation asks for a miraculous sign! But none will be given it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. 40For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of a huge fish, so the Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.
(John 10:36-38 NIV):
36Why then do you accuse me of blasphemy because I said, 'I am God's Son'? 37Do not believe me unless I do what my Father does. 38But if I do it, even though you do not believe me, believe the miracles, that you may know and understand that the Father is in me, and I in the Father."
Jesus said, "No one can kill me without my consent - I lay down my life voluntarily. For I have the right and power to lay it down when I want to and also the right and power to take it again. For the Father has given me this right" (John 10:18, Living Bible).
Paul argues, "For if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ must still be dead. And if he is still dead, then all our preaching is useless and your trust in God is empty, worthless, hopeless; and we apostles are all liars because we have said that God raised Christ from the grave, and of course that isn’t true if the dead do not come back to life again. If they don’t then Christ is still dead, and you are very foolish to keep on trusting God to save you, and you are still under condemnation for your sins; in that case all Christians who have died are lost! And if being a Christian is of value to us only now in this life, we are the most miserable of creatures" (1 Corinthians 15:13-19). The reality and historicity of the resurrection is the most important pillar of Christianity. By being raised from the dead Jesus was proved to be the mighty Son of God, with the holy nature of God himself (Romans 1:4).
|Jesus Christ has survived death by crucifixion and exits his tomb, a beautiful famous painting of the risen Savior Jesus Christ.
R.M’Cheyne Edgar, in his work, The Gospel of a Risen Saviour, said: "Here is a teacher of religion and He calmly professes to stake His entire claims upon His ability, after having been done to death, to rise again from the grave. We may safely assume that there never was, before or since, such a proposal made. To talk of this extraordinary test being invented by mystic students of the prophecies, and inserted in the way it has been into the gospel narratives, is to lay too great a burden on our credulity. He who was ready to stake everything on His ability to come back from the tomb stands before us as the most original of all teachers, one who shines in His own self-evidencing life!"
Jesus predicted His resurrection and emphasized His rising from the dead would be the "sign" to authenticate His claims to be the Messiah. The following cites document His claims to resurrection: Matthew 12:38-40; 16:21; 17:9; 17:22,23; 20:18,19; 26:32; 27:63. Mark 8:31; 9:1; 9:10; 9:31; 10:32-34; 14:28, 58. Luke 9:22. John 2:18-22; 12:32-34.
Just to quote one of these cites, John 2:18-22: "The Jews therefore answered and said to Him, ‘What sign do You show to us, seeing that You do these things?’ Jesus answered and said to them, ‘Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.’ The Jews therefore said, ‘It took forty-six years to build this temple, and will you raise it up in three days?’ But He was speaking of the temple of His body. When therefore He was raised from the dead, His disciples remembered that He said this; and they believed the Scripture, and the word which Jesus had spoken" (NASB).
Using the historical approach we note the resurrection of Christ is an event which occurred in a definite time-space dimension. Wilbur Smith, noted scholar and teacher, observes (Smith, Wilbur M. Therefore Stand: Christian Apologetics. Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1965):
The meaning of the resurrection is a theological matter, but the fact of the resurrection is a historical matter; the nature of the resurrection body of Jesus may be a mystery, but the fact that the body disappeared from the tomb is a matter to be decided upon by historical evidence. The place is of geographical definiteness, the man who owned the tomb was a man living in the first half of the first century; the tomb was made out of rock in a hillside near Jerusalem, and was not composed of some mythological gossamer, or cloud-dust, but is something which has geographical significance. The guards put before the tomb were not aerial beings from Mt. Olympus; the Sanhedrin was a body of men meeting frequently in Jerusalem. As a vast mass of literature tells us, this person, Jesus, was a living person, a man among men, whatever else He was, and the disciples who went out to preach the risen Lord were men among men, men who ate, drank, slept, suffered, worked, died. What is there ‘doctrinal’ about this? This is a historical problem" (page 386).
"Let it simply be said the we know more about the details of the hours immediately before and the actual death of Jesus, in and near Jerusalem, than we know about the death of any other one man in all the ancient world" (Page 360).
The resurrection of Christ enjoys a wealth of evidence which includes:
1. The testimony of history:
|Young Jesus Christ amazes the Pharisees in the temple with knowledge and understanding beyond youthful his years.
A Jewish historian by the name of Josephus wrote at the end of the first century AD, in his Antiquities: "Now there was about this time Jesus, a wise man, if it be lawful to call him a man; for he was a doer of wonderful works, a teacher of such men as receive the truth with pleasure. He drew over to him many Jews, and also many of the Greeks. This man was the Christ. And when Pilate had condemned him to the cross, upon his impeachment by the principal man among us, those who had loved from the first did not forsake him, for he appeared to them alive on the third day, the divine prophets having spoken these and thousands of other wonderful things about him. And even now, the race of Christians, so named from him, has not died out."
Josephus was a Jew trying to please the Romans and he would not have related this story if it were not true as it was not pleasing to the Romans, portraying Pilate as condemning the "Christ."
2. The testimony of the apostles:
Simon Greenleaf, Professor of Law at Harvard University, wrote in An Examination of the Testimony of the Four Evangelists by the Rules of Evidence Administered in the Courts of Justice: "The great truths which the apostles declared, were that Christ had risen from the dead, and that only through repentance from sin, and faith in Him, could men hope for salvation. This doctrine they asserted with one voice, everywhere, not only under the greatest discouragements, but in the face of the most appalling errors that can be presented to the mind of man. Their master had recently perished as a malefactor, by the sentence of a public tribunal. His religion sought to overthrow the religions of the whole world. The laws of every country were against the teachings of His disciples. The interests and passions of all the rulers and great men in the world were against them. The fashion of the world was against them. Propagating this new faith, even in the most inoffensive and peaceful manner, they could expect nothing but contempt, opposition, revilings, bitter persecutions, stripes, imprisonments, torments and cruel deaths. Yet this faith they zealously did propagate; and all these miseries they endured undismayed, nay, rejoicing. As one after another was put to a miserable death, the survivors only prosecuted their work with increased vigor and resolution.
The annals of military warfare afford scarcely an example of the like heroic constancy, patience, and unblenching courage. They had every possible motive to review carefully the grounds of their faith, and the evidences of the great facts and truths which they asserted; and these motives were pressed upon their attention with the most melancholy and terrific frequency. It was therefore impossible that they could have persisted in affirming the truths they have narrated, had not Jesus actually risen from the dead, and had they not known this fact as certainly as they knew any other fact" (Greenleaf, Simon. Testimony of the Evangelists, Examined by the Rules of Evidence Administered in Courts of Justice. Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1965 (reprinted from 1847 edition).
After the crucifixion the apostles went into hiding, afraid of the persecution of the authorities (certainly not possessing the courage of breaking into Jesus’ tomb and "stealing" his body as the chief priests bribed the guards to represent), yet of the twelve apostles, eleven went on to die martyr’s deaths preaching that Jesus is the Son of God who rose from the dead. Peter denied Jesus several times after Jesus had been arrested but a short time after his crucifixion and burial Peter was in Jerusalem preaching boldly under the threat of death that Jesus was the Son of God who was resurrected. So fervent was Peter’s faith that when it came time for his own crucifixion he asked to be crucified upside down because he was not worthy to die as Christ had. Thomas who had put his fingers in Jesus’ nail prints to believe died a martyr’s death when he was thrust through with a spear. James, Jesus’ brother, who had been skeptical of His claims died a martyr’s death by stoning after Jesus appeared to him (1 Corinthians 15:7).
It is hard to die for a lie. In recent history we’ve seen some die for political causes they believe in, but none die for what they don’t believe in. Something transformed these intimidated, cowering apostles into powerful spokesmen of their faith. Jesus had appeared to them. In the Book of Acts we are told that Jesus had presented Himself alive to his apostles. "He also presented Himself alive, after His suffering, by many convincing proofs, appearing to them over a period of forty days, and speaking of the things concerning the kingdom of God" (Acts 1:3, NASB).
3. Jesus had in fact died on the cross:
While hanging on the cross, "When Jesus....had received the sour wine, He said, ‘It is finished!’ And He bowed His head, and gave up His spirit. The Jews therefore, because it was the day of preparation, so that the bodies should not remain on the cross on the Sabbath (for the Sabbath was a high day), asked Pilate that their legs might be broken, and that they might be taken away. The soldiers therefore came, and broke the legs of the first man, and of the other man who was crucified with Him; but coming to Jesus, when they saw that He was already dead, they did not break His legs; but one of the soldiers pierced His side with a spear, and immediately there came out blood and water. And he who has seen has borne witness, and his witness is true; and he knows that he is telling the truth, so that you also may believe" (John 19:30-35, NASB).
"And someone ran and filled a sponge with sour wine, put it on a reed, and gave Him a drink, saying, ‘Let us see whether Elijah will come to take Him down.’ And Jesus uttered a loud cry, and breathed His last. And the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. And when the centurion, who was standing right in front of Him, saw the way He breathed His last, he said, ‘Truly this man was the Son of God!" (Mark 15:36-39, NASB).
"And when evening had already come, because it was the Preparation Day, that is, the day before the Sabbath, Joseph of Arimathea came, a prominent member of the Council, a man who was himself waiting for the kingdom of God; and he gathered up courage and went in before Pilate, and asked for the body of Jesus. And Pilate wondered if He was dead by this time, and summoning the centurion, he questioned him as to whether He was already dead. And ascertaining this from the centurion, he granted the body to Joseph" (Mark 15:42-45, NASB). The centurion had knowledge that Jesus had died, otherwise he would not have confirmed the fact to Pilate and Pilate would not have granted the body to Joseph of Arimathea for burial.
"And Joseph bought a linen sheet, took Him down, wrapped Him in the linen sheet, and laid Him in a tomb which had been hewn out in the rock; and he rolled a stone against the entrance of the tomb. And Mary Magdalene and Mary, the mother of Jesus were looking on to see where He was laid" (Mark 15:46-47, NASB).
4. The Stone:
Mary Magdalene and Mary, the mother of Jesus, came to anoint Jesus on the first day of the week when the Sabbath was over. The women were concerned and discussing who would roll away the stone from the entrance of the tomb so they could anoint Jesus with the spices they had bought. When they arrived at the tomb, the stone "had been rolled away, although it was extremely large" (Mark 16:1,3,4, NASB). Matthew also describes the stone as "a large stone" (Matthew 27:60). It is generally believed the stone weighed about two tons.
5. The Seal:
Of more importance than the size of the stone, aside from the fact that a large stone would have deterred potential robbers, was the seal which was set on the stone. The Pharisees went to Pilate and informed him that Jesus had said that after three days he would rise again. They requested that Pilate give orders that the grave be made secure until the third day, "lest the disciples come and steal Him away and say to the people, ‘He has risen from the dead,’ and the last deception will be worse than the first.’ Pilate said to them, ‘You have a guard; go, make it as secure as you know how.’ And they went and made the grave secure, and along with the guard they set a seal on the stone" (Matthew 27:64-66).
A.T. Robertson in Word Pictures in the New Testament (New York: R.R. Smith, Inc., 1931) described the probable method used in sealing the stone "...probably by a cord stretched across the stone and sealed at each end as in Dan. 6:17(‘And a stone was brought and laid over the mouth of the den; and the king sealed it with his own signet ring and with the signet rings of his nobles, so that nothing might be changed in regard to Daniel.’). The sealing was done in the presence of the Roman guards who were left in charge to protect this stamp of Roman authority and power. They did their best to prevent theft and the resurrection (Bruce), but they overreached themselves and provided additional witness to the fact of the empty tomb and the resurrection of Jesus (Plummer)."
6. The Grave Clothes:
When Simon Peter entered the tomb of Jesus he saw the linen wrappings lying there, and the face cloth, which had covered His head, not lying with the linen wrappings, but rolled up in a place by itself (John 20:3-9). John R.W. Stott comments, "It is not hard to imagine the sight which greeted the eyes of the apostles when they reached the tomb: the stone slab, the collapsed grave clothes, the shell of the head-cloth and the gap between the two. No wonder they ‘saw and believed.’ A glance at these grave clothes proved the reality, and indicated the nature, of the resurrection. They had been neither touched nor folded nor manipulated by any human being. They were like a discarded chrysalis from which the butterfly has emerged" (Stott, John R.W. Basic Christianity. Downers Grove: Inter-Varsity Press, 1971).
7. The Cover-Up:
Pilate’s response to the Pharisees was "You have a guard," which can be interpreted you may have a Roman guard or you already have your own guard in the form of the temple police. Prevalent authority concludes that a Roman guard was posted. Otherwise, why would the Pharisees go to Pilate to make the grave secure. They wouldn’t have needed Pilate’s authorization to post the temple guard which was under their control. When Jesus resurrected, in fear of Pilate’s wrath, the guards went to the chief priests and reported all that had happened (Matthew 28:11). The chief priests gave the soldiers a large sum of money to misrepresent what had occurred: "You are to say, ‘His disciples came by night and stole Him away while we were asleep.’ ‘And if this should come to the governor’s ears, we will win him over and keep you out of trouble. And they took the money and did as they had been instructed; and this story was widely spread among the Jews, and is to this day" (Matthew 28:13-15, NASB).
Because of the strict discipline in the Roman military, a Roman guard would have reason to fear the consequences of dereliction of duty administered by an angry Pilate who would have accused them of sleeping on the job while the body was stolen, a capital offense (death). Evidently the chief priests had influence over Pilate and promised the fearful Roman guards protection if they lied and sweetened the pot by giving them a large sum of money. The chief priests would not have had to bribe a temple guard under their direct control. Their recourse to bribing the guards evidences Jesus’ body was missing and had not been stolen.
Professor Albert Roper (Roper, Albert. Did Jesus Rise from the Dead? Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, copyright 1965) numbers the Roman guard as numbering from ten to thirty and the seal on the tomb as the Imperial Seal of Rome (whose violation would have carried the full retribution of the Roman Empire). Professor William Smith (Smith, William (ed.). Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities. Rev.ed. London: James Walton and John Murray, 1870) informs us that four was the regular number of the Roman guard. Of these one always acted as sentinel, while the others enjoyed "a certain degree of repose, ready, however to start up at the first alarm."
Matthew describes what happened that night while the guard was on duty, "... a severe earthquake had occurred, for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and came and rolled away the stone and sat upon it. And his appearance was like lightning, and his garment as white as snow; and the guards shook for hear of him, and became like dead men" (Matthew 28:2-4, NASB).
8. Suffering of Jesus:
Some have said that Jesus did not die on the cross, but merely passed out. After he was placed in the tomb, he revived, got up, and left.
What this argument completely overlooks is the physical trials Jesus suffered prior and during the crucifixion leading to his death. Prior to being taken prisoner Jesus traveled on foot throughout Palestine and it is reasonable to assume was in good physical health. Anticipating his ordeal on Thursday evening in Gethsemane Jesus suffered great mental anguish, and, as described by Luke, a physician, sweated blood. Bloody sweat is a rare phenomenon but may occur in very intense emotional states and is the result of hemorrhaging into the sweat glands (William D. Edwards, MD; Wesley J. Gabel, MD; Floyd E. Hosmer, MS., AMI, "On the Physical Death of Jesus Christ," JAMA, March 21, 1986 - Vol 255, No. 11, p. 1455).
After Jesus was arrested in Gethsemane by the chief priests, officers of the temple and elders he was mocked, blindfolded, and beaten. He was asked, "‘Are You the Son of God, then?’ And He said to them, ‘Yes, I am,’" (Luke 22:70) and the whole body of them took him before Pilate where they accused him of misleading the nation and forbidding the people to pay taxes to Caesar, saying he was Christ, a King. Pilate found Jesus not guilty and upon learning he was a Galilean, sent Him to Herod. Herod was glad to see Jesus as he wanted to see some sign performed for Him. Herod questioned Jesus at great length, but Jesus did not answer. Jesus was then mocked, dressed in a gorgeous robe, and sent back to Pilate. Pilate informed the chief priests, the rulers and the people he found no guilt in Jesus. He would therefore punish Him and release Him, but they cried for the release of Barabbas and the crucifixion of Jesus. He then granted their demand.
Flogging was a legal preliminary to every Roman execution. A short whip was used of several braided or single leather thongs in which were imbedded small iron balls or sharp pieces of sheep bone to tear the flesh. The back, buttocks, and legs were flogged. Flogging was intended to weaken the victim to a state just short of collapse or death. The resulting bleeding set the stage for circulatory shock and determined how long the victim would survive on the cross.
The Roman soldiers spat on Jesus and beat Him on the head, placing on Him a crown of thorns. So weakened was Jesus that the Roman soldiers had to press Simon, a Cyrenian, to bear the cross. Since the entire cross probably weighed over 300 lbs. only the patibulum or crossbar, weighing 75 to 125 lbs., was carried. It was placed across the nape of the victim’s neck and balanced on both shoulders.
Romans preferred to nail their victim’s hands to the crossbar. Remains found in an ossuary near Jerusalem dating from the time of Christ of a crucified victim reveal that tapered iron spikes 5 to 7 inches long and 3/8 inch wide were used. These spikes were driven through the wrists rather than the palms. The Romans also preferred to nail their victims’ feet.
The weight of the body hanging from the cross fixed the intercostal muscles in an inhalation state and severely taxed exhalation. Thus, breathing was shallow and, "Adequate exhalation required lifting the body by pushing up on the feet and by flexing the elbows and adducting the shoulders. However, this maneuver would place the entire weight of the body on the tarsals and would produce searing pain. Furthermore, flexation of the elbows would cause rotation of the wrists about the iron nails and cause fiery pain along the damaged median nerves. Lifting of the body would also painfully scrape the scourged back against the rough wooden stipes. Muscle cramps and paresthesias of the outstretched and uplifted arms would add to the discomfort. As a result, each respiratory effort would become agonizing and tiring and lead eventually to asphyxia" (JAMA, March 21, 1986 - Vol 255, No.11, p.1461).
Survival on the cross ranged from three to four hours to three of four days and was related to the severity of the scourging. When the scourging was relatively mild, Roman soldiers would expedite death by breaking the legs below the knees thereby suffocating the victim. By custom, one of the Roman guards would also pierce with body with a spear wound through the heart or with a sword.
The gospel of John informs us that, "When Jesus...had received the sour wine, He said, ‘It is finished!’ And He bowed His head, and gave up His spirit" (John 19:30). So that the bodies would not remain on the cross on the Sabbath, Pilate was asked that the legs of those crucified might be broken. "The soldiers therefore came, and broke the legs of the first man, and of the other man who was crucified with Him; but coming to Jesus, when they saw that He was already dead, they did not break His legs; but one of the soldiers pierced His side with a spear, and immediately there came out blood and water" (John 19:32-34, NASB).
To allege that Jesus "swooned" rather than died on the cross and later revived in the coolness of the tomb, regained his strength after the extensive physical trauma he’d been through (including a spear thrust through the heart), pushed aside a two ton stone, and spent the next forty days ministering to his followers across the Holy Land is ludicrous. To examine the extensive historical evidence of His resurrection attests to his deity and gives us hope that by believing in Him, as he sincerely promised, we have eternal life.
Scriptural Authority for the Triune God
The following verses clearly state there is only one God: "There is one God" (I Timothy 2:5, KJV).
"Hear, O Israel! The Lord is our God, the Lord is one! And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might” (Deuteronomy 6:4 NASB). Jesus quoted this as the greatest commandment. To this every Jew would agree.
In the Hebrew text the word for God is plural …. Elohim and is really "gods". The word for ONE is EKAD in Hebrew, a compound unity just like in my hand the four fingers and the thumb are a compound unity as a fist.
The Hebrew could have used the word YACHID for one, an absolute one. The word means “only, only one, solitary” (Brown, F., S. Driver, and C. Briggs, Enhanced Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon, (Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc. – 2000). This would have precluded any doctrine of the Trinity. You could not have had the doctrine of the Trinity if YACHID had been used, but it wasn’t. Instead, the word EKAD was used.
Paul in his letter to the Ephesians states there is one God who is the father of all and who is over all (Ephesians 4:6).
These verses are stating propositional truths, that there is only one God, that the Lord is one. Christianity presupposes that there is only one God. Gordon Clark, undoubtedly the foremost twentieth century evangelical philosopher, theologian, and educator, in his excellent book The Trinity explains “the term starting point is perhaps a clearer term than presupposition ….Surely a starting point is a point from which the argument starts.”*
* Gordon H. Clark, The Trinity, The Trinity Foundation, Jefferson, Maryland, Second Edition, 1990, p. 97.
The following verses allude to the plurality of the one God as God addresses himself in the third person plural: "Let us make man in our image" (Genesis 1:26, KJV) and "God said, ‘Behold, the man has become like one of us’" (Genesis 3:22, RSV).
Gordon H. Clark states Job 35:10 (“Where is God my Maker”), Psalm 149:2 (“Let Israel rejoice in their Maker”), Ecclesiastes 12:1(“Remember your Creator in the days of your youth”), Isaiah 54:5 (“For your Maker is your husband, the LORD Almighty is his name”), “all have the word Maker or Creator in the plural. Certainly this suggests that there was more than one Person who was the Creator. The Psalms have a number of similar anticipations.” He recommends examining Psalms 2 and 110. *
*Gordon H. Clark, The Trinity, op.cit., pp. 3-4.
Let’s take a look at Psalm 2, a psalm of the prophet David:
(Psalm 2, 1-12 NIV):
1Why do the nations conspire
and the peoples plot in vain?
2The kings of the earth take their stand
and the rulers gather together
against the LORD
and against his Anointed One.
3"Let us break their chains," they say,
"and throw off their fetters."
4The One enthroned in heaven laughs;
the Lord scoffs at them.
5Then he rebukes them in his anger
and terrifies them in his wrath, saying,
6"I have installed my King on Zion, my holy hill."
7I will proclaim the decree of the LORD:
He said to me, "You are my Son;
today I have become your Father.
8Ask of me, and I will make the nations your inheritance,
the ends of the earth your possession.
9You will rule them with an iron scepter;
you will dash them to pieces like pottery."
10Therefore, you kings, be wise;
be warned, you rulers of the earth.
11Serve the LORD with fear
and rejoice with trembling.
12Kiss the Son, lest he be angry
and you be destroyed in your way,
for his wrath can flare up in a moment.
Blessed are all who take refuge in him.
In verse 2 “against the LORD and against his Anointed One” would be a redundancy unless the “Lord” and his “Anointed One” were different persons. The conjunction “and” indicates the verse is referring to two distinct persons. The “One enthroned in heaven” who laughs at the kings of the earth appears distinct from the “Lord” who scoffs at them in verse 4. The Lord, the Anointed One, and the One enthroned in heaven appear to possess similar dignity and authority.
The “One enthroned in heaven” of verse 4 installs a “King on Zion” in verse 6, and proclaims His decree, identified as the decree of the LORD, in verse 7. The One enthroned in heaven calls the LORD “my Son” and states “I have become your Father.”
In the relation between the One enthroned in heaven and the Lord, or the Father and the Son, “the Nicene theology teaches that the Father communicates the essence of the Godhead to the second Person …To communicate does not mean that the Father hands over or gives certain things to the Son. To communicate means to have something in common. The Father and the Son hold in common the essential characteristics of the Godhead. The English word share would be a better translation.”*
Gordon H. Clark, The Trinity, op.cit., pp.113-114.
In verse 8 the Father offers the Son the nations as his inheritance, the ends of the earth as his possession. Of the Son, the Father says he will rule the nations with an iron scepter and dash them to pieces like pottery.
The Father warns the kings of the earth to be wise, to serve him with fear, and to “kiss the Son” lest he be angry and destroy them.
Psalm 2 gives us an insight into the dynamic relationship of the Father and the Son and their exercise of dominion over the rulers of the earth. Psalm 110, a psalm of the prophet David, reflects the same theme:
(Psalm 110:1-6 NIV):
1The LORD says to my Lord:
"Sit at my right hand
until I make your enemies
a footstool for your feet."
2The LORD will extend your mighty scepter from Zion;
you will rule in the midst of your enemies.
3Your troops will be willing
on your day of battle.
Arrayed in holy majesty,
from the womb of the dawn
you will receive the dew of your youth.
4The LORD has sworn
and will not change his mind:
"You are a priest forever,
in the order of Melchizedek."
5The Lord is at your right hand;
he will crush kings on the day of his wrath.
6He will judge the nations, heaping up the dead
and crushing the rulers of the whole earth.
Again, we see communication between Persons of the Trinity, the LORD “saying” to the Lord to sit at His right hand, that the LORD would subdue the Lord’s enemies, that the LORD will extend the Lord’s dominion from Zion, that the Lord’s troops will be willing to do battle arrayed in “holy majesty,” apparently angelic troops. The LORD informs the Lord that he is a priest forever in the order of Melchizedek. The Apostle Paul in the Book of Hebrews 5:6 states that it is the Father who appointed Christ “a priest forever in the order of Melchizedek.”
(Hebrews 5:5-6 NIV):
5So Christ also did not take upon himself the glory of becoming a high priest. But God said to him,
"You are my Son;
today I have become your Father.
6And he says in another place,
"You are a priest forever,
in the order of Melchizedek."
The “LORD” is therefore the Father, and the “Lord” is the Son. Speaking of Christ in Hebrews 2:17, the Apostle Paul expounds on Christ’s priesthood: “For this reason he had to be made like his brothers in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people.”
In the New Testament the Book of Revelation tells us Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God, returns with the armies of heaven to judge “with justice” and make war against the nations:
(Revelation 19:11-21 NIV):
11I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True. With justice he judges and makes war. 12His eyes are like blazing fire, and on his head are many crowns. He has a name written on him that no one knows but he himself. 13He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and his name is the Word of God.14The armies of heaven were following him, riding on white horses and dressed in fine linen, white and clean. 15Out of his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations. "He will rule them with an iron scepter." He treads the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God Almighty. 16On his robe and on his thigh he has this name written:
KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS.
17And I saw an angel standing in the sun, who cried in a loud voice to all the birds flying in midair, "Come, gather together for the great supper of God, 18so that you may eat the flesh of kings, generals, and mighty men, of horses and their riders, and the flesh of all people, free and slave, small and great."
19Then I saw the beast and the kings of the earth and their armies gathered together to make war against the rider on the horse and his army. 20But the beast was captured, and with him the false prophet who had performed the miraculous signs on his behalf. With these signs he had deluded those who had received the mark of the beast and worshiped his image. The two of them were thrown alive into the fiery lake of burning sulfur. 21The rest of them were killed with the sword that came out of the mouth of the rider on the horse, and all the birds gorged themselves on their flesh.”
The rider on the white horse, who brings judgment to the nations, is dressed in a robe dripped in blood (verse 13), indicative of Christ’s atonement on the cross for the sins of mankind. His name is the Word of God (verse 13). He is the Word which became flesh and dwelt among us (John 1:14) as a humble man. Revelation 19 verse 15 says that the Word of God, Christ, will rule the nations with an iron scepter. Psalm 2:9, above, mentioned that scepter and Psalm 110:2 mentioned the scepter, which the LORD, the Father, will extend from Zion as the Lord rules in the midst of His enemies.
The Holy Spirit is God as the third person of the Trinity. Acts 5:3-4 gives us an insight into this relationship. Peter said, "Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit, and to keep back some of the price of the land? While it remained unsold, did it not remain your own? And after it was sold, was it not under your control? Why is it that you have conceived this deed in your heart? You have not lied to men, but to God" (NASB). Lying to the Holy Spirit is the same as lying to God. Therefore, God and the Holy Spirit are one.
C.S. Lewis poetically describes the Father, Son and Holy Spirit Relationship in Mere Christianity in his chapter the Good Infection: "The whole dance, or drama, or pattern of this three-Personal life is to be played out in each one of us: or (putting it the other way round) each one of us has got to enter the pattern, take his place in that dance. There is no other way to the happiness for which we were made. Good things as well as bad, you know, are caught by a kind of infection. If you want to get warm you must stand near the fire: if you want to be wet you must get into the water. If you want joy, power, peace, eternal life, you must get close to, or even into, the thing that has them. They are not a sort of prizes which God could, if He chose, just hand out to anyone. They are a great fountain of energy and beauty spurting up at the very centre of reality. If you are close to it, the spray will wet you: if you are not, you will remain dry. Once a man is united to God, how could he not live forever? Once a man is separated from God, what can he do but wither and die?"
|Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God gets baptized by John the Baptist.
Of Jesus, John the Baptist said, "He who is coming after me is mightier than I, and I am not even fit to remove His sandals; He Himself will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire" (Matthew 3:11, NASB). Jesus tells us that he sends us the Comforter or Helper as the Holy Spirit is also named (John 15:26). If we believe and trust in Jesus, Jesus will ask the Father and the Father will give us the Comforter (John 14:16) who will never leave us.
By believing and trusting in Jesus, we enter the dynamic, pulsating relationship between the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. "For I will live again - and you will too. When I come back to life again, you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you. The one who obeys me is the one who loves me; and because he loves me, my Father will love him; and I will too, and I will reveal myself to him" (John 14:19-21, Living Bible).
(John 1:12-13 KJV):
12But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:
13Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.
Scriptural Authority for Jesus Christ as the Second Person In The Triune God
There is abundant Biblical authority equating Jesus Christ to God. Genesis 1.1 states that in the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. John 1.1 states:
John 1:1 “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men.”
John 1:14 "And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we beheld his glory, glory as of the only begotten from the father, full of grace and truth.”
Scripture reveals to us in John 1:1 that in the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God. Therefore, if the Word was with God, the Word was a distinct person from God, yet the Word was God in identity. John 1:14 tells us that the Word became flesh and “dwelt among us.” The Word incarnated. The Word came into the world in bodily form and dwelt among men and women as Jesus of Nazareth. Scripture declares that Jesus was the only begotten from the father. There are no other incarnations of the Godhead, nor will there be. Throughout history “holy” men, pharaohs, kings, Caesars, gurus, have made claims of being incarnations of God, but Scripture denies their claims.
Jesus relentlessly upheld the claim that he was the Son of God, the only begotten of the Father, God incarnate. He was assertive and consistent.
Jesus confirms this by saying, "I and the Father are one" (John 10:30, NASB). “Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father” (John 14:9 NIV).
Jesus said to the Jews, "Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was born, I AM." Realizing his claim of preexistence, a claim of Godhood, they picked stones to throw at Him, but Jesus hid, and went out of the temple (John 8:58-59).
On another occasion, Jesus was nearly stoned again when he told the Jews he gives his sheep eternal life and his sheep will never perish. He then said, “I and the Father are one.” His audience picked up stones. Jesus said he had shown them many great miracles from the father, for which were they stoning him? They told him they were not stoning him for his miracles, "but for blasphemy, because you, a mere man, claim to be God” (John 10).
In John 5:19 we are told that his countrymen were trying to kill him because not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was calling God his own father, making himself equal to God.
Jesus said, “If you had known Me, you would have known My father also; from now on you know Him and have seen Him” (John 14:7). He is saying that by knowing him, we know the father and by seeing him, we have seen the father. He is therefore one and the same as the father. There is an identity between the Son and the Father. He further states that no one has ascended into heaven, but the Son of Man who descended from heaven, attesting to his origin in heaven as part of the Godhead (John 3:13).
Scriptural Authority for the Holy Spirit as the Third Person In the Triune God
The Holy Spirit is not just a power, an essence or an influence but a Person. As a Person the Holy Spirit has a personality. The Holy Spirit speaks, loves, wills, which are manifestations of personality. In the first chapter of Genesis it states, "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth" (Genesis 1:1). The Hebrew word for God is Elohim, which is a plural word translated "God".
Christians believe in One God manifested in the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit one in unity, in purpose, in law, in work.
Divine Attributes of the Holy Spirit
To establish that the Holy Spirit is God we need to look at Scriptures, which assign to the Holy Spirit, attributes which only belong to God.
A. One of the attributes of God is that He is eternal. Hebrews 9:14 refers to the Holy Spirit as eternal: "how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to God."
B. God is omniscient. 1Corinthians 2:11. "For who among men knows the thought of a man except the spirit of the man, which is in him? Even so the thoughts of God no one knows except the Spirit of God." Like God, the Holy Spirit is omnipresent. David in Psalm 139:7 asks, "Where can I go from Thy Spirit? Or where can I flee from Thy presence? If I ascend to heaven, Thou art there; If I make my bed in Sheol, behold, Thou art there. If I take the wings of the dawn, If I dwell in the remotest part of the sea, Even there Thy hand will lead me."
C. God is omnipotent, all-powerful. In Luke Chapter 1:35 the power of the Most High is equated to that of the Holy Spirit, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; and for that reason the holy offspring shall be called the Son of God."
Divine Works of the Holy Spirit
Divine works as well as divine attributes are attributed to the Holy Spirit.
In creation the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are active in creation. God as Elohim, a plurality, is the Creator.
John 1:3 refers to the primary activity of Christ in creation: "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through Him; and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being."
Paul explains Christ’s role in creation, "For in Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities – all things have been created through Him and for Him” (Colossians 1:16).
The Father, Christ and the Holy Spirit cooperated together in creation. In Genesis 1:26 God said, referring to His plurality, "Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness."
In Genesis 3:22 God said, "Behold, the man has become like one of Us," again alluding to His plurality.
Referring to animals both small and great and Leviathan (the twisted serpent (dragon) who lives in the sea) creation is ascribed to the Holy Spirit, "When you send your Spirit, they are created, and you renew the face of the earth” (Psalm 104:30). By moving His Spirit across the surface of the waters God created light and separated the light from the darkness.
The Spirit gives life, which is a work of God. Paul said that the letter of the law kills, but the Spirit gives life. Jesus declares, "It is the Spirit which gives life; the flesh profits nothing; the words that I have spoken to you are spirit and are life” (John 6:63).
The Spirit gives instruction. "But know this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture is a matter on one’s own interpretation, for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God" (2nd Peter 1:20-21).
Scriptural Associations of Father, Son and Holy Spirit
Jesus instructed his disciples to teach all nations and baptize in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Here the Spirit is a person and not the wind, a force, or a power and is coupled with the other two persons of the Trinity.
To the Corinthians, Paul sends the following greeting: "All the saints greet you. The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, be with you all” (2 Corinthians 13:14).
The Spirit works in the church. Paul teaches, "Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit. And there are varieties of ministries, and the same Lord. And there are varieties of effects, but the same God who works all things in all persons. But to each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good” (1 Corinthians 12:4-6).
Here we have the same operation of the Spirit, the Son, and the Father in the ministry of the Church.
Paul proclaims to the Ephesians, "There is one body and one Spirit, just as also you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all” (Ephesians 4:4-6).
Holy Spirit Is God
Jesus told the Samaritan woman at the well, “God is spirit; and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth” (John 4:24). Therefore, God is spirit and when we worship God, we worship him in spirit. When a person accepts Christ, the Holy Spirit, the Comforter, indwells him or her. The Holy Spirit takes up residence and washes them clean.
But Peter said, "Ananias why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit, and to keep back some of the price of the land? While it remained unsold, did it not remain your own? And after it was sold, was it not under your control? Why is it that you have conceived this deed in your heart? You have not lied to me, but to God (Acts 5:3). Lying to the Holy Spirit is equated to lying to God. Therefore, by the law of identity God and the Holy Spirit are the same.
Speaking of the unsaved, Paul said, "Yes, to this day whenever Moses is read a veil lies over their minds; but when a man turns to the Lord the veil is removed. Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being changed into his likeness from one degree of glory to another; for this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit” (2 Corinthians :15-18). Paul states the Lord is the Spirit and there is freedom wherever the Spirit of the Lord is. In a society where the people do not pay homage to the Lord, there is bondage and oppression.
God is God
John Calvin finds it Scriptural to explain that, “to the Father is attributed the principium agnedi, as fountain and source of all things; to the Son, wisdom, counsel and the actual dispensation of things to be done; but to the Spirit is assigned the power and efficiency (virtus et efficacia) of the action.” The Father is the Source, the Son is the Director, and the Spirit is the Executor of all divine activities. The Father is the Fountain, the Son is the Wisdom emerging from Him, and the Spirit is the Power by which the wise counsels of God are effectuated. Calvin points out, “this distinction in now way impedes the absolutely simple unity of God.” “The Father is totus in the Son, and the Son totus in the Father.” The Father, Son and Holy Spirit are equal and not subordinated to one another.*
*Quoted in Benjamin B. Warfield, John Calvin: The Man And His Work, New York: Oxford University Press, 1931, p. 228-229.
Calvin developed a “short and easy definition” to preserve us from error. He tells us, “when we profess to believe in one God, under the name of God is to be understood the single and simple essence in which we comprehend three persons.” He declares that the whole substance of the doctrine is found in the simple statement, “that the Father and the Son and the Spirit are one God; and yet neither is the Son the Father nor the Spirit the Son, but they are distinct by a certain property.” “In the one essence of God, there is a Trinity of Persons,” which are “cosubstantial.” “There is a Trinity of Persons contained in the one God, not a trinity of Gods.”*
*Quoted in Benjamin B. Warfield, John Calvin: The Man And His Work, New York: Oxford University Press, 1931, pp.229-231.
And God said to Moses, "I AM WHO I AM" (Exodus 3:14). This verse explains the finality of the Trinity. It is not up to us to argue that God is not a Triune God. We cannot empirically conclude the reality of the Trinity. Our senses are incapable through observation and inductive reasoning to prove such a truth. God defines himself through propositional revelation in Scripture and his Word is absolute. Scriptural authority on this point is abundant and irrefutable. If we cannot accept the propositions in the Bible or if a human being comes as a prophet, a guru, an avatar, a philosopher and presents another gospel, the Bible sends the one who disagrees a clear message, “if any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed” (Galatians 1:9 KJV). That man is coming in his own vain imagination and misrepresenting the Triune God. He does not come in the Spirit of the true God.
Scriptural Authority for Jesus Christ from Fulfilled Prophecy
Jesus, as to his Deity, was his own best advocate. He told the Jews they searched the Scriptures because they thought that in them they had eternal life, yet it is these very Scriptures that bear witness of him (John 5:39).
After His resurrection Jesus appeared to two apostles on the road to a village named Emmaus. The apostles did not initially recognize Him because their eyes were prevented from recognizing Him. They were sad and He asked them why. They informed Him how Jesus the Nazarene, a prophet mighty in deed and word in the sight of God and all the people, had been crucified (Luke 24). They continued to tell Him that some of the women among them had gone to the tomb and did not find the body, but had seen a vision of angels, who said He was alive. Others had gone to the tomb and found it as the women had said with no trace of Jesus. Jesus then said to the two apostles, "'O foolish men and slow of heart to believe in all the prophets have spoken! Was it not necessary for the Christ to suffer these things and to enter into His glory?' And beginning with Moses and with all the prophets, He explained to them the things concerning Himself in all the Scriptures" (Luke 24:25-27).
When they approached Emmaus they urged Him to stay with them as it was getting dark. He went in and at a table, He took bread and blessed it, and breaking it, He began giving it to them. "And their eyes were opened and they recognized Him; and He vanished from their sight. And they said to one another, ‘Were not our hearts burning within us while He was speaking to us on the road, while He was explaining the Scriptures to us?’" (Luke 24:28-32, NASB).
|Hundreds of Bible prophecies fulfilled by Jesus Christ.
Evidencing that a supernatural, invisible hand inspired its authors, interwoven in the Bible are hundreds of prophecies. There are three hundred references to the Messiah that were fulfilled in Jesus. In his comprehensive book and data base, Evidence That Demands A Verdict (Campus Crusade for Christ, Inc., 1972, 1979), Josh McDowell, its author, in the ninth Chapter analyzes 61 major prophecies regarding the Messiah.
The argument has been made that Jesus deliberately fulfilled these prophecies, but many of the prophecies were completely beyond His control such as: His place of birth (Micah 5:2), the time of His birth (Daniel 9:25; Genesis 49:10), the manner of His birth (Isaiah 7:14), His betrayal (Psalms 41:9, Zechariah 11:12, 11:13b), the manner of his death (Psalms 22:16), people’s reactions (mocking, spitting, staring, etc...) (Isaiah 50:6, Micah 5:1, Psalms 22:7,8, Isaiah 53:3, Psalms 69:8, Psalms 118:22, Psalms 69:4, Isaiah 49:7, Psalms 38:11, Psalms 22:7, Psalms 109:25, Psalms 22:17), piercing (Zechariah 12:10, Psalms 22:16) and burial (Isaiah 53:9).
Another argument is that the prophecies were written at or after the time of Jesus and were therefore fabricated. The problem with this argument was that the historic date of completion of the Old Testament is 450 BC and the Septuagint, the Greek translation of the Hebrew Scriptures, was initiated in the reign of Ptolemy Philadelphus (285-246 BC). The Hebrew Old Testament must have been available in its entirety for it to be translated commencing at 250 BC. There is at least a 250-year span of time which the prophecies were written down and subsequently fulfilled in the person of Jesus. We will now look at a few of these incredible prophecies (all quotes from NASB) pointing to the existence of an intelligent Being existing outside the dimension of time:
|Baby Jesus Christ with the Virgin Mother Mary and Joseph.
1. Born of a virgin: "Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, a virgin will be with child and bear a son, and she will call His name Immanuel" (Isaiah 7:14, Isaiah prophesied approximately from 758-698 BC).
Immanuel means "God with us".
2. Born in Bethlehem: "But as for you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, Too little to be among the clans of Judah, From you One will go forth for Me to be ruler in Israel. His goings forth are from long ago, From the days of eternity" (Micah 5:2). Micah prophesied from 756 to 697 BC. As the second person of the Trinity, Jesus’ days are from eternity.
|Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace, baby Jesus Christ
3. His government and pre-existence: Same as #2, "From you One will go forth for Me to be ruler in Israel. His goings forth are from long ago, From the days of eternity" (Micah 5:2). "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. There will no end to the increase of His government or of peace, On the throne of David and over his kingdom, To establish it and to uphold it with justice and righteousness From then on and forevermore. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will accomplish this" (Isaiah 9:6-7). Isaiah prophesied between 758 and 698 BC.
4. The killing of the children by Herod: "Thus says the Lord, ‘A voice is heard in Ramah, Lamentation and bitter weeping. Rachel is weeping for her children; She refuses to be comforted for her children, Because they are no more’" (Jeremiah 31:15).
5. Preceded by a messenger: "A voice is calling, ‘Clear the way for the Lord in the wilderness; Make smooth in the desert a highway for our God’" (Isaiah 40:3).
The fulfillment of this prophecy came in the person of John the Baptist. "...John the Baptist came, preaching in the wilderness of Judea, saying, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand’" (Matthew 3:1,2).
6. Ministry to begin in Galilee: "But there will be no more gloom for her who was in anguish; in earlier times He treated the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphthali with contempt, but later on He shall make it glorious, by the way of the sea, on the other side of Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles" (Isaiah 9:1).
The prophecy’s fulfillment is documented in Matthew 4:12,13,17: "Now when He heard that John had been taken into custody, He withdrew into Galilee; and leaving Nazareth, He came and settled in Capernaum, which is by the sea, in the region of Zebulun and Naphtali. From that time Jesus began to preach and say, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.’"
7. The king was to enter Jerusalem on a donkey: "Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout in triumph, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your king is coming to you; He is just and endowed with salvation, humble, and mounted on a donkey, Even on a colt, the foal of a donkey" (Zechariah 9:9). Jesus entered Jerusalem riding on a donkey (Luke 19:35,36,37).
The prophet Zechariah, who was born in Babylon, returned to rebuild Jerusalem with the first caravan of exiles under Zerubbabel and Jeshua, and was involved in the building of the second temple.
There are prophecies from the Old Testament which were fulfilled in one day. They were given by numerous prophets over five centuries from 1000-500 BC and concern the betrayal, trial, death and burial of Jesus Christ:
8. Betrayed by a friend: "Even my close friend, in whom I trusted, who ate my bread, Has lifted up his heel against me" (Psalms 41:9). Jesus was betrayed by Judas Iscariot, his friend (Matthew 10:4).
9. Sold for 30 pieces of Silver: "And I said to them, ‘If it is good in your sight, give me my wages; but if not, never mind!’ So they weighed out thirty shekels of silver as my wages" (Zecheriah 11:12). Judas betrayed Jesus for thirty pieces of silver (Matthew 27:3).
10. Money to be thrown in God’s house: "Then the Lord said to me, ‘Throw it to the potter, that magnificent price at which I was valued by them.’ So I took the thirty shekels of silver and threw them to the potter in the house of the Lord" (Zechariah 11:13).
When Judas saw that Jesus had been condemned, he felt remorse and returned the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders saying he had sinned and betrayed innocent blood. He threw the money into the sanctuary ("in the house of the Lord"). The chief priests concluded it was not lawful to return the money to the temple treasury as it was the price of blood. Therefore, with the money, they bought a potter’s field in which to bury strangers. God had revealed this to Zechariah hundreds of years earlier, around 530 B.C. Zechariah, however, was not fooled by the priests’ legal machinations to avoid the stain of innocent blood (form over substance), but placed the potter right in the house of the Lord.
The prophecies actually predict (1) betrayal, (2) by a friend, (3) for thirty pieces, (4) of silver, (5) money thrown, (6) in the house of the Lord and (7) refer to a "potter" whose field was bought.
Additional prophecies refer to the apostles abandoning Jesus (Prophecy in Zechariah 13:7 and fulfillment documented in Mark 14:50, Mark 14:27, and Matthew 26:31); to Jesus being accused by false witnesses (Prophecy in Psalms 35:11 and fulfilled in Matthew 26:59,60); that Jesus would be silent before his accusers (Prophecy in Isaiah 53:7 and fulfilled as documented in Matthew 27:12); that He would be wounded and bruised (Prophecy in Isaiah 53:5 and fulfilled in Matthew 27:26); that He would be smitten and spit upon (Prophecy in Isaiah 50:6 and fulfilled in Matthew 26:67); that He would be mocked (Prophecy in Psalms 22:7,8 and fulfilled in Matthew 27:31; that His hands and feet would be pierced (Prophecy in Psalms 22:16 and fulfilled in Luke 23:33, John 20:25); that He would be crucified with thieves (Isaiah 53:12 and fulfilled in Matthew 27:38, Mark 15:27,28); that He would make intercession for his persecutors (while on the cross) ( Prophecy in Isaiah 53:12 and fulfilled in Luke 23:34); that His own people would reject Him (Prophecy in Isaiah 53:3 and fulfilled in John 7:5,48); that He would be hated without cause (Psalms 69:4 and Isaiah 49:7 and fulfilled in John 15:25); that His friends stood afar (Psalms 38:11 and fulfilled in Luke 23:49); that people shook their heads (Psalms 109:25 and fulfilled in Matthew 27:39); that He was stared upon (Psalms 22:17 and fulfilled in Luke 23:35); that His garments were divided and lots were cast (Psalms 22:18 and fulfilled in John 19:23,24).
These prophecies continue to include: that He would suffer thirst (Prophecy documented in Psalms 69:21 and fulfilled in John 19:28); that gall and vinegar would be offered Him (Prophecy in Psalms 69:21 and fulfilled in Matthew 27:34); His forsaken cry (Prophecy in Psalms 22:1a and fulfilled in Matthew 27:46); the commitment of His Spirit to God (Prophecy in Psalms 31:5 and fulfilled in Luke 23:46); the fact that His bones were not broken (Prophecy in Psalms 34:20 and fulfilled in John 19:33; that His heart was broken (Psalms 22:14 and fulfilled in John 19:34); that His side was pierced (Zechariah 12:10 and fulfilled in John 19:34); that darkness covered the land (Amos 8:9 and fulfilled in Matthew 27:45) and that He was buried in a rich man’s tomb (Isaiah 53:9 and fulfilled in Matthew 27:57-60).
The 53 rd Chapter of Isaiah is a powerful, prophetic chapter regarding Jesus, the Messiah.
WHO has believed our message?
And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?
For He grew up before Him like a tender shoot,
And like a root out of parched ground;
He has no stately form or majesty
That we should look upon Him,
Nor appearance that we should be attracted to Him.
He was despised and forsaken of men,
A man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief;
And like one from whom men hide their face,
He was despised, and we did not esteem Him.
Surely our griefs He Himself bore
And our sorrows He carried;
Yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken,
Smitten of God, and afflicted.
But He was pierced through for our transgressions,
He was crushed for our iniquities;
The chastening for our well-being fell upon Him,
And by His scourging we are healed.
All of us like sheep have gone astray,
Each of us has turned to his own way;
But the Lord has caused the inequity of us all
To fall on Him.
He was oppressed and He was afflicted,
Yet He did not open His mouth;
Like a lamb that is led to slaughter,
And like a sheep that is silent before its shearers,
So He did not open His mouth.
By oppression and judgment He was taken away;
And as for His generation, who considered
That He was cut off out of the land of the living,
For the transgression of my people to whom the stroke was due?
His grave was assigned to be with wicked men,
Yet with a rich man in His death;
Although He had done no violence,
Nor was there any deceit in His mouth.
But the Lord was pleased
To crush Him, putting Him to grief;
If He would render Himself as a guilt offering,
He will see His offspring,
He will prolong His days,
And the good pleasure of the Lord will prosper in His hand.
As a result of the anguish of His soul,
He will see it and be satisfied;
By His knowledge the Righteous One,
My Servant, will justify the many,
As He will bear their iniquities.
Therefore I will allot Him a portion with the great,
And He will divide the booty with the strong;
Because He poured out Himself to death,
And was numbered with the transgressors;
Yet He Himself bore the sin of many,
And interceded for the transgressors (NASB, italics mine)
This incredible prophecy of Isaiah written around 700 BC rings with all the truths which the life of Jesus Christ embodied including the themes of substitutionary sacrifice for our sins, His innocence, His humble and unpretentious nature, His gentleness, His willingness to bear injustice, His crucifixion with two criminals on either side, and His burial in the tomb of a wealthy man, Joseph of Arimathea. Nothing less than a God who is omniscient, outside the dimension of time, could have given Isaiah such revelation. Isaiah prophesied concerning Judah and Jerusalem in the days of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz and Hezekiah, kings of Judah, probably from 758 to 698 BC. He was married with two sons. According to rabbinical tradition Isaiah was sawn in half, pursuant to the order of the idolatrous king Manasseh, in the trunk of a carob tree, when he was ninety years old (Smith, William, L.L.D., A Dictionary of The Bible, Thomas Nelson Publishers, Nashville).
David, born in Bethlehem in 1085 BC and King of Judah, wrote the following prophetic Psalm describing Jesus’s torment (Psalm 22, NASB):
My God, my God, why hast Thou forsaken me?
Far from my deliverance are the words of my groaning.
Oh my God, I cry by day, but Thou dost not answer;
Yet Thou art holy,
O Thou who art enthroned upon the praises of Israel.
In Thee our fathers trusted;
They trusted, and Thou didst deliver them.
To Thee they cried out, and were delivered;
In Thee they trusted, and were not disappointed.
But I am a worm and not a man,
A reproach of men, and despised by the people.
All who see me sneer at me;
They separate with the lip, they wag the head, saying,
Commit yourself to the Lord; let Him deliver him;
Let Him rescue him, because He delights in him."
..... For there is none to help.
Many bulls have surrounded me;
Strong bulls of Bashan have encircled me.
They open wide their mouth at me,
As a ravening and roaring lion.
I am poured out like water,
And all my bones are out of joint;
My heart is like wax;
It is melted within me.
My strength is dried up like a postherd,
And my tongue cleaves to my jaws;
And Thou dost lay me in the dust of death.
For dogs have surrounded me.
A band of evildoers has encompassed me;
They pierced my hands and my feet.
I can count all my bones.
They look, they stare at me;
They divide my garments among them,
And for my clothing they cast lots (Psalm 22: 1-8, 11-21, NASB, italics mine).
As already mentioned, the Roman soldiers pierced Jesus’s hands and feet with spikes. Since the Sabbath was drawing near, the soldiers approached Jesus to break his leg bones so he could no longer exhale and would suffocate, but he was already dead and no bones had to be broken. The Roman soldiers took Jesus’ outer garments and made four parts, a part to every soldier. His tunic was seamless and they did not want to tear it, so they cast lots to decide who would get it (John 19:23, 24). This is a prophecy made by David over a thousand years before Christ’s birth.
Isaiah 53 mentions “pierced for our transgressions” and Psalm 33 mentions “pierced my hands and my feet.” At the time of these prophecies crucifixion was not a form of capital punishment in the Middle East. It is the Romans who introduced crucifixion when they occupied Palestine centuries later.
God as the author of history through his Holy Spirit inspired his prophets to record these events which were not to be realized for hundreds of years.
The Prophetic Odds
Using statistical probability in Science Speaks, Peter Stoner calculates that the fulfillment of just eight prophecies is a statistical probability of 1 in 100,000,000,000,000,000 or 1 in 10 to the 17th power (see Stoner, Peter W. Science Speaks.
Chicago: Moody Press, 1963). To help us understand this staggering probability he provides the example of taking 10 to the 17th power silver dollars and laying them across the face of Texas. The entire state would be covered with silver dollars to a depth of two feet. "Now mark one of these silver dollars and stir the whole mass thoroughly, all over the state. Blindfold a man and tell him that he can travel as far as he wishes, but he must pick up one silver dollar and say that this is the right one. What chance would he have of getting the right one? Just the same chance that the prophets would have had of writing these eight prophecies and having them all come true in any one man, from their day to the present time, providing they wrote them in their own wisdom."
The chance of one man fulfilling 48 prophecies is 1 in 10 to the one hundred and fifty seventh power. Jesus uncannily fulfilled at least 48 prophecies. The odds of this happening are infinitesimal. There is no explanation but that an intelligent God inspired the writing of these prophecies, effectively "planting them," and then fulfilled the prophecies in the incarnation of His Son, Jesus Christ!
World Religions Article Conclusion
With respect to Christ’s incarnation, the analogy, undoubtedly inadequate, can be drawn of an anthill. If you, not being an ant, wish to communicate with the ants what better way for you to become an ant yourself, if it were in your power, and speak to the ants their language? In the same way God became a man in the person of Jesus Christ to show us His nature and communicate to us in our own language.
John 1:18 gives us the most incredible revelation of human history: No one has ever seen God, but God the One and Only, who is at the Father's side, has made him known.”
Buddha did not claim to be God. His moral teachings are certainly laudable but his beliefs in reincarnation and escaping suffering through a disassociation with the world are erroneous. Our eternal goal is not to extinguish all desires creating karma, but to spend eternity with the Creator of the Universe by believing in His incarnation as Jesus Christ and accepting Him as Lord and Savior. It is through Christ that life flows, that all creation is upheld moment by moment, that joy and fulfillment emanate, that death is overcome.
We know God because Christ, who is part of the Triune God, who is at his Father’s side has revealed God, Himself, to us. By his actions as a man, Christ showed us the nature of God. Christ was: loving, gentle, merciful, compassionate, sensitive, humble, just, but exposed hypocrisy and confronted evil. He healed the cripple and the leper, restored sight to the blind, fed the hungry, delivered the demon possessed, raised the dead, walked on water, stilled the storm and broke the bonds of death by resurrecting from the grave.
The advent of Christ involved a clearer revelation of God and a fuller knowledge of the personal distinctions of His being, according to Calvin.
The most incredible opportunity any human being has is to believe that the Triune God incarnated in the person of Jesus Christ and that by simply believing in him, we all have an opportunity of entering into an eternal relationship with the Godhead.
Romans 10:9 makes it perfectly clear, “if you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.”
We believe in our hearts through the assent of our minds, our intellect, and no human being in history has made and evidenced the claims of being God incarnate aside from Jesus Christ. It is time to believe in Him.