Is Jesus God?

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Is Jesus God? Jesus of Nazareth (c. 5 BC/BCE – c. 30-33 AD/CE), also referred to as Jesus Christ or simply Jesus, is the central figure of Christianity. Most Christian denominations venerate him as God the Son incarnate and believe that he rose from the dead after being crucified. Christians traditionally believe that Jesus was born of a virgin, performed miracles, founded the Church, rose from the dead, and ascended into heaven, from which he will return. Most Christian scholars today present Jesus as the awaited Messiah promised in the Old Testament and as God, arguing that he fulfilled many Messianic prophecies of the Old Testament. The majority of Christians worship Jesus as the incarnation of God the Son, one of three divine persons of a Trinity. A few Christian groups, however, reject Trinitarianism, wholly or partly, believing it to be non-scriptural.

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Nobody can deny the fact that every leader of every major world religion has confronted the historic person of Jesus Christ. Muslims recognize Jesus as a prophet, while Jews either see him as a blaspheming rebel or an exceptional rabbi elevated to deity by idolatrous Gentiles. Many Buddhists regard Jesus as a “bodhisattva” (a perfectly enlightened being who vows to help others), while there’s a Hindu tradition that Jesus was actually a guru who learned yogic meditation in India. What’s the truth about Jesus?

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When people talk about the other religious and philosophical leaders of history, people usually can participate in some sort of intellectual discussion. But when people try to discuss Jesus, there usually is evoked some hostility and intolerance. There is something that makes Jesus more contentious than all the other religious leaders combined. Why has the name “Jesus Christ” caused more division, agitation and controversy than any other name in history?

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The reason is, unlike any other widely followed religious leader in history, Jesus Christ made a unique claim. He declared himself God incarnate — the creator of the universe in human flesh. Intellectually, that’s very disturbing.

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Indeed, no legitimate scholar today denies that Jesus is a historic figure that walked on this earth about 2,000 years ago, that He did remarkable wonders and acts of charity, and that He died a horrible death on a Roman cross just outside Jerusalem. The emotionally-charged dispute focuses specifically on whether Jesus was God incarnate who rose from the dead three days after His Crucifixion.

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Who is Jesus, and why is it important for us to know? We live in an age of religious pluralism and moral relativism. The popular spiritual philosophy is that all religious belief systems, as long as heart-felt, are equal. Pick one and follow it sincerely, and you’ll get to Heaven. That’s what the world believes, but Jesus teaches otherwise. In John 14:6, Jesus declares: “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” Therefore, it seems that we can’t build a relationship with God by only doing good deeds or repeating rituals, but only by believing in Jesus Christ. So, we need to examine who Jesus is.

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The answers are found in the Bible. The Bible declares that He was 100% man. According to John 1:14, Jesus became flesh and made His dwelling among us. According to 1 John 3:5, Jesus came to earth in human form so that He could die a physical death and take away our sins. How would we all be affected, if we had no potential for escape from our sins? The Bible also declares that He was 100% God. According to John 1:1-3, Jesus existed from the beginning. From the beginning, Jesus was with God, and Jesus was God. Here, the Bible establishes the inseparable nature of Jesus and the God of the Universe.

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Many people have dealt with the dispute on the divinity of Jesus Christ by intellectually accepting Jesus as a great man, great teacher, or great prophet. However, Jesus and His followers said more than just that: they declared Him to be God (John 10:30-38, Matthew 16:13-17, Mark 14:61-64, John 14:6, Hebrews 1:8, Colossians 1:16, John 12:40-41 [quoting Isaiah 6:1-10]).

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Therefore, since Jesus claimed to be God, to accept Jesus as merely a great man, great teacher, or great prophet is logically incorrect. There are really only two legitimate conclusions which one can make — His claims are either true or false. If false, He must have been a liar, deliberately misleading the multitudes. Or, He was a lunatic, sincerely believing Himself to be God, when in reality He was just a man. However, most people now agree that Jesus was a “good man”. How then could He be both good and a liar, or good and crazy? Thus, a great many people argue, He must have been telling the truth.

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Unfortunately, aside from what the Bible declares, there is no scientific or any other convincing proof on the divinity of Jesus Christ. The Gospels were written 30 to 50 years after the crucifixion of Jesus, and we now date some of the early Christian creeds, proclaiming the life, death and resurrection of Jesus, to 3 to 10 years after His crucifixion. This includes Paul’s letters to the Corinthians, Romans and Galatians. So, the Bible is not really a contemporaneous account of the times. More importantly, it is now universally accepted that the Bible is not an accurate historical record.

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In the final analysis, the question on the divinity of Jesus Christ must not be answered by reason – it can only be answered by faith.

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