I have never forgotten the unusual conversation that I once had with a hitchhiker. We had not traveled very long together when I realized my rider was in some kind of a cult. He said that he would “come to power” in about 10 years and would end up being responsible for annihilating thousands, maybe millions of people. He went on and on, both amusing me and perturbing me. Finally, I turned to him and said, “So, who are you, anyway?” He looked me in the eye, paused, then said, “I am he, the 3rd Son of the Father, the Prince of Peace!”
Though this man probably hasn’t gained much of a following, the Bible does predict that in the last days, false Christs and false prophets would come and deceive many. A lot of people these days are putting their faith in false or imaginary Christs who cannot save them. You might meet two of these false Christs — introduced to you by the Mormons and the Jehovah’s Witnesses.
THE MORMONS’ JESUS
If a Mormon ever knocks on your door, he will bring a Jesus who is the spirit-brother of Lucifer. This Jesus is one of the billions of spirit-babies that our “Heavenly Father” and our “Heavenly Mother” brought into this universe. According to the Mormons, when Jesus lived on earth, he had several wives, one of whom was Mary Magdalene. After his death and resurrection, he came to America to preach to the Indians.
THE JEHOVAH’S WITNESSES’ JESUS
The Jehovah’s Witnesses will tell you that Jesus is Michael the Archangel, the first created being, who became a man and died on a stake instead of a cross. He was raised as a spirit-creature, becoming Michael the Archangel again, while his body was dissolved into gases.
THE REAL JESUS
I’m sure you recognize that these cultists have a Jesus different from the Jesus of the Bible, but can you describe the true, biblical Jesus? A lot of Americans can’t. A recent survey showed that though 80% of Americans would call Jesus the Son of God, only 40% believed that He was God, and only 40% believed he was sinless. This shows that millions of people have a mental concept of a false Christ, one who cannot save them.
It is important for you to be certain of your beliefs about Jesus so that you are not deceived, and so that you can introduce Him to others.
So what do we believe concerning Jesus? Our basic beliefs about Jesus could be divided into three categories, connected to three special days that we celebrate.
We Celebrate Christmas Because of the Incarnation
When I was very young, I was puzzled by a Christmas song that I heard several times on the radio. One phrase was sung over and over: “The birds and Mary had a baby boy. The birds and Mary had a baby boy. . . .” At least that’s what I thought the song said. Actually, the words were “The virgin Mary had a baby boy.”
Christmas celebrates the birth of Jesus to a virgin mother,1 for Jesus was conceived by the Holy Spirit.2 Though Jesus was human because he was born of a woman, He was also God Himself, the Creator of the world He entered. This is amazing but true: while Jesus was a baby, His mother Mary held and rocked the One who had created her.
God’s nature and human nature had come together in the person of Jesus. This is called the incarnation, which means God taking on human flesh, becoming a man.
Even Jesus’ name helps us understand who He is and why He became incarnate. The name Jesus means “The LORD saves.” He was given that name because He would “save His people from their sins.”3 Jesus was the only One who could be our Savior because He is the only person in the universe both man and God.
JESUS IS A MAN
It is not hard to recognize the Jesus of the New Testament as truly human. He was conceived in a mother’s womb, grew up, learned, and developed as a person.4 He got tired, slept, was tempted, and did about everything else that a human would do, except sin. He even died. He truly identified with the human race by becoming one of us.5
If Jesus were not a man, He could not have suffered and died. If Jesus were not man, His righteous life could not take the place of our sinful life; He could not have been our substitute. If He were not a man, Jesus would not qualify to be our priest who provided an eternal salvation.6 The humanity of Jesus is an essential part of the gospel.7
JESUS IS GOD
The Jesus of the Bible is not simply a human, however. He is also the one infinite (limitless) God of the universe. Jesus makes this claim Himself. He said, “I and my Father are One.”8 When He said this, the Jews started to stone him because they understood Him to be saying that He was equal to God. Did Jesus tell them, “No, you misunderstood Me. I am not really God!”? No, Jesus accepted their interpretation of His words. He taught that He was equal with God the Father.
When Jesus said, “Before Abraham was, I AM,”9 He was claiming to be the I AM of Exodus 3:14, the self-existent God of the universe.10 The Jews tried to stone Him for this claim as well.11
Jesus Performed Divine Acts While On Earth
Not only did Jesus make divine claims, but He also performed divine acts while He was on the earth. He gave eternal life.12 He forgave sins.13 These are things that only God can do.
When Jesus forgave the sins of the paralytic, He healed the man to prove that He had “power on earth to forgive sins.”14 One action was proof of the other, making it clear that Jesus had not performed the miracle of healing as simply a prophet anointed by God. Jesus had the divine authority to both forgive and heal.
He also resurrected Lazarus after saying, “I am the Resurrection and the Life.”15 This was another divine action accompanied by a divine claim. Only God can rightfully claim to be the “Resurrection” because it is only the power of God that can raise anyone from the dead. Jesus claimed to be this “Life-giver” and then gave Lazarus life, showing that He was who He claimed to be.16
When Jesus performed His miracles, He “manifested His glory,”17 the “glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.”18 These miracles were demonstrations of God the Son’s glorious power, proving He was divine.
Jesus is Creator and Sustainer
According to the Apostles John and Paul, Jesus created everything19 and holds everything together.20 Surely this could not be said of anyone but God.
It is Important for Us to Know that Jesus is God
If Jesus were not God, then His sacrificial death would not be of infinite value—enough for forgiveness of the sins of the world. If He were not God, He would not have the power to save us, but because He is God, He is the way, the truth, and the life.
If we fail to see Jesus as God, we will not honor him as God, which is something Jesus says we must do. He said that “all should honor the Son, just as they honor the Father.”21 We can’t be saved if we don’t honor both the Father and the Son as God.
Christianity is based not only on the teachings and actions of Jesus, but on the unique person of Jesus. He is not just the teacher of the message of salvation. He is Himself the Savior, and only He—the God-man—could have been the Savior.
JESUS IS ONE PERSON
Though Jesus has all of the nature of God and all of the nature of man, He is not two persons combined. The two natures form one person in Him, in perfect harmony. Jesus is the one God-man, and every action of Jesus has to be understood in light of His full humanity and full deity.
The church has always taught that the two natures in Jesus cannot be separated from one another, yet they are not mixed in a way that causes either nature to lose its characteristics.22
Jesus is Like the Bible
It may be helpful to compare the nature of Jesus to the nature of the Holy Scriptures. Like Jesus, the Bible is fully divine and fully human. Being a human book, it has the characteristics of any other human book, except that it is without mistake. Being divine, it consistently exhibits divine characteristics that no other book could. In the same way, Jesus consistently exhibits both human and divine qualities. The fact that the Bible shows divine characteristics does not make it any less of a human book. Likewise, the fact that Jesus operates in His deity doesn’t make Him any less human. And the fact that Christ operates in His humanity doesn’t make Him any less divine.
We Celebrate Good Friday Because of the Atonement
Good Friday is the day that Jesus was crucified. On this dreadful and wonderful day, Jesus took our sins to the cross. He died as a sacrifice for our sins so that we can be forgiven.
A SACRIFICE WAS NECESSARY
A sacrifice had to be made in order for God to forgive us and still be just and holy. This principle was taught in the Old Testament by the sacrifices God said must be offered.24 If God simply forgave sin without a basis, it would indicate that He is not just and that sin is not very serious. But nobody could look at Jesus’ death by crucifixion and say that sin is not serious. His sacrifice provided the basis for our forgiveness.
ONLY JESUS COULD BE A SUFFICIENT SACRIFICE
The justice of God and the seriousness of sin required a greater sacrifice than any created thing could be.25 We have sinned against an infinite God, which brings upon us infinite guilt. That is why only Jesus could be the sacrifice. He was qualified because He was God, and because He was man. Because He was God, He was sinless, and His sacrifice had infinite value. Because He was man, He could represent us and die in our place.
JESUS BROUGHT GOD AND MAN TOGETHER
Jesus came to reconcile two separated parties—God and man. As the mediator, Jesus had to represent both parties at the same time. As God, he represented God to man. As man, He represented man to God. By fully representing both sides, Jesus brought man and God together. It’s as though He grasped God’s hand on one side and man’s hand on the other and pulled us back together. He had done what each side had to do to bring about reconciliation.
We Celebrate Easter Because of the Resurrection
A lot of people only understand Easter as the time of the Easter bunny. Once a year, this legendary rabbit mysteriously lays brightly-colored eggs, a symbol of Spring time and new life. While I don’t honor the Easter bunny or Easter eggs, I am not sure that the association of Easter eggs with Easter is completely artificial, for Easter does have a lot to say about new life. Jesus rose from the grave on Easter morning, the third day after He was crucified. He showed that He had power over sin, death, and the devil. He not only took our death, but conquered it with life. Because He was victorious, we can be too!
JESUS AROSE BODILY
Jesus once said to the Jews, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” Though the Jews thought He was referring to the temple Herod built, John’s Gospel explains that Jesus was actually referring to His body.26 All the Gospels record the fact that Jesus’ tomb was empty three days after He was buried in it. The tomb was empty because the body itself had been raised. Jesus showed Himself to the disciples after His resurrection, saying, “Handle me, and see, for a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see I have.”27 He was proving that He had literally, physically risen from the dead.
Jesus’ bodily resurrection demonstrated His total victory over sin and death.28
Jesus’ bodily resurrection proved that He was who He claimed to be. Thus it also proved the gospel. People who deny that Jesus literally, bodily rose from the dead also deny the gospel.29
Jesus’ resurrection gives us the assurance that we will also be raised from the dead. Jesus promised that He would raise the dead, but that would be unbelievable unless He Himself rose.30 We will be raised to have bodies like Jesus’ glorified body.31
JESUS IS STILL HUMAN
The resurrection shows us that the incarnation is permanent. Jesus will always be human as well as divine. God has added human nature to His own nature for eternity, in order to restore His creatures to a love relationship with Himself. Jesus, still the God-man, now intercedes for us with the Father,32 and will someday return to take us to heaven.33
We Yield to Jesus Because of Who He Is and What He Did
If you accept the truths we just shared about Jesus, but haven’t yet yielded to His rightful claim on your life, I would encourage you to sincerely pray this prayer:
Father, I thank you for loving me enough to send your Son Jesus into the world for my sake. I believe that Jesus is the sinless God-man who die and rose again so I could be forgiven for my sins and be restored to a relationship with you. I am very sorry for all the sins I have committed. I know my sins nailed Jesus to the cross. So right now I turn away from everything I know is wrong, and I receive Jesus into my heart and life as my Lord and Savior. Lead me from now on. I am going to live for you forever! Thank you for forgiving me. I love you. Amen.
- Luke 1:34, “Then Mary said to the angel, ‘How can this [pregnancy] be, since I do not know a man?’”
- Luke 1:35, “And the angel answered and said to her, ‘The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God.’”
- Matthew 1:21.
- Luke 2:52, “And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men.”
- John 1:14, “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.”
- Hebrews 10:5-7, “Therefore when He came into the world, He said: ‘Sacrifice and offering You did not desire, but a body You have prepared for Me. In burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin You had no pleasure.’ Then I said, ‘Behold, I have come – in the volume of the book it is written of Me – to do Your will, O God.’” See also 5:7-9 and 4:15.
- 1 John 5:1, “Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and everyone who loves Him who begot also loves him who is begotten of Him.”
- John 10:30.
- John 8:58.
- Exodus 3:14, “And God said to Moses, ‘I AM WHO I AM.’ And He said, ‘Thus you shall say to the children of Israel, “I AM has sent me to you.”’
- John 8:59.
- John 10:28, “And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand.”
- Mark 2:10, “‘But that you may know that the Son of Man has power on earth to forgive sins’ – He said to the paralytic, ‘Take up thy bed and walk.’” And he did.
- Mark 2:10-12.
- John 11:25.
- In this event, Jesus clearly distinguished Himself from other prophets and the apostles who raised people from the dead by the power of God. None of these claimed to have the power in and of themselves to do the work. They were simply instruments of God. In John 5:21, Jesus said that he raises the dead just as the Father raises the dead.
- John 2:11.
- John 1:14.
- John 1:3, “All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made.” Colossians 1:16, “For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth . . .”
- Colossians 1:17, “And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist.”
- John 5:23.
- The Chalcedon Creed (A.D. 451) says that the two natures of Christ are unchanging, indivisible, inseparable, and confused.
- To atone means to provide an adequate basis for forgiveness so that sins can be taken away. It results in at-one-ment, or reconciliation with God.
- Hebrews 9:22, “And according to the law almost all things are purged with blood, and without shedding of blood there is no remission.”
- Hebrews 10:4, “For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and goats could take away sins.”
- John 2:19-21.
- Luke 24:39.
- Colossians 2:14-15, “[Jesus] wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross. Having disarmed principalities and powers, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them in it.”
- 1 Corinthians 15:17, “And if Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins.”
- John 5:28-29, “Do not marvel at this; for the hour is coming in which all who are in the graves will hear His voice and come forth – those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation.”
- 1 John 3:2, “. . . but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. “ Philippians 3:21 “Who will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body . . .”
- Romans 8:34, “Who is he who condemns? It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us.”
- 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17, “For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord.”