Are such claims supported by the evidence?
Can we trust the Bible to tell us the truth about Jesus?
Is Jesus Christ truly God?
Can we find evidence of his deity in the Old Testament?
Does the New Testament affirm unequivocally that He is God?
Are there reliable non-Christian sources that back such claims of deity?
This book aims at addressing these fundamental questions while providing solid internal and external evidence of the divinity of Jesus Christ. In this age of plural spirituality, thirst for truth, and in need of an evidence-based dialogue among various religions, the book makes a compelling case for a closer scrutiny of prophecies contained in the Bible.
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THE DIVINITY OF JESUS CHRIST REVISITED IN THE THIRD MILLENNIUMEvidence of His Deity
By Leopold Sarr
AuthorHouseCopyright © 2012 Leopold Sarr
All right reserved.
Most religions (Hinduism, Mormonism, Jehovah's Witness, Islam, Scientology, Unitarianism, Baha'ism, etc.) claim that Jesus is not God but simply a man. To some he is a human being who has worked his way to godhood; to others he is just a teacher or guru or a prophet of God. Some have argued that there is no indication of His deity in the Bible, much less in any of His sayings in which He never claimed to be God. Others have even taken it to an extreme to argue that Jesus never existed historically. While our focus will not be on the latter issue, as many excellent books already exist that provide irrefutable evidence of Jesus's historicity, this book was written to shed definitive light on this long-standing debate concerning the nature of Christ, particularly His divinity.
In the early centuries of Christianity, controversies had erupted about His humanity, but today the issue seems to have re-centered around his alleged deity by Christians. What does the Bible tell us about the deity of Jesus? Are there Old Testament passages that present Jesus Christ as God? Are there New Testament verses that attest to His divinity? Are there external sources providing evidence of (or claims to) His deity? These are the fundamental questions this book attempts to address while placing the debate in the historical context of Jesus's life, ministry, death, and resurrection.
Ever since the birth of Jesus, controversies regarding His divinity have emerged. The Jewish leadership (both the Pharisees and the Sadducees) and even some professed Christians in the first centuries have wrestled with the idea of a God-man. How could God be man? How could anyone be both unlimited as God and bound by time and space like any human being or angel? Are both divine and human natures embodied in the person of Jesus Christ? Or was Jesus half-God and half-human?
Most seem to agree with the fact that Jesus was undeniably a human being who walked the face of the earth. The issue most people grapple with is His divinity, even as they acknowledge that He was a man. To try to understand this mystery or solve the puzzle, I will conduct a careful and exhaustive examination of the Scripture. Some may be tempted to object that explaining from the Bible what I purport to prove is tautological and already biased. Isn't it obvious that the Bible will claim that Jesus is God? The question is, then: how can we trust that the Bible is telling us the truth?
First, many critics have precisely used the very same Bible to disprove that Jesus is God, and my intention, for one thing, is to enlighten the debate in this regard. On the other hand, I intend to address the concerns of those who would like to reject even the idea of using the Bible in the first place. Therefore, our goal in this book is to provide both internal and external validity to the claims of Jesus's divinity, in keeping with the idea of randomized experiments now so prevalent in social sciences.
Thousands of years ago, Eastern religions developed the idea that God is in each one of us. Now, many people from the West have made it commonplace to think that we are gods in the same way Jesus was: a mere man who worked his way to attain the "God consciousness." This is incarnated, for instance, by the New Age or Mind Science movement, which claims that we can achieve whatever we set our minds to. For instance, actress Shirley MacLaine argues, in the following terms, that Jesus was "travelling in and around India and Tibet and Persia and the Near East" and was trained as a "yogi" before returning to Galilee. She came up with this fantasy simply because there is no record of Jesus's life between age twelve and thirty. Like her, a number of New Agers have claimed that Jesus took those "silent" years to learn from Eastern gurus. If such claims are true, we should find evidence of Hindu teaching in the New Testament writings, with reference to those gurus from whom Jesus presumably had learned. In this book, I will attempt to address this question while providing solid evidence of Christ's divine nature.
First, I will present what the Scripture says about the eternality and preexistence of Jesus. Second, I will document where the Bible emphasizes Jesus as being the one and only Savior, the Messiah that the Jews were awaiting for centuries. Then I will describe Him as a Member of the Holy Trinity, with the special relationship that exists among the three Persons of the triune God, after which I will expose His divine attributes. Next, I will present the writings and sayings of those who have effectively acknowledged the deity of Jesus during His ministry on earth, while exposing how His divinity was challenged to the point of nailing Him to the cross for claiming to be God. Finally, I will highlight the role of fulfilled prophecies regarding Jesus's birth, His earthly ministry, and His death and resurrection, all of which ineluctably point to His divinity. Once His deity is established through internal evidence, I will turn to historical and external evidences to infer His sovereignty as God. While presenting the evidence, I shall underscore how the Bible stands out on one side, vis-à-vis other religious books, as the very Word of the One and True God of the universe.
The Bible is unlike any other book. It is God's revelation to mankind, His Word to humanity. If God exists, then He must be able to tell that He exists and to communicate what He wants to mankind. Although the Bible was not dictated from heaven by God, it is a divinely inspired book. The human authors who wrote the Bible were led by the Holy Spirit, the third Person of the Trinity (the doctrine of which I shall elaborate on later), who directed the writing of the original texts. This included the very words and phrases chosen, in spite of the freedom that these writers enjoyed while penning the biblical texts. Admittedly, the authors of the Bible were not themselves inspired, i.e., God-breathed, but rather their writing. These authors were moved by the Holy Spirit as they wrote Scripture (2 Pet. 1:21). Therefore, the Bible bears God's seal of truth in all its statements, including those of a scientific, historical, or factual nature. As a result, the Bible cannot err, insofar as it is the Word of God, because God is omniscient and infallible. It is, consequently, the final authority on all matters about which it speaks, all things that pertain to life and godliness (2 Pet. 1:3).
But then you may object, "How do we know that the Bible is God's Word?" One of the major proofs that it is God's Word is fulfilled prophecy. God declares in the book of Isaiah:
9 Remember the former things of old: for I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like me,
10 Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure:
God is saying that He will announce ahead of time the things that are to come, to let mankind know that He exists. God is able to do this because He is outside time; He is not bound by physical reality. Science has now established, with Einstein's theory of relativity, that time is not only finite but also a physical property that varies with mass, gravity, and acceleration (2 Tim. 1:9). God, being outside of time, is able to see the entire human history before it unfolds. To illustrate this, I will take a concrete example. The nation of Israel was destroyed in 605 BC by the armies of Nebuchadnezzar and was taken to exile in Babylon. Then the Jews were allowed to return to their land in Israel in 539 BC, when Cyrus, the Persian king, conquered Babylon. In AD 70, Roman troops invaded Jerusalem to bring down a rebellion, destroying the Temple and killing over one million Jews. The surviving Jews were compelled into exile throughout the world. This destruction of the Jewish Temple was literally prophesied by Daniel (Dan. 9:26) about 530 BC and again by Jesus Christ Himself (Matt. 24:1–2) about forty years before it came to pass. Furthermore, the second return of the Jews from exile was prophesied between 700 and 500 BC by several prophets of Israel, and it was literally fulfilled only in 1948 when Israel became an independent nation again after almost 1900 years (cf. Isaiah 11:11–12; Jeremiah 23:3–8; Ezek. 37:21–22; Amos 9:9, 13–15). Let us read these passages one by one.
The first time the Israelites were gathered back to the Promised Land from outside Israel was after they had been exiled to Babylon. Isaiah thus prophesied that they would be gathered again the second time, and this happened only in 1948 after the Jews were forced into exile, wandering around the world (Deut. 28:64–66).10 Let us read from the book of Isaiah:
11 And it shall come to pass in that day, [that] the Lord shall set his hand again the second time to recover the remnant of his people, which shall be left, from Assyria, and from Egypt, and from Pathros, and from Cush, and from Elam, and from Shinar, and from Hamath, and from the islands of the sea.
12 And he shall set up an ensign for the nations, and shall assemble the outcasts of Israel, and gather together the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth.
Note in verse 12 that the prophet Isaiah underscored the fact that the wandering Jews would be gathered from the four corners of the earth. To be sure, this did not happen after the Babylonian exile, as most Jews were coming back from Babylon and possibly from parts of the ancient Assyrian empire where they were deported (Dan. 9:7). Moreover, history proves that, at that time, the Jews were not wandering around the world. This happened only in 1948 when the State of Israel was declared, ending British control over the land.
Like Isaiah, Ezekiel was a Jewish prophet who also prophesied the second return of the Jews in 1948. Born into the priesthood lineage around 622 BC, Ezekiel was exiled to Babylon (2 Kings 24:12–16) during the second wave, around 597 BC, like many other upper-class Jews—such as Daniel and his three friends, who were among the first wave of those deported in 605 BC. Ezekiel was called by God to warn the Israelites and to remind them of the reasons why such calamities were falling upon them. For twenty-two years, he preached among the discouraged captives in Babylon. In Ezekiel 37, during the time the prophet was writing his book, the exiled Jews were mainly living in Babylon and not in other parts of the world. However, verse 21 emphasizes that the Jews would come from the Gentile nations in every part of the world—the rest of the world, with respect to Israel. Furthermore, the Jews have not had a king, from the time they returned from Babylon to this day. Zerubbabel, the governor of the Persian province of Judah, and Joshua, the high priest, led the return of the captives to Jerusalem to rebuild the Temple (Hag. 1:1). The Ezekiel passage specifically mentions that Israel will no longer be divided but will come back to the land as one nation, and this was only fulfilled in 1948.
21 And say unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I will take the children of Israel from among the heathen, whither they be gone, and will gather them on every side, and bring them into their own land:
22 And I will make them one nation in the land upon the mountains of Israel; and one king shall be king to them all: and they shall be no more two nations, neither shall they be divided into two kingdoms any more at all:
Note that the prophecy in Ezekiel 37:22 about a King for the nation of Israel is yet to be fulfilled. The return of Jesus Christ is expected on earth, and when He comes, He will set up His Kingdom from Jerusalem, as clearly prophesied in numerous passages of the Bible (Zech. 1:17; 3:2; 14:16–17; Ps. 2:6; Isaiah 2:1–2).
In the same vein as Ezekiel, the prophet Amos—who lived around 750 BC and was a contemporary of the prophets Isaiah, Hosea, and Micah—foretold the return to the Promised Land. He prophesied the return of the Jews to the land God had promised to Abraham and his seed, e.g., the Jews: the land that goes from the river of Egypt unto the great river Euphrates (Gen. 15:18). He warned the Jews that it shall not be sold because it belongs to Him, Jehovah God (Lev. 25:23). Let us read from the book of Amos:
Amos 9:9, 13-15
9 For, lo, I will command, and I will sift the house of Israel among all nations, like as [corn] is sifted in a sieve, yet shall not the least grain fall upon the earth.
13 Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that the plowman shall overtake the reaper, and the treader of grapes him that soweth seed; and the mountains shall drop sweet wine, and all the hills shall melt.
14 And I will bring again the captivity of my people of Israel, and they shall build the waste cities, and inhabit [them]; and they shall plant vineyards, and drink the wine thereof; they shall also make gardens, and eat the fruit of them.
15 And I will plant them upon their land, and they shall no more be pulled up out of their land which I have given them, saith the LORD thy God.
This last verse provides the solid assurance that no country or power has been—nor will be—able to destroy Israel again as a nation after their return to the land in 1948. Note that this verse is not referring to the first return after the Babylonian exile, although it was written before the first deportation of the Jews in 605 BC, because that would contradict what happened in AD 70, as we saw earlier. Even if we accept, for the sake of argument, that the book of Amos was written after the Jews returned to rebuild the Temple and Jerusalem—starting from 539 BC after king Cyrus's edict—it would still be an amazing prophecy fulfilled in 1948 after more than two thousand years. Furthermore, verse 9 made it absolutely unambiguous that the exiled Jews would come from all nations, and the only time this happened was in 1948. Appendix 1 provides a detailed description of the 135 prophecies of Daniel 11 fulfilled literally throughout history. The prophecies were so accurate that critics had no other choice but to late-date the book of Daniel, as they could not comprehend how someone could be that precise. The Bible declares that nothing is impossible or too hard for God (Gen. 18:14; Jeremiah 32:17; Luke 18:27).
Finally, to establish this irrefutable proof of the Bible being the Word of God, I shall quote another witness, in accordance with the teaching of the Bible that every matter shall be established by the mouth of two or three witnesses (Deut. 19:5; 17:6). This witness is none other than the prophet Jeremiah, whose mission started around 627 BC—a few years before the destruction of Jerusalem in 605 BC by king Nebuchadnezzar—and spanned some period of the Babylonian exile. Let us read:
3 And I will gather the remnant of my flock out of all countries whither I have driven them, and will bring them again to their folds; and they shall be fruitful and increase.
4 And I will set up shepherds over them which shall feed them: and they shall fear no more, nor be dismayed, neither shall they be lacking, saith the LORD.
5 Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will raise unto David a righteous Branch, and a King shall reign and prosper, and shall execute judgment and justice in the earth.
6 In his days Judah shall be saved, and Israel shall dwell safely: and this [is] his name whereby he shall be called, THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS.
7 Therefore, behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that they shall no more say, The LORD liveth, which brought up the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt;
8 But, The LORD liveth, which brought up and which led the seed of the house of Israel out of the north country, and from all countries whither I had driven them; and they shall dwell in their own land.
Note that this prophecy of the Jews returning to Israel in 1948 (as specifically mentioned in verses 3 and 8) has nothing to do with those small, psychic predictions invading our world today, which any witty magician or sorcerer could produce. This is a world-shaking event that no one can deny. In like manner, the rise and fall of the Babylonian empire, which was taken over by the Medes and the Persians, who were in turn subdued by the Greek empire, which was defeated later by the Romans, are all historical events that can be easily verified. This succession of world empires has been amazingly described in the book of Daniel, who prophesied the so-called time of the Gentiles, which started with King Nebuchadnezzar and continued up to our present time. These prophecies are in sharp contrast to the predictions given by Islam, Hinduism, Jehovah's Witnesses, Mormons, or any other religion: these other predictions turned out to be false, were surrounded by ambiguity, or were never fulfilled. (See, for instance, Appendix 2, regarding some prophecies contained in the Qur'an, and Appendix 3, relative to prophecies made by the founders of the Jehovah's Witness religion). To be sure, none of the predictions from other religions can claim to be unequivocally related to a world-shaking event that we can still verify today. I defy anyone to provide a prediction similar to the one I have just described concerning the return of the Jews to Israel. Only the Bible offers such irrefutable evidence.
Excerpted from THE DIVINITY OF JESUS CHRIST REVISITED IN THE THIRD MILLENNIUM by Leopold Sarr Copyright © 2012 by Leopold Sarr. Excerpted by permission of AuthorHouse. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
2 Preexistence and Eternality of Jesus Christ....................29
3 Jesus Is the Only Savior....................61
4 Jesus: A Member of the Trinity....................89
5 The Divine Attributes of Jesus....................149
6 Jesus's Deity Acknowledged by His Contemporaries....................219
7 The Scripture Testifies of Jesus....................283
8 The Divinity of Christ Does Not Suppress His Humanity: Learning to Distinguish Both Natures in the Scripture....................383
Appendix 1: Prophecies fulfilled in Daniel 11....................393
Appendix 2: Assessing Prophecies in the Qur'an....................403
Appendix 3: Unfulfilled Prophecies by the Jehovah's Witnesses....................405
Appendix 4: Comparisons Between KJV and the NIV....................411
Appendix 5: Comparisons between KJV and (NASB or NKJV)....................423
Appendix 6: Contradictions between the Bible and the Mormon Sacred Books....................433
Appendix 7: Contradictions among the Mormon's Sacred Writings....................441
Appendix 8: Contradictions between the Bible and Jehovah's Witness Teaching....................443
Appendix 9: Contradictions between the Qur'an and the Bible....................447
Appendix 10: Mathematical Prophecy as Interpreted by Sir Robert Anderson....................453
Appendix 11: Scientific Evidence for a Young Earth....................459
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Great Book - easy to read. I highly recommend it to those who still have questions about which version of the bible to use, and those interested in learning more about prophecies. The author is a gifted teacher.