Two articles follow which deal with the reality of the person of Christ. Our faith rests upon the revealed Word of God. Yet even the historical record substantiates that a man once moved in this world, Jesus Christ of Nazareth, who claimed to be the Son of God.
The faith of the Christian does not rest on a nonexistent or fictitious person, but on a Savior who actually lived, died and rose again. The Christian is not like the school boy we have heard of who, when asked to give a definition of faith, said “It is believing what we know to be untrue.” It is true that faith in one sense requires no evidence of things unseen (Heb 11:1-3), yet in another important sense it rests on facts that were seen in the life, death and resurrection of Christ. At the same time, it must be understood that the Bible is not only a record of facts, but it is a divine revelation. So in reality it must come down to one basic point: the Holy Scriptures are either a divine revelation or they are not. We will look at the subject of the certainty of the person and work of Christ in three ways: Historical Evidence, Biblical Emphasis and Personal Experience.
Was there such a person as Jesus of Nazareth? Did He have a real existence? Is He a figure of history? Even today very few deny His existence. Yet most dispute His claim to deity. If Christian testimony is not founded on fact, it is the greatest possible fallacy and Christ is the greatest possible deceiver. Nearly two thousand years have run their course since Christ was here. During this time period, there have been those who have tried to expose Christianity as a sham, but these attempts have miserably failed.
There are a number of secular writers who lived a little time after Christ. The most famous of these was Josephus, the Jewish historian. He wrote his work, “Jewish Antiquities,” around AD 93. This work has been accepted as a well documented and reliable record of Jewish history. In it, he has an interesting reference to the Lord. His testimony is all the more valuable, not only as a reliable source of information, but being Jewish and not a Christian, his commendation of Christ is remarkable. Here is part of what he says, “Now there was about this time a wise man, if it be lawful to call Him a man. For He was ever a doer of wonderful works – a teacher of such men as receive truth with pleasure. He drew over to Him both many of the Jews and many of the Gentiles…” History does indeed give evidence that such a person as Jesus the Christ existed. He publicly wrought miracles, publicly taught and publicly was crucified. No one can deny that He lived in history. Without Him there would be no history. He is the goal of all history. The faith of the Christian then is grounded on the facts of a real Person. He is no figment of the imagination. He has really been in this world. Do we believe He is all that He claims to be, and do we trust our souls to Him? If so, we will know the certainty of His salvation.
To show the Scriptural evidence let us just look at one striking statement which bears on this theme. The Apostle John writes in I John 5:20, “We know that the Son of God is come and has given us an understanding that we may know Him that is true… this is the true God.” These words are very definite and helpful for us because they are found in the last of the doctrinal books of the New Testament and come from the last survivor of the twelve apostles. They are a very fundamental record of John’s belief. Are his words a lie? If this witness is false, then he and his fellow disciples were not merely misguided, but they were deliberate deceivers. Is this the case? Let us listen to John, “We know the Son of God is come.” Here is summed up the great fact of Christianity and the whole message of the Bible. It is this which faith accepts and in which it rejoices.
The Bible speaks emphatically and without hesitation as to the reality of Christ. In effect John is saying, “I believe in the Manifestation, Mission and Majesty of the Son of God.” It is not just that a notable person named Jesus was here, but that “the Son of God has come”.
It is a public fact, He has been here. He mixed among men. It is good to point out that John does not say, “The Son of God HAS come,” but “IS come.” Faith rests not on the historical event of His coming with all its world wide significance, but on the permanent fact with all its wonderful results for believers.
What an assurance John gives to his readers who had at one time been pagans! He does not say, “We suppose” or “We hope,” but rather, “We know.” Here is certainty indeed. This is a fact not only resulting in salvation for pagans in John’s day, but salvation today for all men, whether college professors or plain men.
Sir Robert Anderson, a chief of criminal investigation at Scotland Yard, London, a man responsible for knowing facts, wrote, “If the Son of God has come, is it possible that God has not provided us an authentic record of His mission and ministry? Even the credulity of unbelief might well give way under the strain of such a supposition … but we know that the Son of God is come. With certainty therefore we accept the record. No one can doubt the Bible’s clear emphasis on the fact of the reality of Christ. The great work of the Son of God is not only to save souls, but to give those who are saved the knowledge of the true God and a standing in Him that is true.
“We saw thee not when Thou didst come
To this poor world of sin and death,
Nor e’er beheld Thy cottage home’
In that despised Nazareth;
But we believe Thy footsteps trod
Its streets and plains Thou Son of God.”
Millions over the centuries since Christ came have experienced the presence and power of Christ in their lives. If there is no certainty in Christ and His work, how do we account for dramatic and sudden conversions and changed lives in countless multitudes? What other causes can we give. for people who have lived sinful lives, controlled by sinful habits, and yet suddenly have been transformed? What is it that changes the compulsive gambler or the poor drunkard? What power is it that keeps them from going back to their former self and ways? Is it a new moral code or some religious dogma? No! It is faith in a real and living Christ. It is by His power that lives are changed. It is not only that Christ has come into the physical realm of this world, but He comes to dwell in the hearts of men by faith. Those who rest by faith in the certainty of His work at Calvary know by the witness of the indwelling Spirit (Rom 8:16) and by their changed lives and character that He has come, and lives to control the one who has trusted Him.
Two great proofs of the certainty of Christ are the death by suicide of Judas and the life of the Apostle Paul. Judas was driven to this by the reality of Christ. Paul was suddenly changed from being a bitter opponent of Christianity by the power of the living Christ. Many of the early believers were martyred. Would these saints suffer and die for a lie? Were all the apostles and early Christians wrong? Did they believe a lie? We are told for instance that 500 brethren at once witnessed Christ in resurrection. Roger Babson, a noted statistician has said, that if twenty witnesses agree on one thing, the ratio of probability that the event is true is one billion to one. If five hundred agreed on the resurrection of Christ being a reality (and they did!), the ratio of probability that it is true is infinity to one.
More than ever there is so much uncertainty in this world, but in Christ there is the certain guarantee of eternal life.