JESUS CHRIST, THE SON OF GOD
by Wayne S. Walker
In a conversation that Jesus had with His apostles, we read, "He said to them, ‘But who do you say that I am?’ Simon Peter answered and said, ‘You are the Christ, the Son of the living God’" (Matthew 16:5-16). Our faith in the existence of God rests on solid evidence. Likewsie, our faith in the inspiration of the scriptures is based on solid evidence. The past several articles of this series have been designed to show that the Bible is the divine word of God. Our basic proposition beginning with this article is that, having demonstrated the Bible to be a revelation from God to man, the fundamental affirmation of that revelation is true, which affirmation is that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.
The name "Jesus" was apparently a very common name in New Testament times. It is the Greek form of the Hebrew name Joshua, which is actually a shortened form of the name Jehoshua, meaning "Jehovah is salvation." It is the name that the angel directed Joseph and mary to give the child that was born of Mary by the Holy Spirit (Matthew 1:21, Luke 1:31). Gabriel told Joseph that the reason for this was that He would save His people from their sins. This particular Jesus is called Christ. The term "Christ" is the Greek form of the Hebrew word "Messiah" which means anointed one (Psalm 2:2-7). This means that Jesus was specially chosen by the Father and sent for a specific purpose as prophesied in the Old Testament. To say that Jesus Christ is "the Son of God" does not mean that He is just "a son of God" in the same sense that all Christians are sons or children of God (1 John 3:1). It means that He is "the only-begotten Son of God" (John 3:16). He is "one of a kind" because He sustains a unique relationship to the Father, partaking of the same divine nature as the Father (John 1:1).
The claim that Jesus Christ is the Son of God is very significant in the scriptures. It is a matter of divine revelation (Matthew 16:17). It was proclaimed by angels to the shepherds of Bethlehem shortly after Christ was born (Luke 2:11). It was declared by God Himself from heaven on at least two separate occasions (Matthew 3:17, 17:4). It was the theme of all New Testament preaching (Acts 2:36). It is the very foundation of the church, as Jesus said that His being the Christ, the Son of God, is the rock upon which He would build His church (Matthew 16:18). It is the reason for which the scriptures were written, to present evidence that would convince us of this fact (John 20:30-31). And we must believe and confess the Sonship of Jesus in order to be saved (Romans 10:9-10).
Yet, was there ever even such a person as Jesus? Most modernists today will admit at least certain historical portions of the gospel accounts of Jesus’s life. However, for those who still doubt, we have the record of Jewish historian Flavius Josephus, who was an emeny of Christians and would not knowingly or intentionally give evidence for Christ. In His Antiquities of the Jews and Was of the Jews, there are several references to Jesus. Some are questionable, but two fairly reliable passages mention "James, the brother of Jesus the so-called Christ," and Jesus in connection with John the Baptist. In addition, there were certain Roman historians, also enemies of Christianity or at best indifferent to it, such as Cornelius Tacitus, Suetonius, and Pliny the Younger, who provide evidence for the existence of a man named Jesus in first century Palestine from whom sprung a new religion. "It is also written in your law that the testimony of two men is true" (John 8:17).
Thus, we have certain facts which are admitted by almost everyone. First, Jesus lived. In spite of the fact that there have been a few skeptics of the Bible who denied that Jesus ever lived as a real human being, throughout history all objective writers, both enemies and friends, Jewish, Roman, and Greek, and especially those living today with the benefit of the evidence that we now have, treat Jesus as a historical person, not as a fictitional character. Second, Jesus lived in Palestine. Again, all writers refer to Him as a Jew who dwelt in the land of Palestine. Third, He lived at the beginning of the first century. For example, to determine when George Washington lived, one could trace historical references to him in each generation back to around 1700. Before that, his name is not mentioned. Obviously, then, he lived during the eighteenth century. Likewise, there is historical reference to Jesus in each century back to the first. Before that, He is not mentioned, at least as a human being. Fourth, He was a religious teacher. All writers refer to Him as a teacher of religion, the author of the Christian religion. Before He lived, the Christian religion did not exist. Since He lived, it has always been here. The question now is, how do we account for all this information? That will be the subject of our next article. (—taken from With All Boldness; May, 2000; Vol. 10, No. 5; p. 24)