Disagreer, Or Critical Thinker? by Allan Turner


Disagreer, Or Critical Thinker?

It seems clear that some see themselves as "defenders of the faith," and although there is certainly nothing wrong with defending the faith (Jude 3), one needs to watch out for the self-styled defenders of the faith, whether it's the faith once and for all delivered to the saints, or whether it's the many other faiths that compete for one's allegiance. There is ample evidence that most self-styled defenders of the faith have a tendency to throw critical reasoning to the wind. In doing so, they demonstrate themselves to be "disagreers" rather than "critical thinkers." What do I mean by this? Well, a disagreer lacks some of the essential qualities that a critical reasoner has worked hard to cultivate. For example, a disagreer looks at individual statements and judges these solely against the background of his own beliefs. In contrast, a critical thinker reads/listens to everything in order to ascertain the argumentative structure, looking at some statements as justification for believing others. Rather than judging another's main thesis in isolation and evaluating it on the basis of one's prior beliefs alone, a critical thinker is open to having his beliefs changed, and this is true even when he disagrees initially with what is being said. In other words, the critical thinker acknowledges he might be persuaded by the content of what is being said to believe it. Critical reasoning, then, involves looking at reasons on which a point of view is based and judging whether these reasons are strong enough to justify accepting this point of view.
If I did not think this to be a legitimate and worthy endeavor, I would have never created the re:thinking website. I have had many discussions with people with whom I disagree. As long as I have reason to believe my opponets are endeavoring to be critical thinkers and not just disagreers, I do my part to keep the discussions going. However, if a person indicates they are unwilling to change, no matter what the evidence may be, then there is no longer a meaningful dialogue. In fact, integrity demands that we not only think of ourselves as willing to change, if the vidence demands it, but that we believe this is the attitude of our opponet, as well. I believe civil discourse demands this disposition. Some netizens, it seems clear, do not understand these critical differences. As mere disagreers, these see any discussion as a means of "winning," and when they think they can no longer win a disagreement, they turn their attention elsewhere. This demonstrates that these folks have absolutely no faith in the critical reasoning process, and this is demonstrated by the words of one who disagreed with me, when he said, "How could we argue with such conviction if we were actually prepared to abandon those convictions?" In other words, an opponet like this doesn't even believe in the process. With him, it is a mere contest, not an opportunity to improve his set of beliefs. How sad!
I've too frequently run into this "I'm not going to change your mind and you're not going to change my mind" attitude in personal discussions, on the radio, on my two-hour, live, call-in T.V. program, and here on my website. Frankly, it always blows my mind when I hear it because it always comes from people who have already invested considerable time and effort in order to disagree with me. Why would someone invest time and effort into an argument in which he did not expect to change the other person's thinking or else have their own thinking changed? I just don't get it. I am not offended by my opponent trying to change my thinking. In fact, I expect it, and would be disappointed if those who disagree with me weren't trying to convert me to their way of thinking. In contrast, when I come to understand that my opponent isn't trying to change me, then I'm convinced I'm wasting my time. One such opponent said, "No matter how convicted we are about the correctness of our own conclusions, no means exist by which to compel anyone to adopt those convictions." Yes, certainly, but rightly rejecting coercion does not mean critical reasoning must be abandoned as no longer compelling to reasonable men and women. Ladies and gentlemen, when you get right down to it, critical thinking is all we have, and when we are willing to throw this away, the postmodernists have won the battle for the mind.
Critical thinking makes us all very uncomfortable. Therefore, it is far too easy to choose the position that is most comfortable or the most self-serving, rather than the one that is the most reasonable. Contrary to what some think, preachers are not the only ones who occupy this self-serving comfort zone. In truth, the tendency affects us all, and to override it, we must work very hard at developing our critical thinking. So, when we learn through a process of critical thinking that we were mistaken about something, we must be willing to admit that until then our understanding had been defective. But, and here's the rub, this is a difficult thing for most of us to do. We don't want to change our beliefs or learn from someone else, as we have something invested in already being right. However, continuing in this attitude will hold us at the level of mere disagreement. Frankly, this is where some folks seem most comfortable; but not me. I believe critical thinking, if I learn to do it well, will permit me to engage in replacing, when necessary, less adequate beliefs with more productive ones. As I've already said, I believe this process is most beneficial when I engage in it well. This means that the critical thinker is like an athlete effectively engaged in the activities of his sport, while the disagreer is like a body builder, taking pride in the static features of his body, and not in how his body actually performs.
So, if you have come to this website with the object of "winning" by making your opponents look and sound bad, rather than the winning of new understanding by careful consideration of points made, then you will be sorely disappointed with what you encounter here. I make no apologies for any such disappointment.
Some think the solution is that we all just love one another, which certainly isn't wrong, in and of itself. In fact, God commands it. However, I'm sure that most of the participants in the dialogues found on this website believe themselves to have been operating under this principle. However, it is sobering to recognize that no one but God has the corner on love, and it really is impertinent of anyone to think otherwise. In order to disregard disagreements, some make a "unity in diversity" plea, which argues all roads lead to heaven. However, such seems to be nothing more than a complete sell-out to the idea of objective truth. It is for this reason that I reject most unity in diversity pleas.
In conclusion, we learn from the Bible that the apostle Paul "reasoned" with those with whom he disagreed, "explaining" and "demonstrating" the necessary things as he "persuaded" them (Acts 17:2). Should we not follow the same pattern?

"THE EPISTLE TO THE EPHESIANS" Chapter One by Mark Copeland

OBJECTIVES IN STUDYING THE CHAPTER 1) To review the wonderful blessings God has provided in Christ 2) To understand what Paul desired the Ephesians that they know 3) To notice the greatness of God's power toward those who believe 4) To consider the exalted position of Christ and His church SUMMARY Following a brief salutation (1-2), Paul begins this epistle with an expression of praise to God for the spiritual blessings that are in Christ (3). In this doxology is a list of blessings divided into three sections. The first section describes those blessings related to the Father, how He has chosen us in Christ, predestined us to adoption as sons to Himself, and made us accepted in the Beloved (4-6). The second section focuses on those blessings in relation to the Son, e.g., redemption through His blood, forgiveness of sins, the revelation of His will concerning Jesus Christ, and the inheritance we have obtained, as predestined according to God's will (7-12). The third section describes blessings related to the Holy Spirit, how we are sealed with the Spirit of promise, and how He serves as a "guarantee" (or deposit) of our inheritance (13-14). The key phrase throughout this section is "in Him" (or "in Whom") which stresses the point that all spiritual blessing come through Jesus Christ and enjoyed by those who are "in" Him (cf. 1:1,3). The last half of the chapter contains Paul's first of two prayers that are in this epistle. The prayer in this chapter is for their "enlightenment", that their knowledge and understanding might increase. Paul especially desires that they might know God more fully, what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the great power of God toward those who believe (15-19). Regarding this "power", it is the same power God used to raise Jesus from the dead and seat Him at His right hand. The exalted position now enjoyed by Christ includes authority over all things, especially the church which is described as "His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all." (20-23) OUTLINE I. INTRODUCTION (1-3) A. THE AUTHOR (1a) 1. Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ 2. By the will of God B. THE RECIPIENTS (1b) 1. The saints (who are in Ephesus) 2. The faithful in Christ Jesus C. THE SALUTATION (2) 1. Grace and peace 2. From God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ D. THE THEME OF THE EPISTLE (3) 1. The God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ is to be blessed (praised) 2. For He has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ II. OUR SPIRITUAL POSSESSIONS IN CHRIST (3-14) A. BLESSINGS INVOLVING THE FATHER (4-6) 1. We are chosen by God (4) a. Chosen in Christ before the world began b. Chosen to holy and without blame before Him in love 2. We are predestined by God (5-6a) a. Predestined to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself b. Predestined according to the good pleasure of His Will -- To the praise of His glorious grace 3. We are accepted by God (6) a. Accepted by virtue of His glorious grace b. Accepted in the Beloved (Christ) B. BLESSINGS INVOLVING THE SON (7-12) 1. God has redeemed us (7a) a. Redeemed in Christ b. Redeemed through His blood 2. God has forgiven us (7b-8) a. Forgiven us of our sins b. Forgiven us according to the riches of His grace 1) Which God has made to abound toward us 2) Abounding in all wisdom and prudence 3. God has revealed His will to us (9-10) a. Revealed the mystery of His will 1) According to His good pleasure 2) Which He purposed in Himself b. Revealed how He will gather together in one all things in Christ 1) Things in heaven 2) Things on earth 4. God has given us an inheritance (11-12) a. An inheritance predestined by God 1) According to His purpose 2) Who works all things according to His will b. An inheritance... 1) For those who first trusted in Christ 2) So they can be to the praise of God's glory C. BLESSINGS INVOLVING THE HOLY SPIRIT (13-14) 1. The Holy Spirit is our "seal" (13) a. Having trusted in Christ after hearing the word of truth, the gospel of salvation b. Having believed, we were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise 2. The Holy Spirit is our "guarantee" (14) a. The guarantee of our inheritance b. The guarantee until the redemption of the purchased possession -- To the praise of God's glory III. PAUL'S FIRST PRAYER: FOR THEIR ENLIGHTENMENT (15-23) A. THAT WHICH PRECIPITATED HIS PRAYER (15-16) 1. Having heard of their: a. Faith in the Lord Jesus b. Love for all their saints 2. Resulting in his: a. Unceasing thanks for them b. Making mention of them in his prayers B. THE CONTENT OF HIS PRAYER (17-23) 1. To whom addressed (17a) a. The God of our Lord Jesus Christ b. The Father of glory 2. That God would... a. Give them the spirit of wisdom and revelation (17b) b. Enlighten the eyes of their understanding (18a) 3. That they might know... a. The knowledge of God (17c) b. The hope of His calling (18b) c. The riches of the glorious inheritance in the saints (18c) d. The exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe (19a) 4. Regarding this power toward us who believe... a. It is according to working of God's mighty power in Christ (19b-20a) b. The same mighty power which... 1) Raised Christ from the dead (20b) 2) Seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places (20c-21) a) Far above all principality, power, might, dominion, and every name b) Not only in this age, but also in that which is to come 3) Put all things under His feet (22a) 4) Gave Him to be head over all things to the church (22b-23) a) Which is His body b) Which is the fullness of Him who fills all in all REVIEW QUESTIONS FOR THE CHAPTER 1) What are the main points of this chapter? - Introduction (1-3) - Our spiritual possessions in Christ (3-14) - Paul's first prayer: for their enlightenment (15-23) 2) Why is God to be blessed (praised)? (3) - Because He has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ 3) What blessings have we received that pertain especially to the Father? (4-6) - He chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world - He predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ - He made us acceptable in the Beloved (Jesus) 4) What blessings have we received that pertain especially to the Son? (7-12) - God has redeemed us through His Son's blood - God has forgiven us of our sins - God has revealed His will to us - God has given us an inheritance 5) What blessings have we received that pertain especially to the Holy Spirit? (13-14) - We have been "sealed" by the Holy Spirit - We have received the Spirit as a "guarantee" of our inheritance 6) What had Paul heard, that prompted his prayers in their behalf? (15-16) - Of their faith in the Lord Jesus - Of their love for all the saints 7) Concerning what did Paul pray that his readers might know and be enlightened? (17-19) - The knowledge of God - The hope of His calling - The riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints - The exceeding greatness of His power toward those who believe 8) According to what is God's power toward those who believe? (20) - The mighty power God worked in Christ, in raising Him from the dead and seating Him at His right hand 9) What is Christ's exalted position at God's right hand? (21) - Far above all principality, power, might, dominion, and every name that is named, both now and in the age to come 10) What has been placed under His feet? Over what is He the head? (23) - All things - The church 11) What is the church in relation to Christ? (23) - His body - The fullness of Him who fills all in all

"THE EPISTLE TO THE EPHESIANS" Introduction by Mark Copeland

                     "THE EPISTLE TO THE EPHESIANS"


AUTHOR:  The apostle Paul (1:1; 3:1).  Early sources in church history
that attribute this letter to Paul include:  Irenaeus (200 A.D.),
Clement of Alexandria (200 A.D.), and Origen (250 A.D.).  Polycarp (125
A.D.) attests to its canonicity in his own epistle to the Philippians
(chapter 12).

THE RECIPIENTS:  There are reasons to believe that this epistle was not
designed for just one congregation, but intended to be passed around to
several churches in the area surrounding Ephesus.  The earliest
manuscripts do not contain the phrase "in Ephesus" (cf. 1:1).  The
epistle itself is in the form of a general treatise rather than as a
letter written to a specific church.  For example, there are no
specific exhortations or personal greetings.  It is thought by some
(Conybeare and Howson) that this letter is the epistle that was first
sent to Laodicea (cf. Col 4:16), and designed to be shared with other
churches, including Ephesus.  Because Ephesus was the leading city of
the region, and the main center of Paul's missionary activity in the
area (cf. Ac 19:1,8-10), it is understandable why later scribes might
have assigned this epistle to the church at Ephesus.  Without question
it was intended for "the saints ...and faithful in Christ Jesus." (1:1)

PAUL'S MINISTRY IN THE REGION:  Paul first came to Ephesus for a short
visit toward the end of his second missionary journey (Ac 18:18-19).
Located on the SW coast of Asia Minor (modern day Turkey), Ephesus was 
one of the great cities in that part of the world.  A Roman capital, it
was a wealthy commercial center and home for the worship of the goddess
Diana (cf. Ac 19:23-41).  Though Paul briefly studied with  the Jews at
the local synagogue and was invited to stay longer, he made plans to
visit them again after a quick trip to Jerusalem (Ac 18:20-21).

On his third missionary journey Paul made it back to Ephesus for an
extended stay of three years (cf. Ac 19:1,10; 20:31).  After his
initial success in converting twelve disciples of John (Ac 19:1-7),
Paul spent three months teaching in the local synagogue (Ac 19:8).
Resistance to his doctrine forced him to leave the synagogue, but he
was able to continue teaching in the school of Tyrannus for a period of
two years.  The end result is that the gospel spread from Ephesus
throughout Asia Minor (Ac 19:9-10).  A disturbance created by some of
the local idol makers finally forced Paul to leave Ephesus (Ac 19:23-

Toward the end of his third journey, Paul stopped at nearby Miletus,
and met with the elders of the church at Ephesus.  Reminding them of 
his work with them, he charged them to fulfill their own 
responsibilities as overseers of the flock of God, and then bid them a 
tearful farewell (Ac 20:17-38).

TIME AND PLACE OF WRITING:  Ephesians is one of Paul's four "prison
epistles" (3:1; 4:1; 6:20; cf. Philippians, Colossians, and Philemon).
The general consensus is that these epistles were written during Paul's
imprisonment at Rome (cf. Ac 28:16,30-31).  If such is truly the case,
then Paul wrote Ephesians around 61-63 A.D. from Rome.  The indication 
is that the epistles to the Colossians, Philemon and the Ephesians were
carried to their destination by Tychicus and Onesimus (cf. 6:21-22; Col 
4:7-9; Phm 10-12).

PURPOSE OF THE EPISTLE:  Unlike other epistles written to specific
churches, this epistle does not deal with specific problems in a local
congregation.  Instead, Paul addressed great themes that pertain to the
Christian's position in Christ, as a member of the body of Christ, the
church. As expressed in his prayer for his readers, it was his desire
that they might know:

   * What is the hope of God's calling (1:18)

   * What are the glorious riches of God's inheritance in the saints

   * What is God's great power toward those who believe (1:19)

In the first three chapters, Paul answers his own prayer by expounding
upon their spiritual blessings in Christ.  The last three chapters
focus on the conduct (or "walk", cf. 4:1,17; 5:2,8,15) expected of
those so richly blessed.  Therefore Paul writes to:

   * Remind Christians of their spiritual blessings in Christ (1:3)

   * Exhort Christians to have a "walk worthy of the calling with 
     which you were called" (4:1)

THEME OF THE EPISTLE:   A grand epistle like Ephesians almost defies
coming up with one main theme.  With its exalted view of the church in
God's plan of redemption, it is common to suggest the theme as "The
Church, The Fullness of Christ".  Another theme which does justice to
the content of the epistle and one that I suggest for this study is
that offered by Warren Wiersbe:

                   "THE BELIEVER'S RICHES IN CHRIST"

KEY VERSE:  Ephesians 1:3

   "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who
   has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly
   places in Christ,"


(adapted from The Bible Exposition Commentary, Vol. 2, Warren W.
Wiersbe, p.7):



      1. From the Father (1:4-6)
      2. From the Son (1:7-12)
      3. From the Spirit (1:13-14)
      -- First Prayer:  for enlightenment (1:15-23)

      1. Raised and seated on the throne (2:1-10)
      2. Reconciled and set into the temple (2:11-22)
      -- Second Prayer:  for enablement (3:1-21; with verses 2-13 as a


   A. A CALL TO WALK IN UNITY (4:1-16)
      1. Preserving the unity of the Spirit with proper attitudes
      2. Edifying the body of Christ by the grace given us (4:8-16)

   B. A CALL TO WALK IN PURITY (4:17-5:21)
      1. Walk not as other Gentiles (4:17-32)
      2. Walk in love (5:1-6)
      3. Walk as children of light (5:7-14)
      4. Walk as wise (5:15-21)

   C. A CALL TO WALK IN HARMONY (5:22-6:9)
      1. Husbands and wives (5:22-33)
      2. Parents and children (6:1-4)
      3. Masters and servants (6:5-9)

      1. Standing strong in the power of the Lord (6:10-13)
      2. Equipped with the whole armor of God (6:14-20)

CONCLUSION (6:21-24)


1) To whom is this epistle addressed? (1:1)
   - The saints and faithful in Christ Jesus; actual identity uncertain

2) From where and when did Paul write Ephesians?
   - From Rome, sometime around 61-63 A.D.

3) What three other epistles were written about this time?  What are
   the four epistles sometimes called?
   - Philippians, Colossians, and Philemon
   - The "prison epistles"

4) When did Paul first come to Ephesus (Ac 18:19-22)
   - Toward the end of his second missionary journey

5) When and how long did he spend most of his time at Ephesus? (Ac 18:
   23; 19:1; 20:31)
   - On his third missionary journey; three years

6) For what three things did Paul pray that they might know? (1:15-19)
   - The hope of God's calling
   - The glorious riches of God's inheritance in the saints
   - God's great power toward those who believe

7) What is the two-fold purpose of this epistle? (1:3; 4:1)
   - To remind Christians of their spiritual blessings in Christ
   - To exhort Christians to have a "walk" worthy of their calling

8) What is the "theme" of this epistle, as suggested in the
   - The Believer's Riches In Christ

9) What serves as the "key verse" of this epistle?
   - Ephesians 1:3

10) According to the outline above, what are the two main divisions in
    this epistle?
   - Doctrine:  Our Riches In Christ
   - Duty:  Our Responsibilities In Christ

The New Testament: A Product of Man or God? by Eric Lyons, M.Min.


The New Testament: A Product of Man or God?

by Eric Lyons, M.Min.

Skeptics frequently claim that the writers of the Bible such as Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John “invented” moments in the life of Jesus. They question how the Gospel writers knew what Jesus thought and did when He was alone. How could Mark have known what Jesus prayed when He was alone in the Garden of Gethsemane? How did Matthew know what the devil said to Jesus when he tempted Him? Do such references reveal an inconsistency? Are these passages of dialogue in Scripture just reconstructions of the kind of thing a character might have said?
Our faith is not based upon what one might have said or what might be right. Our faith is based upon fact. Skeptics totally ignore the fact that the Bible writers were guided by the Holy Spirit. Before Jesus sent the apostles on the limited commission, He promised that the Holy Spirit would guide them supernaturally (Matthew 10:19-20). Later, as Jesus spoke to His apostles on the night of His betrayal, He said: “But the Comforter, even the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said unto you” (John 14:26, emp. added). Shortly thereafter He promised them: “Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he shall guide you into all the truth” (John 16:13, emp. added).
Not only did Jesus promise that the Holy Spirit would come upon the apostles, but the apostles themselves claimed to be guided by the Holy Spirit when they taught the gospel. On the Day of Pentecost, the apostle Peter claimed the apostles had received the promised Spirit (Acts 2:33; cf. John 16:13). When Paul wrote to the brethren of Galatia, he told them that his teachings came to him “through revelation of Jesus Christ” (1:12). To the Ephesian brethren, Paul wrote that God’s message was “revealed by the Spirit to His holy apostles and prophets” (3:5, NKJV). These men did not “invent” stories and teachings about Jesus and the church. Neither did they have to rely on their own cognizance to remember the events that took place twenty or thirty years prior to their writing. The reason is because the Holy Spirit revealed the Truth to them.
One might wonder, further, how Mark’s Gospel account can be considered inspired if he was not an apostle. Part of the answer can be found in Ephesians 3:5 where Paul claimed that the Holy Spirit had been revealed to Christ’s “apostles and prophets.” How was the Spirit given to prophets like Mark, Luke, James, and Jude? How can we accept these books as the Word of God? Answer: The apostles could lay hands on individuals and impart to them certain miraculous gifts. One of these gifts was the gift of prophecy (1 Corinthians 12:10). Thus, in addition to apostles, there were prophets in the early church who were guided by the Holy Spirit (Acts 13:1; Ephesians 2:20; 3:5).
Other evidence that points to the Scriptures being the authoritative Word of God is the early recognition of the inspiration of the New Testament. In 2 Peter 3:16, Peter put Paul’s letters on a par with the Old Testament Scriptures when he compared them to “the rest of the Scriptures.” In 1 Timothy 5:18, Paul quoted Luke 10:7 as “Scripture.” Within forty years after Paul had written his first epistle to the Corinthians, Clement of Rome wrote a letter to the Corinthian brethren, noting that apostle Paul wrote “under the inspiration of the Spirit” (The First Epistle of Clement, 47). Thus, the New Testament books were recognized as the inspired Word of God.
In short, none of the New Testament writers “invented” moments in the life of Jesus. Rather, just like the writers of the Old Testament, they were fully inspired by the Holy Spirit (cf. 2 Samuel 23:2, Acts 1:16, 2 Peter 1:20-21, 3:15-16, and John 16:13).

Three Rules of Human Conduct by Wayne Jackson, M.A.


Three Rules of Human Conduct

by Wayne Jackson, M.A.

[The gifted T.B. Larimore (1843-1929) once delivered a discourse titled: “The Iron, Silver, and Golden Rules” (see Srygley, 1949, 1:190-207). That presentation furnished the seed thoughts for this article.]
Jesus had been teaching in Galilee, the northern region of Palestine. Great throngs followed Him, and doubtless He was weary. Accordingly, He took His disciples and ascended a mountain in the vicinity of Capernaum—traditionally, Kurn Hattin, rising 1,200 feet just west of the shimmering Sea of Galilee. It was on this occasion that Christ taught that cluster of exalted truths that has come to be known as “the Sermon on the Mount” (Matthew 5-7).
Within that presentation is this memorable declaration: “All things therefore whatsoever you would that men should do unto you, even so do you also unto them: for this is the law and the prophets” (Matthew 7:12). This saying has been given a metallic designation; it is called the “golden rule.” And that appellation has given rise to two other philosophical canons of human conduct known as the “silver rule” and the “iron rule.” Every rational individual, to a greater or lesser degree, will adopt one of these maxims as a guiding principle for his or her conduct. Let us reflect upon how these schools of thought relate to human activity.


The iron rule is the rule of power and force. Its motto is: “Might makes right.” One can do what he is big enough to do. The principle is alluded to in the book of Habakkuk. God had promised that He would raise up the Chaldeans (Babylonians) to punish the southern kingdom of Judah for its grievous sins. This pagan force was a suitable tool in the providential arsenal of Jehovah to accomplish this mission because its disposition was: “My god is my might” (Habakkuk 1:11). But it is an egregious mistake to deify one’s physical prowess!
Advocates of the iron rule have been legion throughout history. Cain, who murdered Abel because his evil works were in stark contrast to his brother’s (1 John 3:12), and because he had the strength to do it, was the first practitioner of this nefarious rule.
Military leaders have found the iron rule quite convenient. Alexander the Great, known as the greatest military leader of all time, is a prime example. In the short span of twelve years, he conquered the antique world from Macedon to India. An example of his disposition may be seen in his capture of the city of Gaza in southwest Palestine. He took the governor, Betis, bored holes through his heels and, by chariot, dragged him around the city until he was dead (Abbott, 1876, p. 176). The military exploits of Julius Caesar are too well known to need elaboration. His inscription, given after the defeat of Pharnaces II in Pontus, says it all: Veni, vidi, vici—“I came, I saw, I conquered.”
Charles Darwin gave scientific respectability to the iron rule with the publication of The Origin of Species (1859). The full title was: The Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favored Races in the Struggle for Life. “Natural selection” was Darwin’s tooth-and-claw law of the jungle. Species survive, thrive, and develop by destroying their weaker competitors. In a companion volume, The Descent of Man (1871), Darwin vigorously argued the point:
With savages, the weak in body or mind are soon eliminated; and those that survive commonly exhibit a vigorous state of health. We civilized men, on the other hand, do our utmost to check the process of elimination; we build asylums for the imbecile, the maimed, and the sick; we institute poor-laws; and our medical men exert their utmost skill to save the life of every one to the last moment. There is reason to believe that vaccination has preserved thousands, who from a weak constitution would formerly have succumbed to small-pox. Thus the weak members of civilized societies propagate their kind. No one who has attended to the breeding of domestic animals will doubt that this must be highly injurious to the race of man (1871, p. 130).
Adolf Hitler, in a political way, implemented Darwin’s iron-rule policies before and during World War II. In his ambitious scheme to develop a master race, the mad Fuehrer slaughtered millions of Jews, as well as those who were mentally and/or physically handicapped.
America adopted the iron rule as official policy in 1973 when the U.S. Supreme court, in its landmark Roe v. Wade decision, determined that a woman has the right to destroy her unborn child in order to facilitate her own interests. Since that time, millions of innocent, defenseless children have been executed at abortion clinics and hospitals in this nation.
Each lock on every door and window throughout the world is testimony to the iron rule. The penal institutions of the various nations are monuments to the rule of force. Every corrupt political official who manipulates his power for personal advantage lives by this system. Bully husbands/fathers who abuse their families are iron-rule devotees. Even those within the church, like Diotrephes (3 John 9-10), who bludgeon others into submission, are apostles of this system of intimidation.
Few have the effrontery to openly advocate this brutish ideology; but there are legions who practice it—to one degree or another.


The silver rule often has been described as “the golden rule in a negative form.” It is the golden rule without the gold. “What you do not wish done to you, do not do to others.” In this mode, it has found expression in the literature of many different cultures. For example, among the Greeks, Isocrates and Epictetus taught the silver rule. The latter condemned slavery on the ground that one should not do to others what generates anger in himself. William Barclay, the famous scholar so long affiliated with the University of Glasgow, has chronicled a number of these cases in his commentary, The Gospel of Matthew (1958, 1:276-281).
The renowned Jewish rabbi Hillel said: “What is hateful to yourself, do to no other.” Some have described this concept as a reflection of selfish egoism that withholds injury for personal reasons (see Lenski, 1961, p. 295). In the apocryphal Book of Tobit there is a passage in which Tobias says to his son: “What you yourself hate, do to no man” (4:16). Confucius (551-479 B.C.), a Chinese philosopher, also taught the silver rule. Tuan-mu Tz’u inquired of him: “Is there one word that will keep us on the path to the end of our days?” The teacher replied: “Yes. Reciprocity! What you do not wish yourself, do not unto others” (Confucius, XV, 24).
The unifying feature of all these sayings is that they are negative in emphasis. They forbid much; they enjoin nothing. The silver rule would forbid you to steal your neighbor’s purse, because such is hateful to you. On the other hand, if one finds a purse containing $200 in the mall parking lot, the silver rule is mute. It, in effect, leaves you with the option—“finders keepers, losers weepers.”
In 1964, there was a case that shook this country at its very foundation. Catherine Genovese was returning from a night job to her apartment in the respectable Kew Gardens area of New York City. As she approached her home in the early hours of that April morning, she was attacked by a knife-wielding assailant. He stabbed her repeatedly, fleeing the bloody scene as she screamed for help, only to return—when no one responded to her cries—stabbing her again and again, until she died. Subsequent police investigation revealed that thirty-eight residents of the neighborhood admitted that they witnessed at least a part of the attack. No one went to her aid; not a soul telephoned the police—until after she was dead!
The nation was incensed. A United States senator from Georgia read the New York Times’account of the incident into the Congressional Record. Everyone wanted to know, “How could this have happened?” The answer is not difficult to deduce. Many people live by the principle of the silver rule: “It’s not my problem”; “it’s no skin off my nose”; “mind your own business”; and “take care of ‘numero uno.’ ”
Following the Genovese tragedy, two professors from Harvard University wrote an article analyzing this episode. They alleged that their essay was not “intended to defend, certainly not to excuse” the conduct of the Kew Gardens neighbors. On the other hand, they argued: “We cannot justly condemn all the Kew Gardens residents in the light of a horrible outcome which only the most perspicacious could have foreseen” (Milgram & Hollander, 1964, pp. 602-604). With typical academic confusion, the professors reasoned: (a) Big cities are “organized on a different principle.” Friendships are not based upon “nearness”; those who might have helped the unfortunate woman were simply not nearby. (b) It must be borne in mind that these neighbors did not commit the crime; one must focus upon the murderer, not other people. (c) It is difficult to know what any of us would have done in a similar circumstance. (d) Hind sight is always better than foresight. (e) People hesitate to enter a violent situation alone; but organization takes time, and there wasn’t enough time that night. (f) No one knows “the quality” of the relationship that Miss Genovese had with the community. (g) A “collective paralysis” may have seized the neighbors. (h) People in the city are hardened to street life; the “street” is often symbolic of the vulgar. (i) Heroic efforts frequently backfire. A young man named Arnold Schuster, while riding the subway, recognized the notorious bank robber, Willie Sutton. He reported this to the police, and the criminal was arrested. Before a month passed, Sutton made arrangements to have Schuster killed. (j) There are “practical limitations” to initiating the “Samaritan impulse,” and if one acted upon every “altruistic impulse” he could scarcely keep his own affairs in order, etc.
We have detailed the foregoing list of rationalizations because they illustrate a sterling example of “silver-rule” logic!


Finally, there is the golden rule—so designated in the English-speaking world since the mid-sixteenth century. Though some argue that there is little, if any, significant difference between the silver rule and the golden rule, and that the contrast has been “exaggerated” (Hendriksen, 1973, p. 364), most scholars contend that the golden rule marks “a distinct advance upon the negative form” (Tasker, 1906, 1:654). D.A. Carson has noted that the positive form is “certainly more telling than its negative counterpart, for it speaks against sins of omission as well as sins of commission. The goats in [Matthew] 25:31-46 would be acquitted under the negative form of the rule, but not under the form attributed to Jesus” (1984, 3:187). F.F. Bruce commented: “The negative confines us to the region of justice; the positive takes us into the region of generosity orgrace...” (1956, 1:132; emp. in orig.). Let us consider several elements of this famous principle.
First, when all facts are considered, the golden rule represents, in a succinct and formalized fashion, a unique approach to human conduct. Jesus’ statement captured the very essence of “the law and the prophets.” While some contend that others (e.g., Confucius) came close to expressing the sentiment of the golden rule (see Legg, 1958, 6:239), most investigators argue that Jesus was the first to state it in its purest form. Barclay asserts: “This is something which had never been said before. It is new teaching, and a new view of life and of life’s obligations.... [T]here is no parallel to the positive form in which Jesus put it” (1958, 1:277,278; emp. in orig.). Professor Harold Kuhn suggested that Jesus’ words on this occasion “inaugurate a new era in person-to-person relationships” (1973, p. 267). Tasker conceded: “[T]here is little evidence of the existence of any pre-Christian parallel to the positive rule” (1906, 1:653). Votaw, in surveying the matter, observed that the negative form, as reflected in ancient Jewish, Greek, Roman, and Oriental writings, suggests the fact that a desire for goodness is innate to humanity; nevertheless, Jesus presented the rule in a positive form and “gave it new force and sphere” that is “peculiar to the Gospel” (1906, p. 42).
Second, the golden rule is grounded in divine revelation, and thus provides valid motivation for its implementation. Jesus said: “this is the law and the prophets.” His statement suggests that the golden rule is a summary of everything the Old Testament attempted to teach in terms of ethical conduct (cf. 22:36-40). Carson made this important observation: “The rule is not arbitrary, without rational support, as in radical humanism; in Jesus’ mind its rationale (‘for’) lies in its connection with revealed truth recorded in ‘the Law and the Prophets’ ” (1984, 3:188). In other words, it is founded on belief in God, and the intrinsic worth of man which issues from that premise (cf. Genesis 9:6). Just where is the logical/moral motivation for noble human conduct apart from evidence-supported divine revelation? It simply does not exist. I have argued this case extensively elsewhere (see Jackson, n.d., 2[3]:136ff.). Additionally, some see the conjunction oun (“therefore”) as connecting the golden rule to what had just been said. In particular, “we ought to imitate the Divine goodness, mentioned in ver. 11” (Bengel, 1877, 1:204).
Third, the golden rule is universal, applying to every segment of life. Jesus said: “All things, therefore, whatsoever....” If legislators enacted all laws premised upon the Lord’s instruction, society would be wonderfully altered. If homes operated on this principle, would there be marital infidelity, divorce, or child abuse? If our schools were allowed to teach the golden rule, with its theological base (which the modern judiciary has forbidden), would not the academic environment be enhanced remarkably?
Fourth, the golden rule requires action. It does not countenance passivity, but says “do you unto them.”
Fifth, the golden rule commends itself to reason. It assumes that an honest person, properly informed concerning principles of truth and fairness, would have a reasonable idea of what is right for himself. Therefore, he should render the same to others (see Clarke, n.d., p. 96). Remember, Jesus is teaching disciples—not someone who has no sense of moral responsibility. The rule contains the presumption of some moral sensitivity.
Finally, we must not neglect to mention that the golden rule is very special in that it is consistent with the other components of Christ’s teaching as revealed in the Gospel accounts (e.g., Matthew 22:37-40). Moreover, the personal character of Jesus Himself was (and remains) a living commentary on the rule in action.


Some, like Dan Barker (a former Pentecostal preacher who converted to atheism), have suggested that the golden rule should be characterized as “bronze,” since it is vastly inferior to the silver rule. Barker argued that if one were a masochist, the golden rule would justify his beating up on someone else (1992, pp. 347-348). His argument assumes that it is rational to be a masochist! Others, not quite so much of the fringe element, have suggested that the golden rule might at least be improved: “Do unto others as they would have you do unto them.” Such a view, however, is fatally flawed, and even someone who is as ethically confused as Joseph Fletcher (the famed situation ethicist) has acknowledged such (1966, p. 117). The weak may want you to supply them with drugs, or indulge them with illicit sex, etc., but such a response would not be the right thing to do. If I am thinking sensibly, I do not want others to accommodate my ignorance and weakness.
Suppose a man is apprehended in the act of robbing the local market. A citizen detains the thief and starts to telephone the police, at which point the law-breaker says: “If you were in my place, you would want me to release you. Therefore, if you believe in the golden rule, you will let me go.” Is the thief’s logic valid? It is not. For if one’s thinking is consistent with principles of truth, he would realize that the best thing for him, ultimately, would be that he not be allowed to get away with his crime, that he not be granted a license to flaunt the laws of orderly society. The rule works—when properly applied by those who have some semblance of rational morality.
Even some of the enemies of Christianity have done obeisance to the value of the golden rule. John Stuart Mill wrote: “To do as one would be done by, and to love one’s neighbor as one’s self, constitute the ideal perfection of utilitarian morality.” Thomas Paine declared: “The duty of man...is plain and simple, and consists of but two points: his duty to God, which every man must feel, and with respect to his neighbor, to do as he would be done by” (as quoted in Mead, 1965, pp. 192-193).


In his discourse on the three rules of human conduct, T.B. Larimore observed that Christ’s parable of the good Samaritan forcefully illustrates each of these philosophies of life (Luke 10:30ff.).
A certain Hebrew man was travelling the twenty-mile-long road that led through a barren region of crags and ravines from Jerusalem to Jericho. As he journeyed, he fell victim to robbers who tore off his clothes, beat him, and left him half-dead by the roadside. The bandits’ reasoning was: “We are several; you are one. We are strong; you are weak. You have possessions; we want them. Case closed.” Theirs was the clenched-fist rule of iron.
As the man lay wounded, unable to help himself, presently a Jewish priest came by, and then later, a Levite (one who served the priests in temple ceremonies). Both, likely horrified by the bloody scene, crossed to the opposite side of the road, and hastened their steps. Their respective thinking doubtless was: “This tragedy was not my fault. It’s none of my affair, etc.” They did not kick the afflicted Jew; they did not rifle his pockets. They simply passed on. They were silver-rule men.
Finally, a Samaritan (normally, a dedicated enemy of the Jews—see John 4:9) came by. He saw a fellow human in need and was moved with compassion. He tended the injured man’s wounds, set him on his own donkey, and conveyed him to a nearby inn where, amazingly, he paid for more than three weeks of lodging (Jeremias, 1972, p. 205)—and pledged even more! The Samaritan’s code of ethics was this: “But for the grace of God, I could be writhing in agony by the roadside. What would I desire on my behalf if our respective circumstances were reversed?” It did not take him long to find the answer, for his compassionate heart was bathed in the golden glow of divine love.
The golden rule is a thrilling challenge to contemplate. None of us observes it perfectly, but let us never criticize it. Rather, let us applaud it, and strive for its lofty heights.


Abbott, Jacob (1876), History of Alexander the Great (New York: Harper & Brothers).
Barclay, William (1958), The Gospel of Matthew (Philadelphia, PA: Westminster).
Barker, Dan (1992), Losing Faith In Faith—From Preacher to Atheist (Madison, WI: Freedom from Religion Foundation).
Bengel, John Albert (1877), Gnomon of The New Testament (Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark).
Bruce, A.B. (1956), The Expositor’s Greek Testament, ed. W. R. Nicoll. (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans).
Carson, D.A. (1984), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Matthew, ed. Frank E. Gaebelein (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan).
Clarke, Adam (n.d.), Clarke’s Commentary—Matthew-Revelation (Nashville, TN: Abingdon).
Confucius, The Sayings of (1958), transl. James Ware (New York: Mentor).
Darwin, Charles (1871), The Descent of Man (Chicago, IL: Rand, McNally), second edition.
Fletcher, Joseph (1962), Situation Ethics (Philadelphia, PA: Westminster).
Hendriksen, William (1973), The Gospel According to Matthew (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker).
Jackson, Wayne (no date), “Jackson-Carroll Debate on Atheism & Ethics,” Thrust (Austin, TX: Southwest Church of Christ), 2[3]:98-154.
Jeremias, Joachim (1972), The Parables of Jesus (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons).
Kuhn, Harold B. (1973), Baker’s Dictionary of Christian Ethics, ed. Carl F.H. Henry (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker).
Legg, J. (1958), Encyclopaedia Britannica (Chicago, IL: Encyclopaedia Britannica, Inc.).
Lenski, R.C.H. (1961), The Interpretation of St. Matthew’s Gospel (Minneapolis, MN: Augsburg).
Mead, Frank S. (1965), The Encyclopedia of Religious Quotations (Westwood, NJ: Revell).
Milgram, Stanley and Paul Hollander (1964), “The Murder They Heard,” The Nation, June.
Srygley, F.D., ed. (1949), Letters and Sermons of T.B. Larimore (Nashville, TN: Gospel Advocate).
Tasker, J.G. (1906), A Dictionary of Christ and the Gospels, ed. James Hastings (Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark).
Votaw, C.W. (1906), Dictionary of the Bible, ed. James Hastings (Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark), extra volume.

Reasons to Believe in Jesus by Eric Lyons, M.Min. Kyle Butt, M.Div.


Reasons to Believe in Jesus

by Eric Lyons, M.Min.
Kyle Butt, M.Div.

Article in Brief
Wars often come and go. Battles are won and lost. Businesses are bought and sold. Nations rise and fall. Scientific discoveries are made on a daily basis. These and other pertinent events influence human history in a myriad of interesting ways. But none of them is as influential as a powerful personality. Real history is written in names: Napoleon, Stalin, Hitler, Gandhi, Marx, Washington, Lincoln. After all, it is people who make wars, start businesses, forge new nations and cause their collapse. The events instigated by people are by-products of their personalities interacting with their surroundings, other people, and their ideas. In all of human history, one name, one Man, has risen to the top of every list of influential personalities—Jesus Christ.
Because of His influence, the life and teachings of Jesus have been more closely scrutinized than any life in human history. This scrutiny has resulted in a number of different reactions. Some have concluded that Jesus was a liar who deceived countless thousands of people in the time in which He lived, and billions since. Some have approached a study of His life with an attitude of skepticism, only to arrive on the other side of their spiritual and intellectual journey as firm believers in the deity of Christ. A number of people have chosen the middle ground, in which they acknowledge that Jesus was an amazing teacher and a good man, but they deny that He was the Son of God.
Though Jesus has been the most analyzed Person ever to walk the Earth, still the most common response to the life of Jesus is simply apathy. It seems the majority of the billions of people who have lived since the early first century have approached the Person of Jesus neither intently nor earnestly. They have given little attention to the details of His life. Sadly, if most people who have lived since the death of Jesus Christ were asked what they thought about Him, they would have to respond, “I don’t know. I’ve never really given Him much thought.”
What about you? Have you given the Person of Jesus serious thought? If not, we humbly ask you to look carefully at the evidence for Jesus’ divine nature. If you are a follower of Jesus and call yourself a Christian, do you know why? What do you say to others when they ask you why you call yourself after Jesus Christ and live according to His will? What proof can you offer that demonstrates Jesus was God incarnate?


People have rejected Jesus as the Heaven-sent, virgin-born, prophesied Messiah ever since He walked the Earth. Recall, for example, at the beginning of Jesus’ ministry how He entered the synagogue in His hometown of Nazareth and read publicly from the Old Testament book of Isaiah:
The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He has anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor; Hehas sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed; to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord (Luke 4:18-19, emp. added).
Following this reading, Jesus closed the book, sat down, and “began to say to them, ‘Today this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing’” (4:21). Though the Jews initially marveled and questioned how the promised Messiah could actually be the son of a carpenter in Nazareth, upon further hearing, they “rose up and thrust Him out of the city…that they might throw Him down over the cliff” (4:28). This encounter was only the beginning of instances in which countless individuals rejected Jesus. Though some would come to believe in Him, most did not.
The majority of people in the world today reject Jesus as Lord and God for two primary reasons. First, millions refuse to accept Jesus as God-incarnate because they reject the notion of God altogether. If God does not exist then Jesus never existed as “the Word…God” Who stepped out of eternity and “became flesh and dwelt among us” (John 1:1,14). It makes no sense to contend that Jesus is “the Christ, the Son of the living God” (Matthew 16:16, emp. added), if God is dead. If a supernatural, eternal, omniscient, omnipotent, living spirit Being is merely a figment of the imagination of man, the first-century Jesus of Nazareth was delusional at best and a liar at worst. In considering this fundamental reason for the rejection of Jesus, Christians must prepare themselves to defend the primary proposition that “We believe Jesus is God-Incarnate, which is possible because we know God exists.” We are not suggesting using circular reasoning to defend the deity of Christ; rather we are acknowledging the basic fact that Christ could not be God, if God does not exist. Therefore, a person can ultimately come to the conclusion that Jesus is “my Lord and my God” (John 20:28) only if he first knows that God, indeed, exists. [NOTE: See our article titled “7 Reasons to Believe in God” (2014) for a discussion of why mankind can (and should) come to the logical conclusion that God exists. See also the “Existence of God” category at apologeticspress.org.]
Second, it would be futile to defend the supernatural nature of Jesus as depicted in the Bible without first recognizing the fact that many reject the Bible altogether as a supernatural revelation from God to man. Billions of non-Christians around the world may believe in some sort of god, but they still discount the Bible as being inspired by the Creator. Most unbelievers admit that Jesus of Nazareth lived, but they reject Jesus, the Christ, as He is revealed in both the Old and New Testaments. The fact is, however, if an all-knowing, all-powerful God exists (and there is ample proof that He does; cf. Romans 1:20), then such a God could easily inspire a book that would help mankind come to know “that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God” (John 20:31), “the Savior of the world” (John 4:42; 1 John 4:14). So what is the proof that the Bible is of supernatural origin? Why should an honest truth-seeker come to the conclusion that the Bible is the special revelation from the God of the Universe? In short, the main, overarching reason that the Bible can be demonstrated to be of divine origin is because the Bible writers were correct in everything they wrote—about the past, the present, and even the future—which is humanlyimpossible. [For more information on the inspiration of the Bible, see our article titled “3 Good Reasons to Believe the Bible is from God” (2015). See also the “Inspiration of the Bible” category at apologeticspress.org.]
The two primary reasons for the rejection of Jesus as the Son of God are thus shown to be false. By taking these criticisms and turning them on their heads, they actually provide the first two foundational pillars for belief in Christ—(1) God exists and (2) the Bible is His Word. The next sensible question to ask is, “What evidence does the Bible give for the deity of Jesus?”


While it is true that most people’s lives can only be chronicled after they have lived them, the life of Jesus was miraculously chronicled (by divine inspiration) long before He arrived on Earth. Such Messianic prophecies are proof of both the divine inspiration of the Bible as well as the divine nature of Jesus. The reason that Jesus, the apostles, and the New Testament prophets spent so much of their time teaching and preaching from the Old Testament Messianic prophecies is because Jesus was proven to be the Christ by His fulfillment of these prophecies (cf. Luke 24:25-26,44; Acts 8:30-39).
Jesus fulfilled in minute detail over 300 prophecies that relate to the coming of the Messiah. Space prohibits a listing of all of these prophecies, but a representative sampling is appropriate. The Messiah was to be born in Bethlehem in Judea (Micah 5:2) of a virgin (Isaiah 7:14; cf. Genesis 3:15—“her Seed”). He would be a descendant of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Judah (Genesis 22:18; 26:4; 49:10; Numbers 24:17). He was to be a regal monarch (Psalm 89:3-4; Isaiah 9:6-7; Psalm 110:1) and at the same time a suffering servant (Isaiah 53). He was to be betrayed by a friend (Psalm 41:9) for 30 pieces of silver (Zechariah 11:13). The Lord’s Ruler would come into Jerusalem riding on the foal of a donkey (Zechariah 9:9). He would be buried with the rich (Isaiah 53:9). During His suffering, His clothes would be distributed to those who cast lots for them (Psalm 22:18). His attackers would pierce Him (Zechariah 12:10). Even though His physical suffering would be severe, His bones would not be broken (Psalm 34:20). And in spite of His death, His physical body would not experience decay (Psalm 16:10). This small sampling of precise prophetic details is only a fraction of the many Old Testament prophecies that exist. The prophecies were specifically designed to be an efficient mechanism by which the Jewish community could recognize the Messiah when He arrived.
When all of the pieces of the Messianic puzzle are put together, one individual stands out as the only person who fulfilled every single prophecy in minute detail—Jesus Christ. The life and activities of Jesus Christ as recorded in the New Testament documents brilliantly blend the theme of a regal monarch and a suffering servant into one magnificent portrait of the triumphant Jesus Who was the sacrificial Lamb at His death on the cross, and Who became the triumphant Lion of Judah in His resurrection from the grave. The lineage of Jesus Christ is meticulously traced in order to show that He qualified as the Seed of Abraham, of Isaac, of Jacob, of Judah, and of David (Matthew 1; Luke 3:23-38). The narrative detailing His birth verifies that He was indeed born in Bethlehem of Judea, from which city the Messiah would arise (Luke 2:1-7). The birth narrative also intricately portrays the pre-existence of Jesus before time began, fulfilling the prophecy that the Messiah existed before King David (Matthew 1:18-25; cf. 22:41-46; John 1:1-5,14). Furthermore, Jesus did, in fact, enter Jerusalem riding on the foal of a donkey (Matthew 21:1-11).
The New Testament narratives depicting the death of Jesus Christ verify that Jesus was betrayed by His friend and sold for exactly 30 pieces of silver (Matthew 24:14-16). At His death His bones were not broken, soldiers cast lots for His garments, and His side was pierced with a spear (John 19:33-37; Matthew 27:35). During His suffering, He was numbered with the transgressors as Isaiah 53 predicted by being crucified between two thieves, and at His death He was buried in the tomb of a wealthy man as was also foretold (Matthew 27:57). This type of verification could continue for many pages. The life of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, as depicted in the New Testament documents, was designed to fulfill the Messianic prophecies of the Old Testament.
Due to this overwhelming congruence of the life of Jesus Christ with the predictive Messianic prophecy of the Old Testament, some have suggested that Jesus was an imposter who was able, by masterful manipulation, to so artificially organize His life as to make it look like He was the Messiah. Such a contention cannot be reasonably maintained in light of the fact that many of the prophecies were far beyond His control. Obviously, it would be impossible for a person to arrange who his ancestors were or where he would be born. Furthermore, it would be near impossible to coordinate events so that He could make sure that He was crucified among thieves, while also buried in the tomb of a rich man. How could the betrayal price of Judas be manipulated by Jesus? And how, pray tell, would Jesus have managed to arrange it so that soldiers cast lots for His clothing? The idea that Jesus manipulated all of these events to make it appear as if He was the Messiah not only is indefensible, but it also speaks to the fact that Jesus obviously was the fulfillment of the Old Testament, Messianic prophecies.
Others have objected to Jesus as the Messiah based on the idea that the New Testament documents are not reliable, and were artificially concocted to describe things that Jesus never really did. This objection also falls flat in light of the actual evidence. It cannot be denied that the New Testament has proven itself to be the most reliable book in ancient history (along with the books of the Old Testament). When it records people, places, and events that are checkable using archaeological means, those people, places, and events invariably prove to be factual and historic. Again, the abundant evidence verifies that the New Testament is accurate and factual. Many of the Messianic prophecies documented in the New Testament do not describe anything inherently miraculous. There was nothing miraculous about Jesus being buried in a rich man’s tomb. Nor was there anything miraculous about Jesus riding into Jerusalem on the foal of a donkey, or being betrayed by His friend for 30 pieces of silver. These events are, if not ordinary, at least very plausible, everyday events that theoretically could have happened to anybody. And yet, due to the fact that such everyday events had been predicted about the Messiah hundreds of years before the arrivalof Jesus, the fulfillment of the events becomes one of the most amazing miracles recorded in the Bible. It is no wonder that Jesus, the apostles, and the early church used fulfilled Messianic prophecy as one of their foundational pillars of proof for the deity of Christ.


In view of the fact that miracles have served as a confirmation of God’s revelation since time began (Exodus 4:1-9; 1 Kings 18:36-39; Mark 16:20; Hebrews 2:3-4), it should be no surprise that “when the fullness of time had come” (Galatians 4:4), and the promised Messiah, the Son of God, came to Earth for the purpose of saving the world from sin (Luke 19:10), that He would confirm His identity and message by performing miracles. Centuries before the birth of Christ, the prophet Isaiah foretold of a time when “the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped…. [T]he lame shall leap like a deer, and the tongue of the dumb sing” (35:5-6). Although this language has a figurative element to it, it literally is true of the coming of the Messiah. When John the Baptizer heard about the works of Christ, he sent two of his disciples to Jesus asking if He was “the Coming One” of Whom the prophets spoke. Jesus responded to John’s disciples by pointing to the people whom He had miraculously healed (thus fulfilling Isaiah’s Messianic prophecy), saying, “Go and tell John the things which you hear and see: the blind see and the lame walk; the lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear; the dead are raised up and the poor have the gospel preached to them” (Matthew 11:4-5; cf. Mark 7:37). Jesus wanted them to know that He was doing exactly what “the Coming One” was supposed to do (cf. Isaiah 53:4; Matthew 8:17), and what the Jews expected Him to do—perform miracles (John 7:31; cf. John 4:48; 1 Corinthians 1:22). 
In a sense, Jesus’ miracles served a different purpose than those wrought by Moses, Elijah, or one of the New Testament apostles or prophets. Unlike all other miracle workers recorded in Scripture, Jesus actually claimed to be the prophesied Messiah, the Son of God, and His miracles were performed to prove both the truthfulness of His message and His divine nature. Whereas the apostles and prophets of the New Testament worked miracles to confirm their message thatJesus was the Son of God, Jesus performed miracles to bear witness that He was, in fact, the Son of God. In response to a group of Jews who inquired about whether or not He was the Christ, Jesus replied,
I told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in My Father’s name, they bear witness of Me…. I and My Father are one.… If I do not do the works of My Father, do not believe Me; but if I do, though you do not believe Me, believe the works, that you may know and believe that the Father is in Me, and I in Him (John 10:25,30,37-38).
Similarly, on another occasion Jesus defended His deity, saying, “[T]he works which the Father has given Me to finish—the very works that I do—bear witness of Me, that the Father has sent Me” (John 5:36). While on Earth, Jesus was “attested by God…with miracles and wonders and signs which God performed through Him” (Acts 2:22, NASB). And, according to the apostle John, “Jesus did many other signs in the presence of His disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name” (John 20:30-31, emp. added). As would be expected from the One Who claimed to be God incarnate (cf. John 1:1-3,14; 10:30), Scripture records that Jesus performed miracles throughout His ministry in an effort to provide sufficient proof of His divine message andnature.

Jesus’ Signs Were Many and Varied

Mankind is expected to believe that Jesus is the Son of God not because He performed one or twomarvelous deeds during His lifetime. To the contrary, the Gospel accounts are saturated with a variety of miracles that Christ performed, not for wealth or political power, but that the world may be convinced that He was sent by the Father to bring salvation to mankind. As Isaiah prophesied, Jesus performed miracles of healing (Matthew 8:16-17). He cleansed a leper with the touch of His hand (Matthew 8:1-4) and healed all manner of sickness and disease with the word of His mouth (cf. John 4:46-54). One woman who had a hemorrhage for 12 years was healed immediately simply by touching the fringe of His garment (Luke 8:43-48). Similarly, on one occasion after Jesus came into the land of Gennesaret, all who were sick in all of the surrounding region came to Him, “and begged Him that they might only touch the hem of His garment. And as many as touched it were made perfectly well” (Matthew 14:34-36; Mark 3:10). Generally speaking, “great multitudes came to Him, having with them the lame, blind, mute, maimed, and many others; and they laid them down at Jesus’ feet, and He healed them” (Matthew 15:30, emp. added). “He cured many of infirmities, afflictions...and to many blind He gave sight” (Luke 7:21, emp. added). Even Jesus’ enemies confessed to His “many signs” (John 11:48).
Jesus not only exhibited power over the sick and afflicted, He also showed His superiority over nature more than once. Whereas God’s prophet Moses turned water into blood by striking water with his rod (Exodus 7:20), Jesus simply willed water into wine/grape juice (oinos) at a wedding feast (John 2:1-11). He further exercised His power over the natural world by calming the Sea of Galilee during a turbulent storm (Matthew 8:23-27), by walking on water for a considerable distance to reach His disciples (Matthew 14:25-43), and by causing a fig tree to wither away at His command. Jesus’ supernatural superiority over the physical world (which He created—Colossians 1:16) is exactly what we would expect from One Who claimed to be the Son of God.
Jesus performed miracles that demonstrated His power even over death. Recall that when John the Baptizer’s disciples came to Jesus inquiring about His identity, Jesus instructed them to tell John that “the dead are raised” (Matthew 11:5). The widow of Nain’s son had already been declared dead and placed in a casket when Jesus touched the open coffin and told him to “arise.” Immediately, “he who was dead sat up and began to speak” (Luke 7:14-15). Lazarus had already been dead and buried for four days by the time Jesus raised him from the dead (John 11:1-44). Such a great demonstration of power over death caused “many of the Jews who had come to Mary, and had seen the things Jesus did” to believe in Him (John 11:45).

Jesus Rose from the Dead!

Jesus’ own resurrection from the dead was the climax of all of His miracles, and serves as perhaps the most convincing miracle of all. Indeed,Jesus was “declared to be the Son of God with power…by the resurrection from the dead” (Romans 1:4, emp. added). The New Testament book of Acts stresses the fact of Jesus’ resurrection almost to the point of redundancy. Acts 1:22, as one example, finds Peter and the other apostles choosing an apostle who was to “become a witness” of the resurrection of Christ. Then, on the Day of Pentecost, Peter insisted in his sermon to the multitude that had assembled to hear him that “God raised up” Jesus and thus loosed Him from the pangs of death (Acts 2:24). And to make sure that his audience understood that it was a physical resurrection, Peter stated specifically that Jesus’ “flesh did not see corruption” (Acts 2:31). His point was clear: Jesus had been physically raised from the dead and the apostles had witnessed the resurrected Christ. [Other passages in Acts which document that the central theme of the apostles’ preaching was the bodily resurrection of Christ include Acts 3:15; 3:26; 4:2,10,33; 5:30; 10:40-43; 13:30-37; 17:3,31-32.] Furthermore, the entire chapter of 1 Corinthians 15 (especially verse 14) verifies that the preaching of the apostle Paul centered on the resurrection of Christ.

Jesus Worked Wonders that are Not Being Duplicated Today

What’s more, neither the modern alleged “faith healer” nor the 21st-century scientist is duplicating the miracles that Jesus worked while on Earth 2,000 years ago. Pseudo-wonder workers today stage seemingly endless events where willing participants with supposed sicknesses appear and act as if they are being healed of their diseases by the laying on of hands. Nebulous aches and pains and dubious illnesses that defy medical substantiation are supposedly cured by prominent “faith healers” who simultaneously are building financial empires with the funds they receive from gullible followers. Oral Roberts, Benny Hinn, and a host of others have made many millions of dollars off of viewers who naively send them money without stopping to consider the real differences between the miracles that Jesus worked and what they observe these men do today.
Jesus went about “healing every sickness and every disease” (Matthew 9:35). His miraculous wonders knew no limitations. He could cure anything. Luke, the learned physician (Colossians 4:14), recorded how He could restore a shriveled hand in the midst of His enemies (Luke 6:6-10) and heal a severed ear with the touch of His hand (Luke 22:51). He healed “many” of their blindness (Luke 7:21), including one man who had been born blind (John 9:1-7). He even raised the dead simply by calling out to them (John 11:43). What modern-day “spiritualist,” magician, or scientist has come close to doing these sorts of things that defy natural explanations? Who is going into schools for the blind and giving children their sight? Who is going to funerals or graveyards to raise the dead? These are the kinds of miracles that Jesus worked—supernatural feats that testify to His identity as the Heaven-sent Savior of the world.


Jesus Never Sinned

When God instructed the Israelites to sacrifice the Passover Lamb, He explained that the animal must be without spot or blemish. The lamb could not be lame, have a disease, or be too old. Only a “perfect” sacrifice would be acceptable. As our Passover Lamb, Jesus provided the perfect sacrifice (1 Corinthians 5:7). His perfection was not outward in His flesh, but was the inward perfection of a sinless life. Peter, one of Jesus’ closest followers, wrote that Christians have not been redeemed “with corruptible things, like silver and gold…but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot” (1 Peter 1:19). The Hebrews writer explains that Jesus was tempted in every point just as we are, yet Jesus remained “without sin” (4:15).
Though many of Jesus’ enemies who attacked Him while He was on Earth, and many who attack Him still today, have accused Jesus of sinning, they have failed miserably to give a single instance of wrong doing. Jesus’ bold and unanswered challenge continues to ring across the centuries: “Which of you convicts Me of sin?” (John 8:46). The answer to that question for almost 2,000 years has been a resounding, “No one.” Every honest-hearted person who looks at the personality of Jesus, and compares it to his or her own, must admit that the Christ possesses a confidence in His own sinlessness that is beyond that of any mere human. While it may be true that cult leaders or other arrogant humans claim to be sinless, having never made a moral misstep, it is rather easy to show actions in their lives that prove them to be wrong. In fact, is it not the moral leaders who admit their own weaknesses who are the most admired? Yet, Jesus could not admit any moral failings, because He had none. He explained to His enemies, “Yet you have not known Him [God], but I know Him. And if I say ‘I do not know Him,’ I shall be a liar like you; but I do know Him and keep His word” (John 8:55). Jesus’ moral perfection speaks volumes about His divinity.

Jesus Forgave Sins

Suppose a man who murdered his neighbor had lived a guilt-ridden life for years. Finally, he decided to tell one of his friends what he had done so many years before. The friend listened carefully and said, “You are a murderer, but I forgive you, don’t worry any more about it.” What good would it do for the man’s friend to forgive him? For a person who was unrelated to the crime, and has no official authority to forgive the crime, means nothing. We understand that forgiveness can only be offered by a person who has been wronged, or who has the official authority to forgive others. That is why the fact that Jesus presumed to forgive sins is so amazing.
In Mark 2, we find the story of a paralyzed man who was lowered into a room in front of Jesus. Jesus looked at the man and said, “Son, your sins are forgiven you” (Mark 2:5). Many of those within earshot of Jesus’ statement were appalled at His pronouncement. They demanded (byway of rhetorical question): “Who can forgive sins but God alone?” (Mark 2:7, emp. added). And they were right: no one but God can forgive sins, which was Jesus’ point. If He had the power to cause the paralyzed man to walk, He also had the power to forgive his sins. And if He had the power to forgive his sins, and no one can forgive sins but God, then Jesus must be God. The fact that Jesus demanded (and demonstrated) that He had the power personally to forgive any person of all sins, sets Him apart from any other character in human history.

Jesus Accepted Worship

The Bible reveals time and again that God alone is to be worshiped (Exodus 20:3-5; 2 Kings 17:34-36; Acts 14:8-18). The Bible also reveals that man must refrain from worshipping angels. When the apostle John fell down to worship before the feet of the angel who had revealed to him the message of Revelation, the angel responded, saying, “See that you do not do that. For I am your fellow servant, and of your brethren the prophets, and of those who keep the words of this book. Worship God” (Revelation 22:9, emp. added; cf. Revelation 19:10). Angels, idols, and humans are all unworthy of the reverent worship that is due only to God. As Jesus reminded Satan: “It is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only you shall serve’” (Matthew 4:10, emp. added).
Unlike good men and good angels who have always rejected worship from humanity, Jesus accepted worship. If worship is to be reserved only for God, and Jesus, the One “who knew no sin” (2 Corinthians 5:21), accepted worship, then the logical conclusion is that Jesus believed that He was Deity. Numerous times the Bible mentions that Jesus accepted worship from mankind. Matthew 14:33 indicates that those who saw Jesus walk on water “worshiped Him.” John 9:38 reveals that the blind man whom Jesus had healed, later confessed his belief in Jesus as the Son of God and “worshiped him.” After Mary Magdalene and the other women visited the empty tomb of Jesus, and the risen Christ appeared to them, “they came and held Him by the feet and worshiped Him” (Matthew 28:9). When Thomas first witnessed the resurrected Christ, he exclaimed, “My Lord and my God” (John 20:28). Later, when Jesus appeared to the apostles in Galilee, “they worshiped Him” on a mountain (Matthew 28:17). A few days after that, his disciples “worshiped Him” in Bethany (Luke 24:52). Time and again Jesus accepted the kind of praise from men that is due only to God. He never sought to correct His followers and redirect the worship away from Himself, as did the angel in Revelation or the apostle Paul in Acts 14. Nor did God strike Jesus with deadly worms for not redirecting the praise He received from men as He did Herod, who, when being hailed as a god, “did not give praise to God” (Acts 12:23).
Jesus once stated during His earthly ministry, “[A]ll should honor the Son just as they honor the Father. He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent Him” (John 5:23; cf. 5:18; 10:19-39). While on Earth, Jesus was honored on several occasions. His followersworshiped Him. They even worshiped Him after His ascension into heaven (Luke 24:52). Unlike good men and angels in Bible times who rejected worship, Jesus unhesitatingly received glory, honor, and praise from His creation. Truly, such worship is one of the powerful proofs of Jesus’ deity (cf. Revelation 5).


In spite of all the evidence presented thus far, some have suggested that Jesus did not claim to be divine. They contend that He simply believed He was a prophet, but not the Messiah who was the Mighty God (Isaiah 9:6). They rest their case on passages that, simply put, they have misinterpreted. Briefly notice the following two examples.
On one occasion, a wealthy young man ran to see Jesus and asked Him, “Good teacher, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?” Jesus responded by saying, “Why do you call me good? No one is good but One, that is, God” (Mark 10:17). According to the skeptical view, Jesus is denying that He is God. But a closer look at Jesus’ comment reveals just the opposite to be the case. Notice that Jesus never denies that He is the “good teacher.” He simply makes the comment that there is only one Who is truly good, and that is God. Thus, if the young man’s statement is true that Jesus is the “good teacher,” and there is only one Who is “good” and that is God, then Jesus must be God.
On another occasion, Jesus prayed to the Father: “And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent” (John 17:3). Supposedly, by calling the Father, “the only true God,” Jesus excluded Himself from being Deity. There are at least two main problems with this interpretation of Jesus’ statement. First, it would contradict numerous other passages in the Gospel of John. In fact, the primary point of the book is to testify to Jesus’ deity. Second, the verse can be better understood in light of the fact that Jesus was not contrasting Himself with the Father; He was contrasting the many false, pagan gods with Jehovah, the only true God. Furthermore, if Jesus’ reference to the Father being “the only true God” somehow excludes Jesus from being Deity, then (to be consistent) Jesus also must be disqualified from being man’s Savior. Jehovah said: “Besides me there is no savior” (Isaiah 43:11; cf. Hosea 13:4; Jude 25). Yet, Paul and Peter referred to Jesus as our “Savior” several times in their inspired writings (Ephesians 5:23; Philippians 3:20; 2 Timothy 1:10; 2 Peter 1:1,11; 2:20; etc.). Also, if Jesus is excluded from Godhood (based on a misinterpretation of John 17:3), then, pray tell, must God the Father be excluded from being man’s Lord? To the church at Ephesus, Paul wrote that there is “one Lord” (4:4), and, according to Jude 4 “our only Owner and Lord” is “Jesus Christ.” Yet, in addition to Jesus being called Lord throughout the New Testament, so is God the Father (Matthew 11:25; Luke 1:32; Acts 1:25) and the Holy Spirit (2 Corinthians 3:17). Obviously, when the Bible reveals that there is only one God, one Savior, one Lord, one Creator (Isaiah 44:24; John 1:3), etc., reason and revelation demand that we understand the inspired writers to be excluding everyone and everything—other than the members of the Godhead.


Almost 2,000 years ago, a zealous Jew by the name of Saul fought against Christianity with all his might. He believed Jesus Christ to be a fraud and His followers to be deluded. He chased them from city to city, imprisoning them, and participating in their deaths. Then Saul saw “the light.” Jesus appeared to Him and Saul realized the horrible mistake He had made. Saul’s honest heart was so impressed by the evidence available to him that he converted to Christianity and became a powerful force in spreading the Gospel.
And so today, those who come to the person of Jesus Christ with open and honest hearts find powerful evidence to believe He is God. He fulfilled all the Old Testament prophecies regarding the Messiah. He performed many different kinds of miracles to validate His message. He predicted His own death and resurrection. He accepted worship. He lived a morally perfect, sinless life. And he boldly demanded that He had the power on Earth to forgive sins. When a person follows all of this evidence to its correct conclusion, he or she will bow before Jesus the Christ and proclaim, just as the apostle Thomas did, “My Lord and My God” (John 20:28).
[NOTE: For more information about the nature of Christ, see our book Behold! TheLamb of God or visit the “Deity of Christ” section of our Web site www.apologeticspress.org. Also, to learn what the Bible teaches regarding how to receive the free, gracious gift of salvation that Jesus made possible, see our free e-book Receiving the Gift of Salvation at apologeticspress.org/PDF-books.aspx.]


Butt, Kyle and Eric Lyons (2015), “3 Good Reasons to Believe the Bible is from God,” Reason & Revelation, 35(1):1-5,8-11, January, http://www.apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=13&article=5089&topic=102.
Lyons, Eric and Kyle Butt (2014), “7 Reasons to Believe in God,” Reason & Revelation, 34[10]:110-113,116-119, October, http://apologeticspress.org/apPubPage.aspx?pub=1&issue=1175.