Jesus is who He said He is
By Billy Graham
Why is Christianity so different from every other religion in the world?
The answer focuses on the Person of Jesus Christ. Jesus, Son of God,
the Father and Second Person of the Trinity, is the central figure of
our evangelistic message.
Today many voices are making other claims. Atheists say there is no
God. Polytheism may allow that Jesus is one of many gods. When I first
went to some Far Eastern countries, I had to learn that in giving the
invitation to receive Christ I needed to make it clear to my listeners
that they were turning from all other gods and turning to the true and
the living God as revealed in the Scriptures. We, as "ambassadors for
Christ" (2 Corinthians 5:20), boldly echo the ringing conviction of
the apostle Peter when he affirmed, "Thou art the Christ, the Son of
the living God" (Matthew 16:16). The title "Christ" means "anointed
one." It is the term, in the Greek language, for the ancient Hebrew
word "Messiah" the anointed one whom God would send to save His
people. Peter and his fellow Jews, the first believers of the early
Christian church, recognized Jesus Christ as the Messiah promised in
the Old Testament. Their period of world history was one of discouragement
and despair. The promised Messiah shone as a beacon in the darkness,
and His light has never dimmed. "In him was life; and the life was the
light of men.
That was the true Light, which lighteth every man
that cometh into the world" (John 1:4,9).
Today, as world leaders struggle with seemingly insurmountable problems,
as storm clouds gather around the globe, this darkening and menacing
situation simply accentuates the brightness of the One who proclaimed,
"I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in
darkness, but shall have the light of life" (John 8:12). He is "the
Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world" (John 1:29). He
is the promised Messiah of ancient Israel. He is the hope of the hopeless,
helpless Gentiles which includes most of the population of the
world, whether they be African, Asian, American or European.
In all my evangelistic ministry I have never felt a need to "adapt"
Jesus to the many and varied nationalities, cultures, tribes or ethnic
groups to whom I have preached. I believe in contextualization. I try
to adapt illustrations or emphasize certain truths that will help a
particular audience understand the gospel more clearly in light of their
cultural background. But the essential truths of the gospel do not change.
All things were created by Him and He sustains all creation, so the
message of His saving grace is applicable to all. The facts concerning
His virgin birth, His sinless life, His sacrificial and substitutionary
death, His resurrection and ascension to the right hand of the Father,
and the glorious hope of His return must not be diluted or distorted
in any way.
Jesus is not only the Christ, He is also God, and our Lord and Savior
(Titus 2:13). This is a staggering, almost incomprehensible truth: God
himself has come down on this planet in the Person of His only Son.
The incarnation and the full deity of Jesus are the cornerstones of
the Christian faith. Jesus Christ was not just a great teacher or a
holy religious leader. He was God himself in human flesh fully
God and fully man.
Jesus himself gave frequent witness to His uniqueness and His divine
nature. To His opponents He declared, "Before Abraham was, I am" (John
8:58). They immediately recognized this as a clear claim to divinity
and tried to stone Him for blasphemy. On another occasion Jesus stated,
"I and my Father are one" (John 10:30), and again His enemies tried
to stone Him "because that thou, being a man, makest thyself God" (John
Furthermore, He demonstrated the power to do things that only God can
do, such as forgive sins. The charge brought against Him at His trial
was that "he made himself the Son of God" (John 19:7); and when asked
if He was the Son of God, He replied, "You are right in saying I am"
(Luke 22:70, NIV).
What proof did Jesus offer that He was truly God come in human form?
First, there was the proof of His perfect life. He could ask, "Which
of you convinceth me of sin?" (John 8:46) and no one could answer,
because His life was perfect. Those who schemed to bring Him to trial
had to obtain false witnesses to bring charges, because He was blameless.
He was able to confront the full fury of Satans temptations and
yet not yield to sin; He "was in all points tempted like as we are,
yet without sin" (Hebrews 4:15).
Second, there was the evidence of His power. His power was the power
of God Almighty the power only God has. He had power over the
forces of nature; He could quiet the storms on the Sea of Galilee. He
had power over sickness and disease; He raised the dead, healed the
sick, restored sight to the blind and made the lame walk. His miracles
were a witness to the fact that He is Lord of all nature: "For by him
were all things created.
And he is before all things, and by
him all things consist" (Colossians 1:16,17).
Third, there was the evidence of fulfilled prophecy. Hundreds of years
before His birth the prophets of the Old Testament spoke precisely of
the place where He would be born (Micah 5:2) and the manner of His death
and burial (Psalm 22; Isaiah 53). Uncounted details of His life were
foretold by the prophets, and in every instance these prophecies were
fulfilled. That is why Jesus could say to the bewildered disciples on
the road to Emmaus, "O fools, and slow of heart to believe all that
the prophets have spoken: ought not Christ to have suffered these things,
and to enter into his glory? And beginning at Moses and all the prophets,
he expounded unto them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself"
Fourth, there was the evidence of His resurrection from the dead. Jesus
Christ was "declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the
Spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead" (Romans 1:4).
The founders of the various non-Christian religions of the world have
lived, died and been buried; in some instances it is still possible
to visit their graves. But Christ is alive. His resurrection is a fact.
His tomb is empty and this is a compelling and central proof
of His unique divine nature as God in human flesh (1 Corinthians 15).
Fifth, there is the proof of changed lives. History vividly illustrates
what the Bible clearly affirms, "The heart is deceitful above all things,
and desperately wicked: who can know it?" (Jeremiah 17:9). Education
and discipline can do no more than rub off the rough edges of human
selfishness but Christ alone, the divine Son of God, has power
to change the human heart. And He does. Christ can take the most sin-laden,
selfish, evil person and bring forgiveness and new life. The Bible says,
"If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed
away; behold, all things are become new" (2 Corinthians 5:17). His power
to change the human heart is further proof of His divine nature.
Yes, Jesus Christ is who He said He is: God himself in human form.
And that is a crucial truth, which undergirds the reality of our salvation.
Only the divine Savior could die as the perfect and complete sacrifice
for our sins. Only the divine Lord could tell us how we should live.
Only the risen and ascended Son of God is worthy of our worship and
our service. We confess Jesus Christ as God, our Lord and Savior.
During His time here on earth, He was God in the flesh, true God and
true man. He is from eternity to eternity. Jesus Christ, by His death
and resurrection, became the gospel. As His ambassadors we must represent
Him in all His fullness totally and truthfully. Anything less disqualifies
us from our high and holy calling.
The Nicene Creed that came out of the Council of Nicaea in A.D. 325
affirmed He is "very God of very God,
being of one substance
with the Father."
By faith Jesus becomes our Lord and Savior. All authority in heaven
and on earth has been given to Him. The present evil world system does
not yet acknowledge His lordship; it is still under the deceiving power
of the prince of this world, Satan. But those whom Jesus indwells have
authority over the evil one and all his demons. The apostle John declares,
"Greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world" (1 John
Therefore, in spite of our human limitations and even our failures
as evangelists, the Lord is sovereignly directing His own work of redemption
through our evangelism. And we are linked to the vast resources of His
power so that we dont merely "get by" in our lives and ministries,
but "in all these things we are more than conquerors through him" (Romans
8:37). And as the context of that inspiring and reassuring verse promises,
nothing "shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is
in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Romans 8:39). God can turn the greatest tragedies
into that which is for our good and for His glory, for "we know that
all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who
are the called according to his purpose" (Romans 8:28).
Because Jesus is Savior, He saves us from the penalty of sin. Because
He is Lord, He, by His Spirit, gives us power over sin as we daily walk
with Him. And some future day He will take us to be with himself, far
from the very presence of sin. Only because Jesus is God and we have
confessed Him as Savior and Lord, can He bestow and we receive these
benefits, this blessed assurance and hope.
Reprinted with permission from Decision magazine, July-August
1985,©1984 Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. All rights reserved.