APOLOGETICS: IS YESHUA THE MESSIAH?
“Is Yeshua (Jesus) the Messiah?” If He is the Messiah, this has the most profound implications for each individual, and also for the entire human race. To answer that question, first we need to answer some preliminary questions: Is there a God who sent the Messiah? How can we know anything authoritative about God and the Messiah?
IS THERE A GOD WHO SENT THE MESSIAH?
FIVE ARGUMENTS FOR GOD’S EXISTENCE
One of the most important responsibilities that Christians and Messianic Jews have is to engage in bold evangelism – telling a confused, lost and dying world the Good News about the salvation that Messiah has made possible for those who come to know the Three-In-One God and transfer their loyalties to Him. The problem is that the majority of people in our society are secular humanists who don’t believe in God or that the Bible is the divinely inspired Word of God. Since they don’t believe in God or accept the Bible as true, simply quoting a verse like John 3:16 is generally not enough to convince these secular humanists of the truth about God and salvation. We need to engage in pre-evangelism – helping the secular humanists come to the point where they’re able to believe in God and think the Bible may be the Word of God. During my freshman year of college I was exposed to arguments about God’s existence, and they helped me come to the point where I thought it likely that God existed. Subsequently, when I heard the Good News being proclaimed, I was able to receive it. I want to present five arguments for God’s existence. These arguments may be useful to help others believe in God and be receptive to the message of the Word of God.
1. The Argument From Cause And Effect
The cause is the reason something happens, and the effect is what happens as a result. Everything has a cause. The universe exists and must have a cause. We exist and must have a cause. Something greater than us and greater than the universe must be the First Cause, Himself uncaused. Consider this: The universe exists. The discoveries of modern science are indicating that the universe isn’t eternal, but in fact had a point of beginning. The universe isn’t personal. It has no mind, emotion or will. Either we believe that an impersonal, non-intelligent universe always existed; or it created itself out of nothing (which is logically inconsistent, since by definition it’s impossible for anything to create itself out of nothing, since nothing can’t produce something); or else, a personal God created the universe. Since there is mind, will, emotion and personality in the universe, in the form of human beings, doesn’t it make more sense to believe that “in the beginning God created the Heavens and the Earth” rather than something came out of nothing, and this something exploded, and that explosion caused increasing levels of order and personality and thought?
2. The Argument From Intelligent Design
The argument from intelligent design is similar to the argument from cause and effect. Just as we infer an intelligent designer for any product in which we discern evidence of purposeful adaptation to some end, so too the universe gives evidence of purpose. The universe functions according to laws governed by precise mathematical formulas. The universe exhibits purposeful design, order, regularity, elegance, beauty, complexity and simplicity. The logical conclusion is an Intelligent Designer created the universe.
Human beings know intuitively about design and designers. If you were walking on a path in a forest and saw a beautiful watch on the ground that was in working order and keeping accurate time, would you assume that it came together over millions of years by chance processes? Since the watch gives evidence of intelligent design, you would correctly assume that a watchmaker purposely made it. If a visitor from outside the universe visited the universe, he would likewise correctly assume that there was a Creator.
Other evidence of design: Scientists have been discovering fine-tuned parameters for the universe, and if any of these parameters were just a little off, the universe as we know it wouldn’t exist. These include the constants in equations for gravity, electromagnetism, strong and weak nuclear forces, and the ratio of proton to electron mass. They have also discovered other fine-tuned parameters for life to exist on Earth. Earth’s distance from the sun; the size, temperature and type of the sun; the Earth’s size, axial tilt, rotation speed and moon – all are necessary to make life possible on Earth.
Scientists are also making similar discoveries in the area of biology. In our cells there are complex molecular machines and complex information systems like DNA that show tremendous evidence of design. There is no excuse for ignorance about God. The universe – from the smallest sub-atomic particles to the largest galaxies -proclaims there is compelling evidence that God exists: The heavens are telling of the glory of God; and their expanse is declaring the work of His hands. Day to day pours forth speech, and night to night reveals knowledge (Psalm 19:1-2). In Romans 1, Rabbi Paul made it clear that God’s existence should be obvious to all human beings because God has made it plain to them. Since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities – His eternal power and divine nature – have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse for not believing in the one God (Romans 1:19-20).
3. The Argument From Morality, Ethics, Conscience And Belief In God
Human beings are inherently moral. I don’t mean that human beings are inherently good, but rather that human beings intuitively have an idea of what is good or right. Where did this sense of right and wrong come from? Where does man’s conscience come from? Also, there is a universal belief in God or gods in every society among mankind. Even after 70 years of atheistic communism, belief in God in the former Soviet Union couldn’t be stamped out. Where does this intuitive knowledge of God come from? The answer is that our awareness of Someone Greater Than Us, and our consciences, our sense of right and wrong and ethics come from our Creator, in whose image we were made. God is perfectly moral and gave us an inner sense of morality, a conscience and an intuitive awareness of Himself. Rabbi Paul taught us this truth in Romans 2: When the Gentiles who do not have the Torah, do instinctively the things of the Torah, these, not having the Torah, are a Torah to themselves, in that they show the work of the Torah written in their hearts, their conscience bearing witness, and their thoughts alternatively accusing them or else defending them (Romans 2:14-15).
4. The Argument From Historical Realities
Evidence for God can be seen by historical realities. The history of the Chosen Nation is evidence of the Creator. This one little nation has affected the world more than any other nation. Our prophets and our Bible, and most of all, our Messiah, have changed the course of world history. Little Israel, conquered and scattered among the nations – not once, but twice – and then regathered to our ancient homeland, in fulfillment of detailed prophecies, shows that the God of the Chosen People is real and at work in human history. God’s fingerprints can also be lifted from the Resurrection of Messiah. Yeshua claimed to be Immanuel, God With Us. He claimed that He would live a perfect life, and then be rejected by the majority of the nation and die a special kind of atoning death, but then He would be resurrected from the dead, overcoming our greatest enemies – Satan, sin and death – so that we could be reconciled to the Creator and live forever. And there is compelling historical evidence for Yeshua’s resurrection: The empty tomb: Both Jews and Romans admitted that the tomb was empty (Matthew 28:11-15). The graveclothes: They were undisturbed, but no longer contained a body. Yeshua’s post-resurrection appearances: According to New Testament eyewitness testimony, the risen Messiah appeared on various occasions to various people in various circumstances, showing there was no way they could all be dreaming or hallucinating together. He appeared to Mary (John 20:11-18), to the other women (Matthew 28:8-10), to Simon Peter (Luke 24:34), to the two on the road to Emmaus (Luke 24:13-35), to the Ten (Luke 24:36-43), to all Eleven eight days later (John 20:24-29), to seven by the Lake of the Galilee (John 21:1-23), to 500 at once (1 Corinthians 15:6), to James (1 Corinthians 15:7), and finally to Paul (Acts 9:1-16). And these weren’t just mysterious visions or apparitions. Yeshua actually spoke with His followers, and ate bread and fish with some of them. He even allowed Thomas, the most skeptical of the disciples, to touch His scars.
If you were part of a jury and heard a reliable eyewitness who testified that he saw a certain man at certain time doing specific things, would you believe him? What if there were two or three reliable eyewitnesses who all said they saw the same thing? What if there were seven, eight, 11, 500 reliable eyewitnesses who all said they saw Yeshua alive again after He died – and those people were willing to die rather than change their story – wouldn’t you believe them? Of course you would!
5. The Argument From Human Happiness
Augustine observed that the human heart can never rest, until it rests in God. We can never be truly fulfilled or happy until we are in a right relationship with the God who designed us. So, here is how we appeal to the secular humanists: We ask them: Is it any wonder there is so much unhappiness, mental illness, despair, drug and alcohol abuse, sexual immorality, so much senseless violence and so many suicides when people believe that we’re the result of a Big Bang that took place some 20 billion years ago; that we evolved from an amino-acid primordial soup; evolved into a simple cell, which learned how to reproduce itself; then we developed into a bacteria, or a one-celled animal, then a slug or a fish, then an amphibian, then a lizard, then a small mammal-like rodent; then we further evolved into monkeys and ape-like men, and then finally into Homo-sapiens; that our lives ultimately mean nothing because when we die we die, because there is no God and no after-life? We ask them: Are you happy? Are you completely satisfied? (If they’re honest, the answer will be no.) Wouldn’t it be wonderful if the universe was not the result of chance processes and random activity, but the creation of a God of great wisdom and compassion who loves us and wants to live forever with us? Wouldn’t it be amazing if Yeshua was the risen Messiah and Savior, and His words were true: Whoever comes to Me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in Me will never be thirsty? Wouldn’t it be fantastic if we didn’t have to die alone and die forever? That when we died, a loving God existed and we could live forever with Him in a real and wonderful place? If that is at all possible, isn’t it worth thoroughly investigating?
The fool says in his heart, “there is no God” (Psalm 14:1). And the opposite is true: The wise person says in his heart, “there is a God”. Let’s be wise ourselves and help today’s fools become wise!
Being an atheist is logically inconsistent. How could a human being ever know with 100 percent certainty that there was no God? What if God was beyond the universe and chose not to reveal Himself? One would have to be knowledgeable about the entire universe and beyond it to have any credibility when making such a claim. It is “the fool who has said in his heart, ‘There is no God.’” The fool may have a Ph.D., but if he denies the existence of God, when there is so much evidence for His existence, knowing that human beings have such limited knowledge of the universe, and with so much to lose if he is wrong, he is displaying ultimate stupidity. Pascal reasoned that we should treat the issue of the existence of God like we would betting on a game. When the odds that God exists or does not exist are even, then the smart man will gamble that God exists. This is a bet that all men must make – the game is in progress and a bet must be laid. Since the odds are even, reason is not violated by either choice. Since there are reasons for both choices, reason cannot determine which bet to make. Therefore the choice should be made pragmatically, based in terms of maximizing one’s happiness. If one wagers that God exists and He does, then one has gained eternal life and infinite happiness. If He does not exist, you have lost nothing. On the other hand, if one wagers that God does not exist and He does in fact exist, then you have suffered infinite loss. If He does not exist, then you have gained nothing. Therefore the only prudent choice is to believe that God exists, and start searching for Him. Therefore the intelligent, wise, rational individual is open to the possibility that God exists, and begin to seek for Him. God promised the Jewish people, “you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart” (Jeremiah 29:13).
THE BIBLE IS THE AUTHORITATIVE SOURCE OF INFORMATION
ABOUT THE MESSIAH
HOW DO WE KNOW THAT THE BIBLE IS TRUE?
Ten Evidences That Demonstrate That The Bible Is Unique Among All The Religious Books Of The World, And That It Is The Divinely Inspired Word Of God (Adapted from an article by Mike Gendron, founder of Proclaiming The Gospel Ministries)
One of the most important responsibilities that Christians and Messianic Jews have is to engage in bold evangelism – telling a confused, lost and dying world the Good News about the salvation that Messiah has made possible for those who come to know the Three-in-One God and transfer their loyalties to the Three-In-One God. The problem is that the majority of the people in our society are secular humanists who don’t believe in God or that the Bible is the divinely inspired Word of God. Since they don’t believe in God or accept the Bible as true, simply quoting a verse like John 3:16 is generally not enough to convince them of the truth about God and salvation. We need to engage in pre-evangelism – helping the secular humanists come to the point where they area able to believe in God and think the Bible may be the Word of God. Believing in the Divine Inspiration of the Bible is one of the most important things that we believe. Here are ten evidences for believing that.
1. Divine Origin
The first way that the Bible is unique is in its divine origin. It’s one of the few books that makes the claim to be the Word of God. It claims to be the uniquely inspired communication from our Creator to us. The phrases, “Thus says the Lord,” or “the Word of the Lord” are used hundreds of times.
The authors claim that their words were inspired by God. We see that in 2 Timothy 3:16: All Scripture is inspired by God, or God-breathed. “This means that God is the author of the Bible. The writers produced a product, which, while it was their own, was also the Word of the Living God” (Harold Lindsell, The Battle For The Bible, page 35). Paul taught the full inspiration of every letter of the Bible when he based an argument in Galatians 3:16 on one word – zerah, seed, and not the plural zera-eem – seeds. The promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed. He does not say, “And to seeds” (quoting Genesis 13:15 and 17:8), as referring to many, but rather to one, “And to your seed,” that is, Messiah. With these claims we would expect that the Bible would meet or exceed the highest standards for accuracy – and it does.
2. Unique in Unity and Harmony
God commissioned 40 different Jewish authors from all walks of life, over a period of 1600 years on three continents to write the 66 books of the Bi