This morning I’m only going to tackle one survey question so that we can spend more time in prayer for the UAUT issues.

 

  1. Question #7 Jesus was a great teacher, but he was not God.

 

It is certainly true that Jesus was a great teacher as those, who heard him, attest to this fact. For example, in verses like Matthew 7:28-29, “When Jesus had finished saying these things, the crowds were amazed at his teaching, 29 because he taught as one who had authority, and not as their teachers of the law”. This was also the response of the crowd in Luke 2:47 where we are told, “Everyone who heard him was amazed at his understanding and his answers”. And again, in Luke 4:32, “They were amazed at his teaching, because his words had authority.

 

However, He also claimed to be God! In Luke 22:70 we read of his answer to that very question. “They all asked, “Are you then the Son of God?” He replied, “You say that I am.” The term “I am” makes it unmistakable that Jesus was claiming for Himself the personal name that God used when He revealed Himself to Moses at the burning bush in Exodus chapter 3.

In John 1:1 the apostle John makes it very clear who Jesus was in the very first sentence of his gospel, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” Jesus Himself makes the claim that, “I and the Father are one.” In John 10:30. And the apostle Paul proclaims in Colossians 2:9 that, “For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form”.

 

In fact, to say that Jesus was just a great teacher, and leave it like that, is a very foolish thing to say. According to the famous author C.S. Lewis. “Jesus did not leave us that option”. He outlines his reasoning in his famous book, “Mere Christianity” and titles the argument “The Trilemma: Lord, Liar, or Lunatic”.

 

The argument is based upon the observation that most people who don’t believe that Jesus is God, still like to think of Him as a great teacher. You will hear people say that, while they do not believe He is God, they are willing to consider Him as being a great moral teacher.

Lewis writes, “I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: “I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept His claim to be God.” That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic—on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg—or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God: or else a madman or something worse. You can shut Him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and kill Him as a demon; or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God, but let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to …. Now it seems to me obvious that He was neither a lunatic nor a fiend: and consequently, however strange or terrifying or unlikely it may seem, I have to accept the view that He was and is God.

Let me summarize the argument that C. S. Lewis was making:

Jesus claimed to be God. His claim is either true or false. If it is true, then we have to accept that, He is God. If the claim is false, then we can conclude only two things,

First, He said it knowing it was false and the conclusion could only be that He was a liar. Or second, He said it while thinking it was true and the only conclusion, we can come to then is that He was mad. Therefore, we are left with only three logical options: He is either God, or a liar, or a lunatic.

It would be difficult, even for people who consider Him to be a great moral teacher to conclude that Jesus was a liar. A great moral teacher would not, by definition, lie, and certainly not tell a great big one and claim to be God when He wasn’t.

It would also be difficult for these same people to say Jesus was a lunatic. If only for the fact that His teaching would appear to be the very essence of sanity—and, of course, a great moral teacher is, again by definition, sane. So, if He was not a liar and not a lunatic, the only other logically possible conclusion is that He is God.

Notice that, among the three logical possibilities, a great human moral teacher is not one of them. That Jesus was merely a great human moral teacher is, literally, not logically possible.

An unbeliever must say, well, then Jesus must be either mad or a liar. But, even unbelievers are uncomfortable with that statement.

If Jesus claims to be God and the claim is true, then He is God; and if He claims to be God and the claim is false, then He was a liar or a lunatic. Either His claim is true or it is false. Therefore, either Jesus is God, or He was a liar or a lunatic.

What this does is remove the possibility that Jesus was simply a great moral teacher and put the person who denies His deity in a dilemma from which there is no easy escape. The following chart will help us to see the fact that, He is God, is the only logical conclusion we can come to.