The second thing that Jesus said was, “I am the truth.” That’s pretty narrow, isn’t it? But the truth by definition is very narrow. You may say, “That may be true for you, but it’s not true for me.” But that is not the way truth works. If Lenin was the first Party Secretary of the Soviet Communist Party, that is not only true for you, but it is true for me and the rest of the world. If George Washington was the first President of my country, that is not only true for me, but it is true for you and for the rest of the world. Therefore, if Jesus Christ is “The Truth,” then it is true not only for me but for the world. You may say that as long as you just believe something to be true, then it will be true for you. But that is not rational either. Just believing something does not make it truth. And just not believing something does not make it a lie. My belief does not establish truth or destroy truth. The key is what the truth is.
Suppose that there is only a thin sheet of ice over Moscow River, but I believe that the ice will hold me so I will be able to cross the river. I begin walking across the river with great faith in that ice. But I am believing a lie. No matter how strong my belief, if I walk out there on thin ice, it will break and I will drown. My faith in that ice will not establish what I believe to be true, that the ice will hold me up. Conversely, the person who walks on thick ice that covers the river may have only a little faith but be able to walk on the ice safely. It is not faith that creates the safety or a lack of it. The issue is whether my faith is in the truth or in a lie, the thick ice or thin ice. If my faith, even though it is small, is in the thick ice, I will experience the reality of a safe walk. And even though I may have great faith in the thin ice, I will experience the reality of destruction. And so it is with Christ. If He alone is my way to a holy and righteous God and that is the truth of the universe and of God, all I need to do is to trust in who He is and what He did to know God’s love and forgiveness for my life.
I mentioned earlier that C. S. Lewis lived many of his years as an atheist, but he came to grips with Christianity based upon the case of Christ and the truth of His claims. For many years he was professor of medieval and renaissance literature at Oxford University and later at Cambridge University. Commenting on Jesus’ claim to be God, he said that either that statement was true or it was false. If Jesus is God and that is true, then you have a decision to make about what you want to do with His claims. But Professor Lewis said, suppose that Jesus claimed to be God and that statement was really false. There would then be two options: Jesus knew that it was false, or He did not know that it was false. Lewis then said that if Jesus claimed to be God and the statement was false, and Jesus knew that it was false, Jesus was a liar. Not only was he a liar, he was a fool because he got himself killed for it. And not only was he a fool, he was a demon of hell because he told people to put their faith in him for eternal life. Lewis concluded that to consider that the greatest influence for good the world has ever known could live such a colossal lie was not a rational position to hold.
Commenting on the idea of Jesus being a liar and living a lie, the nineteenth-century historian W. Lecky, who was certainly not a believer in revealed religion, nevertheless wrote of Jesus, “The character of Jesus has not only been the highest pattern of virtue, but the strongest incentive to its practice, and has exerted so deep an influence that it may be truly said that the simple record of three short years of active life has done more to regenerate and to soften mankind than all the disquisitions of the philosophers and all the exhortations of the moralists.”
But remember we have another option. If Jesus’ claim to be God was false but he really thought that he was God, that would make him mentally unbalanced with a diagnosis of schizophrenia. Yet none of Jesus’ characteristics indicates schizophrenia.
Most psychiatrists tell us that if the world would just live by the teachings of Jesus we would have no war or murder or hatred. That does not sound like schizophrenia. Psychiatrist J. T. Fisher summarized the problem well:
If you were to take the sum total of all the authoritative articles ever written by the most qualified psychologists and psychiatrists on the subject of mental hygiene—if you are to confine them and refine them and cleave out the excess verbiage —if you are to take the whole of the meat and none of the parsley, and if you are to have these unadulterated bits of pure scientific knowledge concisely expressed by the most capable of living poets, you would have an awkward and incomplete summation of a Sermon on the Mount. And it would suffer immeasurably through comparison. For nearly 2000 years the Christian world has been holding in its hand the complete answer to its restless and fruitless yearnings. Here rests the blueprint for successful human life with optimum mental health and contentment.
As John Warwick Montgomery has so pointedly observed, “But one cannot very well have it both ways. If Jesus’ teachings provide ‘the blueprint for successful human life with optimum mental health,’ then the teacher cannot be a lunatic who totally misunderstands the nature of his own personality.”
So Professor Lewis concluded that neither one of these options is a rational option. In response to the claims of Jesus Christ we have only four alternatives:
He is a Legend.He is a Liar.He is a Lunatic.He is the Lord.
Outside of the legend (which historically is not factual), there are only three possibilities concerning the person of Jesus Christ: either He is a liar, or He is a lunatic, or He is the Lord. The question at issue here is this, which is the most probable of these three options?
CLAIMS TO BE GOD
Lewis concluded that Jesus was not a liar or a lunatic, but He is the Lord, as the diagram shows.
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