Question | How do we know Jesus is who He says He is?
Answer | Jesus is proven to be the Son of God by His words and works. The Spirit bears witness to His truthfulness, and the Father confirmed it by exalting Him above all things.
Scripture | Romans 1:3-4 Concerning his Son, who was descended from David according to the flesh and was declared to be the Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness by his resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord.
Explanation| Jesus Christ isn’t physically with us, today. As we saw in our previous question and answer, Jesus died, rose again, and ascended into heaven. That’s what the Bible tells us. And for us, all of that took place nearly two-thousand years ago. But, do we know that that happened? Do we know that Jesus is who He said He is? To be fair, we could ask the same questions about any other person who lived long before us. Yet, unlike every other person who’s lived but we’ve never met, Jesus Christ is the most significant. How you and I respond to the truth of, say, George Washington, is not even close to being as important as our response to the truth of Jesus Christ. How then do we know Jesus is who He says He is?
Jesus is proven to be the Son of God by His words and works. We learn from the Bible that while Jesus was on earth, not everyone believed He was who He said He was.1 Those who didn’t believe Him couldn’t deny that He was a real person. And some couldn’t even deny the power of His words and works.2 Rather, what they did deny was that He was the Christ, the Son of the living God. They didn’t believe that He was who He said He was. Jesus often encouraged those who weren’t quite sure about Him to hear His words and see His works.3 He wanted them to see that they perfectly lined up with God and the Old Testament. Some took Him up on His encouragement and ended up believing on Him.4 Others simply continued to reject Him.5 Now, if that was true during Jesus’ time on earth, what about now? Jesus’ words and works as recorded for us in the Bible function similarly for us, today. As you and I read and hear Jesus’ words and read and see His works in the Bible, will we say, “That’s true,” or “I’m not sure,” or “That’s baloney”? It’s tempting to think that if only Jesus were physically present with us, today, then we’d believe. But, how many people physically saw, heard, and touched Jesus yet still didn’t believe Him? In fact, Jesus indicated that some won’t even listen to a person who’s been raised from the dead now standing right in front of them (Luke 16:30-31)! Interestingly, Peter tells us that God’s word is better confirmation for us than some physical experience (2 Peter 1:16-21). And, John tells us that the sayings and doings of Jesus were written down specifically so that we might “believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God” (John 20:31).
The Spirit bears witness to His truthfulness. So, Jesus’ words and works testify to His truthfulness, which are faithfully recorded for us in the Bible. And, in fact, all of the Bible bears witness to Him (John 5:39-40). But, let’s look at another witness to Jesus’ truthfulness. The Spirit also testifies to Him as well.6 But, how? Well, think about this. What’s going on when we honestly and humbly look in the Bible, hear Jesus’ words, and see His works? What is happening is a spiritual activity. Yes, our physical eyes and ears are working, and our minds are thinking about what we are seeing and hearing. But, something more is going on when we come face-to-face with the truth of Jesus. The Bible tells us that the Holy Spirit is at work making Jesus known.7 What that means is that He is working to help us understand the truth of Jesus and be convinced of His significance in our lives. He is also working to convict the world of “sin, righteousness, and judgment,” all as it relates to Jesus (John 16:8-11). Now, we don’t necessarily see or hearHim working, and it’s difficult to understand how He works, which Jesus likens to the wind (John 3:8).However, the Spirit is at work, nonetheless. He’s at work spiritually. You see, we are both physical and spiritual beings. Meaning, who we are includes things that can be physically sensed (for example, seeing, hearing, tasting, smelling, touching). But, who we are also includes things that cannot be sensed physically but are no less real (for example, thinking, desiring, determining). The Bible at times uses our physical senses to help us understand what’s going on spiritually inside of us. For example, Paul tells us that the minds of unbelievers are “blinded” to the truth of the gospel (2 Corinthians 4:4), and that the “eyes” of believers’ hearts can be “enlightened” to the significance of Christ (Ephesians 1:18). And it’s here, in the non-physical part of who we are, that the Spirit is at work. But, to be sure, we can resist His work.8 However, if we do understand and submit to the truth of Jesus in the Bible, then you can also be sure that it’s because of the Spirit’s work in you.
The Father confirmed His truthfulness by exalting Him above all things. Again, we are told in the Bible that, not just Jesus’ own words and works and the Spirit Himself all testify to Jesus’ truthfulness. The Father, too, testifies that Jesus is who He said He is. How? On a couple of occasions (as we’ve already seen), the Father audibly testified in approval to both who Jesus was and what He was doing. But even more, it’s what the Father does following Jesus’ death that confirms His truthfulness. For example, look at our verse(s) above. What do you see? What is it that confirms Jesus Christ “to be the Son of God in power” (Romans 1:4)? It’s His “resurrection from the dead.” Jesus’ resurrection demonstrates to us that He is who He says He is. Why? Well, the Bible is clear that God the Father “raised Him from the dead.”9 And if the Father raised Jesus from the dead, then He confirms to us that who Jesus is and what Jesus has done is fully acceptable to Him. Further, following Jesus’ resurrection, He also “ascended on high” (Ephesians 4:8). That is, He bodily returned to heaven to be with the Father. And once there, the Father sat Him at His right hand. What’s so significant about where Jesus sits? That’s a good question! Let me put it like this. First, the fact that Jesus is now seated demonstrates that He completed the work He was sent to do.10 Second, the fact that He is seated at the Father’s right hand demonstrates that the Father is satisfied with the work He sent His Son to do.11 The right hand (or, side) of the Father refers to the place of acceptance, honor, and privilege. So, in a word, the Father has exalted Jesus above all things.12 If the Father was somehow uncertain about Jesus’ identity as the Son or dissatisfied with His work on earth, would He have raised Him from the dead, brought Him back to heaven, and seated Him at His right hand? Not at all.
This is what the Bible teaches about Jesus.
1 John 6: 63 “It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is of no avail. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life. 64 But there are some of you who do not believe.” (For Jesus knew from the beginning who those were who did not believe, and who it was who would betray him.)
2 John 12: 37 Though he had done so many signs before them, they still did not believe in him, 38 so that the word spoken by the prophet Isaiah might be fulfilled: “Lord, who has believed what he heard from us, and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?”
3John 10: 37 “If I am not doing the works of my Father, then do not believe me; 38 but if I do them, even though you do not believe me, believe the works, that you may know and understand that the Father is in me and I am in the Father.”
4 John 2: 23 Now when he was in Jerusalem at the Passover Feast, many believed in his name when they saw the signs that he was doing.
5 John 10: 24 So the Jews gathered around him and said to him, “How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Christ, tell us plainly.” 25 Jesus answered them, “I told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in my Father’s name bear witness about me, 26 but you do not believe because you are not part of my flock.
6 1 John 5: 6 This is he who came by water and blood- Jesus Christ; not by the water only but by the water and the blood. And the Spirit is the one who testifies, because the Spirit is the truth. 7 For there are three that testify: 8 the Spirit and the water and the blood; and these three agree. 9 If we receive the testimony of men, the testimony of God is greater, for this is the testimony of God that he has borne concerning his Son. 10 Whoever believes in the Son of God has the testimony in himself. Whoever does not believe God has made him a liar, because he has not believed in the testimony that God has borne concerning his Son. 11 And this is the testimony, that God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. 12 Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.
7 John 15: 25 “But when the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness about me.” (See also, John 16:12-15)
8 Acts 7: 51 “You stiff-necked people, uncircumcised in heart and ears, you always resist the Holy Spirit. As your fathers did, so do you.” (See also, Galatians 5:17; 1 Thessalonians 5:19)
Matthew 17: 22 As they were gathering in Galilee, Jesus said to them, “The Son of Man is about to be delivered into the hands of men, 23 and they will kill him, and he will be raised on the third day.” And they were greatly distressed.
Matthew 20: 17 And as Jesus was going up to Jerusalem, he took the twelve disciples aside, and on the way he said to them, 18 “See, we are going up to Jerusalem. And the Son of Man will be delivered over to the chief priests and scribes, and they will condemn him to death 19 and deliver him over to the Gentiles to be mocked and flogged and crucified, and he will be raised on the third day.”
9 Galatians 1: 1 Paul, an apostle- not from men nor through man, but through Jesus Christ and God the Father, who raised him from the dead. (See also, Acts 2:24; 10:40; 13:30, 34; Romans 10:9; Ephesians 1:20; Colossians 2:12; 1 Peter 1:21)
10 Revelation 3:21 “The one who conquers, I will grant him to sit with me on my throne, as I also conquered and sat down with my Father on his throne.” (See also, Hebrews 1:3; 10:12)
11 1 Peter 3:22 who has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, with angels, authorities, and powers having been subjected to him. (See also, Ephesians 1:20; Colossians 3:1; Hebrews 1:3, 13; 8:1; 10:12; 12:2)
12 Philippians 2:9 Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name. (See also, Acts 2:33; 5:31; Hebrews 7:26)