Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
September 29, 1949
NUMBER 21, PAGE 1,6b

What Think Ye Of Christ?

J. Early Arceneaux

The issue between Christianity and infidelity is not whether there were two Isaiah's, or whether Daniel lived less than 500 years before Christ. The crucial problem is not whether the book of Daniel is a forgery, and whether some pious man several centuries after Daniel lived, with good purpose wrote the book and attributed it to Daniel. That's what the modernists claim—that Daniel did not write the book, that it is a pious forgery. But whether Moses wrote Deuteronomy, or Daniel wrote Daniel are not the basic, vital, fundamental issues between believers and unbelievers. I grant that they are important; but there is something much more basic than questions of this kind.

Somebody asks, How can you prove that Matthew wrote Matthew, Mark wrote Mark, Luke wrote Luke, and Paul wrote Hebrews. Suppose I couldn't prove any of those statements, that wouldn't disprove anything at all concerning the books. For not a single one of these books makes the claim that Matthew, Mark, Luke, or Paul was the author. I wouldn't disprove one single statement of fact, or one single item of doctrine if I proved that these men did not write the books attributed to them. The same man wrote Luke and Acts, but he didn't sign his name. The inspiration does not depend on our knowledge of the human author at all. There are a number of books in the Bible whose authorship I do not know.

I used to make a statement that I have heard other preachers make since I quit, namely, that the books of the Old Testament were written by about forty different writers. One day I was challenged by a lady in a Bible class to name the forty men. I could not do it. Since that time I've not been so positive in my assertions on that point. I was sort of like the preacher who said it took Noah 120 years to build the ark. Somebody asked him for the reference on that, and since then he has quit making such a statement. So we learn. There is a great deal of information that Christians need that they get in places other than the Bible. Webster's dictionary can be very helpful; as can also a knowledge of world history, which, of course is not found in the Bible, except for a few passages of prophecy here and there. A knowledge of history is of inestimable value. But much of the "information" we parade about the Bible is neither Biblical, nor is it information.

Christ's Divinity

The one fact upon which Paul was willing to stake the whole truth of Christ and Christianity was the resurrection. While Jesus was on earth, he said to the Pharisees. "What think ye of Christ? Whose Son is he?" He did not mean, What do you think of me? (That's what it amounted to, but that was not what the question meant to the Pharisees). Thinking of "the Christ" in terms of their own Old Testament prophecy, the Pharisees answered without any hesitation, "The son of David". To them, the Christ was the Messiah. He was not the Son of God. Jesus replied to them, "If he is the son of David, then, how did David call him Lord'?" That stopped the Pharisees. From that time on they were silent. They didn't know what to say. There was no explanation possible for them.

If the New Testament is not true in its report of the birth, life, miracles, death, and resurrection of Christ, there is no accounting at all for how it happened to be written. Modernists say, of course, that it was written by honest men, and that when they recorded the story of these miracles, even the resurrection, they actually did believe them; they thought they were telling the truth, but they were mistaken. Their expectation was so strong that Jesus would rise from the dead that they deluded themselves into thinking that he had arisen, and that they had seen him.

Jewish Inventions?

This claim of the modernists amounts to their saying that these Jewish fishermen, unlearned and ignorant though they were, actually invented this Christ who said he was David's "Lord". For consider carefully: the disciples of Jesus did not expect him to arise from the dead. They could not credit it even when they saw him. And as for the Jews generally, it was utterly unthinkable to them that their Messiah could be raised from the dead, because they did not think he would ever die.

For one thing, it was not the Jewish idea that their Messiah would be the Son of God. They crucified Jesus, not because he claimed to be their Messiah (they were willing to accept him as Messiah), but because he claimed to be the Son of God. That was the charge on which he was condemned.

Now do you think the Jews invented a Christ who laid claim to being divine, and then invented the story of this man being crucified for his claim, and then invented a story of his being raised from the dead? Such would be impossible for a faithful Jew. "The multitude there. fore answered him, We have heard out of the law that the Christ abideth forever: and how sayest thou, The Son of man must be lifted up? Who is this Son of man?" (Jno. 12:34) Christ had been telling 'them of his approaching death. And they couldn't credit it.

To the Jews, the cross of Christ has always been a stumbling block. Is it credible that the Jews would invent the story of the crucifixion, and then stumble at their own invention? Even the Lord's own disciples, because of their Jewish background, found it extremely difficult to accept the idea of a crucifixion and a resurrection. They, like their fellow Jews, could not comprehend the idea of the Messiah being raised from the dead, because they could not adjust themselves to the idea of his dying in the first place.

The modernists simply miss the point entirely when they try to picture the Lord's disciples as expecting a resurrection. They expected no such thing. They were utterly without hope when Jesus died.

Abrogation Of Moses' Law

Did the New Testament writers (who were Jews) invent the teaching that Moses' law was abrogated? Jews hate that teaching worse than anything in all the New Testament. That is what caused such bitter persecution against Paul They regarded him as having taught that Moses' law was abrogated and done away with.

Do you think the Jews would invent a king that would be crucified by the Romans? On the contrary, they expected their king to break the power of the Roman yoke. Jesus disappointed their expectation, and taught that he was king of a spiritual kingdom rather that a political one. His teaching was contrary to all their ideas and all their expectations. And when his followers came along and taught that Moses' law was no longer binding, it drove the Jews into a frenzy of opposition and persecution.

No, the modernists simply haven't read the facts of history, nor the facts of human nature. Jesus was not an invention of Jewish minds. All that he did and all that he taught was the very opposite of what would have come from Jewish invention.

But if he was not a Jewish invention, then he was indeed and in truth, "the Christ, the Son of the living God."