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The Bible and the Trinity Part 3
John MacArthur Defends the Deity of Christ
The Deity of Christ
We have already discussed the fact that the Bible sees God as one. At the same time the biblical writers see three persons as God. To review, when we say that God is a Trinity, we are saying that there is one God, eternally existing in three persons. It is well established in Scripture that the Father is God. Now it is necessary, in our study, to turn to the to person of the Son. Does the biblical record indicate that Jesus Christ was indeed God? The answer to this is a clear: "Yes!"
I. The Title 'Kurios'
The Greek word kurios is translated as Lord and is used as a title for Jesus Christ by every New Testament writer. This would have been understood as a name for deity by people of the first century, and was used by the Greek translators of the Old Testament to render the name Jehovah. Paul refers to Jesus as Lord 19 times in the book of Romans and 21 times in I Corinthians, just to name two of his books. In Philippians 2 , Paul states that there will come a time when "every knee shall bow and every tongue shall confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father." A term used like this of a mere man would have been blasphemy.
It is interesting that Jesus Himself defends his Lordship in Matthew 22:41-46. He was dealing with the Pharisees, as he often did, and asked them a question: "What do you think of the Christ? Whose son is He?" The Pharisees answered correctly and said that the Christ, (i.e the Messiah), would be the son of David. Jesus answered: "How then does David in spirit call him Lord, saying: 'The Lord said unto my Lord, sit on my right hand, until I make your enemies your footstool.' If David then call him Lord, how is he his son?" The Pharisees were unable to answer Jesus because the only way the Messiah could be both David's son and his Lord is that he was his son according to the flesh, but at the same time the Lord in His essential nature.
II. Jesus is Called God
Not only is Jesus Christ called kurios but he is called God is Scripture. Jesus Christ is the Word in John 1:1-14 and according to John 1:1 the Word was God. The literal Greek reads: "God was the Word." The Greek word for God is put at the beginning to emphasize his deity. And contrary to some beliefs, the construction of this sentence cannot allow for the translation that the word was merely 'a god'. It is constructed in such a way to point out that he is indeed God.
A. He is Worshiped as God
The Apostle Thomas, upon seeing the risen Christ, exclaimed to him: "My Lord and my God!" (John 20:28). If Jesus were not God he should have rebuked him. But he didn't do this. He accepted the worship. Which leads us to a further point. Only God is to be worshipped ; yet Jesus, in several places in the Bible, received worship from both angels and men (Matthew 2:11; 8:2; 9:18; 14:33; 15:25; 18:26; 28:9 and 17; John 9:38; Hebrews 1:6; Revelation 5:11-15).
B. He is Called God by the Father
God the Father actually calls Jesus God in Hebrews 1:8. This verse states: "But unto the Son he says: 'Your throne, O God, is forever and ever. A scepter of righteousness is the scepter of your Kingdom.' "
C. The Fulness of the Godhead Dwells in Him
In Colossians 2:9 the Apostle Paul states that all of the fulness of the Godhead bodily dwells in Jesus Christ. The present tense of the word 'dwells' denotes that this is an eternal and essential characteristic of Christ's being. In other words, the divine fullness has always dwelt in him. Since the incarnation, it now dwells in bodily form.
D. His Pre-Existence as God
Philippians 2 states that Jesus was in the form of God before the incarnation, or before he was born on this earth. It states that he thought it not robbery, or a thing to be grasped, to be equal with God. (2:6), This passage both states the pre-existence of our Lord, but also says that he pre-existed as equal with God. One translator of verse 2 renders it this way: "For he, who always was God by nature, did not cling to his prerogatives as God's equal." It is hard to get more clear than that.
E. Some of the Attributes of God are Ascribed to Christ
Jesus Christ is said to have attributes which can only be ascribed to God. For example, He is said to be omnipotent, or all powerful (Hebrews 1:3; Revelation 1:8; Matthew 28:18). He is omniscient, or all knowing (Colossians 2:3; John 16:30 and 21:17). He is immutable, or unchanging (Hebrew 13:8 and 1:12). He is eternal (John 1:1 and 8:58). And Christ is also said to possess all the moral attributes of perfection (Hebrews 7:26 and 4:15; Ephesians 3:19; I Timothy 6:15,16).
F. He Exercises the Offices of Deity
God and God alone is the Creator and Sustainer of the universe. Yet these offices are attributed to Jesus Christ. Just take a look at such passages as John 1:3 and Colossians 1:16,17. Also have a look at Hebrews 1:2. All of these passages leave no doubt that Jesus Christ is indeed the one who made all things, and holds them all together.
G. He Exercises Powers Which Exclusively Belong to God
There are also some powers that only God has, that Jesus exercised. For instance, Jesus forgave sin (Matthew 9:2-6). Also, Jesus has life in Himself and has the power to give life (John 1:4 ; 5:26 ; 10:10; 11:25; 14:6 and Hebrews 7:16). He raises the dead (John 11:25). Lastly, Jesus will one day execute final judgement on all (John 5:22; II Corinthians 5:10; Acts 17:31; Matthew 25:31 and 32; II Timothy 4:1).
H. He is the Great 'I Am'
Jesus again is dealing with the Pharisees in John 8: 48-59. And he told them in 8:58: "Before Abraham was I Am." Of course the Pharisees picked up stones to kill him because they thought he was blaspheming. They deduced that Jesus was calling himself the Hebrew name that God gave himself in the Old Testament when dealing with Moses, and the people of Israel. In Exodus 3:14 and 15, Moses asks God what he should call Him when the children of Israel ask who has sent Moses to them. The Lord replies: "I Am That I Am...Thus shall you say to the children of Israel: 'I AM has sent me.' " In other words Jesus dared to call himself by the divine name Jehovah, or Yahweh, for 'I Am' is what this name means.
It is clear that those who say that the Bible doesn't claim the deity of Christ, either haven't read it, or have chosen to deny the facts of Scripture. Jesus Christ is King of Kings and Lord of Lords. He is the Second Person of the Trinity. He is Very God of Very God. The Trinity is indeed a fact of Scripture and to deny it is to deny who Jesus Christ truly was, and still is.