The Jesus-God Debate Simplified
Although there are many Hubs dealing with the theology of this topic, I wonder if it really needs to be as complicated as some make it out to be.
Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these."
If we, for one just one moment, honestly lay aside any and all preconceived ideas, opinions and/or sectarian training, and go to God’s Word as 'little children,' I am confident that God will reveal to us that which we seek. Keeping in mind that this is the simplified version ;) Please consider...
“Canst thou by searching find out God? canst thou find out the Almighty unto perfection? It is as high as heaven; what canst thou do? Deeper than hell; what canst thou know?”
This should not come as any surprise. God is infinite – infinite love, infinite mercy, infinite knowledge, infinite power, etc.
“For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts”
Humans, on the other hand, are finite. Thusly, we are subject to limitations, including our understanding and knowledge. Therefore, we cannot expect our ‘finite’ minds to fully comprehend everything about the infinite. Make sense? The best we have is the knowledge that God blesses us with and the truth that He chooses to reveal to each and every one of us, on an individual bases. And thus, the reminder to be praying constantly for wisdom and understanding and guidance from the Holy Spirit.
1 Corinthians 2:13-14
“Which things also we speak, not in the words which man's wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual. But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.” (cf. John 16:13)
Is Jesus God?
Does it matter? Actually, the answer to this question should be the core of your Christian faith. You see, what you believe about God will directly influence what you believe about salvation.
However, the question holds profound implications no matter how you answer it. If you answer “No,” then Jesus becomes a created being. Whether a prophet, or "just a good man", nonetheless He would be just like you or me or any of the other angels.
If this is the case, then why send Jesus? Why not any of the other angels? Some will suggest that since Jesus was God's beloved Son, His sacrifice demonstrates God's love for us. Huh?? On the contrary, this actually supports Satan’s accusation that God is selfish by demonstrating that He is only willing to sacrifice His creation and not Himself. Consider, if a person receives the death penalty, would it demonstrate love if he were to let his son take his place? Still, some may argue that if the Son were to volunteer to take the place of the Father, then this indeed demonstrates love. To an extent, they would be correct. However, this only demonstrates the son's love for the father.
In any event, if Jesus is a created being, then this means that if Jesus would have failed His mission, then another created being could be sent in His place. Furthermore, how can any created being's obedience, make 'me' right in the sight of God? Where would the 'imputed righteousness' come from? Surely not a created being! Friends, can any created being pay the price for man’s redemption? If the ‘creation’ has sinned, should not the ‘creator’ be responsible?
Friends, according to the Bible, Jesus claimed to be God. Jesus again and again defined Himself as being eternal, all-powerful and possessing eternal life. In adhering to the idea of trying to keep this Hub 'simple' I am not going to list the verses or discuss the theology here, but please consider a few points. First, considering the religious climate at the time and knowing the penalty for blasphemy, one could conclude that Jesus was insane when He claimed to be God. To make such a claim would have been equivalent to suicide. Second, one could conclude that He was a liar. But Jesus, in the least, was a 'good man'. How then can we say He was a liar? More to the point, if Jesus was indeed insane, or a liar, He certainly could not be our Saviour.
Which leaves one last choice - the only choice.The possibility that He was speaking a spiritual truth. Selah.
Friends, when we consider the biblical definitions of God it is easy to see that Jesus fits every one of them. Quite frankly, proper hermeneutics and stringent exegesis dictate that Jesus MUST be God in the flesh and although some may argue whether or not Jesus actually said that He was God, the truth is that even His enemies knew He was making this claim.
“But Jesus answered them, My Father worketh hitherto, and I work. Therefore the Jews sought the more to kill him…” because He “said also that God was his Father, making himself equal with God.”
John 10:30, 33
“I and my Father are one… The Jews answered him, saying, For a good work we stone thee not; but for blasphemy; and because that thou, being a man, makest thyself God.”
Again, when He assumed the self-existent title of Jehovah, used at the burning bush…
“Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I AM. Then took they up stones to cast at him: but Jesus hid himself, and went out of the temple, going through the midst of them, and so passed by.”(emphasis added).
Granted, the people of Jesus' time may not have fully understood the deeper meanings of His claim to equality with God, but nonetheless it was widely accepted. So if the Bible does not teach that Jesus is a created being, then where did the idea come from?
For centuries people struggled to dissect God. At one point, around 300 A.D. a Libyan priest named Sabellius concluded that Jesus was not only God the Son, but God the Father and the Holy Spirit as well. This teaching is referred to as "modelism" and basically teaches that God is a single person with different 'titles.' So close, yet so theologically contrary to what the Bible says. It's not that Jesus is the Father and the Holy spirit as well, it's more like God is the Son, and the Father and the Holy Spirit. But, we're not going to go there in this Hub. In any event, the church quickly recognized these teachings as error and our friend Sabby was excommunicated.
Shortly afterward, around 400 A.D. an Alexandrian priest named Arius came up with the bright idea that before making anything else, God created a son who was not equal to Father. He was neither fully human, nor fully divine. Thus, "Arianism" was born. Another branch of this teaching, however twisted it seems, says that back before time existed, God the Father had some sort of supernatural copulation with the Holy Spirit and Jesus was the product. How foolish, not to mention deprave, is this? That God, who 'speaks' things into being no less, would require some form of.... celestial.... hoo-haa, in order to produce a 'son' - just boggles the mind.
Nonetheless, the point is this - it took 400 years for these ideas and teachings to creep into the church. One could say that up until that time - it was common-knowledge that Jesus is God.
The issue is not a question of whether Jesus was God or man. The Bible suggests He was both. The problem is that right away our finite minds jump to the conclusion that it must mean He was 50% human and 50% God, when in reality He is 100% God and 100% human at the SAME TIME. The Bible tells us that we, as sinful beings, cannot stand in the presence of a Holy God. We would be struck down by His holiness and glory. But Jesus, God the Son, veiled the full dimension of His divinity with the garbs of humanity when He came to earth.
“Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross”
Can God Die??
Now would be a good time to address the “how can God die” issue. Did ‘man’ kill the eternal and living God of the universe? This idea is obviously preposterous. Jesus makes it clear in John 10:17-18…
“Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I might take it again. No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This commandment have I received of my Father.”
The Bible tells us in Matthew 27:50…
“Jesus, when he had cried again with a loud voice, yielded up the ghost.”
This is an important point that we absolutely should to be clear on. Some folks today are upset with the Jewish people for allegedly killing Jesus. Yet, the Bible tells us that the whole reason Jesus came to earth was to die and He made it clear that no man can take His life. This means, theoretically, if Jesus had come to China, or Europe, or anywhere else for that matter – He was going to die. It was His purpose.
Let us pause a moment and consider the crucifixion. As we read the story we can note many fascinating events. There is the darkening of the sky for three hours near the middle of the day (Luke 23:44). The veil in the temple was torn from top to bottom and there was a massive earthquake (Matthew 27:51). Friends, graves were opened and the dead rose up (Matthew 27: 52-53). Not to mention how many prophecies, which were written hundreds of years prior, were fulfilled in this one scene alone!
However, the most remarkable event is the actual ‘death’ itself – the substitutionary death of Jesus Christ. You ask, “How can God die?” Well, obviously He can’t. But humans can die and thusly, God, assuming the form of man, can (and did) die as a man.
“And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.”
Did God die? Technically, no, of course God cannot die. But He did something unthinkable. Something far more than the human mind can even begin to contemplate. This is not just some ‘created being’ sent to die for our sins. No my friends, now the plan of redemption takes on much deeper meaning. Oh to think about and study how the Almighty God would not only condescend to becoming human, not only come as a helpless babe when He could have just as easily come as a powerful ruler, but also, when times became intolerable He didn’t plan a quick escape back to heaven. No, He stayed and gave up His life for sinful man! He paid the price because He alone could pay it. Wow! This is Love - unselfish.
“The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen” (2 Corinthians 13:14).
Special thanks to Pastor Doug Batchelor of Amazing Facts Ministry.