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When God Became Man
The Rub Of Man: Deity In Our Midst?
"Deal or No Deal"
We've all seen this show on T.V. The contestants have to figure out if what they have is good enough or if there is something better inside the suitcase.
The dilemma of this program is similar to what God asks us to look at: was Jesus who claimed to be God, God? This has been the main question for 2 thousand years plus. Caesar worship was in vogue as Christianity and it's followers were spilling their blood as they refused to worship Caesar but chose instead to worship this person named Jesus who died on a cross.
Similar to "Deal or No Deal", I say
"Deity or no Deity." Was Jesus Christ Deity or merely a man?
I want to know the answer to this question, don't you?
One of the things that has always fascinated me about the discussion of Jesus Christ has been the question: was he God as he claimed? I used to struggle with this and I searched the scriptures for answers to this question. I don't want to worship someone who is dead. If Christ were only a man and not deity at the same time, I don't want to worship Him. But if he were fully God and fully man, and He did rise from the dead, then I need to do some reconsidering.
Many skeptics and even theologians, liberal theologians, have argued against the Deity of Christ. Many don't have a problem with the fact that he actually lived on planet earth and that he died an excruciating death on a cross. Even Jewish historians, secular types like Josephus, wrote about Christ and his life and his death on the cross.
The cross was a symbol of punishment, of torture, of disgrace and death. The cross was recompense for dastardly deeds. "Ex-cruciate" is a word that was developed to describe death on a cross. It literally means "out of the cross" since the death was so horrific, grisly and ghastly. If someone says they are in "excruciating pain", that's a type of pain that was used to describe the cross.
But when you mention anything about the Deity of Christ and His Lordship over creation, people come unglued. Why do people always take the Lord's name in vain. Why don't they take other religious figures' names in vain? Why are they always damning Christ over and over? It makes no sense to me. It makes sense when you read the scriptures because the scriptures reveal what Jesus said people would say about him, the fact that there would be division and emotion with respect to him.
Resurrection: Did Christ Really Rise From The Dead
The big question that needs to be answered first is the resurrection. Did Jesus really have command over death? Did he really rise from the dead? Did he really appear to his disciples after his death. Did the risen Christ really appear to a man named Saul on his way to Damascus? Why would a majority of his disciples go into martyrdom if they weren't convinced of his resurrection? As the Apostle Paul says in I Corinthians 15:14, "if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith." And again, later in the chapter, Paul says,
"If the dead are not raised, 'let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die.'"
In other words lets live as if there is no tomorrow and indulge ourselves in a hedonistic lifestyle, live for self and heck with everyone else.
The resurrection is really where the proverbial "rubber meets the road." If Jesus was God then death could not hold him back. Jesus was not a victim as some depict him. He was not caught unaware in some evil scheme of the Jews and the cowardice of the Roman Government to stand up for an innocent man. The same Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead is the same Spirit who "will give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who lives in you" (Romans 8:11). The same Spirit who dwells in the life of the believer is the same one who will raise our mortal bodies. There will be a physical resurrection as evidenced by Christ's physical resurrected body (that's all whole other discourse for another time.
If he really rose from the dead and is still alive today, even though he is not physically present, then "we have some problems Houston." If Christ is alive, if Christ rose from the dead, then we need to reconsider His claim to Deity and what he would have us do.
Does The Bible Support The Belief In Deity Of Jesus Christ?
One of the main themes of the New Testament is the Deity of Christ. This is what got Jesus into so much trouble with the religious leaders and teachers of his time. He was claiming to be God and they didn't like it. Before we can explore this fascinating concept, we need to understand the plurality of persons in the Godhead, the Trinity.
The Doctrine of the Trinity is one of the core essentials of the Christian Faith. While the word Trinity does not appear in the bible, it is clearly taught through the revelation of scripture. Many people get caught up in calling this doctrine bogus since they cannot rationalize what this mystery is.
The Trinity is the concept that God is one in essence, yet has three distinct persons within the Godhead: the Father, The Son, and the Holy Spirit. The are all co-eternal and uncreated. They are distinct persons in the Godhead and have different functions but they are all God.
All heresy starts here (how you understand Christ and who He is). If you don't get the concept of his Deity correct, everything else falls apart. All cults deny the Deity of Christ, His eternal nature and Lordship over His creation and His existence. In other words, they don't believe He is God nor do they believe that He is the creator God.
Many people regard Jesus as a good man, a prophet and a miracle worker. Even many secular writings depict Jesus of Nazareth as having a following, a ministry, a claim to miracles and a life that ended on a cross at Golgatha. This is a fact: that Jesus was a real person who really lived on earth and lived a real life, despite some who deny this very fact.
There are many passages in the bible that depict Christ as the eternal creator.
*The Pharisees and religious leaders wanted to kill him for blasphemy. Their charge of blasphemy stemmed from his numerous encounters with them, challenging their authority and their man-centered traditions. The Jews and teachers of the Law were continually plotting the demise of Jesus, and eventually, they got their way. John MacArthur wrote a great book called "The Murder of Jesus." In this book he highlights the innocence of Jesus and the Kangaroo Court that was put on by the Jews and teachers of the Law who wanted him killed.
*The first chapter of John states this: "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and thhe Word was God." Later in verse 14, the unveiling of this man of deity, was introduced as "The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us." For many who claim that the bible is silent on the deity of Christ need to look no further. But there is more.
In other words, Jesus became man. Let me say this again, yes, He became a man. Jesus did not divest himself of His eternal qualities and Deity, yet "he took on the infirmities of man" the bible says. This is the rub that men must grapple with.
*In the book of Philipians, the second chapter challenges the anti-deity crowd with this passage, "Who (Christ) being in the very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant..."
There it is again. Jesus did not divest himself of his glory in eternity, holding on to it, but took on humanity and its limitations. He never stopped being God but entered time as we know it, the linear time with all its trappings. He came as a servant even though He is the one and only king of all creation.
*He allowed people to worship him and He forgave them their sins (to the Jew, only God can forgive sins).
*John the Baptist pointed to Christ and cleared the way for his coming. He admitted that he was unworthy to carry Christ's sandals and that Christ was more powerful than him. He was to become smaller and Christ was to increase.
*Jesus healed people and drove out demons. The demons knew who he was and he rebuked them. Check out the many encounters Jesus had with evil spirits. They knew who he was, Jesus didn't need anyone to announce who he was, they already knew. In our culture today, the dark side is rationalized away as superstitious and brutish type of thinking. Go to Haiti, they believe in demons and the dark side, but not here, we're way too sophisticated to believe in these types of things!
Jesus knew about peoples past as he proved this by speaking to the woman by the well in Samaria. He revealed to her that he knew about the man she was now living with, the fact that she had had 5 husbands before, and the man she was now living with was not her husband.
She perceived that he was a prophet. Note that Jesus didn't condemn this woman but ministered to her. She was a Samaritan, a half breed if you will, of Jew and Gentile. The Samaritans were considered off limits to Jews and they were not to associate with this mixed race. The Jews took great pains to travel around Samaria, avoiding contact with the Samaritans. Instead, Jesus took time to speak with her and offer her life eternal in Him. He made the claim to her that he was the Christ she had heard of and had been waiting for.
Jesus stated in the gospels that "before Abraham was born, I am." In other words, Jesus had been around long before Abraham was on the scene in Genesis. On the earthly timeline, Jesus came many generations after Abraham, yet he stated that he was before Abraham (Deity).
The Apostle Paul calls Jesus God in Romans repeatedly.
The Apostle Peter claims in his writings to the church that Jesus was someone who came from eternity past and appeared. He was someone that they heard, touched and witnessed. He was in awe of the very fact that Jesus was God in the flesh.
The Apostle John gets a revelation from the Lord Jesus while he was exiled on the island of Patmos. He saw a vision of Christ and Christ revealed himself as God in the book of Revelation that John wrote.
There are many other instances of Jesus claim to deity in the scripture. I read a book by Josh McDowell called "More Than A Carpenter." In it Josh records the fact that Jesus was either a liar, a lunatic or he was God. He wrote another book called "Evidence That Demands A Verdict." Both of these books by Josh are incredible resources as to Jesus claim to Deity.
There are many of us Christians who have something that no one can take away: a testimony. It's kind of like your birthday, no one can take away your birthday. Since Christ is a person, often referred to as the 2nd Person in the Trinity, he relates to his creation and calls out men to repent of their sins and believe that He died for their sins.
Man's Responsiblity and God's Provision
"The Cross of Christ" by J.R. Stott, is a great book that I highly recommend to anyone seeking to find a full explanation of Christ's love and his mission for the lost. In this great book, Mr. Stott reveals an interesting concept: only man is responsible for his sin and cannot save himself from this condition; the other side of the coin is that only God can save man from his condition andis not responsible for man's sin. God willingly chose to send Jesus Christ into the world to pay the penalty of sin. From all eternity Christ had determined in the past with the Father, that He would willingly lay down his life on the cross. Reiterating the concept again: man is responsible for his sin but unable to free himself from this condition. God is not responsible for man's sin but only God can save man from man's sin. This he did most adroitly on the cross.
There is no way that I can write an article and even begin to exhaust the many resources we have in this country to study the claims of Christ.
In can tell you through personal testimony that Christ is alive and he is active in my life. I am trusting and believing in His resurrection and the fact that He paid the penalty of my sin on the cross. It was my sin that put him on the cross, it wasn't the other guy. It wasn't the guy who's in prison that did some really bad things that put Him on the cross. It was my sin and I have to own up to that fact. If it weren't for Christ, it's hard to say where I would have ended up.
Intellectual affinity to Jesus offer will not suffice. In other words, you can intellectually grasp what Jesus did, but until you jump onto the rescue boat he's placed in front of you, you will not have eternal life. Their has to be a personal trust involved here. There is a fiduciary relationship between you and Jesus. He has to be personally trusted, not intellectual trust.
Don't miss this key point.
Christ made a claim to Deity. It's up to us to evaluate His claim and see if He was who He said He was. He claimed that He was before time began and was with the Father in all eternity. He prayed to the Father and sent His Holy Spirit after his departure to be with God's people.Jesus claims that He is the only way to eternal life (John 14:6). He also states the fact that He is the only way to appease the wrath of God against all sin. Jesus makes numerous claims to Deity in the scripture, but perhaps the most convincing proof of his Deity lies in the fact of His resurrection. Please consider His claims and do your homework before you just "react" along with the skeptics and the pundits. I hope this article will stimulate some thought on this matter of Christ's Deity. I did my homework and I know if you ask God for wisdom, and you are really searching for the answer, God will reveal it to you.
God bless you and let me know if you have any questions.
Editors note: I know some will not like what I have written and some will take what I have written and do something. If you would like to dialogue with me on this matter, I will be happy to assist you in your journey.