- Religion and Philosophy
Who Is the Biblical Jesus? - Part 4
- Who Is the Biblical Jesus? - Part 3
One God? Three Gods? A Three in one trinity? Jesus - the Son of God? Jesus - the Son of man? The most documented doctrine also causes much confusion. It's time to sort through the facts.
This final article in this four part series will deal with verses connecting Jesus Christ to His Godhood. We will also do a thorough review of past verses we have looked at. Will all agree? Absolutely not. Regardless of the topic there will always be disagreement. We are human, and as such we see things differently from time to time. I am open to healthy discussion on the subject.
Some of you have shown disagreement in a respectful and mature way. I appreciate that, and I certainly know I can learn from you even if I do not agree with you. However, what is unacceptable is when an individual is attacked or belittled because of the disagreement. The issue is not the person. The issue is the doctrine.
So on with the show.
In The Beginning
“In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth” (Genesis 1:1) – God (Elohim) can and often does refer to plurals. Genesis 1:26 continues, “And God said, Let us make man in our image. . . “. Who was this plural God of Genesis 1:1? Who was to be included in the us of verse 26? We see God’s Holy Spirit mentioned in Genesis 1:2 as being present. Going over to the New Testament we see Jesus was also present. In Colossians 1:16, 17 – “For by him [Jesus] were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: And he is before all things, and by him all things consist.” We also learn from the Colossians text that not only were all things created by Jesus, but that He existed before all things. The Greek word pas used here means all. We have no reason to think that Jesus Himself is to be included in the Creation for He was before creation and performed creation along with God, the Father and God, the Holy Spirit.
The Word Identified
Similarly we looked at John 1:1-3 - “In the beginning was the Word [Jesus], and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.”
So who or what is the Word. Going further in John chapter 1 we come to verse 14 –"And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us . . .” This verse, of course is speaking about the incarnation. The Word who was with God and was God took on human flesh to identify with us. To that we can add Matthew 1:23, “ Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.” His name shall be interpreted as God with us.
What a beautiful promise!
We see the identification of the Word in I John 1:1 – “That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word of life.” Again, as we use Scripture as its own commentary we see the human Word identified (who was with God and who was God; who is God with us). Jesus is the Word of life.
Revelation 19:13 continues to identify the Word - “And he was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and his name is called The Word of God.”
Acts of God
Who can forgive sin but God only? Well, Jesus. And the Pharisees knew exactly what He was claiming by forgiving sins. He was participating in something only God could do or had the right to do – “. . . Man, thy sins are forgiven thee. And the scribes and the Pharisees began to reason, saying, Who is this which speaketh blasphemies? Who can forgive sins, but God alone? But when Jesus perceived their thoughts, he answering said unto them, What reason ye in your hearts? Whether is easier, to say, Thy sins be forgiven thee; or to say, Rise up and walk? But that ye may know that the Son of man hath power upon earth to forgive sins, (he said unto the sick of the palsy,) I say unto thee, Arise, and take up thy couch, and go into thine house” (Luke 5:20-24).
Jesus was nearly stoned because He claimed to be God in the flesh as Matthew 1:23 spoke of.. Jesus makes the claim in John 10:30, “ I and my Father are one. The Jews go on to attempt stoning Him, “ Then the Jews took up stones again to stone him. Jesus answered them, Many good works have I shewed you from my Father; for which of those works do ye stone me? 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.” The Jews understood clearly what Jesus meant by His statement, “I and my Father are one.” It meant much more than being one in unity. It meant equality.
Do the Old and New Testaments Agree?
Now after reviewing past thoughts, let us move on to consider more. If, as a Christian you believe the Bible is the written Word of God without error, then we must reconcile some Old Testament passages with the New Testament. Might we first agree that both the Old and New Testaments portray only on God.
Please look at the last part of Isaiah 45:18 – “…I am the Lord; and there is none else.” The New Testament concludes the same – “Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well; the devils also believe, and tremble” (James 2:19). The question becomes, who is this one God?
The Glory of God
Isaiah 42:8 tells us, “I am the LORD: that is my name: and my glory will I not give to another….” Very clearly Jehovah God says He is the LORD and His glory is not to be shared. So far, so good, but then we come to the Lord’s Prayer in John 17:5 – “And now, O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self with the glory which I had with thee before the world was.” “Glorify thou me, , , which I had with thee before the world was.” If God will not share His glory with anyone then Jesus could not have owned His glory in eternity past unless Jesus = God.
Who died for your sins? The only way to have eternal life is to have a right relationship with God. That relationship first begins by acknowledging we need a Saviour. Jesus is the Saviour of all who will come to Him , and trust His blood for the cleansing of sin. Hebrews 9:22 is clear – “. . . and without shedding of blood is no remission” [of sin].The central figure of Christianity is Jesus Christ who bled and died on a Roman cross for your sin. Your sin – it needs to be personal. It was His shed blood at Calvary that opened the way of eternal life if you choose it through repentance and faith. Jesus poured out His life’s blood for you.
But wait a minute. Do not forget the important message in Acts 20:28. “"Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood."
God purchased His church with His own blood. If Jesus is not God we have a problem.Thank God that He is God, and again Scripture becomes its own best interpreter.
Isaiah 43:10, 11 emphasizes a monotheistic God, “Ye are my witnesses, saith the LORD, and my servant whom I have chosen: that ye may know and believe me, and understand that I am he: before me there was no God formed, neither shall there be after me. I, even I, am the LORD; and beside me there is no savior.” So what are we to make of Acts 4:12 – “Neither is there salvation in any other [Jesus]: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved” The LORD says salvation is only in Him. Unless Jesus is God there would be no way for Him to rightly claim to be the giver of salvation. Jesus sole purpose in coming to earth was to seek and to save that which was lost (Luke 19:10).
The Jehovah’s Witnesses who claim Isaiah 43:10 as their mission verse hold to the belief that Jesus was a created being, and only focus on God, the Father, bringing Jesus down to the level of a created angel. To them and others, I would like to remind you that Philippians 2:9, 10 is still valid. “God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth.” What is the importance of this verse within the scope of our discussion? Jesus' name is above even the name of Jehovah. We can twist and turn Scripture any way we want, but it means what it means. We would do better to just accept it at face value.
After the resurrection, Thomas was not in his place, and missed the appearance of the resurrected Christ. Jesus says to him in Luke 20:27, 28 - “Then saith he to Thomas, Reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into my side: and be not faithless, but believing. And Thomas answered and said unto him, My Lord and my God.”
Wait a second - did I read that right – My Lord and my God? Yes, I guess I did. Thomas who spent three years with Jesus during his earthly ministry recognized the risen Lord as his God. Why should I doubt he meant anything else but what he said?
Colossians 2:9, 10 -:” For in him [Jesus] dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily And ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power.” In Jesus dwells the fullness of the Godhead, but He is also the head of all. That is God’s rightful place. He will not share that position with anyone. But Christ, who is God is the head of all principality and all power.
What about I Timothy 3:16? “And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh . . . .” This is a great mystery, but nevertheless, God was manifest in the flesh.
No less than nine times is the phrase “worshipped him” found in the New Testament referring to worshiping Jesus. But yet worship is reserved for God and God alone. Nowhere in Scripture is worship of a mortal man acknowledged as being acceptable.
As was mentioned in Part Three, the doctrine of the deity of Christ is one of the most documented teachings in Scripture. At some point I need to stop, but know there are many more verses we could look at. We may not be able to understand it with our human minds, but why not take some time right now, and thank God for His precious gift of eternal life.