In recent months, the deity of the Lord Jesus Christ has come under severe attack from literary media and liberal theological critics. In a massive endeavor to discredit our Saviour's relationship as the second person of the triune Godhead, there has been a deluge of negative publicity that have cast serious reflection upon Christ's person and work. The DaVinci Code, The Jesus Dynasty, the release of the ancient Gospel of Judas and the documentary on the ossuaries [box tombs] that supposedly contain the remains of Jesus and his family are all part of a vicious assault upon the cardinal doctrines of historic Biblical Christianity.
While these do not have real historical or Scriptural credibility among honest archeologists, historians and Biblical scholars, they have dominated the nation's media. These attacks deserve a Biblical response and the following article is being published with this purpose in view. While this article is much longer than the editorials the editor normally prints, he trusts it will be a blessing and encouragement to those who read its contents.
"And we know that the Son of God is come, and hath given us an understanding, that we may know him that is true, and we are in him that is true, even in his Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God and eternal life." (I John 5:20)
Who is Jesus Christ? The answer to this query is actually the foundation of the historic Christian faith. One noted Bible scholar called the answer to this question the "supreme test of a man's faith." While most individuals will agree that there was a historical personage called Jesus, the key question to be answered is this: Is Jesus Christ actually God? Is He the second person in the triune Godhead? Was He actually God manifest in human flesh as the sacred Scriptures declare?
The Differing Appraisals of Christ
The Muslims believe that Jesus was a virgin born prophet; but He was superseded by Mohammed and that He is not God. Some modernists accept that Christ was a prophet in whom the ideals of God are epitomized, but that He is not God. The Jehovah Witnesses claim that Christ is the first in rank of created angels, but that He is not God. Unitarians say that Christ was "a son of God" but not "The Son of God". The New Age movement claims Christ was an eastern mystic who faked his death, traveled to the far east where he became a guru and taught incarnation, but that He was not God.
One noted Baptist theologian, however, rightly said: "If Christ is not God, He is either a deceiver or self-deceived. If Christ was not God, then Christ was not good." The Scripture’s plain teaching is that Christ is God: "and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us" (Matt. 1:23); "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God" (John 1:1); "God was manifest in the flesh" (I Tim. 3:16); "Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ" (Titus 2:13); "But unto the Son he saith, Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever." (Heb. 1:8)
Jesus Christ was perfect God and perfect man, two distinct natures combined in one distinct person. The phrase "Son of God" (Mark 1:1) emphasizes His deity, while the phrase "Son of man" (Luke 19:10) emphasizes is humanity.
In Isaiah 9:6, the O. T. prophet wrote: "For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given." In His being "born," we see his humanity; in His being "given, we see His deity. Note the following comparisons of Christ’s deity and Christ’s humanity as perfectly combined in one person.
1. As man, he was the descendant of Abraham (Gal. 3:16); as God, He said, "Before Abraham was, I am." (John 8:58)
2. As man, He was the son of David (Rom. 1:3); as God, He is David’s Lord. (Matt. 22:43-45)
3. As man, He was baptized in water (Mark 1:9); as God, He baptizes in the Holy Spirit. (Matt. 3:11)
4. As man, He was tempted in all points like as we are (Heb. 4:15); as God, He sustains us when we are tempted. (Heb. 2:18)
5. As man, He became poor (II Cor. 8:9); as God, He makes us rich. (II Cor. 8:9)
6. As man, He was subject to the Father (John 5:19); as God, He said, "I and my Father are one." (John 10:30)
7. As man, He had "not where to lay his head" (Luke 9:58); as God, He said, "I go to prepare a place for you." (John 14:2)
8. As man, He became wearied with his journey (John 4:6); as God, He said, "I will give you rest." (Matt. 11:28)
9. As man, He walked by the sea (Matt. 4:18); as God, He walked upon the sea. (Matt. 14:25)
10. As man, He was at the mercy of the storm (Matt. 8:24); as God, He stilled the storm. (Matt. 8:26)
11. As man, He said at Lazarus tomb, "take ye away the stone" (John 11:39); as God, He said, "Larazus, come forth." (John 11:43)
12. As man, He hungered for figs (Mark 11:12,13); as God, He cursed the fig tree. (Mark 11:14)
13. As man, He prayed to the Father (John 17); as God, He said, "If ye shall ask anything in my name." (John 14:14)
14. As man, He prayed that the Father would send another comforter (John 14:16); as God, He said, "when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you." (John 15:26)
15. As man, He allowed Simon to bear His cross (Matt. 27:32); as God, He upholds "all things by the word of his power." (Heb. 1:3)
16. As man, He said, "Now is my soul troubled" (John 12:27); as God, He said, "Let not your heart be troubled." (John 14:1)
17. As man, He needed sympathy in Gethsemane, (Matt. 26:40); as God, He refused sympathy while going to Calvary. (Luke 23:27,28)
18. As man, He was strengthened by angels (Matt. 4:11); as God, He is worshipped by angels. (Heb. 1:6)
19. As man, He was lifted up to die on a cross (John 12:32); As God, He draws all men unto Him. (John 12:32)
20. As man, He said, "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" (Mark 15:34); as God, He said, "Lo, I am with you alway." (Matt. 28:20)
21. As man, He said, "I thirst." (John 19:28); as God, He said, "If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink." (John 7:37)
22. As man, He died on the cross, (I Cor. 15:3); as God, He said, "I am the resurrection, and the life." (John 11:25)
23. As man, He was crowned with thorns (Matt. 27:29); as God, He is crowned with glory. (Heb. 2:7)
There are three distinct truths concerning Jesus Christ:
A. His eternal existence: co-eternal with the Father.
B. His equal existence: co-equal with the Father.
C. His earthly existence: condescension from the Father.
A. External Existence: Co-eternal with the Father
The Scriptures teach the eternal existence of God: "Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever thou hadst formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, thou art God." (Ps. 90:2)
The Scriptures also teach the eternal existence of Jesus Christ; that there never was a time when He did not exist: "But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting." (Micah 5:2) "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." (John 1:1)
B. Equal Existence: Co-equal with the Father
"I and my Father are one." (John 10:30) "Therefore the Jews sought the more to kill him, because he not only had broken the sabbath, but said also that God was his Father, making himself equal with God." (John 5:18) "Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God." (Phil. 2:6)
God the Father has handed over all spiritual authority to His Son, so that God the Son is the dispenser of all blessings that flow from the Father’s throne. "The Father loveth the Son, and hath given all things into his hand." (John 3:35) Christ, the Son, is the (a) Supplier of all our blessings (Eph. 1:3); (b) Strength in all our battles (Phil. 4:13); (c) Source in all our building (Matt. 16:18).
C. Earthy Existence: Condescension from the Father
"But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was make in the likeness of men" (Phil. 2:7); "And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth." (John 1:14)
To state, as one well-known evangelical Bible teacher formerly taught that that "Son" is only an incarnational title; that the Scripture nowhere speaks of the eternal sonship of Christ and that Christ only became the Son of God at his incarnation is dangerous doctrine and is biblically inaccurate.
While this writer does not agree with the current New-Evangelical trends in the IFCA, their doctrinal statement is correct when it says: "We believe that the Lord Jesus Christ, the eternal Son of God, became man without ceasing to be God."
SEVERAL BIBLICAL FACTS CONCERNING THE SON OF GOD
1. The Son of God Co-existed
Christ never had a beginning, He co-existed with the Father from eternity. "Whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting." (Micah 5:2) "No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him." (John 1:18)
In Vine’s Expository Dictionary of N. T. Words, the author says that the word "bosom" means "of the Lord’s eternal and essential relations with the Father in all its blessedness and affection."
2. The Son of God Communed
In the eons of eternity before this world was ever brought into existence, Christ communed with His Heavenly Father. "And now, O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self with the glory which I had with thee before the world was." (John 17:5) "That they may behold my glory, which thou hast given me: for thou lovest me before the foundation of the world." (John 17:24)
3. The Son of God Created
The Lord Jesus Christ was the creator of all things. "God… hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds." (Heb. 1:1,2) "For by him 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." (Col. 1:16)
4. The Son of God Condescended
Christ left the glories of heaven, condescending to this earth to become genuine humanity. "For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich" (II Cor. 8:9); "In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him." (I John 4:9)
5. The Son of God Carried
Christ carried our sins and our sorrows upon his back on the Cross. "Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted" (Isaiah 53:4); "He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all." (Rom. 8:32)
6. The Son of God Conquered
At Calvary, Christ conquered all that had conquered humanity. "Who gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us from this present evil world." (Gal. 1:4) "Even Jesus, which delivered us from the wrath to come" (I Thess. 1:10); "For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil." (I John 3:8)
7. The Son of God Calls
Christ is tenderly calling sinners today to come unto Him: "Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest" (Matt. 11:28); "To day, if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts." (Heb. 3:15)
8. The Son of God will Come Again
It's only a matter of time until the rapture of the saints in the air, when Christ returns for His saints. "I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also." (John 14:3) "And unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation." (Heb. 9:28)
THE WITNESS OF SCRIPTURE TO CHRIST’S DEITY
There is a three-fold Scriptural witness to the deity of Christ.
(1) The Scriptures Ascribes Divine Names to Christ.
(2) The Scriptures asserts a Divine Nature to Christ.
(3) The Scriptures Attributes a Divine Nobility to Christ.
1. The Scriptures Ascribe Divine Names to Christ
GOD: God the Father is called God: "Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and not be afraid." (Is. 12:2) Christ is also called God: "For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace." (Is. 9:6)
LORD: God the Father is called Lord: "that thou mightest know that the LORD he is God." (Deut. 4:35) Christ is also called Lord: "David therefore calleth him Lord, how is he then his son?" (Luke 20:44)
JEHOVAH: This word means "the eternally self-existent one." God the Father is called Jehovah: "That men may know that thou, whose name alone is JEHOVAH, art the most high over all the earth." (Ps. 83:18) Christ is called Jehovah (the eternally self existing one) in essence in John 8:58 "before Abraham was, I am" and also in Rev. 1:8: "I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty."
There are three great descriptive titles given to God that are also ascribed to Christ.
ROCK: God the Father is called the Rock: "And they remembered that God was their rock, and the high God their redeemer." (Ps. 78:35) Christ is given that same title in I Cor. 10:4: "for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ."
RIGHTEOUSNESS: God the Father is described as possessing righteousness: "I will fetch my knowledge from afar, and will ascribe righteousness to my Maker." (Job 36:3) Christ is declared to be our righteousness in I Cor. 1:31: For "of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption."
REDEEMER: God the Father is called the Redeemer: "…Thou, O LORD, art our father, our redeemer" (Is. 63:16); Christ is called the redeemer in Isaiah 54:5: "And thy Redeemer the Holy One of Israel" (Is. 54:5) [cp: Ps. 16:10 & Acts 2:27].
2. The Scriptures Assert a Divine Nature to Christ
"Believest thou not that I am in the Father and the Father in me?" (John 14:10); "For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily." (Col. 2:9) "And we know that the Son of God is come, and hath given us an understanding, that we know him that is true, and we are in him that is true, even in his Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God, and eternal life." (I John 5:20)
3. The Scriptures Attribute a Divine Nobility to Christ
The Scriptures give Christ a dignity, a loftiness, a majesty, a grandeur, an elevation that it grants to no other human being. No sinful human being is given the awesome distinct characteristics that are ascribed to Christ alone in Rev. 19:11-16.
THREE SETS OF PERSONAL WINTESSES TO CHRIST’S DEITY IN SCRIPTURE
1. The Witness of His Father: "And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him; And lo, a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased." (Matt. 3:16,17)
2. The Witness of His Friends: "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." (John 20:27-28)
3. The Witness of His Foes: "And there was in their synagogue a man with an unclean spirit; and he cried out, Saying, Let us alone; what have we to do with thee, thou Jesus of Nazareth? art thou come to destroy us? I know thee who thou art, the Holy One of God." (Mark 1:23-24) "Then the Jews took up stones again to stone him…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." (John 10:31,33)
THE WITNESS OF THE SAVIOUR HIMSELF
1. Christ’s Deity is Signified by His Attributes (Ones He personally exercised): Christ claimed and exercised the attributes that belong to God alone.
(a) OMNISCIENCE: John 2:24,25: "But Jesus did not commit himself unto them, because he knew all men, And needed not that any should testify of man: for he knew what was in man. In John 11:14: Christ had not yet gone to Bethany where Lazarus lived, but knew Lazarus had died: "Then said Jesus unto them, plainly, Lazarus is dead."
(b) OMNIPOTENCE: Matt. 28:18: "All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth." John 11:25: "I am the resurrection and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live…"
(c) OMNIPRESENCE: "For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them." (Matt. 18:20)
2. Christ’s Deity is Stated in His Affirmations. There are numerous occasions when he clearly asserted His deity:
To the Pharisees Christ stated: "I said therefore unto you, that ye shall die in your sins: for if ye believe not that I am he, ye shall die in your sins." (John 8:24) To this same group again: "Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day ... and was glad. Then said the Jews unto him, Thou art not yet fifty years old, and hast thou seen Abraham? Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am." (John 8:56-58). "I and my Father are one." (John 10:30)
3. Christ’s Deity was Substantiated by His Actions: The three fold actions of
(a) HIS VIRTUOUS RECORD—Heb. 4:15: "For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin."
(b) HIS VICARIOUS RANSOM—Mark 10:45: "For even the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many."
(c) HIS VICTORIOUS RESURRECTION—Rom. 1:4: "And declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead."
THREE MORE EFFECTIVE WITNESSES
1. Jesus Christ Received Divine Worship: Only God should be worshiped. Jesus Christ accepted worship from human beings. The amazed Disciples: "Then they that were in the ship came and worshipped him, saying, Of a truth, thou art the Son of God." (Matt. 14:33) The former blind man: "And he said, Lord, I believe. And he worshipped him." (John 9:38)
2. Jesus Christ Ratified the Divine Word: "The scripture cannot be broken" (John 10:35); "Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away." (Matt. 24:35)
3. Jesus Christ Rendered Divine Works: Only God can forgive sins. Jesus Christ has the power. "Son, be of good cheer; thy sins be forgiven thee." (Matt. 9:2)
Some Important Conclusions
1. Jesus Christ was God before He came to this earth and He was God while He was on this earth. Jesus Christ was God after He ascended back into heaven. Jesus Christ is now God in the heavenlies and He will still be God when He reigns in the future. (Rev. 1:8)
2. You cannot be a genuine Bible Christian without believing in the deity of Christ. (John 8:24)
3. Among those who have experienced humanity, Jesus Christ alone is worthy of our worship. (Rev. 4:10-11)
4. Since Jesus Christ is God, He alone can provide what sinners need most: forgiveness of sins (Eph. 1:7) and assurance of eternal life (I John 5:11-12).
5. If Christ is not God then we must (a) disease all the bodies healed in His name; (b) destroy all the history that revolves around His name; (c) divorce all the couples married in His name; (d) destroy all the documents dated from His birth; (e) denounce all the doctrines taught in His book; (f) defrock all the preachers ordained to preach His gospel; (g) disfellowship all the people added to His body.
The Scripture aptly summaries Christ’s perfections when it declares in Col. 2:9 "For in him dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily." The apostle John concisely summarized Christ’s person when he stated in I John 5:20: "This is the true God, and eternal life."
A Gospel Song that Asks a Vital Question—
Do you know Jesus,
O sweet Wonder!
Reprinted from The Fundamentalist Digest, April-May 2007. Don Jasmin, editor. P.O. Box 489, West Branch, MI 48661.