AND THE WORD WAS GOD
Do you worship him who is not God? Or do you not worship God?
On that day in heaven, will you worship Jesus Christ as God?
GOD AND HIS SON ON THE THRONE.
In Revelation chapter 4 and verse 2, we read about ‘a throne in heaven’ and ‘one who sits on the throne’. Around this wonderful throne there were 24 elders sitting on their thrones. In the midst of the throne and around it there were also four living creatures, and they did not rest but give glory and honour and thanks to Him who sits on the throne and who lives for ever and ever, saying, “Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, who was, and is, and is to come.” (Verse 8). And when the four creatures do this, then the 24 elders fall down and worship Him who sits on the throne, saying, “You are worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for you have created all things, and for your pleasure they are and were created.” (Verses 10,11).
The one sitting on the throne is the ‘Lord God Almighty’. He is also called “the one who was, and is, and is to come.” And all worship Him and give glory to Him! Amen! What a wonderful scene this is!
The next chapter (5) gives us another wonderful scene and introduces another One who is given glory and honour by all that are in heaven.
The one who sits on the throne has a scroll in His right hand, and the only one in heaven and on earth who is worthy to take this scroll and open it is “a Lamb, as though He had been slain”. This lamb appeared in the midst of the throne and took the scroll out of the right hand of Him who sat upon the throne. Then the four living creatures and the 24 elders fell down before the Lamb – just as they had done in chapter four when worshipping the Lord God Almighty. And heaven sings a new song, declaring that the Lamb is worthy to take the scroll and that He is the one who has redeemed them to God by His blood. Here they are giving honour and glory to the Lamb, who is the Lord Jesus Christ, who is the one who had redeemed to God by His blood!
Now take note of this. The apostle John then hears the voice of many angels and of the elders and four beasts around the throne – in total over one hundred million – and they all declare with a loud voice, “Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing.” (Verse 12). What a revelation is this! All heaven is giving glory and honour to Jesus Christ, God’s Son – just as they had been doing when worshipping God the Father in the chapter 4! It is an amazing sight! God exalts His Son and gives Him a name that 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 (Philippians 2:9,10).
In chapter 4, heaven declares that God who sits on the throne is worthy to receive “glory and honour and power.” In chapter 5 all heaven declares that the Lamb that was slain is worthy to receive “power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing.” As they give glory and honour to God (the Father), so in the same way all heaven gives glory and honour to Jesus Christ the lamb of God! All heaven give honour, glory and worship to God the Father and to His Son!
This truth is clearly shown at the end of chapter 5 (verses 13 and 14), where the worship and praise of ALL CREATION is united in giving glory both to God the Father and the Lamb, Jesus Christ. As is the worship to God, so is the worship to the Son of God. As they give glory and honour to God, in the same way they give glory and honour to the Son! There is no difference here in these verses! The Father and the Son are one in the praise and worship they receive!
“And every creature which is in heaven, and on the earth, and under the earth, and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, heard I saying, Blessing, and honour, and glory, and power, be unto Him that sits upon the throne, and unto the Lamb forever and ever. And the four living creatures said, Amen. And the four and twenty elders fell down and worshiped Him that lives forever and ever.” (Revelation 5:13,14).
And now you! Do you hesitate to worship Jesus Christ the Lamb of God, who sits on the throne with the Father? Do you ask yourself whether it is right to worship the Son? Or do you worship someone who isn’t God? That would be idolatry! Do you hesitate to honour the Son in the same way as you say you honour the Father? Do you put yourself outside of the worship of heaven and all of creation? Have you not read,
“That all men should honour the Son, even as they honour the Father. He that honours not the Son honours not the Father who has sent Him.” (John 5:23).
Those who do not honour the Son even as they honour the Father, they do not honour the Father or the Son. That is the teaching of the word of God. And those who here on earth spend much time or make it their life’s purpose to try to prove that Jesus Christ is not God, what shall they do on that day in the midst of this great heavenly congregation? Shall they stand up and cry, “Do not worship Him because He is not God!” Shall they continue to glorify their human logic in the presence of the Lamb and proclaim He is not God?
YOUR THRONE, O GOD, IS FOREVER AND EVER.
Talking about the glory of the Son in Hebrews chapter one, the writer shows how God has exalted His Son above angels, saying,
“And of the angels He says, ‘Who makes His angels spirits, and His ministers a flame of fire.’ But unto the Son He says, ‘Your throne, O God, is forever and ever: a scepter of righteousness is the scepter of your kingdom.’” (Hebrews 1:7-8).
The writer is quoting from psalm 45 verse 6, and here he shows us that this verse prophetically applies to the Son, Christ Jesus – ‘unto the Son He says, Your throne, O God, is forever and ever.’
There can be no higher designation than this! Should we not fear to rush in with an interpretation of this text which only contradicts its clear meaning? In this study, I hope you can recognise that we are being led by the scriptures into an understanding of the truth. We are letting the clear meaning of many verses shape our thinking and understanding. Those who have the opinion that Jesus is not God are forced to find reasons why all these verses have a meaning quite different or totally different to the clear meaning given by the words that are used in the verse! The Greek of this verse is clear – “προς δε τον υιον (λεγει) ο θρονος σου ο θεος εις τον αιωνα του αιωνος”, which translates, “to the Son (He says) the throne of you, O God, is for ever and ever.” And the Hebrew of Psalm 45:6 can only be translated in this way. People who do not want to accept this truth break all the rules of language and grammar to try to make this verse say something different to what it clearly says!
We have already seen in Revelation 22 that the throne is the throne of God and of the Lamb. Here in the book of Hebrews this truth is underlined with reference to the Son.
ALL WORSHIP CHRIST
When Christ came into the world, all the angels worshipped Him,
“And again, when He brings the first-begotten into the world, He says, And let all the angels of God worship Him.” (Hebrews 1:6).
The wise men from the east came and worshipped Him,
“And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary His mother, and fell down, and worshipped Him…” (Matthew 2:11).
The people worshipped Him, and He didn’t forbid them!
“And, behold, there came a leper and worshipped Him, saying, Lord, if you will, you can make me clean…While He spoke these things unto them, behold, there came a certain ruler, and worshipped Him….”. And the blind man who was healed said, “Lord, I believe. And he worshipped Him.” (Matthew 8:2; 9:18; John 9:38).
The disciples worshipped Him, and He didn’t correct or forbid them!
“And as they went to tell His disciples, behold, Jesus met them, saying, All hail. And they came and held Him by the feet, and worshipped Him. … And they worshipped Him, and returned to Jerusalem with great joy.” (Matthew 28:9; Luke 24:52).
Heaven and earth worship Jesus, the Son of God! Can you worship someone who isn’t God? Satan offered Jesus the kingdoms of this world if Jesus would fall down and worship Him. This is what Jesus answered,
“And Jesus answered and said unto him, Get you behind me, Satan: for it is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only shall you serve.’” (Matthew 4:8-10).
This is true. Only God is to be worshipped. You only bow down to God in worship. The first commandment that God gave to Israel was exactly this truth,
“I am the LORD your God, who has brought you out …of the house of bondage. You shall have no other gods before me. You shall not make unto yourself any graven image…You shall not bow down yourself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD your God am a jealous God…” (Exodus 20:2-5).
We have seen that the four beasts and the twenty-four elders fell down and worshipped the Lamb and that men on earth also fell down and worshipped Christ! At no time were any of these people corrected or rebuked for doing this! Nor was the apostle Thomas corrected when he saw the risen Lord and called Him his Lord and his God!
“And Thomas answered and said unto Him, ‘My Lord and my God’. Jesus said unto him, ‘Thomas, because you have seen me, you have believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.’” (John 20:28-29).
Undoubtedly Thomas was amazed at seeing Jesus and what he said was also an expression of surprise, but it was also clearly more than this! It was a revelation to his heart – and not only did Jesus not correct Thomas for what he said, but He commended those who believe without seeing – believe what? That Jesus Christ is Lord and God!
I was discussing the divinity of Christ with someone who said he was a Christian, but who denied that Jesus was God. So I asked him whether he worshipped Jesus Christ. At first he refused to answer! Why would a person who had been saved from sin, death, Satan’s power and eternal judgement by Jesus Christ and who had been brought into new life by Him, why would he hesitate and refuse to answer this question – immediately with joy and thankfulness? But this is what happened – he wouldn’t answer my question. What kind of relationship does such a person have with Jesus Christ; more than this, what kind of a salvation does such a person have who cannot immediately confess that he worships Christ? Later I asked him again the same question and this time he only answered with a short reply, “Yes, I worship Him.” But he obviously said these words reluctantly, without joy or thankfulness. Perhaps, on the one hand, he was aware of the scriptures we have looked at above and felt he could not exclude himself from worshippers of Jesus Christ. But on the other hand, he was very reluctant to confess this because he was also aware that only God was worthy to be worshipped – and he didn’t want to appear to confess that Jesus is God!
We have seen that all of creation gives glory to the Son even as it gives glory to God (the Father). Out of this oneness of nature (John 14:9; 2 Cor.4:4,6; 5:19; Heb.1:3), it should be no surprise to us that the Son carries names and titles which are ascribed to God in the scriptures.
I AM THAT I AM
As it is in these days, so it was in the days of Jesus when He was on earth – there are those who reject Jesus as God. Jesus claimed oneness with the Father and He used an expression which is God’s alone. Let us read the relevant passages, since they agree with and confirm what has been written so far in this study.
“’I and my Father are one.’ Then the Jews took up stones again to stone Him. Jesus answered them, ‘Many good works have I showed you from my Father; for which of those works do you stone me?’ The Jews answered Him, saying, ‘For a good work we stone you not; but for blasphemy; and because that you, being a man, make yourself God.’” (John 10:30-33). When Jesus said He was one with the Father and God’s Son, the Jews understood very well that this is the same as saying He was as God, or God – and because of this they wanted to kill Him. In this passage in John, Jesus makes no attempt to deny His divinity but rather uses scripture to affirm it.
Let us look at another passage where the Jews wanted to kill Jesus for claiming divinity.
God appeared to Moses and told him that He was going to send him to the people of Israel in Egypt in order to deliver them from their bondage. But Moses replies to God that if he tells the Israelites that the God of their fathers has sent him to them, they will ask him what His name is. God answers Moses with these words,
“And God said unto Moses, I AM THAT I AM: and he said, Thus shall you say unto the children of Israel, I AM has sent me unto you.” (Exodus 3:14).
This is the name that God used for Himself – I AM THAT I AM (Hebrew: Eheyeh asher Eheyeh. This expression is not easy to translate, but we will go with the translation we have). This is the name which God revealed to Moses and which Moses was to use when speaking to the people of Israel. This is not the only name of God, but it is the name by which God Himself revealed Himself at this time to Israel. This name belongs only to Him that is God and not to anyone else!
This name represents God eternal nature. God is not defined by time. He is eternal. He is from everlasting to everlasting – ‘I am that I am’. He is the one who was, and is, and who will be – eternally the same!
In chapter 8 of John’s Gospel, Jesus says these amazing words to the Jews,
“Then said the Jews unto Him, ‘You are not yet fifty years old, and have you seen Abraham?’ Jesus said unto them, ‘Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am.’ Then took they up stones to cast at Him…” (John 8:58, 59).
The Jews understood the meaning of Jesus’ words when He used the expression ‘I am’ to refer to Himself, and they were horrified and wanted to kill Him! This is a direct reference to the name by which God revealed Himself to Moses in Exodus 3:14.
This is God’s name: ‘I am that I am’. And the Lord Jesus uses this name in reference to Himself! It is no surprise that the Jews wanted to kill Jesus – they realised that by using this name He was identifying Himself as God! Only He who is God can use this title. Jesus did not say, “I was before Abraham”, He said, “Before Abraham was, I am.” Christ Jesus was identifying Himself with God and expressing His eternal nature. As it is written in Hebrews 13:8: “Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, today and forever.”
When Jesus said to the Jews, ‘I am’, there was no argument or misunderstanding about what He meant! He was using God’s name to refer to Himself.
When comparing Melchizedek to the Son of God, the writer of the book of Hebrews says this, “Without father, without mother, without descent, having neither beginning of days, nor end of life; but made like unto the Son of God; abides a priest continually.” (Hebrews 6:20; 7:3). Let us understand what the word of God is saying here when it says, ‘having neither beginning of days, nor end of life’! The Son of God has neither beginning of days nor end of life – He is alpha and omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last.
Because Jesus Christ is the Son of His Father and they are both one, how can Christ as the Son not be God?
THE FIRST AND THE LAST AND THE NAME ‘JEHOVAH’.
Let us continue to look at the scriptures which show us that the names by which God reveals Himself are also used in reference to Jesus Christ.
The other specific name by which God revealed Himself to Israel was by the name ‘Jehovah’ (Exodus 6:3; KJAV). The Hebrew word which is translated as ‘Jehovah’ is used more than six thousand times in the Old Testament but it is nearly always translated as ‘Lord’. As we shall see, the name ‘Jehovah’ is also associated with Jesus Christ.
“And when I saw Him, I fell at His feet as dead. And He laid His right hand upon me, saying unto me, Fear not; I am the first and the last: I am He that lives, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive forevermore, Amen;. … And unto the angel of the church in Smyrna write; These things says the first and the last, who was dead, and is alive.” (Revelation 1:17,18; 2:8)
There is no doubt that these words are uttered by Jesus Christ, God’s Son. Jesus says of Himself, “I am the first and the last.” Now, by what names does God reveal Himself in the scriptures? We read this,
“Who has performed and done it, calling the generations from the beginning? I the LORD (Jehovah), the first, and with the last; I am He. …Thus says the LORD (Jehovah) the King of Israel, and His redeemer the LORD (Jehovah) of hosts; I am the first, and I am the last; and besides me there is no God” (Isaiah 41:4; 44:6). (The word ‘Lord’ in these verses is the Hebrew word for ‘Jehovah’, which is the name by which God revealed Himself to Israel.)
There is no God besides Him who is the first and the last! And Jesus uses this title to refer to Himself. This is quite amazing! In the scriptures God reveals Himself as ‘the first and the last’, the ‘beginning and the end’. Out of the oneness of the Father and the Son issue the same titles; the same names reveal the sameness of nature and divinity. But these names that we are now considering are only true of God – whether it is the Father, or whether it is the Son, it is the designation of God.
Let us also recognise that in these verses in Isaiah it is the Lord (Jehovah) who is speaking and who calls Himself ‘the first and the last’. In other words, it is clear that Jesus Christ is identified as Jehovah in these scriptures. When we read these scriptures, we cannot escape the truth that Jesus Christ is identified as ‘Jehovah’.
Whatever blessings God gives us, whatever work He does in us to change us and make us His sons forever, yet we can never use this name to refer to ourselves or call ourselves ‘the first and the last’! It is God, and God alone, who can call Himself ‘the first and the last’.
This again is an expression of God’s eternal being. He was before all time and all things, and He forever shall be – not just in terms of time, but in terms of His sovereign rule over all things and the source of everything else! And this designation refers both to the Father and the Son. That Christ should call Himself by this same name – ‘the first and the last’ – reveals that He is one with the Father as the beginning and the end, from the beginning to the end, from eternity to eternity. These are designations for God alone, expressing God’s eternal being and power! How can we with human language do justice to their meaning? We are left standing in awe of His greatness and power and majesty! As David says, “Great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised; and His greatness is unsearchable.” (Psalm 145:3).
GOD OUR SAVIOUR, CHRIST OUR SAVIOUR
At the beginning of every letter that Paul writes, he says this, “Grace to you and peace from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ.” (Romans 1:7). Peter writes in a similar way, and John says this: “Grace be with you, mercy, and peace, from God the Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of the Father, in truth and love.” (2 John 3). This is a remarkable thing and we need to recognise the force of what is being said here. The grace, mercy and peace that are mentioned in these verses can only be given from God. No angel, no created being is able to impart to us the grace, mercy and peace that ministers to us God’s saving grace and keeping power – this comes from God alone. And in these verses we see that the Father and the Son are one in giving to men and women that divine grace that brings them salvation and peace in their hearts. No one but He who is God can do this.
In the New Testament God is referred to as “God our Saviour” (e.g. 1 Tim. 2:3). But we know that this is also the designation given to Jesus Christ – Jesus Christ is ‘our Saviour’, as Peter says in his first letter, “But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.” (2 Peter 3:18). God saves us and Christ Jesus saves us. Who can save from sin, death and Satan’s power but God alone? The Father and the Son are one in the work of salvation (as is the Holy Spirit), and salvation is God’s work – not the work of an angel, created being or man. For us to be saved and cleansed from sin, it had to be God who offered Himself on the cross for us – the sacrifice of the highest angel, the offering of the noblest created being could not save us from sin and death.
In the Old Testament God says this,
“Yet I am the LORD (Jehovah) your God from the land of Egypt, and you shall know no god but me: for there is no Saviour besides me.” (Hosea 13:4).
In this verse Jehovah God reveals to us in very clear language that there is no Saviour besides Him! But it is clear from the word of God that Jesus Christ is our Saviour from sin, death and Satan’s power. Without doubt, Jesus Christ is associated with the name Jehovah God.
Other scriptures in the Old Testament that identify Jehovah God as our Saviour are Isaiah 43:3; 45:21.
Peter says this in his second letter: “Simon Peter, a servant and an apostle of Jesus Christ, to them that have obtained like precious faith with us through the righteousness of God and our Saviour Jesus Christ.” (2 Peter 1:1). This verse is saying that we receive faith through the righteousness of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ. It is the one righteousness, it is the same righteousness, which comes from the Father and the Son!
But in commenting on this verse it must be pointed out that the translation in English Authorised Version does not follow the text of virtually every Greek manuscript, which reads, “…through the righteousness of our God and Saviour Jesus Christ”, not, “…of God and our Saviour Jesus Christ.” The most natural reading of the Greek manuscripts describes Jesus Christ as our God and Saviour in this verse, and indeed, many modern translations more accurately now follow the Greek text. From all the scriptures we have looked at so far, this truth should not surprise us.
GOD OUR REDEEMER
In many verses in the Old Testament the Lord God declares Himself to be the Redeemer of Israel. For Example, Psalm 78:35; Isaiah 41:4; 44:6, 24; 47:4; 48:17. Let us look at two of these verses:
“And they remembered that God was their rock, and the high God their redeemer.” (Psalm 78:35)
“Thus says the LORD (Jehovah), your redeemer, and he that formed you from the womb, I am the LORD that makes all things; that stretches forth the heavens alone; that spreads abroad the earth by myself.” (Isaiah 44:24).
Here it tells us clearly that it is the Lord (Jehovah) God who is the redeemer of His people. He is the one who also “stretches out the heavens and spreads abroad the earth”. As we shall see in this article, all things were created by Jesus Christ, both things invisible and visible (John 1:3,10; Colossians 1:16), and throughout the New Testament, Jesus Christ is proclaimed as the One in whom we have redemption, and who redeems us from sin and iniquity (Luke 2:38; Ephesians 1:7; Romans 3:24; Titus 2:14). Jesus Christ is our Redeemer! The Father and the Son act as one in our redemption and bear the name of Redeemer. In these verses Jesus is again linked to the name of God and the name of Jehovah in the Old Testament.
GOD OUR HUSBAND, CHRIST OUR HUSBAND
In Isaiah 54:5, “the God of the whole earth” is called Israel’s husband: “For your Maker is your husband; the LORD (Jehovah) of hosts is his name; and your Redeemer the Holy One of Israel; The God of the whole earth shall he be called.”
In the New Testament this same relationship is depicted between the church and Jesus Christ, where the church is called the Bride of Christ, and Christ is our anticipated husband (Romans 7:4; 2 Cor. 11:2; Rev. 21:2). Again we see that Christ Jesus is associated with Jehovah God in these verses.
In the verse above, God is called Israel’s ‘Maker’, and in the first chapter of John we read these verses about Jesus Christ, “All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made…He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not. He came unto his own, and his own received him not. (John 1:3,10,11). The parallels between these verses, between the Lord God and Jesus Christ are remarkable. There are other verses from the Old Testament that show how Jesus Christ is associated with the name of Jehovah God, but the verses that we have looked at show this very clearly.
THE LORD, OUR SHEPHERD
In the Old Testament, it is the Lord God who calls His people His flock, the sheep of his pasture. These are the wonderful words we read: “Know ye that the LORD (Yehovah) he is God: it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture. (Psalm 100:3); and in Isaiah,
“O Zion, that brings good tidings…say unto the cities of Judah, Behold your God! Behold, the Lord GOD will come with strong hand…He shall feed his flock like a shepherd: he shall gather the lambs with his arm, and carry them in his bosom, and shall gently lead those that are with young. (Isaiah 40:9-11).
In these verses, who is He that shall come? Who is He that shall lead and feed His flock like a shepherd? It is the Lord God! And who is He that came as our good shepherd, to lead and feed His flock? It is the Lord Jesus! We are His sheep and His flock and it is through Him that we find pasture. (John 10:9,14,16). “The Lord (Jehovah) is my shepherd, I shall not want.” Who is this Lord my shepherd? It is Jesus Christ. It is God. How can you separate the two? Who shall separate Christ from God? Who shall separate Christ from divinity? Who will separate Christ from being God? It is impossible. It is unthinkable.
As in heaven, where both the Father and the Son are worshipped, so in the verses above that we have just looked at, the word of God makes no distinction between the Father and the Son regarding their divine nature, and with regard to their power to save and to keep. It is no wonder then that the eternal fellowship we are brought into by our great salvation is the fellowship of the Father and of the Son!
The word of God makes this truth clear again and again. In Isaiah 7:14 we read this prophecy: “Therefore the Lord Himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call His name Immanuel.” And when Mary was pregnant with Jesus, Matthew quotes this verse from Isaiah 7 and reveals that Mary’s pregnancy was a fulfilment of Isaiah’s prophecy, explaining to us that Immanuel means “God with us”. (Matthew 1:23). Jesus Christ is ‘God with us”. God, through the angel, told Joseph that the name Jesus was to be given was “God with us”, and as Jesus said in John 10:35, ‘the scriptures cannot be broken’ – and neither can this scripture in Matthew chapter 1 be broken that says that Jesus Christ is ‘God with us’! In other words, this is the truth whatever anyone says.
Matthew quotes from Isaiah again with reference to Christ coming to Capernaum: “The people who sat in darkness saw great light; and to them who sat in the region and shadow of death, light is sprung up,” (Matthew 4:16), which is almost the same words that we find in Isaiah 9:2. But as we look down further in Isaiah chapter 9, we read this, “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. (Isaiah 9:6).
This is speaking of Lord Jesus Christ, our Saviour. He is the child that was born and the son that was given for our salvation. All power has been given to Him in heaven and on earth. Peace is preached to us by Jesus Christ and He is Lord of all (Acts 10:36); He Himself is our peace (Ephesians 2:14). He is the ‘Prince of life’ (Acts 3:15), and God has exalted Him to be a ‘Prince and Saviour’ (Acts 5:31). Christ is the wisdom of God unto us (1 Cor. 24,30), and in Him are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge (Colossians 2:3). Christ, who is the brightness of God’s glory, and the express image of His person is Wonderful to us in all His glory! He is the mighty God to us.
Concerning the expression ‘Everlasting Father’, which may not be so easy to understand in reference to Jesus Christ, let me just say this: as we shall see, the Father and the Son are both involved in the salvation of men and women. The Father and the Son are both called ‘Saviour’; we receive grace and peace from both the Father and the Son, and without doubt, we are born again on the basis of Christ’s death and resurrection, as Peter says, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again unto a living hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.” (1 Peter 1:3). And in writing to the Corinthians, Paul says this, “For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive…The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a life-giving Spirit.” (1 Corinthians 15:21-22,45). Christ, who is the second Adam, is that life-giving Spirit by whom we are made alive. He is the head of a new generation of men and women who have been made righteous through Him and who shall live eternally with Him. Even as the Father is involved in our salvation and regeneration, so also it is through Christ’s death and resurrection that we are saved and born again. We are born again “unto a living hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.” (1 Peter 1:3).
KING OF KINGS, LORD OF LORDS
In 1 Timothy the apostle Paul gives glory to God with these words,
“Now unto the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God, be honour and glory forever and ever. Amen.” (1 Timothy 1:17).
And in the sixth chapter Paul exhorts Timothy with these words,
“That you keep this commandment without spot, irreproachable, until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ: Who in His times He shall show, who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords; Who only has immortality…”. (1 Timothy 6:14-16).
God is here described as the eternal King, the King of kings, and Lord of lords, who alone has immortality. Who can have these titles except God Himself? Let us look at the book of Revelation where it says this:
“These shall make war with the Lamb, and the Lamb shall overcome them: for He is Lord of lords, and King of kings: and they that are with Him are called, and chosen, and faithful.” (Revelation 17:14).
Without doubt, the Lamb is the Lord Jesus Christ, and He is called the Lord of Lords and King of Kings! Again in Revelation we read this:
“And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and He that sat upon it was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He does judge and make war. His eyes were as a flame of fire, and on His head were many crowns; and He had a name written, that no man knew, but He Himself. And He was clothed with a robe dipped in blood: and His name is called The Word of God. And the armies which were in heaven followed Him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean. And out of His mouth goes forth a sharp sword, that with it He should smite the nations: and He shall rule them with a rod of iron: and He treads the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. And He has on His robe and on His thigh a name written, KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS.” (Revelation 19:11-16).
Here again it is without doubt referring to Jesus Christ. In this passage the One on the horse is called ‘faithful and true’, and in Revelation 3:14 Jesus says, “These things says the Amen, ‘the faithful and true witness’. In this passage we are told ‘His eyes were as a flame of fire’ and that ‘out of His mouth goes forth a sharp sword’, which is what we read in Revelation 1:14,16 and 2:18 concerning Jesus Christ. Jesus is the ‘word of God’ which reminds us of John 1:1. And who would have His robe dipped in blood but our Redeemer Jesus Christ. And this same Jesus Christ is called KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS in this passage! He is Prince of the Kings of the earth! (Rev. 1:5).
If the expression ‘King of kings, and Lord of lords, who alone has mortality’ refers to God, then know this, that Jesus Christ is also King of kings, and lord of lords, and that He is God! They both carry the same names – unless you believe that 1 Timothy 6:14-16 also refers to Jesus Christ and that all these verses refer to Christ.
EVERY KNEE SHALL BOW
We shall all stand before the judgement seat of Christ. This is what Paul says in Romans 14:10-12: “But why do you judge your brother? Or why do you despise your brother? For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ. For it is written, ‘As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God.’ So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God.” Paul is here quoting from Isaiah 45:22, 23, where is says,
“Look unto me, and be you saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God, and there is none else. I have sworn by myself, the word has gone out of my mouth in righteousness, and shall not return, That unto me every knee shall bow, every tongue shall swear.”
But this is spoken of God – that every knee shall bow and every tongue shall swear to God, and yet Paul quotes this verse from Isaiah and makes it refer to Jesus Christ.
It must be noted that in Romans 14:10 the vast majority of manuscripts have the words “the judgement seat of Christ”, as quoted above. However, several of the oldest manuscripts have the reading “the judgement seat of God”, and many modern scholars prefer this reading. But there is no doubt about what is written in 2 Corinthians 5:10, where it says that “we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that everyone may be recompensed for the things done in his body, according to what he has done, whether it be good or bad.” So the scriptures teach clearly that we shall all appear before the judgement seat of Christ.
And what do we read in Philippians chapter two? We read the following:
“Therefore God also has 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; And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (Philippians 2:9-11).
These words remind us again of the verses in Isaiah 45 quoted above, where it says that every knee shall bow to God and every tongue confess to Him.
In this context we should also quote from Revelation 20, where it says this about future judgement:
“And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them. And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. (Revelation 20:11-12).
In this passage we are told that everyone shall stand before God and be judged according to their works, which is exactly what read above in 2 Corinthians, namely, that we shall all appear before the judgement seat of Christ and be judged according to what we have done. This passage in Revelation speaks of ‘a great white throne’ from which judgement will be made, and when speaking of His return to earth to judge the world, Christ says this,
“When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory: And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats: (Matthew 25:31-32).
On that judgement day, Christ will sit upon the throne of His glory to judge the nations. The parallels and similarities between these passages are remarkable!
The truth that Christ will judge the world is confirmed in the following two verses also:
“And he commanded us to preach unto the people, and to testify that it is he who was ordained of God to be the Judge of the living and dead.” (Acts 10:42).
“For the Father judges no man, but has committed all judgment unto the Son.” (John 5:22).
In the passage of Revelation chapter 20 quoted above, we also read about ‘the book of life’, from which men and women shall be judged. This book is also called ‘the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world,’ and ‘the Lamb’s book of life’. (Rev. 13:8; 21:27). This clearly refers to the Lord Jesus Christ, and it is only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life that shall inherit eternal life! (Rev. 13:8; 17:8; 20;15). As we shall go on to see in this study, we obtain eternal life only in and through the Lord Jesus Christ. (1 John 5:11,12).
And where shall those people appear, who deny the divinity of Jesus Christ, who deny that Jesus is God?
Jesus said, “I and my father are one.” (John 10:30), and in the scriptures we are repeatedly presented with the truth of the ‘oneness’ of the Father and the Son in terms of the names that they both bear and the divinity that they share.
Jesus Christ is not some kind of special created divine being! He is the eternal Son of the eternal Father, and He is one with Him, that everyone should honour the Son as they honour the Father (John 5:23).
The divinity of Jesus Christ and His oneness with the Father are further highlighted by many verses of scripture.
FILLED WITH THE FULLNESS OF GOD AND OF CHRIST
In the third chapter of Paul’s letter to the Ephesians, Paul prays that the believers might know the full extent of “the love of Christ” in order that they might be “filled with all the fullness of God”. Knowing the fullness of the love of Christ is here equated with, and a condition of, being filled with all the fullness of God! Without knowing the depth of the love of Christ, we cannot know the “fullness of God” in our lives. This is not the love of an angel or superior created being! Only He who is our Creator and Saviour can love us like He has loved in giving His life for us. This can only be God. It is God’s love towards us; it is Christ’s love for us. God is love, and Christ’s love represents the fullness of God’s love. In the following chapter Paul explains how all ministry in the church is to bring us “unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.” In these two verses (Eph.3:19; 4:13) Paul doesn’t seem to distinguish between the fullness of God and the fullness of Christ. The fullness of Christ is the fullness of God, even as Colossians 2:9 declares: “For in him (Christ) dwells all the fullness of the Deity bodily.” How wonderfully all these scriptures agree with each other and support the same truth!
THE GOSPEL OF GOD AND OF CHRIST
In Romans Paul tells us that he has been “separated unto the Gospel of God” (Rom. 1:1), and then later in chapter 15 he declares that he has “fully preached the Gospel of Christ.” (Rom.15:19). The Good News of God is the Good News of Jesus Christ. The scriptures make no distinction, showing us that they are one in nature and ministry. The Good News of our salvation proceeds from the Father and the Son.
FELLOWSHIP WITH THE FATHER AND THE SON
We come across another remarkable verse in 1 John 1:3, where it says, “That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that you also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ.” Through this salvation, we are brought into fellowship with the Father and the Son! We are not fellowshipping with two different types of lives. No. We fellowship with that one eternal life that is in the Father and in the Son.
Agreeing with this is what Jesus says in His prayer to the Father in John 17;3: “And this is life eternal, that they might know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.” Not only so, but what is given here is a definition of eternal life. What is eternal life? Eternal life is knowing the Father and knowing the Son. It is a remarkable thing as we study this topic that the scriptures again and again identify divinity and eternal life with both the Father and the Son in an indistinguishable manner!
(When Jesus says, “that they may know you, the only true God”, this is said in comparison to the false gods that people worship. It is not a denial of the divinity of Christ. As we have seen, eternal life is knowing both the Father and the Son. Moreover, as we shall see, in 1 John 5:20 the apostle John calls Jesus “the true God, and eternal life”.)
In the verses and passages we have been looking at, we have seen that what is true of the Father, is true of the Son. What is true of the Son, is true of the Father. There are not two different types of life! Eternal life is not just knowing the Father – it is knowing the Father and the Son! It is one life in both. There is no difference. He that has the Son has life (John 3:36; 1 John 5:12).
There is a wonderful verse with a wonderful promise, where Jesus says these words: “If a man loves me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him.” (John 14:23). God comes to live in us – the Father and the Son, by the Spirit! (John 14:16-23). Where Jesus is, God is. Where God is, Jesus is, as it is also written, “God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto Himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them.” (2 Corinthians 5:19).
More than this, in 1 Corinthians 6:19 we are taught that we are the temple of the Holy Spirit. Do you see? The Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit dwell in the believer.
Christ is everything to us. Christ is God to us! (1 Corinthians 1:30).
Let me make two things clear at this stage, lest people misunderstand me.
- Jesus said, “I and my Father are one’ (John 10:30). Jesus did NOT say, “I am the Father’. There is nothing in the Bible to suggest that Jesus is the Father. There are many scriptures that make it abundantly clear that there is God, who is the Father, and that there is Jesus Christ, who is the Son – John 5:30, for example, among many, many others.
- If you know the scriptures, you will know that the Bible doesn’t talk about two or three Gods. It does not use this kind of language. What the word of God makes clear is that there is one God – Deut.6:4; Eph. 4:6. I will touch on this aspect and matters related to it at the end of this study. But in order to help us do this and to explain it in a way that incorporates the Son, it has been absolutely necessary for us to look at what the scriptures say about the Son.
AND THE WORD WAS GOD
We will now continue our study by looking at the wonderful passage in the first chapter of John’s Gospel.
Some people like to argue about the meaning of the Greek language in John 1:1 in an attempt to deny the true divinity of Christ, for example the Jehovah Witnesses, but the truth here is the same as we have read in the scriptures above. I hope you recognise that we are not taking one verse out of context and trying to build our own teaching from it, but rather we keep meeting verses that are all saying the same thing without us having to go into lengthy explanations or create our own interpretations of them.
Let us now look at the first verse in John’s Gospel:
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the word was God.”
We will start with the expression, “In the beginning…”
Let us recognise and accept the truth that the Bible, the word of God, takes us to ‘the beginning’ – before which there is no other ‘beginning’. Human reason does not do this for us. Human logic certainly cannot do this for us. It is God who defines these things for us in the verse above. John chapter one verse one defines for us ‘the beginning’. In the beginning …..GOD – the Father and the Son! That is the revelation. Nowhere in the Bible does it speak about or seek to reveal to us what was ‘before’ the ‘beginning’! God is the beginning, alpha and omega, beginning and the end, from eternity to eternity! There is no ‘beginning’ before Him!
The problem starts when people want to use human logic and to quote a few scriptures that suggest to them an event ‘before the beginning’. This always leads to confusion and problems. Why? Because the word of God does not take us there, does not reveal anything before the ‘beginning’. The use of human logic to make assumptions and to enter into speculation can bring no light or true understanding. If you attempt to do this, you will start saying things that the Bible doesn’t say, you will start claiming things that the Bible doesn’t teach. If the word of God doesn’t give us an understanding or revelation about something, then you will necessarily develop ideas that are not supported by the Bible and use language not found in God’s word. In history, this has always been the result when people try to go beyond what the Bible actually says.
Is there a name greater or more profound than this – God says to Moses, “I am that I am”? He continues with these words, “Thus shall you say unto the children of Israel, I AM has sent me unto you.” (Exodus 3:14). As we have seen, Jesus uses the same term when speaking to the Jews, ‘before Abraham was, I am.’ This profound expression refers to the eternal being of the Father and the Son – He was, He is and He shall evermore be! Blessed be His name!
What extra knowledge would you seek? There is none. What greater mystery would you discover? There isn’t any. What ‘event’ would you point to before ‘the beginning’? The Bible doesn’t talk about an ‘event’, it tells us that in the beginning, before anything was created, the Son and the Father shared the same glory. They are from everlasting to everlasting:
“Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever you had formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, you are God.” (Psalm 90:2).
Jesus is ‘without beginning of days or end of life’ (Hebrews 7:3) and He is ‘the everlasting Father’ (Isaiah 9:6).
The word of God doesn’t open the door to human speculation or human logic in this matter. We are to receive the word of God with meekness and worship the Father who gave His Son for us, and worship the Son who gave His life for us.
Some people have said we can’t use the titles ‘Jesus Christ’ to speak about the ‘word which was in the beginning’, because they do not believe that the ‘Word’ spoken of in this verse refers to the person of Christ Jesus at all, but to the spoken word of God – God spoke a word which was divine. However, the scriptures make clear that the Father and the Son had already made provision for our salvation before the foundation of the world! (Ephesians 1:4; 1 Peter 1:20; Rev. 13:8). Jesus was ordained to be Saviour and Messiah before the creation of the world, and it was Jesus who prayed, “O Father, glorify me with your own self with the glory which I had with you before the world was.”
Of course, the beginning of John’s Gospel reminds us of the first verse of the Bible:
“In the beginning God created…’
Those who know the Hebrew language in which the Old Testament was written explain to us that the Hebrew word for ‘God’ (Elohim) in the first verse of the Bible is a plural noun; it expresses plurality. Often, it is used with a singular adjective or verb, but it is also used with plural verbs and adjectives. Together with this, in this first chapter of the Bible we read the following:
“And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion…So God created man in His own image, in the image of God created He him; male and female created He them.” (Genesis 1:26-27).
Again here we see the plural ‘Let us make…’. Is God speaking to the angels? This cannot be. God created man in His own image – not in the image of angels. We know that Christ Jesus shared glory with the Father before the world was. (John 17:3). Furthermore, as we shall see in more detail, all things were created by Jesus Christ (Col.1:16; John 1:3; Eph.3:9; Heb. 1:2 ). With these thoughts and verses in mind, I want to make us aware of possible connections between these scriptures and the truths they reveal. When we compare this with the language of Genesis chapter one, we can easily see the connection when it says, “Let us…”. In the beginning, the Father and the Son created the heavens and the earth and man upon the earth through the operation of the Holy Spirit. (Genesis 1:2).
Let us now continue with our verse in John 1:
“In the beginning was the Word…”
In Revelation19 it speaks of one who sits on a white horse (from verse 11 to verse 16), and from the description we understand that it refers to Jesus the Son of God, because it uses the same language to describe Jesus in chapter one – “His eyes were as a flame of fire…And out of His mouth goes forth a sharp sword”. He is also called King of kings and Lord of lords, and in verse 13 Jesus Christ is called ‘the word of God’. Let there be no doubt – Jesus is the ‘word of God’, and He is ‘the word’ in John 1:1. Before anything else was created, the Word was, Jesus the Son of God was. ‘In the beginning was the Word…’. Colossians 1:16,17 confirm this wonderful truth by telling us that Christ Jesus “is before all things”; He was there before anything was created.
John’s Gospel takes us right back to the ‘beginning’ and tells us that Jesus Christ was there in the beginning. There is no event or beginning before this that the Bible talks about or reveals. Who now thinks he can build a teaching on what he claims happened before ‘the beginning’? It is the path into confusion and error to establish a teaching based on what the scriptures do not reveal and do not teach. “In the beginning was the word…”, this is the clarity and simplicity of the word of God.
“…and the Word was with God…”
Everything begins with the Father and the Son. This truth is plainly confirmed to us by the words of Jesus when praying to the Father in chapter 17, “O Father, glorify me with your own self with the glory which I had with you before the world was.” (John 17:5). There is no ‘beginning’ before this that the Bible leads us to! Before anything was created, there was the Father and the Son – and the eternal Spirit (Hebrew 9:14), but this is not the focus of this study.
In the beginning, before the world was, the Son was with the Father and shared His glory. The truth of this, and the closeness of this relationship is further revealed in John 17:24, where Jesus says in His prayer to the Father, “for you loved me before the foundation of the world.” The Father loved the Son, Jesus Christ, before the creation of the world, and loves Him now! (Verse26). How can anyone claim that Jesus, the Son of God, was not there in the beginning with God the Father? God loved His Son Jesus Christ from before the world was! This is the revelation of God’s word to us.
Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son of God, who was in the bosom of the Father, and who shared glory with the Father before the world was, came and revealed His glory to us (John 1:18, 17:5). And so in verse 14 of John 1 we are told that the ‘word’, Jesus Christ, was made flesh and dwelt among us. How wonderfully all these scriptures fit together, proclaiming the same truth!
Those who claim that Jesus Christ was not there with the Father from the beginning put themselves among those who deny and dishonour both the Father and the Son;
“That all men should honour the Son, even as they honour the Father. He that honours not the Son honours not the Father who has sent Him… Whosoever denies the Son, the same has not the Father: but he that confesses the Son has the Father also.” (John 5:23; 1 John 2:23).
According to these words, those who deny the Son, have not the Father, nor the Son. To deny that the Son was with the Father from the beginning is to oppose the truth revealed in God’s own word.
We continue with our quote from John chapter one:
“…and the word was God.”
We have already seen many verses that underline this truth about Jesus Christ, so it is no surprise that we meet it in this verse where it is clearly stated for us.
In this verse it doesn’t say, ‘the word was made God’. It doesn’t say, ‘the word became God’. It doesn’t say, ‘the word was God’s divine speech.’ It says, ‘the word was God’. As we have seen, the ‘word’ is Jesus Christ – as is also made clear in verse 14,
“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.”
In his first letter John brings out similar truths: “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; (For the life was manifested, and we have seen it, and bear witness, and show unto you that eternal life, which was with the Father, and was manifested unto us.) That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that you also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ.” (1 John 1:1-3).
In these verses John is talking about Jesus Christ, whom the disciples had seen and heard and touched. John calls Jesus ‘the Word of life’, saying that this life which was manifested to them was that eternal life that was with the Father in the beginning! In other words, that eternal life which Jesus had with the Father has now been manifested to us by His coming to us in the flesh. Jesus Christ is the manifestation of eternal life. What is ‘eternal life’ but the very nature of God. Eternal life essentially refers not so much to the idea of unending time, but rather to the life and nature of God Himself, and it is this life that is eternal.
Jesus Christ came to earth and displayed all the attributes of the divine nature in utter perfection because in Him was that eternal life!
And who is our fellowship with? It is with the Father and with the Son. And in the last chapter of 1 John, we are told that eternal life is in Christ, and only those who have the Son have life (eternal).
“And this is the witness, that God has given to us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He that has the Son has life; and he that has not the Son of God has not life. (1 John 5:11-12).
Eternal life is defined clearly for us in John 17:3: “And this is life eternal, that they might know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.” As we have already noted, eternal life is knowing the Father and the Son! Do we see? Eternal life consists in knowing both the Father and the Son. How can that be except that Jesus Christ is God, sharing the same eternal life with the Father? No angel or superior being can give you eternal life! You can only have eternal life by having the life that is in the Father and in the Son.
We continue with our quote from John:
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”
Is this a good translation of the Greek text? Yes, it is. Some people have tried to adapt it to mean something else, but this translation is the natural translation of the Greek. Because of Greek grammar the word order is different. It says, “and God was the word” (και θεος ην ο λογος), but because of the context and structure of the whole sentence, the translation we have expresses the meaning well.
“the word was God … and the word was made flesh.” This truth fits in perfectly with what Paul says,
“And without doubt great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory.” (1 Timothy 3:16).
“God was manifest in the flesh…”. This is what Paul calls “the mystery of Godliness”, and declares it to be a ‘great’ mystery. The whole verse shows that he is speaking about Christ Jesus. Most manuscripts have the wording above, and it agrees with all the verses we have looked at in this study concerning Christ’s divinity. There are a few manuscripts that have a slightly different text and the manuscript people debate about, because it is considered one of the important ones, is called Codex Alexandrinus. This manuscript says, “And without doubt great is the mystery of godliness, who was manifest in the flesh…”.
So in this manuscript the word ‘God’ is changed to ‘who’. (In grammar the word ‘God’ is a noun, and the word ‘who’ is a relative pronoun referring to a person previously mentioned.) Scholars disagree on how valid this text is. Without giving a lengthy lesson in grammar, let me explain the issue with this alternative rendering. The fundamental problem with this form of words is that the word ‘who’ has no clear noun or subject that you can connect it to in this passage! The relative pronoun ‘who’ must have a subject it can refer back to, but the only two previous nouns are ‘mystery’ and ‘godliness’, and they would have to be represented by the relative pronoun ‘which’ not ‘who’ – “…great is the mystery of godliness, which was manifest in the flesh,” and then you would have to figure out the meaning of such a construction! However, the relative pronoun in the Alexandrian Codex is the personal pronoun ‘who’. So the grammar leaves you with language that doesn’t make sense! The vast majority of texts give the word ‘God’, not ‘who’, and this is not only grammatically consistent language but also accords with all the verses we have looked at so far in this study.
“…the only begotten God…”
While we are on this subject of manuscripts, let me mention the following. For those who favour and consider the earliest of the NT Greek manuscripts to be the most reliable, it is worth noting their rendering of John 1:18. The two earliest manuscripts which are called Codex Sinaiticus and Codex Vaticanus, and which came into the public domain in the 19th century, have greatly influenced translations of the NT ever since. It is (mistakenly) thought that being the earliest Greek texts that we have, they must be the most reliable. Whatever the case may be, if we look at the text of these manuscripts regarding John 1:18, we find this is what they say,
“No man has seen God at any time; the only begotten God, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him.” (John 1:18).
What an amazingly clear text this is concerning the divinity of Jesus Christ – the only begotten God! Let those who favour and give preference to the readings of these earlier manuscripts in other verses, acknowledge what they declare here – Jesus is the ‘only begotten God’!
We will now consider other passages that relate to the divinity of Christ.
Let us look again at Colossians 1 where we read these remarkable verses which reveal the following glorious truths regarding Jesus Christ:
“Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation: 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: And He is before all things, and by Him all things are held together. And He is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things He might have the pre-eminence.” (Colossians 1:15-18).
In this passage we are told again that Jesus, who is the image of the invisible God, was before all things. More than this, we read that all things, whether visible or invisible, were created by Him. Not only so, but since they were created through Him, all things are now also held together by Him, that is, by Christ Jesus!
If everything was created by Him, then He is indeed before all things. This truth that God created all things through His Son Jesus Christ is testified to in other scriptures – 1 Cor. 8:6; Ephesians 3:9; Hebrews 1:2. This is the truth we find in the first chapter of John, which we have been considering, where it says of the ‘word’, that is, of Jesus, “The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by Him; and without Him was not anything made that was made… He was in the world, and the world was made by Him, and the world knew Him not.” (John 1:10; 1:3). We can clearly see how all these verses agree together and speak of, and confirm the same truth, namely, that the Son of God was with the Father in the beginning, and that through Him all things were created. And a few verses later (v.14) we are told that the “word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father)”. This last verse referring to the truth that Jesus, the Son of God, who was with the Father from the beginning, became the Son of man.
Let it be clearly understood from all these verses – for it is not difficult to understand – that Jesus Christ was not ‘created’ by God. He wasn’t some kind of ‘superior’ archangel who was given special powers and a special status; He wasn’t spoken into being out of nothing. The word ‘created’ is not used anywhere in scripture concerning the Son.
Nor was Jesus just a god in the sense of a higher being as other false religions claim. Jesus Christ wasn’t just ‘another’ or a ‘different’ son of God among other sons of God, like, for example, the ones we read about in Genesis 6:2. The scriptures are wonderfully and deliberately clear on this point – Jesus Christ is the only begotten Son of the Father. There is no one else like Him; there is no one else who is worshipped together with the Father in heaven and earth except Jesus Christ!
The translation of the Greek of John 1:1 is clear and correct, namely, when it says, ‘and the word was God’, not ‘and the word was a god.’ (Some would claim that because there is no definite article “the” in front of the word “God” in this verse in the Greek, we must add the indefinite article “a”, rendering it “a god” in English. However, the Greek language functions differently to English in the matter of articles. For example, we don’t say, “And the word was the God.” Moreover, the absence of the definite article before a noun does not automatically and of necessity mean that one has to supply the indefinite article “a” into the sentence. That would cause utter confusion in the meaning of the NT text.)
We find the same truth in Romans 9:5 where it talks about the benefits of the Jewish nation and Christ coming in the flesh,
This translation follows the translation of the English KJV which says,
“…whose are the fathers, and of whom as concerning the flesh Christ came, who is over all, God blessed forever. Amen.”
All Greek manuscripts have this text and it gives Jesus Christ the highest acclamation, that is, that He is over all, God blessed forever.
There are others who have changed the punctuation of this text by putting a full stop here or there to make two sentences and to separate the first part of the text from the end of the text, or to ‘juggle’ the grammar so that the second part represents praise to God and is not connected to Jesus Christ. However, there is no confusion of meaning in this text. The translation above is the natural translation and meaning of the Greek. Even if people want to argue that it could mean something different, they cannot argue that the Greek of this text demands a different translation. The traditional translation represents what the Greek text most naturally says.
Since the late 1800s the teaching of the Bible has come under attack from scholars, including the teaching concerning the divinity of Jesus Christ. So there are academics and scholars who are not so much led by the Greek text but by a belief that Jesus is not God, and therefore they will use their learning to try every possible means of finding an alternative meaning or translation to the texts we have been looking at. And part of the reason for writing this study is to help people not be ‘blinded’ by those who claim a superior knowledge of the Greek text.
Let me say this about the verses that we are looking at in this study that clearly refer to Jesus as God. In one or two of these verses it is possible that they could be translated differently and in a way that doesn’t state clearly that Jesus is God. This is true. But in these small number of verses we can say that the Greek text does not demand or require a different translation from the traditional one. The traditional translations of these verses is an acceptable, if not the most natural translation of the Greek text. More than this, all the verses agree together and say the same thing, namely, that Jesus Christ is God. When people try to say that all of the verses quoted in this study should be translated differently and that none of the verses say that Jesus is God, then they are clearly wrong and are driven by their own desire to disprove that Jesus is God. They will try and find some reason – any reason – in the grammar or punctuation of the text, or in the reliability of a Greek manuscript to make the verse mean something else. Those who deny that Jesus is God are forced to find obscure or unconvincing arguments to make all these verses have a meaning that is different to the natural or obvious meaning of the text, namely, that they represent Jesus as God.
So we continue looking at other verses that also agree and confirm the divinity of Christ.
1 JOHN 5:20
“And we know that the Son of God is come, and has 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.” (1 John 5:20).
The last sentence it begins with the words, ‘This is the true God…’ Do these words refer to Jesus Christ or to God? You can argue for both interpretations – as I have just mentioned above regarding a relatively small number of verses. The Greek text allows for both. In other words, there is nothing in the meaning of the Greek text that stops those words from referring to Jesus Christ. What are the reasons in favour of interpreting it as referring to Jesus? Firstly, it would be the most natural meaning of the text. The first sentence ends with the words, ‘even in His Son Jesus Christ’. And the next sentence begins with, ‘This is…’. In any language the words ‘this is’ would refer to the last person mentioned in the previous sentence, and in this case the person is Jesus Christ. Also it agrees with context and meaning of the rest of the John’s letter. We have already seen in chapter one that John declares Jesus to be ‘that eternal life that was with the Father and was manifested unto us’. And again in this fifth chapter we read that “God has given to us eternal life, and this life is in His Son.” In Revelation 3:7, Jesus says, “These things says He that is holy, He that is true…”. So this interpretation of 1 John 5:20 fits in with the Greek of this text and with the context of the whole letter.
ALPHA AND OMEGA, THE BEGINNING AND THE END.
If we return to the book of Revelation, at the beginning of the book we are told that it is the revelation which God gave to Jesus Christ to show to His servants. In other words, in this book Christ Jesus is conveying to His servants the revelation that God gave to Him. After the introduction, from verse 5 to 7, it speaks of Christ and what He has done for the saints and also of His coming again. Verse 8 immediately follows with these words,
“I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, says the Lord God, who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty.”
From the verses before this it would appear that Christ is speaking these words. Also from the context after this verse it would appear that it is Christ – from the fact that when John turns to ‘see’ the voice that was speaking to him, he saw Jesus Christ (verses 12 -18). In verse eight He declares He is “the Lord (God), WHO IS, AND WHO WAS, AND WHO IS TO COME, THE ALMIGHTY.” I have put the word ‘God’ in brackets because there are many manuscripts that contain the word ‘God’ and this is the preferred translation today. If this is so, it is a remarkable verse, in which Jesus Christ declares Himself to be ‘Lord God’. There could be no greater testimony to Christ’s divinity as God than such a statement!
However, others may think that this word should not be included because of its absence in other manuscripts. But then we still have the expression, ‘who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty’ in this declaration.
Now let us remember that in chapter 4, God on the throne is described as, “Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, who was, and is, and is to come.” The same designation is given both to God on the throne (in chapter four) and to Jesus Christ (in chapter one) – “who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty.” Can there be anything greater than this? This expression refers to the presence of God in all time, His eternal being – in all past time, in the present time, and in all future time He shall be for evermore; even as it says about Him in the psalms, “You are from everlasting to everlasting.” (Psalm 90:2). In these chapters this description is used both of the Father and the Son. Moreover, in both the verses the Lord Jesus in 1:8 and God in 4:8 are called the ‘Almighty’, which is a unique designation that refers to God’s rule and power. These passages with their identical language for both the Father and the Son are hugely significant and speak of the divinity of Christ in the highest terms, underlying the truth that Jesus reveals to us when He says that He and the Father ‘are one’, and that all should ‘honour the Son even as they honour the Father.’ (John 10:30; 5:23).
Some may have the opinion that in verse 8 the words are not spoken by Jesus Christ, but that it is God Himself who is speaking, but I have shown from the context what certainly appears to be the most likely case. However, let us look at the following verses,
“And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me…I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last. Blessed are they that do His commandments…I Jesus have sent my angel to testify unto you these things in the churches. I am the root and the offspring of David, and the bright and morning star.” (Revelation 22:12-16).
In the last chapter of Revelation in the verses quoted above, it is very clear that it is the Lord Jesus Christ who is speaking. ‘I come quickly’ are the words used by Jesus in Rev.3:11, and again at the end of this chapter, where it says, “He who testifies these things says, Surely I come quickly. Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus.” (Revelation 22:20). Here the writer responds to the words of Jesus by saying, ‘Amen. Come Lord Jesus’, thus identifying the speaker as Jesus. There is no surprise here because the scriptures reveal repeatedly that it will be the Lord Jesus who comes again to the earth in the glory of His Father (Mtt.16:27; 25:31; Luke 9:26; 2 Thess.1:7-10 etc.).
In this passage, the Lord Jesus declares, “I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end…”, (22:13) which is exactly the words we find in verse 8 of chapter one which we have been looking at! So it is either Christ who is speaking these words in chapter one, or, if it is God, then we see that Christ (in chapter 22) carries the same glorious names as the Father, having been with the Father from the beginning and one with Him. Let us also note that in chapter 22 in the quote above, Christ declares Himself to be ‘the first and the last’, which He also clearly uses concerning Himself in Revelation 1:17 and 2:8.
“And when I saw him, I fell at his feet as dead. And he laid his right hand upon me, saying unto me, ‘Fear not; I am the first and the last.’” (Revelation 1:17).
Furthermore, these comparisons and similarities become even more striking when we consider the words in chapter 21. In this chapter we read, “And He that sat upon the throne said, ‘Behold, I make all things new.’ And He said unto me, ‘Write: for these words are true and faithful.’ And He said unto me, ‘It is done. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give unto him that is thirsty of the fountain of the water of life freely. He that overcomes shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my Son.’” (Revelation 21:5-7).
In this passage it is clear that it is God that is speaking these words from the throne (“and I will be his God”). Yet look at the declaration that is made: “I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end…”. These are the same words used by the Son of God in chapter 22 that we have looked at above! The Father and Son are the beginning and end of all things; the first and the last; Alpha and Omega! And as we have already seen, they are the same words which were spoken by Jesus in chapter one and verse eight, “I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending…”.
We can only stand in awe at the greatness of these truths and revelations. This is beyond human analysis. All this simply leads us to fall and worship before the Father and the Son! The Son shares the nature and names of the Father (John 14:9; 2 Cor.4:4,6; 5:19; Heb.1:3 ), and the Son shares in the power of the Father (Mtt.28:18; John 5:21; Rev.11:15). This last truth is highlighted in the last chapter of the Bible where we find that the scriptures speak of one throne – and it is the throne of God and of the Lamb.
“And he shewed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb. And there shall be no more curse: but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it; and His servants shall serve Him.” (Revelation 22:1,3).
It is called the throne of God and of the Lamb. The Greek makes it clear that it is one throne that is meant here! We know that Christ said, “To him that overcomes will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and sat down with my Father in His throne.” (Rev. 3:21). What a glorious promise and privilege this is! This chapter 22 speaks of the throne of God and the Lamb as the source of all life, salvation, power and healing. Whatever grace we may receive, whatever our high calling in Christ may bring us into by God’s grace, we are not the source of life and goodness – It is God and the Lamb that rule supremely over all and who are the source of all life! It is from them only that the river of water of life comes forth!
THE LORD OUR GOD IS ONE LORD
In this study I have reviewed the verses that declare and show that Jesus is God in response to those who would deny it. However, if you a familiar with the Bible, you will know this is a truth that is not taught and explained in a systematic way, like for example, justification by faith. It is a truth that keeps appearing again and again as a truth that cannot prevent itself from being declared. Even as Jesus Christ is the ‘brightness’ of the Father’s glory, so this truth just keeps shining out of the scriptures! This revelation is not so much explained as simply stated and declared – it just breaks forth in certain passages.
However, we must now look at this in the wider context of the scriptures, since the scriptures declare clearly that there is one God (Deut. 6:4; 1 Corinthians 8:6; Eph. 4:6; 1 Tim. 2:5).
Let us remember as we look at the word of God, that what we are considering is the revelation of GOD to our hearts. Neither God, nor His Son, nor the Holy Spirit are objects in a science laboratory to be put under a microscope for analysis by our human minds. It is not our business to analyse the truth of God as if it were a substance in a test tube! Scriptural truths are not objects to be left abandoned to human logic and intellectual analysis! I am amazed that some people can argue about these things, completely forgetting that we are talking about our Saviour Jesus Christ, who shed His blood to deliver us from sin so that we might have eternal life! If we lose our reverence when discussing these things, then we have also lost the argument. If we can talk about these things ‘coldly’, thinking that our logic can win the day, then perhaps we have understood nothing as we ought.
I have never read any books on the divinity of Christ because this subject has never been a problem to me. I will just give my thoughts and understanding, which will be guided by relevant scriptures, but please understand that my explanations will have limitations because the scriptures themselves do not give direct explanations on this subject, and I want to avoid going beyond what scripture itself says! We head into problems and create opportunities for misunderstanding if we start applying human logic and use expressions and language that the Bible doesn’t use when discussing the divinity of Christ.
So let us begin by looking at Deuteronomy 6:4-5, where we read this clear statement,
“Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD, and you shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might.” And Paul writes this in his letter to the Ephesians, “There is one body, and one Spirit, even as you are called in one hope of your calling; One Lord, one faith, one baptism, One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.” (Ephesians 4:4-6).
The scriptures plainly declare that there is one God and Father of all. So, how do these things ‘fit’ together? How can Jesus Christ be God?
“I do always those things that please Him.”
Central to an understanding of this subject might be the statements made by Jesus Himself concerning His submission to His Father’s will; these are found in the Gospel of John – John 4:34; 5:19,30; 6:38; 7:28; 8:28,29; 12:49; 14:28.
What do these verses tell us? They tell us that Jesus didn’t come to this world just by His own choice but that it was the Father who sent Him. He didn’t come to earth to do His own will but to do the will of the Father. In all things, Jesus did those things that pleased the Father. In fact, He tells us that His food is to do His Father’s will. Even the words that Jesus spoke and the works that He did were what the Father showed Him to speak and to do. The Lord Jesus makes these things very clear to us. But it is important to understand that Jesus was never reluctant to do the Father’s will. On the contrary, He delighted to do His Father’s will (Psalm 40:6-8; Hebrews 10:5-7).
These verses above in John’s Gospel bring out the Son’s willing, joyful submission to the Father. As Jesus is the Son of the Father, it is no wonder that He wants to do those things that please His Father. This only highlights the truth of the Father-Son relationship – it doesn’t do anything to deny the divinity of Christ. Perhaps it is also worth noting that all the verses in John’s Gospel above refer to Jesus’ ministry on earth. It is also extremely important to understand that Jesus didn’t just do the Father’s will, He was one with the will of God, He was the living expression of God’s will. (2 Cor. 5:19). As we have abundantly seen, the disposition of the Son is one with the disposition of the Father.
“My Father is greater than I”
We know it was the Father that sent Jesus to be the Saviour of the world. (1 John 4:14). And Jesus reveals the following truth to us: “Verily, verily, I say unto you, the servant is not greater than his lord; neither he that is sent greater than he that sent Him.” (John 13:16). These two verses may give us a context for what Jesus said in John 14:28: “You have heard how I said unto you, I go away, and come again unto you. If you loved me, you would rejoice, because I said, I go unto the Father: for my Father is greater than I.” It is in this context of being sent into the world and then returning to the Father that Jesus says, “My Father is greater than I” – although some verses we will look at may give a wider context to this.
I think one of the main difficulties in commenting on this verse and others of a similar nature is that the scriptures themselves do not give us a deeper insight into these statements and truths – as we have already seen, “great is the mystery of godliness, God was manifest in the flesh.” As a consequence of this, we can be tempted to make our own logical conclusions about these statements and about the nature of Christ. In doing this, the danger is that we might make conclusions that are not supported by the scriptures and use language and vocabulary that is alien to the Bible!
I want to avoid this.
“…and the head of Christ is God.”
But let us continue. The truth of Jesus’ submission to the Father seems to be reflected in several other scriptures. For example, we read that ‘the head of Christ is God,’ and that when everything shall have been finally subdued, ‘then shall the Son also Himself be subject unto Him that put all things under Him, that God may be all in all. (1 Cor. 11:3;15:28). When writing to the Ephesians, Paul says this: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ…”. (Ephesians 1:3). These are remarkable verses, but they appear in the passages without great, if any explanation at all. However, at least in a general way, if not specifically, they all point to the Son’s submission to the Father.
To what extent these verses we are now looking at are to be understood solely in the context of Jesus being sent into the world as the Son of man and as the Saviour and Mediator of mankind, or whether they have a ‘deeper’ or ‘wider’ application than this, is something we may all ponder on and that commentators may disagree on.
It would appear, of course, that the explanation for this submission and honouring of the Father is found in the nature of their relationship, that is, Father and Son. Jesus is the only begotten Son of the Father, and the willing, joyful submission of the Son to the Father’s would, on the one hand, only be natural to such a relationship even within the Godhead, and on the other hand, perhaps reveal an aspect of the divine nature that couldn’t otherwise have been manifested in such a distinct way. The nature and dynamic of the relationship between Father and Son reveals to us in a remarkable way that ‘self-assertiveness’ or ‘self-promotion’ is foreign to God’s nature. (I address this very point in the following sections, and I would encourage the reader to look at those carefully.)
How better could this have been portrayed than in the Son’s willing submission to the Father – being in the form of God, He didn’t consider equality with God something to cling to! An amazing revelation of the divine nature! All this displays the depth of sacrifice and the extent of love shown by both Father and Son through the incarnation of the word of God and the death of God’s Son, as the Son of man, on the cross. I think that the sheer grace and wisdom of God in these things is utterly amazing and remarkable! It is the manifestation of His glory. The Son’s submission to the Father is a manifestation of the glory of the nature of God, expressed in a way that could not have been expressed so deeply and clearly in any other way!
We have seen from many scriptures that Jesus Christ is declared to be God, and that there is no doubt or shadow of turning to this truth.
However, it is perhaps in the context of this relationship of Father and Son, and of the Son’s willing submission to the Father, that the scriptures declare that there is ‘one God and Father of all…”, and that “the LORD our God is one LORD”.
Please understand, I am not trying to give a full or final explanation of what others call a ‘mystery’ in relation to the divinity of the Father, Son (and Holy Spirit). It has been called a ‘mystery’ because, as I have said, the scriptures themselves do not engage in explaining these things! What I have written above is not written with a note of ‘finality’ to it, as though I am establishing doctrine – it is simply an attempt to give a backdrop or context to the truths that there is one God and that Jesus Christ as God’s Son, is God.
I understand that some may have a different interpretation or emphasis concerning these verses and may feel that the divinity of Christ may be undermined by such an interpretation. One thing that may indeed get in the way of our understanding of a particular interpretation of these verses is if we seek to apply human ideas of ‘equality’, ‘superiority’ or ‘inferiority’ to the Godhead. Our a priori philosophical considerations or religious definitions of what it means to be ‘God’ may indeed determine how we interpret the scriptures concerning Christ’s divinity. This works both ways. According to your presuppositions about what it means to be ‘God’, you will either make deductions form certain verses that Jesus cannot be God because they suggest an ‘inferior’ position to Christ. On the other hand, you may so want to ‘defend’ Christ’s divinity against the gainsayers that you use language not used by the scriptures and create ideas not supported by them. As far as possible, we need to be guided by scripture and its language, realising that it amply testifies to Christ’s divinity.
We have been looking at the Son’s submission and the Father’s ‘headship’ to provide a background for our understanding of the scriptural declaration that there is only one God. But this is not the whole story! There is another side that shines its light on Christ Jesus in such a way that it reveals and displays His unique divinity (and we have already looked at many passages that do this). And to this we must now look to provide us with a fuller picture and aid our understanding in these things.
GOD GIVES HONOUR AND GLORY TO THE SON
“For he (Christ Jesus) received from God the Father honour and glory…” 2 Peter 1:17.
Just as it pleased Jesus to honour His Father and to do His will, even so it pleased God to honour His Son and to exalt Him – Matthew 28:18; John 5:22; Philippians 2:9-11. This is the wonder of the relationship between the Father and the Son. It is not strange or surprising thing. The Father loves the Son and the Son loves the Father (John 10:17; 14:31).
These (and other) verses tell us that all power is given to Jesus in heaven and on earth, and it is the Lord Jesus who will judge every man on that day; it is to Jesus Christ that every knee shall bow in heaven and on earth! God has committed all judgement unto the Son. Why? The word of God tells us why – so that “all men should honour the Son, even as they honour the Father.” (John 5:23). God has committed all judgement to His Son (because He is the Son of man, John 5:27) so that you and I should honour the Son even as we honour the Father. There is no difference! You cannot honour someone who is not God in the same way you honour God. You cannot honour a created being – however special he is – in the same way you honour God.
As I have shown, the divinity of Christ shines through the scriptures. And because Jesus is God’s Son and ‘the brightness of His glory, and the express image of His person’, the scriptures cannot hide the truth that He is God according to His nature that He shares with the Father. The Sonship of Jesus is repeatedly emphasised by God’s own word in Hebrews chapter one, until the revelation cannot be contained or restrained, so that the word of God declares – not to the angles, not to any created being,
“But unto the Son He says, Your throne, O God, is forever and ever.” (Hebrews 1:8).
The Son is honoured as the Father is honoured because, being the Son of His Father, he shares the same divinity as the Father, and it is for this reason the scriptures keep breaking forth with the truth of His unique divinity – that He is God.
THE DIVINITY OF THE SON
If the Father is God, why should we wonder that the Son is God? Isaac the son submitted to Abraham his Father when Abraham was going to offer him as a sacrifice – does this make Isaac less a human being than Abraham just because he was willing to submit to his Father and be made a sacrifice? God said to Abraham that he should offer his only son (Genesis 22:2), but it was God who offered His only Son to die on Calvary for you and me. In John 1:14, Jesus is called “the only begotten of the Father”, and in verse 18 He is called “the only begotten Son”. There is no one like Jesus! No man or angel or any created being can compare to Jesus the Son of God! He is the Son of His Father, and God the Father acknowledges this to all mankind when He says, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” (Matthew 3:17). God is here not talking about a created being, or a special angel or one particular son of God from among many others (Genesis 6:2) – He is talking about His Son, His only-begotten Son from eternity!
Abraham didn’t hesitate to offer his son! When God spoke to him to offer his only son, he rose up early to go and sacrifice him. He had already offered his son in his heart – he just needed to arrive at the place that God had chosen! Even so, the Father had chosen to offer up His only Son Jesus Christ before the foundation of the world, and this was fulfilled at Calvary, the place where Abraham nearly killed his son! What God had told Abraham to do was what God was going to do for us. Do you think it cost Abraham something to offer up his son as a sacrifice? Of course it did! What greater cost could there be for a father? What greater sacrifice could a father make? But Abraham loved God more than his own child.
Did it cost God to offer up His only-begotten Son? Of course it did! It cost Him His well-beloved Son! Who can plumb the depths of what it cost the Father and the Son to bear our sin on the cross. We get a glimpse of this great cost through Christ’s agonising prayer in Gethsemane. God did not spare His only Son (Romans 8:32) because of the love He had for you and me, to save you and me from sin, to make you and me His sons! We must not underestimate what it cost God to gain our salvation to make us His sons! God did not offer a special angel or a special created being! No. He offered up His only begotten Son, to become the Son of man for the sake of our redemption and salvation.
This is the point. This is the truth. Only He who is God could bear the sin of the whole world in His body on the cross, overcome it and take it away! No one less than God could do it. As I will indicate later, though, His humanity was as real as His divinity. His divinity did not detract from His humanity – except He was without sin, which in itself was necessary as the sacrifice had to be from Him who was spotless and without sin. And His humanity did not detract from His divinity. (This in itself is a big topic, so in this study I will only touch on this briefly.)
If Jesus wasn’t God, we have no salvation. On the cross, God took our sins away (John 1:29; 1 John 3:5), God crucified ‘our old man’ (Romans 6:6), God destroyed the power of sin and death (Romans 8:2), God destroyed the power of Satan (Hebrews 2:14; 1 John 3:8), God spoiled principalities and powers (Colossians 2:15)! Only He who is God could do this! Praise His wonderful name! It is no wonder that it is said of the Son, “Your throne, O God, is for ever and ever: a sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of thy kingdom.”
A TABERNACLE FOR JESUS?
Peter wanted to build three tabernacles when Moses and Elijah appeared on the mountain with Jesus. He had no idea what he was saying! And some people today when they try to ‘evaluate’ the status of Jesus – comparing Him to some special created being – have no idea what they are saying. You cannot compare anyone or anything with God’s own Son! Peter was so wrong in his understanding that God sent a cloud which caused Moses and Elijah to vanish from before their eyes, and then there was no one left – except Jesus Christ, God’s Son. And God spoke to Peter and the other two disciples saying,
“This is my beloved Son: hear Him.” (Luke 9:35).
As those who have been saved by the blood of Jesus, when we read God’s word we are convinced by God’s Spirit that there is no one like Jesus Christ. The truth that He is God shines through.
Some people want to build some kind of doctrinal tabernacle for Jesus, in order to make Him fit into their theology, claiming that He is some kind of great, special or adopted being created by God, and that in this sense He is divine, but not God! The Bible does not acknowledge any such thing! Jesus is God’s Son. And because He is God’s Son, He is God, even as Isaac as the son of Abraham was not an ‘adopted’ son, nor a stepson, nor a lion, eagle or snake – no, he was human, just as Abraham was human!
HE SHALL GLORIFY ME
We are told in the 14th chapter of John’s Gospel that the Father will send the Holy Spirit after Jesus’ resurrection (verse 26), and in chapter 16 Jesus says that He will send the Spirit from the Father (verse 14). The Father and the Son send the Spirit to believers. They act as one because they are one. And what will the Spirit of God do when He is sent to you and me? What is His ministry? A fundamental part of the ministry of the Holy Spirit is to glorify Jesus Christ to believers! Jesus said, “He shall glorify me.” Is that what the ministry of God’s Spirit is doing in your life? God’s Spirit glorifies Christ! Who can be glorified in this way but He who is God? Whatever wonderful and gracious work God does in our lives to glorify you and me (Romans 8:30; John 17:22), it is only because of Christ, only on the basis of His death and resurrection that we are made partakers of His life and therefore partakers of His glory and the Father’s glory. (2 Cor.3:18). The Spirit has come to glorify Christ Jesus to the hearts and minds of men and women. He hasn’t come to glorify you and me, or an angel or created being. Praise the name of the Lord!
The unique status of Jesus as God’s Son is also exemplified for us in the following verse: “For as the Father raises up the dead, and gives them life; even so the Son gives life to whom He will. (John 5:21). This is an amazing truth. Who can give life but He who is God? Again we see that the Father and Son are as one.
How deep the relationship between the Father and Son is, and how complete their oneness is, is further revealed in John 16:15, where Jesus says, “All things that the Father has are mine…”. What a statement! What a truth! All that the Father has, the Son has. How can people say that Jesus is not God? Jesus came as God incarnate because the Word was God from the beginning and He was given the name Emmanuel to confirm this to us all.
I have been trying to ‘balance out’ two things that to the human mind seem irreconcilable – that there is one God the Father, and one Lord Jesus Christ, and yet Christ is God. One thing that may stand in the way of us understanding or reconciling these things, could be our ideas of ‘equality’.
There are two types of errors that can be made when considering some of the verses we have looked at above (For example, “My Father is greater than I”). One is to draw logical conclusions that lead us to question the divinity of Christ, which was never the point or purpose of these verses – it is not what these verses are doing or saying. The other is, realising that other people will use these verses to argue against the divinity of Christ, we go in the opposite direction and interpret such verses in a way that seems to ‘neutralise’ their meaning or deprive them of any real meaning at all, for fear of being accused of impugning the divinity of Christ! I seek to avoid both – how successful I am, others will judge! The reader might notice that, to this end, I have been avoiding expressions and terminology that have been created and used by others who have sought to uphold the divinity of Christ.
Our understanding of God and His Son must come from scripture. It was God who by His Spirit inspired the scriptures to be written for us, and it is God who chose what to reveal to us. So, any ‘definitions’ of God, must find their foundation in what is written in the Bible and not in philosophical concepts of God or metaphysical considerations regarding what constitutes divinity. What I mean is this: a person may ask, “If Jesus submits to His Father’s will, and, as the scripture says, ‘God is the head of Christ’, and even as Jesus said, ‘My Father is greater than I’, then how can Jesus be God?” This question arises because we already have our own concepts about the definition of God. Of course, the questions above do not take into account all the verses we have looked at both in the Old and the New Testaments, which clearly show that Jesus is God. It is a fundamental principle that we should interpret scripture by scripture, not create interpretations of some scriptures that contradict many other scriptures.
As we have seen, the Jews understood this very well what Jesus meant when He said to them that God was His Father (John 5:17,18). The Jews wanted to kill Him immediately for this saying, and the scriptures explain why they wanted to kill Him – because He said, ‘that God was His Father, making Himself equal with God.’ Is this your understanding of divinity also? If Jesus is God’s Son then He is ‘equal with God’, He is God?
A big problem today in understanding these things is our idea of equality. The spirit of Satan is the opposite of the Spirit of the Lamb of God. Of Lucifer it was said, “You have said in your heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God…I will be like the most High.” (Isaiah 14:13,14). The disposition of Satan is to fight for position and power, to exalt himself because he thinks is just as good as others, just as good as God and therefore does not need to submit to God. It is the spirit that says, “I am just as good as you! Why should I submit to you? Why do I have to respect you? I have my opinion and it is just as good as yours! Who are you to tell me what to do? You should also respect me and listen to what I have to say because I am equal to you!”
This is not the mind of Christ. This is the mind and spirit of Satan and it is in the world today. People want to be ‘equal’ to everyone else, but the equality they speak of today is not an equality that is taught in the Bible. People claim that because they are equal to others, they can do the same things as others, have the same role and authority as others. They object to submitting to others as this, they say, implies that they are ‘inferior’ to those others, and such a notion is an injury to their ‘self-esteem’. They protest by saying: “If I can’t do the same things as you, then you are saying you are better than me. But I am equal to you! And why should I show you respect if I am equal to you? Who are you to tell me what I can do or can’t do?”
This is the attitude that is destroying families and society today – they say all this in the name of ‘equality’ and ‘human rights’! So children don’t respect their parents or teachers any more. Parents find it difficult or impossible to control and discipline their children. Wives will laugh at and scorn the person who tells them that the husband is the head of the family – even within Christian churches. This is the fruit of this modern idea of ‘equality’. Everyone has become a little god that must be respected by others – and they don’t let others tell them what to do! The result is moral and spiritual chaos and confusion.
But the word of God says, “Let this mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus…who humbled Himself and made Himself of no reputation.” Though He had equality with God, the Lord Jesus didn’t fight for His ‘rights’! He humbled Himself and became a servant and allowed Himself to be crucified by those He came to save! How different is His Spirit and nature to the spirit that is in the world today! How different is His attitude to what people call ‘equality’! And wasn’t this Satan’s temptation at the very beginning? He said to Eve, “Eat this and you will become like God.” In other words, ‘you will be in control; nobody can tell you what to do; everyone will have to respect you; you will have position, power and glory.” This is the poison that is in the world today and it is spreading right across this globe.
In the verses quoted above where Jesus said that God was His Father and the Jews wanted to kill Him, Jesus immediately corrects their human, worldly ideas of equality by saying, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, The Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He sees the Father do: for whatsoever things He does, these also does the Son likewise.” (John 5:19). They talked about ‘equality’, but Jesus emphasised His submission and oneness with the Father.
The spirit of Satan is to promote and assert himself, not to submit to anyone or anything, and to serve his own ends, but the Spirit of the Son of God is to humble Himself, to submit to His Father’s will and to serve others. As I have indicated, how else could these divine attributes have been so set forth before us without this self-humbling of the Son? In the verse above Jesus emphasises His oneness with His Father’s will. He is not denying His divinity, but correcting our views of ‘equality’! This is the revelation that Jesus was giving us. Jesus didn’t emphasize His equality with God, because He didn’t need to (Philippians 2:6), and because it is not in His nature to assert Himself. The revelation Jesus gives us we find in John 10:30:
“I and my Father are one.”
Heaven knows nothing of the idea of equality that this world promotes, where presidents of different countries sit together around a table. As presidents, they consider themselves equal and therefore independent of each other. Each one gives his own views, they negotiate, argue and try to assert their own viewpoint, authority and position! They expect and demand respect from the others. They seek a consensus of opinion. All this issues out of and accords with their sense of ‘being equal’. During the Vietnam War, peace talks were to be held in 1969 in Paris, but the different parties in the conflict couldn’t agree on the shape or number of tables. Arguments about this lasted 10 weeks while the war continued! Everyone wanted a shape that would reflect their status and authority. A round table was eventually suggested, but one faction objected because they claimed they were more important than another faction, so they objected to a round table because it implied they were all equal! But in the end they had to submit to a round table! A consensus prevailed.
Heaven is not like this.
Heaven knows nothing of this kind of mentality! Lucifer, that is, Satan, did try to assert himself in heaven and bring in a division of opinion, but he was immediately cast out!
In heaven there is one eternal will, one purpose – from the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. The Father glorifies the Son; the Son glorifies the Father (John 17:1), and the Holy Spirit glorifies the Son (John 16:14). There is no competition here. There is no jockeying for position. There are no negotiations, where two out-vote the other, where one party seeks to persuade the others. There is no insisting on personal rights or self-assertiveness. No! There is one will – expressed by Father, Son and Holy Spirit. In heaven there is oneness of will and nature between them. The glory of God is manifested through this oneness.
I believe it is from the context of the nature of this oneness, that the scriptures both declare that there is one God and Father of all, and proclaim the divinity of both the Son and Holy Spirit.
So it is no wonder that the Lord Jesus uses the following words when speaking to the Jews in John chapter 10: “I and my Father are one.” There is no competition here, no fighting for status or equal rights! There is no need! What could be a greater statement than this of the divinity of Jesus Christ? “I and my Father are one.” The Jews understood this perfectly, because as soon as He said this they took up stones to kill Him. And when Jesus asked them why, this was their answer, “because that you, being a man, make yourself God,” (verse 33). How is it that people don’t understand this today – people who say they are Christians but deny that Jesus is God.
The person who says that Jesus can’t be God because He submits to the will of the Father does not understand the nature of God. Jesus said, “I and my Father are one”! What are you going to do? Divide them and say one isn’t God and the other is? And in this passage in John chapter 10, where the Jews accuse Jesus of making Himself God, Jesus doesn’t say anything to deny that He is God. On the contrary, He uses a scripture from the Old Testament to confirm that He is God (verses 34-36). He had already told them in verse 28 that He gives His sheep eternal life. Who can give eternal life except He who is God?
I want to continue in this vein by looking at Paul’s letter to the Philippians.
I think there is another aspect to this which is very important and which we have already touched upon.
Jesus says this in the Gospel of Matthew, “Come unto me…for I am meek and lowly in heart.” (Matthew 11:28-29). Since Jesus is a revelation of the Father’s nature to us (John 14:9), it becomes clear that meekness is an attribute of God’s own nature, as it says in Isaiah, “For thus says the high and lofty One that inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy; I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit.” (Isaiah 57:15). This is a most remarkable thing! God dwells with the humble. In warning the Corinthians Paul beseeches them by the meekness of Christ. (1 Cor. 10:1). Here on earth men seek great things for themselves and love to associate themselves with great and important people. BUT GOD associates Himself with the humble! And how better could God have demonstrated the nature of His meekness to us than in sending His own Son. It is only in sending His Son that God could show us the utter extent of His own meekness and gentleness. “God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them!” All the meekness, all the actions and reactions that the Lamb of God exhibited on earth were a manifestation of the very nature of God.
This brings us to a wonderful and remarkable passage of Scripture. In the second chapter of Philippians verse six, it says this of Jesus,
“Who, being in the form of God, thought it not a thing to be grasped to be equal with God.”
Here it tells us clearly that Jesus was in the form of God. What does this mean? Does it mean that Jesus wasn’t really God, that He only ‘appeared’ to be God? Of course it doesn’t mean this, not in the slightest. It uses the word ‘form’ because as it says in the beginning of John’s Gospel, “the Word was made flesh.” In other words, He who was God, became flesh. We know that before the foundation of the world Jesus shared glory with the Father (John 17:5), but He did not stay there – He changed His form to come into the world to save you me – the Word was made flesh. He did not cease to be the Son of God, but He left that fellowship and condition of glory which He had with the Father and He put on flesh.
THE SON OF MAN. TRULY HUMAN, TRULY GOD.
To emphasise the reality of this dramatic change the inspired scriptures speak of Jesus as being in the form of God because in the next verse it tells us that He took on Himself “the form of a servant.” A miraculous and incredible change took place for the sake of our salvation. He who was truly God became truly man (Luke 1:35; Hebrews 2:14-18). Jesus had flesh and blood, He could feel tired, He knew hunger and thirst, and He was tempted in all points as we are tempted (Heb. 4:15), but nevertheless without sin. What term did Jesus commonly use for Himself? He called Himself the ‘Son of man’. It was not a game. He wasn’t a spirit pretending to be human and pretending to be a servant. He really was a man, He really was a servant – to serve you and me with the grace of God and with eternal salvation. He was in the form of God and He took on the form of a servant and became a man. God in glory became man on earth.
What a sacrifice this was on the part of the Son of God. Though He was in the form of God and enjoyed glorious fellowship with the Father, nevertheless He didn’t hold on to His divine status and this glory, but made Himself of no reputation. This shows both the willing sacrifice and the amazing humbleness of Christ Jesus. He had ‘equality’ with God and yet He didn’t fight to hold onto this equality.
Jesus didn’t come in great visible glory to impress us! He didn’t use His great power to subdue us. He didn’t seek glory from men. He took on the form of a servant and humbled Himself unto death, the death of the cross (verse 8). This is a revelation of the nature of God. And what does verse five of two Philippians tell us? It says this, “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus…”. This same mind, this same Spirit that was in Jesus Christ is to be in you and me. It is a mind and a Spirit that leads us to humble ourselves and make ourselves of no reputation. It leads us not to fight position or for equality! This is the nature of the Spirit of God! Glory be to the name of the Lord.
It was through sending His own Son that God could demonstrate to us the extent of His love for us (Romans 5:8; 8:32) and the glory of His nature in all its meekness! Behold the Son of man, the Son of God, by whom all things were created, coming to this earth, to give His life for you and me! But He was slandered, rejected, hated and killed. He could have used His power to overcome those who opposed Him. He could have called on twelve legions of angels to save Him from Roman capture. He could have destroyed His opponents with a word. But He didn’t do any of these things. The Son of God allowed men to spit on Him and mock Him, “He was led as a sheep to the slaughter; and like a lamb dumb before His shearer, so opened He not His mouth.” This is the nature of God! In what other way could God have shown us His nature of self-offering and humbleness of mind so clearly, so demonstratively, so graciously and so wonderfully, other than by sending His Son to become the Son of man? Men want to manifest themselves with greatness and power, but God manifests Himself in weakness and humility!
Jesus didn’t fight for power, position or recognition, but humbled Himself to be put to death as a man by men – this is the revelation of God’s own nature to our hearts. Who is like Him? God could not send an angel or an ‘Elijah’ or an anointed created being to show us Himself on this wise. No. It had to be His Son who was in the form of God and who reflected His nature perfectly. (Hebrews 1:3).
The things we have just now considered concerning Christ and His nature do not detract from His divinity but rather give us revelation concerning the nature of divinity and of the Godhead.
Let us return to the verse in Ephesians: “There is…One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all. (Ephesians 4:6). This is the truth and the revelation – there is one God who is the Father of all. There are not three ‘independent’ gods who have decided to work together and who could possibly split from one another in disagreement because they are ‘equal’ to one another. Father, Son and Holy Spirit do not negotiate together to work towards some ‘consensus’. There is nothing like this in heaven.
But let it be remembered that the Father and the Son reveal the same nature, the one nature; Father and Son work as one revealing the one eternal will – ‘I and my father are one.’ As we have seen, throughout the Bible, divinity is ascribed to the Lord Jesus Christ (as well as the Holy Spirit), not divinity in an angelic, created or adopted sense, but that He is God, ‘God with us’. There is one God and Father of all, but because Christ Jesus is the only begotten Son of the Father, this revelation of His divinity is repeatedly confirmed by the word of God. Jesus is God by virtue of the nature He shares with the Father.
So when considering the divinity of Jesus Christ our understanding needs to be based on the revelation of scripture. In other words, it is no strange thing, it is no contradiction that although Jesus submits to His Father, and His Father is the ‘head of Christ’, yet Jesus is God because He is the Son and one with the Father. Our understanding, our definition of God, of divinity, comes not from human logic, but from the word of God.
Of course, what I write here might not satisfy intellect or logic. But as I stated earlier, my aim has been to give an understanding of these things according to the scriptures we have, and I do not seek to go beyond what the scriptures reveal. I have gone as far as I am able, and as the scriptures themselves do not clarify these things completely, it is no surprise if the reader isn’t fully satisfied with what I have written here. What I have written in this last section is my own attempt to explain the things that we can’t perfectly explain!
Those who seek to go beyond what is written in scripture often produce ideas that are not found or supported by the word of God. Errors occur when we apply our own logic to certain verses of scripture and come up with a result that is different to what is stated or taught there. The other problem is that if we make deductions based on human logic or use language quite different to what is found in the Bible, then we can easily accuse one another of meaning something other than what we actually meant!
FATHER, SON AND HOLY SPIRIT
In the beginning God said, “Let there be light, and there was light.” We also know from scriptures that we have looked at that all things were created through Jesus Christ. So we understand that in the beginning God created all things through His Son Jesus Christ. We are also told in verse two of Genesis chapter one that, “the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.” What is clear here is that the Father, Son and Holy Spirit were acting as one, with one purpose and will and having the same mind when creating the world. As I have said, it is no surprise that we read the plural form of the verb in Genesis 1:26 when God speaks of creating man: “Let us make man in our image…”. The divinity the Son and of the Holy Spirit is also underlined in Matthew 28:19, where we read the following: “Go you therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.” The divinity of the Holy Spirit is not the subject of this study but its mention cannot be avoided.
Opponents of Christ’s divinity ask that if Jesus is God, how could He be ‘born’, for the scriptures say He is the ‘only begotten’ of the Father – how could God be ‘born’? Then they have questions about ‘when’ was He born? With regard to the second of these two questions, the answer is found in the texts that we have looked at that describe the Son of God as being from everlasting to everlasting. He is one with the ‘I am’, He is the ‘I am’. Will you cast stones at Him because He says He is God? You look in vain in scripture to find a time when the Son was not! With regard to the first question, the expression concerning Jesus that He is the only begotten Son of the Father emphasizes the tremendous incomparable uniqueness of Jesus Christ and His inseparable union with God the Father. His Sonship underlines His divinity – it does not detract from it.
Similarly, people quote Colossians 1:15 and Revelation 3:14, where it speaks of Jesus as “the firstborn of all creation” and “the beginning of the creation of God”. Firstly, it is clear from other verses and from His name as the only begotten of the Father, that Jesus was not created – it was He that created all things. These two verses must be interpreted by the many other scriptures that touch on this subject. Without going into too much detail here, the verse in Colossians simply emphasizes that Jesus – as God’s only Son – is before all things and He is represented as the author and head of all creation, which is what verses 16 and 17 go on to explain and make clear!
And then in verse 18 it says that Jesus is “the beginning, the firstborn from the dead”, and here it doesn’t mean that Jesus had His beginning when He was raised from the dead! It means that no one was raised from the dead – never to return to death – before Jesus Christ. The statement that God makes concerning Jesus – “You are my Son, this day have I begotten you.” – refers not to beginning of life of Jesus Christ, but to His resurrection from the dead after His crucifixion, as is explained in Acts 13:33.
These same truths may apply to the interpretation of Revelation 3:14. (It can also be noted that the Greek word ‘beginning’ in this verse (αρχη – arche) can also mean ‘prinicipality’ or ‘power’.)
Jesus’ prayer in Gethsemane
I had said earlier that Jesus had never resisted His Father’s will, and this is absolutely true. If we think of Jesus praying in the garden of Gethsemane and asking the Father to remove ‘this cup’ from Him, this is not resistance to God’s will – it is the expression and reflection of His divinity! He was going to have to bear your sin and my sin, the sin of the whole world on Calvary; He who had only known glory, purity and holiness, sweat as it were great drops of blood in agonising prayer as He anticipated being made sin. This wasn’t rebellion. This was the inevitable expression and reaction of the Holy Son of God. His prayer in Gethsemane expressed and revealed more poignantly and clearly than anything the ‘dilemma’ that God had in saving us from sin and making us pure. This was sacrifice – He offered Himself up to be made sin who knew no sin that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him. There was no other way. Christ’s prayer shows us the depths that God had to go to in order to cleanse us from sin so that we might be born of Him. This is a mystery beyond human understanding. Praise His holy name!
There are verses indeed that may not be so easy to interpret, but any interpretation of a verse must take into account the context of that verse and its context within the teaching of the Bible itself. In John 5:26 we read the following: “For as the Father has life in Himself; so has He given to the Son to have life in Himself.” Some claim this ‘proves’ that Jesus cannot be divine, cannot be God. If they are right, then it contradicts the many verses we have read that declare that He is God! However, the Bible does not contradict itself. The Son of God became the Son of man. He who was in the form of God humbled Himself, made Himself of no reputation and became a man. It could be that the verse above refers to the empowering that the Father conveyed to Jesus as the Son of man, as our Saviour and Mediator who had taken on flesh. This is indicated to us in the very next verse, where it says, “And has given Him authority to execute judgment also, because He is the Son of man.” This verse tells us that God has given Jesus authority to judge men and women because He is the Son of man. There are things that the Father has conferred on the Son because He had become the Son of man, enabling Him to become the Mediator between God and man, because He had humbled Himself by partaking of flesh and blood (Hebrews 2:14). Verse 26 is also an explanation of verse 25, where it says, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, The hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God: and they that hear shall live.” In other words, the Son of God has power to raise the dead by His voice and to give them life – and He indicates that this would happen shortly. And in verse 21 we read this: “For as the Father raises up the dead, and gives them life; even so the Son gives life to whom He will.” The Son has power to give life to whom He will. But the whole passage shows that both the Father and the Son share in this power to raise the dead, and they act as one, with one mind and one purpose. And again we read in verse 22 that that Father “judges no man, but has committed all judgment unto the Son.” Because Jesus the Son of God became the Son of man, the Father has committed certain things to the Son – for example, it is the Son who will judge men and women. And why? The next verse, verse 23, tells us!
“That all men should honour the Son, even as they honour the Father. He that honours not the Son honours not the Father who has sent Him.”
The truths that are revealed in this passage are to bring us to a place where we honour the Son even as we honour the Father! Why would anyone use a verse in this passage to dishonour the Son? Is anything written in this passage with the purpose of convincing us that Jesus is not God? I would say it is the opposite.
Likewise, in the passage where Jesus talks about the time of the end and says, “But of that day and that hour knows no man, no, not the angels who are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father,” (Mark 13:32), this is not a sudden denial of the divinity of Christ. As I have said, our ideas of equality lead us too quickly to define what is God, and what is not God. In this chapter of Mark’s Gospel, Jesus reveals to us in great detail and with great accuracy exactly what shall happen in the future. We know that in Christ “are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” and that in Him “dwells all the fullness of the Deity bodily.” (Colossians 2:4,9). We should not stumble at a verse like this in Mark which simply serves to emphasize how deep a secret that day is. It may simply mean that that day is not to be revealed by anyone for any reason, even by Jesus as the Son of man.
“And a certain ruler asked him, saying, Good Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life? And Jesus said unto him, Why call me good? None is good, except one, that is, God.” (Luke 18:18-19).
In opposition to all the scriptures we have looked at, some people love to quote the verse above because they believe Jesus is saying that he is not divine, that he is not God. As we have already noted, such people forget that Jesus had told the Jews, “Before Abraham was, I am” (which is God’s name), and that when the Jews accused him of making himself God by saying that God was his father, Jesus did not contradict their accusation.
The rich man in this passage called Jesus, “Good teacher.” In other words, this man regarded Jesus not as the Christ of God, but just as a man with who taught well. It is possible that Jesus was challenging this man’s understanding of who He was? In other words, “Do you think that I am just a man, a good teacher and nothing more? If you think that, then you should not call me ‘good’, because only God is good.” It is possible that Jesus was causing the man to think more about who Jesus really is! You remember, when Thomas said to Jesus, “My Lord and my God”, Jesus did not correct him!
We read this when Jesus came to the river Jordan to be baptised: “But John forbad him, saying, ‘I have need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?’ And Jesus answering said unto him, ‘Permit it to be so now: for thus it is fitting for us to fulfil all righteousness.’ Then he permitted him.” (Matthew 3:14-15). John recognised that Jesus did not need to be baptised, because, as we have seen, he was without sin and without the need for any repentance. Jesus doesn’t disagree with John about Him not needing to be baptised, but counters wit this expression, “it is fitting for us to fulfil all righteousness.” This expression is not so easy to understand, but let us notice that Jesus says, “it is fitting for us”, that is it is proper that they should both fulfil all righteous requirements. John was sent as a prophet to baptise all those who would come, and Jesus included Himself in this as the Son of man and told John to allow Him to be baptised. This, in a way, was to pre-figure his baptism on the cross. The Lord was going to identify with us in this water baptism as this act also anticipated the far greater identification that took place on the cross at Calvary.
We read this of Jesus, “For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh…For verily he took not on him the nature of angels; but he took on him the nature of Abraham. Therefore in all things it behoved him to be made like unto his brethren, that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people.” (Romans 8:3; Hebrews 2:16,17). Jesus offered himself up on the cross for our sins in order to bear them away – he who knew no sin became sin for us – and here in Matthew’s Gospel he offers himself up to be baptised to show this identification with us. This is not a denial of his divinity but a revelation of how he humbled himself to identify with us so that he could cleanse and deliver us from sin.
Divine but not God!
One person told me that they don’t deny the divinity of Christ but just deny that He is God. What does this mean? Basically, it is a denial of all the scriptures we have looked at in this study. When a person says this they basically mean that Jesus is a very special created being whom God has given His Spirit to, but He is not God. But the word of God makes clear that His divinity comes from the truth that He is one with the Father, that He is in the bosom of the Father and that He is the Son of the Father, and so the scripture says, ‘the word was God’.
The word of God declares that “God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16). God didn’t ‘create’ some special being – external to Himself – and then offer Him for the world’s salvation! And if Jesus were some kind of ‘special created being’, why should all heaven worship someone who was created and who was not God? The greatness and the depth and the extent of God’s love for you and me was the fact that He gave His Son for us! It cost the Father. God couldn’t have given us anything more precious to Him than His own Son! Glory be to His name! “He that spared not His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all…” (Romans 8:32). We have already seen how this truth is wonderfully portrayed in the offering up of Isaac by his father Abraham.
Although Jesus Christ was God’s Son, yet God didn’t spare Him in order to save us! Although He was God’s Son, He was willing to bear your sin and my sin. Who can bear the sins of the world and overcome, except He who is God! God didn’t create something or someone to give, He gave Him who was in His own bosom.
Jesus was not a ‘special created being or angel’ to whom God gave His Spirit, nor was Jesus ‘spoken into existence’ – He is the “only begotten Son who is in the bosom of the Father.” The whole of scripture testifies to the truth that from the beginning Jesus Christ is God’s Son, dwelling in oneness with the Father. Great was the Father’s sacrifice in giving us His Son. Great was the Son’s sacrifice to bear our sin in order to bring us to God!
We have eternal life only because we partake of the eternal life that is in Christ!
Despite the many verses we have looked at, wrong teachings always use the same method – they think they have found a few texts that support what they want to believe and ignore the rest of what the Bible clearly teaches. So one person quotes John 17:21: “That they all may be one; as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be one in us.” This person points out that in the fulfilment of Jesus’ prayer, we will be one with the Father just as He is one with the Father. He believes this shows that Jesus isn’t genuinely God because what is true of Him will be true of the believer. So the conclusion he draws from this is that Jesus might be a special being, He might be a god (among others), but He is not God; this is their idea. However, you can only believe this if you don’t understand the nature of our salvation.
Jesus shared glory with the Father before the world was (John 17:5), and an essential eternal aspect of this glory is the holiness (John 17:11). Jesus Christ knew the glory of this holiness which He shared with the Father. Even when He was born on earth, Christ was born holy (Luke 1:35) and the scriptures are very clear about Christ’s nature: “For He has made Him, who knew no sin, to be sin for us; that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him… And you know that He was manifested to take away our sins; and in Him is no sin… For such an high priest became us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and made higher than the heavens.” (2 Corinthians 5:21; 1 John 3:5; Hebrews 7:26).
So what are people doing who want to compare us with Jesus Christ? Do they want to suggest there is no great difference between Christ and us – we, who were born in sin, we who are sinners by nature? We, who would have had the wrath of God on us and would have been lost forever without Christ dying for us? Do they not see? Are they blind to the scriptures that show us that Christ needed to die for us in order for us to be saved and to have eternal life – the holy one dying for the ungodly ones. He didn’t need anyone to die for Him to make Him holy – He shared this glory with the Father from the beginning. He is the Son from eternity. We are sons by adoption, that is, we were not born as His sons, but we were adopted as His sons through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
“To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons…Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will…Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again unto a living hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.” (Galatians 4:5; Ephesians 1:5; 1 Peter 1:3).
Do people think they can undervalue or deny the divinity of Christ by saying we will also be one with the Father because of Christ, or because Jesus is called our brother now? Do they think that they will be worshipped in heaven as Christ is worshipped now?
We have salvation only through God’s Son; we have eternal life only in God’s Son
“And this is the witness, that God has given to us eternal life, and this life is in His Son…He that has the Son has life; and He that has not the Son of God has not life (1 John 5:11,12).
We have eternal life only because we partake of the eternal life that is in Christ! We who were born sinners are made sons of God only because He who is the Son according to his eternal nature gave His life for us and bore our sins on Calvary.
In this study I believe the scriptures reveal that Jesus is God because He is the Son of the Father. His unique oneness with the Father means that He is one with the Father in His nature. We have looked at a variety of scriptures that clearly reveal this oneness, and also that reveal and declare the divinity of Christ – that Jesus Christ is God.
Some people want to unravel mysteries, but God has declared openly for us the riches of the glory of the mystery which was kept hidden for from ages and generations. What is this mystery? Paul declares it is this: “Christ in you, the hope of glory.” (Colossians 1:25-27).
To save us and to deliver us completely from the power of sin, and of death and of Satan, and to be made a Mediator and High Priest on our behalf, He had to be made like unto us (Hebrews 2:9-18; Romans 8:1-4; 2 cor. 5:21 – to mention just a few verses that relate to this!) He left His Father’s glory and became a man and accepted the weaknesses and temptations that that brought with it (Hebrews 5:2), and perhaps this can help explain some of the more difficult verses we have just looked at. He was tempted like we are, yet without sin. (Hebrews 4:15,16).
Jesus Christ came in the flesh to overcome sin, death and the devil so that He could come into our lives, into our flesh by the Holy Spirit, to set us free from sin and to live in us! (Romans 8:1-4; 6:1-6; Galatians 2:20; 2 Cor. 4:8-11). This salvation is more than the forgiveness of sins. Christ has given us His life, eternal life, a life that has overcome and overcomes sin and conforms us to the image of the Son of God and makes us partakers of the divine nature and of His holiness. (Romans 8:29; 2 Cor. 3:18; 1 John 2:6; 4:17; 2 Peter 1:2-4; Hebrews 12:10). How great is our salvation! That is why the writer to the Hebrews asks, “How shall we escape, if we neglect so great a salvation?” (Hebrews 2:3).
This truth is so great, so deep that it is beyond natural understanding. These truths are made alive to us by the ministry of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 2:9-16). And this is why Paul prays that God may give unto the saints (at Ephesus) “the Spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him…that we might know what is the exceeding greatness of His power towards us who believe, according the working of His mighty power which He wrought in Christ when He raised Him from the dead.” (Eph.1:17-21). In other words, the power by which God the Father raised up Jesus Christ from the dead, is the power that is to work in us, setting us free from sin and conforming us to the image of His Son.
What a wonderful thing this is! What a great salvation. The Father and the Son by the Holy Spirit empowering us to live like Christ. What is impossible with man, is possible with God, is possible with ‘Christ in us’. Glory be to His name!
All this was made possible because of ‘the Lamb of God slain from the foundation of the world’ for you and for me! It is no wonder that all of heaven worship Him and give Him glory even as they worship the Father and give Him glory.
AND WHO DO YOU SAY THAT I AM
After asking the disciples what other people said about Him, Jesus asked the disciples themselves, “but who do you say that I am?” And this is what the Spirit of God confronts us with – who do you really think Jesus Christ is? Peter answered and declared that Jesus was ‘the Christ, the Son of the living God’. Jesus then says this to Peter, “Blessed are you, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood has not revealed it unto you, but my Father who is in heaven.” (Mtt. 16:17). So according to Jesus Christ, we only know who He truly is through a revelation given to us by the Father. This is confirmed by what Jesus says in Matthew chapter 11: “no man knows the Son, but the Father; neither knows any man the Father, except the Son, and he to whomever the Son will reveal Him.” (Matthew 11:27). Knowing who Christ is, comes by divine revelation. After Peter’s confession in verse 17 of Matthew 16 that we have just read, Jesus says this: “And I say also unto you, that you are Peter (Greek: ‘Petros’, meaning a stone or piece of rock), and upon this rock (Greek: ‘Petra’, meaning a solid mass of rock) I will build my church; and the gates of hades shall not prevail against it.” (Matthew 16:18). Jesus will build His church on the rock. What is the rock? It is the revelation that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God, which is what Peter had just confessed. The truth that Jesus is the rock (Greek, ‘Petra’) is confirmed in 1 Corinthians 10:4, “And did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ.” And in the same letter we read this, “For no other foundation can a man lay than what is laid, which is Jesus Christ.” (v. 3:11).
The church is built upon the revelation of God to men and women’s hearts that Jesus is the Christ of God. Has the Father revealed to you who Jesus, the Son of man, is? Or have you worked out who Jesus is by your own logic? Remember, according to the Lord Jesus, an understanding of who He is does not come through ‘flesh and blood’; it is not the result of human logic; it is not through the persuasion or arguments of men. Do you know who Jesus is because you have applied your mental powers to the scriptures (like the Pharisees did to their loss), or do you know Him by revelation from the Father – a revelation that is deeper than logic? Who do you say that Jesus the Son of man is? This is a very important question! It is on the basis of the answer to this question that Jesus will build His church! The church is built on the revelation of the Father to our hearts about the nature of His Son! Are you part of His church, or are building another church with a different Jesus?
SOME FINAL THOUGHTS REGARDING GOD’S ETERNAL PURPOSE
CHRIST AND HIS BRIDE.
We need to look further at the passage above from Colossians because it goes deeper. In verse 16 it says that ‘all things were created by Him, and for Him’. Everything that was created, everything that we see around us, and even what we don’t see, it was all created for Jesus Christ the Son of God! Here we see the two truths together, that not only was everything created by Him but also for Him! We are considering truths concerning the Son, but what is true of the Son, is also true of the Father in this respect as we can see from the following scriptures: Romans 11:36; 1 Cor. 8:6; Heb. 2:10; Rev. 4:11.
Let us look at the scriptures to see in what sense everything was created for Jesus Christ – in doing so, we shall discover some wonderful truths. Paul says to the Corinthians, “For I am jealous over you with godly jealousy: for I have espoused you to one husband that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ.” (2 Corinthians 11:2). Christ is here described as a husband to whom the church will be presented as a pure bride, as is also revealed in Revelation 19:7, “Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to Him: for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His wife has made herself ready.” This truth is declared in many other scriptures such as, Mtt. 9:15, 22:2, 25:5; John 3:29; Romans 7:4. The church is described in different ways to highlight different truths. For example, the church is represented as the body of Christ (1 Cor. 12:27), as the habitation of God (Ephesians 2:22) and as the bride of Christ.
The truth of the church being the bride of Christ is already touched on in the opening chapters of Genesis.
Even as Eve was formed out of Adam’s side while he was in a deep sleep, so the church was ‘formed’ out of ‘Christ’s side’ through His death on the cross. That which God was going to do through the death of Jesus Christ on the cross, He prefigured through the creation of Adam and Eve.
Out of all the creation that God had made, there was no suitable companion found for Adam. So God put Adam into a deep sleep. While Adam was in this deep sleep God took out of his side a rib, and from this rib He formed Eve who was to be his wife. When Adam saw Eve he said, “This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh. She shall be called ‘woman’ because she was taken out of ‘man’.” In God’s creation of Adam and Eve we have a perfect reflection of God’s eternal purpose to provide a wife, a bride, for His Son, Jesus Christ. How wonderful the Bible is! The Bible is the word of God; it is inspired by His Holy Spirit!
When the soldiers came to take down the body of Jesus from the cross, they found that He was already dead. But to make sure of this, they thrust a spear into His side, and out of His side poured blood and water! Blood and water are the elements by which Christ’s church has been redeemed and cleansed!
“This is He that came by water and blood, even Jesus Christ; not by water only, but by water and blood.” (1 John 5:6).
“Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.” (John 3:5).
“Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave Himself for it; That He might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word. “ (Ephesians 5:25-26).
“…feed the church of God, which He hath purchased with His own blood.” (Acts 20:28).
As Eve was formed ‘out of’ Adam while he was asleep, so the church would be formed ‘out of’ Christ through His dying on the cross – from 12 midday to 3 pm the sun was darkened and there was darkness over all the land as Jesus ‘was made sin’ for us so that we could be made the righteousness of God in Him; He ‘tasted death’ for us all in order to bring many sons to glory and make us His brethren (Hebrews 2:9-11), and make us His church, His bride!
We just read that no suitable help could be found for Adam from among the animals. This is not surprising. You can only have meaningful and intimate fellowship with someone who is according to your own kind, according to your own nature! So God formed Eve out of Adam’s side with the result that they were both made in the image of God, and Adam was able to say that ‘this is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh’ – and he was able to have a meaningful and intimate relationship with her. Because of what Christ accomplished on the cross, men and women who believe on Jesus Christ are given power to become sons of God – they are born of God, according to His nature, so that they can have intimate fellowship with the Father and the Son. (John 1:12,13; 1 John 3:9; 4:4; 2 Peter 1:3,4). It is because of this that believers are called the brothers of Jesus Christ – because they are born of God. As we have seen, in their relationship to Jesus Christ, believers are also called His body, His church and His bride. The depth of this relationship and of our union with the Father and the Son is brought home to us in the following verses: John 14:20,23; 17:21–23; Rom.8:29.
We could quote other verses, but I think the truth is clear! As Eve was formed out of the side of Adam so Christ’s bride would be formed by that which flowed out of Christ’s side! The word of God makes this link between Adam and Christ very clear because in that same chapter 5 of Ephesians Paul quotes Adam’s words about Eve and applies them to Christ and the church, “For we are members of His body, of His flesh, and of His bones.” (Verse 30). Paul then goes on to quote another statement in Genesis that followed the creation of Eve, and again applies them to Christ and His church in a most remarkable way: “For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh,” but then Paul amazingly adds this, “This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church.” (Ephesians 5:31-32).
God’s eternal purpose from the beginning, to create a bride for His Son is made clear from these verses. All things were created for Him, and an essential part of that purpose was to provide a bride for the Lamb of God – eternally! The word was with God in the beginning, and God had planned from before the foundation of the world to provide His Son with a bride!
And in the final chapters of the Bible, we read about the fulfilment of this eternal purpose where it says, “Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to Him: for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His wife has made herself ready. And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteous acts of saints. And he said unto me, ‘Write, Blessed are they who are called unto the marriage supper of the Lamb.’” (Rev.19:7-9)
In Revelation chapter 21, John writes this, “And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband… And there came unto me one of the seven angels… and talked with me, saying, ‘Come here, I will show you the bride, the Lamb’s wife.’ And he… showed me that great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God, having the glory of God: and its radiance was like unto a stone most precious…And I saw no temple in it: for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple of it. And the city had no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it: for the glory of God is its light, and the Lamb is its lamp.” (Revelation 21:2, 9-11, 22, 23).
We know that the church is the dwelling place of God through the Spirit and that Christ has conveyed His glory to His people (Eph.2:21,22; 2 Cor.3:18). And now in Revelation chapter 21, the church is described as a bride prepared for her husband and as the New Jerusalem, in which the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb dwell!
In the beginning the Father and Son shared glory together, and now ‘at the end’, we see that God and the Lamb are the temple and the light of the New Jerusalem.
The Bible concludes with the marriage of the Lamb as the last great event to take place – an event designed by God from before the foundation of the world. In other words, the creation of the world had as one of its chief purposes to provide a bride for the Lamb of God. This bride, the New Jerusalem, was also to be the habitation of the Father and the Son. It’s no wonder that the scriptures says that ‘here we have no continuing city, but we seek one to come’! (Heb. 13:14).
In all this, the utterly unique divinity of Jesus Christ is clear beyond comparison!
THE LAMB SLAIN FROM THE FOUNDATION OF THE WORLD.
But how would God prepare a bride for His Son?
Because of sin, as we have seen, God offered His own Son for our redemption.
There is an expression in the Bible that wonderfully reveals to us that the Father and the Son had from before the foundation of the world made provision for men and women to be made like unto the Son of God, and that such a people would constitute His church, and be the habitation of God. Peter says this about Jesus the Lamb of God, “Who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you.” (1 Peter 1:20). The apostle John goes one step further in revelation saying the following, “And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship Him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.” (Revelation 13:8).
Before the foundation of the world the Father had already been prepared to offer His Son for our redemption and salvation, and the Son had already offered Himself for this same purpose! This disposition of self-sacrifice was already there in the divine will and nature from the beginning. There was a ‘cross’ in the very disposition of divinity before there ever was a wooden one on Golgotha. In fact, self-sacrifice is intrinsic to the divine disposition. “Except a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it abides alone: but if it dies, it brings forth much fruit.” (John 12:24). From the beginning, the Father and Son, had, in accordance with their self-sacrificing nature, planned to bring forth much life out of the offering and death of the Son.
Abraham prophetically spoke about Jesus to his son Isaac when he said, “God will provide Himself a lamb…” (Gen. 22:8). This was not just a reference to God providing a substitute for Isaac, but more significantly and fundamentally it was a reference to Christ Jesus who was fore-ordained as the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world to bring eternal life to men and women! The word of God reveals the extent of God’s love to us by telling us that we were chosen in Christ before the foundation of the world!
Why was He slain? Because there was no other way to bring sons to glory. The Son of God had to become the Son of man – “For it became Him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings.” (Hebrews 2:10). The word became flesh. The whole of the New Testament testifies to this, that Jesus Christ had to become the Son of man so that He could save us from the stain and power of sin and from the power of darkness and of the devil (Phil. 2:5 -11; Heb.2:5 -18; 1 John 3:5 – 9). He could only do this through His death on the cross – there was no other way (Luke 22:42). Consider this – no one but God could bear our sin and defeat its power and destroy the devil’s power. No created angel, no ‘higher’ angel, no one but God. The only blood that can cleanse and save you from sin is the blood of the Lamb who sits on the throne with His Father, worshipped by all of heaven and earth!
God wanted to bring sons to glory to be with Him forever. This is His eternal purpose through the Gospel, that we should be born of God.
All these truths that we have been considering regarding our salvation were already settled in the will and purpose of the Father and the Son right from the beginning. There is a wonderful passage in the book of proverbs where it is speaking of ‘wisdom’ but is clearly a reference to Jesus Christ as God’s Son,
“The LORD possessed me in the beginning of His way, before His works of old. I was set up from everlasting, from the beginning, before the earth was. When there were no depths, I was brought forth; when there were no fountains abounding with water. Before the mountains were settled, before the hills was I brought forth: While as yet He had not made the earth, nor the fields, nor the first of the dust of the world. When He prepared the heavens, I was there: when He drew a circle upon the face of the depth: When He established the clouds above: when He strengthened the fountains of the deep: When He gave to the sea His decree, that the waters should not pass His command: when He appointed the foundations of the earth: Then I was by Him, like a master workman: and I was daily His delight, rejoicing always before Him.” (Proverbs 8:22-30).
This summarises all the scriptures we have been looking at. That He was ‘brought forth’ is saying no more than He is the ‘only begotten of the Father’. Whatever other part of this text that people may wish to quote, or conclusions they may wish to draw from it, let us note that is says that He was ‘set up’ from everlasting. This is the language used in reference to God in the Psalms, “Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever you had formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, you are God.” (Psalm 90:2). Let us also note this wonderful truth that from everlasting, the Son was the Father’s delight. From everlasting, the Father was the Son’s joy!
© David Stamen 2020