Archive for July 6th, 2008

Jesus is God

I was confronted yet again just recently by a new acquaintance we’ll call Bill, “Is Jesus God or not? People have argued about it from early on.”  Yes, they have and it is the very reason the Apostle John,  “the disciple whom He loved” (John 19:26), wrote the book in the Bible called “The First Letter of John”.  He writes, “These things I have written to you concerning those who are trying to deceive you.” (I John 2:26)  So, I want to turn to this little book and say, “See there it says clearly, ‘Jesus is God'”.  Or even better would have been for Jesus to have said I am God.  But it doesn’t and He didn’t.  And so, John  warns us, “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.” (I John 4:1)  Many groups and individuals have denied either Jesus’ Deity or humanity or both: Mormons, Unification Church, Jehovahs’ Witnesses, Muslims, Jews, and Docetists and Gnostics, to name a few.  I mention the two obscure groups at the end because these are the ones John wrote the letter about which the believers should be cautioned.  John would not have used the former term, Docetism, the belief that “the human appearance of Christ is mere illusion and has no objective reality”(F. C. Baur), but he clearly is confronting the idea. This idea denies the humanity of Christ, defining “Christ”as a spirit separate from Jesus that surrounded or hovered about Him after birth and before crucifixion to avoid the ugliness of humanity being connected with God. Since Jesus is the man who suffered on the cross for our sins, it in reality denies Jesus’ Deity.  Gnosticism is a broader term enveloping many dualities of body and spirit including Docetism. Spirit is good and body is evil and so never the twain do meet. 

That the many problems these false views create are still with us is seen by the many ways that Jesus’ simultaneous deity and humanity are written off by modern non-Christian belief systems (only a few of which were named above). So how does John answer them?

He declares Jesus to be “God’s Son” several times (1:3,7; 2:22; 4:15). But is that just an exalted form similar to Jesus referring to resurrected believers as “sons of God” (Luke 20:36) or “sons of Light” (John 12:36). That is, does John declare Jesus to be God or another (albeit exalted, like a firstborn Jewish) son among many?  No, there is a distinction here, “This is the antichrist, the one who denies the Father and the Son.” (I John 2:22)  The Father is God; the Son is God. They go together.  “I and the Father are one,” declared Jesus to the Jews.  This is not similarity or cause and effect but unity, one and the same.  “Philip said to Him, ‘Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us.’ Jesus said to him, ‘ Have I been so long with you, and yet you have not come to know Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father, how can you say, ‘Show us the Father?”” (John 14:8-9)  But Bill replied, “Yes, he is in the Father and the Father is in him but this does not mean that he is God.”  His explanation seemed to mean that they are in agreement but not one in substance.  But Hebrews 1:2-3 says, “His Son… is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature.”  He has the same nature because He is the same substance, fully God. 

John also places the words Jesus and Christ in proximity, equating them in substance. “Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God” (I John 5:1). He does not say that Jesus has the Christ or is clothed in the Christ or functions as the Christ.  He is the Christ.  This “Jesus Christ has come in the flesh” (I John 4:2). Christ is not merely a spirit.  He has flesh; He is human.  The spiritual Christ and the human Christ are inseparable. Jesus suffered on the cross. So did Christ.  “Was it not necessary of the Christ to suffer these things and to enter into His glory?” (Luke 24:26). “But they…thought they were seeing a spirit. And He said to them, …’See My hands and My feet, that it is I Myself; touch Me and see, for a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have'” (Luke 24:37-39).  “He said to them, ‘Thus it is written, that the Christ would suffer and rise again from the dead the third day, and that repentance for forgiveness of sins would be proclaimed in His name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem.'” (Luke 24:46-47).

The leaders of Jews definitely understood what Jesus was declaring when they were “saying, ‘If you are the Christ, tell us.’ But he said to them, ‘If I tell you, you will not believe; and if I ask a question, you will not answer. But from now on the Son of Man will be seated at the right hand of the power of God.’ And they all said, Are You the Son of God, then?’ And He said to them, ‘Yes, I am.’ Then they said, ‘What further need do we have of testimony? For we have heard it ourselves from His own mouth.'” (Luke 22:66-71).  And in another situation “the Jews answered Him, ‘For a good work we do not stone You, but for blasphemy; and because You, being a man, make yourself out to be God'” (John 10:33).

John and the other New Testament writers make a clear case for ‘Jesus is God’ without ever making that statement.  Why not just say it plainly?  Would it have made a difference? “The Jews… were saying to Him, ‘How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Christ, tell us plainly.’ Jesus answered them, ‘I told you , and you do not believe; the works that I do in My Father’s name, these testify of Me. But you do not believe because you are not of My sheep” (John 10:24-26).

Belief is a remedy for this problem.  Believe that Jesus is God and Man and the Savior from sin.  Then you will agree with John’s letter, and oh, have eternal life, too.

Read Full Post »

Overflows from the Heart

"But the things that proceed out of the mouth come from the heart…" Matthew 15:18


Pointing to the One who made, saved, and sustains