Archive for December 24th, 2009

Jesus is God

Soon many Christians of the world will celebrate Epiphany (“appearance” of Christ and visitation of the Wise Men, January 6th).  But to whom were these Magi coming, a mere peasant or the forsaken descendent of a long defunct dynasty?  If the New Testament is to be believed He was and is much more.  My last article demonstrated in part the external, pre-Nicean and internal, scriptural evidence for the New Testament’s reliability.  The presence of each of the 27 books and the absence of others (particularly late, Gnostic writings) is valid apart from accusations that the Council of Nicea and emperor Constantine contrived it. The same Scripture and pre-Nicean church fathers present a clear and strong case for who Jesus is.

          Following are quotes of church fathers from AD 105 to AD 305.1 Recall that the Council of Nicea occurred in AD 325.

   “God himself was manifested in human form.” (Ignatius)

  “It is fitting that you should think of Jesus Christ as God.” (Clement)

“The Father of the universe has a Son. And he… is even God.” (Justin Martyr)

“He is God, for the name Emmanuel indicates this.” (Irenaeus)

“…Christ our God.” (Tertullian)

“No one should be offended that the Savior is also God” (Origen)

“…He is not only man, but God also…” (Novatian)

“Jesus Christ, our Lord and God” (Cyprian)

“…He truly was and is… with God, and being God…” (Methodius)

“We believe him to be God.” (Lactantius)

“Christ performed all those miracles…the…duty of Divinity.” (Arnobious)

Polycarp, disciple of the apostle John who “was not only instructed by apostles, and conversed with many who had seen Christ”, wrote in his Letter to the Philippians (not the book in the Bible, this having been written between AD 120-140), “to all those under heaven who will yet believe in our Lord and God Jesus Christ and in his Father who raised him from the dead.”  Polycarp was burned at the stake in AD 155 affirming his belief in Christ as his Savior.  These men were not no-names or cronies from a political party.  They were leaders in their churches, different nationalities and generations (independent sources), who affirmed that Jesus is God. 

          How could they do otherwise and be truthful?  The New Testament gives abundant testimony to the nature of Christ as both fully man and fully God.  The most clearly attested New Testament books, the Gospels, record Jesus’ declarations of who He is. “So the Jews said to Him, ‘You are not yet fifty years old, and have You seen Abraham?’  Jesus said to them, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was born, I am.’  Therefore they picked up stones to throw at Him…” (John 8:57-59).  The strongest evidence that this clearly is a declaration of deity by Jesus was given by the Jews who attempted to stone Him. They rightly understood that Jesus was declaring Himself to be the “I AM” of Exodus 3:14 and proceeded to execute the judgment of “anyone who blasphemes the name of the LORD must be put to death” (Leviticus 24:16).  Jesus also said, “I and the Father are one” (John 10:30).  On another occasion Jesus said to His disciple, “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 14:9).  These two declarations of unity with the Father do not mean similarity but congruence of essence and nature.  But why doesn’t Jesus just say He is God?  The reason is clear.  Jesus says of Himself, “If I glorify Myself, My glory is nothing; it is My Father who glorifies Me of whom you say, ‘He is our God’;” (John 8:54).  Jesus is giving more than enough information for anyone who hears Him to believe that He is claiming to be God and backs it up with miracles and fulfilled prophecy.  But “The Jews gathered around Him, saying, ‘How long will you keep us in suspense?  If you are the Christ, tell us plainly.’  Jesus answered, ‘I did tell you, but you do not believe.  The miracles I do in my Father’s name speak for me.’” (John 10:24-25).  What a privilege I have to begin the New Year with the declaration that Jesus is my God and Savior.  What a good time for Him to become yours.

1A Dictionary of Early Christian Beliefs, editor David Bercot, 1998.

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