Wednesday, August 31, 2016

THE DEITY OF JESUS: An Article & Resources

"I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept his claim to be God. That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic—on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg—or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse. You can shut him up for a fool, you can spit at him and kill him as a demon or you can fall at his feet and call him Lord and God, but let us not come with any patronising nonsense about his being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to. . . . Now it seems to me obvious that He was neither a lunatic nor a fiend: and consequently, however strange or terrifying or unlikely it may seem, I have to accept the view that He was and is God. 

-C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity, pages 55-56
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Perhaps the most important thing that we can learn from the Scripture is that Jesus is God. If you don't understand that, you will not understand what it means to have a relationship with Christ and to serve him as Lord. Nor will you understand the greatness of his love that he created us and then after we rejected him and caused immeasurable pain to him and his creation, he himself came and died for us.

It seems to me that it is because Satan does not want Christ to be worshiped, served and loved in this way that every cult denies that Jesus is God. Therefore, having a clear understanding of how the Scriptures reveal this truth is of utmost importance for those who seek to reach those lost in the cults.

The study that follows here will also be of help to those who have been led to believe that the idea that Jesus is God was invented in the 2nd, 3rd or 4th Centuries. It is clearly woven in to the very fabric of the New Testament. The following is an extensive list of ways in which that is revealed in the New Testament, but much more could be said.

What follows has been adapted from my article: "How to Witness to 'Jehovah's Witnesses'":

Note: Scripture links will take you to the New International Version (NIV) at Blue Letter Bible.

JESUS IS GOD
The Bible explicitly declares that Jesus is God. The following verses are a few of the most explicit references: John 1:1 & 185:18; 10:33Philippians 2:5-6Colossians 2:9Titus 2:13and 2 Peter 1:1.


JESUS IS YAHWEH
Perhaps even more significant is the way in which the New Testament writers frequently take Old Testament passages that are speaking of Yahweh and apply them to Jesus. This makes it very clear that when the say that Jesus is God they mean Yahweh: the personal God of the Old Testament, who created the universe and revealed himself through the prophets of Israel. Below are several very clear examples:

a. Jesus is called "Lord" and "the Lord" throughout the New Testament. For a Jew, this was the Greek equivalent of Yahweh, which is why in the Old Testament you will find "LORD" in all caps. Translators have used this designation wherever the original Hebrew has the name Yahweh (which the ancient Jews replaced with the Greek word kurios or "Lord").
b. John 12:39-41 
says: "For this reason they could not believe, because, as Isaiah says elsewhere: 'He has blinded their eyes and hardened their hearts, so they can neither see with their eyes, nor understand with their hearts, nor turn—and I would heal them.” Isaiah said this because he saw Jesus’ glory and spoke about him." Where did Isaiah say that God would blind some peoples' eyes lest they see, turn and be healed? In Isaiah 6:10. Whose glory did Isaiah see in Isaiah 6? He saw the LORD (Yahweh) high and lifted up and the seraphim declaring that the whole earth is full of his glory! (Isaiah 6:1-5)
c. Malachi 3:1 says: "“Behold, I am going to send My messenger, and he will clear the way before Me. And the Lord, whom you seek, will suddenly come to His temple; and the messenger of the covenant, in whom you delight, behold, He is coming,” says the LORD [Yahweh] of hosts." And Isaiah 40:3-5: "A voice is calling,“Clear the way for the LORD [Yahweh]in the wilderness; Make smooth in the desert a highway for our God...." (v.3) The Gospels clearly apply these verses to John the Baptist preparing the way for Jesus (Mark 1:1-3Matthew 3:3Luke 1:763:4-6John 1:23).
d. In Matthew, chapters 26 & 27, we are told that the Jewish leaders paid 30 pieces of silver to Judas for his betrayal of Jesus. When Judas returned the money, it was used to buy a potter's field (Matthew 27:3-7). The Old Testament prophecy in Zechariah 11:12-13 says this: "So they paid me thirty pieces of silver. And the LORD [Yahweh] said to me, 'Throw it to the potter—the handsome price at which they valued me!'"
e. Palms 68:18 says: "When you ascended on high, you took many captives; you received gifts from people, even from the rebellious— that you, LORD [Yahweh] God, might dwell there." Paul paraphrases this verse and applies it to Jesus (Ephesians 4:7-11).
f. Isaiah 8:13-14 says: "The LORD [Yahweh] Almighty is the one you are to regard as holy, he is the one you are to fear, he is the one you are to dread. He will be a holy place; for both Israel and Judah he will be a stone that causes people to stumble and a rock that makes them fall. And for the people of Jerusalem he will be a trap and a snare." Peter says that this stone who causes people to stumble is the same stone that is laid in Zion, and the same stone that was rejected by the builders but became the Cornerstone (1 Peter 2:6-8; compare with Acts 4:11also Matthew 21:42-45Mark 12:10-12and Luke 20:17-19).
g. Zechariah 12:1, 10 says: "....The LORD [Yahweh], who stretches out the heavens, who lays the foundation of the earth, and who forms the human spirit within a person, declares:....They will look on me, the one they have pierced,...." This is applied to Jesus in John 19:36-37.
h. Jeremiah 9:24 says: "....but let the one who boasts boast about this: that they have the understanding to know me, that I am the LORD [Yahweh]...." Paul applies this to Jesus in 1 Corinthians 1:31-2:2.
i. Isaiah 44:6 says: “This is what the LORD [Yahweh] says—Israel’s King and Redeemer, the LORD Almighty: I am the first and I am the last; apart from me there is no God." In Revelation 1:17-18 , Jesus says "I am the first and the last." Also see Revelation 2:8 and Isaiah 48:12.
j. Joel 2:32 says: "And everyone who calls on the name of the LORD [Yahweh] will be saved...." Paul applies this to Jesus in Romans 10:9-13: "If you declare with your mouth, 'Jesus is Lord,' and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved. As Scripture says, 'Anyone who believes in him will never be put to shame.' For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile—the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him, for, 'Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.'"


JESUS HAS ALL THE ATTRIBUTES OF GOD

The following are some of the most essential attributes of God's character and the Bible makes it clear that all of these things that we so rightly attribute to be true only of God are indeed true of Jesus.

a. He is the Creator of all thingsJohn 1:3
1 Corinthians 8:6Colossians 1:16Hebrews 3:1-41:21:8-10
b. He created all things for himself (and not someone else): Colossians 1:16Jesus is the purpose for everything and he owns it all!
c. He controls all things: Hebrews 1:3Colossians 1:17
d. He is eternal: Colossians 1:17Micah 5:2 with Matthew 2:1-6John 8:58Note the importance of the "I am" statements in John and that Jesus says "before Abraham was born I am "--and not "I was."

e. He is unchanging: Hebrews 13:81:8-12
f. He is Omnipresent. He fills everything in every way. He fills the Universe: Ephesians 1:234:10 (compare with Jeremiah 23:23-24); Colossians 3:11.
g. He is wiser than Solomon (Matthew) and the source of all wisdom and knowledge: Matthew 12:42Luke 11:31Colosians 2:3).
h. He forgives people of all their sins: Mark 2:5-7Luke 5:20-217:48-49
i. He himself is sinless: 2 Corinthians 5:211 Peter 2:221 John 3:5; etc.
j. He is "Lord of all": Acts 10:36Romans 10:121 Corinthians 8:6Philippians 2:11 (compare with Isaiah 45:23).

k. He is Lord of the Sabbath (Matthew 12:8). When Jesus declared that he was Lord of the Sabbath, it was no trivial matter. The Sabbath was instituted by God at creation (Genesis 2:2-3), written on stone tablets by God's own finger (Exodus 20:1-17; especially verses 9-11; Deuteronomy 10:4), and an everlasting sign between Yahweh and his people Israel (Exodus 31:12-17). Only Jehovah can be Lord of the Sabbath.
l. He is "Lord of lords": Note how this title is used in the Scripture to declare that God is above all others and then in Revelation 17:14 it is clearly used to speak of Jesus, the Lamb who was slain.
*Deuteronomy 10:17: "For the LORD [Yahweh] your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great, the mighty, and the awesome God, who is not partial and takes no bribe."
*Psalm 136:3: "Give thanks to the Lord of lords, for his steadfast love endures forever."
*1Timothy 6:15: "....which he will display at the proper time—he who is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords,...."
*Revelation 17:14: "They will make war on the Lamb, and the Lamb will conquer them, for he is Lord of lords and King of kings, and those with him are called and chosen and faithful.”
m. He is the Judge of all the earth: Matthew 16:2725:31-462 Corinthians 5:10etc.

n. He is greater than the temple of God: Matthew 12:6This is not a trivial claim. The temple represented the place of God's Presence. Speaking against the temple was the first charge brought against Jesus at his trial (Matthew 26:61 and Mark 14:58; compare with Matthew 27:40 and Mark 15:29). And it was the primary charge brought against Stephen when the Sanhedrin stoned him (Acts 6:13-14).
o. He is worshiped and is worthy of all honor, glory and praise: Matthew 2:1114:3328:928:16-17Luke 24:51-52John 9:35-3920:28Hebrews 1:6Revelation 5:6-14


*CONCLUSION: If Jesus is all of these things but still not God, what is the difference between Jesus and God?


These things can only be said of God and no one else. God is the Creator of all things (Genesis 1Isaiah 45:1844:24); and all things are for him. Only God controls all things. Only God is eternal and omnipresent (Jeremiah 23:23-24). Only God is Lord of all, Judge of all the earth (Genesis 18:25; etc.) and worthy to be worshiped (Revelation 19:9-10Luke 4:8Exodus 34:14Isaiah 42:8). Jesus is all of these. 

The message of Scripture is clear: Jesus is God. And that makes all the difference in the world.


RESOURCES FOR FURTHER STUDY
VIDEOS
*"Did the Historical Jesus Claim to Be Divine?" (47 minutes): A conversation with Mikel Del Rosario, Justin Bass, and Darrell Bock (The Table Podcast at Dallas Theological Seminary)

ARTICLES (& BOOK CHAPTERS)
*DuPond, Christopher. "The Deity of Jesus: A Defense" (a 6-part series). 
    -Part 1:  "Introduction"
    -Part 2: "Jesus Receives Honors Only Due to God"
    -Part 3: "Jesus Shares the Attributes of God"
    -Part 4: "Jesus Shares the Names of God"
    -Part 5: "Jesus Shares the Deeds of God"
    -Part 6: "Jesus Shares the Seat of God"
*"The Deity of Jesus Christ" by R.A.Torrey
*"The Deity of Christ" by B.B. Warfield. This is an essay excerpted from The Fundamentals, edited by R.A. Torrey--a classic 4-volume defense of the faith published between 1910 and 1916.
*"What Is the Deity of Christ?" by J. Gresham Machen
*Geisler & Turek. I Don't Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist. Chapter 13
*Theopedia. "Deity of Jesus"

BOOKS
*Bowman, Robert and J. Ed Komoszewski. Putting Jesus in His Place: The Case for the Deity of Christ.
*Bird, Michael, Craig Evans, Simon Gathercole, Charles Hill and Chris Tilling. How God Became Jesus: A Response to Bart Ehrman.
*Hurtado, Larry. Lord Jesus Christ: Devotion to Jesus in Earliest Christianity.
*Habermas, Gary. The Uniqueness of Jesus Christ, p.22-30. This is a FREE! 50-page ebook.



Maiestas Domini (975 AD)
Image Source: Wiki Art (public domain)

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