Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
Recently I began a new series on the Lord Jesus Christ. In this series we are examining what about Him is so amazing. Last month we began by answering the question from a biblical perspective, “How long has Jesus existed?” We saw that God’s Word teaches that Jesus has eternally existed. He had no beginning, and He will have no end. About who else can this be said? Angels? No, they were created. Human beings? They also had a beginning. It is very clear that this can be said only of God Himself. Only God is eternal in the complete sense of the word. This next question is a logical follow-up to the previous one: “Is Jesus God?” If Jesus is truly eternal, then this second question must be answered in the affirmative.
The biblical doctrine of the deity of Jesus Christ—that He is God—has been under attack since the early centuries of the Church. Unbelievers today will accept Jesus as a good man, a great moral teacher, a prophet, or a philosopher, but they will deny that He is truly God. The cults today, including Jehovah’s Witness and Mormonism, may declare Jesus to be the Son of God, but they will boldly declare that Jesus is not God. K. Scott Oliphint in Know Why You Believe, points out, “In the nineteenth century, a movement developed that was often called ‘The Quest for the Historical Jesus.’ This movement was an attempt to discover and write about the life of Jesus from a purely naturalistic point of view. In other words, the life of Jesus could have nothing supernatural about it. David F. Strauss, to use just one example, wrote The Life of Jesus. In this work, he made his startling point clear. He wanted to get to a ‘historical’ understanding of Jesus by rejecting any supernatural elements or stories about him. He considered all supernatural references to Jesus as myth. He wanted to write about a Jesus who was nothing more than a historical, even if influential, person. Strauss wanted to promote Jesus who lived ‘one solitary life.’ No matter how impressive and influential that life might be, it doesn’t seem to be worthy of our worship. The ‘historical’ Jesus was not God. He performed no miracles. Any reference to him that went beyond the natural was deleted from his life. Because Strauss decided he would include nothing but the natural, his only conclusion would have to be a ‘natural’ Jesus, a Jesus who was as ‘natural’ as we are” (p. 56).
Is this all that Jesus is? An exalted man? Or is He truly God? What does the Word of God teach?
He is called “God” (Isa. 9:6; Matt. 1:23; John 1:1; 20:28; Phil. 2:5-6; I Tim. 3:16; Tit. 2:13; Heb. 1:8; I John 5:20).
He possesses attributes which belong only to God (eternal—Mic. 5:2; Isa. 9:6; omnipresent—Matt. 18;20; 28:20; unchangeable—Heb. 13:8; omniscient—John 2:24-25; omnipotent—Phil. 3:20-21; holy—Acts 3:14).
He performs works which only God can do (creation of the universe—John 1:3, 10; sustaining the universe—Col. 1:17; Heb. 1:3; forgiveness of sin—Mark 2:5-7; giver of eternal life—John 10:28; judgment of the world—Matt. 25:31-46; John 5:22, 27; raising the dead—John 5:21, 28-29; 11:25-26; direction of history—Heb. 1:2; building and maintaining the Church—Matt. 16:18; Eph. 4:7-16; answering prayer—John 14:14).
He receives worship which only God can rightly receive (He received and demanded worship—Matt. 14:31-33; John 5:23; Phil. 2:9-11; Heb. 1:6; Rev. 5:8; angels and men refused it—Acts 10:25-26; 14:11-15; Rev. 19:10; 22:8-9; men are punished for receiving it—Acts 12:20-23; God alone is to be worshiped—Matt. 4:8-10).
He makes claims which can only be true of God (absolute authority over Law, temple, sabbath, and king-dom—Matt. 5:21-22, 27-28, 31-32, 33-34, 38-39; 43-44; 11:28; 12:8; 16:19; object of saving faith--John 10:30; 14:1; 17:3).
The former atheist, C. S. Lewis, stated it so well: “… 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 a 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” (preachingpoints.com, 10/23/09). A Jesus who is less than God is not the Jesus of the Bible. This leaves us only one option: “fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God”
Because of His Grace—Pastor Charlie