P.O. Box 50734
Pasadena, CA. 91115
FEAST OF TABERNACLES
AT SQUAW VALLEY, CA
September 23-30, 2010
The Deity Of Jesus
In the late 1980's, a group of ministers, executives and college faculty members assembled in Pasadena. The main topic was a "One God" theory. It proposed that Jesus was never in the past and is not now Deity and that he did not exist prior to his birth as a human being.
Few had any chance to study into the matter before hand. Therefore, only a few of those attending had any contradictory comments. One was Dr. Ernest Martin and the other was Dr. Philip Arnold. Ernest Martin commented that there was no question regarding the deity of Jesus Christ and that he existed prior to his human birth according to Paul's writings.
Dr. Philip Arnold, professor of religion at Rice University in Houston, commented that the "one God" presentation had to "explain away too many plain New Testament passages."
Since then, I have listened to, read and studied the arguments of the "One God" presenters or as I have renamed their theory: "Jesus Is Not God." The purpose of Guardian Ministries is to "guard the treasure" of the New Testament - the "truth of the Gospel." After considerable study and analysis I have presented a 13-sermon series in answer to these arguments. I give here a short synopsis of some of the main points. The entire series is being made available - see the end of this article for details.
About arguments: Once an argument is defined, it is half won. For instance, the "One God" proponents state: God cannot die. Therefore, since Jesus died, He cannot be "God."
Another definition is that God is one -- meaning only one person. Since God can only be one person, then only the "Father" can be God and Jesus cannot be. They argue that Jesus did not call himself God and if he were God why didn't he tell people that he was God? But in the synoptic gospels, especially Luke, he doesn't refer to himself as "Lord" either. Also, Jesus tends to avoid referring to himself as the messiah as well. He mostly uses the title "son of man."
The New Testament is very cautious to avoid any hint of polytheism. There is only one God - the Old Testaments says so, and Jesus said so (Mark 12:29-30). But, the man Jesus is a unique man. He was a sinless man according to the New Testament (1 Pet. 2:22-24; 1John 3:5; 2Cor. 5:21). But, according the both Old and New Testament passages, no human person can be sinless (Ecc. 7:20; Psa. 130:3; Prov. 20:9). "All have sinned and come short of the glory of God (Rom. 5:12). Remember also, "If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us"(1 John 1:8).
Here is an interesting passage that opponents to the deity of Jesus quote. A man came to Jesus and said, "Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life? And he said unto him, Why callest thou me good? There is none good but one, that is, God: but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments." They place great weight on the fact that Jesus wouldn't even call himself "good". But was He good? Of course he was and many N.T. passages show that Jesus used the same Greek word for "good" to refer to other men and things.
But, those who quote this passage to say that Jesus rebuked a man for calling him "good" pass right over the statement of Thomas in the Gospel of John when he said to Jesus, "My Lord and my God." John records no comment from Jesus. Now, why not rebuke Thomas right there and then? "Hey, Thomas, don't call me God. I don't even let men call me "good" let alone call me "God." You've just committed blasphemy!" In the Book of Revelation on two occasions when John was overwhelmed with what he saw and bowed before an angel, he was told to worship God only. See Rev. 19:10 and 22:9.
The N.T. definitely shows a much greater reverence, exaltation and praise for the risen Christ than for the flesh and blood Christ. Jesus did not want anyone to look on flesh and blood as "God."
CAN'T USE "ELOHIM": The proponents the "one God" theory are correct when they assert that the word "Elohim" cannot be used to prove that God is more than one person. However, elohim is used to mean more that one god -- "You shall have no other gods (elohim) before me." And it is used also in the plural for angels and judges. But when speaking of the One God it is mostly used with singular verbs. However, there a number of passages where it is used with a plural verb as well. See Genesis 20:13; 35:7; 2 Sam. 7:23; Psalm 58:11. These, however, are in the minority. However, there is a perfectly good word for God in the singular -- Eloha-- and it is used in a number of passages such as Deut. 32:15-17 and Hab. 3:3.
If God (Elohim, the plural of Eloha) cannot be more than one person why not use the singular word Eloha? One frustrated Rabbi trying to argue against the Christian faith cried out to God, "Merciful Master, why did you give the Christians so much ammunition?" Thus one cannot state with certainty that Elohim cannot be more than one.
Also, Hebrews 7:3 referring to Melchizedek, cannot be used to prove the Jesus existed before being born of the Virgin Mary. There are just too many difficulties with this passage. See F.F. Bruce's commentary on Hebrews.
But, there are just too many passages in John's Gospel that those who do not believe in the Deity of Jesus attempt to explain away. See John 1:1-14, 18, 30; 3:13; 6:62: 8:58; 10:30; 17:5.
The Time Leading Up To Christ: Ideas of pre-existence flourished among the Jews during the inter-testamental period. There was the idea of the existence of the "Son of God". Many, but particularly Philo's speculations on God's eternal wisdom, fostered it. There were many apocalyptic ideas about the coming of the "Son of Man" who was considered already existing and hidden with God. There were many rabbinic ideas even of the pre-existence of the Torah - God's law - that they believed already existed before it was given. Other ideas of pre-existence were of "paradise" and even the Messiah's name.
Satan usually counterfeits God's truth. So, when John wrote the "prologue" to his gospel, he brought the truth of the pre-existing Word! "And the Word (logos) was God." No such statement was ever made about any of the other "pre-existing" people or things.
THE SON OF GOD: The "God Can Only Be One Person" presenters say that Jesus was the "son" of God but so are we. They point out that angels were called "sons of God", the nation of Israel also and its king. They quote James Brady, "The title Son of God undoubtedly stems from Old Testament texts such as 2 Sam. 7:14f and Psalm 2:7, in its association with the Davidic King."
In other words, they imply that the title "Son of God" as applied to Jesus is no more than applied to angels, Israelites or the king of Israel. Please note that when the Bible talks about Jesus it calls Him "THE" Son of God with the definite article. The rest of us are referred to as "sons of God" or "a son of God" or merely as "sons". So, what does the N.T. say about "the Son of God"?
Consider Some Powerful Passages: Read here some of the N.T. passages: "Who is he that overcomes the world, but he that believes that Jesus is the Son of God?" (1John 5:5). "He that believes on the Son of God has the witness in himself: he that believes not God has made him a liar; because he believes not the record that God gave his Son" (1John 5:10).
Do these passages make you think that being the Son of God is light or trivial? You can't be saved unless you believe Jesus is the Son of God. But some would say that we are all "sons of God" and that this designation does not elevate Christ to any major exalted position and certainly not to deity itself!
Really? Read this: "He that has the Son has life; and he that has not the Son of God has not life" (1John 5:12). How important is the Son of God?
"These things I have written to you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may believe on the name of the Son of God" (1John 5:13).
Speaking of converted Christians we read: "If they shall fall away, it is impossible to renew them again to repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh and put him to an open shame" (Heb. 6:6). "Of how much sorer punishment, do you suppose, shall he be thought worthy, who has trodden under foot the Son of God, and has counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and has done despite to the Spirit of grace?" (Heb. 10:29).
"And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts crying, Abba, (which means) Father" (Gal. 4:6). Notice that it is the Spirit of Christ in us that allows us to call God our Father!! Our sonship depends upon Jesus' unique sonship!!
"God is faithful, by who you were called into the fellowship of His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord" (1Cor. 1:9). Conversion, coming to God is really being called into the fellowship of our Lord Jesus Christ!!!
"As the Son, He is the image of God from the beginning…" (Col. 1:15-18). And we are predestined to be conformed to the image of the Son (Rom. 8:29). "And when all things shall be subdued to him, then shall the Son also himself be subject to him that put all things under him that God may be all and in all" (1Cor. 15:28). Herein lies the key to all the N.T. It is only meaningful to speak of the Son in view of God's revelatory action. For this reason Father and Son are really one in this activity.
God and Lord: The New Testament (especially Paul's writings) refers to "God the Father" and to "the Lord Jesus Christ." In many O.T. passages we find the words "LORD God" or "Lord GOD", but Paul does not use these two words together. Almost always, "God" is God the Father and "Lord" is the Lord Jesus Christ. Some have insisted that this passage (1Cor. 8:6) is proof that Jesus is not God. Now, if Jesus is not "God" then the Father is not "Lord." But, in my sermons, I show how the N.T. gradually brings the Father and Son together and blurs the distinction between them.
THE WORSHIP OF JESUS: Worship of Jesus began in the earliest Palestinian Jewish Christianity the evidence shows. In the earliest Christian community Jesus was already understood to be at God's right hand in heaven, risen from the dead, and active in the Church by His Spirit, and coming in the future as king, ruler and judge of the world.
He was God's end time revelation and the source of our final salvation as well as the source of the enthusiasm of the Spirit that was present in the Christian worship services. He was and is the focus of all Christian relationship, through Him, to God.
Psalms and hymns celebrating His exaltation by God and God's work of salvation through Him were sung and composed from the earliest times. Acclamations and prayers addressed to Jesus go back also to the earliest times. For instance we have the Aramaic cry: Marantha (Our Lord, come!) (1Cor. 16:22; Rev. 22:20). This was preserved in Aramaic in the Greek speaking churches, which indicates its very early origin and shows the expectation of His appearing as well as our present religious relationship with the one who is to come.
The NT evidence for personal prayer to Jesus as a regular feature of early Christianity has been very much UNDERESTIMATED and virtually neglected by the "God Can Only Be One Person" proponents.
Paul Prayed To Jesus: Here are a few examples of such prayers: "Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness'" (2 Cor 12:8-9 NIV). Please note that in most all of Paul's writings, "Lord" refers to Jesus Christ and "God" refers to our Father in heaven. For Paul and "for us there is but one God, the Father, from whom all things came and for whom we live; and there is but one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom all things came and through whom we live" (1 Cor 8:6 NIV).
"Now may our God and Father himself and our Lord Jesus clear the way for us to come to you. May the Lord make your love increase and overflow for each other and for everyone else, just as ours does for you. May he strengthen your hearts so that you will be blameless and holy in the presence of our God and Father when our Lord Jesus comes with all his holy ones" (1 Thess 3:11-13 NIV). Note how Paul separates God and Lord. But they overlap in functions.
"May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and by his grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope, encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word" (2 Thess 2:16-17 NIV). Note here that "our Lord Jesus Christ" and "God our Father" are both asked to strengthen us in every good deed and word.
"May the Lord direct your hearts into God's love and Christ's perseverance" (2 Thess 3:5 NIV). Note that the Lord here is probably the Lord Jesus. But He is to direct our hearts into God's love and Christ's endurance. Note how these functions become very indistinguishable.
"Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times and in every way. The Lord be with all of you" (2 Thess 3:16 NIV). "The grace of our Lord Jesus be with you." (Rom 16:20). Jesus is the Lord of peace. Is that Jesus or the Father. When Paul says, "The Lord be with all of you" is he excluding the Father?? Do you see how many problems we get into when we try to be too technical in separating Christ and the Father?
Stephen prayed to Jesus: "And they stoned Stephen, calling upon, and saying, Lord Jesus, receive my spirit. And he kneeled down, and cried with a loud voice, Lord, lay not this sin to their charge. And when he had said this, he fell asleep" (Acts 7:59-60). To call on the name of the Lord Jesus is what it means to be a Christian. "…called to be saints, with all that in every place call upon the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs and ours" (1 Cor 1:2).
YHWH and the Lord Jesus: "For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed" (Rom. 10:11). This appears to be a quote from Isaiah 49:23 that refers to those who wait on YHWH will not be put to shame. Is Paul applying a YHWH passage to Jesus Christ the risen Lord? It appears he is.
Paul writes, "For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him. For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved" (Rom 10:12-13). This passage is quoted in Acts 2:21 referring to the Lord Jesus and belief in Him. But it is a quote from Joel 2:32 which reads, "And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the LORD (YHWH) shall be delivered: for in mount Zion and in Jerusalem shall be deliverance, as the LORD (YHWH) hath said, and in the remnant whom the LORD (YHWH) shall call."
Both Paul and Luke took this passage that referring to YHWH and applied it to Jesus!! In the O.T. people called on YHWH. See Psalm 17:1. But the N.T. talks of calling upon the Lord (Jesus). See Acts 9:14,21; 22:16; 2 Tim. 2:22.
Who can be worshipped but God? He does not share His glory with another. Jesus has to be equal with God in order to accept the worship and praise given to Him (Phi. 2:6-9).
In the Form of God: Philippians 2:6-9 is a most power passage. Most scholars believe that Paul was quoting a hymn already sung in the early church. The phrase "being in the form of God" has been explained away by those who believe God can only be one person. They say, "The text does not say he was God." In other words he was in the form of God but not God.
But, to be fair, we have to consider the rest of the passage. We see that he emptied himself and took the "form of a servant (slave)." Now, was Jesus the "servant" of God or was he just in the form of a servant but not really a servant? On the night he was betrayed he said, "I am among you as he that serves." The book of Acts refers to Jesus as "servant." If "in the form of God" does not mean he was equal with God, then "in the form of a servant" does not mean he was a servant! The Greek words, "in the form of," are the same!!
In the series of sermons on The Deity of Jesus", the "Logos" argument is thoroughly gone into as well as the "I am" passages of the book of John and much more.
If you want a comprehensive, well-researched series of sermons on this important subject, you may write to Guardian Ministries, P.O. Box 50734, Pasadena, CA 91115. Because this series is so expensive to produce and ship, we are asking from those who can afford it, a tax-deductible donation of any amount. But, if you cannot afford to donate but want this series, we will send it to you. Thank you for your interest in the truth of God's Word.
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