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The Deity of Jesus Christ
The subject of the deity of Jesus Christ is not just an academic issue. If Jesus Christ is not the Son of God, equal with the Father, then Christianity’s special significance crumbles. The deity of Jesus Christ is vital to all that He did. If He is not the unique Son of God, equal with the Father, then His work at Calvary loses its redemptive significance. “To deny the deity of Jesus demotes the Son of God to the level of ordinary men. He was truly a great Teacher, He performed great miracles, He lived a great life; but He was more than a teacher or miracle-worker; He was God in flesh.”
The doctrine of the deity of Jesus Christ states that Jesus possesses all the divine attributes of God. These special characteristics include His omnipotence, omniscience, omnipresence, immutability, and eternality. “The attributes of God the Father are those distinguishing characteristics of the nature of God which are inseparable from the idea of deity and which contribute the basis and ground for His various manifestations to His creatures.” This is why Jesus was able to say, “He that hath seen me hath seen the Father” (John 14:9).
Omnipotence is a word which the American Heritage Dictionary defines as “having unlimited power or authority.” John 5:19 states, “The Son can do nothing of himself, but what He sees the Father do; for whatever He does, the Son also does in like manner.” “During Christ’s ministry on earth, He subjected Himself to the will of God, and though done in the power of the Spirit, His miracles are cited as proof of His deity.”
Omniscience is having total knowledge, knowing everything.” Jesus knew the history of the Samaritan woman (John 4:29), the thoughts of men (Luke 6:8, 11:17), and the one who would betray him (John 6:70). John 2:24-25 reads, “… because he knew all men, and needed not that any should testify of man; for he knew what was in man.” Jesus knew the secret thoughts and the hearts of men. The Samaritan woman, after her conversation with Jesus, in speaking to the men of the city, related, “Come, see a man, who told me all things that ever I did. Is not this the Christ?” Jesus had access to all information. But in keeping with His role as Son of Man He denied Himself certain divine prerogatives, exclusive rights and privileges that belong to God alone, which caused Him to rely on the Father during His earthly life. We should not be misled to think Jesus was a mere man because He often stated that the Father revealed things to Him (John 12:49-50). If the Father temporarily withheld information from Him it was so that Jesus could fulfill His role as Savior and friend to His people (John 15:15).
Christ is also omnipresent, as He declared in Matthew 18:20, “For where two or three are gathered together in My name, there am I in the midst of them,” and Matthew 28:20, “… and, lo, I am with you always….” “He was in heaven while on earth (John 3:13) and is on earth while he is in heaven (Matthew 18:20, 28:20). He fills all (Ephesians 1:23).”
He is also immutable and eternal. God never changes. Christ’s divine characteristics are eternal. In His Incarnation He added human flesh to become the perfect Savior. “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, and today, and forever” (Hebrews 13:8). Before He took on flesh He existed eternally, “And now, O Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world was” (John 17:5).
Not only did Jesus possess the divine attributes, but He also occupied divine offices which only God Himself could fill. “For instance, creation and the preservation of that which is created, the forgiveness of sins, raising the dead, giving eternal life to believers, divine judgment.” Colossians 1:16-17, “For by Him were all things created,” and Hebrews 1:2, “… upholding all things by the word of His power”, speak of His divine office of Creator. Jesus had power to forgive sins (Matthew 9:6): “But that you may know that the Son of Man has power on earth to forgive sins”—then He said to the paralytic, “Arise, take up your bed, and go to your house.” He is the author of eternal life: “And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand” (John 10:28). He is resurrection to life (John 11:25): “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me though he may die, he shall live.” And He is the judge with the divine right to pass judgment on all (2 Timothy 4:1-2): “I charge you therefore before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, who will judge the living and the dead at His appearing and His kingdom. Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching.”
The use of divine names for Jesus also proves the deity of Christ. “And his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, the Everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6). “Christ is called Wonderful because He is so. God the Father never gave His Son a name which he did not deserve.” In John 8:58, Jesus takes the name of the Jehovah God of the Old Testament, “Before Abraham was, I Am.” The unbelieving Jewish leaders present understood what He said and regarded it as blasphemy.
The name we most often use, Jesus, means Savior or salvation. Joseph was told in Matthew 1:21, “And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for He will save his people from their sins.” It was important that the Son be given a divine name at His birth. “Christ” was His kingly title, and “Lord” means master. “Lord” is also the New Testament name for the Old Testament name for “Jehovah”. “The preeminent name during the days of the flesh was Jesus; during His high-priestly ministry, it is Christ, and during His messianic reign, it will be Lord. Hence, his prophetic ministry is suggested by the name Jesus; His high-priestly office is suggested by His divine title, Christ; His kingly office is suggested by his name, or title, Lord.” And in Matthew 1:23 He is called Immanuel: “According to Hebrew usage the name does not represent a title but a characterization, as in Isaiah 1:26 and 9:6. The name “Immanuel” shows that He really was “God with us.” Thus the deity of Christ is stressed at the beginning of Matthew.”
Christ was called the Alpha and Omega, the first and the last letters of the Greek alphabet. “These names as applied to Christ suggest that He is the first and the last, the Lord Who is and was and is to come, Jehovah’s eternity.” The use of these various names shows the deity of Christ clearly. “Certainly it would be impossible to couple the name of any finite creature with that of the sovereign God.”
Many Old Testament statements referring to God are applied to Christ Jesus in the New Testament. We could compare Psalm 102:24-27 with Hebrews 1:10-12; Isaiah 40:3-4 with Matthew 3:3; and Psalm 44:22 with Romans 8:36. As an example, in the Old Testament the name “Lord” refers to Jehovah God, and in the New Testament it refers to Christ Jesus, except when the preceding verses or the context of the passage indicate otherwise. “Jehovah, Lord of the Old Testament, and Jesus, Lord of the New Testament are one God.” And finally, as Lawlor summarized in his book When God Became Man, “The writers of Scripture have used every conceivable form of terminology in setting forth the deity of the One Who came down from heaven to take away our sins. The doctrine of Christ’s deity is diffused throughout all the Scriptures, and we should never think of Him or speak of him without remembering this.”
Jesus showed Himself to be Son of God in the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecies concerning the Messiah and God’s Son. The birth, life, death, and resurrection of Christ fulfilled every detail of the prophecy of the Old Testament Scriptures. There are hundreds of Old Testament prophecies that speak about the Messiah that were, or will be, fulfilled in Jesus Christ. Following are fifteen prophecies:
Especially significant are those prophecies that were fulfilled that were beyond Jesus’ possibly manipulative control— Born in Bethlehem Born of a virgin Descended from Judah Descended from Jesse Descended from David Come out of Egypt (as a young child) Be from Nazareth Betrayed by a friend Betrayed for exactly 30 pieces of silver 30 pieces of silver returned 30 pieces used to buy the potter's field No bones broken Pierced with a spear Resurrection
Jesus Himself claimed to be God and allowed men to worship Him. “Had He been a just man, a great teacher, a worker of great miracles, had He not been divine, it would have been blasphemy to allow men to worship Him because God is the only One worthy of worship.” Not once, but many times, Jesus received the worship of men, an act of unspeakable blasphemy if Jesus was not divine, a shocking violation of the first commandment if he was not Son of God as claimed to be. John 8:58 records Jesus saying, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, before Abraham was, I AM,” and John 14:6-7, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No man comes to the Father except through Me. If you had known Me, you would have known my Father also; and from now on you know Him, and have seen Him.”
Jesus claimed His deity in many other passages in Scripture. A few of those passages follow: John 6:47—“He who believes in Me has everlasting life.”
John 8:12—“I am the light of the world He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.”
John 8:19—If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also.”
John 8:23—“You are from beneath; I am from above. You are of this world; I am not of this world.”
John 8:42—“If God were your Father, you would love Me, for I proceeded forth and came from God; nor have I come of Myself, but He sent Me.”
John 10:7—“Most assuredly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep.”
John 10:30—“I and My Father are one.”
John 10:36—“I am the Son of God.” The gospels are filled with Jesus’ claims to deity. There is no doubt that Jesus claimed equality with God the Father.
The world must know there are only two options. Jesus is the Son of God, equal with the Father, or He is a blasphemer. Scofield frames it well: “Either Jesus was the Son of God or He, the only sinless Being of Whom any record has come down to man, was a conscious imposter, a blasphemous wretch or a deluded enthusiast. That a sinless Being would consciously, deliberately commit the most flagrant of all sins in the violation of the First Commandment, “Thou shall have none other gods before me” (Deuteronomy 5:7), could be explained only on the ground of insanity.”
The deity of Christ is central to Christianity. The witnesses to His deity are many: “History declares His deity. Prophecy accents His deity. Christianity testifies of His deity. Philosophy reasons of His deity. Literature writes about His deity. And music sings of His deity.” And this writer adds that the honest human heart longs for His deity. For without a divine Savior there is no redemption! The Christian’s redemptive hope rests in the personal involvement of God Himself in our salvation. We can rely on the Son of God and His work, we do not have to do it ourselves!
Oliver B. Greene, The Face of Jesus (Greenville: Gospel Hour, 1966), p. 82.
Tom Malone, “How I Know Jesus Christ Is the Son of God.” Great Preaching on the Deity of Christ. Ed. Curtis Hutson (Murfreesboro: Sword of the Lord Publishers, 1986), p. 51.
Henry C. Thiessen, Lectures in Systematic Theology (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1979), p. 93. Thiessen, p. 92. Greene, p. 66.
Charles H. Spurgeon, “His Name—Wonderful.” Great Preaching on the Deity of Christ. Ed. Curtis Hutson (Murfreesboro: Sword of the Lord Publishers, 1986), p. 197.
J. E. Cobb, Brief Studies in Christian Doctrine (Little Rock: Baptist Publications Committee), p. 102.
C. I. Scofield, New Scofield Reference Bible (New York: Oxford University Press, 1967), Matthew 1:23 note. Cobb, p. 102. Greene, p. 79. Greene, p. 76. George Lawlor, When God Became Man (Chicago: Moody Press, 1978), p. 65. Greene, p. 80.
C. I. Scofield, “The Deity of Jesus Christ.” Great Preaching on the Deity of Christ. Ed. Curtis Hutson (Murfreesboro: Sword of the Lord Publishers, 1986), p. 144.
Raymond W. Barber, “The Deity of Christ: Is Jesus God?” Great Preaching on the Deity of Christ Ed. Curtis Hutson (Murfreesboro: Sword of the Lord Publishers, 1986), p. 235.
Cobbs, J. E. Brief Studies in Christian Doctrine. Little Rock: Baptist Publication Committee.
Greene, Oliver B. The Face of Jesus. Greenville: Gospel Hour, 1966.
Hutson, Curtis, Editor. Great Preaching on the Deity of Christ. Murfreesboro: Sword of the Lord Publishers, 1986.
Lawlor, George. When God Became Man. Chicago: Moody Press, 1978.
Scofield, C. I. New Scofield Reference Bible. New York: Oxford University Press, 1967.
Thiessen, Henry C. Lectures in Systematic Theology. Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1979.