Perhaps the most controversial figure in history is Jesus Christ. Have you ever wondered why? In his excellent book, Mere Christianity, 20th century British author C.S. Lewis made this statement:
“I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him (that is, Christ): ‘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 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 up with any patronizing nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.”
This is the source of the controversy concerning the man, Jesus. Was He Messiah? Was the Messiah God?
A verse in the Bible that has been the source of much debate over the last two thousand years is John 1:1:
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
When the Apostle John wrote his Gospel, spiritual wolves had long been infiltrating the congregations of the followers of Jesus Christ. The heretical beliefs of the Gnostics seemed to coalesce in the latter part of the first century. They soon began to intertwine themselves into Jewish synagogues as well as Christian assemblies. Gnostics, who maintained that the body is evil and only the spirit is good, insisted that if Jesus was God, He could not have had a body. According to the Gnostics, Jesus left no footprints when He walked; He didn’t really eat because He didn’t really swallow His food; and when He appeared as a person, He didn’t actually have a physical body.
What was John’s answer?
1 That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, concerning the Word of life, 2 the life was manifested, and we have seen, and bear witness, and declare to you that eternal life which was with the Father and was manifested to us— 3 that which we have seen and heard we declare to you, that you also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ. 4 And these things we write to you that your joy may be full. 1 John 1:1-4
The Gnostic heresy argued that “If Jesus did have a body, He is not God, but rather an emanation from God, an extension of God.” John responded with three proofs that Jesus is indeed God.
- Jesus is eternally God. …In the beginning was the Word…
Whenever the beginning was, wherever it was, whatever it might have been, Jesus—The Word—was already there. He had no beginning, nor does He have an end. He is eternally God.
- Jesus is equally God. …and the Word was with God…
Jesus, the Word, was with God—equal to the Father and the Spirit. You say, ‘I thought there was only one God.’ There is only one God. “Hear O Israel, the Lord our God is one Lord. Deuteronomy 6:4. The word used for “one” in the original language refers to a compound unity, like “one” people, or “one” cluster of grapes. From this we understand that God is a compound unity, a tri-unity”. A good explanation in mathematical terms would be: one plus one plus one does not equal one. But, one times one times one equals one. That is the mystery of the Trinity.
- Jesus is essentially God. …and the Word was God…
In His very essence, Jesus is God. This heresy has continued to this very day. Every belief system, whether it is an American cult or foreign religion that denies that Jesus Christ is God, has essentially taken up the heresy taught by the Gnostics of the first century. The deniers say, ‘the Son of God is not equal with God, nor eternal beside God, or essentially God. He can only be the offspring of God.’ Others will go as far as to say, ‘Jesus is ‘a’ god, but cannot be equal to God.
Let’s look at Revelation 21:6:
And He said to me. “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. I will give of the fountain of the water of life freely to him who thirsts”
Who is the One speaking in this verse? Most anyone would agree that it is definitely God. Now, let’s look at a passage in Revelation 22:
12 “And behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to give to every one according to his work. 13 I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End, the First and the Last. 14 Blessed are those who do His commandments, that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter through the gates into the city. 15 But outside are dogs and sorcerers and sexually immoral and murderers and idolaters, and whoever loves and practices a lie. 16 I, Jesus, have sent My angel to testify to you these things in the churches, “I am the Root and the Offspring of David, the Bright and Morning Star.” Revelation 22:12-16
One more passage speaking to the divinity of Jesus Christ is found in the first chapter of Revelation.
9 “I, John, both your brother and companion in the tribulation and kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ, was on the island that is called Patmos for the word of God and for the testimony of Jesus Christ. 10 I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s Day, and I heard behind me a loud voice, as of a trumpet, 11 saying, “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, and, What you see, write in a book and send to the seven churches which are in Asia, to Ephesus, to Smyrna, to Pergamos, to Thyatira, to Sardis to Philadelphia and to Laodicea.” 12 Then I turned to see the voice that spoke with me. And having turned I saw seven golden lampstands, 13 and in the midst of the seven lampstands, One like the Son of Man, clothed with a garment down to the feet and girded about the chest with a golden band. 14 His head and hair were white like wool, as white as snow, and His eyes like a flame of fire; 15 His feet were like fine brass, as if refined in a furnace, and His voice as the sound of many waters; 16 He had in His right hand seven stars, out of his mouth went a sharp two-edged sword, and His countenance was like the sun shining in its strength. 17 And when I saw Him, I fell at His feet as dead. But He laid His right hand on me, saying to me, “Do not be afraid, I am the First and the Last. 18 I am He who lives, and was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore, Amen. And I have the keys of Hades and of Death.” Revelation 1:9-18
Who is the One who promises the water of life? God. Who then is it that promises to return? Jesus. Who is it that spoke to the Apostle John with the sound of a trumpet? Jesus. The one speaking in all three passages identifies Himself as the Alpha and Omega, the Beginning and the End. We know that God, the Almighty, is the Alpha and Omega, the Beginning and the End. The passages in Revelation 1 and Revelation 22 also identify the speaker as the Alpha and Omega, the Beginning and the End, obviously, Jesus Christ.
Question: Is there more than one Alpha and Omega? Is there more than one entity that can rightfully claim to be the Beginning and the End? The only logical conclusion is that Jesus is God. The doctrine of the Deity of Jesus Christ is essential and non-negotiable. It is amazing how many religious systems, within the last two thousand years, are based on the premise that their prophet was given divine truths that none else before them had received. Almost to the last man (or woman), these “prophets” denied the divinity of Jesus Christ!
Once Jesus Christ’s true identity is denied, the door is opened for all types of aberrations in the “new” belief system. But, an even greater problem than the distortions of God-inspired truths, is the minimization or outright denial of the work God did on our behalf as a human race when God took the form of a Man.
In Genesis 22, God’s message to Abraham was that He would provide Himself a lamb—not “for” Himself a lamb, but that He Himself would “be” the Lamb. GOD became a LAMB. To diminish this truth is nothing less than blasphemy. It is a non-negotiable fact. In order for a person to be “saved”, he must confess that Jesus is Lord. This truth is found throughout the New Testament. One reference is found in Romans 10.
9…if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. Romans 10:9-10
What does this mean? Confessing Jesus as Lord means to realize Jesus is God, that He is your Creator, Redeemer, and King; your Lover, your friend, your Everything. To confess Jesus as Lord means to recognize He is God in the flesh—eternally God, equally God, essentially God. Denying that is heresy.
The Apostle continued in the first chapter of John:
2 He was in the beginning with God.
Contrary to so many false teachings, Jesus was not the first Created Being. He was already present in the beginning. He has always existed. John continues…
3 All things were made by Him; and without Him was not anything made that was made.
Everything was made by Jesus Christ—everything! Take a look at the stars at night. How far can you see? Most of us can see our sun, moon, and the first five planets closest to the sun, including our own Planet Earth. Without a telescope, we really can’t see any further, although our solar system is much, much larger than what we can see with our naked eye. The biggest orb we are able to see is the sun. To us humans, the sun is enormous. It’s roughly 900,000 miles in diameter (approximately 1,400,000 km). Yet, as big as our sun is, there are other suns (stars) in the cosmos that make our sun look like a speck in comparison. The largest star known today is so large 5 billion of our suns would fit inside its sphere. Amazing! Jesus Christ created it—as well as all the trillions of other stars in our universe!
The enormity of the universe in which we live is one thing. Let’s look at the opposite in size, such as a molecule of water. Each water molecule has two hydrogen atoms and one oxygen atom (H2O). If you were to take all of the atoms in only a single drop of water, and were able to enlarge each molecule to the size of a grain of sand you would have enough sand to make a slab of concrete one foot thick and one half mile high, stretching 3,000 miles (4828 km). God’s creation is truly amazing!
All things were created by Him! In Colossians 1:15-16, the Apostle Paul confirms what we read from the pen of the Apostle John. Here is how it reads:
16 For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities, or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him. 17 And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist.
What does it mean that by Him all things consist? It means that they are “sustained.” Scientists tell us there is an atomic glue that holds all things together. One of these days, Jesus, the Sustainer of all things, is going to let go! We know, from what the Apostle Peter has written, that there is a day coming when the heavens and the earth will be totally obliterated and all things will be made new. Thanks be to God, He has provided a way for us to be “safe” in His presence! This requires accepting Jesus as Lord of all. In the day of grace in which we still live, Jesus continues to hold the galaxies of stars together. He holds onto the atoms that everything consists of, and continues to hold our lives together.
John goes on to say:
4 In him was life; and the life was the light of men. 5 And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it. John 1:4-5
The Greek word used in the original translation of the New Testament can either mean ‘extinguish’ or ‘understand’. Both meanings are applicable in this verse, for the darkness could neither understand nor could it extinguish Jesus. For three hours the sun was darkened when Jesus was on the cross, but three days later He rose from the dead, having established the New Covenant. He made “forgiveness” a free gift, just for the asking!
As we skip ahead a little further in John 1, we find these words in verse 10:
10 He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him. 11 He came unto His own, and His own did not receive Him.
The word “world” is used three times in verse 10 and unless one stops to think about what the verse says, the irony of the statement might be missed. There are two separate things being referred to with the word “world.” Jesus was in the ”world”, the “world” was made by Him (Jesus), but the “world” did not know–or recognize–Him, (Jesus) for who He really was. The world, all of creation, responded to Him; Jesus walked on the water, stopped storms, performed creative miracles such as withered or missing limbs replaced, and so very much more. The only part of creation that did not recognize His sovereignty was mankind, and it was because mankind turned a blind eye.
Verse 11, says that Jesus came to His own but they did not receive Him. This strengthens the point being made in the previous verse. Of all creation, it was only people, His own people, in fact the Jewish people, who refused to receive Him! But, then there is verse 12:
But, as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name…
We also will receive power to become sons of God when we believe that Jesus is Jehovah in the flesh, that He is not just “a” Savior, or even “the” Savior, but that He is “our” Savior. Knowing who He is, is not enough. We need to know Him by believing that He, as God, took on the flesh of a human being, in order to become the Lamb of God, Who would die for the sins of the world. No one else could do this, it could only be accomplished by God Himself!
…who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. John 1:13
- Born, but not of blood… There are those who think that they are part of the family of God because they were born into a “Christian” family. They may even have preachers in their family. Being related to a true believer in Jesus does not make one a true believer themselves.
- Born, but not of the will of the flesh… This just means that there is no one who will even have a desire to become believers in Jesus unless the Spirit of God first draws him. God, however, is not willing that any perish and will draw the lost to Himself. They will then have to make a decision whether to accept God’s gracious gift of salvation or not. Those who receive Him, become born of God, but not due to human effort or achievement. It is a work of the grace of God.
- Born…not of the will of man… Determination has nothing to do with salvation. No one can will himself or herself into a relationship with God. As said above, it is a work of the grace of God.
- Born…of God… There are a number of verses of Scripture that indicate that the relative number of people who will actually “choose” to receive Jesus Christ and become followers of Him, is small. In Matthew 22:14, Jesus said, “Many are called, but few are chosen.” Matthew 7:13-14 speaks to this also:
13 “Enter by the narrow gate: for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it, 14 because narrow is the gate, and difficult is the way that leads to life, and there are few that find it.”
This tells us that there are many who “choose” to ignore the call of the Messiah and “choose” death over life. This was the call throughout the Old Testament as well with both Moses and Elijah publicly calling to the people:
“How long will you falter between two opinions? If the LORD is God, follow Him, but if Baal, follow him.” But the people answered not a word. (Elijah: 1 Kings 18:21)
I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing, therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live (Moses: Deuteronomy 30:19)
As we look back at the Gospel of John, verse 14, we find these words:
And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.
The Word, Jesus Christ, the Creator, Sustainer, and Reason for all things, became flesh and dwelt or “tabernacled” among us. The Old Testament Tabernacle is a good analogy of Jesus Himself. The Tabernacle was covered with badger skins and was pretty plain on the outside. The interior, however, was a different story. Inside, everything was covered with gold, silver, fine embroidery, and precious stones, for the Presence of the Glory of God, which was inside. It was much the same with Jesus. The prophet Isaiah foretold that the Messiah wouldn’t be anything extraordinary to look at…just another man. But that was only the view from the outside.
The Jesus most didn’t recognize was just under the visible skin everyone could see. He was both Son of Man and Son of God. He was the Son of Man because God took the form of man in order to save the human race. He was the Son of God because He was the second part of the Trinity of God. The Bible speaks of Jesus as the “Only Begotten of the Father.” This is often misunderstood to mean the offspring of the Father. The meaning of the word “begotten” is not used in the genealogies in Scripture where it says that Abraham begat Isaac, who then begat Jacob, and so on. The only “Begotten” of the Father, when used in reference to Jesus, means “unique, the only one of a kind.” Jesus is “unique” because He is the mirror image of the Father. Jesus told the disciples when they asked to see the Father, “If you have seen Me, you have seen the Father.” Jesus carried the same characteristics, same power, same divine nature, same attributes. The Father-Son terminology is more of a human descriptor to help us understand the relationship between the first and second persons of the Godhead. This is why we find several passages in Hebrews where God the Father spoke to God the Son. Hebrews 1:8 is an example:
“Your throne, O God, is forever and ever; a scepter of righteousness is the scepter of Your kingdom. You have loved righteousness and hated lawlessness. Therefore God, Your God, has anointed You with the oil of gladness more than Your companions.” Hebrews 1:8
The Apostle John said that Jesus dwelt among his creation and those who grew to know Him, began to experience the glory of God that was behind the human skin they were able to see with their human eyes. They were introduced to God by God Himself stepping into the sandals of a man and living among them for 3-1/2 years. The last part of verse 14 says they found Him full of grace and truth. Both of these characteristics have become rare in our 21st century world. Jesus, when He was being questioned by Pilate, told him that He had come into the world to bear witness of the Truth. Pilate then asked Him, “What is Truth?” Unfortunately, Pilate wasn’t really looking for an answer to his question and did not receive one.
Psalm 2 presents a powerful description of the attitude of most of the world concerning God and His ways. The first few verses say:
Why do the nations rage, and the people plot a vain thing? The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the LORD and against His Anointed, saying, “Let us break their bonds in pieces and cast away their cords from us.” verses 1-3
Who is “His Anointed”? It is speaking of Jesus Christ, the Messiah. The psalm ends with these words:
Now therefore, be wise, O kings; be instructed, you judges of the earth. Serve the LORD with fear, and rejoice with trembling. Kiss the Son, lest He be angry, and you perish in the way, when His wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are all those who put their trust in Him. verses 10-12
God, in His compassion for the fallen race of humanity, became a man in order to provide a covenant that sets man free—not only of the sins he has committed, but also of the fallen nature that has intertwined itself in his genetics. God provided for Himself a sacrificial lamb, a permanent sacrifice, the Lamb of God; the eternal, all-powerful, all-knowing, everywhere-present, second personage of the Triune God. We have been provided the opportunity to “choose” to recognize Him for Who He really is. If we “choose” against recognizing Him and responding in humility, receiving His gracious free gift, we will yet bow the knee and recognize Him for Who He is, but only because there is coming a time when all knees everywhere will be forced to bow before His sovereignty. Those who willingly do so, will enjoy the eternal inheritance of the family of God in His glorious Kingdom. Those who refuse to bow willingly, will nevertheless bow when they are forced to acknowledge the identity of the One they rejected. Having rejected the Messiah disqualifies their entrance into the Kingdom of Heaven. They will have chosen eternal hell, which is separation from God. Although God is not willing that any perish, He will enforce the choice made against Him. The decision made is that absolute!
In the story of Jesus’ birth, we are told that an angel appeared to Mary and instructed her to call the child Jesus. The name meaning, “Jehovah is Salvation.” Choose God’s Salvation. Choose the…
Forever in His Service,