In the study below which will be in several portions, the most important matter needing to be understood without doubt is the true identity of Jesus Christ, and the intent will be to show this. The Bible teaches us that God, by way of the miraculous virgin birth 2,000 years ago in ancient Bethlehem, came into the human race through the usual method by being born as a helpless baby. He then grew into adulthood as any other boy would. He came, however, for one reason, and one reason only, and that was to die for the salvation of the human race. At the age of 33, this is exactly what He did. If He died as merely a great teacher or prophet, nothing would have been gained. But, He was much, much more than this. He was both son of man, and Son of God, the Almighty Creator Himself. There are many in our world who doubt the truth of what the Bible so plainly teaches; in fact, many teach contrary to it but they are in grave error, and, they will suffer eternal loss if they do not come to a recognition of Jesus’ divinity and their need for His saving grace before the sands of time run out for them.
In this study, we will take an in-depth look at a few portions of the Book of John, as well as a whole lot of supporting Scriptures. Because this study will be used overseas by a great many Bible students who have no access to a physical Bible of their own, each and every Scripture is printed out in full. Almost all Scriptures are written in the New King James Version of the Scriptures.
Just before beginning the study, I would like to share a letter written in March of 1978 to a liberal Methodist minister who expressed doubts about Christ’s divinity—and accused the then future American President Reagan of a “limited Sunday school level theology.” President Ronald Reagan,went on to become one of the greatest presidents in the history of the United States. This is the letter he wrote to the Methodist minister:
“Perhaps it is true that Jesus never used the word ‘Messiah’ with regard to himself (although I’m not sure that he didn’t) but in John 1, 10, 14 he identifies himself pretty definitely and more than once. Is there really any ambiguity in his words: ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father but by me?’ In John 10 he says, “I am in the Faher and the Father in me.’ And he makes reference to being with God, ‘before the world was,’ and sitting on the ‘right hand of God’…
These and other statements he made about himself, foreclose in my opinion, any question as to his divinity. It doesn’t seem to me that he gave us any choice; either he was what he was he was or he was the world’s greatest liar. It is impossible for me to believe a liar or charlatan could have had the effect on mankind that he has had for 2,000 years. We could ask, would even the greatest of liars carry his lie through the crucifixion, when a simple confession would have saved him?…Did he allow us the choice you say that you and other have made, to believe in his teachings but reject his statements about his own identity?
I still can’t help wondering how we can explain away what to me is the greatest miracle of all and which is recorded in history. No one denies there was such a man, that he lived and that he was put to death by crucifixion. Where…is the miracle I spoke of? Well consider this and let your imagination translate the story into our own time—possibly to your own home town. A young man whose father is a carpenter grows up working in his father’s shop. One day he puts down his tools and walks out of his father’s shop. He starts preaching on street corners and in the nearby countryside, walking from place to place, preaching all the while, even though he is not an ordained minister. He never gets farther than an area perhaps 100 miles wide at the most. He does this for three years. Then he is arrested, tried and convicted. There is no court of appeal, so he is executed at age 33 along with two common thieves. Those in charge of his execution roll dice to see who gets his clothing—the only possessions he has. His family cannot afford a burial place for him so he is interred in a borrowed tomb. End of story? No, this uneducated, property-less young man has, for 2,000 years, had a greater effect on the world than all the rulers, kings, emperors; all the conquerors, generals and admirals, all the scholars, scientists and philosophers who have ever lived—all of them put together. How do we explain that—unless He really was what He said He was? Ronald Reagan
A. JESUS: THE WORD OF GOD (John 1:1-3;14)
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. (verses 1-3)…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. (verse 14)
Just as you and I use words to convey our thoughts and reveal our hearts to others, God used Jesus Christ as His “Word” to reveal His heart and mind to us. Jesus claimed “He who has seen Me has seen the Father.” (John 14:9) Also, in our written communication, we use letters to form our words, as we convey our thoughts. God does the same. Again, Jesus’ own words, “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last.” (Revelation 1:11). Also, according to Hebrews 1:1-3, Jesus Christ is God’s last Word to mankind; He is the climax of God’s divine revelation: God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds, who being the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the world of His power, when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high.
These versus (John 1:1-3 and 14) show us three important things to understand.
- Jesus Christ is the Eternal Word (verses 1-2). He existed in the very beginning–not because He has a beginning as a creature has a beginning, but because He is eternal–no beginning and no end.
- Jesus Christ is the Creative Word (verse 3). There is an undeniable parallel with Genesis 1:1 which says: In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. God created everything that exists through His Word. Then, Genesis 1:3 And God said, let there be…..
For He spoke, and it was done. He commanded, and it stood fast. (Psalm 33:9)
He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. 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. And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist. (Colossians 1:15-17) All things were created through Him, which means that Jesus is not a created being; He is the Eternal God.
- Jesus Christ is the Incarnate Word (verse 14). It is crucial to recognize that Jesus Christ came to the human race in the flesh. It was important in the early days of the Church, and it is crucial in the final days of the Church on this earth. One of the deceptions plaguing the early church was Gnosticism. The Gnostics had a large array of false teachings but one of them was the denial that Jesus was God in the flesh. Gnosticism denies the bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ. To the Gnostic, the world and the flesh are evil. The soul or spirit of man is good. Therefore, to attain ultimate good, the soul must be freed from the flesh. When faced with the belief among Christians that Jesus Christ was bodily and physically resurrected from the dead, the Gnostic sees the whole resurrection story as completely absurd. To their way of thinking a bodily resurrection would continue to confine the soul or spirit of man in a fleshly body. However, all three of John’s epistles in the New Testament address this false teaching. One of these passages is found in 1 John 4:1-3: Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits whether they are of God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. By this you know the spirit of God: Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God, and every spirit that does not confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is not of God. And this is the spirit of the Antichrist, which you have heard was coming, and is now already in the world.
He also warned first century believers, and by His epistle, all Christians in 2 John 7-11:
For many deceivers have gone out into the world who do not confess Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh. This is a deceiver and an antichrist. Look to yourselves, that we do not lose those things we worked for, but that we may receive a full reward. Whoever transgresses and does not abide in the doctrine of Christ does not have God. He who abides in the doctrine of Christ has both the Father and the Son. If anyone comes to you and does not bring this doctrine, do not receive him into your house nor greet him; for he who greets him shares in his evil deeds.
So, it is easy to see the importance of understanding that the incarnation of Christ (the coming in the flesh) is a non-negotiable doctrine of the Bible. Jesus was no phantom or spirit when ministering. John and the disciples had genuine experiences with Jesus that proved the reality of Him being “in the flesh”. 1 John 1:1-3 explains:
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, 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–that which we have seen, and heard we declare to you, that you also may have fellowship with us…
Although John put great emphasis on the divinity of Jesus, he made it abundantly clear that He was in the flesh and was subject to the challenges of life on this fallen planet. Jesus was weary and thirsty and He wept openly, and of course, He bled and died. After His resurrection, He proved to the disciples that He still had a real body, albeit a glorified body. So, how was the Word made flesh? By the miracle of the Virgin Birth.
Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel. (Isaiah 7:14)
Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows. After His mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Spirit. Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not wanting to make her a public example, was minded to put her away secretly. But while he thought about these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take to you Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name JESUS, for He will save His people from their sins.” So all this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying: “Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel, which is translated, ‘God with us.’” Then Joseph, being aroused from sleep, did as the angel of the Lord commanded him and took to him his wife, and did not know her till she had brought forth her firstborn Son. And he called His name JESUS. (Matthew 1:18-25)
He took upon Himself a human body, identifying with mankind in every way from birth to death. “The Word” was not just some abstract concept of philosophy, but a real Person that could be seen, touched, and heard. True Christianity is Jesus Christ, and Jesus Christ is GOD. The Holy Spirit used the apostle John to emphasize the glory of God, as revealed through Jesus Christ. The revelation of the Old Covenant was fading because it could only reveal sin but never remove sin. Jesus Christ came to provide the ultimate sacrifice which would remove sin. Only God, as revealed in Jesus Christ, could accomplish this.
Continued in Part Two