Within the past few months I have had a number of conversations with various individuals who struggle with the idea of Jesus actually and always being deity. In general this is one of the biggest challenges our current culture has with the person of Jesus presented in the Bible. It’s fine to think of him as a religious sage or spiritual guru but saying he is actually God tends to rock the boat.
At other times in history, such as in the fourth and fifth century, cultures have had trouble with the opposite idea, struggling with the idea of Jesus actually being fully human (Nestorians and Applonarians). Others conceive of a Jesus that gained or earned some divine like status through the merits of his good life. These include modern day Jehovah’s Witnesses and Mormons, which are both variants of the old idea of Arius (a rogue fourth century pastor who broke off from the Christian community because of his aberrant beliefs. AKA “monarchianism” or “adoptionism”).
For some it doesn’t really matter what the Bible says because they don’t see the Bible being right, true or authoritative. Others wonder if the idea of Jesus actually being God was a belief that slowly developed or evolved over time as Christianity progressed (John Dominic Crossan and his PBS & History channel fans…sidenote: why do they always interview him as if he is the only scholar on the subject? There are far more true “scholars” out there to interview and most think he is insane).
A few weeks ago one of our church members asked me if I would specifically write a blog addressing this issue and the Bible’s teaching about it. First, I recommend that if you’re in San Diego, to take our Theo 101 course where we fully address this issue and the history surrounding it. Second, I recommend you read “Putting Jesus in His Place: The Case for the Deity of Christ” by Robert M. Bowman Jr. and J. Ed Komoszewski. It is the most comprehensive and concise current work out there on this subject. Third, here is your blog. Basically, I’ll follow the model Bowman and Komoszewski lay out which is nicely built around the acronym “H.A.N.D.S.” (charts with Scripture references included).
In the Bible Jesus shares the (H)onors (A)ttributes (N)ames (D)eeds and (S)eat of the God whom the Bible describes and declares.
Jesus share the HONORS which belong to God alone
Honor means to give respect, glory, reverence, etc. to a person because of who they are or what they have done. In Scripture all glory and honor belongs to God alone. Only he is to be worshipped, prayed to, sung unto, is the sole one to have faith in, to fear, to serve, and to love. Likewise in the New Testament we see that we are to pray to Jesus, sing to Jesus, put our faith in Jesus, fear Jesus, serve Jesus, and love Jesus.
Jesus share the ATTRIBUTES which belong to God alone
Attributes mean both the character and the abilities which only God has. Theologians have called these the communicatable and uncommunicatable attributes (means ones we can have in part and ones we cannot have at all). In God is all the fullness of diety, he has existed before anything else (preexistent), immortal (eternal), never did not exist (uncreated), does not change (immutable), full of love, has all power (omnipotent), is everywhere (omnipresent), knows all things (omniscient), and is beyond full ability to understand (incomprehensible). Likewise in the New Testament we see all the same things said of Jesus and demonstrated in his life and ministry.
Jesus share the NAMES which belong to God alone
In the Bible many different names are given to God along with a few that he gives himself. One’s name, especially in ancient times, had a lot to do with who you were, a name is descriptive of the person. God has the name above every name, is called God, Lord, the bridegroom and/or husband, the King of Kings, the Lord of Lords, the Savior, the I AM, the first and the last and/or alpha and omega and/or beginning and end. Likewise in the New Testament we see Jesus being called, accepting and giving himself every one of these names.
Jesus share the DEEDS which belong to God alone
Deeds are the works of God, the things he has done, is doing and has promised to continue to do. God created and sustains all things, sovereignly rules over all the forces of nature, gives illumination and revelation to humans, speaks with divine authority, is the Word of the Lord, grants salvation, shows mercy, forgives sin, sends his spirit and gives spiritual gifts, is life itself and gives it, raises the dead, is the source of all spiritual blessing and judges all people. In the New Testament we see Jesus claiming, doing and exercising all the same works as these which are things God says only he can do.
Jesus share the SEAT which belongs to God alone
The seat of God is his throne, the position of divine rule. This “seat” is the highest possible throne, is the synonymous with being equal to God, is the rulership over all things and is a rule which lasts forever. In the New Testament we see Jesus sitting in this seat and calling it his own.
The Scriptural and historical evidence is overwhelming. In order to overthrow it you have to literally take scissors to your Bible and starts cutting books and parts of books out that you consider not to be holy and authoritative, in which case you as an individual become the holy authority. For those who wonder about the unity of the Bible, if all the parts which says these things about Jesus should be in there AND if these 66 different books, with 40 different authors, written over a period of 1500 years really ought to be collected and considered as one book called “The Bible,” then I recommend you check out “The Unity of the Bible” by Daniel Fuller. It is a phenomenal book which addresses the astounding unity of the Bible in all its parts.
More than the simple issue of what Jesus said about himself and did to demonstrate who he really was, God in the flesh…is the issue of the gospel itself without a divine Jesus. Undeniably, Jesus life was about a mission, the mission of the Gospel: to save people from their sins.
Sin is heinous, evil, and offends the eternal, infinite, holy, good God. Sin’s only just response from a good God is for him to properly punish it. If sin is an eternal offense then what is proper is an eternal response from the good judge. Thus our sin demands salvation from a true human person who has an eternal value so he can settle the account. That is, the only hope for sin in us is a fully human (legitimate substitute) and fully divine person (eternal value) who can die for me in my place and who’s death has eternal value. Which is exactly who Jesus is and what he did for his people on the cross. AND THAT is why the good news of the gospel so good.
If Jesus was not God we are still dead in our sins and will have hell to pay for it. That’s bad news. I don’t want or need that kind of Jesus. I need a Jesus who paid for eternity so I don’t have to pay for it myself.
So let us worship, thank, and serve Jesus and spread his gospel. Jesus, the God-man who died for our sin and rose again is worthy of it all…I give my life to him.
- Pastor Duane
If you’d like to read more, check out a previous work I did on this subject called: “The Theoanthropos: A Hypostic Union”