Last time, we were looking at responses to theological objections that a potential brother or sister in Christ might voice, (mostly due to having been misinformed). We looked at those who protested that they did not believe in God and / or did not believe the Bible was the inerrant truth of God’s word. Let’ continue:
3. ‘I don’t believe Jesus is God.’
I understand why you wouldn’t. This has been debated for centuries. So, let’s take a look at what God has to say:
Then God said, “Let Us (Father, Son, Holy Spirit) make man in Our image, according to Our likeness [not physical, but a spiritual personality and moral likeness]…” Gn. 1:26 AMP
‘Note the Amplified Bible’s insertion of a trinity of deities. The New King James translation just sticks with the word ‘Us.’ You might think that God is just referring to Himself in the manner of a royal ‘We.’ Personally, I don’t think so.
Can we conclude that the Son of God was present when humankind was created?
“I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last…” Rv. 1:11 NKJV [Note that God says the same thing about Himself. (Rv. 21:6)]
“Most assuredly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM.” Jn. 8:58 NKJV
“And now, O Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world was.” Jn. 17:5 NKJV
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 came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. Jn. 1:1-4. NASB
Clearly, the Son of God is the Word of God; God’s very expression. Unmistakably, He was with God before anything, (including the universe itself), was created. Thus, there was nothing to create Christ with, other than the essence of God Himself. And yet, because God is infinite, He cannot divide Himself without becoming finite. Therefore, the Son of God must be incorporated within the Father.
Does that make Him God? In a sense, (to the best of our abilities to understand the infinite), yes; or at the very least, a definite deified Being. A mere man would not be one who could facilitate all creation. Indeed, the Son of God cannot, at this juncture in the beginning of time, be a man, because flesh and blood cannot inhabit heaven. (1 Cor. 15:50) Therefore, He must be a Spirit.
Note that some religious sects try to explain that God and Jesus are not the same because they read Jn. 1:1 as: …and the word was a god in their own translations of the Bible.(Emphasis mine.) But check this out:
For He has rescued us and has drawn us to Himself from the dominion of darkness, and has transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, in whom we have redemption [because of His sacrifice, resulting in] the forgiveness of our sins [and the cancellation of sin’s penalty].
He is the exact living image [the essential manifestation] of the unseen God [the visible representation of the invisible], the firstborn [the preeminent one, the sovereign, and the originator] of all creation. For by Him all things were created in heaven and on earth, [things] visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities; all things were created and exist through Him [that is, by His activity] and for Him. And He Himself existed and is before all things, and in Him all things hold together. [His is the controlling, cohesive force of the universe.]
…He Himself will occupy the first place [He will stand supreme and be preeminent] in everything. For it pleased the Father for all the fullness [of deity – the sum total of His essence, all His perfection, powers, and attributes] to dwell [permanently] in Him (the Son)… Col. 1:13 – 19. AMP
This is not an ordinary man. Jesus would have to be at least God-like, which this scripture clearly expresses. Neither can we hold up a human being to be our source of salvation:
Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one 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.” Jn. 14:6 – 8. NKJV
Jesus is essentially saying, “Look at Me, this is what God is like in the flesh.” This is so that we may experience God with our five senses.
Let’s reflect upon one of God’s prophecies:
Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel. Is. 7:14 NKJV
Immanuel means ‘God is with us.” Here is the same prophet, mouthing God’s words:
For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Is. 9:6 NKJV
Indeed, God conveyed the Spirit of His Son, (the essence of God), by way of the Holy Spirit, into the womb of the virgin Mary. The rest is history:
And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifested in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen by angels, preached among the Gentiles believed on in the world, received up in glory. 1 Tim. 3:16 NKJV
…looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus… Titus 2:13 NASB
“My Father is working until now, and I Myself am working.” For this reason therefore the Jews were seeking all the more to kill Him, because He not only was breaking the Sabbath, but also was calling God His own Father, making Himself equal to God. Jn. 5:17, 18. NASB
Jesus in fact, said that we must give Him equal honor:
“…all should honor the Son just as they honor the Father.” Jn. 5:22 NKJV
…although He existed in the form and unchanging essence of God [as One with Him, possessing the fullness of all the divine attributes – the entire nature of deity], did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped or asserted [as if He did not already possess it, or was afraid of losing it]… Phil. 2:6 AMP
What must also be considered, is that God demanded in the first of the Ten Commandments that only He is to be worshiped. (Ex. 20:4, 5.) That also forbade any worshiping of angels. (Rv. 22:8) However, Jesus did allow Himself to be worshiped:
Then those who were in the boat came and worshiped Him, saying, “Truly You are the Son of God.” Mt. 14:33 NKJV
Then he said, “Lord I believe!” And he worshiped Him. Jn. 9:38 NKJV
While He was here bodily, Christ raised people from the dead, e.g. Lazarus. At the end of time, He will also give eternal life to all God’s children:
“…everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him may have everlasting life; and I will raise him up at the last day.” Jn. 6:40 NKJV
Again, and again, no ordinary human being could do these things.
Jesus was filled with the essence of God and was separately human. Note the demonstration of His power:
And when He called His twelve disciples to Him, He gave them power over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal all kinds of sickness and all kinds of disease. Mt. 10:1 NKJV
Even when Christ went to the cross, He had the power to resurrect Himself:
“…I lay down My life that I may take it again. No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of Myself. I have the power to lay it down, and I have the power to take it again.” Jn. 10:17, 18. NKJV
For myself then, if Jesus is not God, He is so much like Him that there is no meaningful difference. However, I receive letters from these aforementioned sects that present well thought-out objections. Let’s consider them:
1. Jesus died; and God cannot die.
My answer is that only the human form of Christ died, and that part, (the perfect man), had to, to pay for the sins of Man. His humanity was trusting His Father to care for Him. It was Christ’s ‘God essence’ that raised Him from the dead (which only God could do), so that the world could be reconciled to His Father.
2. No one can see God and live.
True. But all the people saw was His human form until His resurrection, when they witnessed His integrative God-Man self.
3. Jesus was flesh and blood.
Yes, His human part was. The nature of His God-Man self is unknown to us. As we know, He could then appear and disappear at will, yet allowed the apostles to handle Him.
4. He prayed to His Father. Yes, but that was prior to His God-Man manifestation.
5. Finally, Jesus was tempted; and God cannot be tempted.
Christ was tempted in His flesh. God wanted Jesus to be humankind’s high priest. The only way to do that was to gain an empathy towards them which could only come by direct experience. His ‘God Essence’ was not involved. God cannot be in touch with sin. This was the only way.
Ultimately, even if the Godhead is considered as one, we must acknowledge, (even if we don’t understand it), that there is some form of tripartite existence within the whole. We see in scripture where God declares Himself as one God (Dt. 6:4; Is. 46:9). We see He and Jesus separately in Daniel’s vision (Dan. 7:14, 14.) and during Jesus’ baptism we see all of the Godhead together but separate. (Mt. 3:16, 17.) Jesus said that He required His Father’s power to accomplish anything, but that was when He was in the flesh manifestation. (Jn. 5:19, 20.) He also said that His Father was greater than Him. (Jn. 14:28) We may consider that in the light of God being the integrative whole of the Godhead, but that’s only conjecture on my part. Finally, we have Jesus’ outcries of anguish on the cross; but, He was experiencing the pain of His flesh, which was the source of His cries. (Mk. 15:34)
And then we have all the aforementioned scripture that infers a closeness between the Father and the Son that we may never understand until our heavenly appointment…
Meet your listener where he or she is at, present your case, and the Holy Spirit will lead them to an understanding.
Goodnight and God bless.