Archive for the ‘Jesus Christ’ Category
Tags: Eternal Sonship of Christ, J.C. Ryle, Jesus Christ, The Unchanging Christ
Tags: ELEPHANT ROOM 2, Eternal Sonship of Christ, James MacDonald, John MacArthur, Modalism, Oneness Pentecostal, TD Jakes, the doctrine of the Trinity, United Apostolic Churches
I know a lot of discussion has surrounded the heresy of Modalism lately due to T.D. Jakes’s star appearance on the seeker-sensitive sitcom known as the Elephant Room 2. There is another rank heresy that challenges the very nature of God which is just as bad as Modalism. Those who teach that Jesus is not the eternal Son of God are also attacking the very core nature of our Lord. The truth is that God never changes and He has existed eternally as The Father, Son and Holy Spirit three but yet One(Hebrews 13:8).
It was deeply encouraging when John MacArthur repented of his error of denying the eternal Sonship. See: Reexamining the Eternal Sonship of Christ
I personally believe denying Christ’s eternal relationship within the Trinity is as deadly as what Modalism teaches. I would encourage all my readers to ponder what I have written today.
Tags: Eternal Sonship of Christ, incarnational Sonship, Jehovah's Witnesses, Jesus the Son of God, Modalism, Mormonism, Oneness Pentecostals, the Trinity
But Jesus, the eternal Son of God, “very God of very God,” who had been hymned through eternal ages by joyous angels, who had been the favourite of his Father’s court, exalted high above principalities and powers, and every name that is named, he himself condescended to become man; was born of the Virgin Mary; was cradled in a manger; lived a life of suffering, and at last died a death of agony. [Charles H. Spurgeon, The New Park Street Pulpit (Pasadena, TX: Pilgrim, 1975) 5:243. Quote is from Spurgeon’s sermon, “Justice Satisfied,” delivered on May 29, 1859.]
Tags: contradictions in the Bible, genealogy of Joseph, genealogy of Mary, Jesus Christ, Two genealogies of Jesus Christ
THE TWO GENEALOGIES OF JESUS, THE CHRIST
A favorite point of attack on the Bible for those who deny its divine origin and inerrancy is the two varying genealogies of Jesus Christ. Not only is this a favorite point of attack by unbelievers, but it is also a point that often puzzles earnest students of the Bible. It is perfectly clear that the two genealogies differ widely from one another, and yet each is given as the genealogy of Christ. How can they by any possibility both be true?
There is a very simple answer to this apparently difficult question.
1. The genealogy given in Matthew is the genealogy of Joseph, the reputed father of Jesus, his father in the eyes of the law. The genealogy given in Luke is the genealogy of Mary, the mother of Jesus, and is the human genealogy of Jesus Christ in actual fact. The gospel of Matthew was written for Jews. All through it Joseph is prominent, Mary is scarcely mentioned. In Luke, on the other hand, Mary is the chief personage in the whole account of the Saviour’s conception and birth. Joseph is brought in only incidentally and because he was Mary’s husband. In all of this there is a deep significance.
2. In Mathew Jesus appears as the Messiah. In Luke He appears as “the Son of man,” our Brother and Redeemer, who belongs to the whole race and claims kindred with all kinds and conditions of men. So in Matthew the genealogy descends from Abraham to Joseph and Jesus, because all the predictions and promises touching the Messiah are fulfilled in Him. But in Luke the genealogy ascends from Jesus to Adam, because the genealogy is being traced back to the head of the whole race and shows the relation of the second Adam to the first.
3. Joseph’s line in Matthew is the strictly royal line from David to Joseph. In Luke, though the line of descent is from David, it is not the royal line. In this Jesus is descended from David through Nathan, David’s son indeed, but not in the royal line, and the list follows a line quite distinct from the royal line.
4. The Messiah, according to prediction, was to be the actual son of David according to the flesh (2 Samuel 7:12–19; Psalm 89:3–4, 34–37; 132:11; Acts 2:30; 13:22–23; Romans 1:3; 2 Timothy 2:8). These prophecies are fulfilled by Jesus being the son of Mary, who was a lineal descendant of David, though not in the royal line. Joseph, who was of the royal line, was not His father according to the flesh, but was His father in the eyes of the law.
5. Mary was a descendant of David through her father, Heli. It is true that Luke 3:23 says that Joseph was the son of Heli. The simple explanation of this is that according to Jewish usage Mary’s name, being a woman, could not appear in the genealogy, males alone forming the line. So Joseph’s name is introduced in place of Mary’s, he being Mary’s husband. Heli was his father-in-law, and so Joseph is called the son of Heli, and the line is thus completed. While Joseph was son-in-law of Heli, according to the flesh he was in actual fact the son of Jacob (Matthew 1:16).
6. Two genealogies are absolutely necessary to trace the lineage of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, the royal and legal, and the natural and literal. We find the legal and royal genealogy in Matthew’s gospel, the gospel of law and kingship; the natural and literal in Luke’s, the gospel of humanity.
7. We are told in Jeremiah 22:30 that any descendant of Jeconiah could not come to the throne of David. Joseph was of this line, and while Joseph’s genealogy furnishes the royal line for Jesus, his son under the law, nevertheless Jeremiah’s prediction is fulfilled to the very letter, for Jesus (strictly speaking) was not Joseph’s descendant and therefore was not of the seed of Jeconiah. If Jesus had been the son of Joseph in reality, He could not have come to the throne, but He is Mary’s son through Nathan and can come to the throne legally by her marrying Joseph and so clearing His way legally to it.
As we study these two genealogies of Jesus carefully and read them in the light of Old Testament prediction, we find that far from constituting a reason for doubting the accuracy of the Bible they are rather a confirmation of the minutest accuracy of that Book. It is amazing how one part of the Bible fits into another part when we study it thus minutely. We need no longer stumble over the fact of two genealogies, but discover and rejoice in the deep meaning of the fact.
Torrey, R. (1998). Difficulties in the Bible : Alleged errors and contradictions. Willow Grove: Woodlawn Electronic Publishing.
Tags: Institutes of the Christian Religion, Jesus Christ, Jesus Christ the Lord, John Calvin
CHRIST, THOUGH KNOWN TO THE JEWS UNDER THE LAW, YET ONLY MANIFESTED UNDER THE GOSPEL
There are three principal heads in this chapter. I. Preparatory to a consideration of the knowledge of Christ, and the benefits procured by him; the 1st and 2nd sections are occupied with the dispensation of this knowledge, which, after the manifestation of Christ in the flesh, was more clearly revealed than under the Law. II. A refutation of the profane dream of Servetus, that the promises are entirely abrogated, sec. 3. Likewise, a refutation of those who do not properly compare the Law with the Gospel, sec. 4. III. A necessary and brief exposition of the ministry of John Baptist, which occupies an intermediate place between the law and the Gospel.
1. The holy fathers under the Law saw the day of Christ, though obscurely. He is more fully revealed to us under the Gospel. A reason for this, confirmed by the testimony of Christ and his Apostles.
2.The term Gospel, used in its most extensive sense, comprehends the attestations of mercy which God gave to the fathers. Properly, however, it means the promulgation of grace exhibited in the God-man Jesus Christ.
3. The notion of Servetus, that the promises are entirely abolished, refuted. Why we must still trust to the promises of God. Another reason. Solution of a difficulty.
4. Refutation of those who do not properly compare the Law and the Gospel. Answer to certain questions here occurring. The Law and the Gospel briefly compared.
5. Third part of the chapter. Of the ministry of John the Baptist.
1. SINCE God was pleased (and not in vain) to testify in ancient times by means of expiations and sacrifices that he was a Father, and to set apart for himself a chosen people, he was doubtless known even then in the same character in which he is now fully revealed to us. Accordingly Malachi, having enjoined the Jews to attend to the Law of Moses (because after his death there was to be an interruption of the prophetical office), immediately after declares that the Sun of righteousness should arise (Mal. 4:2); thus intimating, that though the Law had the effect of keeping the pious in expectation of the coming Messiah, there was ground to hope for much greater light on his advent. For this reason, Peter, speaking of the ancient prophets, says, “Unto whom it was revealed, that not unto themselves, but unto us, they did minister the things which are now reported unto you by them that have preached the gospel unto you, with the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven,” (1 Pet. 1:12). Not that the prophetical doctrine was useless to the ancient people, or unavailing to the prophets themselves, but that they did not obtain possession of the treasure which God has transmitted to us by their hands. The grace of which they testified is now set familiarly before our eyes. They had only a slight foretaste; to us is given a fuller fruition. Our Saviour, accordingly, while he declares that Moses testified of him, extols the superior measure of grace bestowed upon us (John 5:46). Addressing his disciples, he says, “Blessed are your eyes, for they see, and your ears, for they hear. For verily I say unto you, That many prophets and righteous men have desired to see those things which ye see, and have not seen them, and to hear those things which ye hear, and have not heard them,” (Mt. 13:16; Luke 10:23). It is no small commendation of the gospel revelation, that God has preferred us to holy men of old, so much distinguished for piety. There is nothing in this view inconsistent with another passage, in which our Saviour says, “Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day, and he saw it and was glad,” (John 8:56). For though the event being remote, his view of it was obscure, he had full assurance that it would one day be accomplished; and hence the joy which the holy patriarch experienced even to his death. Nor does John Baptist, when he says, “No man has seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he has declared him,” (John 1:18), exclude the pious who had previously died from a participation in the knowledge and light which are manifested in the person of Christ; but comparing their condition with ours, he intimates that the mysteries which they only beheld dimly under shadows are made clear to us; as is well explained by the author of the Epistle to the Hebrews, in these words, “God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken unto us by his Son,” (Heb. 1:1, 2). Hence, although this only begotten Son, who is now to us the brightness of his Father’s glory and the express image of his person, was formerly made known to the Jews, as we have elsewhere shown from Paul, that he was the Deliverer under the old dispensation; it is nevertheless true, as Paul himself elsewhere declares, that “God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, has shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ,” (2 Cor. 4:6); because, when he appeared in this his image, he in a manner made himself visible, his previous appearance having been shadowy and obscure. More shameful and more detestable, therefore, is the ingratitude of those who walk blindfold in this meridian light. Accordingly, Paul says that “the god of this world has blinded their minds, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ should shine unto them,” (2 Cor. 4:4).
2. By the Gospel, I understand the clear manifestation of the mystery of Christ. I confess, indeed, that inasmuch as the term Gospel is applied by Paul to the doctrine of faith (2 Tim. 4:10), it includes all the promises by which God reconciles men to himself, and which occur throughout the Law. For Paul there opposes faith to those terrors which vex and torment the conscience when salvation is sought by means of works. Hence it follows that Gospel, taken in a large sense, comprehends the evidences of mercy and paternal favour which God bestowed on the Patriarchs. Still, by way of excellence, it is applied to the promulgation of the grace manifested in Christ. This is not only founded on general use, but has the sanction of our Saviour and his Apostles. Hence it is described as one of his peculiar characteristics, that he preached the Gospel of the kingdom (Mt. 4:23; 9:35; Mark 1:14). Mark, in his preface to the Gospel, calls it “The beginning of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.” There is no use of collecting passages to prove what is already perfectly known. Christ at his advent “brought life and immortality to light through the Gospel,” (2 Tim. 1:10). Paul does not mean by these words that the Fathers were plunged in the darkness of death before the Son of God became incarnate; but he claims for the Gospel the honourable distinction of being a new and extraordinary kind of embassy, by which God fulfilled what he had promised, these promises being realised in the person of the Son. For though believers have at all times experienced the truth of Paul’s declaration, that “all the promises of God in him are yea and amen,” inasmuch as these promises were sealed upon their hearts; yet because he has in his flesh completed all the parts of our salvation, this vivid manifestation of realities was justly entitled to this new and special distinction. Accordingly, Christ says, “Hereafter ye shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of man.” For though he seems to allude to the ladder which the Patriarch Jacob saw in vision, he commends the excellence of his advent in this, that it opened the gate of heaven, and gave us familiar access to it.
3. Here we must guard against the diabolical imagination of Servetus, who, from a wish, or at least the pretence of a wish, to extol the greatness of Christ, abolishes the promises entirely, as if they had come to an end at the same time with the Law. He pretends, that by the faith of the Gospel all the promises have been fulfilled; as if there was no distinction between us and Christ. I lately observed that Christ had not left any part of our salvation incomplete; but from this it is erroneously inferred, that we are now put in possession of all the blessings purchased by him; thereby implying, that Paul was incorrect in saying, “We are saved by hope,” (Rom. 3:24). I admit, indeed, that by believing in Christ we pass from death unto life; but we must at the same time remember the words of John, that though we know we are “the sons of God,” “it does not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is,” (1 John 3:2). Therefore, although Christ offers us in the Gospel a present fulness of spiritual blessings, fruition remains in the keeping of hope, until we are divested of corruptible flesh, and transformed into the glory of him who has gone before us. Meanwhile, in leaning on the promises, we obey the command of the Holy Spirit, whose authority ought to have weight enough with us to silence all the barkings of that impure dog. We have it on the testimony of Paul, that “Godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come,” (1 Tim. 4:8); for which reason, he glories in being “an apostle of Jesus Christ, according to the promise of life which is in Christ Jesus” (2 Tim. 1:1). And he elsewhere reminds us, that we have the same promises which were given to the saints in ancient time (2 Cor. 7:1). In fine, he makes the sum of our felicity consist in being sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise. Indeed we have no enjoyment of Christ, unless by embracing him as clothed with his own promises. Hence it is that he indeed dwells in our hearts and yet we are as pilgrims in regard to him, because “we walk by faith, not by sight,” (2 Cor. 5:6, 7). There is no inconsistency in the two things—viz. that in Christ we possess every thing pertaining to the perfection of the heavenly life, and yet that faith is only a vision “of things not seen,” (Heb. 11:1). Only there is this difference to be observed in the nature or quality of the promises, that the Gospel points with the finger to what the Law shadowed under types.
4. Hence, also, we see the error of those who, in comparing the Law with the Gospel, represent it merely as a comparison between the merit of works, and the gratuitous imputation of righteousness. The contrast thus made is by no means to be rejected, because, by the term Law, Paul frequently understands that rule of holy living in which God exacts what is his due, giving no hope of life unless we obey in every respect; and, on the other hand, denouncing a curse for the slightest failure. This Paul does when showing that we are freely accepted of God, and accounted righteous by being pardoned, because that obedience of the Law to which the reward is promised is nowhere to be found. Hence he appropriately represents the righteousness of the Law and the Gospel as opposed to each other. But the Gospel has not succeeded the whole Law in such a sense as to introduce a different method of salvation. It rather confirms the Law, and proves that every thing which it promised is fulfilled. What was shadow, it has made substance. When Christ says that the Law and the Prophets were until John, he does not consign the fathers to the curse, which, as the slaves of the Law, they could not escape. He intimates that they were only imbued with the rudiments, and remained far beneath the height of the Gospel doctrine. Accordingly Paul, after calling the Gospel “the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth,” shortly after adds, that it was “witnessed by the Law and the Prophets,” (Rom. 1:16; 3:21). And in the end of the same Epistle, though he describes “the preaching of Jesus Christ” as “the revelation of the mystery which was kept secret since the world began,” he modifies the expression by adding, that it is “now made manifest” “by the scriptures of the prophets,” (Rom. 16:25, 26). Hence we infer, that when the whole Law is spoken of, the Gospel differs from it only in respect of clearness of manifestation. Still, on account of the inestimable riches of grace set before us in Christ, there is good reason for saying, that by his advent the kingdom of heaven was erected on the earth (Mt. 12:28).
5. John stands between the Law and the Gospel, holding an intermediate office allied to both. For though he gave a summary of the Gospel when he pronounced Christ to be “the Lamb of God who taketh away the sin of the world,” yet, inasmuch as he did not unfold the incomparable power and glory which shone forth in his resurrection, Christ says that he was not equal to the Apostles. For this is the meaning of the words: “Among them that are born of woman, there has not risen a greater than John the Baptist: notwithstanding, he that is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he,” (Mt. 11:28). He is not there commending the persons of men, but after preferring John to all the Prophets, he gives the first place to the preaching of the Gospel, which is elsewhere designated by the kingdom of heaven. When John himself, in answer to the Jews, says that he is only “a voice,” (John 1:23), as if he were inferior to the Prophets it is not in pretended humility but he means to teach that the proper embassy was not entrusted to him, that he only performed the office of a messenger, as had been foretold by Malachi, “Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophets before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord,” (Mal. 4:5). And, indeed, during the whole course of his ministry, he did nothing more than prepare disciples for Christ. He even proves from Isaiah that this was the office to which he was divinely appointed. In this sense, he is said by Christ to have been “a burning and a shining light,” (John 5:35), because full day had not yet appeared. And yet this does not prevent us from classing him among the preachers of the gospel, since he used the same baptism which was afterwards committed to the Apostles. Still, however, he only began that which had freer course under the Apostles, after Christ was taken up into the heavenly glory.
Calvin, J. (1997). Institutes of the Christian religion. Bellingham, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.
Tags: Deity of Christ, Is Jesus God?, Jesus Christ, Jesus Christ our High Priest, Jesus Christ the Lord, Jesus is God
Jesus Christ the Lord
THE UNIQUENESS of Christianity is the Person, Jesus Christ, and the distinctiveness of Christ is the fact that He is the God-man. In other words, He is a divine-human Being, something unique in time and eternity. It is also a concept very difficult to understand, for we have no basis for comparison with another God-man in history nor do we get any help from our experience. Yet this is not a dogma imposed on us simply to receive without question; it is a conclusion which grows out of the evidence in the Bible. Many facts point to the conclusion that Jesus Christ is God; many others lead to the conclusion that He is truly human; at the same time we see only one Person moving across the pages of the gospels. This union of undiminished deity and perfect humanity forever in one Person is called the doctrine of the hypostatic union (that is, the union of two hypostases or natures), and this is the uniqueness of Jesus Christ.
THE DEITY OF CHRIST
Did Christ exist before He was born at Bethlehem? The answer is yes. While this does not of itself prove His deity (for He might, for instance, have existed as an angel before His birth), it certainly seems necessary to validate His claim to be the revelation of God and the Revealer of the Father. Did He exist before He was born? Names given to Him in the Old Testament indicate this. Micah 5:2 teaches the eternity of the Son, for the word translated “from of old” is used in Habakkuk 1:12 of God’s eternal nature; thus what God is, the Son is (see also Is 9:6). Furthermore, He Himself claimed to be preexistent, for He said, “Before Abraham [came to be], I am” (Jn 8:58). The statement, “I am,” is not only a claim to existence before Abraham but also is a reference to the sacred name of God, Yahweh, and thus a claim to be God (Ex 3:14–15). Certain works which are said to have been done by Christ could only have been accomplisbed if He existed before time (e.g., creation, Col 1:16). Of course, His claims to be God, which are discussed in the next section, include preexistence.
Many in our day deny the deity of Christ, knowing that in doing so they are undermining the central aspect of Christianity because they have removed from it the divine Saviour. This denial is not new, for even in the early church there were those who did so: Ebionites, dynamic Monarchians, and the Arians all denied that the Son possessed full deity. In the days of the Reformation, the Socinians followed their example and regarded Jesus as merely a man. Schleiermacher, Ritschl, Unitarians, and liberals have done the same in more recent times. Today those who deny His full deity regard Jesus either as a great man (to be followed but not worshiped), a good man (who had the courage to die for His convictions), or a man more advanced than any other in His time. Along with such views of Christ goes a denial of the biblical accounts of His miraculous birth, death, and resurrection.
Popularly, opponents of His deity assert that Jesus of Nazareth never claimed to be God. It was His followers, they say, who made that claim for Him, and, of course, they were mistaken. This is simply not so, for He did claim to be God, as we shall see. Obviously opponents of Christ’s deity do not consider the Bible as authoritative but feel perfectly free to question statements of Scripture as to their reliability. Although denying the infallibility of the Bible does not always result in denying the deity of Christ, denying the deity of Christ must be accompanied by a denial of the accuracy of Scripture, for there is simply too much evidence in Scripture for His deity to do otherwise.
1. His assertions. Jesus of Nazareth claimed equality with God when He said that He and the Father were one (Jn 5:18; 10:30). Those who heard Him make this statement understood the force of such a claim, for they accused Him of blasphemy. If He were only claiming to be some kind of superman, they would not have bothered with the blasphemy charge. When Christ stood before the high priest, He gave a clear affirmative answer to the question whether He was the Christ (Mt 26:63–64). And His reply was given under oath.
In both John 10:36 and Matthew 26:63 the phrase “Son of God” is used, which some claim means something less than deity in order to avoid the conclusion that Christ claimed to be God. This is not so.
In Jewish usage the term “son of …” did not generally imply any subordination, but rather equality and identity of nature. Thus Bar Kokba, who led the Jewish revolt 132–135 A.D. in the reign of Hadrian, was called by a name which means “Son of the Star.” It is supposed that he took this name to identify himself as the very Star predicted in Numbers 24:17. The name Son of Consolation (Acts 4:36) doubtless means, “The Consoler.” “Sons of Thunder” (Mark 3:17) probably means “Thunderous Men.” “Son of Man,” especially as applied to Christ in Daniel 7:13 and constantly in the New Testament, essentially means “The Representative Man.” Thus for Christ to say, “I am the Son of God” (John 10:36) was understood by His contemporaries as identifying Himself as God, equal with the Father, in an unqualified sense.
Not only did Jesus make the claim to be equal with God for Himself, but the writers of the New Testament did the same. See John 1:1; 20:28; Romans 9:5; Philippians 2:6; Titus 2:13.
2. His works. Furthermore, Jesus of Nazareth claimed to do certain things which only God can do. In a classic confrontation with the scribes the Lord demonstrated He had the power to forgive sins by healing a man sick of the palsy. The scribes considered this claim to be blasphemy because they recognized that only God can forgive sins. The miracle of healing was done in order to validate Christ’s claim to be able to forgive sins (Mk 2:1–12).
On other occasions He claimed that all judgment was given into His hands (Jn 5:27), that He would send the Holy Spirit (Jn 15:26), and that He would be the one to raise the dead (Jn 5:25). Since these are all prerogatives of deity, they substantiate His claim to be God or else they make Him a liar.
Elsewhere in the New Testament, works are attributed to Christ which only God can perform, further substantiating His equality with God. See John 1:3 and Colossians 1:16 for His work of creating, Colossians 1:17 and Hebrews 1:3 for the work of upholding all things, and Acts 17:31 for His being Judge of all men.
3. His characteristics. Jesus of Nazareth possessed characteristics which only God has. He claimed to be all-powerful (Mt 28:18; cf. Rev 1:8); He displayed knowledge that could only have come from His being omniscient (Mk 2:8; Jn 1:48); He made a promise which we often quote that depends on His being present everywhere (Mt 18:20; cf. Mt 28:20; Eph 1:23). These very distinctive claims indicate either that He was God or a great deceiver.
4. His ascriptions. Others ascribed to the Lord the prerogatives of deity in substantiation of His own claims. He was worshiped by men and by angels (Mt 14:33; Phil 2:10; Heb 1:6). His name is coupled with other Members of the Trinity in a relationship of equality (Mt 28:19; 2 Co 13:14). The writer to the Hebrews declared that He was the same in substance with the Father—“the exact likeness of his substance” (Heb 1:3, free trans.). Coupled with Paul’s statement that “in Him dwells all the fulness of deity in bodily form” (Col 2:9, free trans.), these are very strong declarations of His full deity equal with the deity of the Father and the Spirit. Too, He is called Yahweh in the New Testament, which could only be true if He were fully God. Notice Luke 1:76 compared with Malachi 3:1, and Romans 10:13 compared with Joel 2:32. Add other names of deity which He is given (God, Heb 1:8; Lord, Mt 22:43–45; King of kings and Lord of lords, Rev 19:16), and we can only conclude that Christ’s deity is fully attested by the ascriptions given Him in the New Testament.
Remember that in each of these four lines of evidences for the deity of Christ, the proofs have been cited from two sources—the claims which the Lord Himself made as taken from His own words, and the claims which others made of Him in New Testament books other than the gospels. Both are equally valid, though there are some people today who deprecate the writers of the New Testament but who still pay some attention to Christ’s own words. In helping people to acknowledge the evidence for the deity of our Lord it may be useful to keep this distinction in mind and present to them first Christ’s own claims before presenting the evidence of the rest of the New Testament.
Ryrie, C. C. (1995). A survey of Bible doctrine. Chicago: Moody Press.
Tags: Deity of Christ, Humanity of Christ, Is Jesus God?, Jesus and the fig tree, Jesus Christ, Jesus Christ our High Priest
Evidence for the Deity and Humanity of Christ
In our consideration of the doctrine of the virgin birth, we were looking at this babe in Bethlehem, of whom we assert that He is God the eternal Son. That obviously means that we must look a little more closely at what the Bible tells us about this person who came into the world as a baby, grew into a boy, developed into manhood, and set out on His public ministry. It is of vital importance that we should be clear with regard to the doctrine concerning Him; we have already adduced evidence to show the importance of that. So before we make any attempt to understand what the Bible teaches us about this great mystery, we must look at the evidence with which it presents us in order that we may arrive at an adequate doctrine of His person.
Now we find at once that the Bible tells us two main things. The first is that it makes many claims to the effect that He is divine; it asserts and teaches His divinity or, still more accurately, His deity. The evidence for this is voluminous and it could occupy a great deal of time, so we must just look at some brief headings at this point. You can look at the evidence and check it for yourselves at leisure; I simply want to classify it in order to make your study a little more easy.
The first evidence is that certain divine names are ascribed to Him. Indeed, altogether some sixteen names are ascribed to Him, each of which clearly implies His deity. Here are some of them. He is described as the ‘Son of God’ forty times; He is referred to as ‘his Son’ (God’s Son); God refers to Him audibly as ‘my Son’. So there in various forms is that title ‘Son’, ‘Son of God’.
Then five times He is also referred to as the ‘only begotten Son of God’. You find it in John 1:18—‘the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father’—and there are many others: a notable one is the parable of the wicked husbandman, when God says, ‘They will reverence my son’ (Matt. 21:37). The teaching there is perfectly clear, the words are uttered by our Lord Himself.
He is described in Revelation 1:17 as ‘the first and the last’, and in verse 11 of the same chapter as the ‘Alpha and Omega’, the beginning and the end. These are obviously terms of deity; there is nothing before the beginning and nothing after the end. Then Peter, preaching in Jerusalem—you will find it recorded in Acts 3:14—refers to Him as the ‘Holy One’: ‘But ye denied the Holy One and the Just.’ Again, these are terms of deity.
Take also that great term ‘the Lord’ which is used of Him several hundred times in the New Testament. That word is equivalent to the Old Testament term ‘Jehovah’, which we have already considered together, one of the highest titles ascribed to God. Another term used for Him is ‘the Lord of glory’. You will find that in 1 Corinthians 2:8: ‘Had they known it,’ says Paul, ‘they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.’ It is a most exalted term.
Then He is actually referred to as ‘God’; Thomas says, ‘My Lord and my God’ (John 20:28). He is also described as ‘Emmanuel … God with us’ in Matthew 1:23; and there is a most remarkable statement in Titus 2:13 where He is referred to as our ‘great God and Saviour Jesus Christ’. Again, another equally remarkable ascription is found in Romans 9:5: ‘Whose are the fathers, and of whom as concerning the flesh Christ came, who is over all, God blessed for ever.’
So there you have a number of names which are ascribed to Him, all of which are divine names.
But, second, the Bible also ascribes to Him certain divine attributes. You remember that when we were dealing with the doctrine of God we considered the divine attributes. Now you will find that those very attributes are also ascribed to our Lord. For instance, omnipotence: Hebrews 1:3 says that He upholds ‘all things by the word of his power’—no stronger statement than that is possible—and that ‘all things are put under him’ (1 Cor. 15:27). There are others also which you can find for yourself.
Then omniscience is attributed to Him: in Matthew 11:27 we read, ‘No man knoweth the Son, but the Father; neither knoweth any man the Father, save the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal him.’ In John 2:24–5 you will find the same claim: ‘he knew what was in man’. It was not necessary for anybody to tell Him.
Then in a very extraordinary way omnipresence is attributed to Him also. In Matthew 18:20 it says, ‘For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I …’ In Matthew 28:20 He says, ‘And, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end …’ And in John 3:13 there is a very striking statement: ‘No man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven.’ He said those words while He was on earth—the Son of man who is ‘in heaven’. And, indeed, the apostle Paul writes, He ‘filleth all in all’ (Eph. 1:23)—again, a very comprehensive statement.
Another divine attribute is His eternity: ‘In the beginning was the Word’ (John 1:1). We also have statements about His immutability: He cannot change. Hebrews 13:8 tells us, ‘Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever.’ Then, of course, the Bible asserts His pre-existence. Colossians 1:17 tells us, ‘And he is before all things …’ In John 17:5 He prays, ‘And now, O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self with the glory which I had with thee before the world was.’ And again, in the great passage in Philippians 2:6 Paul asserts that He was in the ‘form’ of God before His incarnation.
Finally, to sum it all up, we have another comprehensive statement of His deity in Colossians 2:9 where Paul says, ‘For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily.’
Then, third, we go on to consider certain divine offices which He is said to hold and to fill. First of all creation: ‘All things were made by him; and without him was not anything made that was made’ (John 1:3). You find the same thing repeated in Colossians 1:16, and again in Hebrews 1:10. But we are also told that He preserves everything. Hebrews 1:3 refers to Him ‘upholding all things by the word of his power’. And again in Colossians 1:17 you will find that ‘by him all things consist’.
Notice also that He did not hesitate to claim the power to forgive sins. He said to the paralysed man, ‘Thy sins be forgiven thee’ (Mark 2:5). He also claimed power to raise the dead; you will find that mentioned several times in John 6:39–44, ‘I will raise him up,’ he said, ‘at the last day.’ The apostle Paul claims that He also has power to transform our bodies: ‘Who shall change our vile body [or this body of our humiliation], that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself’ (Phil. 3:21).
Judgment, too, is committed to Him; read John 5:22–3: ‘For the Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son.’ Again, Paul makes that claim in Acts 17:31, and you also find it in 2 Timothy 4:1: ‘The Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead.’ So the power of judgment is given to Him, and also the power of bestowing eternal life: ‘And I give unto them eternal life’ (John 10:28). John 17:2 says the same thing: ‘… that he should give eternal life to as many as thou hast given him’.
The fourth piece of evidence for His deity is this: statements in the Old Testament which are made distinctly of Jehovah are, in the New Testament, ascribed to the Lord Jesus Christ and are definitions of Him. I shall not give you the words in full but I will give you the texts so that you can look them up for yourself: Psalm 102:24–7 (compare Hebrews 1:10–12); Isaiah 40:3–4 (compare Matthew 3:3; Luke 1:76); Isaiah 6:1, 3, 10 (compare John 12:37–8); Isaiah 8:13–14 (compare 1 Peter 2:7–8).
Now we can sum up all that by putting it like this: in the Old Testament the term ‘Lord’ is always used of God, except when the context makes it perfectly clear that it is used of a man in the sense of ‘Sir’. In exactly the same way when the term ‘Lord’ is used in the New Testament, it is always used of the lordship of Jesus Christ—that is, His deity—except when the context makes it quite plain that ‘Sir’ is intended. So we have this tremendous fact that these specific terms which are used directly of Jehovah are also used of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Then the fifth piece of evidence is the way in which the names of God the Father and Jesus Christ the Son are coupled together. There are several examples of this. Christ Himself said, ‘Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost’ (Matt. 28:19). Romans 1:7 speaks of ‘God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ’. In 2 Corinthians 13:14, in the so-called ‘apostolic benediction’, we read, ‘The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Ghost, be with you all.’ 1 Thessalonians 3:11 says, ‘Now God himself and our Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ, direct our way unto you.’ And, indeed, you will find it in James 1:1, ‘James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ …’
That brings us to the sixth bit of evidence: divine worship is ascribed to the Lord Jesus Christ. He accepted such worship from men and women when He was on earth. You will find that in Matthew 28:9 and in Luke 24:52. But you get it also by way of exhortation in 1 Corinthians 1:2 where Paul refers to ‘all that in every place call upon the name of Jesus Christ our Lord…’ That is worship. In 2 Corinthians 12:8–9 Paul tells us, ‘For this thing I besought the Lord thrice…’—it is the Lord Jesus Christ, that is quite clear from the context. In Acts 7:59 we read of Stephen, as he was being stoned: ‘And they stoned Stephen, calling upon God, and saying, Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.’ Indeed, our Lord Himself already prepared us for all this when He said, ‘That all men should honour the Son, even as they honour the Father. He that honoureth not the Son honoureth not the Father which hath sent him’ (John 5:23). There are other instances, also, of worship ascribed to Him, and the claim in Philippians 2:10 is that a time is coming when ‘at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth.’
And that brings me to the seventh point, which is our Lord’s own self-consciousness and His own specific claims to deity. I shall simply give you some of the references which I regard as most important, though there are many others. The first is found in Luke 2, in the incident described in verses 41–52, when He said that He must be about His Father’s business or, ‘about the things of my Father’—a most remarkable claim made when he was but a twelve-year-old boy. You get exactly the same thing at His baptism. When He went to John to be baptised, John remonstrated with Him and said, ‘I have need to be baptized of thee, and comest thou to me?’ Now our Lord did not reject that statement, but simply replied, ‘Suffer it to be so now’ (Matt. 3:14–15). In other words, He accepted John’s words, and thereby acknowledged His superiority to John. And in this connection we notice again the voice from heaven that attested His deity (v. 17).
Then you find much the same kind of thing in the account of His temptation. The devil tempted Him like this each time—‘If thou be the Son of God …’—and He never said He was not. He accepted the devil’s statement and proved to Him that He is the Son of God. Thus by accepting the statement He asserted and claimed His own deity. And He did so, of course, in many other ways. In the calling of the Twelve, for instance, He was clearly asserting it, and in giving power to them, in giving them the message and the power to cast out devils, He was, again, claiming this uniqueness. And you also get it in the fact that He specifically said of believers in Him that, ‘In my name shall they cast out devils’ (Mark 16:17).
We find, too, that He made this unique claim of deity for Himself in the Sermon on the Mount. He did it by contrasting what they had heard from ‘them of old time’ with what He Himself said, (Matt. 5:21, 27, 33). And then there is the specific claim in John 8:58: ‘Before Abraham was, I am.’ Once more also I would refer you to that statement in Matthew 11:27 where He claimed unique knowledge of the Father. But in many ways the most important section of Scripture under this heading is to be found in John chapters 14–17. As you study them at your leisure, notice His claim to and His consciousness of His unique deity.
Then, the eighth piece of evidence is the virgin birth. This, of course, and everything that the Scriptures teach us about it, is again a proof of His deity. And to bring it all to its climax, the apostle Paul teaches us in Romans 1:4 that ultimately what proves and declares the Lord Jesus Christ to be the Son of God is His resurrection: ‘declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead.’
There, then, we have looked in general at the great scriptural evidence for His deity. As I have said, it is voluminous, but we have taken a kind of synoptic view of it, and those are the main headings into which it can be classified.
But, of course, we must also move on to the second great claim, and see that the Scriptures also, equally definitely, teach His humanity. And we cannot arrive at an adequate doctrine of the person without again looking carefully at the evidence which is provided in the Scriptures for His humanity. Now we have already considered the first piece of evidence here; it, again, is the virgin birth, and all the arguments in connection with it. All those again establish the fact of His humanity—all the arguments about the precise nature of the doctrine of the incarnation, that it was not a phantom body, and so on, but that He really did take on human nature, that He was truly the son of the Virgin Mary, and that it was not an appearance but a fact; all those are our first proof.
The second, again, is provided by names. Take, for instance, what you read in 1 Timothy 2:5: ‘For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.’ He is described as ‘the man’. And you notice—you cannot have read the Gospels without noticing—the frequency with which the term ‘the Son of man’ is used about Him. It is used over eighty times! Now the Son of man, of course, is a very special term, and it has a very special significance. At this point, I am simply concerned to remind you, and to emphasise, that He is described in this way. That clearly is an indication of His humanity.
Then the third thing that the Scriptures make abundantly plain and clear is that He had a typical human, physical nature. Take that statement in John 1:14: ‘The Word was made flesh’, or ‘became flesh’. Consider also the statements in Hebrews 2 that we considered in the last lecture, particularly verse 14, where we are told that because the children are partakers of flesh and blood ‘he also himself likewise took part of the same’. Then another very striking bit of evidence under this heading is that He obviously looked like a man. Not only that, we also have evidence to prove that He looked like a typical Jew. You remember what we are told of the incident of the woman of Samaria meeting our Lord at the well, and how she expressed her astonishment that He should speak to her: ‘How is it that thou, being a Jew, askest drink of me, which am a woman of Samaria?’ (John 4:9). She had no idea who He was, but when He spoke to her she at once recognised that He was a Jew.
Then, under this same heading of His physical frame, the Scriptures teach us that He still had this human body even after His resurrection. When He appeared to the disciples, when Thomas was present in the room and He was anxious to prove to Thomas that He was the same person, He said, ‘Reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into my side: and be not faithless, but believing’ (John 20:27). But we find a still more specific statement in Luke 24:39 where He told the disciples that He was not a spirit: ‘For,’ He said, ‘a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have.’ So He still had a true human body, even after His resurrection.
Indeed, I can go beyond that: there is evidence in the Scripture to teach us that He still has His human body in glory. In Acts 7:55–6 we are told that Stephen saw the Son of man in the glory, and he saw Him as the Son of man. He is still the Son of man, and recognisable as such. Or again, Paul says in Philippians 3:21, ‘Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body …’ His glorious body; it is still the same body glorified. That is a most remarkable statement and a striking piece of evidence.
That brings us to point number four, which is that like all of us He was subject to growth and development: ‘And the child grew, and waxed strong in spirit, filled with wisdom: and the grace of God was upon him’ (Luke 2:40). In the same chapter we read, ‘And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man’ (v. 52). Hebrews 2:10 says, ‘For it became him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings’—a suggestion of growth and of development. And, still more specifically, in Hebrews 5:8 we read, ‘Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered.’
The fifth evidence of His humanity is that here on earth he was subject to certain limitations in His knowledge. There is an instance of this in Mark 11:13—the incident of the barren fig tree. We are told that our Lord came to it expecting to find fruit. He did not know that it had none. Also, in Mark 13:32 we read these most important and momentous words: ‘But of that day and that hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father.’ He said specifically that He did not know the precise time of this day which is coming; not only the angels, but even He did not know it, only the Father. Now in our next study, when we come to the doctrine itself, we shall try to consider the significance of these statements about the humanity and deity of our Lord. I am simply providing you with the evidence, the material out of which the doctrine is formed.
So that brings us to proof number six, which is that He was subject to physical limitation. Again in John 4, in the instance of the woman of Samaria, we are told that he was weary. He sat down by the side of the well, and did not go with the disciples to buy provisions, because he was physically tired. We read that He fell asleep in the boat on the sea, in the stern of the vessel (Mark 4:36–41). We are told that going one morning to Jerusalem, He was hungry—the incident of the barren fig tree again. He was thirsty; we are told that upon the cross He said, ‘I thirst’ (John 19:28). He endured physical agony; He was in an agony in the Garden of Gethsemane. He was there sweating great drops of blood. And finally, of course, and conclusively, and most important of all, He actually, literally died; and His death—this physical limitation—is the ultimate proof of His humanity.
The seventh evidence is that He was tempted. We find this in Hebrews 2:18, in addition to the Gospel accounts of the temptation in the wilderness; and in Hebrews 4:15 it is put specifically like this—He was ‘in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin’.
Proof number eight is that He needed to pray. Now here is a great theme. Watch the frequency with which our Lord prayed, and ask yourself why. Why did He pray all night before He chose His disciples? He was constantly engaged in prayer; and as He came to face the end, He went into that Garden to pray, and asked the three disciples to pray with Him and for Him. The need of prayer is an absolute proof of His true humanity.
And then you can look at it like this, as the ninth proof: He was given power by the Holy Spirit. Though He is the eternal Son of God, He needed the power, which He was given. Listen to Peter in Acts 10:38: ‘How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power: who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil; for God was with him.’ God anointed Him with the Holy Spirit and with power. That, of course, is the significance, partly, of His baptism and of the descent of the Holy Spirit upon Him then. Notice, too, John the Baptist’s statement in John 3:34 that ‘God giveth not the Spirit by measure unto him’ (v. 34)—He had the Spirit in all His fulness.
Evidence number ten is that He referred to God as His God. In John 20:17, we read, ‘Jesus saith unto her, Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father: but go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God’ (John 20:17).
But what you also see there is again a great comprehensive claim—this is the eleventh point—that He really was human in every respect. Hebrews 2:17 says, ‘Wherefore in all things it behoved him to be made like unto his brethren, that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people.’ That is a crucial statement and we shall come back to it again. I am simply asserting now that it claims that He was made like unto His brethren in all things, though, remember always, without sin; but in body and soul and spirit He was human. He said, ‘My soul is exceeding sorrowful’ (Luke 23:46). He was truly human in every respect.
And yet finally we must emphasise this fact that the Scriptures also remind us everywhere that though He was truly human He was also sinless. Now we have seen that the angel had already told Mary about this. He said, ‘That holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God’ (Luke 1:35). That is the first assertion of His sinlessness. But also our Lord challenged people to convict Him of sin: ‘Which of you convinceth me of sin?’ (John 8:46). Then let us consider some of the great claims that are put forward in the epistles, for example, the classic statement of Paul in 2 Corinthians 5:21: ‘He hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.’ And again there is the statement in Hebrews 4:15 which I have already quoted—‘[He] was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.’ In Hebrews 9:14 we are told that He ‘offered himself without spot to God’. No blemish; no sin; a perfect sin-offering, fulfilling the Old Testament type. In 1 Peter 2:22 we find Peter saying of Him, ‘Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth,’ and 1 John 3:5 claims exactly the same: ‘In him is no sin.’
Now there are other statements which are careful to tell us (and you notice the importance of believing in the full inspiration of the Scriptures, and the importance of every word) that He came in the ‘likeness of sinful flesh’ (Rom 8:3). He did not come in sinful flesh. Paul goes out of his way to say that. So we can, perhaps, put it best like this: the Scriptures claim that He was truly human, but they never say that He was carnal. And this is a most important point, because carnality is not an essential part of humanity. Adam, as he was created perfect at the beginning, was truly human, but he was not carnal. Carnality is the result of sin, and the Scriptures therefore never say that Christ was carnal. So here again we see the importance of taking our doctrines in their right chronological and logical sequence, because we see that He took unto Himself human nature from Mary, as the result of the operation of the Holy Spirit upon her. He was truly human but free from sin.
Now I trust that no one is in any difficulty about the fact that He was subject to temptation, because this does not imply any defect in Him whatsoever. Of course, He could not have been subject to temptation if He had not become human: ‘For God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man’ (Jas. 1:13). So the fact that He was tempted proves that His nature was truly human nature. So we assert that He was subject to temptation but was at the same time sinless.
Indeed, we can go further and say that He was not even subject to the fall. You remember the famous statement which I quoted when we were dealing with this whole subject of sin: that it was not merely the case that it was possible for Him not to sin, but rather, it was not possible for Him to sin. And that is the essential difference between Christ and Adam; that is the difference between the first Adam and the second Adam. The first Adam was perfect. He had not sinned, but sin was possible. It was possible for Adam not to sin, but you could not say of him that it was not possible for him to sin, because he did sin. But of the Son of God we say that not only was it possible for Him not to sin—posse non peccare; it was also not possible for Him to sin—non posse peccare—because He is the Son of God. He is God-Man. Not only human but also divine. But still, because human, subject to temptation, and the devil did tempt Him. And so we see the importance of asserting at one and the same time the doctrine of His true humanity and yet also the doctrine of His complete sinlessness. In other words, it is not essential to temptation that there should be anything sinful in the one who is tempted. Temptation can be purely external, and the fact that it is so does not in any sense mean that it is no longer temptation. The devil tempted Him with all his might, in a way that nobody else has ever been tempted. It was a real temptation, but He at the same time was entirely free from sin, and it was not possible that He could or should fall. God sent Him to be the Saviour, and because of that there could not be, and there was no failure.
So we have looked in general at the evidence for His divinity and His humanity. We shall start our next study by showing that this person, of whom it is claimed that He is divine and human and that He is God the Son, nevertheless subordinated Himself to the Father. And then we shall consider what the Scripture tells us about His character, the nature of this person who is divine and human, and we shall attempt, in the light of the teaching of Scripture, to hold those two statements together.
Lloyd-Jones, D. M. (1996). God the Father, God the Son (266–276). Wheaton, Ill.: Crossway Books.