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The Deity of Christ

Jesus on Galilee

by Dennis Pollock

It is, beyond dispute, the most important question you will ever have to answer. Life makes room for mistakes in many things. For thousands of years the majority of men on earth were convinced that the earth was flat, and managed to make it through life without being unduly harmed. Likewise it was assumed by nearly all that the sun revolved around the earth for most of recorded history, and we were not much the worse for our error. You can be wrong in your views of politics, sports, or weather, and still function quite nicely. But when it comes to the question, "Who is this Jesus?", you cannot afford to be wrong. Everything rides upon your answer.

George Gallup decided to discover what America thought about Jesus Christ, and took a survey he called "How America Sees Jesus." The poll revealed that, while 81 percent of Americans considered themselves Christians, there was a major difference in how they viewed the Savior. 80 percent of Americans believe that Jesus was the Son of God. However only 42 percent believe that He was God among men. Apparently most Americans can accept His Sonship, but only a minority can accept His deity. 

The question may be asked, "Isn't it enough to believe that Jesus is the Son of God? Why must we proclaim Him to be God?" My answer would simply be that we must believe everything the Scripture says about Him—nothing less and nothing more. If the Scripture declares Him divine, co-equal with the Father, we dare not believe anything less. One thing the Scriptures most definitely emphasize is that what we believe about Jesus is of the utmost importance. Jesus declared to the Jews of His day, "If you believe not that I am (He), you will die in your sins" (John 8:24). 

THE TESTIMONY OF THE CHURCH 

The historic Christian church has always affirmed Christ's deity. The early church fathers, beginning with the apostles John and Thomas, have readily acknowledged the amazing fact that the Jesus Christ who roamed the hills of Galilee, and taught in the synagogues of Israel, was and is God made manifest in human flesh. This startling declaration sets Christianity apart from the other world religions of modern and ancient times. Moses made no such claim, nor Buddha, nor Confucius, nor Mohammed. Amazingly it is the lowly Nazarene thirty year old ex-carpenter who was proclaimed equal with God by John, Thomas, Paul, and millions of Christians since then.

If Jesus Christ be not God, then the Christian church, from its very infancy, has been grossly deceived and have always been idolaters. To worship, praise, exalt, pray to, and supremely love one who is anything less than God would be blasphemy of the highest order.

 Consider what some of the earliest church fathers have said about Jesus: 

Justin Martyr, around the year 140, declared that "Christ the first born Word of God, existed as God' that He is Lord and God, as being the Son of God' and that He was the God of Israel." 

Irenaeus, around the year 178, declared that "Christ, as God, was adored by the Prophets; was the God of the living and the living God; that He spoke to Moses in the bush." 

Tatian, Bishop of Antioch in the latter part of the second century, states, "We declare that God was born in human form." 

Melito, Bishop of Sardis at the same time says, "We are worshippers of one God, who is before all, and in all, in His Christ, who is truly God the Eternal Word." 

The Council of Antioch, which convened about the year 264, declared, "In the whole Church, He is believed to be God, who emptied Himself, indeed of a state of equality with God." 

The Cults' View of Jesus 

Down through the ages the historic church has always affirmed, and the cults have always denied the central truth of Jesus' divinity. Compare the above quotes by orthodox leaders of the early church with the following declarations about Jesus by members of modern cults. 

Unification Church: "Jesus, on earth, was a man no different from us except for the fact that he was without original sin" (Divine Principle; p.212). Jesus Christ is the one man who lived God's ideal in its fullest realization ... But after his crucifixion, Christianity made Jesus into God. This is why the gap between God and man has never been bridged. Jesus is a man in whom God is incarnate. But he is not God Himself" (New Hope; pp.12-13). 

Unitarian Universalism: "Unitarians do not believe that Jesus is the Messiah either of Jewish hope or the Christian fantasy. They do not believe he is 'God incarnate or the Second Person in the Trinity'" ("What is a Unitarian?" Look magazine) 

Rosicrucian Society: "In studying this Trinity, first let it be clearly understood that the word 'Son' does not mean Jesus" (Rosicrucian Fundamentals; p.19) 

Mormonism: "Many men say there is one God' the Father, the Son, the Holy Ghost are only one God. I say that is a strange God anyhow—three in one, and one is three." (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith; p. 372). 

Christian Science: "The Christian who believes in the First Commandment is a monotheist. Thus he virtually unites with the Jew's belief in one God, and recognizes that Jesus Christ is not God." (Science and Health; p. 361) 

The Way: (In the book, Jesus Christ is NOT God by V.P. Weirwille) "They (the Father and the Son) are not 'co-eternal, without beginning or end, and co-equal.'" (Jesus Christ is NOT God; p.5). 

Jehovah's Witnesses: "The Word or Logos is not God or the God, but is the Son of God, and hence is a god." (New World Translation; p. 775) "The very fact that he was sent proves he was not equal with God but was less than God the Father" (The Word -- Who is He?; p. 19) 

Theosophy: All men are innate divinity ... so in time all men become christs" (Is Theosophy Anti-Christian?; p. 16)

It is evident that one of the classic trademarks of the cults is a very fuzzy picture of who Jesus is. Most do not deny His existence, but fashion for themselves a Jesus of their own making, and nearly always is this Jesus something less than "God with us". The apostle Paul, knowing the dreadful and eternal consequences of receiving a spurious version of the real Jesus, had this to say to the church at Corinth: "You seem so gullible; you believe whatever anyone tells you even if he is preaching about another Jesus than the one we preach ..." (Living Bible).  

THE TESTIMONY OF THE SCRIPTURES 

Scriptures

The reason the historic Christian church has always affirmed the deity of Christ is really quite simple—the same Bible which tells us of His virgin birth, sinless life, death on the cross, and resurrection the third day speaks powerfully about His place in the Godhead. If Christ were not God, the apostles Peter, Paul and John (writers of the vast majority of the epistles in the New Testament) were clearly deceived. If these men were in error, what hope is there for any of us to understand and know the truth? Throw out Christ's deity, and all you have left is an uncertain, watered-down, impotent gospel which is no gospel at all. 

Peter, Paul and John were surely pretty good authorities on the person of Jesus Christ. Peter was the pre-eminent apostle in the early days of the church, and was chosen by Jesus to first proclaim the gospel to the Gentiles. John was considered the disciple closest to Jesus, and Paul was given the great truth of justification by faith that has served as the cardinal doctrine of the church relating to salvation. Paul's epistle to the Romans stands today as the premiere treatise on theology in the history of mankind. Consider their view of the Christ they loved so dearly and served so faithfully. 

PETER: "To those who have obtained like precious faith with us by the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ" (2 Peter 1:1) 

PAUL: "Looking for that blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ" (Titus 2:13). 

JOHN: "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God" (John 1:1) 

If these three men felt comfortable referring to Jesus as their God, why are so many Americans so uneasy with such a claim? You couldn't get a Jehovah's witness to say "I believe Jesus is God" for anything in the world. (They will tell you that Jesus is "a god") 

THOMAS' CONFESSION 

Poor Thomas has long been known as the king of all doubters. And while perhaps he came to this distinction honestly, we often fail to give him credit for his confession of Christ that far excels every other confession in both understanding and faith. 

The apostle John tells us that eight days after His resurrection, Jesus finally appeared to Thomas. Having missed Him on His first appearance, Thomas had firmly declared, "I won't believe unless I can see and touch the wounds in His hands and feet." Jesus, ever merciful, accommodated him. "Reach your finger here, and look at My hands; and reach your hand here, and put it into My side. Do not be unbelieving, but believing." Thomas needed no more evidence. His reply to Jesus is perhaps the most astonishing declaration ever made by the lips of man, when he cried out in awe, "My Lord and My God!" (John 20:24-28).  

Jesus did not rebuke him for blasphemy or idolatry. He did not declare, as Peter did to Cornelius, "Stand up; I myself am also a man." (Acts 10:26). Rather He received Thomas' worship and declared, "Because you have seen Me, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed" (John 20:29). 

How about you? Have you ever worshipped Jesus as Thomas did? Have you ever praised Him as your Lord and your God? It is interesting to see how God the Father addresses Jesus the Son. He does not call Him sonny boy or junior. In Hebrews we read: "To the Son He says, 'Your throne, O God, is forever and ever; a scepter of righteousness is the scepter of Your kingdom." 

This is what makes Christianity unique. All the world's religions attempt to show us how man, by his diligent efforts can somehow reach up to God and achieve acceptance, relationship, and purpose. The record of the Scriptures reveals rather that God has emptied Himself to become a man, in order to make those things possible. "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 into glory" (1 Timothy 3:16). All praise to our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ!

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