Jesus Christ, the condescension of divinity, and the exaltation of humanity.
The exclusive claim of Christianity about Christ is not centered on our belief that Jesus was right about God. It is centered on our claim that God was fully present in Christ to reconcile the world to Himself (2 Cor. 5:18). It is the theological claim about Jesus (that He is God) that makes the spiritual claims of Jesus potent. Jesus’ words are right because those words are God’s words (Jn. 14:10b). Jesus’ “way” is not superior because it promotes a higher ethic or because it champions values that resonate with our spiritual sensitivities. Jesus’ way is true because in Him we find God drawing us to Himself.
We must either worship Christ as God or despise or pity Him as man.
If Christ is truly God, His claim to be the only way has to be taken seriously. If on the other hand, He is merely one more person in a pantheon of pretenders, His proclamations can easily be pushed aside. That is precisely why the resurrection is axiomatic to Christianity. Through the resurrection, Christ demonstrated that He does not stand in a line of peers with Buddha, Baha’u’llah, Krishna, or any founder of a world religion. They died and are still dead, but Christ is risen. Ultimately, resurrection and reincarnation are mutually exclusive because the former is a historical fact, while the latter is but a Hindu fantasy.
All divine names and titles are applied to Him. He is called God, the mighty God, the great God, God over all; Jehovah; Lord; the Lord of lords and the King of kings. All divine attributes are ascribed to Him. He is declared to be omnipresent, omniscient, almighty, and immutable, the same yesterday, today, and forever. He is set forth as the creator and upholder and ruler of the universe. All things were created by Him and for Him; and by Him all things consist. He is the object of worship to all intelligent creatures, even the highest; all the angels (i.e., all creatures between man and God) are commanded to prostrate themselves before Him. He is the object of all the religious sentiments; of reverence, love, faith, and devotion. To Him men and angels are responsible for their character and conduct. He required that men should honour Him as they honoured the Father; that they should exercise the same faith in Him that they do in God. He declares that He and the Father are one; that those who had seen Him had seen the Father also. He calls all men unto Him; promises to forgive their sins; to send them the Holy Spirit; to give them rest and peace; to raise them up at the last day; and to give them eternal life. God is not more, and cannot promise more, or do more than Christ is said to be, to promise, and to do. He has, therefore, been the Christian’s God from the beginning, in all ages and in all places.
The doctrine of Christ’s divinity seems to me not something stuck on which you can unstick but something that peeps out at every point so that you’d have to unravel the whole web to get rid of it.
A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic – on a level with the man who says he is a poached egg – or else the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God: or else a madman or something worse. You can shut him up for a fool, you can spit at him and kill him as a demon, or you can fall at his feet and call him Lord and God. But let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about his being a great moral teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.
If you do not believe in the unique deity of the Lord Jesus Christ, you are not a Christian, whatever else you may be. We are not looking at a good Man only, we are not interested merely in the greatest Teacher the world has ever seen; we are face to face with the fact that God, the Eternal Son, has been in this world, and that He took upon Him human nature and dwelt among us, a Man amongst men – God-Man. We are face to face with the mystery and the marvel of the Incarnation and of the Virgin Birth. It is all here, and it shines out in all the fullness of its amazing glory. “What manner of Man is this?” He is more than Man. That is the answer – He is also God.
If we could condense all the truths of Christmas into only three words, these would be the words: “God with us.” We tend to focus our attention at Christmas on the infancy of Christ. The greater truth of the holiday is His deity. More astonishing than a baby in the manger is the truth that this promised baby is the omnipotent Creator of the heavens and the earth!
That Jesus is Himself God is the heart of the gospel, because apart from His deity He could not save a single soul. No heresy so corrupts the gospel and robs it of its power as the teaching that Jesus is not God. Apart from His deity, there is no gospel and no salvation.
Scripture clearly proclaims Jesus as being God. Long before His birth it was divinely predicted that He would be called Immanuel, which means “God with us,” (Matt. 1:23; cf. Isa. 7:14). He was called by many divine names, such as “the Holy and Righteous One,” (Acts 3:14). It declares that to know Jesus is to know God the Father (John 8:19; 14:7), to hate Him is to hate the Father (15:23), and to believe in Him is to believe in the Father (Matt. 10:40; John 12:44; 14:1). It affirms that to see Him is to see the Father (John 14:9), to honor Him is to honor the Father (5:23), and to receive Him is to receive the Father (Mark 9:37). It proclaims that Jesus is omnipotent (Matt. 28:18), omnipresent (Matt. 28:20), changeless (Heb. 13:8), creator of the world (John 1:3), able to forgive sin (Mark 2:5-10) and is to be worshiped as God (Phil. 2:9-11; cf. Matt. 28:9, Heb 1:6).
When Jesus was called “Son of God,” it was understood categorically by all as a title of deity, declaring Him equal with God and (more significantly) of the same essence as the Father. That is precisely why the Jewish leaders regarded the title Son of God the ultimate high blasphemy.
Prayer to Jesus Christ constitutes yet another evidence for his deity. Jesus instructed His disciples to pray to Him (John 14:14; 15:16; 16:23-24). Acts 1:24-25 records that the disciples prayed to Christ for guidance in choosing a replacement for Judas Iscariot. Stephen voiced two prayerful requests to Jesus: “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit,” and “Lord, do not hold this sin against them” (Acts 7:59-60). In Damascus, Ananias instructed Saul to be baptized and to call on the name of Jesus (Acts 22:16). The apostle Paul later wrote that “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved” (Rom. 10:13; see 1 Cor. 1:2). Paul also appealed to Christ to remove the “messenger of Satan” from him (2 Cor. 12:7-8). Indeed, the New Testament closes with a prayer to Christ: “Come, Lord Jesus!” (Rev. 22:20).
God the Son by John MacArthur and Richard Mayhue taken from Biblical Doctrine by John MacArthur and Richard Mayhue, copyright 2017, Crossway Books, a division of Good News Publishers, Wheaton Illinois 60187, www.crosswaybooks.org. Page 256.
When the Bible says that Christ is God, it does not ask us to forget a single thing that it has said about the stupendous majesty of God. No, it asks us to remember every one of those things in order that we may apply them all to Jesus Christ.
Think of it. In order for God to atone for man’s sin, someone had to subject Himself to death. Yet only one who had unlimited ability to atone for sin could do that, only a perfect man. He had to have unlimited ability to atone, because He would be shedding His blood for all humankind. He had to be perfect because God accepts only unblemished sacrifices. Who could do that? Only God. And God the Son shed His own blood for us (Acts 20:28) (Josh McDowell and Bart Larson).
If it is not superhuman authority that speaks to us here, it is surely superhuman arrogance (Griffith Thomas).
Depend on it, my hearer, you never will go to heaven unless you are prepared to worship Jesus Christ as God.
He is the King of kings, the radiance of His glory, the Lord of the spaceless, fabulous, infinite universe, omniscient, omnipotent, omnipresent, unspeakable holy, dwelling in light, unapproachable, changeless … and yet He condescended to be enclosed in lowly human flesh, to be born a despised Judean, in a filthy stable, in the womb of a simple Israeli woman and without fanfare or pomp.
Athanasius, early bishop of Alexandria, stoutly opposed the teachings of Arius, who declared that Christ was not the eternal Son of God, but a subordinate being. Hounded through five exiles, he was finally summoned before emperor Theodosius, who demanded he cease his opposition to Arius. The emperor reproved him and asked, “Do you not realize that all the world is against you?” Athanasius quickly answered, “Then I am against all the world.”
We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ, the only Son of God, eternally begotten of the Father, God from God, light from light, true God from true God, begotten, not made, of one Being with the Father.
Among the Jews there suddenly turns up a man who goes about talking as if He was God… Now let us get this clear. Among Pantheists, like the Indians, anyone might say that he was a part of God, or one with God: there would be nothing very odd about it. But this man, since He was a Jew, could not mean that kind of god. God, in their language, meant the Being outside the world Who had made it and was infinitely different from anything else. And when you have grasped that, you will see that what this man said was, quite simply, the most shocking thing that has ever been uttered by human lips.
The good news is that in the face of Jesus Christ we see the very face of God, the One who has decided to be with us and for us in spite of our sin.