Friday, December 15, 2006

Is Jesus God

Christians make strong claims about Jesus. Some who are radically monotheistic like Jews who reject Jesus as Messiah and Muslims find this distasteful. Some pseudo-christian groups such as Jehovah's Witnesses and the ancient Arians relegate Jesus below the divine to the level of a super human or an archangel in their determination not to violate the principle of monotheism. But does the bible teach that Jesus is really God?

As I look into the Scriptures there are a number of reasons that we can be sure that Jesus is God.

1. The OT predicted that the Messiah, (the Christ = anointed king) would also be divine ('Almighty God' in Is 9:6).

2. The early Christians assigned Jesus the names 'Son of God' and 'Lord' both of which suggest his divinity. In the story Jesus is fathered by the Spirit of God and is called the Son of God. The name 'Lord' can mean master, but is more often used in the sense of 'God'. So for example Phil 2:11 he is the 'Lord' of Is 45:23-24 who is God himself, Yahweh. He is Lord above all Greco-Roman gods and the emperor. He is Lord in the Jewish sense, adonai = God.

3. Jesus in Jn 8:58 stated his preexistence and assumed the name of God ('I am') from Exod 3:14. Some dispute this but Jesus enemies recognised this and wanted to kill him for suggesting he was God (Jn 8:58).

4. His radically monotheistic Jewish disciples over time came to believe that he was God despite their opposition to such a thought. While they believed in one true God (Deut 6:5), they accepted that he was God and this is recorded in a number of texts: Jn 1:1-14, 18; 20:28; Rom 9:6; Col 1:15-20; Heb 1:3-8). Some tinker with these verses to diminish the divine attribution, but on deep engagement with these texts, this perspective does not hold up.

5. The acts of God are attributed to him including creation (Jn 1:3-4; Col 1:16) and forgiveness of sins (for which the Jews again wanted to kill him cf. Mk 2:1-12.

6. His miracles suggests that he was more than a mere mortal. Some argue that there have been others who do miracles and they point to his prophetic or angelic power; however, no one in history has raised the dead on three occasions, walked on water, calmed a storm, fed crowds of about 10, 000 with a few fish and loaves, healed countless sick people, cast demons out of huge numbers and then has risen from the dead to ascend to heaven! This is not bad!

7. His resurrection suggests that he was more than a mere mortal. This is the crunch event whereby Jesus was vindicated and demonstrated to be God!

8. His ascension into the heavens suggests that he is more than a mere mortal (Acts 1:11). His ascension was not just him disappearing into the clouds, but it was him rising up to be at the right hand of God.

9. Other biblical pointers can be found. Take a read of Revelation and you will see that God is on the throne but Jesus is also seated in the middle of the throne of God with God himself, the lamb seated on the throne. He is one with God (read ch 4-7 esp. Rev 7:17). Take a read through 1 Corinthians and see the interplay of Father, Son and Spirit e.g. 1 Cor 1:1-7; 12:4-6 where God in all three persons gives the gifts. 1 Corinthians also shows us that while there is a trinity, for the purposes of God's work in this world there are different functions for the three members of the trinity (cf. 1 Cor 3:22-23; 11:3; 15:23-28). Then there are the trinitarian texts where they are mentioned together e.g. Mt 28:20; 2 Cor 13:13.

10. Then there are those statements by the early church by Ignatius, Justin Martyr, Melito of Sardis, Polycarp, Irenaeus, Tertullian in the second century; Clement of Alexandria, Origen and others in the second century. They all unambiguously stated that Jesus was not only fully human, but God.

11. The experience of millions of believers since his earthly life who have come to know him also suggests he is God.

12. Examples of NT people worshiping him e.g. Thomas who cried out 'my Lord and God' (Jn 20:28) and through Revelation where the community of God's people and angels worship the lamb who was slain!

For me the evidence is overwhelming. Jesus is God who created the world, was the God who walked with Jesus in the OT (cf. 1 Cor 10:4), came from the Father to save the world, died on a cross, rose from the dead, is exalted to the right hand of his Father (his original rightful place) and I will worship him as my Lord and God; will you?

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