by John M. Riddle, England
- What think ye of Christ is the test
- To try both your state and your scheme;
- You cannot be right in the rest
- Unless you think rightly of Him.
- (John Newton)
"For the Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son; 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" Jn.5.22,23.
In response to His question, "Whom do men say that I, the Son of man, am?" the disciples replied, "Some say thou art John the Baptist; some Elias; and others, Jeremias, or one of the prophets." In response to His further question, "But whom say ye that I am?" Simon Peter replied, "Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God" Matt.16.13-16. But that is not all. Shortly after, having heard what men had to say about Him and having heard what Peter had to say about Him, God Himself declares, "This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased" Matt.17.5.
But there was unbelief then, as now: Modern unbelief is not new. He was unrecognised by many, and was obliged to say to the Samaritan woman, "If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it was that saith unto thee, Give me to drink; thou wouldest have asked of Him, and He would have given thee living water" Jn.4.10. His own townsfolk said, "Whence hath this Man this wisdom, and these mighty works? Is not this the carpenter’s son? is not His mother called Mary? And His brethren, James, and Joses, and Simon, and Judas? And His sisters, are they not all with us? Whence then hath this man all these things? And they were offended at Him" Matt.13.54-57. Even of His own family it had to be said, "neither did His brethren believe in Him" Jn.7.5. The religious hierarchy went further: "We know that God spake unto Moses: as for this fellow, we not from whence He is" Jn.9.29. Their sarcasm is thinly veiled. John sums it up in two sentences: "He was in the world, and the world was made by Him, and the world knew Him not. He came unto His own, and His own received Him not" Jn.1.10-11.
It was in view of this unbelief, and erroneous doctrine, that two New Testament books were written, the Gospel of John, and the First Epistle of John. The apostle states this categorically towards the end of his Gospel: "And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of His disciples, which are not written in this book: but these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that, believing, ye might have life through His name" Jn.20.30,31. We should notice that the eternal security of the believer is vested in the Deity of Christ. It has been said that "a Saviour not quite God, is like a bridge broken at the further end." A similar statement occurs in John’s First Epistle: "These things have I written to you that ye may know that ye have eternal life who believe on the name of the Son of God" 5.13 (J.N.D.). The Epistle concludes with another categorical statement: "And we know that the Son of God is come, and hath given us an understanding, that we may know Him that is true: and we are in Him that is true, even in His Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God [He is the true God J.N.D.], and eternal life" 5.20.
The Gospel of John was written to give the knowledge of salvation: "that ye might believe … and that believing ye might have life through His name." The First Epistle of John was written to give assurance of salvation: "that ye might know that ye have eternal life, even to you that believe." Both the knowledge of salvation and the assurance of salvation are assured because the Saviour is the Son of God.
The Deity of Christ is consistently taught throughout the Scriptures, in both Old and New Testaments. So far as the Old Testament is concerned, attention is drawn to the following:
Speaking of the King it is written, "Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: the sceptre of righteousness is a right sceptre. Thou lovest righteousness, and hatest wickedness: therefore God, Thy God, hath anointed Thee with the oil of gladness above Thy fellows." This is a vital statement regarding His deity. One Divine Person addressing another: "Thy throne, O God": The addressee is God. Compare v.7: "therefore God, Thy God, hath anointed Thee": The addresser is God. This is confirmed in the New Testament: "But unto the Son He saith, Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever …" Heb.1.8,9.
"The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit Thou at My right hand, until I make Thine enemies Thy footstool." The Hebrew, literally translated, reads, "The oracle of Jehovah to my Lord." This makes the following words a direct message from God to His King. It is an oracle of Jehovah – the covenant-keeping, immutable God. The Lord Jesus is addressed as "Adonai", meaning: ‘Sovereign Lord, Master, Possessor, Proprietor’ (Newberry). Matt.22.45 should be noted also, "If David then call Him Lord, how is He His Son?"
The Psalm records the Divine welcome enjoyed by the Lord Jesus at His ascension. "For David is not ascended into the heavens: but he saith himself, The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit Thou on My right hand, until I make Thine enemies Thy footstool. Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made that same Jesus, Whom ye crucified, both Lord and Christ" Acts 2.34-36. The writer to the Hebrews asks the question, "But to which of the angels said He at any time, sit on My right hand, until I make Thine enemies Thy footstool?" 1.13.
"Hear ye now, O house of David … Behold a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call His name Immanuel." The New Testament places its meaning beyond all doubt: "Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call His Name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us" Matt.1.22,23. This is a categorical statement: "that it might be fulfilled". Not, as in other cases, "and again another scripture saith" Jn.19.37, which indicates an application of an Old Testament passage, rather than its interpretation and fulfilment. The words, "shall call His Name Immanuel", explain the reason for the manner of His conception. E. J. Young in his volume, "The Book of Isaiah", cites John Calvin here: "Calvin rightly maintains that the name cannot be applied to anyone who is not God. No one else in the Old Testament bears this name. For these reasons, the prophecy must be interpreted only of that One to whom these conditions apply, namely, Jesus the Christ, the Son of the Virgin and the Mighty God." "Immanuel", which conveys His absolute deity, together with His perfect humanity, is a description of His identity, rather than a name by which He was known on earth.
"For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given … and His name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of peace." The title "The mighty God", emphasises His deity, and therefore His power. The throne of David looked particularly vulnerable when Ahaz ruled over Judah, and has since disappeared entirely. The last Claimant was crowned with thorns! But it will ultimately be occupied by "the mighty God!" David was a mighty king, and the Lord gave "him rest round about from all his enemies" 2 Sam.7.1. But who can compare with the final King, of whom it is said, "Behold, a king shall reign in righteousness" Isa.32.1? "For He must reign, till He hath put all enemies under His feet" 1 Cor.15.25.
Isaiah 40.3, 9
"The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make straight in the desert a highway for our God … O Zion, that bringest good tidings, get thee up into the high mountain; O Jerusalem, that bringest good tidings, lift up thy voice with strength; lift it up, be not afraid; say unto the cities of Judah, Behold your God!" This refers initially, to the preaching of John the Baptist: "this is he that was spoken of by the prophet Esaias, saying, The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make His paths straight" Matt.3.3.
When Isaiah states "Behold your God", he uses the word Elohim for God. This should be compared with "Prepare ye the way of the Lord (Jehovah), make straight in the desert a highway for our God (Elohim)" v.3, and "it shall be said in that day, Lo, this is our God (Elohim); we have waited for Him, and He will save us: this is the Lord (Jehovah); we have waited for Him, we will be glad and rejoice in His salvation" Isa.25.9. These passages emphasise the deity of the Lord Jesus, of whom John the Baptist said, "I indeed baptise you with water; but one mightier than I cometh, the latchet of whose shoes I am not worthy to unloose" Lk.3.16.
Zechariah 13. 7
"Awake, O sword, against My Shepherd, and against the man that is My fellow, saith the Lord of hosts. Smite the Shepherd, and the sheep shall be scattered." This emphasises His deity. "The man that is My fellow." The word "man" here means ‘a strong man.’ The word "fellow" has been variously translated ‘the man of My union’; ‘a man co-equal with Me’; ‘the man My equal.’ Need we say more? He is the Divine Shepherd. He is "equal with God." He said, "I and My Father are one."
"Behold, I will send My messenger, and he shall prepare the way before Me, and the Lord (Adonai) whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to His temple …". This verse clearly emphasises the deity of the Lord Jesus. It is the "God of judgment" who says, "Behold, I will send My messenger, and shall prepare the way before Me." John the Baptist, "My messenger", prepared the way for the Lord Jesus, who must therefore be none other than God Himself. This is confirmed by the second statement: "And the Lord (Adon), whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to His temple." This remarkable verse therefore emphasises both the deity of the Lord Jesus, and His separate identity.
These beautiful Old Testament passages are fully corroborated in the New Testament where the subject of our Lord’s deity is constantly and consistently brought before us. He is described as "the image of the invisible God" Col.1.15, and "the express image of His (God’s) person" Heb.1.3. In the New Testament, the Holy Spirit uses two Greek words when describing the Lord Jesus as the "image of God".
This is used in Col.1.15, as noted above, and in 2 Cor.4.4, "Lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them." As the "image of God", Christ is ‘essentially and absolutely the perfect expression and representation of God. As "the image of the invisible God", Christ is the visible representation and manifestation of God to created beings’ (W. E. Vine). Compare Heb.10.1, "For the law, having a shadow of good things to come, and not the very image of the things."
The same word, eikon, occurs in Matt.22.20, "whose image and superscription is this?" 1 Cor.11.7, "For a man indeed ought not to cover his head forasmuch as he is the image and glory of God"; Rev.13.15, "And he had power to give life unto the image of the beast." In each case, the "image" is not the reality: It represents and manifests the reality. In the case of a coin, the image will change as a reign proceeds, but not Christ. He does not age or deteriorate! But the Lord Jesus does not represent the reality: He is God absolutely and essentially. He is not the likeness of the invisible God, but the "image of the invisible God". He alone has manifested God. See Jn.1.18, "No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, He hath declared Him"; Jn.14.9, "he that hath seen Me hath seen the Father." He displays the very nature and attributes of God by His power, omniscience, holiness and love. In this respect we must distinguish between Adam and Christ. Adam was made in the "image of God" Gen.1.26,27, and men … are made after the similitude of God" Jms.3.9. In contradistinction the Lord Jesus was not made in "the image of God" – He is God.
This is used in Heb.1.3, "who being the brightness of His (God’s) glory and the express image of His (God’s) person …". ‘Charakter’, from a verb meaning ‘to engrave’ or ‘cut into’, originally denoted the instrument used in engraving, which we call a ‘stamp’ or ‘die’, but came to signify the impression made by the instrument. Just as all the features of the impression correspond exactly with the instrument which makes it, so Christ bears the exact impress of the divine nature and character. (M. R. Vincent \ W. E. Vine). The words, "express image of His person" or "expression of His substance" (J.N.D.), emphasise that all the attributes of God belong to Him: There is nothing lacking. See Col.2.9, "For in Him dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily." In this connection, we must notice the connection with the previous verse: "Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ. For in Him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily." On the one hand we have the emptiness of philosophy, and on the other we have the perfect revelation of God in Christ. In the first case it is speculation, and in the second it is revelation. In Christ dwells all the fulness (completeness) of the absolute Godhead, essentially and perfectly: The very Personality of God. As W. Kelly points out, "the fulness of the Godhead never dwelt in the Father bodily, or in the Holy Ghost, but only in Christ." God is known because of incarnation: Hence, "in Him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily." There is nothing speculative here. The Lord Jesus is "God … manifest in the flesh" 1 Tim.3.16. It is He of Whom John wrote: "That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word of life" 1 Jn.1.1.
Since, as we have noticed, John wrote "that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God" Jn.20.31, we can expect the apostle to lay great emphasis on this fact, and we now draw attention to the way in which he deals with this all-important subject. This will provide opportunity to consider other New Testament passages which bear upon the different aspects of his great theme.
If The Lord Jesus Is God, He Must Be Eternal
God is eternal: "the eternal God is thy refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms" Deut.33.27. John refers to the eternity of the Lord Jesus on the threshold of his Gospel, "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God" Jn.1.1. The expression, "the Word" is the Old Testament "word of the Lord" shortened. He reveals the invisible God. We must briefly notice the following:
"In the beginning was the Word." John does not say ‘from the beginning’, but "in the beginning". He was present eternally. The expression "in the beginning" refers to a state, not to a start.
"… And the Word was with God." These words have been explained as ‘perpetual inter-communion.’ He was, and remains, ‘face to face with God.’ This is emphasised in Phil.2.6, "Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God" where the word "equal" is actually plural. The Lord Jesus was, and is, ‘on equalities with God’. In every respect and in every detail, He answers to absolute Deity.
"And the Word was God." Referring again to Phil.2.6, we must notice that while He "took upon Him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men" v.7, He never ‘took upon Him the form of God’, or ‘was made in the likeness of God.’ The word "being" in the expression, "being in the form of God", emphasises His eternal deity. W. E. Vine points out that the verb "being" (huparcho) "points to the existence of a person prior to what is stated of him", and gives a number of illustrations from the New Testament, including Acts 2.30.
The word "form" (morphe) "denotes the special or the characteristic form of a person" (W. E. Vine). Vine quotes Gifford (‘The Incarnation of Christ’): "Morphe is properly the nature or essence … as actually subsisting in the individual, and retained as long as the individual itself exists … morphe Theou ("the form of God") is the Divine nature actually and inseparably subsisting in the person of Christ." The word is used again in v.7, He "took upon Him the form of a servant."
The words above, "being in the form of God", should be compared with Heb.1.3, "Who being the brightness of His glory." This emphasises His essential nature, apart from time. He is the effulgence, the outshining of God’s glory. It has been said that "the Divine glory which was seen in the Shekinah cloud resting on the tabernacle is now fully manifested in Christ, the true Shekinah." Whilst God "spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets" (where there was a distinction in identity between God and His servants) He has "in these last days spoken unto us by His Son" (where there is no distinction in nature between God and His Son). J.N.D. has "spoken in the person of His Son" Heb.1.1,2.
His Distinct Personality
"The same was in the beginning with God." Whilst the Lord Jesus said "I and my Father are one" Jn.10.3, He also said, "I came forth from the Father, and am come into the world: again, I leave the world, and go to the Father" Jn.16.28.
John has more to say in connection with this aspect of the Lord’s Deity. In response to the question, "Thou art not yet fifty years old, and hast thou seen Abraham?" the Lord replied, "Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am." The Jews understood His claim perfectly. He stated His absolute Deity. "Then took they up stones to cast at Him" Jn.8.57,58. Again, having said "I and my Father are one", the Jews said "For a good work we stone Thee not but for blasphemy; and because Thou, being a man, makest Thyself God" Jn.10.31-33. In an entirely different setting it is John who records the Lord’s words, "And now, O Father, glorify Thou Me, with Thine own self, with the glory that I had with Thee before the world was" Jn.17.5. He had glorified the Father on earth, v.4, and who else could claim reciprocity but the Son of God?
Other Passages Emphasising His Eternality
There are other Scriptures that emphasise our Lord’s eternity. For example, Micah 5.2, "out of thee (Beth-lehem Ephratah) shall He come forth unto Me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting" ("days of eternity" J.N.D.). This wonderfully contrasts with the expression "the days of his flesh" Heb.5.7. As to the future He is called "the everlasting Father" Isa.9.6 and Heb.1.10-12 also points to His eternity with the words, "And, Thou, Lord, in the beginning hast laid the foundation of the earth; and the heavens are the work of Thine hands: they shall perish, but Thou remainest: and they all shall wax old as doth a garment; and as a vesture shalt Thou fold them up, and they shall be changed: but Thou art the same, and Thy years shall not fail."
If The Lord Jesus Is God He Must Be Omnipotent
John tells us that "all things were made by Him; and without Him was not anything made that was made" Jn.1.3. This should be compared with Col.1.16,17, where the expression "all things" occurs four times. The relationship between the Lord Jesus and creation in these verses has been most appropriately summarised as follows:
He is the Architect of Creation, v16a
"For by (en) Him were all things created, that are in (en) heaven, and that are in (epi, meaning ‘upon’) earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers …". The preposition en gives rise to the translation, "For in Him were all things created." He designed every part of creation! Quite obviously, therefore, He is outside of creation, distinct from creation, and greater than creation. The words, "thrones … dominions … principalities … powers", evidently refer, not to human authorities, but to unseen authorities. This is clear from the fact that they are mentioned in connection with creation. See also Eph.6.12, where "principalities and powers" certainly refer to the spirit world.
- At His voice creation sprang at once to sight:
- All the angel-faces, all the hosts of light,
- Thrones and dominions, stars upon their way,
- All the heavenly orders, in their great array.
- (Caroline Maria Noel)
He is the Agent of creation, v.16b
"All things were created by Him." The preposition is now dia, meaning ‘through’. See J.N.D. margin here: "the instrumental power." He not only designed the universe; He built it. "All things were made by Him: and without Him was not any thing made that was made" Jn.1.3. "And, Thou, Lord, in the beginning hast laid the foundation of the earth; and the heavens are the works of Thine hands" Heb.1.10.
He is the Aim of creation, v.16c
"All things were made by Him, and for Him." Compare Heb.2.10, "for whom are all things, and by whom are all things"; Rev.4.11, "Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for Thou hast created all things, and for Thy pleasure they are and were created." We can therefore be absolutely certain that "the whole creation" which "groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now" Rom.8.22, will ultimately fulfil its purpose, and bring joy and pleasure to its Creator.
He is Antecedent to creation, v.17a
"And He is before (pro) all things." He precedes creation. He precedes creation because, unlike creation, He is unoriginated and underived. He has "neither beginning of days, nor end of life" Heb.7.3.
He is the Administrator of creation, v.17b
"And by Him all things consist" or "All things subsist together by Him" (J.N.D.). Creation ‘adheres’ by His power. The Lord Jesus upholds "all things by the word of His power" Heb.1.3. He has created "all things", and He maintains "all things." The law of gravity, and every other ‘law’ in creation, are His laws. Nothing moves or functions without Him! Christ is "the unifying power of creation, or else the cosmos would be in chaos" (T. Bentley).
It is not therefore surprising that John draws our attention to the touch of the Creator-God in the miracles (signs) He performed. In the very first case, having turned water into wine, John observes, "This beginning of miracles did Jesus in Cana of Galilee, and manifested forth His glory" Jn.2.11. It is noteworthy that the first plague in Egypt was water into blood, whereas the first sign given by the Lord Jesus was water into wine. We should also note the following:
- He who said, "Let the waters under the heaven be gathered together unto one place" Gen.1.9, came "walking on the sea" to His disciples, even though "the sea arose by reason of a great wind that blew" Jn.6.18,19. Matthew tells us that "they that were in the ship worshipped Him, saying, Of a truth Thou art the Son of God" Matt.14.33. On a previous occasion, the disciples said, "What manner of man is this, that even the winds and the sea obey Him!" Matt.8.27. The Creator of wind and wave was present!
- He who said, "Let the waters bring forth abundantly the moving creature that hath life" Gen.1.20, said, "Cast the net on the right side of the ship, and ye shall find. They cast therefore, and now they were not able to draw it for the multitude of fishes" Jn.21.6. No wonder John said, "It is the Lord": He evidently remembered a similar miracle some three and a half years before.
- He who said, "Let us make man in our image" and "formed man of the dust of the ground" Gen.1.26; 2.7, imparted mobility to a "man … which had an infirmity thirty and eight years" Jn.5.5. He bestowed sight to a man "which was blind from his birth" Jn.9.1, and gave life to a man who "stinketh: for he had been dead four days" Jn.11.39.
- Many more illustrations of the Lord’s omnipotence as Creator are found in the synoptic Gospels. For example: He who said, "Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb yielding seed, and the fruit tree yielding fruit after his kind" Gen.1.11, said to the fig tree, "No man eat fruit of thee hereafter for ever … and in the morning as they passed by, they saw the fig tree dried up from the roots" Mk.11.14, 20.
In connection with His work, we should notice the words of the Lord Jesus: "My Father worketh hitherto, and I work" Jn.5.17. God did not keep Sabbath, and the Lord Jesus continued His work. The Jews responded to this: "Therefore the Jews sought the more to kill Him, because He had not only broken the Sabbath, but said that God was His (own) Father, making Himself equal with God" Jn.5.18. Compare this with Rom.8.32, "He that spared not His own Son." Israel is described as God’s son Hos.11.1, Mal.1.16, but here is it ‘His own true Father’, emphasising His equality. Hence His words in the discourse that followed: "For the Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son: that all men should honour the Son, even as they honour the Father …" Jn.5.22,23.
But having said this, there are people who insist that while the Lord Jesus exercised power over creation, He was Himself, a created being. In support they cite Col.1.15, "Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature", or "the firstborn of all creation" (J.N.D.). This statement is used by the Jehovah’s Witnesses to support their blasphemous assertion that God’s first creation was His Son. It is therefore important to rightly understand the expression "firstborn." The Lord Jesus is described as "the firstborn" on five occasions in the New Testament, namely, Rom.8.29; Col.1.15,18; Heb.1.6; Rev.1.5. The word is used in the plural in Heb.12.23, "the church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven." In the Old Testament the title "firstborn" was not synonymous with the first to be born. See for example, 1 Chron.26.10-11, "Also Hosah, of the children of Merari, had sons; Simri the chief (for though he was not the firstborn, yet his father made him the chief), Hilkiah the second … Tebaliah … Zechariah." The position of Joseph illustrates the point. See 1 Chron.5.1-2, "Now the sons of Reuben the firstborn of Israel, (for he was the firstborn; but forasmuch as he defiled his father’s bed, his birthright was given unto the sons of Joseph the son of Israel: and the genealogy is not be reckoned after the birthright. For Judah prevailed above his brethren, and of him came the chief ruler; but the birthright was Joseph’s)". We can add the cases of Jacob and Esau, and Ephraim and Manasseh, Gen.48.5-20, and it is clear from events in the patriarchal families that the word "firstborn" referred to the head or principal son in the family. It described the unique relationship between the father and the son designated in this way. In Ps.89.27, David is described as "my firstborn, higher than the kings of the earth." He is supreme amongst earthly monarchs. It is even more applicable to the Lord Jesus, Who is of "the house and lineage of David" – see Lk.2.4.
The Jehovah’s Witnesses also use Rev.3.14, "The beginning of the creation of God" to bolster their heinous doctrine that Christ is a created being. However, the word "beginning" means ‘originator.’ He is not, as they suggest, the first to be created, but the Creator! He is the ‘originator’ of creation. As "the firstborn of all creation", the Lord Jesus has both precedence and preeminence over creation.
If The Lord Jesus Is God He Must Be Omniscient
Amongst others in the Old Testament, Samuel noted, "The Lord seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart", 1 Sam.16.7, and Hannah said, "the Lord is a God of knowledge, and by Him actions are weighed" 1 Sam.2.3, both stressing the omniscience of God. The Lord Jesus must show this feature also and it is John who emphasises His omniscience.
Nathanael asked "Whence knowest Thou me?", and when the Lord Jesus replied, "Before that Philip called thee, when thou wast under the fig tree, I saw thee", he responded, "Rabbi, Thou art the Son of God; Thou art the King of Israel" Jn.1.48,49. His omniscience is stressed in Jn.2.24,25, "He knew all men, and needed not that any should testify of man: for He knew what was in man." Again in Jn.4.28,29, "The woman then left her waterpot, and went her way into the city, and saith to the men, Come, see a man, which told me all things that ever I did: is not this the Christ?" Yet again in Jn.11.14, He could reveal what happened in Bethany, "Lazarus is dead".
To this we must add that the Lord’s complete mastery of every situation, His perfect knowledge of coming events at Jerusalem in connection with the manner and circumstances of His death and resurrection, together with His perfect knowledge of events in the then far distant future, as shown in His Olivet discourse, all stress His omniscience.
If The Lord Jesus Is God He Must Be Omnipresent
The Lord Jesus emphasised this Himself in Jn.14.23, "If a man love Me, he will keep My words: and My Father will love him, and We will come unto him, and make Our abode with him."
His omnipresence is stressed in Matt.18.20, "For where two or three are gathered together in My name, there am I in the midst of them," and in Matt.28.20, "Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world." Compare Mk.16.20, "And they went forth and preached every where, the Lord working with them, and confirming the word with signs following."
If The Lord Jesus Is God, He Must Be Utterly Holy
Hannah said "There is none holy as the Lord …" 1 Sam.2.2, and therefore the Lord Jesus, having said to His accusers, "Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do", continued, "Which of you convinceth Me of sin?" Jn.8.46. The word "convinceth", or ‘convicteth’ implies, not only that they were unable to successfully charge Him with sin to the satisfaction of a court, but that He was not convicted of sin in His own conscience. This, of course was impossible, for "in Him is no sin" 1 Jn.3.5. Compare Jms.1.13, "God cannot be tempted of evil, neither tempteth He any man." It is vitally important to remember that the wilderness temptations were not intended to prove whether or not the Lord could sin, but to demonstrate that He could not sin.
If The Lord Jesus Is God His Communications Must Be Unique
John writes, "He that cometh from above is above all: he that is of the earth is earthly, and speaketh of the earth: He that cometh from heaven is above all … For He whom God hath sent speaketh the words of God: for God giveth not the Spirit by measure unto Him" Jn.3.31,34. Therefore, it is not surprising that "the officers sent to take Him" reported their failure with the words, "Never man spake like this man" Jn.7.32,46. He said, "I speak that which I have seen with My Father: and ye do that which ye have seen with your father" Jn.8.38.
If The Lord Jesus Is God Therefore Death Cannot Hold Him
Thomas, confronted with mortal wounds in a living body, exclaimed "My Lord and my God" Jn.20.28. The crowning evidence of the Lord’s Deity is His resurrection, which vindicated every claim He made. If He were not God, He would still be in the grave. But He was "made of the seed of David according to the flesh (the word "made" means ‘entering into a new condition’); and declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the Spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead" Rom.1.4.
The apostles made this the hallmark of their preaching. See Acts 2.24-36, "Whom God hath raised up … this Jesus hath God raised up, whereof we are witnesses. Therefore being by the right hand of God exalted, and having received of the Father … For David is not ascended into the heavens: but he saith himself, the Lord said unto my Lord …".
Believers today should be "Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ" ("our great God and Saviour Jesus Christ" J.N.D.) Titus 2.13. We gladly acknowledge His Deity as we wait for Him to come, and Israel will do so as well at His subsequent manifestation: "Lo, this is our God; we have waited for Him, and He will save us: this is the Lord; we have waited for Him, we will be glad and rejoice in His salvation" Isa.25.9.
In eternity the saints will gaze upon their Redeemer and say with Paul, "The Son of God, who loved me, and gave Himself for me." It is perhaps not too fanciful to say that words akin to the much-loved hymn will be heard in heaven:
- True image of the Infinite,
- Whose essence is concealed;
- Brightness of uncreated light,
- The heart of God revealed.
- Worthy, O Lamb of God, art thou,
- That every knee to Thee should bow!
- (Josiah Condor)
In the meantime, since "He is the true God, and eternal life" 1 Jn.5.20, (J.N.D.), we must ensure that He has our entire devotion. As "the true God" He must have no rival in our hearts and lives. Hence John concludes his First Epistle by saying, "Little children, keep yourselves from idols."