Last week I wrote about the lordship of Jesus Christ and some of the implications for Christian living which follow from this fact. In the discussions which followed, challenges were raised not just against the lordship of Jesus Christ but against the very deity of Christ.
Is Jesus God?
Those who deny the authority of the Bible will, of course, discount the brief arguments I will share here. However, I would encourage those who discount or downplay the veracity and significance of the Bible to examine the degree of confidence they place in other historical works.
There are over 5,600 Greek manuscripts of the New Testament in existence today. The total is over 24,000 when you include manuscripts written in Latin, Coptic, Syriac, and Aramaic. The number of manuscripts we have for Aristotle is about 50. Plato is in the single digits. One manuscript fragment of John’s gospel is even dated to within 30 years of the original versus the hundreds of years distance from the original for all other ancient works.
This does not prove the existence of God or the deity of Jesus Christ but perhaps the content of the Bible ought to be given a bit more respect and consideration before it is dismissed.
One helpful way to understand what the Bible has to say about the deity of Christ is the HANDS method provided by Robert Bowman, Jr. and Ed Komoszewski in their work, Putting Jesus In His Place: The Case for the Deity of Christ. Scripture reveals to us that Jesus shares the Honors due to God, the Attributes of God, the Names of God, the Deeds that God does, and the Seat of God’s Throne.
Honors of God. A radical, scandalous fact of Scripture is that Jesus’s followers gave him honors that were due only to the one true God of Israel. Jesus’s followers did this because Jesus himself called for such honor. Right after John records that the Jewish leaders were angry with Jesus for “calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God,” he shows Jesus claiming divine honor for himself. “Whoever does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent him” (John 5:23). It should be no surprise then that Jesus’s followers afford him divine honor as well.
We see an example of such honor in Revelation 4:11 where John writes of Jesus: “Worthy are you, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they existed and were created.” John falls at the feet of Jesus to worship him in Rev. 1:17 and, rather than rebuking John for worshipping someone other than God, accepts his worship as appropriate. Jesus’s followers honor and worship Jesus with honor that is due to God alone.
Attributes of God. Scripture teaches that Jesus has all the attributes of God. Paul wrote to the church in Colossae of Jesus, “For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily” (Colossians 2:9). The fullness of God dwells in Jesus. The person of Jesus existed before becoming a human being (Philippians 2:6-11). Jesus created the world and all things (Col. 1:16; John 1:3). Jesus is unchanging in his nature and character (Hebrews 1:10-12). He is omnipotent (1 Corinthians 1:23-24; John 10:17-18), omnipresent (Matthew 28:20), and omniscient (Matt. 9:4; Mark 2:6-8; Acts 1:24). All throughout the New Testament, the Bible shows that Jesus possesses essential attributes that are characteristic of God alone.
Names of God. Jesus also has names that belong to God alone. Examples include: “Immanuel” (Isaiah 7:14; Matthew 1:23), “God” (John 1:1, 18), “My God” (Jn. 20:28), “God over all” (Romans 9:5), “Lord” (Matt. 3:3, 14:30; Acts 2:36), “Our Savior” (Titus 1:4. 2:13, 3:6), and “I Am” (John 4:26, 8:58).
Deeds of God. Jesus created the world (John 1:3), sustains the universe (Colossians 1:16-17), performed miracles (numerous texts), and has power over nature (Matthew 14:22-33) to name a few.
Seat of God’s Throne. Jesus is the Messiah, seated at the right hand of the Father. “Again the high priest asked him, ‘Are you the Christ, the Son of the Blessed?’ And Jesus said, ‘I am, and you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of Power, and coming with the clouds of heaven.’ And the high priest tore his garments and said, ‘What further witnesses do we need? You have heard his blasphemy. What is your decision?’ And they all condemned him as deserving death.” (Mark 14:61-64). Jesus indeed occupies this throne today (Hebrews 1:3, 8:1, 12:2).
Bowman and Komoszewski summarize the situation thusly:
[Putting Jesus In His Place, pg. 275]
All creatures, even the most glorious angels in heaven, are expected to worship him. He has existed forever. He exerted omnipotence in making the universe, and he continues to do so by sustaining its existence. He goes by the divine name “Lord” and also answers to “God.” He lives in God’s “home” (heaven) and sits in God’s “chair” (his heavenly throne). From that very position he sends the Holy Spirit, reveals himself to apostles, guides the church by his divine presence as they complete his commission to tell the whole world that he is Lord, and will one day judge all creatures and give eternal life to whomsoever he chooses. Such a person must, in fact, be God.
The New Testament clearly teaches the deity of Jesus Christ from beginning to end. What will you do with this knowledge now that you have it? I invite you to acknowledge Jesus for who he is, repent of your sins, receive eternal life, and worship him as God and Lord. If you are already a disciple of Jesus the Christ you can have every confidence that you do not serve Jesus in vain. Go forward in renewed strength as we continue together in the mission he has given us!