Christ’s Claim To His Deity

And Moses said unto God, Behold, when I come unto the children of Israel, and shall say unto them, The God of your fathers hath sent me unto you; and they shall say to me, What is his name? What shall I say unto them? 

And God said unto Moses, I AM THAT I AM: and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you.

And God said moreover unto Moses, Thou shalt say unto the children of Israel, The LORD God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, hath sent me unto you: this is my name forever, and this is my memorial unto all generations. (Exodus 3:13-15 KJV)

The name of God, I AM THAT I AM, speaks volumes of God. God the self existent; He is the uncaused cause of all things. There was no one before God, no one called Him into existence. He has always been, God the eternal, with no beginning and no end. God has always existed from eternity past. There is no set moment in time when God came into existence, for He has always been, and He will continue to exist outside of time, for all eternity.

These are two concepts that the theologians would call attributes of God; His self existence, and His eternal being. No one else can make claim to these two things, they belong to God alone. There is no man, no woman, who ever have existed upon this planet, or who ever will, that can lay claim to these two divine attributes.

There was one however who we read about in John’s gospel. His name is Jesus, and listen to the statement He makes to the religious people of His day, 

Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day: and he saw it, and was glad. Then said the Jews unto him, Thou art not yet fifty years old, and hast thou seen Abraham? Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am. Then they took up stones to cast at him: but Jesus hid himself, and went out of the temple, going through the midst of them, and so passed by. (John 8:56-59 KJV)

There is no mistaking the claim that Jesus was making here. He was boldly proclaiming His divinity by using the name of God, I AM. The people well understood what He meant by this, as they took up stones to stone Him for blasphemy, something they attempted on other occasions as well. Jesus was declaring His eternal, self existence, something that only God can rightfully claim. Abraham was born, lived on this earth, and then he died. Jesus has always been. He is the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, Who is, and was, and is to come (Rev 1:8). 

Christ’s Deity Seen In John The Baptist’s Ministry

In Isaiah 40 we find a prophetic word concerning the coming of the Lord at some future time. 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. Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low: and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough places plain: and the glory of the LORD shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together: for the mouth of the LORD hath spoken it. (Isaiah 40:3-5 KJV)

In the gospels we read that John the Baptist is the fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy. John came as the voice of one crying in the wilderness. Mathew records, In those days came John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judea, and saying, Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. For 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 3:1-3 KJV)

Mark records this concerning John, The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God; as it is written in the prophets, Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, which shall prepare thy way before thee. The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight. (Mark 1:1-3 KJV)

Luke’s gospel puts it this way concerning John the Baptist, And he came into all the country about Jordan, preaching the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins; as it is written in the book of the words of Esiais the prophet, saying, The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight. Every valley shall be filled, and every mountain and hill shall be brought low; and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough ways shall be made smooth; and all flesh shall see the salvation of God. (Luke 3:3-6 KJV)

In John’s gospel we find John the Baptist applying this prophecy to himself, He said, I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness, Make straight the way of the Lord, as said the prophet Esaias. (John 1:23 KJV)

Now, look back to Isaiah 40:3-5 again for a moment. Who was the way going to be prepared for? The LORD. Who was a highway going to be made for? God. There was to be a forerunner who would prepare the way for the Lord God. The word translated LORD in our Bibles comes from the Hebrew word Yhovah.  According to the BDB definition, this  word means Jehovah = “the existing one”  The proper name of the one true God. Strong’s definition is as follows. The self existant or eternal; Jehovah, Jewish national name of God: – Jehovah, the Lord. There is no doubt that this is referring to God.

When we read the above quoted verses found in the gospels, we see the word Lord. This word comes from the Greek word Kurios, and according to Thayer is the title given to God, the Messiah. Strong’s definition is as follows, (Supremacy); supreme in authority, that is (as noun) controller; by implication Mr. (as a respectful title): – God, Lord, master, Sir. As the fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophetic word, the term Lord, can only apply to God. 

Jesus, the very Word of God, became flesh and came into this world as the Messiah. In one of the clearest passages of scripture concerning the deity of Christ, we read, 

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. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life; and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in  darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.

There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. The same came for a witness, to bear witness of the light, that all men through him might believe. He was not that light, but was sent to bear witness of that light. (John 1:1-8 KJV)

This scripture tells us that John the Baptist was sent to bear witness of Christ, the Word. Notice that this passage of scripture declares that the Word was with God, and the Word was God, declaring the divinity of the Lord Jesus Christ, existing from eternity with God the Father. We read on to see that the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us. (John 1:14) This is still speaking of Christ, His incarnation (becoming man), the one to whom John pointed to when he declared, “And I saw, and bare record that this is the Son of God.” (John 1:34) Truly, Jesus Christ is God in the flesh. 

 

The Divinity Of Christ As Seen In Creation

In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. (Gen 1:1)

In the biblical account of creation we read that it was God who created the world we live in. The beauty of nature, the awesome expanse of the heavens above, birds and animals, all were created by God. 

And God said, let us make man in our image, after our likeness. (Gen 1:26a)

 In verse 2 we see reference to the Spirit of God, and we can see in verse 26 another subtle reference to the trinity. What did God mean by using the plural us, and our? We read of the role of Christ in creation in Paul’s epistle to the Colossian believers,

Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature: for by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: and he is before all things, and by him all things consist. (Col 1:15-17 KJV)

Here we see the divinity of Christ in plain language. He is the image of the invisible God. We read in Genesis 1:1 that God created the heavens and the earth. We have just seen here that all things were created by Christ, and for Christ. The term firstborn does not mean that Jesus Christ was Himself created, but that He holds the preeminence and ultimate authority over His creation. These passages of scripture give ample proof of the deity of Christ. 

God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in times past unto the fathers by the prophets, hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom he also made the worlds; who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high. (Hebrews 1:1-3 KJV)

Again we read that God made the world by Christ, who is the express image of his person. If we want to see God, if we want to know Him, we will see Him, and come to know Him, in the revelation of Jesus Christ. It is through Jesus Christ, as revealed in scripture, that we come to discover and truly know God in these last days.

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. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing that was made. In him was life; and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehendeth it not. (John 1:1-5 KJV)

Finally, we again find that the Word, or Jesus, was present from the very beginning, at creation. This passage is in agreement with the previous passages concerning the role of Jesus Christ in creation, thus proving by the mouth of two or three witnesses, the truth of Christ’s deity.

Non Resistance

In His sermon on the mount, Jesus makes several startling statements that seem to go against the grain of our common way of thinking. His teaching on our treatment of those who we consider enemies, those who despitefully treat us, seems at times ludicrous. Yet the kingdom of Christ transcends the ways of this world. Love reigns supreme, going to the farthest lengths to reach out to others, including our enemies. 

Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth: but I say unto you that ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also.And if any man will sue thee at law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloak also. And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain. Give to him that asketh thee, and from him that would borrow of thee, turn not thou away.You have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbor, and hate thy enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you. That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise upon the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust. For if ye love them that love you, what reward have ye? Do not even the publicans the same? And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? Do not even the publicans so? Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect. (Matt 5:38-48 KJV)

Our culture has bought into the “eye for an eye” mentality. I fear to a great extent this attitude exists within Christianity as well. We have bought into the idea that it is okay to take revenge in certain situations. We may not call it revenge, at least in those words. We rephrase it using terms such as self-defense. The argument always seems to come up when this subject is broached, “What would you do if an armed man broke into your home? Would you defend yourself, and your family?” But yet as difficult as it is to fathom this, what does Jesus say in the above quoted passage of scripture? Was He merely using literary license? Is He only speaking figuratively, using metaphors, and not really meaning what He seems to be saying? In what appears to be plain language, He tells us to turn the other cheek.

The same could be said about war. When is war just? When can an individual, or a nation engage in the killing of others, and it be right in the eyes of God? Is the death penalty just? Can a Christian demand the death penalty under certain circumstances? Is it lawful in the eyes of God for a Christian to participate in the execution of another human being? 

These are all questions that have been asked by believers down through the centuries. Many, have accepted the teachings of Augustine, that yes, war can be just, it is right to kill another human being under certain situations, and yes the Church can participate in these killings. This is what Augustine, and those who have followed after him, including the reformers of the sixteenth century have taught. Yet, what does Jesus teach us? 

To make the case for Christian participation in war, men have referred to Israel under the Old Covenant, where God allowed them to fight, even granting them victory over their enemies. They refer to the Old Testament laws where the death penalty was imposed for various crimes such as adultery, idolatry, and murder. Yet when Jesus came proclaiming the kingdom of heaven, a new era was begun. What was allowed for Israel under the Old Covenant, is not allowed for the Church under the New Covenant. In other words, God is not calling the Church today to participate in war, to participate in the death penalty, to participate in the killing or mistreatment of another human being. In the Old Testament law, there was a place for an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth. Now Jesus proclaims to us that we resist not evil, but turn the other cheek to the one who strikes us. 

This is not to say that we just carelessly go through life not caring about others and the tragic things that evil men commit against one another. We read in Romans thirteen that God has ordained the governments of this world to police the world. They are his servants to execute judgment, to carry out justice, inflicting punishment upon those who break the law. This is ordained by God. He is concerned for the safety of others, and He has put this in place to keep at least some order in this fallen world. However, this role God has reserved for the kingdoms of this world, not for those who have become citizens of Christ’s kingdom.

Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. Whosoever resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation. For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid the power? Do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same: For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil. Wherefore, ye must needs be subject, not only for wrath, but also for conscience sake. (Romans 13:1-5 KJV)

Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake: whether it be to the king, as supreme; or unto governors, as unto them that are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers, and for the praise of them that do well. (1 Peter 2:13-14 KJV)

It is interesting to note that the government in place during the days of the apostles was the corrupt government of Rome, who ultimately persecuted thousands of Christians. It is possible for human government to overstep its God given role, yet we see that we as Christians are to be subject to it, as far as is possible, and still be faithful to Christ. We are called to be subject to, but not to participate in government. A Christian serving in government will ultimately find himself confronted with a choice to either follow the teachings of Jesus, or to compromise his convictions. Instead, we must let the world take care of the world so to speak, we will serve Christ!

It is a case of two kingdoms; the kingdom of this world, and that of Christ. We as Christians, followers of Christ, belong to His kingdom. This is where are true allegiance lies. It is our job, in fact our highest priority, to seek first His kingdom and righteousness. We are not called to seek first the betterment of this world; to advance its principles and programs. While we live in this world, we are not of it. Therefore, like Christ’s disciples, we do not fight (John 18:36). As followers of Christ, we are to emulate His life, walk in His steps, and even lay down our lives as He laid down His. No matter how we may attempt to justify war, violence, revenge, etc. we find that it violates the core of the Christian life, to love our neighbor as ourselves. We find in Christ’s teaching that our neighbor can be our enemy, yet we are to show him love. Augustine taught that it was okay to kill in war as long as you loved your enemy within your heart. This is absurd.  How can we say we love an individual when we desire his death, when we desire revenge, when we are willing to go to war, even to kill him ourselves. 

Again, Christ’s teachings sometimes shock us. We may consider it absurd to refuse to defend ourselves or our families. Yet this is what many have done down through the centuries as Christians have faced persecution and hostility in the advancement of the gospel. Missionaries have refused to defend themselves, being willing to die themselves, rather than to kill another, thus sending a lost individual to an eternal hell. 

We find the definition of love in the thirteenth chapter of 1 Corinthians. We read that charity is longsuffering and kind, it is not puffed up, is not self seeking, is not easily provoked, thinks no evil, does not rejoice in iniquity, it rejoices in truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, and endures all things. We are instructed not to take revenge, but to leave room for the wrath of God. Vengeance belongs to God, and He will repay. Instead we are called to feed our enemy if he is hungry, give him something to drink if he thirsts. Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good. Romans 12:19-21)

As our highest example, we see Jesus face the hostility of wicked men against Him, yet he went willingly to His death, laying down His life so that we could have new life (Heb 12:3; 1 Peter 2:21-25). We are not promised a good life, a comfortable life, a life free of pain and trial. To the contrary, we are assured that we will suffer persecution and tribulation for the name of Jesus Christ. It is not our job to bear the sword, to defend ourselves, or even our nation, but to follow Christ, to spread His gospel, and to advance His kingdom. This is love.

 

Desire

One thing have I desired of the LORD, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the LORD, and to inquire in his temple.  (Psalm 27:4)

As the hart panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God. My soul thirsteth for God, for the living God: when shall I come and appear before God? (Psalm 42:1-2)

O God, thou art my God; early will I seek thee: my soul thirsteth for thee, my flesh longeth for thee, in a dry and thirsty land, where no water is. To see thy power and thy glory, so as I have seen thee in the sanctuary. (Psalm 63:1-2)

For I will pour water upon him that is thirsty, and floods upon the dry ground: I will pour my spirit upon thy seed, and my blessing upon thine offspring. (Isaiah 44:3)

And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart. (Jer 29:13)

Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled. (Matt 5:6)

Holiness

In their lost state, the unregenerate individual is a selfish individual. such a one is devoted to self, seeking to gratify the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and pursuing the pride of life (1 John 2:16). We read in Paul’s epistle to the Ephesians, 

Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience. Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of the flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others. (Eph 2:2-3 KJV)

This is selfishness, a life ultimately devoted to self. Even the good things a selfish person does are done with an eye toward self; a concern for how this action will ultimately affect me. This is sin, and it is what separates one from union with God. The selfish individual will not submit to the authority and rule of God over his or her life, and as a consequence, they have no spiritual life within them.

It is God’s purpose that we should be Holy, that is, entirely devoted to Him and for Him. Instead of living for ourselves, He has called us to be Holy, to live for Him and His glory.

According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love. (Eph 1:4 KJV)

Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ: Grace unto you, and peace be multiplied. (1 Peter 1:2 KJV)

But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy. (1 Peter 1:15-16 KJV)

To be separated from sin and self, and devoted to the service of God, requires that our actions be pleasing to God. Holiness is not merely a judicial action on the part of God whereby He “sees” us as holy, while we are yet serving sin, but it plays out in our day to day lives as we separate from the things of this world, and follow Christ in obedience. 

Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? And what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial? Or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? For ye are the temple of the living god, as god hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, and I will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty. (2 Cor 6:14-18 KJV)

This separation begins with repentance. A truly repentant individual will see that the selfish life they have lived has offended God, and has separated them from Him. A repentant individual will hate his sin for what it has done, and forsake it in its entirety. This is the beginning of coming out and being separate. There can be no mercy found at the cross of Christ if one still desires to harbor one sinful habit in their life, or desires to control one aspect of their life, for Jesus has told us, 

If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it; and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it. For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?  (Matt 16:24-26 KJV)

This is what true holiness is; it is losing ourselves, our control, our plans and purposes, our sin and selfishness, and yielding up ourselves to follow Jesus no matter the cost. It is not a one time decision we make for Christ, but it is to be lived out each and every moment of every day we walk upon this earth. The writer of Hebrews exhorted his readers to “Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord” (Heb 12:14 KJV). This was written to Christians, urging them to continue on in a life of love and obedience, being found right with God and man. This is the clean hands and pure hearts spoken of in Psalm 24:3-4. These are the people who will stand in the presence of the Lord. Jesus tells us “Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God (Matt 5:8). There is no room for mixture in a pure heart, or it is no longer pure. A pure heart will naturally extend itself in works of love and service toward God and those around us.

United In Purpose

Prior to His ascension, Jesus gave His disciples the mandate to go into all the world with the gospel (Matt 28- 18-20; Acts 1:8). We read in Luke that they were to wait in Jerusalem until they were endued with power from on High (Luke 24:49). This power came from the promised Holy Spirit, poured out upon the disciples, equipping them for the overwhelming task of worldwide evangelism. Likewise, we too are commanded to go and teach all nations; we too are in need of the same power that comes from the presence of the Holy Spirit filling our lives, if we are to fulfill the great commission.

After Christ’s ascension we read of the disciples obedience to the command of Christ to wait.

 Then returned they unto Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is from Jerusalem a sabbath days journey. And when they were come in, they went up into an upper room, where abode both Peter, and James, and John, and Andrew, Philip, and Thomas, Bartholomew, and Matthew, James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon Zelotes, and Judas the brother of James. These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brethren. (Acts 1:12-14 KJV)

And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. (Acts 2:1 KJV)

Notice that they were all of one accord. This is speaking of a unity that they shared, a common purpose in seeking the filling of the promised Holy Ghost, so that they could go into all the world as ambassadors for Christ. They remained steadfast in prayer for ten days, until the Holy Ghost came with the sound of a rushing wind, with tongues of fire setting upon each of them, filling them with His presence (Acts 2:2-4). They were in unity, united in purpose, desiring above all else to be filled and equipped for what Christ had called them to. Imagine that in the midst of their wait, they became discouraged and began to bicker and argue among themselves. Would they have still received the promise of the Spirit? Would they have succeeded in the fulfillment of the great commission? Perhaps they would have never even got started.

Read the word of exhortation Paul give to the Church in Philippi, 

Only let your conversation be as it becometh the gospel of Christ: that whether I come and see you, or else be absent, I may hear of your affairs, that ye stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel. (Phil 1:27 KJV)

We can see the importance of unity within the body of Christ. When unity exists, when we are united in purpose, seeking first the kingdom of God, putting our self interests aside, we accomplish much for the Kingdom of Christ. Let Christians become divided however, and His cause suffers. We must be ever careful to keep the mandate of our Lord in front of us, not allowing ourselves to lose our unity of purpose.