Course: The Doctrine of Christ (Christology)
The Deity of Christ
Thank You for Your Word. Thank You for the privilege that we have to study and to learn more about our blessed Lord. We pray that our deliberations this day will cause us to love, worship, and adore Him more. We also pray that we will understand that there is no other name by which we can be saved. Thank You, Lord, for what You are going to do in the precious name of our Messiah—our wonderful Lord. Amen.
I do not know how many of you know about Jewish cabalism. Cabalism in Judaism is the effort to see hidden things in the Bible, and what cabalistic Jews do is they use computers to examine the appearance of names and information that is in sequential order. For instance, every twenty-first letter in the text throughout a whole chapter spells something. Or every seventh letter throughout a book spells something. A lot of people have great questions about this because you can almost see anything you want. For instance, almost everything about the Holocaust including Adolph Hitler's name, his date of birth and death, and all of that is seen in the Scriptures using this method.
It sort of seems like a game though. There are certain aspects of it that I am not sure about, but I do know that scientists who perform the decoding have not only looked at this but have examined it in great detail. In fact it has even been in scientific journals. The Old Testament portion of the Bible was written in Hebrew, and they have taken other Hebrew books, including the Encyclopedia of Judaica, and all kinds of books and have never found this type of coding at all, yet in the Bible it is everywhere.
One of the most interesting things is the name of our Lord—Yeshua. It is found everywhere throughout the Bible. It begins in the book of Genesis and ends in the book of Malachi. It is very interesting because it is everywhere. It is all over Isaiah 53 as well. Now, if you take the letters and organize them, like all first letters, then all second letters, and then all third letters et cetera (which they do sometimes), computers will read them down in columns and it yields Yeshua ha Masheach ("Jesus is the Messiah"). It is so powerful that there is currently a book that is being released in Israel in Hebrew (without an author's name on it). This book's intent is to expose the hidden secrets of the Bible, which are going to expose this. The reason why some people are very upset about it is because in the book it constantly mentions that Yeshua is frequently identified as the Messiah in the Old Testament by means of this method.
Now again, we do not want to jump on that. The Bible says what it says. Sometimes you can ask, "Why go to every seventh letter. Why didn't you choose every eighth letter? And why not every twelfth letter?" There is too much information there.
For instance, all sixty-six major rabbinical teachers of Jewish history have their names and the dates included in the text by using this method. There is just a lot of interesting things that it is hard to figure. Did God intend this? But it is also a little weird because shortly after the time of Jesus and the apostles, the great school called Origen's School (or the School of Alexandria, Egypt) got into the same kind of thing in terms of the hidden meanings of the New Testament text. They became very allegorical, and it is interestingly that down in Alexandria, Egypt, because of all that kind of junk, they became one of the hot beds of denying the deity of Jesus Christ.
I have always said, "When common sense makes good sense, seek no other sense." It is very important because the Bible was written for our admonition. I think the first letter of each word would be extremely important since Jews do read their poetry that way, yet outside of that, I wonder whether we should be doing this or not. It is also a fact that the name Yeshua is everywhere throughout the Scripture by using that method, even though a person would say to you that His name is not mentioned at all in the Bible. His name is there if you take a sequential look at every fortieth letter or so and it spells something out to you.
The British Society, who has taken this under advisement in their decoding sections of their archaeological studies, have said that there is not one single book in the history of the world that has this decoding factual information that the Bible has. They are very fascinated by it, even though the ones who are doing the study are all agnostics. It is just an interesting thing.
What I am trying to say here, as we begin our study of Jesus' deity, is that we are not going to look for any hidden or unusual tricky things. We do not need to do that because the Bible flat out proves that He is God. That is what we are going to deal with. It is amazing to me that many Christians are ignorant of these things, and therefore, are not prepared to give and answer for the reason of the hope that lies within them when they are questioned by people—especially cultists, or the average person on the street. The evidence is overwhelming.
Monday my wife and I were sitting in Benjie's, our favorite Jewish restaurant, and a gentleman was in the booth next to us sharing Christ with a businessman. It was a delight to hear him. We just kept quiet and listened, and it was really neat as the Christian businessman was sharing. He was talking to this other businessman who did not know anything about the Bible, not even that Jesus is God. To much of my joy, the Christian went through verses that I am going to give you today. He got prepared, and about half way through the man says, "What are you trying to say? That Jesus is God?" "Yes, that is what I am trying..." "You mean to tell me, He's God?!" Everybody in the restaurant is looking, and the Christian said, "Just let me show you a few more." He just kept at it, and this man was just blown away. He did a very good thing that you all ought to do in witnessing. He said, "Please don't believe me. Here, you just read that yourself." He kept doing that and this guy obviously had not read the Bible. "In - the - beginning - was - the Word," stumbling through the text as he read because he was not really familiar with it. Now, I just sat there and my heart just leaped for joy. May God give us all the understanding of it so that we can sit down with anybody, no matter who they are, or what they know, and tell them what the truth is from the Bible about our blessed Lord. It is really crucial. Is it not?
John 1 is where we want to start. You need to remember that John is very Jewish. Now ninety percent of John's Gospel does not appear in Matthew, Mark and Luke. You might want to make a note to yourself. They call Matthew, Mark and Luke the synoptic gospels. Optic means "eye," or "to see," and syn is the Greek preposition "with." Synoptic means "to see with each other," and that is why they are called the synoptic Gospels. Matthew, Mark, and Luke have a lot of parallelism and a lot of the same stories, but when you come to John there is ninety percent of the book not found in Matthew, Mark, and Luke. What are some of the possible reasons for this?
First, John was the closest to Jesus and though he does not mention his name, he is the unnamed disciple whom Jesus loved and who leaned on His breast at the Last Supper. John is also with Peter and James in those special times like at the Mount of Transfiguration, and so he knew a lot of things that perhaps the others did not know. Also, remember at the time of the cross, Jesus committed the care of His mother to John. This means that he would have learned a lot more than others had by just taking care of Jesus' mother the rest of her life. By the way, both of their tombs are in the city of Ephesus. John wound up in Ephesus after being released from his imprisonment on the Isle of Patmos, and that is where he died. He took care of Jesus' mother, and both of their grave sites are there in Ephesus still to this day.
Second, John outlives the other apostles. He saw a lot of things happen, and, as a matter of fact, he was quite a young man when he was hanging around Jesus. Many believe that he was a lot younger than Jesus. Now, Jesus was approximately around thirty and John could have been in his early twenties perhaps, yet we know that he dies as an old man around AD 95. Now John lived the longest and saw the church go through those opening sixty years or so. There were a lot of struggles and he also saw the destruction of Jerusalem. He saw the Jews scattered around the world and saw the heresies develop on the deity of Christ. There are a lot of reasons why John, being the closest to Jesus, taking care of his mother, living the longest, and the only one who died a natural death, wrote so much differently than the other synoptic Gospels.
By the way, we have the writings of men who studied under John. For instance, the great pastor at Smyrna, Polycarp, whose story of his execution at the stake is a marvelous story. Polycarp wrote a beautiful epistle to Philippians. If you read it you will notice that it sounds just like Scripture and the reason for that is that he quotes voluminously from Paul's letter to the Philippians. The early writers hardly ever give their own opinion when they were talking to you. They just say, "Grace and mercy be unto you. And I thank God upon every remembrance of you." They just quote the Scripture, "And you can be confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ. And I thank God for your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now." "Do not forget that Paul's bonds in Christ were made known unto all the palace, and so there is no reason to really be afraid. As a result a lot of the brethren are becoming much bolder and have become much more active in their faith. So do not worry about persecution." You read that and you find that there are just a few additions to the epistle to the Philippians, and that is the way that they wrote.
A lot of people do not understand that if we did not have our manuscripts of the Bible, we still could reproduce the New Testament from what we call patristic (i.e. the church fathers) quotations. We have tons of them, and they just quote voluminously from the Bible. You can almost reduplicate the New Testament and especially a lot of the Old.
John had a perspective that the others would not have had. Also, this one will surprise you, the early church, up until about AD 150, never thought of Paul as the theologian. People read Paul and say, "There is theology, man." Interestingly, the early church honored John as the theologian of the Christian church. He was the number one theologian, because he spoke more about Jesus than anybody else.
Now because he is Jewish and is trying to present things in a Jewish way, he writes as a Jew would write. For instance he uses a lot of contrasts, and Jews love contrasts. Just think of the Proverbs? "The righteous are so and so and the wicked are so and so." Well, that is the way John writes. He contrasts light and darkness, and love and hate, and righteousness and sin. That is the way he writes and it is very simple Greek. That is why when you take first year Greek they will have you read either out of 1 John or the Gospel of John.
Another interesting thing about John is that he is repetitive, even more than the other writers. Jews often do that—especially rabbinical teachers. They repeat constantly like a catechism method. They just want to make sure you heard what he said. John repeats over and over and over again. There are simple words of the gospel that are used more in John than in all the other gospels combined. For instance, the word "belief." The very words "faith" and "believe," are used constantly throughout John. The word, "life," is used far more than it appears in any of the other three gospels combined. All of these crucial simplistic issues of the gospel, are presented in depth in John.
The other interesting thing about John is that most of the material is on the last week of the life of the Lord. It is interesting how we tell a new convert to read the Gospel of John. Remember various missionary organizations even printed out a little Gospel of John that you can hand to people. Technically, the early church would not have agreed with you, they feel that John was simple with Greek, but contained difficult theology.
There are a lot of things that are hard to understand. When you read the opening chapter, "In Him was life and that life was the light of men which lights every man that comes in the world." There is some play on things that are really difficult to understand, but John is the theologian, and it is John who brings out the issue of the deity of Jesus Christ. He saw the struggles that were taking place. Just a few years after Jesus and Paul, you have a war over who Jesus is, and this war still goes on! It is the battle of Christianity and that is who is Jesus. Who is He really?
There are two main issues about Jesus that we are in the midst of and that need to be addressed by pastors and churches and Bible study leaders. There are two main issues about Jesus. First, He is the Messiah, which is being ignored. We are not taking the time to prove to people that He is ha Masheach, and we have dealt with that up to this class time.
The second issue is the deity of Christ—that He is Yahweh, the God of the Old Testament. This is very hard to believe. We have one out of every five people in the world who are monotheistic and say that Allah (the name out of a pagan cultic group which Mohammed picked up) is the one true God and Mohammed is his prophet. We have the Jews who, of course, are monotheistic. And Christianity is also monotheistic, but we mess people's minds up because we have led people to believe that the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit are three gods. Now, there are not three gods. There is only one God. There never has been another one, but we believe (and this is based upon material that we read in the New Testament that we are going to get in to) that the Bible identifies the Father, the Spirit, and Jesus, all three of them, as being the one God. They are three distinct persons in one Triune God.
Here is the interesting thing. There is more evidence about Jesus being God than there is that the Father or the Spirit is God. Is that not interesting? People make a lot of assumptions. There is only a couple of passages that actually call the Father God. The Holy Spirit, as far as I know, only is treated as God in one passage and it is a parallelism. In Acts 5:3-4, Peter said, "You have not lied to men but to God." The next verse, "You have lied unto the Holy Spirit." There is the identification in a parallel statement, but there is not that much evidence. Now, you can get evidence by attributes and claims and works and miracles, but I am speaking of direct statements here.
Concerning the deity of Jesus Christ, we have direct statements. This is what certain cultic groups say is not found in the Bible. Let us take a look at it and see if it is found in the Bible or not.
Before I begin, I am aware of the fact that when you have been exposed to Jehovah Witness' teaching, it is like it is the number one issue that we are talking about. I would just like it for us to play it cool on that. I will refer to it from time to time, but I want you to understand that we are not teaching you that Jesus is God to handle your Jehovah Witness contacts. The truth of the matter is that most of the people in the world who even honor Him and recognize Him as existing and being a teacher, do not believe that He is God. Our job involves everybody. I do not believe a person can be saved apart from the fact that Jesus is God—at all! We will show you that because it is very important. Because the Jehovah's Witnesses follow a translation that you might spend more time debating with them and not know this, but they are following a translation that gives them readings of passages that we will show you that read differently than what your Bible reads.
John 1 is often called the prologue to the Gospel. It is just filled with doctrinal issues related to the deity of Christ. If you have already been through the Gospel of John, then you already know this and can probably even take a nap. John 1:1-18:
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. That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world. 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. But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth. John bare witness of him, and cried, saying, This was he of whom I spake, He that cometh after me is preferred before me: for he was before me. And of his fulness have all we received, and grace for grace. For the law was given by Moses, [but] grace and truth came by Jesus Christ. No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him.
The idea that verse 11 means that nobody received him is an absolute lie. There were 3,000 Jewish people that received Him on the Day of Pentecost—5,000 men not counting women and children a few days later. Josephus said previous to the destruction of Jerusalem that there were over 100,000 known Christians in Jerusalem. They were all Jews.
There is one more thing. In 1 Timothy 3:16, we have a passage which became a major hymn in the early church. In Paul's writing to Timothy, he says, "Without controversy, great is the mystery of godliness." Now those of you without King James are going to see a variation here. "God was manifest in the flesh." Both the NIV and NASB leave out the word "God" and translate it as "He."
Let us go back to John 1. The way that we are going to approach the deity of Christ (which is probably going to take a couple of weeks) is in three major areas. We are going to talk about His names that prove that He is God. Secondly we will move to His attributes. That is, the things that only God can do—things that are not man. Then we will go to His abilities—that is, the things that He has done that prove He is God.
Now when we come to His names, there is an interesting thing about the name that was given to Him in Matthew 1:21. It says that His name shall be called Yehoshua, meaning "Yahweh is salvation." Now many people read that and they say, "Well wait a minute. You could call somebody Jesus today and it is just a testimony to the fact that the Lord will save you. It's not saying he's the Lord." Well, that is an interesting observation, but there is just one problem. He is called the Lord, and we will be looking at that in a moment.
Let us look at how His names prove that He is God. Is He, in fact, contrary to cultic teaching, called God? The answer is yes. First of all, John 1:1 says, "In the beginning was the Word." Now the word for "word" is logos in Greek. Now logos is a common English word referring to the study of something. Archaeology has logos in the end. Christology, has logos in the end—the study of Christ. So that little logos or "-ology" on the end of English words, is referring to the study of something. In ancient times the logos was a revelation. That is, a display, a putting on display, expressing it so that we can see it. That is very interesting because when John wrote, he certainly wrote with the cultural background of those words that he used. When he said, "In the beginning was the logos." They would not immediately think of Jesus because they would be thinking of God. "In the beginning was when God started revealing." That is the way Barashesh, or Genesis, begins. "In the beginning God created." And that was a revelation of the glory of God.
Psalm 19:1 says, "The heavens declare or reveal the glory of God." So when you read in the beginning was the Word, was the revelation, everyone would go, "Oh yes, yes. You mean the creation. That revealed the nature and power of God."
But now here is what else it says: "And the logos was with God." Now at that point, you would have to stop and think about what was just said. Actually it is the word pros in Greek—the word meaning "toward." It can tend to mean "face to face." What we have here is a statement of equality. Now the person hearing this would have heard, "In the beginning was the revelation of God." Then they would have heard the next statement, "And this revelation was facing God." It was in equality with God. Now, that would be impossible for the Jewish mind to apprehend and comprehend, because the created is never to be identified with the Creator.
If the first phrase refers to the revelation of the universe, which reveals who God is (which it certainly could), then the second statement therefore, could not make any sense because you cannot have the revelation of that universe on an equal basis with the one who created it. In fact, that is the root of all idolatry. In Romans 1 it says that man worships the creature rather than the Creator. Let me put it another way. God is never to be identified with that which He created. That is a false doctrine. That is pantheism, which says that God is in everything. That is a big doctrine in the New Age thinking of our day—the Earth Day and occultic type of thinking. New Age thinking is that God is in everything. Talk to your plants because God is in the plants. Well, I do not know whether talking to the plants helps or not, because all I know is that God is not in those plants. God is not in this desk up here. God is not in this little cup. The interesting problem we have is that according to the Bible, God fills the universe with His presence. He dwells inside of us and in the space in between. Who can flee from His presence? As Psalm 139:7-10 says, "If I ascend into heaven, He is there. If I make my bed in hell, He is there. Where am I going to go? Darkness and light are the same to Him." There is nowhere that He is not found. He is everywhere at once—at any one moment of time.
So when it says that the Word, the revelation, was with God, all it did was personalize it. Now if you have a Jewish mind or a monotheistic mind, you say, "Wait a minute. How can you have a revelation that's on an equal par with God? It doesn't make sense."
If that was troubling, imagine hearing the third phrase. By the way, "the Logos was God." So it reads, "In the beginning was the Logos, the revelation." Most people would be thinking Creation. Remember that Jehovah's Witnesses teach that He is a created being. Knowing this will help you to understand what they try to do with the text. "In the beginning was the revelation, the Logos, and the Logos was on an equal par (face to face with God), and the Logos was God."
Have you lost your mind? Now the Jehovah's Witness will tell you that there is no definite article in front of the word "God." It does not say, "The Word was the God," and it just means, "The Word was a God." They would say that He is like God, but not the same as God. Now this brings up the usage of the definite article ("the") in Greek. When it is in the text, it does what we call identifies or specifies. That is why this would be illogical to have "the God" here. Why? It means the God among other gods. There are no other Gods. So there is no purpose of identifying or specifying the God. Just say "God." Now when the definite article is left out in front of a word, it indicates that it is the same in nature, substance, and being. Therefore, leaving the definite article out, contrary to the Jehovah's Witnesses argument, is the stronger view on the deity of Christ than if the definite article was there. It says that the revelation was, in fact, God in essence, substance, and being. It is a powerful statement that He is called God in John 1:1.
Now we know that this revelation (Logos) was also a person because 1:14 says that He was made flesh. He literally became flesh, which we will discuss later. He was not made flesh, but became flesh. The word ginomai in Greek refers to a change of condition. It means that He was in existence previously, and He became flesh. So what He was before was flesh. "God is Spirit, and they who worship Him must worship in Spirit and in truth." The second person of the Triune God became flesh and dwelt among us. He became a man, and this is the heart of the gospel.
Now, turn to John 20. I am going to want you to know what you are talking about when you try to prove that Jesus is God on the exam.
John 20 occurs after the Resurrection. It is eight days later. Thomas was not there that first night. It is still Sunday night, but a week later. John 20:19 records the evening of the Resurrection, where Jesus showed them His hands and His side. "He breathed on them. Said, receive ye the Holy Spirit."
But Thomas, one of the twelve called Didemus [or Twin, apparently he had a twin brother] was not with them when Jesus came. The other disciples therefore, said unto him, ‘We have seen the Lord.' But he said unto them, except I shall see in His hands the print of the nails and put my finger into the print of the nails, and thrust my hand into His side, I will not believe. (John 20:24)
Before you jump on him so much, remember that his last picture was Jesus on the cross. There was no doubt in his mind, that those nails were in His hands and His feet, and the spear was thrust in His side and blood and water came out. That is the last thing he knew. He said, "What do you mean, you've seen the Lord? I was there. He died. If I cannot see Him with the prints—I mean, don't come to me with some hallucination that's been cleared up. I want to see it."
Then verse 26 states, "After eight days again, His disciples were within and Thomas with them this time. Then came Jesus, the doors being shut and stood in the midst." People say, "Well how could He do that if He has a real physical body?" Well actually, you could if you move fast enough. How many of you took physics in high school? How many of you remember your Physics? Then you would understand that it is possible to move through walls because of the molecular structure. If you knew the molecular structure of the wood of the door and you moved rapidly enough and the molecular structure of your body could be adjusted to it, you could go straight through it. Now, normally that does not happen. I do not recommend that you go outside and try a few doors because you will end up with a headache. Yet for Jesus, of course, it was no problem.
"Peace be unto you, thus saith He to Thomas." Boy, He did not waste any time, did He? He went right for it. "Reach thither thy finger and behold My hands, and reach hither thy hand, thrust it in My side. And be not faithless, but believing."
I heard a guy on the radio recently say that it does not say they touched his hands and side. In honor of the Lord, they fell at His feet. They would not touch His sacred body. You know, I listened to that and said that it sounded really nice, except for the fact that it is wrong. They did touch Him; and it was not just Thomas. They all touched Him. You say, "How do you know that?" The answer is over in 1 John 1.
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. (1 John 1:1)
You see the Jehovah's Witness cannot call this resurrection an apparition because of this verse. They do not believe in the Resurrection of the actual, physical body of Jesus.
Do you know there are some evangelical scholars now teaching the same thing because Jesus walks through the door. They say that He is like a ghost or a spirit. No, He is not! He had a real physical body and they touched Him. Would you not touch Him if you were there? I would have, and said, "Hey, it feels like His flesh, you know."
Do you remember Luke 24? He ate fish and a honeycomb in their presence. He invited them, "Touch Me and see. A spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see Me have." I love to share that with Mormons. I have had more people get confused over that. Do not let them give you their arguments first. You must always give them their arguments.
I sometimes say to them, "Hey, have you guys ever seen an apparition that eats?"
"What are you talking about?"
"You know, like a ghost or something. Have you ever seen them eat a Twinkie or something? Maybe a hamburger?"
They always say, "What are you talking about?"
I say, "Well, you guys believe that Jesus was an apparition after His resurrection and He is eating fish and honeycomb in Luke 24." Then I say, "Also, you say that He didn't have flesh and bones and He said that He did. Does that not make you liars and deceivers?" This is what I call the direct approach. "I am not trying to be critical, but Jesus is the one who said He had flesh and bones. So I believe Him. Not you—just for the record." Sometimes you have to shock people a little bit and wake them up.
In verse 28 we find Thomas' response to Jesus. It was not "My Lord and my likeness of God." Nor was it, "My Lord and my beautiful manifestation apparition, the light in my room of God." He said, "My Lord and my God!" Did Jesus rebuke him for calling Him God? No, He said, "Thomas because you have seen Me you have believed. Blessed are they that have not seen and yet believed." This is pretty good stuff!
Is Jesus called God? We'll look at Acts 20:28 after the break.
[[This editorial break represents a fifteen-minute intermission.]]
While Paul was at Miletus with the elders of the church of Ephesus, he says:
Take heed therefore unto yourselves and unto all the flock, over that which the Holy Ghost has made you overseers [or bishops] to feed the church of God which He hath purchased with His own blood. (Acts 20:28)
I love to use this with Jehovah's Witnesses and say, "Did the Father die on the cross?"
They always say, "Well, of course not."
Then I say, "I've got a real problem here. This verse says that God purchased with His own blood. What are we going to do about that?"
They always look at it and look at it. Then they say, "Well, I don't know. It's probably just, you know." They look at it again. "Feed the church of God which He hath purchased with His own blood."
How can you get any stronger than that? Yet they say He is not called God in the Bible! Here is a pretty clear example.
Let us look at Romans 9:5, which is one that they do not agree with. By the way, different people translate this differently, but in Romans 9:5, Paul is talking about the promises of God and his burden for Israel. They had the adoption, the covenants, the giving of the law, and the promises, whose are the Father's. The verse says, "And of whom, out of Israel, as concerning the flesh, Messiah came who is over all God blessed forever. Amen."
All God's people said, "Amen!" I know of a guy that is working on proving that Jesus is not God, though he is not yet done. Whether or not he is a Christian, I do not know. He says that he believes it, but I think that he likes being the devil's advocate. Anyway, he tries to get out of this and I basically asked him why Paul would say, "Amen" at that point? He has a lot more to say, and so there must be something really terrific there. Why would he say "amen:" here? It did not seem to make sense because He continues on his argument. Why would he say it? The point is that whatever was just said about the Messiah, gave Paul the response in his heart: "Amen to that! Christ is over all. God blessed forever."
In Greek, it is an apposition, and from that it is hard to run away. An apposition is like the vocative in English (i.e., the case of address). This is where you are simply saying the same thing like, "David, the teacher at Bible College." The phrase, "The teacher at Bible College" in grammar would be the same grammatical construction as David's name because you are referring to him. This is what we have here. We have Christ, who is overall God blessed forever. A lot of guys change it as if it were just an ending: "Blessed be God forever." No, that is not what it says, and it is hard to get out of the grammar of Romans 9:5 because it claims that the Messiah is God.
Here is another one that I have referred to many times in sharing Christ with both Jews and Jehovah's Witnesses:
Looking for that blessed hope and the glorious appearing of thee great God and our Savior Jesus Christ. (Titus 2:13)
You say, "Wait a minute. If it has the definite article in there, how does that apply to what you said in John 1:1." Remember do not try to make something walk on all fours. You have to have the definite article here for another reason that makes the statement more powerful than if it were not there. What am I talking about? This is called Granville Sharp's Rule. It was named after Granville Sharp, who discovered it. What it means is easy to grasp whether you know Greek or not. When two nouns are connected by "and," and the definite article ("the" ) is preceding the first noun, but not in front of the second noun, it is connecting equals. When you have two nouns connected by the word "and," and the definite article ("the") is in front of the first noun but not the second one, it is connecting equals. Now some people say, "How do you know that's a rule?" There are two-hundred and fifty usages of it in the New Testament and there are no exceptions. That makes a pretty strong rule.
You know, this will help you in other passages. Do you remember that the Bible says that the foundation is the apostles and prophets? It uses Granville Sharp's Rule. It means that the apostle and prophet are exactly equal in that sense.
Do you remember when it says that the Spirit revealed unto God's holy apostles and prophets? It is Granville Sharp's Rule. What does it mean? It means that whether an apostle or prophet, what made them the same was in writing the Scripture. There were other apostles and prophets who never wrote Scripture. Therefore, the foundation is made up of those particular ones who are used by God to write Scripture. I do not mean to bring something else that confuses you and takes you off the track, but there are lots of usages of this that are really fascinating.
"The Great God and our Savior." There is no definite article in front of the word "Savior." Therefore this grammar is connecting equals. The words "God" and "Savior" are referring to the same person; they are not two persons, even though that is the argument of the Jehovah's Witnesses. If you want to beat them to the punch, say, "Do you guys have any evidence that the heavenly Father is going to return back to this earth on a great white horse exactly like you believe from Titus 2:13?" They will then wonder how you knew that. You see, the Jehovah's Witnesses, in order to get out of this problem, say that both the Father and Jesus are coming back on white horses. The Bible does not say that anywhere else, yet they have to believe that because the word for "appearing" epiphanea is that great revelation at the end of the Tribulation. They want the "Great God" to refer to the Father, but Granville Sharp's Rule blows them out of the saddle anyway because it is referring to the Savior as being that God. Jesus is called the Great God in Titus 2:13.
Again when He bringeth in the first begotten into the world, He sayeth, let all the angels of God worship Him. The angels He makes them spirits and ministers, but unto the God He sayeth, Thy throne, O God is forever and ever. A scepter of righteousness is the scepter of Thy kingdom. (Hebrews 1:6-7)
By the way, this comes from Psalm 45, which all Jews teach is a messianic psalm. "Thy throne, O God is forever and ever."
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. (1 John 5:20)
At this point, Jehovah Witness say, "Well, the true one is the Father." Yet it says, even in His Son Jesus Christ. So it identifies the true one. In the next statement, "This is the true God and eternal life," the word "this," is a demonstrative pronoun. A pronoun must agree in gender (meaning masculine, feminine or neuter) and in number (meaning plural or singular), with what it modifies. This demonstrative pronoun is a masculine, singular pronoun. It also must agree, in Greek grammar, with its closest antecedent (i.e., the word before it that is also masculine and singular as a noun). How interesting that the word "Christ" right in front of it, is a masculine, singular noun. This is the true God and that is pretty hard to get out of!
A Jehovah's Witness teacher whom I dealt with for over two years and is now a fundamental Baptist pastor, said concerning this verse, "Oh, that refers to eternal life."
I said, "No it doesn't. Eternal life is feminine. It's impossible for the pronoun to mean eternal life and you know it." Jesus is called the Great God in Titus 2:13 and He is called the true God in 1 John 5:20.
Unto us a child is born. Unto us a son is given. The government shall be upon his shoulders. His name shall be called wonderful, counselor, the Mighty God. (Isaiah 9:6)
Now, the "Mighty God" there is not the word El Shaddai. That is the Almighty God in Genesis in the Hebrew, but it is not there in Isaiah 9:6. Here it is the word El Gibbor, meaning the God of power.
The second thing that we deal with is that He is called the Son of God. How many people have ever told you, "How can He be God if He's the Son of God?" It is a good question.
The Greek language is very crucial here because it has additional words that we do not use in English. For instance, if you refer to a baby in the womb, or one that just came out of the womb, you call it a brephos. A brephos is one in the womb. Remember when Paul said to Timothy that "from a child you have known the Holy Scriptures" (2 Timothy 3:14-15). The reason that is so interesting is that it is the word brephos, meaning "in the womb." Do you know that today we know scientifically that the baby in the womb is hearing and responding to what it hears? In all experimentation, the baby can recognize the kind of music it has listened to in the womb after it comes out. It can also identify the voices of people without seeing them. So, years ago, we thought nothing is happening in there. That is why abortion seems so stupid, when you think about it. Trying to act like that is not a real person, when the elements of personality are functioning very definitely as it relates to sounds.
But anyway, "From a baby (brephos) in the womb, you have known the Holy Scriptures." That is why I teach young couples that are pregnant the word of God. Get right down on that tummy and preach God's Word, saying, "Hey, in there, listen up! You're a sinner even though you just got in here. You need to be saved!"
I am a little crazy on this I will have to admit. When I got my first grandchild, I was so excited. It was Easter Sunday morning and I had four services that I was preaching. Between the third and the fourth service a guy came up and gave me a note that said I was a grandfather. I was very excited and so that last service was real quick. "We're just going to shorten up the word here a little bit this morning. I've got things to do." But anyway, I had a basketball under one arm (we are kind of hoop nuts in our house) and a Bible in the other as I went to St. Joseph's Hospital. All the babies were being shown at one o'clock and so I came walking down the hall with the crowd of people waiting for all the babies to be shown. My oldest son, who is more serious, standing with his mother, my wife, saw me coming with a basketball and a Bible. The son just says, "Oh no. I do not believe this."
He knew what I was going to do and so I came walking up and say, "Where's my kid?"
He said, "It's my kid, Dad."
"Yeah, yeah, your kid. But it's my grandson. Where is he?" I said, "Bring him up here." They moved him up to the little window and I said, "Here hold the basketball." Then I opened my Bible right in front of that window with all these people standing there and said, "The Bible says, ‘For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.'"
My son and my wife took off the other way because they were so embarrassed. Yet I had a crowd of people that stood around, and so I became more eloquent and said, "We are all sinners, aren't we? We all need to be saved." So when people ask me when to start telling your kids about Jesus, I tell them, "Before they come home from the hospital, of course." Do it even when they are in the womb.
The second word that the Greeks use is technon, which is often translated in some of the modern English translations as a little born one. It is a little different than brephos in that it does not apply to the baby in the womb. It means one that is recently born, and usually refers to a child up until about two.
At age two, you use the word nepios, which means without speech, but making noise. The word used for toddlers in Greek is nepios. In Ephesians 4, Paul said, "Do not be children tossed to and fro with every wind of doctrine." In this context, he used the word nepios. In other words, do not be a spiritual toddler. Now toddlers talk and go in all directions, but they do not know what they are doing. They are in to everything, climbing on everything, and blabbering all over the place, but they do not know what they are doing. So watch out that you are not that way spiritually. The technon is in between the brephos and the nepios (around the ages of 0 to 2).
Now Jesus is called the Son of God, and one of the biggest mistakes that is thinking that the word technon is used to refer to Him in that manner—that He was born of God. Now the word technon is never used of Jesus Christ. Never. That is almost startling, but it is also clearly telling us that He is unique.
The word "Son" that is used is the word, huios. Now a huios in Greek is one that is an heir. It has nothing to do with whether you are 10 or 8 or 16 or 21 or anything else. It is the one who receives the inheritance and that is what heir means here. That is the word for son, which means that He is the heir of all things. Remember that Romans 8 says that we will be joint-heirs with Christ. That is such a wonderful statement that we are receiving the inheritance as we have been adopted as sons. You can adopt a person who is not your own child and make them a huios, an heir. There is a ceremony to adopt them and they would receive the benefits of your will. It is really fascinating. Jesus is called the Son of God.
Now go to John 5:18 and let us look at the way that they treated that at the time of the Lord. How did they understand the term? It is more important at that time than it is for us looking back nineteen-hundred years.
Therefore the Jews sought the more to kill Him because He not only had broken the Sabbath, but said also that God was His Father, making Himself equal with God. (John 5:18)
Is that not interesting? They did not interpret the word, "son" as meaning less than. They interpreted it as being equal to. All the inheritance of the Father belongs to the Son. They knew exactly what He said. They are ready to kill Him because He is blaspheming. So it is interesting when you go back and see how they interpreted it. They believed He was making Himself equal with God.
Go to John 10:30-31, here Jesus said, "I and My Father are one." The Jehovah's Witnesses will tell you, "Well that means one in spirit." Look, you do not stone people for being one in spirit and attitude! The next verse says:
Then the Jews took up stones again to stone Him. Jesus answered them, Many good works have a shown you from My Father. For which of those works do you stone Me. The Jews answered and said, For a good work we stone thee not. But for blasphemy and because that thou being a man, makest Thyself God. (John 10:31-33)
They understood this a little differently. Jesus answered, "Is it not written in your law, ‘I said ye are gods'?" What passage is it referring to? Psalm 82. What is it talking about? It is referring gods with a small "g." It is talking about the judges of Israel. When they made a verdict, it was treated as God's authority. He said, "Now you call them gods who, to whom the word of God came." The Scripture cannot be broken.
Say ye of Him whom the Father hath sanctified or set apart and sent into the world, thou blasphemer? Because I said I am the Son of God?" (John 10:36)
You do not need to know the background of the passage—although you should—but please notice that the term, "I am the Son of God," was definitely considered to be blaspheming. In saying it, He was making Himself equal with God. In their day they took it as that, and so it is hypocritical for us nineteen-hundred years later to say that we know what that term meant.
John 19:7 adds to this just a little. It says that the Jews answered Him, "We have a law, and by our law He ought to die." They were saying this to Pilate because Christ made Himself the Son of God. If this meant that He was a little born one, or a child, nobody would have panicked, but that is not the case here. So you see, the term huios meant something much more significant. He is the unique Son, the One, the heir of all things.
In Psalm 2, which is a messianic psalm, the Father speaks and says to the Messiah, "Ask of Me and I will give thee the heathen for thine inheritance and the uttermost part of the earth for thy possession." So when He called Himself a huios of God, He was also saying that He was the Hamasheach (the Messiah), the one who is to receive all of the inheritance of God.
He is also called the Lord. Now once again, people who do not believe in the deity of Jesus say, "Well, the word ‘Lord' in Greek is kurios, and that is used today for an earthly lord who manages an estate." Now that is not really the question. The question to ask is, "Does it also refer to God as Lord?" They have to admit that it does, because kurios is used of God. Here is something interesting. Ask them, "Are there any other words that are used to translate the word, Yahweh in the Septuagint (the Greek translation of the Old Testament)?" When you translate it into the Greek, what word is used without exception? It is always kurios. This makes this a little more difficult because Romans 10:9-10 says, "That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth Jesus as kurios and believe in thy heart that God raised Him from the dead, thou shalt be saved."
I asked the Jehovah's Witness leader (which I told you about earlier), "If kurios refers to Yahweh are you a Christian?" He said, "No, I couldn't be." It was interesting to me because this was someone who is not a Christian, though he believed himself to be one, and he recognized that if kurios refers to Yahweh that he, in fact, was not saved. He did not believe that the term refers to Yahweh—that Jesus is not Yahweh. This may be a little confusing, but that is what I sometimes do. I like to ask a question that exposes a problem.
"If the word kurios in Romans 10:9 (where it says you have to confess that Jesus is Lord) refers to Yahweh, are you, in fact, a Christian?" The answer has to be, "No," because you have to confess with your mouth that Jesus is Yahweh, if that is what it means. Now, of course, they do not believe that it means that. They think that kurios means just an earthly lord, but we recognize His earthly leadership too.
Now go to Isaiah 45. Let me show you something. We are taking time on this because it is the heart of the problem in gospel witnessing and preaching today. We are not clarifying who Jesus is. Remember that I said that there are two issues concerning this: 1) He is the Hamasheach (the Messiah), and 2) He is God. These two issues are not clear in most evangelistic campaigns. Much of the time they are not even brought out. I listen for them. The pastors will say, "Believe in Jesus," but they do not designate which Jesus. "Accept Jesus into your heart," I can accept Buddha in my heart too. What are you talking about? "Jesus will forgive your sins." Well, if He is not God then He cannot. That is why this is so fundamental to the whole issue of the gospel.
Look unto Me and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth. For I am God, and there is none else. I have sworn by Myself the word is gone out of My mouth in righteousness and shall not return. (Isaiah 45:22-23)
Who is speaking in this text? Do not say that it is the Father because it does not say that here. Who is speaking here? God? "I am God." "That unto Me every knee shall bow and every tongue shall swear." Does this text ring a bell? A slight bell? A little ding dong in your mind? Look at Philippians 2:9-11. The whole passage is great, but verses 9-11 pertain to this more directly.
God has highly exalted Him and given Him a name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus [you cannot miss that] every knee shall bow and every tongue shall confess. (Philippians 2:9-11)
It quotes Isaiah 45:23 and so it helps us understand who is speaking in Isaiah. While we are here in Philippians, look at Philippians 2:5-11. In theology this passage is called the kenosis of Christ. The Greek word kenao, from which we get kenosis, means "to empty." The most controversial passage in the entire Bible about the person of Christ, as to whether He is God or man or both, is this one. Now let me show you why.
Philippians 2:5 speaks of having a humble attitude toward people as you can see from the opening four verses. Then he says, "Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus." He is still talking about humility, which is having the right attitude towards other people. Then the text expounds on Christ Jesus with "Who," speaking of Jesus in 2:6. "Being in the form of God." Now the Jehovah's Witness likes to work you over on that. The word "form" is morphe in Greek. We get our medical term "morphology" from this word, morphe. What is morphe? Morphe is the exact nature of something—it is whatever its DNA is. It is in the word "metamorphosis." As we look into the word, the Holy Spirit is transforming us into the image of Christ from glory (his) to glory (ours), even as by the Holy Spirit. That means our true DNA is originally depraved as we are born lost sinners, but when we come to Christ, we have a new nature. We are born of God, and one day it will be seen on the outward, which is the process of metamorphosis. Morphe is the exact nature. So, contrary to the Jehovah's Witnesses argument, it is actually a stronger statement. If you want to put it in the vernacular of today, Jesus has the DNA of God. In a way, that is a little bit borderline, but you understand because it helps us to identify it.
"Who being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God." The Jehovah's Witnesses try to water this down, but what it actually says is, "to rob" or "seize" or "grasp something violently." What he is saying is that His humility was so evident that He did not parade the fact that He was God in front of people. Instead of being what the Jehovah's Witnesses say, it is actually a testimony to His deity. It is saying that even though He is in the morphe of God (i.e., the exact essence of God), He never paraded it. He did not walk around and say, "Watch out how you talk to Me. I am God and I can kill you." We know that was not the character of Christ—He never talked like that and that is the point of this verse.
Now Philippians 2:7 says that He "made Himself of no reputation." Some of you have translations that read, "He emptied Himself." That is the word kenosis, or kenao. He emptied Himself. Here is the argument: When Jesus became a man, did He cease from being God? In what sense was He still God? "He made Himself of no reputation." "He emptied Himself," and even "took upon Him the form of a servant." This is a beautiful thing, because the word "form" is morphe again. Did you know that our Lord, in His true nature, is a servant? The Bible says that Jesus came to serve and not to be served. That is what He is all about. That is why when we have the character of our Lord in us, we will be servants.
He was made in the likeness of men. Now it changes. It no longer uses the word morphe. "Being found in fashion as a man." So, what do we learn here? First, was He a man? Yes. "God manifested in the flesh."
Let me do something else with you. Have you ever heard this, or seen or heard the spellings about the term the God-Man, Jesus Christ. Sometimes that reveals a lot of theology, and here is what I mean. I know that you do not know what I'm talking about.
He's more man than God. Liberal theology would say that He is Godlike, but He is not God. Now another way to write it would be God-MAN. What is wrong with that? It is still just a level below what it should be, is it not? That is where a lot of your cults come in, being just a little bit low, yet some of them are worse than that.
What is the correct spelling? First of all, as a man, is He the only man? No. Is He the man of all men? What do you think? I think that is a yes. There never has been a man like Jesus. See, we all identify with the humanity of Christ, which we will be studying a little bit later. He sympathized with us and He knows our situations. Many times when we relate to the Lord, we are relating as human beings to someone who is a man. But He is not just any old man. So we had better not put small letter "m." I suggest you write it like this: GOD-Man. He is the GOD-Man. God in human flesh, and He is not small letter "m," because He is the man of all men. Is everybody following that? It's kind of a game with words or letters, but it might help us to identify with what it is saying.
Now, what does it mean when it says that He emptied Himself? There are two verbs here that connect this text together. Philippians 2:7 says, "He emptied," while 2:8 says, "He humbled Himself." This is the self-emptying of Christ. First of all, He did it to Himself. That suggests a rather remarkable ability, does it not? I do not know how to tell you this without an illustration, and so here is an example of someone who empties himself. In ancient times, when the Romans would go to battle, a Centurion was in charge over a hundred men. The Centurions and other officers would also take off their insignia that indicated that they were an officer, because the barbaric tribes would always try to kill the officers first so that the men would scatter faster. In order to prevent that, the centurions would take off the insignia that was on their shoulder pieces (which designates them as an officer). They would identify with all their men and they would enter the battle and fight with their men. Some of the greatest fighters in the history of the ancient world were centurions. These were men who just were over a hundred other guys, but they identified with them and fought with them. You would not have been able to tell who was an officer when they went into battle. They never stood out in front. They stood in a long line with the men as they marched.
When you describe the man taking off his insignia, you would use the word kenao. What I am trying to say is very important. When a centurion takes off the emblem, does he cease being a centurion? No, he remains a centurion and his men would know that he is one. What he is doing is laying aside the visible manifestation of all that he really is for the benefit of what he has to accomplish. Do you understand that Christ laid aside the exercise of His divine attributes? He was not constantly parading them in front of people. Now He did often show them that He was God. In the Garden, He takes one look and they fall over like dominoes. He did miracles in their presence. Yet most of the time, He was a normal man because "He humbled Himself."
The God who created all men and the universe, who fills the universe with His presence, put His presence into a physical body and became one of us. Why? To show us what He is like and to communicate with us, then die on a cross for our sins because we could not save ourselves.
That is why 2 Corinthians 5:19 says, "God was in the Messiah reconciling the world unto Himself." Let us look at a couple more here.
Lift up your heads, O ye gates; [This is often used at Roshashana, which emphasizes the King and His kingdom. The trumpets blowing and majestic emphasis.] Lift up your head O ye gates; and be ye lift up, ye everlasting doors; and the King of glory shall come in. Who is this King of glory? Yahweh, The LORD strong and mighty, Yahweh the LORD mighty in battle. Lift up your heads, O ye gates; even lift them up, ye everlasting doors; and the King of glory shall come in. Who is this King of glory? Yahweh Of armies, he is the King of glory.
Now look at 1 Corinthians 2:8. There is an amazing connection between these two passages, because they both speak about the wisdom of God, which none of the princes of this world knew, for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of Glory. The connection with the Old Testament there is just too powerful to miss. Also, in the "Lord of Glory" passage of Psalm 24, we have the word Yahweh.
Christ is also called the Holy One.
Thus saith the Lord, thy redeemer, the Holy One of Israel, I am Yahweh thy God, which teacheth thee to prophet, which leadeth thee by the way that thou shouldst go. (Isaiah 48:17)
Here the Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel, says "I am Yahweh thy God." Now in Acts 3:14, Peter says, "But ye denied the Holy One and the Just and desired a murderer to be granted unto you." When Jews speaks about the Holy One, blessed be His name, you are speaking of Yahweh, the Lord. Yet in fact, He is described by Peter as being our Lord Jesus. I would say that that is pretty strong evidence that Christ is God.
I do not want to address the-First-and-Last one yet. It is going to take a little more time than we have, but I want to end with this thought. For years now I have been concerned that people in good churches (Bible-teaching churches) really do not know the Lord. You know, we use that so simply do we not? "Do you know the Lord?" Well, if you ask me if I know George Washington, I know some things about him. I have read about him, but I have never met him. I do not really know him, and we use those statements too. I am not sure that I really know that person. We might mean that we are an acquaintance, and because of our prolific use of, "Do you know the Lord?" we see it as a type of catch word among Christians. It has bothered me because I think there are a lot of people in our churches that do not know the Lord of the Bible. They do not know Him.
There was a man who was a leader, an elder, in a church (I will not refer to which one). He heard me speak on the deity of Jesus Christ. Afterward he came up and started arguing with me. He said, "You are stretching this. He's not God. He's the Son of God." He said, "When you have people receive the Lord, they receive the Son of God. You don't say that He's God."
I said, "Well, I do, and if you don't..." I asked him, "Do you believe that Jesus is God in human flesh?"
He said, "No, He's the Son of God."
I said, "Sir, you have no business being an elder in this church because you're not saved." Well, he blew, and I was a young pastor at the time and so I thought, "Oh boy." It is one of those things that when you get older you learn, but you know I have not changed. He was wrong because the Bible teaches he was wrong. By the way, I do not believe that he was saved. I believe the events that happened in his life prove that he was not saved.
It is interesting to me how many people really know the Lord. Does it burden you? Does it bother you? People ask Jesus to come into their heart. "Jesus? You mean that guy who lives down in Tijuana? Yesus? What one are you talking about?" "You know, Jesus of the Bible." Invariably they are talking about the one that walked the hills of Galilee and the streets of Jerusalem.
I had this example just a week ago. I was trying to briefly share with a guy about what Jesus is like now. I was getting frustrated talking to him and was not getting anywhere. This is what I said to him, "Are you aware of the fact that there are flames of fire that shoot out from His eyes right now?"
He just looked at me like I am nuts or something. I said, "Yeah, it says so over here in Revelation 1. There are actually flames of fire that shoot out from His eyes."
I said, "Yeah. Jesus. There's some other very interesting things said about Him too. Very different than what you've been describing. I just wondered if you knew Him. When it says His hair is white like wool and white as snow. He didn't say He was white. It says His hair was white. In other words, He turned white. What's that a sign of?"
"It's the Ancient of Days, which is the Lord Jehovah in the Old Testament."
"So what are you talking to me about? That's Jesus?"
I said, "Yeah."
"Well, what about the pictures in the bookstores?"
"Well, those are drawings, attempts to visualize Him, but that's not what He is now since He rose from the dead. He now looks totally different than what He looked like when He was walking on the earth."
This guy would not buy it. He just said, "That's not the Jesus I believe in, and he walked away."
I wonder how many people really know who Jesus is. You must confess with your mouth that He is Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead in order to be saved. It is not just asking Jesus to come into your heart. Let us pray.
Father, we are aware that our modern generation has stripped words of its meaning. We have watered down the gospel. We try to make it easy for a narcissistic culture to receive, yet we have done them a terrible disfavor. Lord, I pray that you would teach us to be clear about who Jesus is, so that when we introduce people to Him they may know what the Bible really says. Help us to know, Lord, that we might think this through for ourselves. Have we in fact, confessed Him as our Lord and our God as Thomas did long ago? Work in our hearts, we pray. In Jesus' name. Amen.