The Divinity of Christ, part 6
Is Jesus REALLY God? Background and Introduction
In previous blogs, I have been teaching concerning what is known as the Arian Controversy. It is the heresy which teaches that Jesus is not God. I spent much time teaching on the history of this particular heresy because
(1) the deity of Christ is so foundational to Christianity and (2) it seems that this same old heresy creeps into every generation, and some gullible and/or ignorant Christians fall for it.
They think that it is some new revelation or understanding, some new truth which has never been taught before. Nonsense! If we were not so ignorant of church history, we would realize these issues have all been dealt with before.
I am not suggesting that just because we learn from history the fact that this issue has been debated in previous centuries, that that means that we must accept everything we are told by preachers and teachers.
In other words, just because a minister tells you that the deity of Christ issue has been settled since the fourth century, that means that we must blindly accept it as gospel truth. No! We should always have a Berean attitude (Acts 17:10-11) and check things out.
Let us not think that this idea that Jesus is not God is some new revelation. Therefore, what we are doing in this series is checking these things out. We are going to see what the Bible does and does not teach on this subject of the divinity of Christ.
We opened the lectures on the Arian Controversy by drawing an analogy between religious heresy and scientific heresy. We noted that everyone draws the line somewhere. We all lament that there are so many divisions in Christianity. Would that all Christians were wholly unified in all doctrine!
But I do not foresee that happening until the Lord returns. Until then, we can and should allow for disagreements among brethren. We can have varying viewpoints on prophecy, on Noah’s flood, on what day is the sabbath, and on many other doctrines. But each one of us must decide for himself which doctrines are so important that we must a draw a line around it. For me, the deity of Christ is one of those doctrines. It says in…
2 Corinthians 6:14 Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?
Drawing the line when it comes to Christian fellowship does not mean that you cannot talk to, or otherwise have normal social intercourse with non-believers. That is absurd, because then, as the Bible says, then we must needs go out of the world.
My position is that if a person has made a serious, intense and bona fide study of the doctrine of the deity of Christ, and then rejects it; it is at that point that I will refuse to have regular Christian fellowship with that person. However, if I happen to see that person at a conference, it doesn’t mean that I will refuse to talk to him or her. Again, I think that would be absurd.
I think that these parameters that I have just described—this kind of attitude leaves a great deal of latitude in allowing a brother who is struggling with the concept of the divinity of Christ to have both the time and the Scriptural ammunition to search it out.
I won’t cut off communication and dialogue with a person just because he writes me and declares he does not believe that Christ is God. You see, it may take some digging and some time to ascertain just how deeply the person has really searched it out.
For example, one might be reading the Bible one day and come across John 14:28 where Jesus says “…for my Father is greater than I,” and then that person might conclude that “Well, that statement is conclusive. That settles it. Jesus cannot be God because if He is God, then He has to be equal with God, and he just said the Father is greater than Him.”
The fact is that that statement is not conclusive. We recognize that all Christians are at different levels of growth. Knowing that, and because this is such a key doctrine, we are going to proceed very thoroughly through the Bible as we explore the arguments pro and con on this issue.
You will recall from our studies on the Arian Controversy that I plainly stated that I felt there were some real problems with the way in which the Nicene Fathers—that is, the church leaders who gathered at the Council of Nicea in AD 325—how they explained the divinity of Christ. Remember that part about the Son being “eternally generated?”
But I also stated that I had a lot more problems with the Arian position. I made clear at the outset that my position is firmly on the side which holds to the divinity of Christ, that He is indeed God of very God—homoousios, remember that Greek word?—of the same substance with the Father. However, truth never fears investigation, and so if what I believe is true, then I should not fear to examine the arguments of those who hold to the Arian position. We discussed the history of it in the first two lectures. Now we will proceed with the actual Scripture passages themselves.
At the outset, I admit that we cannot find in the spoken words of Jesus while He lived in a flesh body such a statement from Him saying “I am God.” That statement is simply not in the Bible. But why, some might say, why didn’t He just say it clearly, and then we wouldn’t have all this debate and argument over whether or not He is God? …Oh?? If He had made such a plain statement, I really don’t think it would be all that different.
John 10:24 Then came the Jews round about him, and said unto him, How long dost thou make us to doubt? If thou be the Christ, tell us plainly.
What was the accusation of the unbelieving Jews here? …you won’t tell us plainly! And what was the Savior’s reply?
John 10:25 Jesus answered them, I told you, …
Wait a minute! What did He say? Essentially, He said: I already told you. True, He did not use the very words that they claimed they wanted to hear, but Jesus stated without reservation that He had told them.
Obviously, He had not told them in exactly the way they wanted to hear it. Therefore, it is just as obvious that our Lord desires that His followers today also believe without having that unequivocal statement where He would say, I am God.
Rather, He wants us to search the Word, to study to show ourselves approved. If we seek Him with all our hearts, He has promised to reveal Himself to us. And I cannot help but think that those who abjectly deny the deity of Christ are one of two things or perhaps both:
#1. They have not truly searched and sought for Him with all their heart, insofar as this issue of His divinity is concerned. …or #2, as it says here in the rest of verse 25 and on:
…and ye believed not: the works that I do in my Father's name, they bear witness of me.
26 But ye believe not, because ye are not of my sheep, as I said unto you.
27 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me:
But if you are a person who has doubts in this area, and that’s okay—we don’t want to be gullible and just swallow everything somebody says just because they say it is true. So if you do have some doubts in this area, then search with all your heart, and pray that God will reveal the truth to you on this matter.
By the way, there are many ways He could reveal the truth to you, but one of the most common ways is that when you read something or hear something, that you just have that feeling, that intuition, that inner knowledge, that resonating in your spirit, that, yes, this is true. You are learning to hear God’s voice, His Holy Spirit, speaking to you. Usually, it is not a billboard. Rather, it is usually the still, small voice.
Since we are in this passage, let us just continue reading here, because if you have the thinking ability of at least a ten-year-old, then you should be able to see one of the Scriptural evidences of Christ’s divinity in the very next two verses.
28 And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.
Pause a moment. Who is speaking here? Whose hand is it? It is Jesus speaking. It is His hand, is it not?
29 My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand.
Whose hand? Surely we can see that this equivalence means that the Father and the Son are one and the same, can’t we? Now, someone is certain to point out that “See, there is also evidence here that he is not God because it says “My Father… is greater than all.” Okay, chalk up a point for the Arians—temporarily. We will deal with that objection later.
So as we try to approach this doctrinal study a little more methodically now, we must recognize that what we are doing is to bring forth text upon text upon text, which I would think would cause any reasonable person to conclude upon the weight of the evidence presented that Jesus was and is God.
(To be continued.)