Jesus Christ's Divinity
Preaching and Worship Resources about Jesus Christ's Divinity
In classical Christianity (expressed, for example, in the Nicene Creed), Jesus Christ is "God of God . . . very God of very God . . . of one substance with the Father." But the fact that Christ is the only Trinitarian person to have become incarnate (so far as we know) introduces certain complexities.
"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God" (John 1:1).
"No one has ever seen God. It is God the only Son, who is close to the Father's heart, who has made him known" (John 1:18).
Glory "I ask not only on behalf of these, but also on behalf of those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one. As you, Father, are in me and I am in you, may they also be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. The glory that you have given me I have given them, so that they may be one, as we are one . . ." (John 17:20-22).
My Lord and My God "Thomas answered him, `My Lord and my God!'" (John 20:28).
Life in His Name "But these are written so that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that through believing you may have life in his name" (John 20:31).
You Will Be Saved "If you confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved" (Rom. 10:9).
From Whom We Exist "Yet for us there is one God, the Father, from whom are all things and for whom we exist, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things and through whom we exist" (1 Cor. 8:6).
He Emptied Himself "Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited, but emptied himself . . ." (Phil. 2:5-7).
Highly Exalted "Therefore God also highly exalted him and gave him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father" (Phil. 2:9-11).
Fullness of Deity Dwells "For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily, and you have come to fullness in him, who is the head of every ruler and authority" (Col. 2:9-10).
Reflection of God's Glory "He is the reflection of God's glory and the exact imprint of God's very being, and he sustains all things by his powerful word" (Heb. 1:3).
All God's Angels Worship Him "When he brings the firstborn into the world, he says, `Let all God's angels worship him'" (Heb. 1:6).
Blessed Hope "We wait for the blessed hope and the manifestation of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ" (Titus 2:13).
Righteousness "Simeon Peter, a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who have received a faith as precious as ours through the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ" (2 Pet. 1:1)"
Abiding "God abides in those who confess that Jesus is the Son of God, and they abide in God" (1 John 4:15).
Salvation "They cried out in a loud voice, saying, `Salvation belongs to our God who is seated on the throne, and to the Lamb!'" (Rev. 7:10).
Points to Ponder
He Is Divine In the New Testament, Jesus Christ is "what God is," that is, he is divine. This claim is typically suggested not by metaphysical analysis (God is genus; Jesus Christ is a species of the genus), but otherwise. The New Testament shows us at least five kinds of divinity ascriptions. 1) The New Testament employs at least three divine titles for Jesus Christ, namely, "God," "Son of God," and "Lord." These titles are not invariably suggestive of divinity, but in the passages above ("God" in John 1:1 and 20:28; "Son of God" in John 20:31 and 1 John 4:15; "Lord" in 1 Cor. 8:6 and Phil. 2:11) they are. 2) The New Testament boldly applies to Jesus Christ passages that in the Old Testament had been applied to Yahweh, for example, Isaiah 45:23 in Philippians 2:10. 3) Jesus Christ performs acts proper to God, such as creating (Heb. 1:10), saving (2 Tim. 1:10), cosmically ruling (Phil. 2:10-11), and judging (Rev. 22:12). 4) Jesus Christ is described in extravagantly divine language: he is not only God, Son of God, and Lord; he is also "in the form of God" and equal with God (Phil. 2:6); the "icon" of God (Col. 1:15, 2 Cor. 4:4); the "one and only" of the Father who is the Father's "exegesis" (John 1:18), "the exact imprint of God's very being" (Heb. 1:3); the one in whom all the fullness (Col. 1:19) or fullness of the Godhead (2:9) dwells. 5) In the New Testament, Jesus is a person one properly adores, doxologizes, prays to — indeed, worships (Heb. 1:6, Rev. 5:14; 2 Pet. 3:18, Rev. 1:5-6, Rev. 5:13, 7:10; Acts 7:59-60, 1 Cor. 16:22). He both deserves and receives the reverence one otherwise reserves for God the Father.
God Works and Loves in Christ People sometimes suggest that Jesus is divine because God works and loves in him, but the New Testament picture is far richer and more explicit. Certainly the Father is pervasively revealed as working by way of the Son. "In Christ God was reconciling the world to himself " (2 Cor. 5:19). But it doesn't follow that this — let alone only this — makes Christ divine. Other people have loved with God's love, done God's work, had God in them. In Abraham all nations were to bless themselves; by Moses, God redeemed Israel. But Abraham did not "come to have first place in everything" (Col. 1:18). And if Moses "was faithful in all God's house as a servant, Christ "was faithful over God's house as a son" (Heb. 3:5-6). The point is that Jesus Christ differs not only in degree, but also in kind from God's other agents.
Fully Human Yet he did not know when the end of the world would come (Mark 13:32). As a youngster he had to grow in knowledge like every other youngster (Luke 2:52). He once had to adjust his healing technique when his first try at restoring a blind man's sight didn't entirely work (Mark 8:22-26). In his hometown, Jesus' effectiveness in doing mighty works seems to have been limited by people's unbelief (Mark 6:5-6). So, predictably, the incarnation produces paradoxes that theologians have tackled for many centuries, including the great St. Augustine, who liked to say that "according to the flesh" Christ was not omniscient or omnipotent, but "according to divinity" or "according to the form of God" he was. But this treatment is itself paradoxical.
|Scripture quotations are from New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright 1989, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.|