The Deity of Jesus Christ

The Deity of Jesus Christ

(This is an excerpt from ‘The Basics of the Reformed Faith’ by Kim Riddlebarger.)

Like Jews and Muslims, Christians are monotheists. But unlike Jews and Muslims, Christians are also Trinitarians. We believe that the one God is triune, and is revealed as three distinct persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. When it comes to the Son (Jesus Christ), the Bible everywhere affirms that Jesus is true and eternal God, uncreated, and without beginning or end.

Given Jesus’ central place in Christianity, no one, of course, wants to say anything bad about Jesus. Non-Christian religions often attempt to co-opt Jesus and make him one of their own. But this is not easy to do since the doctrine of the deity of Jesus Christ differentiates Christianity from all other religions. If Jesus is true and eternal God, then the Christian doctrine of God is unique among world religions. The irony is that while virtually all religions honor Jesus as a prophet or teacher, nevertheless they all reject (implicitly or explicitly) the main point the New Testament makes about Jesus – that he is God in human flesh, something Jesus clearly believed and proclaimed about himself.

That the doctrine of the deity of Jesus Christ is not the invention of the early church can be seen by merely scanning the pages of Holy Scripture, with its substantial teaching regarding the deity of Jesus in both testaments. One of the most powerful lines of evidence for the deity of Jesus are those verses in the Old Testament, such as the famous messianic prophecy in Isaiah 7:14 written hundreds of years before Jesus’ birth. “Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.” The messiah will be miraculously conceived, and given the title “God with us.” In Isaiah 9:6, we read “for to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6). This too refers to Jesus Christ.

In addition to the messianic prophecies in Isaiah, we have a number of messianic Psalms (i.e., 8, 89, 110), in which the Father speaks of the Son as highly exalted and equal in majesty and glory. We also have a passage such as Proverbs 8:22-31, which depicts “wisdom” personified (when seen through the lens of New Testament fulfillment, this is clearly a reference to the eternal Son, who is wisdom from God), and Micah 5:2,where the prophet speaks of the one to be born in Bethlehem (Jesus) as eternal. The coming Messiah is repeatedly identified as the almighty God and eternal father, the wisdom of God, righteous, highly exalted, yet to be born of a lowly virgin. These prophetic verses can only be speaking of one person: Israel’s coming Redeemer, Jesus Christ, who is the God of Abraham (cf. John 8:58).

In the New Testament, Jesus is said to be eternal and preexistent. In John 1:1 we read, “in the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” Jesus is described by both John and Paul as the creator and sustainer of all things. “All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made” (John 1:3) and in Colossians 1:16-17, Paul says of Jesus, “by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities – all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together.

Jesus is identified as “God” throughout the pages of the New Testament. In John 20:28, Thomas falls before Jesus and confesses of Jesus, “My Lord and my God!” In Titus 2:13, Paul speaks of Jesus’ second coming as “the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ.” The author of Hebrews writes of Jesus, “but of the Son he says, `Your throne, O God, is forever and ever, the scepter of uprightness is the scepter of your kingdom’” (Hebrews 1:8).

Then there are those attributes predicated of Jesus which can only apply to God. Jesus is the object of worship (Matthew 28:16-17), he has the power to raise the dead (John 5:21; 11:25), and he is the final judge of humanity (Matthew 25:31-32). Jesus has universal power and authority (Matthew 28:18), as well as the power to forgive  sins (Mark 2:5-7). He not only identifies himself as God (John 14:8-9), but calls himself the Alpha and Omega, “the first and the last” – a divine self-designation (Revelation

22:13).

Throughout the Bible Jesus is revealed to us as the true and eternal God, the almighty, the second person of the Godhead, the creator of all things, and that one whom we must worship and serve. In fact, whatever we can say of God, we can say of Jesus.

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