In a context of confusion and flashy journalism, rigour becomes a precious value.
A brief defence of the deity of Christ.
Was Jesus really God?
Well, yes. He sure was. And He sure is.
Before inquiring about the importance of Jesus’ deity, we’re going to divide this brief defence up into two parts: 1) direct statements regarding His divinity; and 2) other proofs of His divinity.
Let’s get cracking...
1.- Direct Statements Regarding Christ’s Divinity
The plainest evidence of Jesus’ deity is when the New Testament applies the term ‘God’ directly to Christ. Texts like John 1:1, 18; Romans 9:5; Titus 2:13; Hebrews 1:8; and 2 Peter 1:1 come to mind. No Jewish mind would ever dream of labelling a mere mortal as ‘God’ unless it were really so.
Alongside the term ‘God’ is the synonym ‘Lord’ which is also used to speak of Christ on numerous occasions in verses such as Matthew 3:3; 22:44; Luke 1:43; 2:11; 1 Corinthians 8:6; Hebrews 1:10-12; and Revelation 19:16. The public confession of the primitive Christian church was that Jesus Christ is indeed Lord.
As well as ‘God’ and ‘Lord’, the New Testament also presents an array of other divine titles which stress the deity of Christ. For instance, “I am” (John 8:58); “Alpha and Omega” (Revelation 22:13); “The Word” (John 1:1, 14); “The Son of Man” (used in multiple Gospel texts and whose divine meaning can be found in Daniel 7:13-14); “The Son of God” (all throughout the Gospel of John); “The Brightness of His Glory and The Express Image of His Person” (Hebrews 1:3).
As far as the apostolic writers are concerned, Jesus Christ is God.
2.- Other Proofs of His Divinity
Beyond the divine titles cited in point one, there are a number of other considerations which help us understand that Jesus was really the Second Person of the Trinity incarnate.
Here are ten such arguments:
One: Jesus is almighty. He calmed the raging sea, multiplied the bread and fish and turned water into wine. Who is almighty save God?
Two: Jesus is all-knowing. In various Gospel texts, the knowledge of Christ stretches way beyond a commonplace human understanding (Mark 2:8; John 1:48; 2:25; 6:64; 16:30). As the apostle Peter correctly stated, “Lord, you know all things” (John 21:17).
Three: Jesus is omnipresent. Who can forget His marvellous pre-ascension promise? “Lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world” (Matthew 28:20).
Four: Jesus forgave sins. As the Jewish leaders were quick to point out in Mark 2:7, “Who can forgive sins but God only”? They knew that an ordinary religious teacher had no right to pronounce divine absolution; but since Jesus of Nazareth is God, He of course can forgive. And He used the healing of the paralytic to prove He had such power on earth.
Five: “I say unto you” (Matthew 5:22, 28, 32, 34, 39, 44). No Old Testament prophet or New Testament apostle ever spoke with the same authority as Christ. Whereas the prophetic voice uttered, “Thus says the Lord”; Jesus stated, “I say unto you”. Who could speak with such loftiness except the Most High?
Six: Only Christ knows and reveals the Father (Matthew 11:27). Jesus’ wholly unique relationship with the Father puts Him on an entirely different plain to any created being. We can only know God the Father in an indirect sense (through Christ the Mediator), whereas Jesus’ knowledge of God is immediate.
Seven: Our eternal state depends upon our relationship to Christ (John 3:36). Christ’s deity is so vital that those who believe in Him possess eternal life. The very fact that the Bible calls upon us to exercise faith in the Son proves that He is indeed God. How could Spirit-inspired Scripture require us to believe upon anyone else save the Lord?
Eight: Jesus has power over death. Jesus didn’t just have power to lay His life down but He also had authority to take it back (John 10:17). The Bible speaks of some holy men who, by the power of God, brought others back to life. But nowhere do we find a man who had power to resurrect Himself. Hence the uniqueness of Christ!
Nine: Jesus was worshipped on the earth. No Jewish teacher would dare to accept worship as praise was to be reserved for God alone. Nevertheless, we encounter various souls in the Gospels who poured out worship upon Christ e.g. blind Bartimaeus and Thomas. Interestingly, Jesus never rebuked anyone for worshipping Him.
Ten: Jesus is worshipped in heaven. God commands the angelic host to worship the blessed Lamb of God (Hebrews 1:6). Revelation gives us a glimpse of heaven, showing us how a numberless company offer eternal praise unto King Christ (Revelation 5:13; 19:10).
3.- Why is Christ’s Deity so Important?
It should now be abundantly evident that Jesus Christ was (and indeed is) divine in the fullest sense of the word. The Father, the Son and the Spirit dwell together in the bliss of eternal deity. But why is this doctrine so important to the Christian faith?
Here are three reasons:
First of all, if Jesus were not God –as Athanasius pointed out- He could not be our Saviour. Only God can save. We would be fools and idolaters if we staked our eternal well-being upon a mere created thing.
Secondly, thanks to Christ’s divinity, His precious blood can forgive us eternally. This is something the blood poured out in the Old Testament could never do. As Hebrews 10:4 affirms, “It is not possible that the blood of bulls and goats should take away sins”.
No one stands forgiven before God on the basis of the Levitical Law. But the blood of Christ, since it is the very blood of God, has eternal efficacy. The same blood which forgave two thousand years ago continues to cleanse today. And once Jesus has taken away our sin, it has gone forever. Blessed be His name!
Thirdly and finally, Christ is the perfect Mediator between God and man because not only is He fully man but also fully God. In His very person, He unites the Holy One with the redeemed unholy ones. This is something which no non-God being could ever do (whether it be Moses or Aaron or some archangel).
Christ’s deity, then, is of the utmost importance for our eternal welfare.
So was Jesus really God?
Yes, He sure was. And He sure is.