Foundations: Jesus is God
Is Jesus Christ fully God? This question and issue divides Christianity from all other religions and spiritualties.
The divinity of Jesus Christ has been debated since he walked the earth in the first century. The Bible and its writers enter into the debate in the hopes of dissuading us from reducing Jesus to a mere teacher or spiritual guru. We find it common for many to respect the teachings and life of Christ, but at the same time are very adamant in their belief that he was simply a human man. While it is true that Jesus was and is fully human, it is equally true that he was and is fully God.
Meaning “becoming flesh”, this doctrine tells the remarkable story of how God entered into sinful humanity. In Jesus, God enters the human realm. Bible scholars have long marveled at the doctrine of the incarnation. The act of a holy God entering into sinful humanity, without the presence of sin, is a source of wonder and worship. Jesus’ virgin birth provides a basic understanding of how such a marvelous truth could happen. Humanity possesses a sin nature, as a result of the fall, and this nature gets transferred, or passed down, from generation to generation. This is often referred to as the Adamic covenant. The fact that Jesus was conceived as a result of the miraculous work of the Holy Spirit, and given birth to by a virgin, explains how Jesus’ humanity was not stained by the effects of sin and the Adamic covenant. At the same time, this does not take away the fact that Jesus was fully human. The realization that God entered into human history to reveal himself to humanity should cause us to carefully examine the evidence for Jesus’ divinity recorded in the Bible.
The Gospel of John
The Gospel of John is a good place to start when considering the evidence for Jesus’ divinity. John is clear and focused in his purpose for writing his gospel. He makes us aware he is writing so others come to know Jesus as God (John 20:30-31). In the opening chapter alone, John notes at least four truths that support his position concerning Christ’s divinity as a member of the Trinity.
Jesus is eternal. John 1:1-2 states that Jesus has always existed as God. He was "in the beginning", a term used here to describe a point of time in eternity past.
Jesus is equal to God the Father. John speaks of Jesus being "with God." Furthermore, he speaks of Jesus as God. The opening verse of his gospel shows that Jesus has always been face-to-face with the Father, existing as a distinct person, but equally divine in his nature.
Jesus is Creator. John 1:3 shows Jesus' role in creation as an eternal and all-powerful God.
Jesus became flesh. In 1:14-18, we learn that the "Word" John is referring to is clearly the person of Jesus. We see that God entered into human history to reveal himself and his redeeming plan to humanity. This is done in the person and work of Jesus.
Evidences of Divinity
Jesus of Nazareth is the most famous person to ever walk the earth. His teachings and life have influenced the world more than any single figure. He is widely recognized as a moral example, intriguing teacher, protector of the poor and needy, and a nonviolent opponent of injustice. Jesus is all these things, and a person is free to believe that is all he is. But, one cannot arrive at that conclusion by saying that is all the Bible presents him as. Scripture will not allow us to reduce Jesus to anything other than the one true God. Evidences for Christ's divinity are recorded throughout the New Testament for us to see and marvel at.
The New Testament writers refer to Jesus as God. Matthew calls Jesus "Immanuel", which means "God with us." Thomas calls Jesus "My God", and Paul, Peter, and John all clearly refer to Jesus as God.
Jesus is called by the names of God. Jesus is called the "Son of Man", a title implying he is God found in the Old Testament Book of Daniel. He is also called the "Son of God", which would have been considered a divine title showing equality with God. Jesus is called "Lord" over one hundred times in the New Testament, and in the Book of Revelation says, "I am the Alpha and Omega."
Jesus performed the works of God. The miracles recorded in the New Testament show Jesus exercising his divine authority over creation as its Creator. He also lived a perfect and sinless life--something that only God could have done. Those who proclaim Jesus as sinless also knew him closest. Men like Peter, John, his half-brother James, and former enemy Paul, all write of Jesus' perfect righteousness. He was perfect in thought, motive, and action. Additionally, the bodily resurrection of Jesus three days after his death puts an exclamation point on all his truth claims. If Jesus stayed dead, then Christianity would be dead. But Jesus, as God, triumphed over the grave and continues to change the lives of sinful humanity.
Jesus forgave sin. In Luke 7:48, Jesus acts as God by forgiving a sinful woman. The Bible is clear that sin is ultimately against God and that he alone can forgive sin.
People worshiped Jesus as God. The Bible is very clear that God alone deserves and is worthy of our worship. To worship anyone or anything other than God is idolatry-- a sin that the entirety of Scripture condemns very strongly. The fact that Jesus accepted and invited worship of himself as God is strong evidence of his divinity.
A Source of Comfort
God becoming flesh and living a human life provides a great source of comfort for those battling weakness, temptation, and the effects of living in a fallen world. Although Christ handled the frailty and temptation of this world perfectly, he experienced everything humanity deals with. The God we serve understands exactly how it feels to be tired, tempted, rejected, abandoned, and betrayed. He experienced loss, sorrow, and despair. Knowing firsthand how it feels in the heart, soul, and mind of a human as they walk through this world, he can provide all that we have need of no matter the circumstance. Furthermore, Jesus acts as an intercessor and mediator on our behalf before the Father. This makes both our prayer and worship possible--actions that bring the presence and power of God into our broken lives. At this moment, Jesus is bringing the needs, hurts, troubles, and pain of Christians before the Father so grace, mercy, comfort, and healing can be poured out from heaven into believers hearts. Jesus is not just God--he is a loving, merciful, kind, compassionate, and powerful God!
The Most Important Thing About You
At this very moment, what is the most important thing about you and your life? The way you view your past, how you live in the present, and the trajectory of your future are all dictated by what you hold most important. Some would say their jobs; others may reply with something about their personality, a hobby they enjoy, or a specific skill set that they possess. Every person could give a slightly different answer. But God gives us only one.
How you view Jesus is the most important thing about you. A.W. Tozer, a Christian author, speaks of it this way: "What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us." Your priorities, values, morality, and decision making flow from how you view and respond to Jesus. Even those who know little about the Bible are being shaped by their view, or their lack of a view, concerning Jesus.
We are given one life to respond to Christ rightly. In the scope of eternity, our earthly life is like the blinking of an eye. The Bible speaks of it as a vapor that is here one moment and gone the next. Our lives are a gift given to us by God so we can freely respond to all that he has revealed about himself. The right response begins with viewing Jesus as God and ends by kneeling before him in worship. In a world where tragic events take place daily, the greatest tragedy happens when a person dismisses the divinity of Jesus as unimportant to their life and eternal future.
"For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily, and you have been filled in him, who is the head of all rule and authority."