NOTE: I awoke just after 1 am this morning with only 3 hours of sleep under my belt with the strong feeling God wanted to show me something. He did indeed! Mike Felan is a member of our church and is deployed to Afghanistan. He has basically started a church on their new bare bones base and one of the young men he is ministering to struggles with the deity of Christ. Mike sought me for some insight on this and here is my answer to him. Please keep Mike Felan in your prayers…
Praise God Bro Mike for your email; now I understand why God awoke me at 1 am. It was to answer your wonderful email!
I have indeed ran into folks like this; in fact if you are familiar with the late Keith Green’s music, his wife Wendy, as a Jew, struggled with this very issue: the deity of Christ.
First let’s look at Jesus’ self-consciousness.
While Jesus never made an explicit overt claim to deity, “I am God,” He did make claims that would be inappropriate if made by someone who is less than God. In Matt.13:41-42 Jesus said the following:
“The Son of Man will send out His angels, and they will gather out of His kingdom all things that offend, and those who practice lawlessness, and will cast them into the furnace of fire. There will be wailing and gnashing of teeth.”
Now this is a particularly interesting statement by Jesus in light of the following Scriptures:
“Also I say to you, whoever confesses Me before men, him the Son of Man also will confess before the angels of God. But he who denies Me before men will be denied before the angels of God.” (Luke 12:8-9)
“Likewise, I say to you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.” (Luke 15:10)
It is also important to remember that Jesus’ words brought charges of blasphemy against Him. We well remember the story of the paralytic in Mark 2:
“When Jesus saw their faith, He said to the paralytic, ‘Son, your sins are forgiven you.’ And some of the scribes were sitting there and reasoning in their hearts, ‘Why does this Man speak blasphemies like this? Who can forgive sins but God alone?’ But immediately, when Jesus perceived in His spirit that they reasoned thus within themselves, He said to them, ‘Why do you reason about these things in your hearts? Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, “Your sins are forgiven you,” or to say, “Arise, take up your bed and walk”? But that you may know that the Son of Man has power on earth to forgive sins’—He said to the paralytic, ‘I say to you, arise, take up your bed, and go to your house.’ Immediately he arose, took up the bed, and went out in the presence of them all, so that all were amazed and glorified God, saying, ‘We never saw anything like this!’” (Mark 2:5-12)
Now the scribes knew Scripture well and they rightly claimed that God alone could forgive sins and yet Jesus made a point to say he had the power on earth to forgive sins. If there was any doubt here about Jesus’ deity this would have been the opportunity for Him to clear it up.
Next let us turn to Matthew 25:
“When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory. All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats. And He will set the sheep on His right hand, but the goats on the left. Then the King will say to those on His right hand, ‘Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.’ Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink? When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You? Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.’ Then He will also say to those on the left hand, ‘Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels: for I was hungry and you gave Me no food; I was thirsty and you gave Me no drink; I was a stranger and you did not take Me in, naked and you did not clothe Me, sick and in prison and you did not visit Me.’ Then they also will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to You?’ Then He will answer them, saying, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.’ And these will go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.” (Matthew 25:31-46)
Jesus is clearly announcing Himself as Judge of the world. Jesus will sit on the throne and divide the sheep from the goats. Certainly only the power of God can exercise this judgment.
For me the most convincing evidence is Jesus’ trial and condemnation.
“The Jews answered him, ‘We have a law, and according to our law He ought to die, because He made Himself the Son of God.’” (John 19:7)
“And the high priest arose and said to Him, ‘Do You answer nothing? What is it these men testify against You?’ But Jesus kept silent. And the high priest answered and said to Him, ‘I put You under oath by the living God: Tell us if You are the Christ, the Son of God!’ Jesus said to him, ‘It is as you said. Nevertheless, I say to you, hereafter you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Power, and coming on the clouds of heaven.’ Then the high priest tore his clothes, saying, ‘He has spoken blasphemy! What further need do we have of witnesses? Look, now you have heard His blasphemy!’” (Matthew 26:62-65)
Now the charge was blasphemy based on Jesus’ claim of being the Son of God, which was a clear declaration of deity. Jesus confessed to this charge: guilty as charged!
The Jews understood the term Son of God to be a claim of uniqueness; Jesus had a relationship to the Father distinct from any other human. Jesus healed on the Sabbath and He linked that with His relationship to the Father:
“Jesus said to him, ‘Rise, take up your bed and walk.’ And immediately the man was made well, took up his bed, and walked. And that day was the Sabbath. The Jews therefore said to him who was cured, ‘It is the Sabbath; it is not lawful for you to carry your bed.’ He answered them, ‘He who made me well said to me, “Take up your bed and walk.” Then they asked him, ‘Who is the Man who said to you, “Take up your bed and walk”? But the one who was healed did not know who it was, for Jesus had withdrawn, a multitude being in that place. Afterward Jesus found him in the temple, and said to him, ‘See, you have been made well. Sin no more, lest a worse thing come upon you.’ The man departed and told the Jews that it was Jesus who had made him well. For this reason the Jews persecuted Jesus, and sought to kill Him, because He had done these things on the Sabbath. But Jesus answered them, ‘My Father has been working until now, and I have been working.’ Therefore the Jews sought all the more to kill Him, because He not only broke the Sabbath, but also said that God was His Father, making Himself equal with God. Then Jesus answered and said to them, ‘Most assuredly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He sees the Father do; for whatever He does, the Son also does in like manner. For the Father loves the Son, and shows Him all things that He Himself does; and He will show Him greater works than these, that you may marvel. For as the Father raises the dead and gives life to them, even so the Son gives life to whom He will. For the Father judges no one, but has committed all judgment to the Son, that all should honor the Son just as they honor the Father. He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent Him.’” (John 5:8-23)
Jesus was convicted of blasphemy because of His claims to be God and any man should be charged with blasphemy for making such a claim.
Scripture clearly points to Jesus’ deity. The only way one can deny that Jesus understood Himself as equal with the Father and as possessing the right to do things that only God has the right to do is come to the Word with what is described as critical presuppositions.
Believing in Jesus’ deity comes by faith of which your friend has yet to arrive.
I would be curious as to his understanding of Jesus’ claim of the Father and He being one.
I pray this helps brother.
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Copyright © 2010 David Jeffers