Some Arguments Answered
As is the case with all cults, there are
always isolated proof texts which the cultist uses to reject all of this evidence concerning the Deity of Messiah.
They reject His Deity because they let some one else do all their studying for them and provide them with the answers.
They accept those answers provided by their leaders and build on them. Therefore their foundation is the teachings
of their organization and not the Scriptures directly. They are seriously misled and deceived.
Second, truths as deep as the Deity of Jesus or the Tri-unity can only be spiritually discerned. Therefore because many have accepted religion instead of salvation they can only understand as far as human wisdom will take them. It's like trying to follow instructions when trying to put something together. Sometimes the instructions can be hard to follow. If I ask someone who has already done it they can talk me through it. The scriptures are like that. The instructions can be hard to understand. But when the Spirit of God interprets them for us (i.e. talks us through it ) then we begin to see things that we could not understand before.
Third, some are truly saved but have not learned about the Deity of Jesus. However, when they are taught about this doctrine, the Holy Ghost reveals it to them and they accept it.
Yet others, for what ever reason, when they are confronted with it, choose to reject it out of hand. In doing this they are forced into defending their own position. This is a mark of apostasy.
So as we continue our study let's address some of the arguments against the Doctrine of the Messiah's Deity. I have heard them, and I'm sure you will too. So let's not be surprised, let's be prepared. First, let's begin with Jn.1:14. " And the Word was made flesh..." Remember, the Word was God, and the Son was flesh. We must keep this dual nature in mind as we look at the contrast between Christ's Deity and humanity. Note the chart below.
1. Miraculous Conception
1. Natural Birth
You will notice that each category ( Word and Flesh ) has characteristics that are opposite to each other. As the Scriptures tell us that "
The Word was made flesh " we understand that both of the categories are present in One person. Jesus is therefore
BOTH God and man. He is both flesh and Spirit. He is both eternal and had a beginning. He is both unlimited and
limited. When we speak of His limitations, we speak of His humanity and not of His Deity. For example, as the Word
of God He is eternally present everywhere at one time. As man, however, such was not the case. For example, in
John 11 we have the account of Lazarus' death. Jesus said in verse 15, " And I am glad for your sakes that
I was not there..." The
Word, being God, had no such limitations. " Do not I fill heaven and earth, saith the LORD?" - Jer.23:24.
Another example is found in Mk.13:32, " But of that day and that hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father." In this example of limited knowledge, which cults use to try to disprove the Deity of Jesus, you will notice that this limited knowledge was applied to the Son, not the Word. For the Word was God. As Jesus addressed His disciples in Jn.16:25-30, Jesus spoke of Himself in no uncertain terms. " I shall show you plainly of the Father " vs.25. " I came out from God " vs.27. " I came forth from the Father and am come into the world...vs.28. It was not the flesh that came out from God and into the world, it was the Word that was God, the second person of the Trinity. The same was in the beginning with God and was made manifest in the flesh at Bethlehem. The disciples, beginning to understand this, replied, " Lo, now speakest thou plainly, and speakest no proverb. Now are we sure that thou knowest all things, and needest not that any man should ask thee: By this we believe that thou camest forth from God" - Vs.29-30. What they agreed on is, there's no need to ask now, now we know... Two things they professed to believe, or be sure of: 1. Jesus came forth from God, and 2. Jesus knew ALL things. Jesus did not correct this belief but let it stand. For as the Word of God He did come forth from God, and did know all things. The only thing Jesus questioned was their commitment to this belief for He told them that they would all be scattered in verse 32.
Philp' 2:6-8 is often called the kenosis passage, which speaks of the emptying of the Lord Jesus in order to become man. In my opinion, it's not so much that Jesus "emptied" himself, but rather "limited" Himself. Phillipians 2:6-8 is an obvious reference to the incarnation. " Who being [ existing ] in the form [ nature, substance, essence due to the fact that God had no physical form] of God, thought it not robbery [ something to be coveted after as Adam and Eve who desired [[ coveted ]] to be wise and be like God ] to be [ not, ' to become ' but to already exist as ] equal with God [ the Word was God and therefore equal with God see Jn.5:18 ] ". Verse 7 says, " [ He ] took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men." Jesus was in the form of God which is eternal Spirit and was made in the form of a servant, or likeness of men, which is flesh.
As a man He was subject to limitations. He had to eat, drink, sleep, rest etc. He got tired, hungry, thirsty etc. just like the rest of us. He was limited to His physical existence in time. As man, Jesus addressed the Father as His God Jn.20:17. So when we see the limitations that He took upon Himself as a man we need not to think that these limitations carried over into His Deity. For in the same chapter that Jesus speaks of the Father as " My God " He also receives worship as God Jn.20: 28.
You will notice also that this " form of a servant...in the likeness of men " was something that He " took upon Him[self ] ". If He took on, a thing that describes action on His part, He must have pre-existed in another form other than, and prior to, the form that He took on. His pre-existent form is said in this same passage of scripture to be God. For example, God took on the form of a burning bush when He appeared unto Moses. God was not the bush itself but the bush was a manifestation of God's actual presence. From the burning bush God spoke to Moses. Was God not in heaven when He was in the burning bush? or the pillar of fire, or the tabernacle in the wilderness where He met with Moses? Ex.33:9-11, for example, says, "And it came to pass, as Moses entered into the tabernacle, the cloudy pillar descended, and stood at the door of the tabernacle, and the LORD talked with Moses. And all the people saw the cloudy pillar stand at the tabernacle door: and all the people rose up and worshipped, every man in his tent door. And the LORD spake unto Moses face to face, as a man speaketh unto his friend." Now where was the LORD when He spoke unto Moses from the cloud at the door of the tabernacle, face to face, as a man and his friend? Was He in heaven, or on earth? The answer is Yes! He was in the cloud and yet in heaven also for He is omnipresent. Since the heaven and the heaven of heavens can not contain God, we must understand that no matter in what form, or where He manifests Himself, He is in all places at all times.
Another example would be the Captain of the LORD'S host. In Josh.5:13-15, Joshua is confronted by a man with a drawn sword in His hand. Joshua asks Him if He is for Israel or Israel's enemies. The man says, " As Captain of the host of the LORD (YHWH ) am I now come." As Joshua falls to the ground to worship Him, he said, " What saith my lord unto his servant?" The stunning reply came, " Loose thy shoe from off thy foot; for the place whereon thou standest is holy." Moses encountered a similar experience at the burning bush. Josh.6:2 continues the narrative. " And the LORD (YHWH) said unto Joshuah..." etc. The Captain of the LORD'S host, who says, " loose thy shoe from off thy foot; for the place whereon thou standest is holy;" is further identified in Josh.6:2 as being YHWH Himself. So where was God then, when He spoke to Joshuah as the Captain of the LORD'S host? In heaven or on earth. The obvious answer would be, both. This is also a beautiful picture of the Lord Jesus , Who as God was found in fashion as a man.
One more example of this is found in Genesis chapter 18. Verse 1 says YHWH appeared to Abraham. When Abraham looked up he saw three men in vs.2. In vs. 4 Abraham washes their feet. In vs.8 they eat food. This proves their physical existence as Jesus did when He ate in the presence of the disciples and invited Thomas to touch Him as proof of His physical existence. In vs.13, one of the three men speak to Abraham. The verse says, " And the LORD (YHWH) said unto Abraham..." Vs.16 says, "...The men rose up from thence, and looked toward Sodom: and Abraham went with them..." In vs. 17 the LORD (YHWH) speaks to Abraham again. Jehovah appeared to Abraham as one of these three men. Now notice in vs. 22 the Bible says, " The men turned their faces from thence, and went toward Sodom; but Abraham stood yet before the LORD. How many of the three men went to Sodom? Gen.19:1 says two. Where was the other man? He was still with Abraham. Abraham interceded for Sodom before God perhaps because Abraham knew Lot lived in Sodom. Gen.18:30-32 tells us it was Jehovah who remained behind to converse with Abraham after the other two left for Sodom. In vs.33 we find God departing after conversing with Abraham.
It is very plain from the scriptures that Jehovah appeared to Abraham in the form of a man with physical existence. Where was God, then, when He was with Abraham? In heaven or on earth? The answer is both. The same applies to Jesus the Messiah who was " God with us ". This reminds us of the verse in John 3:13 where Jesus said, " And no man hath ascended up to heaven, but He that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven." I am aware that other versions of scripture omit " which is in heaven ". But it seems a little suspect to me that so many verses are changed so often when it comes to this very point: That Jesus the Messiah was the incarnation of the One true God. Jesus was on earth talking to Nicodemus but said that He was in heaven. But, as already cited, the Old Testament has good examples of this very thing.
In the same fashion, the flesh of Jesus itself was not God, it was man. But this man was the manifestation of God's actual presence. From the man, Jesus, God, the Word, spoke to all man-kind. As it is written, " To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them..." - 2 Co.5:19. And again, Jehovah God declared, " ...And they shall look upon ME whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for HIM, as one mourneth for his only son..." - Zech.12:10. In this context, the scriptures read, " No man hath seen God at any time..." - Jn.1:18. God told Moses, " Thou canst not see my face: for there shall no man see me, and live." - Ex.33:20. And yet Jesus said to Phillip, " Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Phillip? he that hath seen me has seen the Father..." - Jn.14:9. Could you imagine a prophet or an angel making such a statement?
Furthermore, the words " That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father." Philp.2:10-11, is a direct reference to Is.45:23 "...That unto me every knee shall bow, every tongue shall swear." Now to worship before Jesus, if He were not God, would be sin and not bring glory to God the Father. God said, " My glory will I not give to another [someone other than myself]." - Is.42:8. This also is an exclusive statement unique to Jehovah and Jesus alone. If Jesus were not God, worshipping Him would not bring glory to God the Father. It would only glorify the one being worshipped.
As Moses could see the presence of God by the visible manifestation of the flames that burned from the bush, so too could men see the presence of God through the works that Jesus did. In any case, it was always some form that God assumed when He appeared unto man. It was in the form of a man that He appeared to Israel. Lev.26:11 says, " And I will set my tabernacle among you..." And Jn.1:14 says that God tabernacled in the flesh. The word "dwelt" is from a greek word which means to pitch a tabernacle.
You may remember that when God called to Moses out of the burning bush, Moses asked Him, " What is [ your] name?" God responded by saying, I AM that I AM... Thus shalt thou say...I AM sent me [Moses] unto you [Israel]"; Ex:3:13-14. The Jewish leaders were very quick to put two and two together when Jesus said in Jn.8:58, " Before Abraham was I AM." To merely claim pre-existance He needed only to say, I existed before Abraham, or Before Abraham was, I was. The Watchtower Society picked up on that as well as the Jews of Jesus day. The Jewish leaders of Jesus day were going to stone Jesus for that statement. The Watchtower decided to just re-translate the verse. Neither one of them particularly liked that statement. The Watchtower came up with their own reason for re-translating, or better still, re-interpreting this verse even as the non believing Jewish religious leaders had their own reason for wanting to stone Jesus. But the greek text stands as written, " Ego Eimi "; " I AM ".
Another verse that is often used as a proof text for denying the Deity of our Lord Jesus is found in Jn.14:28. " ...For my Father is greater than I ". This verse can be explained very easily in that "...He that is sent [ is not ] greater than He that sent him." It refers positionally to the Son's subordination to the Father. For example, Joseph was exalted by the Pharaoh of Egypt to the number two man of the country. As Joseph received his appointment Pharaoh said, " Thou shalt be over my house, and according unto thy word shall my people be ruled: only in the throne will I be greater than thou."- Gen.41:40. This is an obvious reference to position for actually, Joseph was the more godly of the two. Joseph was the one " in whom the Spirit of God is ".
You might say Joseph was the better man. But 'better' is not the word Jesus used in referring to the Father, but 'greater'. Therefore Jesus was not inferior in His essence to the Father which is precisely what the some are interpreting that verse to mean. Better is the word applied to Jesus, however, in His relationship to the angels, " Being made so much better than the angels " - Heb.1:4.
Yet another verse used to disprove the Deity of Jesus is Col.1:15 which says, " Who is the image of the invisible God, the first-born of every creature:" In the jewish family, the first-born son was the heir to the father's inheritance. The term, first-born, came to mean, not just the first son born, but rather a title of pre-eminence. Webster's Dictionary defines the word, pre-eminent, as, " Eminent before or above others; superior to or surpassing others; distinguished beyond others." This is exactly how the context of this verse is applied to Jesus. "...That in all things he might have the pre-eminence " - Col.1:18. That is how the text itself interprets it.
Consider the birth of Manasseh and Ephraim. In Gen.41:51-52 the scriptures read, " And Joseph called the name of the firstborn Manasseh: for God, said he, hath made me forget all my toil, and all my father's house. And the name of the second called he Ephraim...." Of the two sons of Joseph, Manasseh was the first child to be born. Ephraim was the second child to be born. In Gen.48: Jacob was giving the two sons of Joseph his final blessing. Joseph made sure that Manasseh was standing on Jacob's right hand due to the fact that he was his firstborn. He also guided Ephraim over to Jacob's left side. The one on the right side would receive the blessing of pre-eminence. But Jacob crossed his arms and put his right hand on Ephraim's head and his left hand on Manasseh's head. Of course Joseph protested but to no avail. It was the second born son who received the blessing of inheritance and pre-eminence thus effectively becoming the " Firstborn ". This is evident in Jer.31:9, " They shall come with weeping, and with supplications will I lead them: I will cause them to walk by the rivers of waters in a straight way, wherein they shall not stumble: for I am a Father to Israel, and Ephraim is my firstborn."
Genealogy does not always coincide with the birthright. For example, Esau was the firstborn but the second born, Jacob, received the birthright thus becoming the firstborn. Also, in 1 Chron.5:1 it says, " Now the sons of Reuben the firstborn of Israel, ( for he was the firstborn; but, forasmuch as he defiled his father's bed, his birthright was given unto the sons of Joseph the son of Israel [ Jacob ] : and the genealogy is not to be reckoned after the birthright." Furthermore, we see God calling David His "firstborn" in Ps.89:27, " Also I will make him my firstborn..." We find this between vs.20, " I have found my servant David..." and vs.35," Once have I sworn by my holiness that I will not lie unto David." It is evident from the context that God said He would make David His firstborn. However, 1 Sam.17:13 says that Eliab was the first son born to Jesse. So " firstborn " as it is applied to Jesus, does not mean " First-created " as the Watchtower Society argues. The verse in Colossians does not say, nor does it imply that, by Him all " other " things were created as the New World Translation says as we have already seen in chapter two. Jesus, as God, created all things over the which He has the pre-eminence.
Another scripture that is used to attack the Deity of Jesus is Rev.3:14. The verse reads, " And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write; These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God." What the Watchtower Society tries to imply by this verse is that Jesus, who in His pre-incarnation was Michael the archangel, was the first created thing of Jehovah. This is what they tried to get away with in Col.1:15 as well. But when we look at the verse in the original language we see the word translated " beginning " is from the greek word Arche which applies to the origin, or source of creation in this verse. It may be argued, are there any other translations that translate it that way? As a matter of fact, there are. For example the Amplified Version has it, "...These are the words of the Amen, the trusty, and faithful, and true Witness, the Origin and Beginning and Author of God's creation." The Living New Testament translates the verse like this, "...This message is from the one who stands firm, the faithful and true Witness [ of all that is or was or evermore shall be ], the primeval source of God's creation." So there are other translations that support this. The beginning, here, refers to creation. i.e. the beginning of creation. But Jn.1:1 says that in the beginning the Word of God ( Jesus ) already existed. Therefore we see that it is Jesus who is the Originator, the Source, the One to Whom the beginning of creation can be traced.
The watchtower Society knows this and gave themselves away by omitting the words
" beginning and the end " from Rev.1:8. Obviously they can't have Jesus and Jehovah both being the beginning so by reinterpreting Rev.3:14 and retranslating Rev.1:8 they solve their problem. But there remains still another problem for them. Rev.22:13 in their bible (the New World Translation) says that Alpha and Omega, the Jehovah of Rev.1:8, is the beginning and the end. To ascribe the term 'beginning' to Jesus no more implies that He had a beginning than it does that Jehovah had a beginning. Furthermore, 'beginning' no more implies that Jesus had a beginning, than 'end' implies He has an end.
It is also interesting at this point to highlight the fact that Alpha and Omega has a corresponding Hebrew counterpart. Alpha and Omega are, of course, the first and the last letter of the Greek alphabet. The first and the last letters of the Hebrew alphabet are aleph and tav. These two letters in the hebrew are found free floating in some ( not all ) passages of scripture; that is, they do not seem to be connected to the text. In fact, they are not translated at all in any english bible, for example, Gen.1:1 where the Hebrew scriptures read
You read from right to left. The fourth word is made up of an Aleph and Tav . Normally
these letters form the word "et" which
means, with, at, by, of, etc. But in Gen.1:1
they are free floating which means
they stand alone. In not every case do they suggest the meaning of Alpha
and Omega, but here they have an interesting parallel to Revelation.
In equating aleph and tav with alpha and omega it's interesting that Gen.1:1 could read, In the beginning God, alpha and omega, created the heavens and the earth. Revelation also tells us that the Alpha and Omega is the Creator, " And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. And he said unto me, Write: for these words are true and faithful. And he said unto me, It is done. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely. He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son. " The one sitting upon the throne says He will make all things new, and that He is the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end and that He is the God of the overcomers and we are His sons [and daughters].
This strongly reminds one of the verse in 2 Co.6:16,18, " ... as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people... And [I] will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty." At this point, you may wish to refer back to chapter 1.
A verse that some have wrestled with in trying to harmonize it with their belief in Christ's Deity is when Jesus cried from the cross, " My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" It must first of all be realized that He did not say this for His sake for He could have merely thought it and not openly call God's faithfulness into question. Jn.12:30 records Jesus saying in response to the Father's voice from heaven, " This voice came not because of me, but for your sake." I believe the same was true when Jesus said, " Why hast thou forsaken me?" He did not say it for His sake, but for those who heard Him. What then was His purpose for making this statement public for all to hear? First, as a man, His flesh, or human nature was not God. But in Spirit He was God. We must not overlook His humanity with which He was bound, and the enormous grief and suffering He experienced in His humanity. As a man it would not be unusual to address the Father as His God. The Father also declares the Son to be God in Heb.1:8, " But unto the Son he ( the Father) saith, Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: a sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of thy kingdom.
But the most significant thing is this. In the Old Testament Moses declared his love for his people by saying, " Yet now, if thou wilt forgive their sin-; and if not, blot me, I pray thee, out of thy book which thou hast written."- Ex32:32. Moses was willing to face the everlasting punishment of God for sin on behalf of his people if it would mean their salvation. Of course we know that that was not possible. There is only one other person in the Bible who also made such a statement. Paul said, in Ro.9:3 " For I could wish that myself were accursed from Christ for my bretheren, my kinsmen according to the flesh." Paul too was willing to suffer the wrath of God forever if it meant the salvation of his people. Again we see that this was not possible for Paul to do. But it was possible for God to do, and He did, by taking on Himself the likeness of men and becoming "obedient unto death, even the death of the cross;"- ( Phil'p.2:7-8 ). Not only was it possible for God to offer His own self for the sins of the world, but He performed that very thing. In doing so He manifested His love for us by doing what neither Moses nor Paul was able to do. God forsaken of God, as Martin Luther put it. What a beautiful picture of self-sacrificing love. It was never a calling of God's faithfulness into question.
Furthermore, Jesus' cry was designed to provoke a connection with the scripture in Ps.22:1 which was a Messianic psalm about the crucifixion of the Messiah. In fact, David writes the psalm (prophecy) as if it were he himself on the cross. When the people heard Jesus cry out, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me: they should have thought about Psalm 22. As they read Psalm 22 they would also have seen that Jesus was fulfilling it thus showing that He was indeed the Messiah.
But if Jesus is God, how can He be seated at the right hand of the Father. Remember first of all, that Jesus is God but He is not the Father. This is confusing the persons. The Athanasian creed regarding the Tri-unity states, " We worship One God in Trinity and Trinity in unity, neither confounding the persons nor dividing the substance." Second, remember that Jesus was manifested in the flesh and that body of flesh was crucified on a cross, buried, and resurrected from the dead physically. He ascended bodily ( albeit a glorified body ) into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father. I am aware that a physical resurrection is also contested by the Watch Tower Society but it is not the aim of this book to address that subject, which, by the way, is easily definable. I will say this, however; all of the resurrections recorded in the Bible were literal, physical, bodily resurrections. Any reason why the resurrection of Jesus should be any different?
Whether therefore God was present in a whirlwind, or a burning bush, or in the body of a human being, He never ceased to exist as God. He did not, in other words, have to cease being the Father in order to become the Son, or cease being the Son to become the Holy Spirit. God is always the Father and the Son ( Word ) and the Holy Ghost at the same time no matter how He manifests His presence or in what form. But neither let us forget that the vision of the throne of God in the Old Testament ( Is.6 for example ) or in the New Testament ( Revelation ) does not reveal any one at His right hand. Only in the church age do we see this for the purpose of manifesting His intercessory office for the church saints. " Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us " - Rom.8:34. In Revelation 22:1,3 we see God and the Lamb of God reigning from one throne. " And he shewed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne [sing.] of God and of the Lamb... And there shall be no more curse: but the throne [sing.] of God and of the Lamb shall be in it; and His [sing.] servants shall serve Him [sing.]." " In Him (Jesus) dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily " - Col.2:9. The incarnation of Jesus was a irreversible process. In other words, when He took on a body He did so forever. It may be, perhaps, that God will reign for the rest of eternity from that glorified body.
We can see by these examples that even " proof texts " that cults use to deny the Deity of the Messiah can be answered. We only need to study our Bible. The answers are there. The scriptures themselves overwhelmingly support the fact that Jesus was God in human form. And in this we see the love of God for man by how far He was willing to go in order to redeem him.
To use an argument from Josh McDowell's book, Evidence that demands a verdict, I conclude this study by what is termed a trilemma. Because Jesus claimed to be God there are three options open to us as to the validity of His claims. Simply saying that Jesus was a great prophet, or a great moral teacher is not enough; for He claimed to be more than that: He claimed to be God. Therefore, if He was not God, He was an impostor and certainly not a great moral teacher, or prophet. The only choices we have in response to His claims is that, if He was not God, He was a liar, one who deceived the people. The second choice we have is that, if Jesus was not God, He was a lunatic; a man who had delusions of being God. Of course, the scriptures would not support the first two conclusions. The only other choice we have is, that Jesus really was who He claimed to be: Lord and God! To this, the scriptures are in overwhelming agreement.
One day every one shall stand before God to give account of himself. But if we do not first realize who that God is, there is no theology in the world that will be able to "save us" from the wrath of God. For our salvation is a person and that person is "Yeshua, Jesus" and Jesus is "GOD".
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May God Bless You,
Pastor Alon Ronk
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