One Savior One God
SEED & BREAD Number 159: NEXT
THE DEITY OF JESUS CHRIST
(Originally published 10 Apr. 83)
One who has written much on any major theme of the Bible cannot avoid going over ground that he has already covered. He needs to make no apology for so doing, especially if it is a truth that needs to be "Shouted from the housetop." One Biblical truth that needs to be declared repeatedly and forcefully with all the authority of the Word of God backing it up is the truth declared in the title of this study, that without compromise, without reserve, Jesus Christ is God.
Of all the teachings in the Bible which I hold and proclaim as truth, none is set forth as conclusively as is the deity of our Lord Jesus Christ. That Jesus Christ is God has been declared in so many ways in so many parts that the evidence for it is stupendous. This is so true that it is my conclusion that those who deny this mass of evidence must be regarded as unbelievers. They have rejected the overwhelming record God has given of His Son. It follows that since they are unbelievers, they do not have the Savior; they are living without a Savior and will probably die in this same state unless God may give them submission so that they can come into "a realization of the truth" (2 Tim. 2:25). By their doubts, questionings, and reasonings they have separated others from a full belief in the only One Who can save. It logically follows that if God is our Savior (Titus 1:3), and if there is no Savior but God (Isa. 43:11), then if Jesus Christ is not God He cannot qualify as a Savior.
It follows also that those who do not believe the record God has given concerning Jesus Christ do not have the Spirit of God. Possession of a portion of His Spirit is the privilege of every believer (Eph. 1:13,14), and if any man lacks this, no matter how kind, gentle, and winsome he may be, he is not qualified to speak in reference to the nature of the Lord Jesus. No amount of academic training will make it possible for one to do this. The things of God cannot be known to any man but by the Spirit of God (1 Cor. 2:11).
The immense truth of the deity of Jesus Christ actually begins with the first verse of the Bible; that is, Genesis 1:1. However, since most seekers are looking for shortcuts to the truth in the hope of obtaining instant wisdom, very few are willing to go back this far to obtain the pertinent facts. If these are not stored up, we will have no true basis for reasoning and thinking when we come to the supreme revelation concerning Jesus Christ in the New Testament.
Furthermore, before anyone begins such a search, he must submit in advance to the truth declared by Jesus Christ when He said: "No man knoweth the Son, but the Father; neither knoweth any man the Father, save the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal Him" (Matt. 11:27). Spiritual awareness concerning Jesus Christ is not attained through education, intellect, or erudition. Philosophic appraisals of Him are worthless. He can be known only by a revelation from God.
It is the Old Testament that provides the Biblical conglomerate of facts with which one can reason when he comes to think upon the child that was born in Bethlehem. No one can think if he does not possess certain facts with which to think. It is even as no one can count his money when he has no money to count. If we are going to think, reason, and come to conclusions concerning Jesus Christ, we must be in possession of certain divine facts that are set forth in the thirty-nine oracles from Genesis to Malachi.
When we turn to Genesis 1:1, we are told: "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth." This is fact number one with which we can begin to reason. A glance at any analytical concordance will show that the Hebrew word for "God" here is Elohim, an important fact to be noted and remembered. And here I must ask: Is there anyone who reads these lines who does not believe in the deity of Elohim who did the creating? Furthermore, if in later revelations we find that the One who did the creating was "made flesh and tabernacled among us" (John 1:3 and 14) then the deity of Christ Jesus is infallibly established.
In the Old Testament the descriptive title of Elohim is found 2555 times; but as we move on from its first occurrence we soon find the name "LORD" added to it (Gen. 2:7); and since this name is by the translators written in capitals, we know at once that this is in Hebrew the four-letter name YHWH.Since Biblical Hebrew had no vowels, and these need to be added in order to make this name easily pronounceable, most reverent scholars add the vowels "a" and "e" which give us the name Yahweh, a name that appears in the Old Testament at least 7000 times. There are some who would translate this "Jehovah" (treating the Hebrew letter yod as our letter "J" and adding three vowels); but I prefer Yahweh, and the names "Yahweh" and "Elohim" will be used without italics throughout this study.
It was Yahweh Elohim Who formed man of the soil of the ground (Gen. 2:7); and as we continue our search for facts we will find many truths declared concerning Yahweh Elohim, set forth by direct statements which He makes concerning Himself. An important one of these is found in the words of Moses spoken to Israel in Deuteronomy 4:39: "Know therefore this day, and consider it in thine heart, that Yahweh is Elohim in heaven above and upon the earth beneath: there is none else."
However, it is when we come to the prophecy of Isaiah that we find some of the most important facts concerning Yahweh that pertain to our study.
In Isa. 40:28 the titles Elohim, Yahweh, and Creator (Bara) are brought together, and in 43:10 Yahweh declares that there was no God (El, the Omnipotent One) formed before Him and neither was any such formed afterward. In 43:11 He affirms: "I, even I, am Yahweh; and beside Me there is no Savior." And as if to make it more positive, He further proclaims: "Thus saith Yahweh, the King of Israel, and his Redeemer the Yahweh of hosts; I am the First, and I am the Last; and beside Me there is no Elohim" (Isa. 44:6). He then locks all this in by a question: "Ye are my witnesses. Is there a God (Eloah) beside Me? yea, there is no God (Elohim); I know not any" (44:8).
In Isaiah 44:24 Yahweh declares that He is the Maker of all things; that He stretched forth the heavens by Himself and spread forth the earth alone. He repeats all this in 45:12 saying that He made the earth and created man upon it, that He did it alone and had no assistants. He then sums it all up, declaring: "I am Yahweh, and there is no Elohim else beside Me. Look unto Me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God (El) and there is none else. I have sworn by Myself, the word is gone out of My mouth in righteousness, and shall not return, that unto Me every knee shall bow, every tongue shall swear" (Isa. 45:12-23).
These are the truths that Yahweh has declared concerning Himself, set forth in His Word so that all who fear Him and are seeking Him shall have positive facts to believe as they go forward in the truth concerning "this glorious and awesome name, Yahweh Elohim" (Deut. 28:58). These are the facts we must carry with us as we enter the New Testament and give consideration to the revelation concerning Jesus the Christ. And these facts alone should keep everyone from finding another God in John 1:1 (as some do), from finding an agent or subcontractor who did the work of creating in John 1:3, or from finding another Savior who is not Yahweh in Matt. 1:21.
In the New Testament we at once come upon the stupendous truth that the messenger (angel) of God declared to Joseph that the child which Mary should bear was to be "called Jesus," giving as the reason for this name, "He shall save His people from their sins" (Matt. 1:21). To the superficial, all that this means is "a name for the baby"; but the diligent student will know this name declares Him to be Yahweh the Savior. If the English form of this name is traced back its origin will be found in the Hebrew name YHWSHWA, which when the vowels are added becomes Yahowshuwa. The King James translators anglicized this into Jehoshua, then in later occurrences to Joshua. But whether we say Yahowshua, Jehoshua, Iesous, or Jesus, we sare saying Jehovah-Savior. The changes are only in spellings and languages, not in the meaning. (See Issue No. 123). Therefore, it follows that if Yahweh is Israel’s Savior, and if there is no Savior but Yahweh, then the One who saves must be Yahweh.
The second statement made by the divine messenger was that the one born would be "called Emmanuel, which being interpreted is God with us" (Matt. 1:23). This statement alone is sufficient to establish beyond all question the deity of the One Who was born in Bethlehem. Truly the faithful in Israel could then say: "Lo, this is our Elohim; we have waited for Him and He will save us: this is Yahweh; we have waited for Him, we will be glad and rejoice in His salvation" (Isa. 25:9).
As the truth progresses and we come to John’s majestic gospel, all the pieces of truth begin to fall in place. In the first verse we come upon someone Who is called "the Word." In the Greek this is ho Logos, a descriptive title which means "the Expression," and the seeker for truth immediately desires to know more about this One who is called the Expression of God.
We are then told that the Expression was with God, a translation that has given rise to many foolish and unlearned questions. "How can a person be said to be with a person if he is that person?" they ask with an aplomb that indicates their question cannot be answered. My answer is that the word translated "with" here is the word pros. It is found 101 times in John’s gospel and is translated "with" only two times, a fact that tells one a searching look at this rendering is needed. One meaning of pros is "toward," in the sense of "in relation to," and this is its meaning in John 1:1, 2. See Rom. 15:17 where ta pros ton Theon is translated "those things which pertain to God." Thus it is that we learn the Expression of God was in relationship to Him, that He pertained to Him.
Next we are told "And the Word was God." It is nothing more than theological japery on the part of those who insert an indefinite article (a) before "God," making it say, "And the Word was a God." It results in a shocking mistranslation which presents another God, involving all who accept such a translation in polytheism. It flatly contradicts the words of Yahweh who declared: "There is no God else beside Me; a just God and a Savior; there is none beside me" (Isa. 45:21).
In the next explicit statement we are told that the Logos was the Creator. "All things were made by Him; and without Him was not anything made that was made" (John 1:3). This is a most positive identification. The Logos is the Creator; He is the Elohim of Genesis 1:1. He is Yahweh of Isa. 44:21, 24 and 45:12. This brings us to the next giant step for our faith. The Word (Logos), Who was Elohim, Who was Yahweh, became flesh and tabernacled among us.
The words of Jeremy Collier are pertinent here: "We must not let go of manifest truths because we cannot answer all questions about them." Apropos also are the words of Bishop Butler: "A truth being established, objections are nothing; the one is founded upon our knowledge, the other upon our ignorance."