Sunday, February 12, 2012
By James Fire
JESUS’ CLAIM To Be GOD – A Comparison Between OT YHWH and Jesus Christ
Both Jews and Muslims, and people belonging to such groups as the Jehovah’s Witnesses hold a strong belief in the singularity of God’s nature – that He is ONE God; they view the Christian doctrine of Trinity as a pagan form of polytheism (a multiple number of Gods). To answer this question, we turn to the following source Got Questions?: Do Christians Believe In Three Gods?
~*“Jesus claimed to be God, both directly and by necessary implication from what He said and did.
He claimed to be Yahweh (YHWH; seen in Scripture as “Jehovah” or “LORD”. Yahweh is a special name God gives Himself in His Self-revelatory accounts in the Old Testament. Other names/titles of God are Adonai and Eloheim, but these can also apply to people (Gen. 18:12) or people, angels or false gods (Deut. 6:14).
“Yahweh however, only refers to the one true God. No other person or thing was to be worshipped or served (Ex. 20:5), and His name and glory were not to be given to another. Isaiah wrote:
I am the LORD [Yahweh]: that is my name: and my glory will I not give to another, neither my praise to graven images.
Dr. Geisler continues:
Jesus claims to be Yahweh.
He prayed in:
And now, O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self with the glory which I had with thee before the world was.
Yahweh in the Old Testament stated that He would not give His glory to another, and yet in John’s Gospel, Jesus is saying He had the glory of God with the Father since before the world was. How could these be reconciled if not conceding that Jesus is indeed God?
“God in the Old Testament stated that He is ‘the first and the last’ (Isaiah 42:8) and this is the very same statement made by the LORD Jesus in Rev. 1:17.
“Jesus professed to be “the good shepherd” in John 10: 11, and yet King David, inspired of the Holy Spirit wrote “the LORD is my shepherd” in Psalm 23:1.
“Further, Jesus claimed to be judge of all people (Matt. 25: 31; John 5:27), [while the prophet] Joel quotes JEHOVAH as saying “for there I will sit to judge all the nations on every side” (Joel 3:12).
“Likewise, Jesus spoke of Himself as ‘the bridegroom’ (Matt. 25:1), while the Old Testament identifies JEHOVAH in this [same] way (Isaiah 65; Hosea 2: 16). The Psalmist writes: “The LORD is my light” in Psalm 27:1, and Jesus said, “I am the Light of the world” (John 8:12).”
Jesus Claimed to be Equal with God –
He stated that He could and would raise the dead:
“… the Old Testament clearly taught that only God was the giver of life (Deut. 32:39; 1 Sam. 2: 6) and the one to raise the dead (Psalm 2:7) and the only judge (Deut. 32:35; Joel 3:12)” and yet in John chapter Five, Jesus claims these authorities for Himself:
John 5:25-26, 29-30
Verily, verily, I say unto you, The hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God: and they that hear shall live.
For as the Father hath life in himself; so hath he given to the Son to have life in himself;
And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation.
I can of mine own self do nothing: as I hear, I judge: and my judgment is just; because I seek not mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent me.
Some might see vs. 26 as Jesus’ admission that the life-giving power He has was only given to Him, that He didn’t possess this ability in Himself. John 14: 6 refutes the notion that this power wasn’t inherent in Jesus, and in this passage, the word “given” can mean to “yield” or to “grant”. To do so is not at all necessarily the action of giving what is required for the receiver to perform, but rather a concession to allow another to exercise their power.
A security guard at the job site hears a noise in the dark, supposedly empty warehouse, and so he releases his guard dog that then races into the darkness and the stacks of boxes and palates to apprehend the intruder. It wasn’t that the security guard ‘gave’ power to the dog, but rather ‘gave it leave’ to perform in its abilities.
In verse 30 the same skeptics would point out that Jesus can’t do anything on His own, but only according to what He hears, but they disregard the rest of the verse which goes on to indicate that He always seeks His Father’s will as the Servant of the LORD, as He always did those things that pleased the Father (John 8:29).
The other facet of this is that as Jesus is equal (identical) with the Father, it would be impossible for them to be at variance to one another, or contradict one another. Truth cannot be self-contradictory; thus, neither can the Godhead be!
Jesus forgave sins in Mark 2: 5-11.
“The scribes correctly responded that no one can forgive sins, but God. So, to prove that His claim was not an empty boast, He healed the man, offering direct proof that what He had said about forgiving sins was true also.
Jesus claimed to have equal authority with God:
“Jesus also put His words on par with God’s. ‘You have heard that it hath been said . . . [in reference to the Scriptures, the very Word of God] but I tell you . . .’ (Matt. 5: 21-22). This phrase is repeated over and over again,” showing that Jesus portrayed His own words as equally valid as the Torah! He claimed that all the power of heaven and earth was granted to Himself, a position that only God could rightly claim –
And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.
Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:
Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.
God revealed Himself to and gave the Ten Commandments to Moses, but Jesus gave commandments of His own (including in the Scripture reference made above from Mattthew).
A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.
“Jesus said ‘until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law’ (Matt. 5:18), but Jesus later said of His words, ‘Heaven and earth will pass away by My words will never pass away’ (Matt. 24:35). Speaking of those that reject Him, Jesus said, ‘that very word which I spoke will condemn him at the last day’ (John 12:48). There is no question that Jesus expected His words to have equal authority with God’s declaration in the Old Testament.”
“Jesus claimed to be God by requesting prayer in His Name: Jesus not only asked people to believe In Him and obey His commandments, by the asked them to pray in His name. ‘And I will do whatever you ask in my name . . . You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it’ (John 14: 13-14). ‘If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you’ (John 15:7).
Jesus even insisted, ‘No one comes to the Father except through Me’ (John 14:6). In response to this, the disciples not only prayed in Jesus name (1 Cor. 5:4) but prayed to Christ (Acts 7:59). Jesus certainly intended that His name be invoked both before God and as God in prayer.
“In view of these clear ways in which Jesus claimed to be God, any unbiased observer of the Gospels should recognize that Jesus of Nazareth did claim to be God in human flesh. He claimed to be identical to Yahweh of the Old Testament.”
Dr. Norman Geisler continues with the following:
Alleged Counter-claims of Christ:“In spite of these repeated claims to be God some critics take certain statements of Jesus as denials of deity. Two such incidents are commonly used: In one, a rich young ruler came to Jesus and addressed Him”:
And when he was gone forth into the way, there came one running, and kneeled to him, and asked him, Good Master, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?
To which Jesus replied:
And Jesus said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God.
(See also Matt. 19: 16-30; Luke 18:18-30 for parallel discourses)
“Notice however, that Jesus did not deny that He was God; he asked the young man to examine the implications of what he said. Jesus was saying, ‘Do you realize what you are saying when you call me good? Are you really saying that I am God?’
“Of course the man did not realize the implications of either his statements or what the law was really saying, so Jesus was forcing him into a very uncomfortable dilemma. Either Jesus was good and God, or he was evil and human, for each human is evil and does not deserve eternal life.
“The Second supposed counter-example is found in John 14:28, where Jesus aid, ‘My Father is greater than I.”
How can the Father be greater if Jesus is equal to God? The answer is that, as a man, Jesus subordinated Himself to the Father and accepted limitations inherent with humanity. So, as man the Father was greater. Further, in the economy of salvation, the Father holds a higher office than does the Son [The Father as the Judge, Who judged the entirety of sin as it was laid upon His Son; the Son as the Lamb, the Sacrifice, atonement and propitiation for sin]. Jesus proceeded from the Father as a prophet who brought God’s words and a high priest who interceded for his people. In nature of being - as God - Jesus and the Father are equals (John 1:1; 8:58; 10:30). An earthly father is equally human with his son, but holds a higher office. So the Father and Son in the Trinity are equal in essence but different in function. In like manner, we speak of the president of a nation as being greater in dignity of office, but not in character.
“Jesus cannot be said to have considered himself less than God by nature. This summary helps us understand the differences:
JESUS IS EQUAL / JESUS IS SUBORDINATE• In His Divine nature………… In his human nature
• In His Divine essence……… In his human function
• In His Divine attributes…… In his human office
• In His Divine character…… In his human position
To further express the dual nature of JESUS, GOD the SON, and the SON of MAN, we have the following treatment from C.A.R.M. ministries:JESUS: His Two Natures – God and Man
Dr. Geisler continues in his apologetic by demonstrating that the disciples of Jesus Christ also affirm His Deity, while at the same time, the LORD authenticated the revelations and writings that some of these would receive and produce respectively would be inspired by God, elaborate further on this spiritual truth, and have equal authority as inspired writings as His own words:
Wherefore, behold, I send unto you prophets, and wise men, and scribes: and some of them ye shall kill and crucify; and some of them shall ye scourge in your synagogues, and persecute them from city to city:
But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.
More from Dr. Geisler:
“In addition to Jesus’ claims about himself, his disciples also acknowledged his claim to deity. This they manifested in many ways, including the following:
Disciples Attributed the Titles of Deity to Christ –
“In agreement with their Master, Jesus’ Apostles called him ‘the first and the last’ (Rev. 1:17; 2:8; 22:13; ref. Is. 44:6), ‘the true light’ (John 1:9), their ‘rock’ or ‘stone’ (1 Cor. 10:4; 1 Peter 2:6-8; ref. Ps. 18:2; 95:1), ‘the bridegroom’ (husband) Eph. 5:28-33; Rev. 21:2; ref. Jer. 31:32), ‘the chief shepherd’ and ‘the great shepherd’ (1 Peter 5:4; Heb. 13:20; ref. Psalm 23:1). The Old Testament role of ‘Redeemer’ (Ps. 130:7; Hos. 13:14) is given to Jesus in the New Testament (Titus 2:13; Rev. 5:9). He is seen as the forgiver of sins (Acts 5:31; Col. 3:13; ref. Ps. 130:4; Jer. 31:34) and ‘savior of the world’ (John 4:42; ref. Isaiah 43:3).
The apostles also taught of Him, ‘Christ Jesus who will judge the living and the dead’ (2 Tim. 4:1; ref. Ps. 96:13). All of these titles are unique to Jehovah in the Old Testament but are given to Jesus in the New.
Disciples Considered Jesus to be the Messiah-God –
The New Testament opens with the passage concluding that Jesus is Immanuel (‘God with us’; Is. 7:14).” The term Messiah, and its Greek equivalent, ‘Christ’ convey the meaning of “the anointed one” – Zech. 12:10 is considered a messianic passage, referring to the LORD God, but yet describing Him as someone who is “pierced” or “pierced through as with a sword or spear” and we know that Jesus of Nazareth at His crucifixion, in order to ascertain and verify His death, was pierced through with a spear (John 19: 37; 20:27).
Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God, 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.
These verses from Isaiah declare that this is God speaking of Himself and that beside Him, there is no other, and that every knee will bow and every tongue shall confess to Him. Then we have Paul in the New Testament stating the following:
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.
Dr. Geisler observes: “Paul says that all created beings will call Jesus both Messiah/Christ and Yahweh (LORD).” And he continues his apologetic in the following comparisons:
Disciples Attribute the Powers of God to Jesus –
All power and authority that are the very attributes and abilities of God as revealed in the Old Testament are likewise observed in Jesus who Himself, raises the dead (John 5:21; 11:38-44); forgives sins (Acts 5:31; 13:38); the primary agent in creating (John 1:2; Col. 1:16) and sustaining the universe (Col. 1:17).
Disciples Associated Jesus Name with God’s –
The use of Jesus’ name in prayer as the agent for answering and the recipient of prayer (Acts 7:59; 1 Cor. 5:4). Often in prayers or benedictions, the name of Jesus is used in conjunction with God’s own; ex. “grace and peace be to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ (Gal. 1: 3; Eph 1:2). The name of Jesus was to be used along with the other members of the Trinity in regards to baptism (Matt. 28:19); interesting to note that in this passage, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit are all mentioned, but disciples were to baptize in their “name” (singular not plural). This association is also mentioned in the benediction of 2 Cor. 13:14.
Disciples Called Jesus God –
As seen before, Thomas did in John 20:28; Paul expresses this in Colossians:
Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.
For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily.
In the epistle to Titus, Paul further attributes Deity to Jesus:
Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ;
In this same epistle, Paul writes concerning God, who is the Savior, and then in the next verse, declares Jesus Christ to also be the Savior; are these two distinct ‘Saviors’ that save us from different consequences? Or is there only One Savior, represented among these two conjointly as Father and Son?
But hath in due times manifested his word through preaching, which is committed unto me according to the commandment of God our Saviour;
To Titus, mine own son after the common faith: Grace, mercy, and peace, from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ our Saviour.
The Scripture states in Isaiah:
Ye are my witnesses, saith the LORD, and my servant whom I have chosen: that ye may know and believe me, and understand that I am he: before me there was no God formed, neither shall there be after me.
I, even I, am the LORD; and beside me there is no saviour.
Here God states that there shall not be any God formed before or after Him; that He is the one and only; likewise He is the only the savior of the world. Jesus was not a created being used by God as an instrument for salvation as the Jehovah’s Witnesses and other cults profess but eternally begotten of the Father, and declares Himself both here in this passage in Isaiah, and throughout the canon of Scripture as both God and Savior. This further demonstrates the united Trinity of three Persons in a singular Godhead.
The writer of Hebrews boldly proclaims that the Son is God:
Hebrews 1:5, 8-9
For unto which of the angels said he at any time, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee? And again, I will be to him a Father, and he shall be to me a Son?
But unto the Son he saith, Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: a sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of thy kingdom.
Thou hast loved righteousness, and hated iniquity; therefore God, even thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows.
This quote by Paul is found in the book of Psalms:
Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: the sceptre of thy kingdom is a right sceptre.
If one reads this Psalm carefully from vs. 1 on, the context of vs. 6 becomes startlingly clear:
In vs. 1 king David is speaking of the King (Messiah), and says in vs. 2 that God has blessed Him forever. In vs. 3 the Messiah is admonished to gird on His Sword, and to “ride prosperously because of truth and meekness and righteousness” – all such virtues are attributed to Jesus Christ (John 14:6; Matt. 11:29; and 1 John 2:1 respectively), then in vs. 6, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, God proclaims through David, that the throne of God (Whom He is addressing) is “forever and ever” and that “the scepter of thy kingdom is a right scepter.”
Paul declares the pre-existence of Jesus “in the form of God” in Phil. 2:5-8; a parallel passage is found in his other epistle to the Colossians 1: 15 as “the image of God”. Both of these passages are further reinforced in Hebrews –
God Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds;
Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high;
Note the phrase “express image” which could be interpreted as “exact representation”. Skeptics would point out that Jesus is only a representation of God, and not God Himself, and use such analogies as photographs or statues that represent their real live counterparts. The fundamental problem with this analogy is that while the photo or statue have a likeness to the person – the representation in these cases is only superficial; they are not exact representations because neither photo or statue or video stream for that matter, are not living, possessing a mind and will of their own, etc, etc.
Jesus Christ is not only the exact and living representation of God, but He is so in every way, as elaborated upon throughout this article.
We will conclude this with the final part (Five) in this series. Until then, God bless you all in the Name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit!
Posted by James J. Fire at 5:13 PM