Friday, 7 December 2018

Does the Bible say that Jesus is God?

Almost all world religions have some respect for Jesus. According to Islam He was a prophet; according to the Baha’i faith He was a “manifestation” of God; according to Hinduism He was a perfect example of “self-realisation”; according to Sikhism He was a holy man. But what about the Bible? There is no doubt the Bible teaches that Jesus has a much higher status than these religions afford Him, but just how high? Does the Bible ascribe to Him dignity or deity? We will see in this article that the Bible doesn’t place Jesus at the top of creation; rather, it places Him above and outside it – because He is the Creator.

In a book called Putting Jesus in His Place[1], Robert Bowman and Ed Komoszewski look at five lines of evidence proving the Bible teaches that Jesus Christ is God. They use the acronym HANDS to show:
1.     Jesus receives the Honours of God
2.     Jesus has the Attributes of God
3.     Jesus bears the Names of God
4.     Jesus does the Deeds of God
5.     Jesus shares the Seat of God.
We shall follow the same acronym.
Jesus receives the Honours of God
The Bible is clear that God alone is to be worshipped. In Matthew 4:10 the Lord Jesus countered the devil’s desire for worship by saying, “You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only you shall serve” (NKJV).
Worship is never to be given to mere men, no matter how godly they may be. When someone bowed to worship Peter (Acts 10:25-26), and when the people of Lystra attempted to worship Barnabas and Paul (Acts 14:11-18), they were immediately rebuked.
Worship is never to be given to angels, no matter how great they may be. Twice over in the book of Revelation (19:10; 22:8-9) John is so overwhelmed with the sights an angel had shown him that he fell down in worship. On both occasions the angel’s response was a swift rebuke and correction: “See that you do not do that . . . Worship God” (NKJV).
Godly men refused worship. Awe-inspiring angels refused worship. Jesus of Nazareth never refused worship. Over and over again in the Gospels people worshipped Him, yet He never said, as Peter did, “Stand up; I myself am also a man.” He never said, as did Barnabas and Paul, “Men, why are you doing these things? We also are men with the same nature as you”. And He never said, as did the angel, “See that you do not do that... Worship God.”
On every occasion when people bowed before Him in worship He accepted it. Matthew 14:32-33 is a particularly powerful example. The disciples were in a terrible storm on the sea, and Jesus came to them walking on the water. He then calmed the storm, with the result that those in the boat worshipped Him and proclaimed Him as the Son of God. Psalm 107:23-30 tells us about sailors in a storm who “reel to and fro, and stagger like a drunken man, and are at their wits’ end. Then they cry unto the Lord in their trouble, and He bringeth them out of their distresses. He maketh the storm a calm, so that the waves thereof are still. Then are they glad because they be quiet; so He bringeth them unto their desired haven.” What Yahweh does in Psalm 107, Jesus does in Matthew 14. Note: the disciples didn’t turn to God in heaven and worship Him for calming the storm. Rather, they turned to Jesus and worshipped Him, proclaiming Him as the Son of God. He didn’t say, “No, I didn’t do it, God did. Worship Him, not Me!” A good man, no matter how great, does not accept honour that belongs to God alone, unless He is God.
It’s not simply that Christ accepted worship; God the Father actively commands it. Hebrews 1:6 tells us that, when Christ comes again, God will say, “Let all the angels of God worship Him.”
He is not merely worshipped as only God should be, He is praised and prayed to as only God should be (e.g. Eph 5:19; Col 3:16; Acts 7:59-60; 1 Cor 1:2; 1 Tim 1:12). Everything the Bible says should go only to God goes also to Jesus Christ.
Jesus has the Attributes of God
Some attributes of God, such as grace and mercy, can be shared to some degree by His creatures. But some attributes belong to God alone. Only God is omnipotent (all-powerful), omniscient (all-knowing), omnipresent (present and active everywhere) and eternal (having no beginning or ending). These attributes distinguish God from His creation. But when we look at what the Bible says about the Lord Jesus, we find that He is on the divine side of that divide in that He possesses the unique attributes of God. Many places in the Bible establish this, but for convenience we will look at just one passage:
God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, 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... (Heb 1:1-3)
The writer identifies Christ as eternal, because He created the ages (the word translated “worlds” actually means ages, identifying Christ as the creator of time itself). The writer tells us that Christ upholds all things. If He upholds all creation He must be omnipotent. If He upholds all things He must know about all things, and therefore be omniscient. And if He upholds all things He must be active at all points in creation, and thus is omnipresent.
This and many other passages present Christ as having the attributes God alone possesses.
Jesus bears the Names of God
The Lord Jesus is frequently referred to in the Bible with names and titles that belong uniquely to the one true God. We will take just three examples.
Yahweh (or Jehovah) is the great personal name of the one true God. Many Old Testament verses that refer to Him are quoted in the New Testament as applying to Christ. For example, in Psalm 102 Yahweh is praised as the one who “laid the foundation of the earth.” Hebrews 1:10 quotes this passage, which is addressed to Yahweh, the writer telling us that this is what God the Father said to the Son: “Thou Lord, in the beginning hast laid the foundation of the earth”. So we have the very highest authority for calling Jesus Yahweh – God the Father did it.
In Psalm 34:8 we are told to “taste and see that the Lord [Yahweh] is good”. This passage is quoted by Peter in 1 Peter 2:3. Verse 4 makes it clear that he is talking about none other than Jesus Christ.
In Romans 10:13 Paul quotes from Joel 2:32 which tells us to call on the name of the Lord (Yahweh) to be saved, but verse 9 of that same chapter makes it clear who it is we have to call on – we are to confess that Jesus is Lord.
The very name Jesus means Yahweh Saviour. Israelite parents might so name their sons as an acknowledgement that Yahweh saves, or as an aspiration that He would save, but why was Christ given that name? The angel told Joseph the reason: “thou shalt call His name Jesus: for He shall save His people from their sins” (Matt 1:21). Christ was named Jesus because He is Yahweh the Saviour.
In many passages Jesus is directly called God (e.g. John 1:1; 20:28; Rom 9:5; Heb 1:8; 2 Pet 1:1). But He is also called the mighty God (Isa 9:6), the great God (Titus 2:13) and the true God (1 John 5:20).
Alpha and Omega
In Revelation 1:8 God refers to Himself as the Alpha and Omega, a uniquely divine title. But in Revelation 22:12-13 we read these words of Jesus Christ: “behold, I come quickly; and My reward is with Me, to give everyman according as his work shall be. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last.” Obviously there cannot be two beings who are the Alpha and Omega.
This is just a small sampling of moments when the Bible gives Jesus the names of God.
Jesus does the Deeds of God
There are actions only God can do. Such actions are far beyond any creature’s ability, but the Bible teaches that they were carried out by Christ.
In Isaiah 44:24 God says that He created everything in heaven and earth by Himself and that no one was with Him, yet the New Testament insists over and over again that the Lord Jesus created all things (John 1:3; Col 1:16; Heb 1:2, 10). To the person who denies the deity of Christ this presents a massive problem and an irreconcilable contradiction – the Old Testament says that Yahweh created all things by Himself while the New Testament says that Christ created all things. Those who accept the deity of Christ have no problem.
In Isaiah 43:11 God says, “I, even I, am the Lord, and beside Me there is no saviour.” The proclamation of the New Testament, however, is that Jesus Christ is the only Saviour (Acts 4:12).
Psalm 49 teaches that no one can redeem his brother because the price is too great (vv 7-8). Only God can do it (v 15). The New Testament tells us that Christ is the redeemer (Titus 2:13-14).
Giving the Holy Spirit
Joel 2:28 prophesies of a time when God will pour out His Spirit on all flesh. In Acts 2:33 Peter says that Christ poured out the Holy Spirit.
These are some of the works Christ does which only God can do.
Jesus shares the Seat of God
In Isaiah 6, the prophet has a vision of Yahweh on His glorious throne, and testifies that “mine eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts” (v 5). Referring to this experience in John 12:40-41, the apostle says that the glory Isaiah saw was Christ’s glory.
Isaiah 42:8 and 48:11 tell us that God does not give His glory to another, but in John 17:5 the Lord Jesus requests that He be given glory alongside the Father, glory which He had before the world was.
In John 5:22 the Lord Jesus says that the Father judges no one but has committed all judgment to the Son. In Revelation 20:11-15 John’s vision of the judgment of the Great White Throne reveals that small and great “stand before God”. They aren’t standing before the Father, but they are still standing before God. The One on the throne is the Son, sitting in the place where only God can sit.
In John 20:27 the risen Christ invited Thomas to “behold My hands”. The result was that Thomas acknowledged Him as “My Lord and my God.” We too have looked at the hands of the Lord Jesus – His honours, attributes, names, deeds, and seat. Our confession should be the same.

[1] Robert M. Bowman Jr & J. Ed Komoszewski, Putting Jesus in His Place: The Case for the Deity of Christ, Kregel, 2007.