Saturday, July 18, 2009

On the Deity of Christ: It's Importance

I'd like to start this series by asking the question: Why am I doing this? Why am I taking all this time to prove plainly from the Scriptures that Jesus is God -- not a created being inferior to the Father -- Who is one with the Father not just in purpose, but also in substance? What difference does it make whether we see Him as a created being or the One Who has no beginning?

Why is it important that we understand what the phrase "the Son of God" means?

First, Jesus thought it was important enough to explicitly take time to make sure His disciples "got it," and had the Holy Ghost record the lesson through Matthew.

When He was here, some of the people were confused about Who He was: His identity. Let's take a look (Matt. 16:13ff):

When Jesus came into the coasts of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, saying, Whom do men say that I the Son of man am?

And they said, Some [say that thou art] John the Baptist: some, Elias; and others, Jeremias, or one of the prophets.

He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am?

And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou are the Christ, the Son of the living God.

And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed [it] unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven.

But He starts out by asking who other people were saying that He was. Turns out other people thought He was all kinds of different great men, but all men nonetheless: nothing more.

Then, to correct this misperception in His disciples, He asks them Who they think He is. Peter speaks up and says, "You're the Christ, the Son of the living God." Jesus acknowledges this, even going so far as to say that the Father had revealed it to Peter, and giving Peter a high position in the early church as a direct reward for getting it right (see the rest of the passage).

So, first, Jesus thought it was important to understand correctly Who He is.

Secondly, it is essential to salvation. For someone to be saved, he must believe that Jesus is the Christ, and that He is the Son of God. To believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, you have to know what those terms mean. Let's start with the first part -- that you have to believe the terms -- by looking at John's first letter:

Who is a liar but he that denieth that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist, that denieth the Father and the Son. Whosoever denieth the Son, the same hath not the Father... (1 John 2:22, 23a)

Whosoever shall confess that Jesus is the Son of God, God dwelleth in him, and he in God. (1 John 4:15)

Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God... (1 John 5:1)

For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, [even] our faith. Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God? (1 John 5:5 [cf. Rev. 2:7, 11, 17, 26; 3:5, 12, 21; 21:7])

So we see that it is imperative for salvation that one believe that Jesus is 1) the Christ, and 2) the Son of God. This is the same formula that Peter gave, Thou art 1) the Christ, 2) the Son of the living God.

The way Peter said it, and Jesus confirmed, the phrase the Son of the living God is the Christ's identity -- i.e. Who He is. Therefore, if you deny that Jesus is the Christ, you also deny that He is the Son of God, and vice versa.

Also, John indicates (1 John 2:22, 23a - see above) that to "deny the Son" is to deny the Father also (v23). To "deny the Son" is to deny that Jesus is the Christ (v22).

So it's pretty important that we believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God.

It's elementary that you cannot believe something you don't understand. Jesus indicated this when He said, in His explanation of the parable of the sower,

But he that received seed into the good ground is he that heareth the word, and understandeth [it]... (Matthew 13:23a, emphasis mine)

The Ethiopian eunuch in Acts 8 was reading the words of Isaiah 53, but they did him no good because he didn't understand them. It wasn't until Phillip explained them, and he understood, that he was able to believe on Christ, of which the passage speaks. In fact, only upon understanding Phillip's explanation can he (v37) recite the creedal formula given earlier: I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.

Paul wrote to Timothy (1 Tim. 1:6, 7) that there were some who had turned aside unto vain jangling; desiring to be teachers of the law; understanding neither what they say, nor whereof they affirm. People were trying to teach by parroting words, but they themselves didn't understand what the words really meant.

So we see it's actually very important not only 1) to believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God, but also 2) to understand what those titles mean.

It is my contention, and that of the general church, that those titles have a specific meaning: one that defines Jesus as God, and not as a created being.

If it is true that the definition of the term "Son of God" does not include "a created being", then to say that Jesus is a created being is to deny that He is the Son of God, and is therefore to be an anti-Christ, who has not the Father or the Son, and who therefore has not eternal life. To put it colloquially, "this is heavy, dude." This is a very serious topic -- the "heaviest" topic ever!

It is my goal in this series On the Deity of Christ to prove, according to the Scriptures, that the definition of the terms "Son of God" and "the Christ" necessarily exclude the idea of "a created being," and necessarily include the idea that the One who holds those titles is God Almighty, a.k.a. Jehovah (or Yahweh -- however you want to translate YHWH), a.k.a. God the Son.

I am writing this series so that any who read it may know, from the Scriptures, what all goes into the phrase "the Son of God", and therefore, as John wrote (1 John 5:13), ...that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Hi! Feel free to comment. However, I was getting posts from different Anonymous people, and it's difficult to know who is who so I can keep the conversation straight in my head. So I'm requesting that you please bear with my weakness, and identify yourself. Even if you want to use a different name than your real name -- that's fine. But give yourself a handle for me, please. :) Thanks...