Arminian Today

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Posts Tagged ‘Deity of Jesus Christ

Denials of the Trinity & Attacks on Christ

Almost every denial of the doctrine of the Trinity will lead to an attack upon the Lord Jesus Christ or a gross application thereof.  For example, in Jehovah Witness theology, Jesus is Michael the angel.  Jesus is created by the Father and He is not eternal nor equal with the Father.  Jesus is not even worshiped among the JW’s (although they did worship Jesus until 1954 when the Watchtower banned JW’s from worshiping Jesus).  In the case of the JW’s, they are simply replaying the old heresy of Arianism and making Jesus simply a part of God’s creation instead of being God.

Others attack the person and work of Christ outright.  The Hebraic Roots movement is gaining speed in the West (due in large part to a reaction to the shallow seeker churches).  This movement at first seems to affirm the Lord Jesus but the more you get to studying under “rabbis” the more you’ll come to “learn” that Jesus is not God.  In fact, they deny that salvation is accomplished by the finish work of the Messiah but instead they believe one must keep the law of Moses to be saved.  This is nothing more than the old heresy of the Judaizers of Acts 15 all over again.

Paul the Apostle was so protective of the gospel and the Person and Work of Christ Jesus that he issued a curse upon anyone who did not preach the truth (Galatians 1:6-9).  Paul warned the Corinthians against the lies of Satan (2 Corinthians 11:2-4).  He wrote in 2 Corinthians 4:5 what he was passionate about preaching: Christ as Lord!  Paul used the Greek word kurious as he did also in Romans 10:9 and Philippians 2:11.  Jesus is Lord was his cry!  This same word was used by the Jews in the Greek Old Testament about God.

In Isaiah 40:3 we find that Jesus is both Yahweh and Elohim.  Mormonism teaches, for example, that Yahweh and Elohim are different persons.  Elohim is said to be the Father of the Lord Jesus who is Jehovah or Yahweh.  Yet Isaiah wrote:

A voice cries:
“In the wilderness prepare the way of the LORD (Yahweh);
make straight in the desert a highway for our God (Elohim).

This verse is applied to John the Baptist in Matthew 3:3 about the Lord Jesus.  The Lord Jesus is both Yahweh and Elohim!

The biblical doctrine of the Trinity is not easy to grasp and is unique among Christians.  No other religion compares to Christianity in this regard.  Islam and Judaism both claim monotheism along with Christianity but Islam and Judaism are both unitarian monotheism or that God is absolutely one.  Christianity is unique in that we believe in one God (monotheism) but in three persons in the one God.  In this way, Christianity is trinitarian monotheistic.  Three who’s and one what.  One what and three who’s.  This is how I teach my children the doctrine of the Trinity.  All three persons in the Godhead are called God in the Bible.  Yet the Bible affirms one God.  The answer is not to deny monotheism nor to deny Trinitarianism but to embrace both as true.  There is one God and three persons in the one God.

Denials of the Trinity bring many problems.  What do we do with the divine persons being mentioned together such as in Matthew 28:19 or 2 Corinthians 13:14?  What do we do with the baptism of Jesus where all three persons are manifest (Matthew 3:13-17)?  What do we do with Jesus’ clear affirmation of both His own deity and yet His submission to the Father?  What do we do with the Spirit of God raising Jesus from the dead?  What do we do with the clear affirmation of Deuteronomy 6:4 in 1 Corinthians 8:4-6 yet Paul’s clear understanding that Jesus is equal with God?

The bottom line is not to try to deny the person and work of the Lord Jesus but to affirm His work and His glory and His deity and to bow down and worship Him.  We are to praise God through the Lord Jesus Christ who gave Himself our sins and sits at the right hand of God to make intercession for us (Hebrews 7:25) as our mediator before God the Father (1 Timothy 2:5-6).  We must pray to the Father in the name of Jesus (John 14:13-14) giving Him the glory that is due to Him.  We must worship God in the Holy Spirit (John 4:23-24; Philippians 3:3).  To deny the Trinity only leads to chaos and various attacks on the Lord Jesus Christ.

Written by The Seeking Disciple

01/05/2015 at 4:04 PM

Trinitarian Praying

While listening to some podcasts on the doctrine of the Trinity, I begin to consider how we pray.  People often pray without thinking about the theology behind their prayers.  For example, I have heard people pray, “Father thank You for saving me.  Thank You for dying on the cross for my sins.  Father, thank you for loving me enough to sacrifice Yourself for me.”  Yet this is not biblical.  The Father did not give Himself for our sins but instead He gave His Son for our sins (John 3:16).  The Father no doubt has poured out His love upon us in His Son (1 John 3:1-3) yet the Father did not die on the cross.  The Son died for our sins on the cross.

Biblically speaking, we are to pray to the Father in the name of Jesus by the power of the Holy Spirit.  This is Trinitarian praying.  The entire Trinity was involved in our salvation.  The Father sent the Son to die for the sins of humanity.  The Son obeyed the Father perfectly (John 8:29; Philippians 2:5-11).  The Son shed His blood to save us from the wrath of a holy but loving God (Romans 5:8-9).  The Spirit raised the Son from the dead (Romans 8:11).  Acts 2:24 says that God raised Jesus from the dead.  True!  God the Spirit!  All of this, the incarnation of Jesus (Luke 1:35) to the perfect life of Jesus in obedience to His Father (Hebrews 5:8-9) and Jesus’ death on the cross and His being raised from the dead was for our salvation!  The entire Trinity was involved in this saving process!

This is also true for prayer.  Jesus is our faithful high priest (Hebrews 4:14) who mediates for us before the Father (1 Timothy 2:5).  The Lord Jesus prays for us (Hebrews 7:25).  The Spirit also prays for us (Romans 8:26-27).  We come before the Father in the name of Jesus (John 14:13-14).  Jesus taught us to pray to the Father (Matthew 6:9).  This doesn’t mean that we cannot pray to the Lord Jesus since even Stephen prayed to the Lord Jesus when he was being killed for his faith in Jesus (Acts 7:59).  However, prayer should normally be addressed to the Father in the name of Jesus who is our high priest before the holy Father.  We find Paul praying to the Father in Ephesians 3:14.

As we begin to think through our praying and realize that we are speaking to a trinitarian God, we begin to see the beauty not only of our redemption unfold but also the New Testament comes alive as we see the deity of the Father, the Son, and the Spirit.  We see their work in the New Testament and we see how precious the doctrine of the Trinity would have been to the Apostles.  We see a faithful Jew such as Paul the Apostle taking the great doctrine of God from Deuteronomy 6:4 and showing God in His fulness in 1 Corinthians 8:4-6 with the Father and the Son being declared the one true and living God.

The doctrine of the Trinity helps our prayer lives explode with praise as we ponder the deep things of God.  I confess that I don’t understand the Trinity fully.  It is beyond my understanding.  I do confess to my faith in its truth.  There are simply too many passages that affirm the doctrine of one God (monotheism) while yet at the same time the Father is called God, the Son is called God, and the Spirit is called God.  We either can deny monotheism and embrace tritheism or polytheism or form heretical views about Christ (almost all heretical views attack Christ).  We can deny Christ His full deity or that He was a created being (Arianism).  We can teach that Christ is fully God but He takes on three modes (modalism).  We can teach that Christ was not eternal but rather that He had a beginning and was adopted as the Son of God at His baptism by John (adoptionism).  We can deny the full deity or full humanity of Christ and created a sort of half God, half man doctrine (see Bill Johnson and Bethel for this heretical view revised).  Either way, the person of Christ is the One who gets attack by those who want to deny the Trinity.

In the end, I choose to pray to God the Father in the name of Jesus by the power of the Holy Spirit.  I rejoice that Jesus died for my sins, that He rose again, and that He sits at the right hand of God till His enemies be made His footstool (Psalm 110:1).  I rejoice in Pentecost, the glorious truth that the gift of the Spirit was poured out as promised by God the Father (Acts 1:4-5; 2:1-4).  I praise God that all three person of the holy Godhead were fully involved in saving a wretch like me.  It humbles me.  It makes me want to worship Him who is true.

Written by The Seeking Disciple

12/30/2014 at 10:26 PM

Arminius on the Divinity of the Son of God

X. The divinity of the person of the Son is evident, from the names which are attributed to him in the scriptures.

(1.) Because he is called God, and this not only attributively, as “the Word was God,” (John i, 1.) “Who is over all, God blessed forever;” (Rom. ix, 5;) but likewise subjectively: “God manifested in the flesh.” (1 Tim. iii, 16.) “O God, thy God hath anointed Thee with the oil of gladness.” (Heb. i, 9.) Nay, he is likewise called “the great God.” (Tit. ii, 13.)

(2.) The word “Son” stands in proof of the same truth, especially so far as this name belongs to him properly and solely, according to which he is called “God’s own Son,” (Rom. viii, 32,) and “his only begotten Son,” (John i, 18,) which expressions, we affirm, are tantamount to his being called by nature, the Son of God.

(3.) Because he is called “King of kings and Lord of lords;” (Rev. xvii, 14; xix, 16;) and “the Lord of glory.” (1 Cor. ii, 8.) These appellations prove much more strongly what we wish to establish, if they be compared with the scriptures of the Old Testament, in which the same names are ascribed to him who is called Jehovah. (Psalm xcv, 3; xxiv, 8-10.)

(4.) Pious antiquitity established the same truth from the name, of Logos, “the Word;” which cannot signify the outward word that is devoid of a proper subsistence, on account of those things which are attributed to it in the Scriptures. For it is said to have been “in the beginning, to have been with God, and to be God,” and to have “created all things,” &c.

XI. The essential attributes of the Deity which are in the Scriptures ascribed to the Son of God, likewise declare this in the plainest manner.

(1.) Immensity: “My Father and I will come unto him, and make our abode with him.” (John xiv, 23.) “That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith.” (Ephes. iii, 17.) “I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world.” (Matt. xxviii, 20.)

(2.) Eternity: “In the beginning was the Word.” (John i, 1.) “I am Alpha and Omega, the first and the last.” (Rev. i, 11; ii, 8.)

(3.) Immutability: “But thou, O Lord, remainest; thou art the same, and thy years shall not fail.” (Heb. i, 11, 12.)

(4.) Omniscience is also attributed to him: For he searches the reins and hearts;” (Rev. ii, 93.) He “knows all things.” (John xxi, 17.) And he perceived the thoughts of the Pharisees. (Matt. xii, 25.)

(5.) Omnipotence: “According to the efficacy whereby the Lord Jesus Christ is able even to subdue all things unto himself” (Phil. iii, 21.) But the Divine nature cannot, without a contradiction, be taken away from him to whom the proper essentials of God are ascribed.

(6.) Lastly. Majesty and glory belong to Him equally with the Father: “That all men should honour the Son, even as they honour the Father.” (John v, 23.) “Blessing, and honour, and glory, and power, be unto Him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb, forever and ever.” (Rev. v, 13.)

XII. The divine works which are attributed to Him, establish the same truth.

(1.) The creation of all things: “All things were made by Him.” (John i, 3.) “By whom also, he made the worlds,” or the ages. (Heb. i, 2.) “One Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things.” (1 Cor. viii, 6.) But what are these “all things?” Exactly the same as those which are said, in the same verse, to be “of the Father.”

(2.) The preservation of all things: all things by the word of his power.” (Heb. i, 3.) “My Father worketh hitherto, and I work.” (John v, 17.)

(3.) The performing of miracles: “Which He works by the Holy Spirit, who is said to “have received of the things of Christ, by which he will glorify Christ.” (John xvi, 14.) “By which, also, he went and preached unto the spirits in prison.” (1 Pet. iii, 19.) This Spirit is so peculiar to Christ, that the Apostles are said to perform miracles in the name and power of Christ.

Written by The Seeking Disciple

12/20/2013 at 10:58 AM

The Importance of the Virgin Birth (Part One)

Why was Jesus born of a virgin?  Why is it important that the Church continue to preach that Jesus Christ was born of the virgin Mary?  And what role does the virgin birth play in regard to our redemption?

Some propose that the virgin birth is necessary because of the doctrine of original sin.  For instance, Dr. Wayne Grudem proposes that the virgin birth of Christ was necessary because all humans have inherited legal guilt and a corrupt moral nature from their first father, Adam.  But since Jesus did not have a human father then He partially interrupted the line from Adam.  Jesus did not descend from Adam in exactly the same way in which every other human being had descended from Adam.  Dr. Grudem sees Luke 1:35 as a proof text for this.  Luke 1:35 reads,

And the angel answered her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy—the Son of God.

Notice that Luke records that Jesus would be called “holy.”  He could be called holy because He was born without the corrupt nature inherited by all humans from Adam.  The virgin birth thus ensured that Jesus was born fully human but without inherited sin of any kind.  Jesus could be both fully human and fully God through the virgin birth and He could be called holy unlike us.

In contrast to this, others propose that the virgin birth has nothing to do with original sin.  Dr. Jack Cottrell, for example, rejects the teaching from above.  While Cottrell affirms the virgin birth as necessary and part of God’s plan, he rejects the idea that the virgin birth helps Jesus not inherit a sinful nature.  Instead, Cottrell states that there is simply no biblical basis for such a view either of original sin inherited by humans or about Jesus needing the virgin birth to avoid original sin.

Another theologian who rejects the virgin birth as necessary to avoid original sin states it this way,

Some have supposed that the virgin birth was necessary in order for Jesus to avoid the inheritance of a sinful nature.  However, the Scriptures nowhere state that Jesus was born of a virgin to avoid the inheritance of some type of sinful substance.  Rather, the Bible says that He was born of a virgin because His Father was God.  Though Jesus was born of a virgin and His Father was God, Jesus did not have a different type of flesh from the rest of us.  He had the same type of flesh that we have.  Jesus was not made physically perfect until the third day when He was raised with a glorified body (Luke 13:32; Hebrews 5:9).  If Jesus was born with a glorified flesh, or if He did not take upon Himself a physically depraved flesh like we have, which was subjected to death, He could not have tasted death for every man; and therefore, could not have made atonement for all.  It was necessary for Christ to be made with the same type of physically depraved body that we have, so that He could be capable of physical death (Hebrews 2:9, 14, 16-17).

Another theologian who rejects the virgin birth as necessary to escape from the pollution of Adam’s seed states it thus:

The Bible is clear that the virgin birth is to be a sign (Isaiah 7:14).  That is the point of the virgin birth, a sign.  It points to the fact that the Baby born to the virgin would be God (Immanuel).  We find nothing in the Bible that teaches that the virgin birth is necessary to avoid original sin.  Instead, the virgin birth points to the absolute deity of the Lord Jesus Christ.

The Bible and Supernatural Births

The Bible lists other supernatural births but none compare to the supernatural birth of Jesus.  For example, the birth of Isaac (Genesis 18:9-14), Samson (Judges 13) Samuel (1 Samuel 1:1-20), and John the Baptist (Luke 1:5-25).  Yet all of these births occurred naturally with a human father and mother.  In the case of Jesus, He was born of a virgin without a human father.  He was 100% human through Mary but was 100% God through the Holy Spirit.  Paul the Apostle never mentions the virgin birth, but when he writes of the Lord Jesus coming into the world (Romans 1:3; Galatians 4:4; Philippians 2:7), he uses the Greek word ginomai (“become, come into being”) and avoids the word gennao or the common term for “be born” which would focus on two human parents.

The birth of Jesus was a supernatural event unlike any other.  This birth was a direct fulfillment of Isaiah 7:14 (see Matthew 1:18-25).  The birth of Jesus pointed to His deity, that He was God and always had been God (John 1:1, 14).  Jesus did not come into being in Bethlehem but He had always been and always will be.  The Word became flesh in Bethlehem but He was always God from everlasting (Micah 5:2 NKJV).  Hebrews 1:10-12 is clear that Jesus has always been and He always will be (Hebrews 13:8).

The Deity of Jesus Christ in Isaiah 40:3

It is easy to defend the deity of Christ in the New Testament as we have clear statements about His deity in passages such as John 1:1 or 10:30 or Romans 9:5 or Philippians 2:6 or 2 Peter 1:1.  However, I was reading in Isaiah this morning and noticed that Isaiah 40:3 also proves the deity of the Lord Jesus.

The text reads:

A voice cries:
“In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord;
make straight in the desert a highway for our God.

This passage was fulfilled in Matthew 3:3 with the coming of John the Baptist as the forerunner for the Lord Jesus.  Luke’s Gospel gives the longer version in Luke 3:4-6.  Zechariah, the father of John the Baptist, had prophesied in Luke 1:76 that John would be the prophet of the Most High.

In Isaiah 40:3 we see that Isaiah says that the voice that is crying out (John the Baptist) is preparing the way of the LORD.  The LORD here is Yahweh.  Yahweh Himself would be coming to His people.  God Himself.  This is the Person of the Lord Jesus.  Jesus is Yahweh.  Jesus is God.  Jesus is not the created substance from God.  Jesus is not a little lower than God.  Jesus is God.  Jesus is equal with the Father and with the Spirit (Matthew 28:19; 2 Corinthians 13:14).  In His mediating role as our Redeemer, Jesus took upon Himself the form of flesh and blood in submission to the will of the Father.  Yet He remained equal with God at all times.  His submission to the Father was for our salvation.  In His incarnation, Jesus did not become a little god nor did He become half God and half man but He was perfectly both God and man.  This is the mystery of the hypostatic union.  My mind cannot grasp the deity of Jesus Christ but I affirm it because the Bible teaches it.  I affirm that Jesus is both man and both God.  He remains so now as our mediator before the Father (1 Timothy 2:5).

Written by The Seeking Disciple

06/07/2013 at 10:29 AM

God the Son: Introduction to Studying His Deity

Let me get back to the doctrine of the Trinity.  As I noted in the post prior to this post, Dr. R.C. Sproul stated that what separates Christianity from all other religions is the doctrine of the Trinity.  Christians do not worship the same God as those in Islam or Judaism.  The gods of Islam and Judaism are not the same either.  Occasionally I will hear someone claim that we Christians worship the same God as the god of Judaism but this is not true.  The doctrine of the Trinity is opposed by Judaism.  While I believe that the Old Testament alludes to the doctrine of the Trinity, the New Testament (which Judaism rejects) clearly teaches the doctrine of the Trinity.

In a previous post on the Trinity I noted that the Father is God.  Today we turn our attention to the Son of God, the Lord Jesus Christ, as being equal with the Father and with the Holy Spirit.  Jesus is not a little like God nor is He a little lower than God but He is in fact co-equal and co-eternal with God the Father and with God the Spirit.  Three persons in the one Godhead.  Three persons but only one God.  Not three separate persons meaning there are three Gods but one God and yet three persons.  By no means do I believe that our minds can grasp such a concept.  God is beyond us (Romans 11:33-36).  I am thankful that the God of the Bible is beyond me for if I were able to figure Him out (as the gods of cults typically is) then He would cease to be God.  Indeed, God is mysterious.  His wisdom, His power, His beauty, His person – they are all beyond my understanding but I am thankful for this (Isaiah 44:7-8).

The study of the deity of Jesus Christ is a long study since the purpose of the Bible is to reveal Jesus.  The purpose of the Bible is not to reveal that God is our creator (though He is) nor to reveal to us our purpose in life but to reveal the Lord Jesus Christ and what He has done for us on the cross and through His resurrection (John 20:31).  Hebrews 1:1-3 glorify Jesus and show us the purpose of the Bible.  1 John 5:13 says, “I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God that you may know that you have eternal life.”  The entirety of Scripture is about Jesus Christ.  So a study of His deity can be a very long study.  In order for me to study His deity, I want to focus on several aspects of His deity and how we can prove that Jesus is God.

I once handed out blank pieces of paper to a church and asked them to 1) write down five passages of Scripture that teach that Jesus is God, and then 2) five verses that teach salvation by grace through faith.  Hardly anyone could do it.  Few know why they believe what they believe. Yet 1 Peter 3:15 tells us that we are to be ready to give a defense of our faith and that hope that is in us.  Sadly, few know where we can turn to to prove that Jesus is God.  Few know how to teach someone true salvation through the Scriptures.  We rely on subjective feelings instead of the authority of the Word of God to lead us.  This should not be.  We should seek to study the Bible so that we can stand firm in our faith and help others to know the Lord Jesus through preaching the gospel to them.  When cults come to our doors, we should be able to provide a defense of our faith and show them from the Word of God their errors.  We don’t have to be an expert in Mormonism or Islam to share our faith but we should be able to know what we believe from the Scriptures especially concerning key doctrines such as the deity of Jesus Christ or the doctrine of salvation.

So let us begin our study of the Son of God by examining the major verses about His deity before turning to the Gospels to examine all the claims of Jesus that He made that showed His equality with God.

Written by The Seeking Disciple

09/06/2011 at 4:47 PM

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