The Divinity of Christ

There are two natures of Christ spelled out in Scripture: His Divinity and Humanity. I will briefly discuss the former here. The divinity of Christ is the nature of Christ that is God, that is, Deity. Evidences of His Deity can be seen in:

1. The Divine Names given to Christ

(a) He is called “the Son of God” about 40 times (Lk. 22:70). That this name, as used of Christ, is a distinctly divine is seen in John 5:18 “Therefore the Jews sought the more to kill him, because He not only had broken the Sabbath, but said also that God was His Father, making himself equal to God.”

(b) He is called the “Only unique (or begotten) Son of God.”This occurs 5 times. In Mark 12:6, Jesus made a distinction between the prophets who are servants of God and Himself as “one,” a beloved “Son.”

(c)  He is called “The Alpha and the Omega” Rev 22:12-13. In Rev. 1:8 God said “I am the Alpha and the Omega.” Jesus introduced Himself as “The first and the last; I am he” (Rev. 1:17) just as Yahweh said in the OT: “I the LORD, the first, and with the last.” (Is. 41:4) “Thus saith the LORD I am the first, and I am the last and beside me there is no God.” (Is. 44:6)

(d) He is called “The Holy One” (Acts 3:14). This is the same name God revealed Himself as “for I am God and not man; the Holy One in the midst of thee…”(Hosea 11:9).

(e) He is called “The Lord” (Lk. 2:11, Acts 9:19). The title ‘Lord’ is used of men 9 times e.g Acts 16:30, Eph. 4:1, Jn. 12:21 etc, but not at all in the way it is used of Christ. He is spoken of as “the Lord” just as God is (Acts 4:26, 33, Mt. 22:43-45, Phil. 2:11).

(f) He is called “the Lord of all” (Acts 10:36) and “the Lord of Glory” just as Yahweh is “the King of glory” (1 cor. 2:8; Ps. 24:8-10).

(g) He is called “Mighty God” just as God the Father is (Is. 9:6; 10:21; Jer. 32:18; Hab. 1:12); “God” (Jn. 20:28), “God with us” (Mt. 1:23); “our Great God” (Tit. 2:13 RSV) and “God blessed forever” (Rom. 9:5).

2. Divine Attributes

(a) Omnipotence

Jesus had power over diseases, over death, over the winds and seas, over demons; is “far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come”; has all things put under His feet and upholds all things by His power (Lk. 4:39, 7:14, Mt. 8:26-27, 16, Eph. 1:20-23 and Heb. 1:3).

(b) Omniscience

Jesus knew men’s lives and secret history and men’s secret thoughts just as God the Father is the only who “alone know the hearts of men” and “search the heart” (jn. 4;16-19, Mk. 2:8, 2 Chr. 6:30, Jer. 17:10).

Jesus knew not only men’s present thoughts but also their future choices as well. For example, He knew from the beginning that Judas would betray him (Jn. 6:64). He also knew about God’s acts and other minute details man can’t know (Jn. 1:48, Lk 5:4-6, 22:10-12).

(c) Omnipresence

Although there was a voluntary veiling and laying aside of His exercise of Divine Omniscience (as seen in His humanity), He is present everywhere two or three are gathered in His name; with everyone who goes forth into the world to make disciples  and He was in heaven as He was on earth (Mt. 18:20, 28:20, Jn. 3:13).

(d) Eternity

Jesus is the eternal “Word” of God (Jh 1:1); His “goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting” (Mic. 5:2) “And he is before all things, and by Him all things consist” (Col. 1:17). He is “The Everlasting Father” (Is 9:6) who alone had the glory with the Father “before the world was” (Jn. 17:5). He said to the unbelieving Jews: “Before Abraham was, I am” (Jh 8:58).

(e) Immutability

Jesus is unchangeable. He is “the same yesterday, today and forever” (Heb. 13:8) “You will roll them up like a robe; like a garment they will be changed but you remain the same” (Heb. 1:12). The same is said of Yahweh (Mal. 3:8)

3. Divine Offices

(a) Creation.

“All things were made by him; and without him was not anything that was made (Jn. 1:3). See also Hebrew 1:10, Colossians 1:16.

(b) Forgiver of Sins

He said to someone “your sins are forgiven” that even the doubters asked “Who can forgive sins but God alone?” (Mk. 2:5-10). He said to another “Thy sins be forgiven” (Lk 7:48). He also taught that sins were against Himself (vs 40-47). The Psalmist said of Yahweh “Against thee, thee only, have I sinned” (Ps. 51:4).

(c) Judgement

Jesus will “judge the quick and the dead” (2Tim. 4:1). He also emphasized the Divine character of this office “Moreover the Father judges no one, but has entrusted all judgment to the Son: That all may honor the Son as they honor the Father” (Jn. 5:22-23).

(d) Bestower of Eternal Life.

“I give them [my sheep], eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand” (Jn. 10:28) “For you granted him authority over all people that he might give eternal life to all those you have given him (Jn. 17:2).

4. The name of God the Father and Jesus Christ the Son are coupled together

“The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Ghost, be with you all. Amen.” (2Cor. 13:14)

“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of Son and of the Holy Spirit.” (Matt. 28:19)

“James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ…” (Jas. 1:1)

“Jesus answered and said unto him, if a man love me, he will keep my words; and my Father will love him, and We will come unto him and make our abode with him.” (Jn. 14:23)

5. Various statements, titles and descriptions made by Yahweh in the OT were attributed to Jesus in the NT

(a) In Ps. 102:25-26 YHWH is the One who “laid the foundations of the earth, and the heavens are the work of [His] hands. They will perish, but you remain; they will all wear out like a garment.” This statement is attributed to Jesus in Heb. 1:10-12.

(b) Just as Yahweh is our “shepherd” and “tends his flock like a shepherd,” Jesus is “the good shepherd,” “the Shepherd and Overseer” of our souls (Ps. 23:1, Is. 40:11, Jn. 10:11, 1 Pt. 2:25).

(c) Is. 60:19 “The LORD will be your everlasting light, and your God will be your glory.” This is said of Jesus in Lk. 2:32 “A light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people Israel.”

(d) Ps. 50:3-4 says “Our God comes and will not be silent; a fire devours before him, and around him a tempest rages. He summons the heavens above, and the earth, that he may judge his people.” This is attributed to Christ: “God is just; He will pay back trouble to those who trouble you…This will happen when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven in blazing fire with his powerful angels.” (2 Thess. 1:6-7)

(e) Ps. 68:18 “When you ascended on high, you led captives in your train; you received gifts from men, even from the rebellious – that you, O LORD God, might dwell there.” This is said of Jesus in Eph. 4:8-9.

(f) In the OT, Yahweh is called “a stone that causes men to stumble and a rock that makes them fall.” (Is. 8:13-14) In the NT, this is said of Jesus (1 Pt. 2:8). Just as God is “the Rock” in the OT, so also is Jesus called “the Rock” in the NT (Dt. 32:3-4, Ps. 62:1-2, 1 Cor. 10:1-4).

(g) In the OT, God says “I, the LORD, search the heart and examine the mind.” (Jer 17:10, 11:20). In the NT, it is Jesus who does this: “Then all the churches will know that I AM HE who searches hearts and minds, and I will repay each one of you according to your deeds.” (Rev. 2:23)

(h) Is. 40:3 speaks of “one calling: ‘In the desert prepare the way for the LORD, make straight in the wilderness a highway for our God.'” In John 1:23 and Lk. 1:68-76, John the Baptist is presented as the one who prepared the way and the LORD is revealed as Jesus.

(i) In the OT, Isaiah saw “the LORD Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory” to whom the people were calloused, blind and deaf (Is. 6: 3, 10) while in the NT, John says that Isaiah “saw Jesus’ glory and spoke about Him.” (Jn. 12:37-41)

(j) In the OT, the Israelites spoke “against the LORD” and He sent fiery serpent among them (Num. 21:7). In the NT, we are warned: “Neither let us tempt Christ, as some of them also tempted, and were destroyed of serpents.” (1 Cor. 10:9)

(k) In the OT, Yahweh says: “Before me every knee will bow; by me every tongue will swear” (Is. 45:23) while in the NT it says “that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow…and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (Phil. 2:10-11)

(l) Just as God says in the OT: “I will both search my sheep, and seek them out. As a shepherd seeketh out his flock…so will I seek out my sheep, and will deliver them out of all the places they have been scattered in the cloudy and dark day.” (Ezk. 34:11-12) In the NT, Jesus says: “For the Son of Man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.” (Lk. 19:10)

(m) In the OT, God’s people were commanded: “Do not fear what they fear and do not dread it. The LORD Almighty is the one you are to regard holy, he is the one you are to fear…” (Is. 8:12-13) In the NT, Christians are commanded: “Do not fear what they fear; do not be frightened. But in your hearts set apart [sanctify] Christ as Lord.” (1 Pet. 3:14-15)

(n) Joel 2:32 says: “And everyone who calls on the name of the LORD will be saved.” This is also said of Jesus in Acts 2:21, 4:10-12 and Romans 10:9-15. Just as Yahweh is the “Redeemer” so also is Jesus the “Saviour” (Ps. 78:35, 1 Jn. 4:14).

6. Divine worship given to Christ
(a) The same worship directed to God is also directed “to the Lamb [Jesus]” (Rev. 5:13) “…and twenty elders fell down before the lamb, having every one of them harps…” (5:8)

(b) Jesus accepted without hesitation a worship which godly men and angels rejected. “And they came and held him by the feet and worshipped him” (Mt. 28:9) “And they worshipped him and returned to Jerusalem with great joy” (Lk. 24:52). Compare this with Acts 10:25-26, Rev. 22:8-9.

(c) Prayer is made to Christ “with all that in every place call upon the name of Christ our Lord both theirs and ours” (1Cor. 1:2)

“And they stoned Stephen, calling upon the Lord, and saying, Lord Jesus receive my spirit.” (Acts 7:59)

“For this thing I besought the LORD thrice … that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” (2 Cor 12:8-9)

From all the divine names, attributes, offices and statements in the Bible, it’s clear that Jesus Christ is a Divine Being, is God.

 

 

Jesus the God-Man

Many Muslims attack Biblical Christology by outright misrepresentation and ignorance. The most conspicuous is their confusion about Christ’s Incarnation. The word “Incarnation” means “in flesh” and denotes the act whereby the eternal Word and Son of God became an actual flesh and blood as a human being (albeit a sinless one) at a specific moment in time, when He willingly condescended to be born from a young virgin by the power of the Holy Spirit:

“The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will over shadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God.” (Lk. 1:32)

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God…And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.” (Jn. 1:1, 14)

“For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, on account of sin: He condemned sin in the flesh,” (Rom. 8:3)

Christ was born of a woman. He was no phantom; He had his humanity from His earthly mother and was also a physical descendant of David (Gal. 4:4; Rom. 1:3). The Bible says He “knew no sin” which means knowledge of sin gained by experience. He didn’t experience sin in His life because He had no sin nature (2 Cor. 5:21). Christ came in the “likeness of sinful flesh” – He came as a man but without the sinful nature. He did not come in the mere likeness of flesh – then He would not have been truly human; He did not come in the likeness of sin – then He would have had indwelling sin. God’s grace came through the last Adam to redeem what the first Adam lost (Rom. 5:15; 8:3: 1 Cor. 15:21, 47).

Yet in order for Him to be truly human, Jesus had to experience real human limitations. He “increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men. ” (Luke 2:52) “He learned obedience by the things which He suffered.” (Heb. 5:8), “He was hungry,” (Matt. 4:2), He slept (Mk 4:36), felt weary and thirsty (Jn. 4:5-8). By becoming human, Jesus became a part of creation, thus the Father became his God from that moment onwards. This is why He addressed Him as “My God and your God” (Jn. 20:17).

The Bible also reveals His Deity. Christ is “from heaven” which suggests His preexistence and eternality and in Him “all the fulness of deity dwells” (1Cor. 15:47; Col. 2:9). The Greek word for deity here is theotes and it “emphasizes divine nature or essence…He was and is absolute and perfect God.” (Fritz Rienecker, Linguistic Key to the Greek New Testament, 1982, 573). The declaration that the deity was in “bodily form” also suggests the full humanity of Jesus and thus affirms Him as the God-man.

Jesus is “in the form of God.” (Phil. 2:6) The Greek word morphe for form here suggests the inherent character or essential substance of the person. Christ in His essential nature exists as deity. “Christ, who is God over all, blessed for ever.” (Rom. 9:5). Titus 2:13 also addresses Him as “our great God and Saviour Christ Jesus.” Greek grammar demands that two nouns, God and Saviour, refer to the same person – Jesus Christ. His designation as the Lord is very important as Charles Ryrie pointed out that the “title Lord occurs at least 144 times plus 95 more times in connection with the proper name Jesus Christ (Biblical Theology of the New Testament, 1959, 176).

1. Lord designates His deity (1 Cor. 12:3; Phil. 2;9). The name Lord is a direct translation of the Hebrew name Adonai in the Septuagint (Greek translation of the OT), therefore, the divine character of God also applies to Jesus through the title Lord. The name of God Himself is applied to Jesus.

2. Lord designates power (Phil. 2:9). The Lordship bestowed on Christ “who is now equal with God, manifests itself especially in the fact that also all the invisible powers of creation are subjected to him.” (Oscar Cullmann, The Christology of the New Testament, 1963, 217).

3. Lord denotes divine sovereignty. To preach Jesus as Lord is to proclaim His sovereignty (2 Cor. 4:5); to bow before Jesus is to worship Him and thereby acknowledge Him as sovereign God. Christ’s sovereignty over all Christians is especially emphasized in Romans 14:5-9 and in titles like “Our Lord Jesus Christ,” “Our Lord Jesus,” and “Jesus Christ our Lord.” Lord denotes Jesus’ kingship and rule. Lord should be understood as a variant of “king”; the two titles are actually interchangeable. In this sense, Jesus’ kingship over Israel and the church as well as His lordship over the whole world is emphasized. (cf. 1 Tim. 6:15; 1 Cor. 15:25) (Paul Enns The Moody Handbook of Theology, 108-109).

The Biblical, historic Christian position is that Jesus is the God-Man. Muslims should humbly learn what we believe rather than blindly forcing their false Quranic “Isa” into the pages of the Bible.

The “Jesus” of the Latter Day Saints

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Many people think the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is just another “Christian denomination” because they teach about Christ and the Bible. On their website, they state:

“We believe Jesus is the Son of God, the Begotten Son in the flesh … We accept the prophetic declarations in the Old Testament that refers directly and powerfully to the coming of the Messiah, the Savior of all humankind. We believe that Jesus of Nazareth was and is the fulfillment of those prophecies.”

Hardly would a Christian disagree with the above (though as we proceed, you will understand what is packed beneath the first line).

Most pseudo-Christian religions gain converts by first teaching what most Christians will readily agree with. Their heresies are usually introduced little by little until the convert is so indoctrinated that he is ready to defend these lies.

But a major way to identify a cult is to check their Christology. Once it is defective, what they have is a false gospel and behind it is a false spirit.

In previous articles, I have shown how Roman Catholicism, Jehovah’s Witnesses and Seventh Day Adventists fail this major litmus test, here, I will be examining Mormonism.

My quotes will be mainly from their scripture, the book of Mormon, as well as teachings of their prophets (both early and modern) which are equally authoritative.

Joseph Smith says “And whatsoever they shall speak when moved by the Holy Ghost shall be scripture, shall be the mind of God … the Word of God and the power of God unto salvation” (Doctrine and Covenants 68:4).

1. Quasi-Sabellianism

“Now Zeezrom saith again unto him: Is the Son of God the very Eternal Father? And Amulek said unto him: Yea, he is the very Eternal Father of heaven and of earth…” (Alma 11:38-39).

“…Behold, I am Jesus Christ. I am the Father and the Son.” (Ether 3:14)

The Christological heresy espoused here was known in the early church as modalism or sabellianism. It taught that God was one God who variously manifested Himself in three modes of existence, as the Father, later as the Son and then the Holy Spirit.

It totally did away with the distinction of persons within the Godhead. This was the initial Christological error Joseph Smith held to.

The Bible however, distinguishes between the Father and the Son (Mt. 5:16; 11:25; Jn. 10:29; 20:17 etc) and between the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit (Jn. 14:16; 16:5-15; Jn. 7:39, Acts 8:5-25 etc).

This is where the Mormon misconception of the Christian Trinity stems from.

2. Pre-mortal Godhood

“[A]ll men lived in a premortal estate before they were born into this world; all were born in the premortal existence as the spirit children of the Father. Christ was the firstborn spirit child … Christ, the Word, the Firstborn, had, of course, attained unto the status of Godhood while yet in premortal existence” (What Mormons Think of Christ, 1976, p. 25).

Christ was not created and didn’t have to attain the status of Godhood. He is and has always been God. He is eternal, “the first and the last” just as the Father is (Rev. 1:17-18; Is. 48:12).

The creation of man by God negates pre-mortal existence. Mormon theology seems to be closer to Greek paganism than to the Bible.

3. A Firstborn of gods

In modern times he has said: ‘I was in the beginning with the Father, and am the Firstborn. And all those who are begotten through me are partakers of the glory of the same and are the church of the Firstborn. Ye were also in the beginning with the Father” (Doctrines and Covenants 93:21-23).

This is a gross misunderstanding of the Biblical concept of Jesus as the firstborn.

Colossians 1:15-19 is offered as proof but this actually presents Jesus as the Creator. The Greek word for “firstborn” is prototokos which means “preeminence” and “eternal preexistence.”

Also, humans do not share in God’s glory nor become gods at any time (Isa. 42:8). Such a teaching is a lie of the serpent.

4. Lucifer’s brother

And the Lord God, spake unto Moses saying: “That Satan, whom thou has commanded … came before me, saying – Behold, here I am, send me. I will be honor. But behold, my Beloved Son which was my beloved and Chosen from the beginning, said unto me – Father, thy will be done, and the glory be thine forever.” (Pearl of Great Price, Moses, 4:1-2)

Mormons believe Jesus and Lucifer were among the spirit children born by God, but Lucifer rebelled when God accepted Jesus’ salvation plan and rejected his.

However, the Bible says of Christ: “For by him all things were created” (Col. 1:16). Lucifer was one of the angels created by Christ and is not on equal footing with Him let alone be His “spirit brother” as LDS teach.

Jesus Christ, who is the exact image of the Father, has received an excellent name above angels.

5. The Polygamist Christ

“Jesus Christ was married at Cana at Galilee, that Mary, Martha, and others were his wives, and that he begat children.” (Journal of Discourses 2:210)

The Scriptures says that He, the Lord, came walking in the Temple, with His train; I do not know who they were unless His wives and children.” (J of D, 13:309)

The plan of God has been that the Saviour should become man, not to have physical children, but to produce godly seeds – sons of God – on earth by new birth and sanctification (Heb. 2:10-12).

But the Christ of Mormonism couldn’t even be Lord unless he was married! That’s not the Jesus of the Bible but an attempt to tailor Jesus in the image of Joseph Smith who was a polygamist.

Jesus is spiritually married to His church – His people. “I promised you to one husband, to Christ, so that I might present you as a pure virgin to him” (2 Cor. 11:2).

He illustrated this with a parable in Matthew 25:1-10 and there is the “wedding Supper of the Lamb” at His second coming (Rev. 19:6).

6. Atonement in Gethsemane

And lo, he shall suffer temptations, and pain of body, hunger, thirst, and fatigue, even more than man can suffer, except it to be unto death; for behold, blood cometh from every pore, so great shall be his anguish for the wickedness and the abominations of his people” (Mosiah 3:7)

“[Jesus] took his apostles into a garden called Gethsemane where he subsequently began to pray, and being in great agony he bled at every pore. Thus did he assume the burden of men’s sins” (The Life and Teachings of Jesus and His Apostles, 1979, 170-76).

In other words, the Mormon Jesus paid the price for the sins of mankind by suffering at the garden of Gethsemane and not by His death at the cross. This is a defective view of the atonement that ignores and rejects several plain passages of Scripture.

One, the wages of sin is death, not “great agony” or “anguish” (Ezk. 18:20; Rom. 3:23).

Two, one of the Messianic prophecies is that Christ will be “pierced” hands and feet (Ps. 22:16) and “cut off from the land of the living” (Is. 53:8). The events culminating in Christ’s crucifixion are fulfillment of Bible prophecy.

Note this carefully the next time a LDS claims they “believe that Jesus of Nazareth … is the fulfillment of those prophecies.” By denying His sacrifice at the cross, they have embraced a false gospel.

Christ was made sin for us and bore it in His body on the cross and died there (2 Cor. 5:21; 1Pet. 2:24). Just as the spotless lamb was killed during the Jewish Passover, He is the Lamb of God who took away the sins of the world (Jn. 1:30).

Through His death on the cross, redemption – purchase from the marketplace of sin and death – was made possible (1 Cor. 6:20). Through it, reconciliation and propitiation for man’s sins was achieved.

Without the cross of Christ there is no redemption, no forgiveness and no salvation. Consequently, Mormonism is a doomed ship taking millions to a Christless eternity.

7. A Rejection of the Blood of Jesus

It is true that the blood of the Son of God was shed for sins through the fall and those committed by men, yet men can commit sins which it [the blood of Christ] can never remit.” (Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses 4:54)

“…We may talk of men being redeemed by the efficacy of his [Christ’s] blood, but the truth is that that blood has no efficacy to wash away our sins. That must depend upon our own action” (Apostle Amasa Lyman, J of D 7:299).

This is simply the next logical step from a defective atonement.

If “the blood of Jesus…purifies us from all sin” and Jesus has “provided purification for sins,” there is no reason to claim that we can somehow add to its efficacy (1 Jn. 1:7; Heb. 1:3).

There is no amount of human action that can purge man from his sins. Conclusively, the “Jesus” of the LDS is not the Jesus revealed in the Bible.