Posts Tagged ‘the savior’

Christ the Creator

Christ the Creator: the Deity of Christ Displayed


© C. O. Bishop 2011

Introduction:

One of the themes of the Bible that is universally rejected by the cults, and perhaps not even well understood by believers, is the question of the Deity of Christ. Some cults have gone so far as to wrongly “re-translate” the whole Bible, trying to eliminate that doctrine from the scriptures. But, even in that deliberate mistranslation, we can demonstrate the deity of Christ. The fact is that the scriptures are so permeated with the Deity of the Messiah that it is impossible to eradicate the doctrine without simply destroying the Bible.

The Word

The Word was and is Godand He is the SonJesus Christ

John 1:1 says the Word was God. That is a key verse, but by no means the only one. Notice that it does not say the Word was a god. There is at least one cult who teaches that that is what is said here. But the deity of Christ is on display throughout the Gospel of John in particular, and is demonstrated throughout the Bible. John goes on to state that the Word is specifically the creator: John 1:3 says he made all things, without exception—all created things are his handiwork. In case we forget who “The Word” really is, John 1:14 says that the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and that we beheld his glory, the glory of the only begotten of the Father. (This means the only begotten Son of God, in case anyone missed it.) John 1:17 names him…it is Jesus Christ.

We have trouble with this concept because it involves the doctrine of the Trinity. I have become convinced over the years that, though we do have all the facts concerning the Trinity, we fall short of understanding the concept. How can three be one…or one be three? There is no question that this is the correct teaching—it is repeated throughout the scriptures. Ironically, even when the scripture is proclaiming the unity of God (Deuteronomy 6:4), the word used for God is “Elohim”—a plural noun, indicating three (Hebrew has singular, dual and plural nouns). When we get as far as Isaiah 9:6, 7 where the promise of the Messiah is repeated, it specifically states that the promised SON shall be called “the everlasting Father”. At that point, remembering that Jesus repeatedly stated that the Father was greater than He, one has two choices: either accept the doctrine as a Divine paradox, to be accepted, but not necessarily understood, or, barring that, to reject it as a contradiction, since we can’t see a way to reconcile the two statements. Unbelievers choke on the mystery and abandon faith. Believers savor the mystery, recognize joyfully that the God of the Universe is certainly going to exceed the understanding of man, and their faith is deepened.

The Word—the Son— is the Creator

Some try to take the doctrine piecemeal, saying that, yes, the Word was God, but that the Father did all the creating through the Son, and that the Son is NOT the Creator. At some point one has to admit that they are splitting hairs, but this one is pretty clear– Hebrews 1:10 states that the heaven and earth are the handiwork of the Son—and it is God the Father speaking to God the Son, confirming that the creative work was his.

Hebrews 11:3 states that the Word of God created the worlds. (I don’t know the significance of the plural, there, unless it is simply recognizing all the heavenly bodies as worlds. Possibly it is a veiled reference to the fact that he also will create the new world that is coming. Remember that the Creator lives outside of Time and Space, so He establishes the eternal “Now.” He could refer to the New Heaven and New Earth in past tense, though, for us, it has not yet happened.)

Colossians 1:16, 17 states that all things were made by him and for him, and that they are, in fact, held together by him. It seems to me that we must guard against limiting any member of the Godhead. In Acts 20:28, the Ephesians elders are given a final commission, and in the midst of it, the statement is made that they are to “…shepherd the Flock of God, which He purchased with His own blood.” There is no mention of the Son in that passage. You can either violate the scripture by adding the Son into it, or accept that it is clear teaching of the trinity—that the Godhead is not divided—that God truly died on the Cross. (Let that one sink in!)

The Word of God is the King of Kings

Jesus stated that ALL authority had been given to him in heaven and earth. (Matthew 28:19) I think we tend to not always believe it when God says “all”— we modify it in our own minds, and make it “most”. Jesus possesses all authority.

Revelation 19:11-16 shows us the returning King, whose name is “The Word of God”…and who holds the title, “King of Kings and Lord of Lords”  We are given a panoramic view of the whole spectrum of time, in the Bible. Not only do we see the workings of God from the creation, we see his continuance after the end of time, and we are given hints as to his work before time began. Revelation 13:8 says he is the Lamb slain from the foundation of the earth. Jesus referred to the “glory he had with the father before the World began.”

Aswe already observed, Isaiah 9:6, 7 states that the Son shall be called The Mighty God, and The Everlasting Father. This is a hard idea to grasp, and I suspect that the Israelites simply brushed over it as un-knowable. I can understand that reaction, as, essentially, that is what I am also forced to do. But they rejected the Deity of the Messiah, when He came. They denied his authority to forgive sin.  In a way, they were logically required to do so, as only the offended party can extend forgiveness. If he is not God, he cannot forgive sins.

Jesus Forgave Sins…which only God can do!

Remember that our sins are an offense to God. (Psalm 51:4) Whenever we sin, we point our fingers in the face of the Eternal God of all time and space, and declare ourselves to be master, thus denying his sovereignty. This is what happens every time we sin, whether we recognize it or not. Whether it is a “big sin”, or a “little sin”, we declare ourselves to be God. We determine that WE are the managers of our lives and that we will do as we please. There is only room for one sovereign, and we declare ourselves to be that sovereign ruler in our little sphere. Thus, God is the offended party—we have usurped his authority, and rebelled against the throne of God.

Please turn to Mark 2:1-12 (read it). When Jesus looked at the paralytic man who had been lowered through the roof, and said “thy sins are forgiven”, the Pharisees were offended, saying, “Who can forgive sins except God alone?” And they were right! So Jesus posed the question, “Which is easier to say—‘Your sins are forgiven’ or ‘Rise up and walk’?” Obviously the first statement could be cheap talk…just empty words. When a mere man makes that statement (and the priests of many religions do so), it is just empty words. Men have no such authority, but there is no outward result to determine whether the forgiveness actually took place. The second phrase, however, demands an immediate, visible, physical result. Jesus asked which statement was more demanding of the speaker. The Pharisees wouldn’t answer, so he said to the paralytic man, “Take up your bed and go home.” And the man obeyed. The point was to prove that Jesus had the authority to forgive sins. He did not deny that only God can forgive them. He simply proved that he was God.

The Visible, Speaking God in the Old Testament

Throughout the Old Testament, an individual called “the angel of the LORD” frequently appeared. We are not going to read them all right now, but in every case he was subsequently revealed to be the LORD, himself…Jehovah, Yahweh…in visible, physical form. You probably remember some of these accounts:

  • He wrestled with one guy (Jacob), and ended up having to dislocate his hip in order to finally subdue the man. Jacob limped, throughout the rest of his life, as a result of that encounter.
  • Abraham met with three men on the road, at Mamre…and all it says is that The LORD appeared to Abraham… physically. He ate the bread, and beef and milk that Abraham served him…he and the two angels he brought along. He appeared as a physical human being: a man.
  •  (Jeremiah 1:4, 5) (turn there) Jeremiah was spoken to by the LORD, who claimed to have created him…forming him in his mother’s womb, and knowing him before the fact…and choosing him for the task at hand.

So what is unusual about all these appearances? Perhaps just the fact that when Moses asked to see the LORD face to face (Exodus 33:20), he was told “…no man shall see my face and live….” Evidently Moses was talking to God the Father…why? Because John 1:18 agrees, saying, “No man has seen God at any time, but the only begotten son, who is in the bosom of the Father, he has declared him.”

Now; either God’s Word is really inspired or it isn’t. Either John 1:18 is true, and “No man has seen God [the Father] at any time,” or it isn’t true. Since it is true, we can deduce that the person talking to Jeremiah (who is the same one, by the way, as the person who showed up and wrestled with Jacob, talked with Abraham, etc.) must be the Lord Jesus in his pre-incarnate ministry. The Son, the living Word, has been the “spokesman” of the Godhead from the beginning…and the Creator. So the one talking to Jeremiah is the Son, and he says “I made you!” (…and then proceeds to give Jeremiah his marching orders.) The Creator has the authority to order his creation!

Does it really matter?

How should we respond to this information? Does it matter that Jesus was really the creator in the flesh? How would it change things if we saw that Jesus, that man walking the dusty roads of Palestine, 2000 years past, was actually the creator of every molecule of the dust he walked on, as well as the creator of the men who eventually crucified him?

In Romans 12:1-3, Paul has some things to say about that question (read it): he begs us to choose wisely and to present our bodies as living sacrifices to God.  If we are created by Christ, and have become a part of the Body of Christ, does it not follow that we should behave appropriately? That we should willingly present ourselves as the tools for his hands, the vessels for his Grace and Love?

2 Corinthians 5:18-20 (read it) states that we have been made ministers (servants) of Christ, and ambassadors for God, with the assigned task of reconciling to Him a lost World. How can that happen if we don’t treat him as the Savior, the Master, and the Blessed Creator?

In John 5:23 Jesus states that we are to honor the Son in the same manner as the Father—and that, if we do not, we are not honoring the Father. What would that look like, “honoring Jesus in the same way as the Father?” How do we tend to think of God the Father? Ultimate authority? Judge of all the earth? Omnipresent, omnipotent master of all the universe? Well, Jesus said (John 5:22) that the Father was NOT judging anyone, but that He had committed all judgment to the Son, so that all men would honor the Son even as they honor the Father—and that if they do not honor the Son, they do not honor the Father who sent him. Beyond that, yes, all of the above is true of the Father—and the Son. But Jesus is the “Judge of all the earth.” (Genesis 18:25)

I would suggest that most humans, even believers, have had a difficult time seeing Jesus as the Creator. Some flatly deny it; some hesitantly agree, but are unsure how it can be so. Some agree whole-heartedly, but still are unrealistic as to what it means. The fact is that we have known Jesus through the eyes of the flesh—we have seen him as a man, and we can’t shake that image. In a way, that is good: Jesus is eternally the God-man—fully God, fully Man. But we have a problem with the “God” part of the picture. I think the Lord understands that. He chided Philip (John 14:8, ff) over that very issue when Philip asked that the disciples might see the Father. He said “Philip, have you been with me so long and yet you do not know me? If you have seen me, you have seen the Father!” Somehow, I suspect even that profound statement failed to fully explain to Philip (or most anyone else) how the Son can be the Father. As I mentioned earlier, the Trinity seems to be beyond our grasp…which is as it should be. He is God…we are humans. And yet, something needs to change. Jesus calls on us to see him through the eyes of faith.

2nd Corinthians 5:16 says, “Wherefore, henceforth, know we no man after the flesh: yea, though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet now, henceforth know we Him no more.”

So: what must we change?  

  1. We must confess that, in the past, at least, we have primarily seen Jesus through the eyes of the world, as a mere man, possibly even mythological; or through the eyes of religion, as a demigod, a lesser deity, or a “great Spiritual being”, or a prophet, or perhaps just a great teacher, and an example to live by, but not as The Creator. We have essentially “known Christ after the flesh”. Even when we confess that he is “God in the flesh,” we have not really seen him that way. We still tend to think of him in his humanity.
  • We must consider how one should behave toward the real, eternal God of the real, visible (and invisible) Universe. Consider the difference, if you will, between how the disciples saw Jesus when he was in the bottom of the boat, asleep, and how they saw Him, minutes later, when he had arisen to calm the storm. (Turn to Mark 4:35-41…read it.) Before they awakened Him, they were terribly afraid of the storm: they thought they were going to be drowned. Afterward, they were even more afraid of Him, when they recognized His Deity. Perhaps we could use a good dose of that Godly fear, today. Perhaps that is why Psalm 111:10 states that “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of Wisdom.” And Psalm 19:9 says that “The Fear of the LORD is clean, enduring Forever.” No one who has truly seen the Lord in His glory has ever treated Him as a mere human afterward.
  • We must confirm His deity by our attitudes and behavior, stepping beyond the casual, familiar, back-slapping, “hail-fellow-well-met” attitude we too frequently seem to apply to Jesus Christ, and start seeing Him as God in the Flesh. Immanuel. God with us. We need to recognize His true authority, and seek to obey Him in all things. He’s not our “buddy”…He is our master.

These are the things that have to change. And, may God help us to do so quickly, as the time is growing short.

Lord Jesus, awaken in us a spirit of worship, and obedience, so that we continually treat you as the Holy God of the universe, not just a distant, powerful ally, and a friend in time of need. Allow us to redeem the time we have left, and apply it to eternity.


The Credentials of Christ

The Credentials of Christ

© C. O. Bishop 7/12/2018 Cornell Estates 7/15/18

Colossians 1:15-23

Introduction: Concerning Believers

Last time we saw a long list of things that are true of every believer, regardless of how we are feeling or how we are functioning at the moment: they are true, unconditionally. They are based entirely upon our position in Christ, not our condition as believers. Thus, they are positional truths, not conditional truths.

All of the following are true of all believers, because we are in Christ:

  • He has made us fit (that is what “meet” means in old English) to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light (past tense.)
  • He has delivered us from the power (Greek exousia) of darkness (past tense.)
  • He has translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son (past tense.)
  • We have redemption through His blood (present tense.)
  • We have forgiveness of sins (present tense.)

Notice that none of the above list is just a potentially true statement. There are no qualifiers. There is nothing to detract from the full weight of the statement regarding our position in Christ!

Paul listed these truths (amongst others listed elsewhere) so that the believers can be secure in their faith, not wallowing in fear that the Savior will abandon them because of their own failures.

Concerning Jesus

Then he lists some things that are true of Jesus; these are the Credentials of Christ. All are describing who and what He is:

15 Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature:
16 For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him:
17 And he is before all things, and by him all things consist.
18 And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence.
19 For it pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell;
20 And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven.
21 And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled
22 In the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight:

Regarding Jesus, Paul says that:

  • He is the image of the invisible God. (In John 14:9, Jesus himself confirmed this, saying, “he that hath seen me hath seen the father!”, and in Hebrews 1:3, he is called out as the express image of the person of God.) I once thought he was simply saying that he was “just like” the Father. Then I read Isaiah 9:6, and I saw that the promised Son was to be called “the Everlasting Father!” At that point I gave up trying to bring the Trinity down to a level where I could understand it, and I simply accepted the fact that he who has seen the Son, has literally seen the Father!
  • He is the firstborn (eldest—the heir) of every creature (that is His “position”…not suggesting that He is a created being.) In Hebrews 2:11-13, Jesus introduces himself as the eldest of many brethren, referring to all believers, but especially the church-age believers. His eternal position in the Godhead, as God the Son, is not changing, nor are we becoming “gods” of any sort, but he has elevated us to sit in the throne with Him. This is utterly astounding to me.
  • He is the Creator! The Creator of all things, in Heaven and in Earth, visible and invisible, including the angelic beings of every kind…everything! (This is confirmed by God the Father, in Hebrews 1:10, saying, “And thou, Lord, in the beginning, hast laid the foundations of the Earth, and the Heavens are the works of thine hands.” John 1:3 says “All things were made by Him, and without him was not anything made that was made.)
  • He is preeminent above all things (Confirmed in Hebrews 1:8-12, among others.) One place where we could see His preeminence, is in John 1:1, 14 “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God…And the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us, (and we beheld His glory, the glory of the only begotten of the Father) full of Grace and Truth!”
  • He is the sustainer of all things…meaning, literally, that through Him all things “hold together.” Has it ever occurred to you to wonder what would happen if he just “let go?” He says that he is the one holding the universe together. And in 2nd Peter 3:10, he says that, at the end, the heavens and the earth will “pass away with a fervent heat and a great noise.” (Yeah, that might be an understatement!)
  • He is the Head of the Body which is the Church. This is a relational statement, from one perspective, but he also is using the human body as an object lesson. Over in 1st Corinthians 12, he uses it as an example, too, regarding the gifts; pointing out how each part of the body has a function, but that all are subject to the head. Many times in the New Testament, Paul points to Jesus as the Head, of whom we are the Body.
  • He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in ALL things He might have preeminence. Jesus is the first real resurrection…not just reviving the old body still as a mortal body, but raising the body immortal, never to die again, never to suffer any sickness or distress. We can count His resurrection as the guarantee of our own, since God says that we have not only been resurrected with him, but have ascended and are already seated with Him in Heaven. (Ephesians 2:6)
  • He is the physical embodiment of the entire Trinity. (see Colossians 2:9) There are numerous passages that demonstrate this fact. (For example, in John 14:16-23, he says that the entire Trinity will actually indwell the believer, in the person of the Holy Spirit, while in another passage we are told that it is Christ who lives in us. So the Trinity, while existing eternally as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, is not split into three separate parts. This verse alludes to the completeness of the Godhead in Christ, but in the next chapter (2:9) he spells it out clearly: “In Him dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead, bodily.

The Results:

Finally, Paul goes on to say that:

  • Jesus made peace (already) between us (we who are sinners) and the Holy God (absolutely separate from sin and whom we now serve) through His blood at the Cross. This passage is parallel to the passage in Ephesians 2:14. “He is our Peace, who hath made both one and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us.” (Thus abolishing the partition between Jews and Gentiles, creating something new: the Church!)
  • He did so to reconcile all things to Himself, both in Heaven and in Earth. It is interesting and important to note that God is not reconciled to sinners: sinners are reconciled to God. Our assignment, as His ambassadors, is to serve in such a way that He can reconcile the World to Himself through (2nd Corinthians 5:18-20) That is our job, as His ambassadors. Jesus said that we were to reflect His light and His love in such a way that those around us would see our good works and Glorify the Father…not us.
  • We, the Church, though we were once alienated and enemies in our minds (see Ephesians 2:11-13), through our own wicked works (compare Ephesians 2:2, 3), have already been reconciled to Him through his flesh (2nd Corinthians 5:18), so that
  • We are now presented holy, and unblameable and unreproveable in His sight. (See 2nd Corinthians 5:21; we have been made the righteousness of God in Him.)

What an amazing series of statements! Both the statements of our eternal position in and with Christ, and the supreme eternal status of the Son of God are mind-boggling!

I remember, as a new believer, thinking of Jesus in his human appearance, and having difficulty imagining him to be God in the flesh. (How could he be so exalted?)

But it would have been even more appropriate for me to have taken, as simple fact, the Deity of Christ, and the fact that he is the Creator, and the Eternal Master of the Universe (and beyond,) and then try to imagine how it was possible to condense him down to such a size and shape that we could relate to Him at all.

And yet, that is exactly what He did. He chose to become a human baby, grow up experiencing all the hardships of a life in poverty, in a nation enslaved to Rome, and to finally subject himself to being abused and tortured to death by his own creation. (How could He be so humble?) And why would he voluntarily undergo such monstrous and undeserved shame and agony? We are left to either accept the facts of the Gospel, and embrace the blood of the Cross as our only hope, or to reject it, for whatever excuse we may choose to entertain, and be left to our own devices…lost, without Christ.

Conclusion

23 If ye continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel, which ye have heard, and which was preached to every creature which is under heaven; whereof I Paul am made a minister;

The “If” in this verse is not questioning whether the readers are really believers, nor whether they will, in fact, continue in the faith. The truths he has just proclaimed are absolutely, eternally true of every believer, whether they continue to walk with God or not. (Witness Abraham and Lot: both were saved by faith, and God later confirmed that Lot was still saved, but Abraham lived in such a way as to usually receive the benefit of walking with God, while Lot did not.)

The fact is that the privileges of a relationship with God are not particularly useful when we wander astray from Christ (and Abraham had some times like that, just as David and others did;) for all practical purposes, during that time, we are living as if there were no relationship.

Yes, I am a child of God, and a “sheep of his pasture,” as the Psalmist says, but the sheep are in grave danger when they are away from the Shepherd. He will not lose us, but we can be attacked by the enemy, and wounded, and drawn into deep trouble, as was Samson. Remember that Samson served his own desires much of the time, and as a result, he ended up literally blinded, and working for the enemy. We can end up spiritually blinded by the World and our own sin, and working for our eternal enemy, Satan, because of bitterness and hard-hearted unbelief.

Don’t allow yourself to be “moved away” from the centrality of Christ. Don’t lose sight of the Hope and Security in the simplicity of the Gospel.

Notice that Paul claimed to have been made a minister of the Gospel. Consider this: the word “minister” just means “servant”. Every one of us who has trusted in Christ for salvation, have also been made a minister of the Gospel: a servant of the Person of the Gospel, the Lord Jesus.

If you are a born-again believer, you have become a servant of the Gospel, as well, and you have a responsibility to live in that reality. Pray for opportunities to serve, especially for opportunities to share that good news with others.

Sometimes the opportunity comes unexpectedly. I had a co-worker explain why he was living with a woman and not getting married, by saying, “Because I don’t believe in Christianity, or organized religion of any sort, and I don’t believe in marriage.” But, over the next fifteen minutes or so, I was able to comfortably share with him the central theme of the Bible, who is the person of Christ, and to assure him that God is not particularly a fan of “organized religion” either. (Who were Jesus’s worst opponents on earth? The priests!) I don’t know how he will respond, ultimately, but he went away understanding the Gospel, and I was grateful for the opportunity to have served!

Lord Jesus, open our eyes to our role as ambassadors, permanently linked to you as servants of the Gospel. Fill us with your grace and help us to reach the lost around us with Your love.