Thursday, October 14, 2010

Jesus = God

When Jesus Christ died on the cross, it wasn't just a man dying on the cross, it was God the Son, God in the flesh Himself, dying on the cross and paying the price for you and I. As the bible puts it, He became sin, not that He sinned, but that He became the very thing that has made us blemished and dirty. He became the thing that causes you to feel shame, He didn't become dirty, He became dirt itself and He did that so that we would have a way into the presence of the Father. He was our harbinger, our forerunner (Heb 6:20) who allows us access to the Father behind the veil. The only thing left is for us to tear the veils of our hearts so that we would see Him this way.

Based on the above statement, it becomes clear there is something crucial to our view of Christ if we are ever to see Him the way He truly is. Jesus is God. If Jesus were not God, then the death on the cross loses magnitude. If Jesus was just a mere man created by God then His death loses weight, but if Jesus is God and Jesus became sin, and Jesus was separated from His Father, a person whom He was one with for eternity, then the separation itself becomes huge and the sacrifice becomes so much more than some lunatic dying on a cross for something He conjured up in His sleep. I say this because this is how many people see Christ. It is important we come to grips with this reality, because Christianity is the only faith which humiliates its very Creator to the point of becoming a man and being subjected to what was considered the most humiliating death to date.

Understand something about crucifixion, the bible is clear on just how humiliating and horrible it is: Deut 21:22 “If a man has committed a sin deserving of death, and he is put to death, and you hang him on a tree, 23 his body shall not remain overnight on the tree, but you shall surely bury him that day, so that you do not defile the land which the LORD your God is giving you as an inheritance; for he who is hanged is accursed of God." The word accursed here in the hebrew means to despised, held in contempt, vile. So consider then that the Son of Man became this before God when He was crucified. Now if Jesus is God, imagine how much more this means. Jesus is in fact God, and while many might say that the bible says otherwise, it is clear they haven't read scripture.

While I'm not a scholar nor anything outside of a mere man, I am going to do my best to show you guys some scripture to affirm to you He is God. Am I going to attempt to explain to you how it works, no. I don't understand it, I just know it exists and while I may not understand it, I must accept it.

To start, the concept of the trinity isn't something foreign and while the following example isn't an end all to the argument, it does put into the perspective the idea of a trinity in our everyday lives. All of us have love. It is built into everyone and whatever it's type, love is itself a tri-union, how so? Well consider this, in order to have love, you need three things: A Lover, Someone to Love, and the Spirit of Love itself. If I take away any of the three things, love does not exist. The three are themselves separate from one another, however, the three together make one of the most beautiful things a human could ever experience. Love is itself a tri-union. If I remove the spirit of love, I just have two people. If I take away the lover, then all I have is love and a person to love, but no love from another. You can also look at the number 1. When we talk trinity, we aren't saying 1+1+1 = 3, what we are saying is 1x1x1 = 1 or 1 to the third power. While again this doesn't solve the issue our brains will never comprehend, it does put into the light the idea that it isn't something foreign. Keep in mind though that the trinity is not a contradictory concept. Many times people believe that we claim that there are both 3 Gods and 1 God, that isn't what we are saying. When I speak of God as 3 in 1, I mean that God is 3 persons who are of one nature or essence, no contradiction in that at all, like I said, kinda like the idea of love.

Now lets look at a few biblical examples of Jesus being God and then tackle some of the contradictions people bring up. I encourage anyone who reads this to bring up contradictions or issues I don't talk about. Due to my limit of time as well as yours, I am going to do my best to keep to the point, however, sorry if this one rolls for a while, I really love this topic, after all He is my Savior and I want Him to be seen for who He truly is, God.

In Zech 12:10, we have God speaking to His people. We know it is God because in verse one it was the word of the LORD that came to Zechariah. The word LORD here is Yehovah, which is the singular reference to the one true God. So this is a singular reference. Skipping down to verse 10, lets see what God is saying: 10 “And I will pour on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem the Spirit of grace and supplication; then they will look on Me whom they pierced. Yes, they will mourn for Him as one mourns for his only son, and grieve for Him as one grieves for a firstborn." How does one pierce God? The word pierce here is the Hebrew word which means to thrust through. Its use is found elsewhere to describe David wishing to thrust his sword through Saul, also used to describe an army of soldiers wounded by the Chaldeans in battle and so on. Clearly, the word used here is a physical wounding, but how do we physically wound God who is spirit unless of course He becomes flesh?

To run with this, let's now look at John 1:1, in the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Jumping down to verse 14, we then see the Word became flesh and dwelt among us. Now flesh is definitely something that can be pierced, whereas there is no way to physically pierce spirit. Bringing this together, we turn to John 19:37 and here we see that the piercing of Jesus' side by the centurion was what John said was done in fulfillment of scripture and we then see the quote of Zech 12:10. It is obvious then that clearly Jesus is being referenced to as God, but do we have anything else to support it? Well in Colossians we see Paul tell us that Jesus or as Paul calls Him, "The Son of His Love" (Col 1:13), then goes on to call Him "The image of the invisible God" in verse 15. The word image here is the Greek word "eikon" which means "likeness, image, figure". In the verse, the Greek word is used to account for the divine nature and absolute moral excellence of Christ.

Acts 20:28 has something else I believe we can add, "Therefore take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood." The question then becomes how is it then that God shed His blood, more specifically, His OWN blood. More and more it becomes clear that there is something more to Jesus than Him just being a man. I mean, just look at the people who He came across and how they reacted to His claims. On several occasions, they picked up stones to stone Him, something that was only done for severe sins, of which included the sin of blasphemy. The problem here, is that if Jesus were to have sinned, then the whole sacrifice is lost and the bible is worthless. This not being the case, it becomes clear that what He was saying, while blasphemy to the untrained ear, was in fact, certainty to the man who knew the old testament for what it truly represented.

In Hebrews, a book that deserves its own year long study, we get a better idea of the significance behind Christ's sacrifice, His priesthood, His promise, His rest, His sanctuary, and His divinity, just to name a few. Specifically I want to home in on Heb 9:16 "For where there is a testament, there must also of necessity be the death of the testator." In today's world, if I made a last will and testament, your portion of the inheritance would only be yours after my death. Verse 17 goes to explain this very fact, "For a testament is in force after men are dead, since it has no power at all while the testator lives." The testament in reference here is that of the new covenant, the covenant that promises us the the remission of our sins, the promise of permanent rest in heaven, the promise of communion with God on a personal level. As it stands, that was a promise made by God to all man, Jeremiah 31:31-34. Now, if it is necessary then for the testator to die, then that would mean God must die, but how could He? This is where we bring in Jesus, God in the flesh, who is our Mediator, the ONLY Mediator between God and man (1 Tim 2:5).

Phil 2:6 Tells us that Jesus was in the form of God. The word form here in the Greek is the word "Morphe" which refers to how something strikes the vision of a person or the outward appearance of a thing. Many will claim that the language here suggests Jesus was in the form of God, but not God, however, it is clear from the original text, the word is in reference to outward appearance and not inward nature. Jesus again is the image of the invisible God, He is God in the flesh. Jesus is the "brightness of His glory" and the "express image of his person" (Heb 1:3). It is hard to grasp, seeing as in the same verse, it goes on to say that He sits at the right hand of the Father, however, they are equal, they are the same. Jesus was present in the beginning and before then. In Genesis 1:1, the word for God is the hebrew word eloyhim, which is God in the plural, it again is used in Gen 1:26 when God says "Let US make man in OUR image." Either God is skitso, or He isn't the only one present. We know from continuing in Colossians 1:17 tells us that He (the Son of His Love) was before all things and in Him all things were created. Couple that verse with Heb 3:4 "For every house is built by someone, but He who built all things is God" and you have one solid proof for His deity.

"Chris that is real nice, however, where does Jesus openly refer to Himself as God, because connecting the dots is fun and all, but show me where the guy said it." A lot of people claim that Jesus never explicitly says that He ever claims to be God, however, the pharisees seem to think otherwise. It is clear when reading John 5 and John 8:59 that the pharisees weren't exactly pleased with the statements Jesus was making. In on case they say He "makes Himself out to be God" or that He "makes Himself equal with God". Additionally, they all drew up stones to stone Him. According to the law, stoning was for specific sins, of which Christ was not committing. The only logical thing that they were accusing Him of, was the very thing which He ended up going to court and ultimately being crucified for, blasphemy. To them Christ was speaking blasphemy because of His claims of being God.

What a lot of us don't pick up on when reading the bible is Christ's reference to the Father in heaven. Notice that nowhere in the gospels does He say "our father" (obviously with the exception to the Lord's prayer, but even then, the statement is made as if it were being prayed by those who were asking Him how they ought pray, i.e. the disciples and His followers). This is significant in that He always makes a clear distinction between His relationship with God and ours. He always referred to God as "My Father" and to everyone else He would say "your Father". It becomes obvious once we read John 10:30 what is meant by the distinction. "I and the Father are one" The word one there is one nature or essence. So in effect, Christ, when He says "My Father" is saying, God is My Father by nature, He is your Father by adoption. The line is clearly drawn.

It makes sense then when we read John 5 and see what Jesus is really saying. The passage isn't saying that Jesus and God are unrelated, what it is saying is that Jesus cannot act outside of whatever the Father has, and that whatever it is He does, He does because it is the Father who does it. He isn't saying He is powerless without God, He is saying that Him and God are in such perfect unison that their actions are the same.

Ok Chris, those are nice, however, why did He pray to God? Why didn't He know the day or the hour? What's up with His being "begotten" and what gives with the whole idea of Him being a created being.

For the sake of time, I'll have to save that for another blog, but at least now we got something on the table to work with. More to come. But understand something about all this, while yes it is nice to know in my head, it is increasingly important that all that be transfered to my heart. Knowing all of this is one thing, but now to place this into action. If Jesus is really who He says He is, then their is one giant problem with every other belief out there, and the problem is the lack of redemption, the lack of salvation, and the ultimate lack of meaning or purpose. It is these problems that should drive us as Christians to want to share this with others and this can only take place once Jesus has become reality in our lives. See Jesus for who He really is, because after all, when He looks at you, He sees who it is you are in Him.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Here and there...

I think I have started about 6 different blogs in the past week, however, haven't been able to complete any of them. Either for lack of time or for lack of words I haven't been quite as active as I would like to be in writing. Seasons, as they say, come and go, and God tends to use each one to further our growth. What is interesting about seasons is that as we are going through them, we aren't quite sure the purpose for them, and often we easily lose heart in the midst of them. We quickly forget that Christ "conquered the world" for us on the cross.

I know for me I tend to over complicate the message of the bible. Surrounded by so many isms and schisms and everything in between, we quickly leave the simplicity of the gospel and often times fall into the trap of over complicating what Christ has made simple for us. If there is a character these days I can relate to more and more, it is Timothy. There is something Paul says to Timothy in the beginning of his first letter to him that caught my eye as I studied it.

1 Tim 1:15 This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief.

It is that simple. Christ came to save sinners. Paul later in his letter describes to Timothy the mystery behind this salvation. It is the perfect sum of the entire bible, all in one verse, (coincidently, I found it funny how the verse is 3:16, just like John 3:16...I'm not trying to get into the numerology of the bible, however, it is pretty cool).

1 Tim 3:16 And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifested in the flesh, Justified in the Spirit, Seen by angels, Preached among the Gentiles, Believed on in the world, Received up in glory.

It is the message of the bible summed up beautifully. And it is this message we ought preach. Whether it be through our deeds or our words, our lives must reflect the very thing we hold fast to. As a person who spends hours upon hours studying apologetics and looking into scriptures that cause problems amongst believers and unbelievers alike, I can easily lose sight of God and see Him as nothing more than something to be studied, which is a problem. "There have been men before now who got so interested in proving the existence of God that they came to care nothing for God if the good Lord had nothing to do but exist!" (CS Lewis).

What we have to remember as Christians, is before we even set foot in the battlefield, we need to check ourselves. The reason for which we are embarking on the journey needs to be determined before we head out, because if our intent is all wrong, it doesn't matter what content we bring with us, the end result won't be everything it could be. We need to keep the main thing, the main thing, Christ.

I have often said it to some but the purpose isn't about being right, it is about shedding light. At the end of the day, I don't want to win the battle of whits, to lose the war of souls. Our purpose in the great commission isn't to upset people with fancy words and well thought out arguments. It is to present the gospel to them by humbling ourselves and becoming what we must in order to speak to their hearts. To the Jew, be the Jew, to the Greek, be the Greek, to the wise, be wise, to the weak, be weak. Like Paul, become all things to all men so that some might be saved (1 Cor 9). This doesn't mean take on the things of this world, but it does mean don't think yourself better than anyone else (Phil 2:1-4, Gal 6:1-6) and certainly don't think someone is ever beyond the reach of God (Eze 37:3, Isaiah 59:1).

So what then? With all that being said, what is the first step. Well to start, understand that all of us are called to be ambassadors for Christ (2 Cor 5:20). "If I take 100 men, 1 of them will read the bible, the other 99 will read the Christian" D.L. Moody. As ambassadors our lives need to be in line with that of Christ, and seeing as Christ didn't see His equality with God as something to be selfishly held on to (Phil 2:6), we too shouldn't see our salvation and God given grace as something to simply be gripped for the sake of gripping. We ought open our hands and share with others that spring of living water Jesus speaks of in John 4.

Don't tell me you don't have the gift of evangelism. While it is true some of us excel more at a thing than others, this doesn't excuse anyone from the clear command God gave us all in Matt 28 through His Son. I don't want to hear the Moses type excuses, or the Jeremiah type excuses, and I certainly don't want any of us feeling like Timothy. (these things all are things I am guilty of and am still guilty of). God called all of us to be lighthouses on hills, salt on the earth, reflectors of His love. I am not saying you have to go out on Saturday nights and street evangelize, but I am saying that God tends to place people in our lives that need to see His love, and because we are present, we are the perfect candidates to do this, even more so when we don't think we can, because then it causes us in our weakness to rely on His strength, something He loves.

What good are parking lot lights in one parking lot? What good is a flashlight under a box? What good is unused knowledge? What good is an unread book? The pages of your life are being written, now it is time to let people read them. It is time we stop being spiritual fatties and begin exercising our salvation. Workout it out what Christ has worked in as Paul tells us in Phil 2:12.

Just remember: "Intent first, then content" (J.M. Njoroge)