The Deity of Christ
The word God is one of the Spirit’s designations for the divine nature. Under the figure of the synecdoche, where a part is made to stand for the whole, or the whole for a part, the word Godis used to designate each of the divine Persons constituting deity; and, while there is but one God—one divine nature—the Scriptures clearly teach that there are three distinct personalities possessing this nature. The Father is called God (John 3:16), the Son is called God (John 1:1), the Holy Spirit is called God (Acts 5:3, 4). In these instances, the word God, the name of the divine nature, is severally applied to each part, under the figure above designated, though there is but one divine nature; hence, but one God (Deuteronomy 6:4).
Thus, when reference is made to “the deity of Christ,” it is meant that Christ possess the divine nature; that He is a part of the godhead; and that He is, therefore, GOD. And, inasmuch as divine attributes are ascribed to each of the persons of the godhead it is entirely correct and in order to refer to them as God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit, the three constituting the one God.
The books of the Gospels were written, in large measure to prove the deity of Jesus (John 20:30-31), and other Scripture abounds with evidences to this end. Because of necessary limitations of space, we can do no more than suggest, in barest outline, the vast scope of this evidential material, any one division of which is sufficient to lead reasonable minds to accept, without doubt, His deity: (1) His pre-existence, by which it is meant that he existed before creation, and is thus eternal (John 1:1). (2) His possession of all of the divine attributes, which could never be exhibited by a mere creature (Revelation 1:5; 1 Timothy 1:1). (3) His acceptance of divine titles wholly improper for ordinary mortals (John 10:36; Philippians 2:5-8). (4) His absolutely perfect and sinless life among men; His fulfillment of all of the Messianic predictions of the Old Testament; His remarkable miracles, and His triumphant resurrection from the dead (Romans 1:4). Those who knew Him best, on Earth, bore similar testimony to His unique character: and, His enemies, unable to deny the reality of His supernatural acts, conceded they were superhuman, and attributed them to the devil!
Those who are disposed to discount the testimony of inspiration touching our Lord’s nature, must account, in some fashion, for historic proofs which everywhere abound. That such a man as our Lord lived no knowledgeable person today denies. The Roman writers Tacitus, Suetonius, and Pliny all bear witness to this fact. That He was crucified on a cross by order of Pilate is likewise by all admitted. Thus secular history establishes the fact that Jesus of Nazareth both lived and died. To this point, there is agreement between believers and unbelievers. Deposited in a borrowed tomb in old Jerusalem was the body of a man who all—enemies and friends alike—believed had disappeared forevermore from the Earth. The disciples, dull of mind, and unable to comprehend the Lord’s teaching, believed they would see His face no more, and His enemies rejoiced in this concept. Yet, a movement, destined to shake the Earth in a few short years, was to come forth from that tomb. How?
There was about Him none of those aids and agencies usually regarded as essential to success in the world of men. As House, in His magnificent work, Can It Be False? so ably asserts, “He formulated no creed, he left no Koran behind him. He came into the world to establish a kingdom which he called the kingdom of heaven. He disclaimed as unworthy, and discarded as unsuited to his purpose, all the means and methods and appliances by which other men had established kingdoms and founded empires. No sword was drawn in his behalf save the one the impetuous Peter drew in the garden, and which he was commanded by the Master to sheathe and never again take from its scabbard."
“Was it the blind man to whom he had given sight? Was it the paralytic through whose shriveled veins the ruby currents of life had poured at his command? Was it the miserable leper he had cleansed? Was it Peter and his fellow-fisherman? Was it the poor and humble among whom he had moved and with whom he had associated all his life? Are these the builders of kingdoms and the founders of empires? Yet the kingdom was established. It rises today, after the lapse of nearly nineteen hundred years, in grand and magnificent proportions—the wonder of the world and the hope and refuge of millions.”
To continue with House, “A humble peasant reared amid the sequestered hills of Nazareth, in an obscurity so dense and a seclusion so deep that no one knew of him save his daily associates of the same lowly rank and fortune, established a kingdom in the world that has outlived the fall of dynasties and the decay of empires. His only herald was the rugged Baptist, with his raiment of camel’s hair, as he lifted the trumpet of repentance on the banks of the Jordan. And when, for his fearless reproof of sin and his bold proclamation of the truth, John was thrown into prison, and from its depressing gloom sent his disciples to Jesus to knew if he was really the Messiah or whether the Messiah was still to come, the following was the answer he received: ‘Go and show John again those things which ye do hear and see: the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the poor have the gospel preached to them.’ The lame, the blind, the deaf, the leper, the dead, the poor, the lowly! Did one ever before, proposing to found a kingdom put such an army into the field to achieve a conquest and establish his dominion?
Where is Rome now? The very eagles have faded from her ensigns, and her name stands inscribed on the broken column that records the downfall of empires. And where is the humble Captain that led his little band of lowly followers over the hills of Judea and by the Sea of Galilee—a sad , homeless wanderer on Earth—where the foxes had holes and the birds of the air had nests, but where he had no place to call his own on which to lay his head? He lives in millions of human hearts with the undecaying vigor of an immortal life, and the sun sets not on all the lands that contain his worshippers! He came to establish a kingdom, but the seat of empire was the human heart. It was not of this world, and to this world belongs none of the glory of the achievement. Her rulers and potentates threw him not even a word of encouragement in his struggles, her armies furnished him not a soldier, her treasuries not a dollar, her arsenals not a weapon, and her priests not a prayer! He bore the burden of her scorn while he lived, and she contributed a cross and a crown of thorns to decorate the ignominious death to which she consigned him.
Born in obscurity so dense, and moving on a plane so humble and unambitious that the literature of his day did not deem his birth or his life worthy of the most casual mention, his name stands today the foremost in all history for the results achieved as well as the manner of their achievement. Far in advance of all other men who have ever lived in the mighty influences that he put in motion to sway the world and shape the destinies of men, he threw aside as unworthy to be utilized all the appliances and methods by which others had gained an ascendancy over their fellows and won the chaplet of renown. Everywhere and upon all occasions he utterly refused to countenance, either by word or action, any idea or suggestion of political power for himself. He flattered no man’s vanity or ambition or cupidity to induce him to enlist under his banner. At no time, under no circumstances did he ever hold out to any man, high or low, Jew or Gentile, any promise or prospect or hope of earthly preferment or distinction to induce him to become his disciple. On the contrary, when men came to him voluntarily and proposed to follow him, it seems as if he would discourage them from doing so. He gave them to understand clearly and unmistakably that he had no lands or houses or money or lucrative positions to bestow, and if their object in seeking to ally their fortunes with him was to better their worldly condition, he had no hope or promise or prospect to hold out in that direction. . . . His is a living, direct message to the hungry heart, which he himself proposes to feed and satisfy. Millions have tested his promise and declared it true. All along the march of the ages hungry hearts have received from his hand the bread of life and been satisfied. His religion still reigns a living power in the human soul. It carries within itself the ability to demonstrate its truth to the conscious satisfaction of every heart that will open its doors to receive it. “Behold, I stand at the door and knock: if any man hear my voice and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.”
Only a God-Man could properly make such a promise; or, having made it, enable it to be realized. Such is the Christ we worship!
Guy N. Woods
Gospel Advocate (61.4)
23 January 1969, pp. 66-67