The Deity of Jesus Christ
Jesus Christ is both God and man. He is the one God incarnate. “For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily” (Colossians 2:9). “God was in Christ, reconciling the world to Himself” (II Corinthians 5:19). “God was manifest in the flesh” (I Timothy 3:16). Jesus Christ is the image of the invisible God, our God and Savior, and the express image of God’s own person (substance). (See II Corinthians 4:4; Colossians 1:15; Titus 2:13; Hebrews 1:3; II Peter 1:1.) When the New Testament writers called Jesus God, they confessed Jesus to be God in the Old Testament sense. Jesus accepted Thomas’s confession of Him as “my Lord and my God” (John 20:28-29). He is not the incarnation of one person of a trinity but the incarnation of all the character, quality, and personality of the one God. As to His eternal deity, there can be no subordination of Jesus to anyone else, whether in essence or position.
Belief in Christ’s deity is essential to salvation. Jesus said, “If you do not believe that I am He, you will die in your sins,” making reference to God’s name of I Am (John 8:24, 58). Only if Jesus is truly God does He have power to save from sin, for only God is the Savior and only He can forgive sin (Isaiah 43:25; 45:21-22; Mark 2:7).
All names and titles of the Deity properly apply to Jesus. He is the one God and the one Lord (John 20:28; Acts 9:5). He is the Jehovah of the Old Testament. (See Exodus 3:6, 14 with John 8:56-58; Isaiah 45:23 with Philippians 2:10-11.) He is not only a Child and a Son but also the Mighty God and the Everlasting Father (Isaiah 9:6).
Jesus is the incarnation of the Father. Jesus said, “I and My Father are one” (John 10:30). “The Father is in Me, and I in Him” (John 10:38). “He who has seen me has seen the Father. . . . The Father who dwells in me does the works” (John 14:9-10).
Jesus is the Son of God. The term “Son” refers to Christ’s human identity (as in “the Son died”), and it acknowledges the union of deity and humanity in Christ (as in “the Son will return to earth in glory”), but it is never used apart from God’s incarnation. It never refers to deity alone. The terms “God the Son” and “eternal Son” are nonbiblical. The role of the Son began when Jesus was conceived miraculously in the womb of a virgin by the Holy Spirit (Luke 1:35; Galatians 4:4; Hebrews 1:5).
The Holy Spirit is the Spirit that was in Jesus Christ (Galatians 4:6; Philippians 1:19). “The Lord is the Spirit” (II Corinthians 3:17). The Holy Spirit does not come as another person but comes in another form (in spirit instead of flesh) and another relationship (“in you” instead of “with you”); the Holy Spirit is actually Jesus coming to dwell in human lives (John 14:16-18). By the Holy Spirit, Jesus fulfills His promise to dwell in our midst when we gather in His name (Matthew 18:20). Thus, all who experience a genuine work of God encounter one Spirit, not two or three. They do not experience three personalities when they worship, nor do they receive three spirits, but they are in relationship with one personal spirit being, the Spirit of Jesus.
The name of Jesus means Jehovah-Savior and thus denotes God dwelling with us (Matthew 1:21-23). It is the highest name and the only saving name (Philippians 2:9-11; Acts 4:12). It encompasses the fullness of God’s revelation in the New Testament.
In eternity, we will see the one God as revealed in the person of Jesus Christ. Jesus is the One on the divine throne. (See Revelation 1:7-8, 17-18; 4:2, 8.) The vision of the One on the throne and the Lamb depicts the Incarnation and Atonement. The Lamb is not a second person but a symbol of Christ as the sacrifice for sin. The Lamb actually came out of the throne and sits on the throne (Revelation 5:6; 7:17), yet God in His sovereignty and transcendence always remains on the throne. God and the Lamb is one being with one throne, one face, and one name (Revelation 22:3-4). Only Jesus is both sovereign and sacrifice—deity and humanity—at the same time. He is the image of the invisible God, and His name is the highest name by which God is revealed. In Heaven, if we asked to see the Father apart from Jesus, the words of Jesus to Philip would still apply: “He who has seen Me has seen the Father; so how can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?” (John 14:9).
The Humanity of Jesus Christ
The Scriptures proclaim Christ’s genuine and complete humanity. (See Romans 1:3; Hebrews 2:14-17; 5:7-8.) He was human in body, soul, spirit, mind, and will. (See Luke 22:42; 23:46; Acts 2:31; Philippians 2:5; Hebrews 10:5, 10.) Jesus was a perfect human, with everything genuine humanity includes. Christ’s true humanity does not mean He had a sinful nature. He was without sin, He committed no sin, and sin was not in Him. (See Hebrews 4:15; I Peter 2:22; I John 3:5.) He came with the kind of innocent human nature that Adam and Eve had in the beginning.
Belief in Christ’s humanity is essential to salvation (I John 4:3). If God did not truly come in the flesh, then there is no blood for remission of sin, no sacrifice of atonement. The purpose of the Incarnation was to provide a holy human (not a second divine person) as the mediator between the holy God and sinful humanity (I Timothy 2:5).
Jesus acted from both divine and human viewpoints and spoke from both divine and human self-consciousness. Only as a human could Jesus be born, grow, be tempted by the devil, hunger, thirst, become weary, sleep, pray, be beaten, die, not know all things, not have all power, be inferior to God, and be a servant. Only as God could He exist from eternity, be unchanging, cast out devils by His own authority, be the bread of life, give living water, give spiritual rest, calm storms, answer prayer, heal the sick, raise His body from death, forgive sin, know all things, have all power, be identified as God, and be King of kings. In an ordinary person, these two contrasting lists would be mutually exclusive, yet the Scriptures attribute all of them to Jesus, revealing His unique identity as both God and human.
Although we must recognize both deity and humanity in Christ, it is impossible to separate the two in Him. (See John 1:1, 14; 10:30, 38; 14:10-11; 16:32.) While there was a distinction between the divine will and His human will, He always submitted the latter to the former. While on earth Jesus was fully God, not merely an anointed human. At the same time, He was fully human, not just an appearance of a human. He possessed the unlimited power, authority, and character of God. He was God by nature, by right, by identity; He was not merely deified by an anointing or indwelling. Unlike a Spirit-filled believer, the humanity of Jesus was inextricably joined with all the fullness of God’s Spirit.
Christ’s humanity means that everything we humans can say of ourselves, we can say of Jesus in His earthly life, except for sin. In every way that we relate to God, Jesus related to God, except that He did not need to repent or be born again. When Jesus prayed, submitted His will to the Father, and spoke about and to God, He simply acted in accordance with His authentic, genuine humanity.
Jesus is the fullness of God dwelling in perfect humanity and manifesting Himself as a perfect human being. He is not the transmutation of God into flesh, the manifestation of a portion of God, the animation of a human body by God, or God temporarily dwelling in a separate human person. Jesus Christ is the incarnation—embodiment, human personification—of the one God.
The beautiful message of Scripture is that our Creator became our Savior. The God against whom we sinned is the One who forgives us. God loved us so much that He came in flesh to save us. He gave of Himself; He did not send someone else. Moreover, our Creator-Savior is also the indwelling Spirit who is ever present to help us. God told us how to live and then came to live among us. He showed us how to live in the flesh and laid down His human life to purchase our salvation. Now He abides within us and enables us to live according to His will. David K. Bernard
Till next week,
Rev. Dr. Robert L. Harrison, PhD – firstname.lastname@example.org, @drrobharrison (Twitter), Robert Bob Harrison (Facebook)
Pastor – The Apostolic Open Door Church of God & True Holiness – 2800 41st Ave. N, St. Pete – www.weareholiness.org | Church of God and True Holiness, Intl. – www.trueholinesschurches.org
First Vice President – NAACP St. Petersburg Branch
Chaplain – Southern Christian Leadership Conference of Pinellas
Parent Support for Education Council Member | Chaplain – Dept. Juvenile Justice for Circuit 6