Archive for the ‘Divinity’ Category

James on the Divinity of The Lord Jesus

July 16, 2012

During the Dividing Line of July 13, 2012, Dr. White mentioned an Islamic argument alleging that James (the author of the book of James) did not believe that Jesus is God and that the church of Jerusalem (which he seemingly associates with James) was somehow in opposition to the church of Paul.

But James does make it clear that he holds to Jesus’ divinity.

James 1:1-7

(1) James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, to the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad, greeting. (2) My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; (3) knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. (4) But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing. (5) If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. (6) But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed. (7) For let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord.

In verse 1, James identifies Jesus as both God and the Lord. But if you will dispute this point, note that James clearly identifies Jesus as the Lord. Moreover, after suggesting that people can ask things from God, he immediately switches to the designation “Lord” in verse 7.  James’ interchangeable use of God and Lord demonstrates that he held Jesus to be divine.

James 2:1

My brethren, have not the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with respect of persons.

Here James explicitly calls Jesus Christ, the Lord of Glory, which is a divine title. It’s the same title that Paul uses for Jesus:

1 Corinthians 2:8

Which none of the princes of this world knew: for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.

Moreover, James is explicitly teaching people to place their faith in Jesus, which would be very strange if James thought that Jesus was merely a man.

It would be especially strange given that just a little later in the chapter, describing faith, James states (James 2:18-19):

(18) Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works. (19) Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble.

Notice that James views faith as faith in God, and holds that there is only one God, yet it is the “faith of our Lord Jesus Christ,” as we saw above.  Thus, for James, Jesus is God.

And again, this is the same as the teaching of Paul.

1 Corinthians 8:6

But to us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by him.

We see James equating Jesus and God again in the fourth chapter.

James 4:8-10

(8) Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded. (9) Be afflicted, and mourn, and weep: let your laughter be turned to mourning, and your joy to heaviness. (10) Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up.

This is yet another example of James using “God” and “Lord” interchangeably.

Perhaps the most obvious example for a Muslim will come when James provides the Christian precursor to Islam’s “Insha’Allah”:

James 4:13-15

(13) Go to now, ye that say, To day or to morrow we will go into such a city, and continue there a year, and buy and sell, and get gain: (14) whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away. (15) For that ye ought to say, If the Lord will, we shall live, and do this, or that.

What Muslim would say, “If Mohamed will”? Surely the determination of what the future holds is something that is firmly the will of God – not the will of mere prophet or messenger, yet James assigns the future to the will that to the Lord, whom he has explicitly identified as Jesus Christ.  Thus, James held Jesus to be divine.

But James doesn’t stop there. He describes the future return of Jesus to the world (James 5:7-11)

(7) Be patient therefore, brethren, unto the coming of the Lord. Behold, the husbandman waiteth for the precious fruit of the earth, and hath long patience for it, until he receive the early and latter rain. (8) Be ye also patient; stablish your hearts: for the coming of the Lord draweth nigh. (9) Grudge not one against another, brethren, lest ye be condemned: behold, the judge standeth before the door. (10) Take, my brethren, the prophets, who have spoken in the name of the Lord, for an example of suffering affliction, and of patience. (11) Behold, we count them happy which endure. Ye have heard of the patience of Job, and have seen the end of the Lord; that the Lord is very pitiful, and of tender mercy.

Notice that here James identifies this same coming Lord, namely Jesus Christ, with the Lord in whose names the prophets spoke, and particularly the Lord referenced in the book of Job, which is undoubtedly God.  You will recall that after all Job’s sufferings, the Lord gave him better than he had before.

Another example is found in James 5:14-15

(14) Is any sick among you? let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord: (15) And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him.

Notice here that prayer in the name of Jesus is commended, and it is alleged that Jesus will raise up the person. While this may be less explicit than the other cases, the very fact that the prayer is in Jesus’ name indicates Jesus’ divinity.

Thus, not only does James fail to deny the divinity of Christ (James affirmation of monotheism is no contradiction to the Christian doctrine of the Trinity), but James repeatedly treats Jesus as divine from the very first verse of the epistle.

-TurretinFan

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The Father’s Testimony to Jesus – and did Jesus say, "I am God"

June 29, 2012

Sometimes when talking with Muslims, you may hear the line, “Jesus never said he was God” or “Jesus never said, ‘I am God, worship me.'” There are a lot of valid responses to this comment. Among these is the response: “He didn’t have to!”

I. The Father’s Testimony to the Son

The Father testified to the son, calling him “My beloved son” on at least two occasions (Matthew 3:17; Matthew 17:5; Mark 1:11; Mark 9:7; Luke 3:22; Luke 9:35; and 2 Peter 1:17), namely at his baptism and at his transfiguration.

It is enough for us that the Father called Jesus his Son. That tells us who Jesus is. That’s why Mark’s gospel begins: “The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the son of God” (Mark 1:1).

II. Jesus Calls himself “First and Last” and “Almighty”

But did Jesus claim to be God? Jesus called himself the First and the Last, a title that belongs only to God, as it is recorded in Revelation:

“And when I saw him, I fell at his feet as dead. And he laid his right hand upon me, saying unto me, Fear not; I am the first and the last: I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death.” (Revelation 1:17-18).

We can see from Isaiah that this term is a term that refers specifically to YHWH, Jehovah, the Lord:

Isaiah 41:4 “Who hath wrought and done it, calling the generations from the beginning? I the Lord, the first, and with the last; I am he.”

Isaiah 48:12 “Hearken unto me, O Jacob and Israel, my called; I am he; I am the first, I also am the last.”

Likewise, Jesus calls himself “the Almighty” which is one of God’s titles:

Revelation 1:8 “I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty.”

The number of times this title is used of God are too numerous to mention, particularly in the book of Job, but beginning at least as early as the time of Abram:

Genesis 17:1
And when Abram was ninety years old and nine, the LORD appeared to Abram, and said unto him, I am the Almighty God; walk before me, and be thou perfect.

Conclusion

Perhaps a good conclusion would be the words of Jesus in John 8:

John 8:54

Jesus answered, If I honour myself, my honour is nothing: it is my Father that honoureth me; of whom ye say, that he is your God: yet ye have not known him; but I know him: and if I should say, I know him not, I shall be a liar like unto you: but I know him, and keep his saying. Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day: and he saw it, and was glad.
Then said the Jews unto him, Thou art not yet fifty years old, and hast thou seen Abraham?
Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am.
Then took they up stones to cast at him: but Jesus hid himself, and went out of the temple, going through the midst of them, and so passed by.

There are reasons that Jesus did not constantly announce his divinity, both because he came in humility and because when he did announce his divinity (by calling God his Father, by calling himself “I am” (“And God said unto Moses, I AM THAT I AM: and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you.” Exodus 3:14), and by saying that he was older than Abraham.

Moreover, there is an additional testimony to Jesus’ divinity here. When the Jews picked up stones to stone him, Jesus hid himself and passed through their midst. Would God allow a blasphemer to escape judgment in this miraculous way? But if Jesus was not a blasphemer as the Jews accused him of being, then he was who he said he was: “I AM” who was before Abraham, the Son of God.

Thus we testify that Jesus is the Son of God. It is plainly stated numerous times in the gospels. The Father’s testimony to the Son is enough for us, because the Father is God. Moreover, Jesus himself did claim divinity: he did so in a variety of ways, both during his time on earth and in his Revelation to John.

May the one Lord receive us to himself according to his mercy and his great love,

-TurretinFan

Bryan Cross places the Cart before the Horse, Theologically Speaking

September 23, 2010

Over at Called to Communion, in the comment box, Bryan Cross wrote:

In the first century, no one needed to confess that Christ is homoousious with the Father. But after the fourth century, to deny the homoousious is to fall into [at least material] heresy.

This is dead wrong and gets things exactly backwards. It has always been heresy to deny the Son’s divinity. Arius was a heretic before Nicaea, and the Nicene council simply affirmed (with respect to Arianism) what was always the teaching of the Bible.

The church does not make up orthodoxy. When the church does its job correctly, it merely recognizes the truth that was already once delivered to the saints. There was no new delivery in the fourth century or any of the succeeding centuries.

Of course, Romanists have to put the cart before the horse, because they’ve added to the gospel. If they tried to claim that it was always heresy to deny the Immaculate Conception, they’d have to treat Augustine, and the Augustinians down through Aquinas as heretics. So, they place the cart before the horse and say that it is only heresy to deny the Immaculate Conception after “the Church” makes that doctrine part of the gospel.

The absurd result is the one that Bryan Cross has illustrated above, where the Son’s divinity becomes something that it was ok to deny before 325 A.D.

Amazing – absolutely amazing.

– TurretinFan

The Sin-Forgiving God

June 13, 2010

One of the attributes of God is the ability to forgive sins. This is stated explicitly in Exodus:

Exodus 34:7 Keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, and that will by no means clear the guilty; visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, and upon the children’s children, unto the third and to the fourth generation.

Furthermore, it is found implicitly in the passages of the Old Testament where God promises to forgive sin:

  • 2 Chronicles 7:14 If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.
  • Jeremiah 31:34 And they shall teach no more every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the LORD: for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the LORD: for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.

Additionally, it is found implicitly in the passages of the Old Testament where men ask God for forgiveness of sin:

  • Psalm 25:15-18
    Mine eyes are ever toward the LORD; for he shall pluck my feet out of the net. Turn thee unto me, and have mercy upon me; for I am desolate and afflicted. The troubles of my heart are enlarged: O bring thou me out of my distresses. Look upon mine affliction and my pain; and forgive all my sins.
  • Psalm 85:1-4 (To the chief Musician, A Psalm for the sons of Korah.)
    LORD, thou hast been favourable unto thy land: thou hast brought back the captivity of Jacob. Thou hast forgiven the iniquity of thy people, thou hast covered all their sin. Selah. Thou hast taken away all thy wrath: thou hast turned thyself from the fierceness of thine anger. Turn us, O God of our salvation, and cause thine anger toward us to cease.

We also see the same thing implicit the prayer which Christ taught his disciples:

Luke 11:4 And forgive us our sins; for we also forgive every one that is indebted to us. And lead us not into temptation; but deliver us from evil.

On at least two occasions (and perhaps more than that), Jesus forgave sins. The first occasion that I’ll mention is in the instance of the weeping woman in the Pharisee’s house. Luke provides the following account:

Luke 7:36-50

And one of the Pharisees desired him that he would eat with him. And he went into the Pharisee’s house, and sat down to meat. And, behold, a woman in the city, which was a sinner, when she knew that Jesus sat at meat in the Pharisee’s house, brought an alabaster box of ointment, and stood at his feet behind him weeping, and began to wash his feet with tears, and did wipe them with the hairs of her head, and kissed his feet, and anointed them with the ointment.

Now when the Pharisee which had bidden him saw it, he spake within himself, saying, “This man, if he were a prophet, would have known who and what manner of woman this is that toucheth him: for she is a sinner.”

And Jesus answering said unto him, “Simon, I have somewhat to say unto thee.”
And he saith, “Master, say on.”

“There was a certain creditor which had two debtors: the one owed five hundred pence, and the other fifty. And when they had nothing to pay, he frankly forgave them both. Tell me therefore, which of them will love him most?”

Simon answered and said, “I suppose that he, to whom he forgave most.”

And he said unto him, “Thou hast rightly judged.”

And he turned to the woman, and said unto Simon, “Seest thou this woman? I entered into thine house, thou gavest me no water for my feet: but she hath washed my feet with tears, and wiped them with the hairs of her head. Thou gavest me no kiss: but this woman since the time I came in hath not ceased to kiss my feet. My head with oil thou didst not anoint: but this woman hath anointed my feet with ointment. Wherefore I say unto thee, ‘Her sins, which are many, are forgiven; for she loved much: but to whom little is forgiven, the same loveth little’.”

And he said unto her, “Thy sins are forgiven.”

And they that sat at meat with him began to say within themselves, “Who is this that forgiveth sins also?”

And he said to the woman, “Thy faith hath saved thee; go in peace.”

Notice that, in another testimony to Jesus’ divinity, he knew Simon the Pharisee’s heart (see discussion here). In this passage, Jesus forgives the sins of the woman who had faith in Jesus and demonstrated that faith in love by washing his feet with her tears, wiping them with her hair, and anointing his feet with precious oil (perhaps, in view of the account of Matthew 26, we should view this as being that she anointed him from head to foot with the oil). Those who heard this marveled, precisely because they realized that only God can forgive sins.

We see this also illustrated in healing of the bed-ridden man who was sick of the palsy:

Matthew 9:2-8

And, behold, they brought to him a man sick of the palsy, lying on a bed: and Jesus seeing their faith said unto the sick of the palsy; “Son, be of good cheer; thy sins be forgiven thee.”

And, behold, certain of the scribes said within themselves, “This man blasphemeth.”

And Jesus knowing their thoughts said, “Wherefore think ye evil in your hearts? For whether is easier, to say, ‘Thy sins be forgiven thee;’ or to say, ‘Arise, and walk?’ But that ye may know that the Son of man hath power on earth to forgive sins, (then saith he to the sick of the palsy,) ‘Arise, take up thy bed, and go unto thine house’.”

And he arose, and departed to his house. But when the multitudes saw it, they marvelled, and glorified God, which had given such power unto men.

Notice that here we are given more details about the reaction. Those who knew the Scriptures but considered Jesus to be only a man thought that he was a blasphemer, because he pretended to forgive sins. Jesus, however, knew their hearts (another proof of his divinity, as we mentioned above) and Jesus demonstrated that he was not just pretending to forgive sins by healing the palsied man.

The same or a similar event (there is no requirement that it be the same event) is found in Mark and Luke:

Mark 2:1-12

And again he entered into Capernaum after some days; and it was noised that he was in the house. And straightway many were gathered together, insomuch that there was no room to receive them, no, not so much as about the door: and he preached the word unto them. And they come unto him, bringing one sick of the palsy, which was borne of four. And when they could not come nigh unto him for the press, they uncovered the roof where he was: and when they had broken it up, they let down the bed wherein the sick of the palsy lay.

When Jesus saw their faith, he said unto the sick of the palsy, “Son, thy sins be forgiven thee.”

But there were certain of the scribes sitting there, and reasoning in their hearts, “Why doth this man thus speak blasphemies? who can forgive sins but God only?”

And immediately when Jesus perceived in his spirit that they so reasoned within themselves, he said unto them, “Why reason ye these things in your hearts? Whether is it easier to say to the sick of the palsy, ‘Thy sins be forgiven thee;’ or to say, ‘Arise, and take up thy bed, and walk?’ But that ye may know that the Son of man hath power on earth to forgive sins, (he saith to the sick of the palsy,) I say unto thee, ‘Arise, and take up thy bed, and go thy way into thine house’.”

And immediately he arose, took up the bed, and went forth before them all; insomuch that they were all amazed, and glorified God, saying, We never saw it on this fashion.

Luke 5:18-26

And, behold, men brought in a bed a man which was taken with a palsy: and they sought means to bring him in, and to lay him before him. And when they could not find by what way they might bring him in because of the multitude, they went upon the housetop, and let him down through the tiling with his couch into the midst before Jesus. And when he saw their faith, he said unto him, “Man, thy sins are forgiven thee.”

And the scribes and the Pharisees began to reason, saying, “Who is this which speaketh blasphemies? Who can forgive sins, but God alone?”

But when Jesus perceived their thoughts, he answering said unto them, “What reason ye in your hearts? Whether is easier, to say, ‘Thy sins be forgiven thee;’ or to say, ‘Rise up and walk?’ But that ye may know that the Son of man hath power upon earth to forgive sins, (he said unto the sick of the palsy,) I say unto thee, ‘Arise, and take up thy couch, and go into thine house’.”

And immediately he rose up before them, and took up that whereon he lay, and departed to his own house, glorifying God. And they were all amazed, and they glorified God, and were filled with fear, saying, “We have seen strange things to day.”

Notice how in these two passages we are told explicitly the reason why Jesus’ words of forgiveness are shocking: only God can forgive sins. Jesus specifically demonstrates his ability to forgive sins by healing palsy. In this way, Jesus provides evidence of his own divinity.

Notice that Jesus does not say, “I will pray that God will forgive your sins,” nor does he say, “I pray that God will heal your palsy.” Instead, Jesus declares the sins to be forgiven and heals the palsied man by command.

The apostles recognized that the forgiveness of sins comes through Jesus Christ. Thus, we see this in the speech of the Apostle Peter and the other apostles:

Acts 5:29-32

Then Peter and the other apostles answered and said,

“We ought to obey God rather than men. The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom ye slew and hanged on a tree. Him hath God exalted with his right hand to be a Prince and a Saviour, for to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins. And we are his witnesses of these things; and so is also the Holy Ghost, whom God hath given to them that obey him.”

As an aside, it is interesting to point out this reference to the Trinity, God (the father), Jesus, and the Holy Ghost.

We see the same thing about forgiveness of sins coming through Jesus Christ in Paul’s speech:

Acts 13:33-39

God hath fulfilled the same unto us their children, in that he hath raised up Jesus again; as it is also written in the second psalm, “Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee.” And as concerning that he raised him up from the dead, now no more to return to corruption, he said on this wise, “I will give you the sure mercies of David.” Wherefore he saith also in another psalm, “Thou shalt not suffer thine Holy One to see corruption.” For David, after he had served his own generation by the will of God, fell on sleep, and was laid unto his fathers, and saw corruption: but he, whom God raised again, saw no corruption.

Be it known unto you therefore, men and brethren, that through this man is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins: and by him all that believe are justified from all things, from which ye could not be justified by the law of Moses.

Notice that Paul not only attributes forgiveness of sins to Jesus, but explains that through belief in him one is justified from all the things from which people could not be justified by the law of Moses. You will remember that there was a way for people to obtain forgiveness from God through the sacrificial system that God gave to Israel through Moses:

  • Leviticus 4:20 And he shall do with the bullock as he did with the bullock for a sin offering, so shall he do with this: and the priest shall make an atonement for them, and it shall be forgiven them.
  • Leviticus 4:26 And he shall burn all his fat upon the altar, as the fat of the sacrifice of peace offerings: and the priest shall make an atonement for him as concerning his sin, and it shall be forgiven him.
  • Leviticus 4:35 And he shall take away all the fat thereof, as the fat of the lamb is taken away from the sacrifice of the peace offerings; and the priest shall burn them upon the altar, according to the offerings made by fire unto the LORD: and the priest shall make an atonement for his sin that he hath committed, and it shall be forgiven him.
  • Leviticus 5:10 And he shall offer the second for a burnt offering, according to the manner: and the priest shall make an atonement for him for his sin which he hath sinned, and it shall be forgiven him.
  • Leviticus 5:13 And the priest shall make an atonement for him as touching his sin that he hath sinned in one of these, and it shall be forgiven him: and the remnant shall be the priest’s, as a meat offering.
  • Leviticus 6:7 And the priest shall make an atonement for him before the LORD: and it shall be forgiven him for any thing of all that he hath done in trespassing therein.
  • Leviticus 19:22 And the priest shall make an atonement for him with the ram of the trespass offering before the LORD for his sin which he hath done: and the sin which he hath done shall be forgiven him.
  • Numbers 15:25 And the priest shall make an atonement for all the congregation of the children of Israel, and it shall be forgiven them; for it is ignorance: and they shall bring their offering, a sacrifice made by fire unto the LORD, and their sin offering before the LORD, for their ignorance:
  • Numbers 15:28 And the priest shall make an atonement for the soul that sinneth ignorantly, when he sinneth by ignorance before the LORD, to make an atonement for him; and it shall be forgiven him.

Notice that in these cases there was the opportunity for forgiveness through the mediation of the priest who offered an atonement for the person, and the person’s sin was forgiven. These things foreshadowed Christ. Christ is the sacrifice and priest – more than that he is God. Forgiveness of sins is entirely His. Those for whom he offers atonement – their sins will be forgiven.

We see this confirmed in Jesus’ own words as described by Paul to King Agrippa

Acts 26:1-20

Then Agrippa said unto Paul, Thou art permitted to speak for thyself.

Then Paul stretched forth the hand, and answered for himself:

I think myself happy, king Agrippa, because I shall answer for myself this day before thee touching all the things whereof I am accused of the Jews: especially because I know thee to be expert in all customs and questions which are among the Jews: wherefore I beseech thee to hear me patiently.

My manner of life from my youth, which was at the first among mine own nation at Jerusalem, know all the Jews; which knew me from the beginning, if they would testify, that after the most straitest sect of our religion I lived a Pharisee.

And now I stand and am judged for the hope of the promise made of God unto our fathers: unto which promise our twelve tribes, instantly serving God day and night, hope to come. For which hope’s sake, king Agrippa, I am accused of the Jews. Why should it be thought a thing incredible with you, that God should raise the dead?

I verily thought with myself, that I ought to do many things contrary to the name of Jesus of Nazareth. Which thing I also did in Jerusalem: and many of the saints did I shut up in prison, having received authority from the chief priests; and when they were put to death, I gave my voice against them. And I punished them oft in every synagogue, and compelled them to blaspheme; and being exceedingly mad against them, I persecuted them even unto strange cities.

Whereupon as I went to Damascus with authority and commission from the chief priests, at midday, O king, I saw in the way a light from heaven, above the brightness of the sun, shining round about me and them which journeyed with me.

And when we were all fallen to the earth, I heard a voice speaking unto me, and saying in the Hebrew tongue, “Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks.”

And I said, “Who art thou, Lord?”

And he said, “I am Jesus whom thou persecutest. But rise, and stand upon thy feet: for I have appeared unto thee for this purpose, to make thee a minister and a witness both of these things which thou hast seen, and of those things in the which I will appear unto thee; delivering thee from the people, and from the Gentiles, unto whom now I send thee, to open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me.”

Whereupon, O king Agrippa, I was not disobedient unto the heavenly vision: but shewed first unto them of Damascus, and at Jerusalem, and throughout all the coasts of Judaea, and then to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God, and do works meet for repentance.

Notice that Jesus explains that people receive forgiveness of sins through faith in him. And notice as well that Paul explains that he preached repentance (something sadly missing in many professing Christian circles) and turning to God, namely to Christ through whom by faith in Him, men receive forgiveness of sins.

Paul’s epistle to the Ephesians teaches us the same thing:

Ephesians 1:3-12

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ: according as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, to the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved.

In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace;wherein he hath abounded toward us in all wisdom and prudence; having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself: that in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him: in whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will: that we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ.

Notice the explicit link between the redemption by his blood and the forgiveness of sins. This is one reason we cannot have both hell and universal redemption: those redeemed by Christ’s blood have their sins forgiven.

Likewise, we see the same thing in Colossians:

Colossians 1:12-17

Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light: who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son: in whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins: who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature: 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: and he is before all things, and by him all things consist.

Same link between blood redemption and forgiveness, and Christ is the one whose blood provides us this forgiveness.

The same link between forgiveness and Christ is provided yet again in Colossians:

Colossians 2:8-15

Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ. For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily. And ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power: in whom also ye are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ: buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead.

And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses; blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross; and having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it.

The link here is specifically to Christ’s death. His death forgives our sins, and it does so forensically: that’s what “blotting out the handwriting of ordinances” means. There’s no way to confuse that with infusion of actual righteousness.

John’s general epistle also teaches the same thing:

1 John 1:1-10

That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word of life; (for the life was manifested, and we have seen it, and bear witness, and shew unto you that eternal life, which was with the Father, and was manifested unto us;) that which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ.

And these things write we unto you, that your joy may be full. This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth: but if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin. If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.

Notice how John is explicit that Jesus forgives our sins. Even if someone might say that Paul simply treats Jesus as the means to the end of forgiveness, John makes it clear that Jesus himself both forgives our sins and cleanses us from all unrighteousness.

Let us praise Him by whom and through whom we are forgiven!

-TurretinFan

The Unchanging God

June 4, 2010

One of God’s attributes is immutability. All Creation changes, but God does not change. This is expressed in two ways. The first way is directly:

  • Malachi 3:6 For I am the LORD, I change not; therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed.
  • James 1:17 Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.

A second way is indirectly using the concept of “enduring forever”:

  • Psalm 9:7 But the LORD shall endure for ever: he hath prepared his throne for judgment.
  • Psalm 72:17 His name shall endure for ever: his name shall be continued as long as the sun: and men shall be blessed in him: all nations shall call him blessed.
  • Psalm 102:12 But thou, O LORD, shalt endure for ever; and thy remembrance unto all generations.
  • Psalm 145:13 Thy kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and thy dominion endureth throughout all generations.

We begin to see this applied to Christ even in the Psalms. There the seed of David is said to endure forever:

  • Psalm 89:4 Thy seed will I establish for ever, and build up thy throne to all generations. Selah.
  • Psalm 89:29 His seed also will I make to endure for ever, and his throne as the days of heaven.
  • Psalm 89:36 His seed shall endure for ever, and his throne as the sun before me.

While “seed” can be collective, we learn from Paul’s epistle to the Galatians that in the Old Testament prophecy it was was intentionally singular:

  • Galatians 3:16 Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ.

That was referring to the promise to Abraham, but the same is the case here in the promise to David. It was a promise first given by Nathan the prophet:

  • 2 Samuel 7:12-13
    And when thy days be fulfilled, and thou shalt sleep with thy fathers, I will set up thy seed after thee, which shall proceed out of thy bowels, and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build an house for my name, and I will stablish the throne of his kingdom for ever.
  • 1 Chronicles 17:11-12
    And it shall come to pass, when thy days be expired that thou must go to be with thy fathers, that I will raise up thy seed after thee, which shall be of thy sons; and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build me an house, and I will stablish his throne for ever.

While there was a typological fulfillment of this promise in Solomon, Isaiah shows us that the complete fulfillment was yet to come:

  • Isaiah 9:7 Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this.

We can also see another cross-connection in that the LORD’s throne is described as unending:

  • Lamentations 5:19 Thou, O LORD, remainest for ever; thy throne from generation to generation.
  • Psalm 45:6 Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: the sceptre of thy kingdom is a right sceptre.

In any event, the final link of this proof of Jesus’ divinity is the implicit application to Jesus:

  • Hebrews 1:12 And as a vesture shalt thou fold them up, and they shall be changed: but thou art the same, and thy years shall not fail.

And the explicit application to Jesus:

  • Hebrews 13:8 Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever.

Let us, therefore, worship Jesus our Immutable Lord!

-TurretinFan

The All-Encompassing God

May 18, 2010

I have already adduced several proofs of Jesus’ divinity, but I will add to them. One of God’s many attributes is that he is all-encompassing. Scripture puts it this way:

Isaiah 41:4 Who hath wrought and done it, calling the generations from the beginning? I the LORD, the first, and with the last; I am he.

Isaiah 44:6 Thus saith the LORD the King of Israel, and his redeemer the LORD of hosts; I am the first, and I am the last; and beside me there is no God.

Isaiah 48:12 Hearken unto me, O Jacob and Israel, my called; I am he; I am the first, I also am the last.

Jesus is also identified by this same description. We find this in several places, both directly and also in a parallel Greek expression.

Revelation 1:8 I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty.

Revelation 1:11 Saying, I am Alpha and Omega, the first and the last: and, What thou seest, write in a book, and send it unto the seven churches which are in Asia; unto Ephesus, and unto Smyrna, and unto Pergamos, and unto Thyatira, and unto Sardis, and unto Philadelphia, and unto Laodicea.

Revelation 1:17 And when I saw him, I fell at his feet as dead. And he laid his right hand upon me, saying unto me, Fear not; I am the first and the last:

Revelation 2:8 And unto the angel of the church in Smyrna write; These things saith the first and the last, which was dead, and is alive;

Revelation 21:6 And he said unto me, It is done. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely.

Revelation 22:13 I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last.

I realize that modern versions shorten the expression in Revelation 1:8 and omit the relevant expression in Revelation 1:11, but they have the others. My point here is not to criticize the modern versions but to simply note that both the KJV and the modern versions contain this same proof.

The connection to Jesus is fairly clear. The passage leading up Revelation 1:17 states:

Revelation 1:13-16
And in the midst of the seven candlesticks one like unto the Son of man, clothed with a garment down to the foot, and girt about the paps with a golden girdle. His head and his hairs were white like wool, as white as snow; and his eyes were as a flame of fire; and his feet like unto fine brass, as if they burned in a furnace; and his voice as the sound of many waters. And he had in his right hand seven stars: and out of his mouth went a sharp twoedged sword: and his countenance was as the sun shineth in his strength.

He is the one addressing John and instructing him to write to the seven churches (which includes the item at Revelation 2:8).

An additional clue is that the book is the Revelation (note that it is singular) of Jesus Christ.

Revelation 1:1-2
The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto him, to shew unto his servants things which must shortly come to pass; and he sent and signified it by his angel unto his servant John: who bare record of the word of God, and of the testimony of Jesus Christ, and of all things that he saw.

And again:

Revelation 1:4-7
John to the seven churches which are in Asia: Grace be unto you, and peace, from him which is, and which was, and which is to come; and from the seven Spirits which are before his throne; and from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood, and hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen. Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him. Even so, Amen.

Similarly, in Revelation the speaker is described in this context:

Rev 21:5 And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. And he said unto me, Write: for these words are true and faithful.
Rev 21:6 And he said unto me, It is done. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely.

The reference to the fact that Jesus is the enthroned one would be enough, perhaps, but notice that there is also a reference back to the water of life, which Jesus described this way:

John 4:14 But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.

We see this water of life again in the final reference in Revelation:

Revelation 22:12-17
And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last. Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city. For without are dogs, and sorcerers, and whoremongers, and murderers, and idolaters, and whosoever loveth and maketh a lie. I Jesus have sent mine angel to testify unto you these things in the churches. I am the root and the offspring of David, and the bright and morning star. And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.

Praise be to the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last, even the Lord Jesus Christ,

– TurretinFan

The Heart-Knowing God

May 8, 2010

One of the unique characteristics of the LORD God is his ability to know the heart of man. Others may have some remarkable insights into human psychology. Nevertheless, God alone knows the heart. We see this taught in the Old Testament:

1 Samuel 16:7 But the LORD said unto Samuel, Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the LORD seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart.

1 Chronicles 28:9 And thou, Solomon my son, know thou the God of thy father, and serve him with a perfect heart and with a willing mind: for the LORD searcheth all hearts, and understandeth all the imaginations of the thoughts: if thou seek him, he will be found of thee; but if thou forsake him, he will cast thee off for ever.

Proverbs 24:12 If thou sayest, Behold, we knew it not; doth not he that pondereth the heart consider it? and he that keepeth thy soul, doth not he know it? and shall not he render to every man according to his works?

Jesus is shown to be God in this way, for Jesus knew the thoughts and heart of men.

Luke 6:8 But he knew their thoughts, and said to the man which had the withered hand, Rise up, and stand forth in the midst. And he arose and stood forth.

Matthew 12:25 And Jesus knew their thoughts, and said unto them, Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation; and every city or house divided against itself shall not stand:

Mark 8:16-18
And they reasoned among themselves, saying, It is because we have no bread. And when Jesus knew it, he saith unto them, Why reason ye, because ye have no bread? perceive ye not yet, neither understand? have ye your heart yet hardened? Having eyes, see ye not? and having ears, hear ye not? and do ye not remember?

One of the most poignant testimonies to Jesus’ knowledge of the heart is seen in Jesus’ admonishing to Simon Peter (notice that Jesus is still calling him “Simon, son of Jonas” after Matthew 16 … the name Peter is a surname, not a change of name):

John 21:15-17

So when they had dined, Jesus saith to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me more than these?”
He saith unto him, “Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee.”
He saith unto him, “Feed my lambs.” He saith to him again the second time, “Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me?”
He saith unto him, “Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee.”
He saith unto him, “Feed my sheep. ” He saith unto him the third time, “Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me?”
Peter was grieved because he said unto him the third time, “Lovest thou me?” And he said unto him, “Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee.”
Jesus saith unto him, “Feed my sheep.”

Notice that Peter is attributing omniscience to Jesus, but particularly Peter is attributing to Jesus a knowledge of Peter’s own heart. We see the same thing in the Apostles’ prayer to Jesus about replacing Judas.

Acts 1:24-26
And they prayed, and said, Thou, Lord, which knowest the hearts of all men, shew whether of these two thou hast chosen, that he may take part of this ministry and apostleship, from which Judas by transgression fell, that he might go to his own place. And they gave forth their lots; and the lot fell upon Matthias; and he was numbered with the eleven apostles.

In case there is any question that the “Lord” here is Jesus, consider the preceding verses:

Acts 1:21-22
Wherefore of these men which have companied with us all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, beginning from the baptism of John, unto that same day that he was taken up from us, must one be ordained to be a witness with us of his resurrection.

And for the connection between Jesus being Lord and Jesus being the Lord God, consider the basis upon which the apostles prayed over the casting of lots.

Proverbs 16:33 The lot is cast into the lap; but the whole disposing thereof is of the LORD.

Finally, perhaps we should conclude with a quotation from Jeremiah that brings us back to the point of the post:

Jeremiah 17:9-10
The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it? I the LORD search the heart, I try the reins, even to give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings.

This too connects us back to Jesus:

Revelation 22:11-16
He that is unjust, let him be unjust still: and he which is filthy, let him be filthy still: and he that is righteous, let him be righteous still: and he that is holy, let him be holy still. And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last. Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city. For without are dogs, and sorcerers, and whoremongers, and murderers, and idolaters, and whosoever loveth and maketh a lie. I Jesus have sent mine angel to testify unto you these things in the churches. I am the root and the offspring of David, and the bright and morning star.

There’s an additional link back to the prophets here:

Isaiah 62:11 Behold, the LORD hath proclaimed unto the end of the world, Say ye to the daughter of Zion, Behold, thy salvation cometh; behold, his reward is with him, and his work before him.

Perhaps you’ll say that the salvation who comes is Jesus, but this verse doesn’t specifically say that the salvation is God. That argument has been anticipated:

Isaiah 40:10 Behold, the Lord GOD will come with strong hand, and his arm shall rule for him: behold, his reward is with him, and his work before him.

Even so, let us praise our God with the words of Psalmist:

The LORD is my strength and song, and is become my salvation. (Psalm 118:14)

-TurretinFan

UPDATE: An alert reader (Manu) brought to my attention a further evidence consistent with this theme:

Revelation 2:18 & 23
And unto the angel of the church in Thyatira write; These things saith the Son of God, who hath his eyes like unto a flame of fire, and his feet are like fine brass; … And I will kill her children with death; and all the churches shall know that I am he which searcheth the reins and hearts: and I will give unto every one of you according to your works.

That also relates back to Jeremiah 17:9-10.

The Water-Calming God

May 5, 2010

In a previous post (link to previous post), we discussed the fact that Jesus’ miracle of walking on the water is one proof of his divinity. Another proof of Jesus’ divinity is Jesus’ ability to control the weather and especially the storms at sea.

Matthew 8:23-27
And when he was entered into a ship, his disciples followed him. And, behold, there arose a great tempest in the sea, insomuch that the ship was covered with the waves: but he was asleep. And his disciples came to him, and awoke him, saying, Lord, save us: we perish. And he saith unto them, Why are ye fearful, O ye of little faith? Then he arose, and rebuked the winds and the sea; and there was a great calm. But the men marvelled, saying, What manner of man is this, that even the winds and the sea obey him!

Luke 8:22-25
Now it came to pass on a certain day, that he went into a ship with his disciples: and he said unto them, Let us go over unto the other side of the lake. And they launched forth. But as they sailed he fell asleep: and there came down a storm of wind on the lake; and they were filled with water, and were in jeopardy. And they came to him, and awoke him, saying, Master, master, we perish. Then he arose, and rebuked the wind and the raging of the water: and they ceased, and there was a calm. And he said unto them, Where is your faith? And they being afraid wondered, saying one to another, What manner of man is this! for he commandeth even the winds and water, and they obey him.

Notice that here the disciples do not seem to understand fully that Jesus is God. They do recognize, however, that Jesus is no ordinary man. Commanding the seas and the waters is something uniquely divine.

Proverbs 8:29 When he gave to the sea his decree, that the waters should not pass his commandment: when he appointed the foundations of the earth:

Perhaps someone will object that control of the weather was also done by Elijah. You will recall that Elijah prayed and it did not rain and Elijah prayed again and it rained.

James 5:17-18
Elias was a man subject to like passions as we are, and he prayed earnestly that it might not rain: and it rained not on the earth by the space of three years and six months. And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth brought forth her fruit.

As it was reported in the first book of Kings:

1 Kings 17:1 And Elijah the Tishbite, who was of the inhabitants of Gilead, said unto Ahab, As the LORD God of Israel liveth, before whom I stand, there shall not be dew nor rain these years, but according to my word.

1 Kings 18:41-46
And Elijah said unto Ahab, Get thee up, eat and drink; for there is a sound of abundance of rain. So Ahab went up to eat and to drink. And Elijah went up to the top of Carmel; and he cast himself down upon the earth, and put his face between his knees, and said to his servant, Go up now, look toward the sea. And he went up, and looked, and said, There is nothing. And he said, Go again seven times. And it came to pass at the seventh time, that he said, Behold, there ariseth a little cloud out of the sea, like a man’s hand. And he said, Go up, say unto Ahab, Prepare thy chariot, and get thee down, that the rain stop thee not. And it came to pass in the mean while, that the heaven was black with clouds and wind, and there was a great rain. And Ahab rode, and went to Jezreel. And the hand of the LORD was on Elijah; and he girded up his loins, and ran before Ahab to the entrance of Jezreel.

But recall that while the rain came in answer to Elijah’s prayer, it was not because of any power in Elijah. Elijah did not command the rain, but God did. In the former case, Elijah simply brought the Word of the Lord. In the latter case, as God had revealed beforehand, God already planned to bring the rain:

1 Kings 18:1 And it came to pass after many days, that the word of the LORD came to Elijah in the third year, saying, Go, shew thyself unto Ahab; and I will send rain upon the earth.

As an aside, we should note that these facts also reveal that God’s gift of rain was not the result of merit on Elijah’s part, contrary to the cavils of the papists. Indeed, this principle of rain being withheld as a punishment and then restored in response to repentance was previously announced in the prophetic prayer of Solomon. Notice that here rain is offered to sinners who repent and confess their sin to God, as a sign of God’s forgiveness.

1 Kings 8:35-36
When heaven is shut up, and there is no rain, because they have sinned against thee; if they pray toward this place, and confess thy name, and turn from their sin, when thou afflictest them: then hear thou in heaven, and forgive the sin of thy servants, and of thy people Israel, that thou teach them the good way wherein they should walk, and give rain upon thy land, which thou hast given to thy people for an inheritance.

2 Chronicles 6:26-27
When the heaven is shut up, and there is no rain, because they have sinned against thee; yet if they pray toward this place, and confess thy name, and turn from their sin, when thou dost afflict them; then hear thou from heaven, and forgive the sin of thy servants, and of thy people Israel, when thou hast taught them the good way, wherein they should walk; and send rain upon thy land, which thou hast given unto thy people for an inheritance.

In view of the above, we can see the difference between God who commands the stormy waters to be calm, as opposed to men who can merely pray to God that it be so. WE have seen this both from Proverbs and from the response of the disciples, and we have responded to a possible objection regarding Elijah. Nevertheless, it is not only Proverbs and the reaction of the disciples that we may rely on, nor even the careful distinction from Elijah. We have the word of the Psalmist who teaches us that this is the Lord’s doing:

Psalm 107:23-25
They that go down to the sea in ships, that do business in great waters; these see the works of the LORD, and his wonders in the deep. For he commandeth, and raiseth the stormy wind, which lifteth up the waves thereof.

And you will recall that the Lord exercised this power in the case of Jonah:

Jonah 1:4 But the LORD sent out a great wind into the sea, and there was a mighty tempest in the sea, so that the ship was like to be broken.

And when the men who were transporting Jonah saw that this was from the LORD they did as Jonah the prophet said (and who would be such a fool as to imagine that Jonah himself stirred up this storm?) and threw Jonah into the waves, God calmed the waters:

Jonah 1:14-15
Wherefore they cried unto the LORD, and said, We beseech thee, O LORD, we beseech thee, let us not perish for this man’s life, and lay not upon us innocent blood: for thou, O LORD, hast done as it pleased thee. So they took up Jonah, and cast him forth into the sea: and the sea ceased from her raging.

From this we see another proof of Jesus divinity. Jesus is not only the water-walking God, but also the water-calming God.

Praise be to him in whose hand are the deep places of the earth and the strength of hills is his!

– TurretinFan

The Water-Walking God

May 4, 2010

Reading through a commentary on John by Theophylact (circa A.D. 1055-1107) I came across a proof of Jesus’ divinity that had escaped my attention many times (pp. 101-02 of the English translation of his “Explanation of the Holy Gospel According to John). Surely all the readers of this blog are already familiar with the event:

John 6:19 So when they had rowed about five and twenty or thirty furlongs, they see Jesus walking on the sea, and drawing nigh unto the ship: and they were afraid.

(Matthew 14:25-26 And in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went unto them, walking on the sea. And when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, It is a spirit; and they cried out for fear.)

This extremely marvelous miracle is so familiar, many of us may even have come to treat it almost as a matter of course. The expression “he walks on water” is idiomatic in English for a person being really wonderful. Nevertheless, it is truly an extraordinary event.

Theophylact reminds the reader that this miracle shows that Jesus is greater than Moses. Moses parted the Red Sea with his staff, so that he and the people could walk through it on dry ground. But Jesus doesn’t have to divide the sea, he can just walk across it.

Elijah and Elisha also parted the Jordan with Elijah’s mantle (2 King 2:8 And Elijah took his mantle, and wrapped it together, and smote the waters, and they were divided hither and thither, so that they two went over on dry ground. 2Ki 2:13-14 He took up also the mantle of Elijah that fell from him, and went back, and stood by the bank of Jordan; and he took the mantle of Elijah that fell from him, and smote the waters, and said, Where is the LORD God of Elijah? and when he also had smitten the waters, they parted hither and thither: and Elisha went over.)

Joshua and the Levites bearing the ark also parted the Jordan.

Joshua 3:14-17
And it came to pass, when the people removed from their tents, to pass over Jordan, and the priests bearing the ark of the covenant before the people; and as they that bare the ark were come unto Jordan, and the feet of the priests that bare the ark were dipped in the brim of the water, (for Jordan overfloweth all his banks all the time of harvest,) that the waters which came down from above stood and rose up upon an heap very far from the city Adam, that is beside Zaretan: and those that came down toward the sea of the plain, even the salt sea, failed, and were cut off: and the people passed over right against Jericho. And the priests that bare the ark of the covenant of the LORD stood firm on dry ground in the midst of Jordan, and all the Israelites passed over on dry ground, until all the people were passed clean over Jordan.

That shows that that Jesus is greater than Moses, Joshua, Elijah, and Elisha, but it doesn’t quite show that Jesus is divine. Why then conclude that Jesus is divine from this miracle? The reason is that we are given prophecy in Job. Job describes God this way:

Job 9:8 Which alone spreadeth out the heavens, and treadeth upon the waves of the sea.

Jesus’ walking on the water was a testimony to His divinity. God alone can do this. No ordinary man, not even Moses could do that. Simon Peter tried and could not:

Matthew 14:28-30
And Peter answered him and said, Lord, if it be thou, bid me come unto thee on the water. And he said, Come. And when Peter was come down out of the ship, he walked on the water, to go to Jesus. But when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, Lord, save me.

We’re not told that the disciples remembered the prophecy from Job, but we are told that the disciples worshiped Jesus in response:

Matthew 14:32-33
And when they were come into the ship, the wind ceased. Then they that were in the ship came and worshipped him, saying, Of a truth thou art the Son of God.

Not only did the wind cease, but there was a further miracle:

John 6:19-21
So when they had rowed about five and twenty or thirty furlongs, they see Jesus walking on the sea, and drawing nigh unto the ship: and they were afraid. But he saith unto them, It is I; be not afraid. Then they willingly received him into the ship: and immediately the ship was at the land whither they went.

Notice that although they had gone about three and a half miles, once Jesus came into the ship the ship immediately arrived at the land where they were going. This too is a remarkable miracle. Who can move a ship instantly to its destination? Only God has this sort of power.

What mere prophet ever did a miracle like that? We can compare walking on water with dividing the water and walking through on dry ground, but to what will we compare this transportation of the ship? Jonah fled from the face of God in a boat, but on his account God kept the boat in the midst of the tempest despite the efforts of the sailors (Jonah 1:13 Nevertheless the men rowed hard to bring it to the land; but they could not: for the sea wrought, and was tempestuous against them.).

The Apostle himself was only able to his fellow travelers that none of the people on the ship would die, although the ship they were traveling on would be destroyed (Acts 27:22 And now I exhort you to be of good cheer: for there shall be no loss of any man’s life among you, but of the ship.)

Jesus was greater than the greatest apostles and prophets, for he could walk on water and could instantly transport a ship to its destination. No mere man has these abilities, but only God. God alone spreads out the heavens, and treads upon the waves of the sea.

Praise be to the Great God and our Lord Jesus Christ!

-TurretinFan

Is Jesus’ Divinity Clearly Revealed in Scripture?

November 28, 2009

Over in the ever-growing comment box at Called to Communion (a Roman Catholic blog), there is at least one man, Mr. Ciatoris, who is trying to argue that the Scriptures do not clearly teach that Jesus is God. (link to the comment box in question)

John Cassian (lived about A.D. 360 – 435) thought differently:

As we have finished three books with the most certain and the most valuable witnesses, whose truth is substantiated not only by human but also by Divine evidences, they would abundantly suffice to prove our case by Divine authority, especially as the Divine authority of the case itself would be enough for this. But still as the whole mass of the sacred Scriptures is full of these evidences, and where there are so many witnesses, there are so many opinions to be urged— nay where Holy Scripture itself gives its witness so to speak with one Divine mouth— we have thought it well to add some others still, not from any need of confirmation, but because of the supply of material at our disposal; so that anything which might be unnecessary for purposes of defense, might be useful by way of ornamentation. Therefore since in the earlier books we proved the Divinity of our Lord Jesus Christ while He was in the flesh by the evidence not only of prophets and apostles, but of evangelists and angels as well, let us now show that He who was born in the flesh was God even before His Incarnation; that you may understand by the harmony and concord of the evidences from the sacred Scriptures, that you ought to believe that at His birth in the body He was both God and man, who before His birth was only God, and that He who after He had been brought forth by the Virgin in the body was God, was before His birth from the Virgin, God the Word.

– John Cassian, On the Incarnation, Book IV, Chapter 1

John Cassian goes on to give this as his first example:

Learn then first of all from the Apostle the teacher of the whole world, that He who is without beginning, God, the Son of God, became the Son of man at the end of the world, i.e., in the fullness of the times. For he says: “But when the fullness of the times had come, God sent His Son, made of a woman, made under the law.” [Galatians 4:4] Tell me then, before the Lord Jesus Christ was born of His mother Mary, had God a Son or had He not? You cannot deny that He had, for never yet was there either a son without a father, or a father without a son: because as a son is so called with reference to a father, so is a father so named with reference to a son.

– John Cassian, On the Incarnation, Book IV, Chapter 1

After some discussion of the text, John Cassian states:

And so as it is clear from the above testimony that God sent His own Son, and that He who was ever the Son of God became the Son of man, let us see whether the same Apostle gives any other testimony of the same sort elsewhere, that the truth which is already clear enough in itself, may be rendered still more clear by the light of a twofold testimony. So then the same Apostle says: “God sent His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh.” [Romans 8:3] You see that the Apostle certainly did not use these words by chance or at random, as he repeated what he had already said once— for indeed there could not be found in him chance or want of consideration as the fullness of Divine counsel and speech had taken up its abode in him.

– John Cassian, On the Incarnation, Book IV, Chapter 3

But even leaving aside the fact that Mr. Ciatoris has a different view of Scripture than the fathers did, one has to wonder how Mr. Ciatoris cannot clearly see the divinity of Christ in this verse:

John 20:28 And Thomas answered and said unto him, My Lord and my God.

Or in the comparison of Jesus’ teachings here:

Matthew 4:10 Then saith Jesus unto him, Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.

Luke 4:8 And Jesus answered and said unto him, Get thee behind me, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.

With the practices here:

Mark 5:6 But when he saw Jesus afar off, he ran and worshipped him,

Matthew 28:9 And as they went to tell his disciples, behold, Jesus met them, saying, All hail. And they came and held him by the feet, and worshipped him.

Matthew 14:33 Then they that were in the ship came and worshipped him, saying, Of a truth thou art the Son of God.

Scriptures do clearly teach the divinity of Christ, which is why they are sometimes accused of corruption by our Muslim opponents, who refuse to accept Jesus’ claim to be the “I AM.”

John 8:58 Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am.

-TurretinFan

UPDATE: Mr. Ciatoris thinks I’m posting a “flimsy straw man” of his position. His own words, however, were: “I suppose I’m glad that Nicene orthodoxy is perspicuous to you. Without the Church’s authoritative guidance, it’s not to me.”

And later:

I was not giving examples of proof-texting, but taking examples of possible pro-Nicene proof-texts (one of which you’d used yourself in a pretty proof-text-y way in #290, the other of which, I admit, I tacked on gratis) and showing that an Arian could answer these. The possibility that an Arian could respond coherently and plausibly demonstrates the insufficiency of proof-texting. I was by no means endorsing the practice, though I can understand why you might have taken me to mean that proof-texting was a legitimate theater for theological battle—I didn’t mean that.

Another comment of his that seems relevant is this:

I’m having trouble seeing a principled difference between you and an Arian who might say, “Look, guys, we all agree that Jesus Christ is Lord and Savior of the world through His cross and resurrection. He’s the Son of God, the perfect image of the Father, indeed he is God – just not in the same way the Father is, you know, not consubstantial. You’re all obsessing about non-essentials when you insist on this silly homoousios language. It’s not biblical – we Arians stick with biblical language – and I’m not going to let these bishops try to tell me that their reading of Scripture is guided by the Holy Spirit.” What’s the difference, lojahw? Why draw the line in the fourth century? Why pick on all those poor Bible-reading Arians but give a free pass to the Bible-reading reformers of the 16th century?


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