Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Does the New Testament Teach that Jesus is God?

A week or so ago, I had the classic knock at the door from a well known non-Christian sect which denies the deity of Christ. With the pressures of work, ministry and family life, I usually respond with a warm but firm: "no thank you". However, on this occasion I decided to stop and explain why I could never embrace their teaching: they deny the deity of Christ and therefore exclude themselves from God's offer of salvation. It really is that serious.

It just so happens that I have been spending some time in the gospels. As I read the gospels afresh, the revelation of Jesus as the incarnate Son of the Living God is something I cannot help but see as being the beginning, the middle and the end of the story. It is the central thesis. The author of the book is the main character of the story.

Mark opens his gospel (good news) with the words:

"The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God." Mark 1:1

Of course, Jehovah's Witnesses will agree that Jesus is the Son of God, but they also redefine what this means. To them it simply means that Jesus is an arc angel, the highest and most special of all God's creation. Of course, the scriptures allow us no such view. In Exodus, God's people are instructed to worship no one but God:

"Do not worship any other god, for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God." Ex. 34:14

Yet the New Testament clearly reveals a Jesus who not only has power over nature, but a Jesus who is worshipped.

In Mathew's gospel (Ch14), we find the disciples in a boat in the midst of a storm. Jesus comes walking on the water, He allows Peter to walk on water in order to confirm that it is Him, he saves him as he bottles it and almost drowns, then finally steps into the boat and the storm resides. The outcome?

And those in the boat worshipped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”

This meets with no rebuke from the Lord. In fact, Mathew, like the other narrators are keen to progressively show us the unfolding of the revelation of Jesus. The gospel writers are unashamed to show the dullness of the disciples. The gospels are a journey, a journey where the disciples grow in faith and understanding that Jesus is the Christ. Of course, by the end of the gospels and book of Acts we have an ascended glorified Christ who pours out His Spirit upon those who believe.

If Jesus is not God, the disciples where idolaters, Jesus and the gospel writers were false teachers and the New Testament is not the Word of God, for they clearly teach that Jesus is God the Son. It is unmistakable. The New Testament reveals the saviour of the world, God incarnate who dies in our place, rises from the dead and is seated in Glory. As CS Lewis said, Jesus is either a Liar, a Lunatic or He is in fact Lord. What we cannot claim him to be is a superior teacher, for He Himself is active in revealing his divine nature. Let us follow in the footsteps of the disciples and worship Him.

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