A Bible Study by Jack Kelley
Recently my belief that Jesus is God in human form was challenged again. This has happened to me several times in the past and while I’ve laid out the Biblical basis for my belief in several articles I’ve never specifically addressed the common objections others have put forth. In this study, I’ll do just that.
But first I want to lay a brief theological foundation that in my opinion proves that Jesus has to be God in human form. In fact, I think it will demonstrate that if Jesus isn’t God then none of us is saved. It’s based on three points.
1. All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23)
2. Without the shedding of blood, there is no forgiveness of sin (Hebrews 9:22)
3. A righteous man for an unrighteous mankind (1 Peter 3:18)
All Have Sinned
Adam was created in the image of God. He had the freedom to choose right or wrong, the intellect with which to decide, and he was immortal. When he sinned he was exercising his right to choose, but one of the consequences of his choice was that he became mortal. Another was that all of his descendants would be born with a sin nature that would make it impossible for them to live a sin free life. That meant there was no way for them to live up to God’s standards and expect to spend eternity with Him. Without a means of redemption, they would all be hopelessly lost because since that time all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23).
No Blood, No Forgiveness
From cover to cover the Bible consistently teaches that it takes the shedding of blood to reverse the consequences of sin. When Adam and Eve became conscious of their sin and hid from God, He clothed them with the skins of animals. This symbolized “covering” them through the shedding of blood so they could stand before Him (Genesis 3:21). God also taught Cain and Abel that the only acceptable offering involved the shedding of blood. When Cain presented an improper offering it was rejected, and God admonished him saying, “If you do what is right will you not be accepted?” (Genesis 4:7). In Egypt, the Israelites were saved from the destroyer by the blood of a lamb applied to their doorposts (Exodus 12:7,13).
Later, after Moses documented it in the Torah we could see that the entire Levitical system was based on the shedding of blood. According to the amplified version of Hebrews 9:22, under the Law almost everything is purified by means of blood, and without the shedding of blood there is neither release from sin and its guilt nor the remission of the due and merited punishment for sins.
The Righteous For The Unrighteous
As the revelation of God’s remedy for the sins of the people progresses through the Old Testament we begin to see that the only animals acceptable for sin offerings were those that symbolize innocence in our minds. Who can think of anything more innocent than a year old lamb? It was this animal God chose to demonstrate the need for innocent blood to be shed for the remission of sin (Exodus 30:38). We also learn that these animals had to be perfect specimens, free from spot or blemish (Exodus 12:5).
From the New Testament, we learn that even these perfect innocent animals could only set the sins of the people aside temporarily. They were a model of the sacrifice God required, not the sacrifice itself. Eventually it would take the blood of a perfect, innocent man to pay for the sins of mankind (Hebrews 10:1-14). A righteous man would have to pay the price for the sins of unrighteous mankind to bring us to God (1 Peter 3:18).
The problem was there were no perfect innocent men. From the first children of Adam and Eve to this very day there has not been a perfect sin free man among their natural descendants who could be offered as a sacrifice for the sins of mankind. We are all contaminated by our sin nature and are not acceptable to redeem mankind even if we wanted to, because we’re not perfect innocent specimens.
Many people don’t realize this, but being sin free is not just a matter of preventing oneself from doing certain things. Sin begins in our heart, in our thoughts and desires, and the heart of man is incurably wicked (Jeremiah 17:9). Because of our sin nature it’s impossible to prevent ourselves from having a sinful thought now and then. It only takes one, and no matter how fleeting it is, as soon as it comes we’re no longer sin free. The Pharisees were obsessive about keeping the Law, but Jesus said even their righteousness was not sufficient to gain them entrance into the kingdom (Matt. 5:20).
Angels can take on the appearance of men and according to Hebrews 13:2 some of us have entertained angels without knowing it. But it is strictly forbidden for angels to actually become men and those who did so in the past are even now chained in dark prisons awaiting their judgment (Jude 1:6). Even though the angels who remain faithful to God don’t sin, man cannot be saved by the sacrifice of an angel.
So then, the blood of animals could only temporarily set man’s sins aside. All natural born men are disqualified because of their sin nature. Angels are forbidden. There was only one way humans could be saved and it required God Himself to become human. And to be human, He had to come into the world in the way of all people. He had to be born of a woman.
But as we’ve seen above, when you combine the egg of an earthly woman with the sperm of an earthly man their offspring will inherit a sin nature and be disqualified. To maintain His purity, God had to be born of a woman but without an earthly father. In this way He could be all God and all man, a perfect, innocent specimen of mankind. The one we know as Jesus is the only one in the history of mankind to be so.
Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them. Such a high priest truly meets our need—one who is holy, blameless, pure, set apart from sinners, exalted above the heavens (Hebr. 7:25-26).
What Was The Question?
With that beginning, there are five places in the New Testament where testimony is given to support the fact that Jesus is God in human form. These are the verses I use to explain my belief in the deity of Jesus and naturally they are also the verses others focus on in denying it.
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning (John 1:1-2).
The naysayers would have us believe that because the name “Jesus” does not appear in this passage my belief that its about Jesus is just a private interpretation that can’t be confirmed. Let’s see if they’re right.
John went on to explain who “the Word” is. I say “who” because John used the personal pronoun “He” in referring to him. Verse 3 tells us all things were made through Him and without Him nothing that has been made was made. That makes “the Word” the Creator of all. Verse 10 says He was in the world and though the world was made by Him the world did not recognize Him. Even His own people did not receive Him.
John 1:12-13 say that to all who received Him and believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God. In verse 14 John said the Word became flesh and dwelt among us. Several translations of verse 18 (but not all) tell us that no one has ever seen God, but His one and only son, who is God Himself, has made Him known to us. Even without the testimony of verse 18, it seems clear to me that John was speaking of Jesus throughout. But there’s more.
The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. (Colossians 1:15-16).
Here the argument is that Colossians 1:15 says Jesus is the image of God, not God himself and that verse 16 is describing God not Jesus. But what verse 15 means is that the Son is the visible form of the invisible God. And to say that verse 16 is describing God and not Jesus is a violation of the context. Colossians 1: 15-18 are all about Jesus. They only mention God as being the invisible One of whom Jesus is the visible image.
It’s worth noting that in Colossians 1:16 Paul attributed the creation of all things to the Son. John 1:3 says the Word made everything that was made. This confirms that “the Word” and “the Son” are one and the same.
I and my Father are one (John 10:30).
These are the words of Jesus Himself and the controversy is over the Greek word translated “one”. Here’s the position of those who deny the deity of Jesus.
“John 10:30 is quite a controversial verse however when you read it in the Greek you learn that the Greeks have different words for the word one. There is a word for one in the same and a word for one in purpose. The Greek word used here is the word for one in purpose not one in the same.”
Every major English translation agrees that this verse says, “I and the Father are one”. The Greek word translated “one” in this verse was used to say the number one when counting in Greek. A plain sense reading of the verse indicates that Jesus was saying He and the Father are one. Most Bibles offer no further explanation or clarification, indicating the verse means what it says. Only those who deny the deity of Jesus have trouble accepting this. And remember, the Jews wanted Jesus put to death for claiming to be God, not for claiming to have the same goals or purpose as God.
Jesus answered: “Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? (John 14:9)
This verse confirms Paul’s statement in Colossians 1:15 above and the statement in Hebr. 1:3 that, “The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being.” Jesus plainly told Philip that He is the visible form of the invisible God. But the naysayers use their interpretation of John 10:30 to justify their claim that in John 14:9 Jesus really meant we can see God in the works of Jesus Christ.
But about the Son he says, “Your throne, O God, will last for ever and ever; a scepter of justice will be the scepter of your kingdom (Hebr. 1:8).
This is God speaking about His son. Again, all the major translations are nearly identical and they all capitalize “God” to indicate the fact that the Father considers the Son to be a deity. Here’s the opposing view.
“Hebrew 1:8 is also very controversial however if you look at the previous context you can see the distinction between God and Christ. Calling someone god is actually an eastern custom. Moses was called a god in Exodus 7:1 and the children of God were also called gods in Psalms 82:6. Calling someone god is a form of respect when someone holds a high place of office. In the East servants to this day call their king lord or god. Wives also in the east refer to their husbands as lord. So calling Jesus God in this verse is just a misunderstanding from not recognizing eastern customs.”
Notice the writer of this opinion used the lower case “god” in every instance except where he was speaking of God the Father, and remember that in every translation of Hebr. 1:8 the word God is capitalized when speaking of the Son.
In the King James version of Exodus 7:1 God said when Moses went before Pharaoh with his brother Aaron, he would be “a god” (lower case “g”) to Pharaoh and Aaron would be his prophet. Other translations say he would be “as” God or “like God”. The idea here is that God was sending Moses in His place, and Aaron would speak for Moses like a prophet speaks for God. Moses was not being called God.
In Psalm 82:6 the word “god” appears in reference to the Israelites. Again note the lower case, which means it refers to a “ruler or judge”. And if you read the whole Psalm you’ll see how sarcastic God is being there. In the first verse, He referred to Himself as “God” who gives judgment among the “gods”. Then He accused them of faulty and corrupt practices and warned them to start defending the cause of the less fortunate among them and start showing mercy. In verses 6-7 He said, “You are gods but you will die like mere men, you will fall like every other ruler.” No one believes God was addressing the Israelites as deity.
It’s true that the word “Lord” is used as a term of respect for rulers, judges and perhaps even husbands in various parts of the world. But no one in these places believes the one they’re addressing is the God of the universe. The claim that a literal interpretation of Hebrews 1:8 is incorrect due to a misunderstanding of Eastern customs is an argument without merit.
I began by showing that Jesus could only be qualified to serve as the perfect sacrifice required to save us if He actually is God in human form. Now we see the testimony of John (John 1:1-2) Paul (Colossians 1:15-16) Jesus (John 10:30, John 14:9) the writer of Hebrews (Hebr. 1:3) and God Himself (Hebr. 1:8) all saying that’s the case.
I’ve said before that I don’t think you have to believe Jesus is God in human form before you can ask Him to save you. But the Bible is clear that after you’re saved you should come to understand that’s who He is. Because of the increasing presence of false teaching in the Church today and the lack of emphasis on personal study, many are not aware of the fact that it took the sacrifice of God himself to save them. When asked about it they can only repeat what they’ve heard, and sadly much of what they’ve heard is not consistent with sound doctrine.
If what you’ve read here is new information for you, I urge you to look up the references I’ve cited and study them for yourself. Paul warned us not to risk our eternal destiny on the opinions of others, but to search the Scriptures daily to see if what they say is true (Acts 17:11). It’s too important to take anyone else’s word for it. Selah 06-08-13