Part 1 of a series on the identity of Jesus of Nazareth.
Jesus is God: fully human, and fully divine. From the early church on, Christians have believed that God is one, but that he is three persons: Father, Son and Spirit — also known as the Trinity or the Triune Godhead. The words Trinity or Triune are not found in Scripture, but as we will discover, the concept is found all throughout the Bible.
While a Triune God may be beyond human logic, it is not illogical. We also believe that God is eternal. And while eternality is certainly beyond human logic, that does not make it illogical. The Scriptures teach that God is both Triune and eternal. Both are essential aspects of true, biblical faith.
Some suggest that the First Council of Nicaea, held in AD 325, contrived the doctrines that Jesus is God and that God is Triune. In actual fact, this council only confirmed and articulated what had been embraced by Christians from the earliest of times.
In this series, we will consider what the Scriptures have to say about the identity of Jesus the God-Man. Links to relevant passages are provided, and the reader is encouraged to follow these up personally and check everything against Scripture — just as the Bereans were praised for doing in Acts 17:10-11.
Let us begin with some simple logic. The Bible is emphatic that there is no God besides Yahweh (Deuteronomy 4:35). We also read that God is a saviour (Isaiah 45:21) and that besides Him there is no saviour (Isaiah 43:11, Hosea 13:4). Consider then that the New Testament calls Jesus ‘saviour’ over a dozen times. How could Jesus be the saviour if he were not one with the God of the Old Testament?
Here is another logical path for us to tread. The Bible commands us to worship God alone and no-one else (Deuteronomy 5:7, Deuteronomy 6:13-14, Deuteronomy 11:16). And God has sworn that He will not give His glory to another (Isaiah 42:8, Isaiah 48:11). In fact, King Herod was struck down for accepting the worship that was due to God (Acts 12:21-23).
Yet in the final great scenes of the New Testament, we find every creature in heaven and on earth worshipping Jesus, declaring, “Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing.” (Revelation 5:11-13) Why would the Bible tell us this, unless Jesus is divine?
Indeed, Jesus accepts worship on many occasions: from a man with leprosy (Matthew 8:2), a man who had been born blind (John 9:38), and from the disciples — before Jesus’ death (Matthew 14:33), after His resurrection (Matthew 28:17), and following His ascension (Luke 24:52).
Keep in mind that elsewhere in Scripture, men and angels reject worship when it is directed at them (Acts 10:25-26, Revelation 19:10, Revelation 22:8-9). But Jesus never rejects worship. Why would Jesus accept worship if He isn’t God?
Truly, the identity of Jesus Christ is no small thing. Our salvation depends on our response to the Gospel (1 Corinthians 15:1-4). This includes understanding and believing who Christ is.
The Bible warns against people who preach another gospel (Galatians 1:8-9) and people who preach another Jesus (2 Corinthians 11:4). Did you know that more than one Jesus is believed in throughout the world? There is a Jesus who is Satan’s brother (Mormonism) and a Jesus who is only a prophet (Islam). Believing in any Jesus isn’t enough: we must believe in the right Jesus to be saved.
Jesus Himself taught that to believe His true identity is essential for saving faith (John 8:24). What is that identity? No less than the very voice — the ‘I AM’ (έγώ είμι) — that spoke to Moses from the burning bush (John 8:58).
What issue could be more important than the identity of Jesus of Nazareth?