Center for Biblical Theology and Eschatology
Is Jesus Christ God?
by James M. Frye
Many people today claim that Jesus Christ is God, while others say he is not. What difference does it make what we believe about Jesus Christ? Is it that important of an issue?
- Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son.
2 John 9
According to this passage, if we do not have the correct doctrine about Jesus Christ, we do not have God at all. What we believe, then, is critical. Our very salvation depends upon it.
Which Jesus Christ?
As we have already seen, it is critical who we believe Jesus Christ is. The Bible says that some people are preaching a false Jesus.
- But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ. For if he that cometh preacheth another Jesus, whom we have not preached, or if ye receive another spirit, which ye have not received, or another gospel, which ye have not accepted, ye might well bear with him.
2 Corinthians 11:3-4
This passage warns us that not every "Jesus" that people believe in is necessarily the Jesus of the Bible. Let me give you an example to make my point. Let's suppose that I come to you and tell you about Jesus. I tell you that Jesus was a fruit farmer from Florida who taught that if you could pick 100 oranges in an hour, you would then be saved. Could you be saved by believing in such a Jesus? Of course not! But why not? After all, you would be professing to believe in Jesus.
This rather extreme illustration serves to make a point. Believing in someone called "Jesus" is not enough. It must be the right Jesus. It must be the Jesus of the Bible, for only he can save us from our sins.
Believing That Jesus Christ is God is Essential for Salvation
- And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book: But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name.
This passage tells us we must believe that Jesus is "the Son of God" to have life (eternal life). That is, we must believe that Jesus is the Son of God to be saved. But what does this term "Son of God" mean? We may have various ideas about what this term means, but the important thing is not what you or I think it means. What does it mean in the Bible? We have already seen that we can use the term "Jesus" and not use it to mean the Jesus of the Bible.
So what does the term "Son of God" mean in the Bible? What did those who heard Jesus speak in person understand him to mean when he said that God was his Father?
- But Jesus answered them, My father worketh hitherto, and I work. Therefore the Jews sought the more to kill him, because he not only had broken the sabbath, but said also that God was his Father, making himself equal with God.
This passage tells us clearly what they understood him to mean. They understood he was "making himself equal with God." The term "Son of", in this sense, means "to have the same nature as". The Jews understood that for a person to claim that God was his Father was to claim that he himself was God. Jesus said,
- I and my Father are one.
What did Jesus mean by this statement? Again, what did those who heard him in person understand him to mean? The passage goes on to tell us.
- Then the Jews took up stones again to stone him. Jesus answered them, Many good works have I shewed you from my Father; for which of those works do ye stone me? The Jews answered him, saying, For a good work we stone thee not; but for blasphemy; and because that thou, being a man, makest thyself God.
When Jesus claimed "I and my father are one", he claimed to be God.
The New Testament Teaches That Jesus Christ is God
The New Testament is filled with the truth that Jesus Christ is both God and man. He is the God-Man.
- And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness; God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory.
1 Timothy 3:16
- In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.
- Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood.
The last passage says that God purchased the Church with his own blood. Surely this is only possible if God became a man.
- Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.
We see, then, that in the beginning before Jesus came to Earth, he was "in the form of God" and "equal with God". That is, he was God. But then, in coming to Earth, he took upon himself the "form of a servant" and was made in the "likeness of men". That is, he became a man also.
- 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.
"All the fulness" - Jesus Christ is not only 100% man, he is also 100% God.
The Old Testament Teaches That Jesus Christ is God
- For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.
There is to be a child born who is to be called The mighty God. Jesus was this child.
- But unto the Son he saith, THY THRONE, O GOD, IS FOR EVER AND EVER: A SCEPTRE OF RIGHTEOUSNESS IS THE SCEPTRE OF THY KINGDOM.
Hebrews 1:8 (quoting Psalm 45:6)
Here we again have a Son who is also God.
- And I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplications: and they shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him, as one mourneth for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness for his firstborn.
God is speaking through the prophet Zechariah and saying "They shall look upon me (God) whom they have pierced." God is the one who is to be pierced. In the New Testament, this passage is said to be fulfilled when they pierced Jesus Christ.
- But one of the soldiers with a spear pierced his side, and forthwith came there out blood and water. And he that saw it bare record, and his record is true: and he knoweth that he saith true, that ye might believe. For these things were done, that the scripture should be fulfilled, A BONE OF HIM SHALL NOT BE BROKEN. And again another scripture saith, THEY SHALL LOOK ON HIM WHOM THEY PIERCED.
In Matthew chapter 4, Satan came to Jesus and tempted him.
- And saith unto him, All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me. 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.
In this text, Jesus refuses to worship Satan and states that God alone is to be worshipped.
In the book of Acts, Peter goes to a man named Cornelius to preach the Gospel unto him.
- And as Peter was coming in, Cornelius met him, and fell down at his feet, and worshipped him. But Peter took him up, saying, Stand up; I myself also am a man.
Peter would not allow himself to be worshipped. Obviously, it is not proper to worship men.
In the Book of Revelation, John was given a vision by an angel.
- And I John saw these things, and heard them. And when I had heard and seen, I fell down to worship before the feet of the angel which shewed me these things. Then saith he unto me, See thou do it not: for I am thy fellow-servant, and of thy brethren the prophets, and of them which keep the sayings of this book: worship God.
From the verses above, we see that men and angels are not to be worshipped. Only God is to be worshipped. This is significant because although both Peter and an angel would not allow themselves to be worshipped, Jesus Christ allowed himself to be worshipped on multiple occasions. (See the following verses) Not only that, God commands all the angels to worship Jesus Christ.
- And again, when he bringeth in the firstbegotten into the world, he saith, AND LET ALL THE ANGELS OF GOD WORSHIP HIM.
- And, behold, there came a leper and worshipped him, saying, Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean.
- While he spake these things unto them, behold, there came a certain ruler, and worshipped him, saying, My daughter is even now dead: but come and lay thy hand upon her, and she shall live.
- Then they that were in the ship came and worshipped him, saying, Of a truth thou art the Son of God.
- Then came she and worshipped him, saying, Lord, help me.
- 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.
- And when they saw him, they worshipped him: but some doubted.
- And Thomas answered and said unto him, My Lord and my God. Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.
In the last passage, Jesus not only allows Thomas to worship him as God, he also pronounces a blessing upon all of us who will believe and do the same.
Some people say that Jesus is not God. They say that he was just a good teacher. But understand, if Jesus was not God yet allowed himself to be worshipped, he would not have been a good teacher at all. He would have been a sinner and a blasphemer.
We have seen that believing in "Jesus" is not enough. We must believe in the Jesus of the Bible, lest someone deceive us by preaching "another Jesus".
The Bible clearly teaches that Jesus Christ is God.
- Jesus claimed to be God. (John 5:17-18; John 10:30-33; etc.)
- The New Testament teaches that Jesus is God. (1 Timothy 3:16; Colossians 2:8-9; etc.)
- The Old Testament teaches that Jesus is God. (Isaiah 9:6; Zechariah 12:10; etc.)
- Jesus allowed himself to be worshipped, (Matthew 8:2; John 20:28-29; etc.), despite the fact that the Bible says we are to worship God only. (Matthew 4:10)
So, is Jesus Christ God? Your eternal destiny hangs on how you answer this question.
May God bless you as you do His work.
COPYRIGHT ©1998 - James M. Frye - Used by Permission - A Grace Bible Church Publication - For other free materials, write us at: "Grace Bible Church, PO Box 40, Mt. Liberty, OH 43048. Email: GBC@ecr.net. PUBLISHER'S NOTE: All scripture quotations are taken from the Authorized King James Bible. Any deviations are not intentional.