Summary: The Trinity, Incarnation, Lordship of Christ and various heresies are discussed, along with the importance of sound doctrine.
The deity of Christ
APOLOGIES- Scratching surface; hard thing is not how to find info, it’s what to select and cut to make digestible.
1. TRINITY & INCARNATION
WHY the Trinity/Incarnation? Huge subject, possibly the hugest. What could be bigger than GOD (i.e. the Creator of all men) becoming MAN (i.e. just like one of His creatures)? Tony Hart & Morph! Don’t study this = don’t study anything!
WHAT is the Trinity/Incarnation? The second person of the Trinity becoming and remaining Man. Below is a very crude and not necessarily 100% accurate diagram. The titles & verses given to each Person are not necessarily exclusive to the ‘time categories’ they are placed in (e.g. God is always YHWH, not just BC). The Bible verses are all true and reliable though, obviously!
(If we could fully understand the Trinity and the Incarnation within our created minds, we would be equal to or greater than the Creator, which would mean He would be less than omnipotent Sovereign, which is impossible and paradoxical. “No servant is greater than his master.” Therefore don’t feel bad if you don’t ‘get it’. Just be humble, trust, obey and worship. Psalm 131, Matthew 18:1-5.)
WHEN? WHERE? WHO? HOW??!
Further study points: John 1; the Creeds, especially the Athanasian; various systematic theologies (e.g. Grudem, Berkhof, Hodge).
Question: how would you answer a Jehovah’s Witness who quotes 1 Cor.14:33 to you as an argument against the mystery of the Trinity?
2. God, Lord and other claims
Jesus is God
Jesus is Lord, kyrios (as the Father is Lord)
Other claims to deity
• “Before Abraham was, I am” (John 8:58, cf. Ex 3:14)
• Alpha and Omega (Rev 1:8 cf. Rev. 22:13)
• The Word (John 1:1 cf. Ps 33:6)
• Son of God (Matt 11:25-30; 17:5; 1 Cor.15:28; Heb 1)
Question: Can you list any other titles of Jesus here which suggest His deity? How does knowing this about Jesus help you to tell not-yet-Christian friends about Him?
3. Evidence of attributes of deity
• Omnipotence over storm, multiplying fish, changing water into wine, casting out demons, raising the dead, walking on water
• Eternal nature- see first two of ‘other claims’
• Omnipresence- where two or three are gathered (Matt.18:20) even to the end (Matt.28:20)
• Immortality- John 2:19, Heb 7:16
• Worthy to be worshipped- only God (Rev.19:10; Phil 2:9-11; Heb 1:6, Rev.5:12-13)
Question: Can you find any really good examples in Scripture of Jesus showing some of God’s characteristics? How does knowing this about Jesus help you to tell not-yet-Christian friends about Him?
4. Why did He need to be God?
• Only infinite God could take the penalty of all the trillions of sins committed by us, causing infinite, eternal and humanly irreparable damage to our relationship with an infinite-personal Creator. Because God is infinite, sins committed against His character are as well, so they can only be dealt with by an infinite-finite, immortal-mortal, God-man.
• salvation is from the Lord (Jonah 2:9), not from any created thing. How could a creature save other creatures from the Creator of all?
Question: why do you think it is important that our Saviour is very God? Imagine if He wasn’t. What difference would it make to you?
5. Heresies- what are they, why do they exist and why are they serious?
a. Apollinarianism- 33% human (body, but not mind or spirit), 67% God (mind and spirit). X- Not just body needs redeeming.
b. Nestorianism- 100% human, 100% divine, TWO persons. X- Jesus always speaks of “I”, not “we”; all His actions have integrity and wholeness and unity; He is not a split personality, though he does have two ‘parallel’ natures, they are perfectly at harmony and constitut the one person, just as God has three persons and yet is one in nature and substance.
c. Monophysiticsm (Eutychianism)- 50:50 mixture of human and divine to bring a new, single nature. X- in this view, Jesus is neither God nor man, not able to reveal the former or represent the latter.
d. Kenosis. Jesus gave up some of the attributes of divinity? No- he took on humanity, and thereby humbled himself, explaining Phil. 2:7.