Summary: The first of two messages exploring the Biblical evidence that Christ is God himself. The purpose of this series is both enrich our understanding of the person Christ and to equip each one of us to better defend our Lord in the face of increasing opposition to the truth.
JUST WHO IS CHRIST?
What does the Bible really say?
Part One - Christ: The Eternal Creator-God
Born in Bethlehem and placed in a manger, Jesus of Nazareth grew up in humble surroundings indeed. He lived as a pauper, was followed by a rag-tag band of mostly uneducated Galileans, and finally died a humiliating and agonising death on a Roman cross.
Yet this man is one whom millions worship over 2000 years later. Each week we come together to remember him – not as a memory but as a living, resurrected Being!
In the Bible, Christ is presented to us as the ‘Son of God’ (his position in the Godhead), the ‘Son of man’ (describing his humanity), and, amazingly, as the eternal God Himself!
All three aspects of our Lord will be covered in this short series but In this first message we’re going to examine Christ’s claim to God-head in the light of his eternal nature and his role as Creator.
Now some of you may be asking: ‘What’s the point of a series such as this? Most of us already believe that Christ is God. After all, it's one of the central tenets of the Christian faith!’
I agree, but are we fully equipped to defend this truth from Scripture? There are many out there who scoff at the notion that Christ is God. Even in Christ’s day the prevailing notion was that he was either Jeremiah, John the Baptist or Elijah (Matthew 16:14). And today, a common objection to Christ’s God-head (Deity) is based on the fact that there is only one God and that everywhere in the N.T. Christ is called the ‘Son of God’. So the conclusion is drawn that Christ, however powerful he may be, is either a created being or at most, inferior to the one, true God.
Now in one sense it's true, as Robert Anderson has rightly pointed out, that Christ ultimately needs no defence. Nevertheless, God jealously guards the truth of His Son and it’s both natural and required of disciples that they defend their Lord!
1 Peter 3:15 “….Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have..”
So this series is designed to equip you and me to better defend (and even increase) our faith. May the Holy Spirit speak to our hearts and minds as we begin!
THE PRE-EXISTENCE OF CHRIST
The first thing that all true believers would agree on, is that God is eternal – having no beginning or end. The Old Testament attests strongly to this truth:
Psalm 90:2 “Before the mountains were born
or you brought forth the whole world, from everlasting (olam) to everlasting (olam) you are God.”
Isaiah 40:28, “Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God (El Olam), the Creator of the ends of the earth.”
The term ‘everlasting’ is a translation of the Hebrew word ‘olam’ which means ‘eternity’ /‘time out of mind’/ ‘always’. And ‘olam’ applies equally to the past as it does to the future! It describes a Being who not only existed before the time-stream (as we understand it) but who had no beginning in any sense whatsoever!
It’s different with all created beings. The angels, whether or not they existed before the material creation (and Job 38:7 suggests that they did), are still merely created beings (Hebrews 1:7,14). Satan himself is certainly no eternally pre-existing being. Twice in Ezekiel 28:11-19, (a passage which seems to be in direct reference to Satan), his status as a created being (a cherub) is stressed (vv 13,15). In fact, this is the very thing that appears to have made his rebellion against God such a horrifying act of hubris - precipitating the once-glorious cherub’s summary expulsion from heaven!
So was Christ merely a created being – maybe on a par with the unfallen Lucifer (his ‘brother’ as some suggest)?
Such a notion is flatly contradicted by Scripture! In reference to the angels ,it's clear that they are, like Lucifer, also merely created beings! We don't know for sure when they were brought into being (in relation to the creation of the material universe) but the one certain fact is that they were created. It's further shown in Scripture that, far from being a powerful angel (an ‘aeon’ – as the Gnostics suggested) it was Christ himself who created all the angels:
Colossians 1:16: “For in him [i.e. Christ] all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities ( i.e. angelic beings – see Ephesians 6:12).
Imagine that! Christ created every spiritual being – including the Devil himself (in his unfallen state of course!). Yet many (such as the Zoroastrians) conceive the ‘struggle’ between ‘Good’ and ‘Evil’ as being a titanic battle between equal and opposite forces!