Summary: The second message in this series, giving further proofs from the Bible that Jesus Christ is God himself. This includes Christ as the Image of God, Christ the sharer in God's Glory, Christ the receiver of worship and Christ the forgiver of sins.
JUST WHO IS CHRIST?
What does the Bible really say?
Part Two - Christ: God in the New Testament
In the last message, we saw that Christ’s eternal pre-existence and his pivotal role in creation both stamp him undeniably as being part of the Godhead (Elohim).
But the Bible gives many more proofs that attest to the Deity of our beloved Lord.
Let’s pursue this by exploring just how Christ is portrayed in the New Testament. The third message will explain how it all fits together when we explore the ‘Trinity’ as it's presented to us in the Bible.
CHRIST: THE IMAGE OF GOD
In addition to what we can conclude from Christ’s timelessness and his role in creation, the Bible tells us very directly that he is in God’s image:
Colossians 1:15 “The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation.”
Now an image (‘eìkòn’) is something (or someone) in whom the likeness of anything is seen. We’re told here that Christ is the ‘image’ of the invisible God. But remember what God said in Isaiah 40:25:
“To whom will you compare me? Or who is my equal?”
(And in that same chapter, God goes on to stress His uniqueness as the great Creator).
The point here is that only God can be in the image of God! Yahweh confirmed this when He said: “I am the Lord; that is my name! I will not yield my glory to another or my praise to idols.” (Isaiah 42:8)
Yet Christ is in God’s image! When he was pressed by Philip to reveal the Father, his reply was revealing:
“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)
It's easy to dismiss this statement as meaning something like: ‘Anyone who has seen my character has seen the Father because in some respects I’m like Him (as we would say: like a ‘chip off the old block’).
But Christ then goes on immediately to indicate that his relationship with the Father is far more real, intimate and complex than this:
“Don't you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me? The words I say to you I do not speak on my own authority. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work.” (John 14:10)
On another occasion, Christ made the profound declaration:
“I and the Father are one.” (John 10:30)
That was too much for the scribes and they prepared to stone the Lord. Their reason?
“We are not stoning you for any good work……….but for blasphemy, because you, a mere man, claim to be God.” (v33)
They couldn’t see what was staring them in the face – that they were in the presence of God Himself!
Now by itself, it's true that Christ being in the ‘image’ of God may not (for some) be conclusive proof of his deity. An argument could be made that the ‘image’ of God – like an ‘image’ of an idol is not actually the real thing. Also, Christ and the Father being ‘one’ (and the Father living in Christ) could be simply indicating a unity of the two in thought and purpose (although the Jews certainly didn't interpret Christ’s words in this way)!
But now we come to passages that are much harder to explain away:
Look at the description of Christ as given in Hebrews 1:3, “The Son is the radiance of God's glory and the exact representation of his being.”
The term “radiance (àpaúgasma) of God’s glory” is a very telling one. There is a glory that is reflected in the way that the moon reflects the glory of the sun. We also see this in the way that the face of Moses reflected God’s glory (Exodus 34:29) and the way the believer reflects the glory of Christ (2 Corinthians 3:18). And if Christ simply represented ‘aspects’ or ‘characteristics’ of God, this ‘glory’ seen in him would be this kind of glory - roughly analogous to the virtues of an earthly father manifested in his son!
But ‘àpaúgasma’ is different: the word describes a literal ‘out-shining from within’ / an ‘out-pouring’. Vine defines it as light coming from a luminous body. Christ’s glory wasn't a reflected glory (as it would have been had he been simply an instrument in creation – or someone merely representing God): it was an essential, personal glory of an eternal existence. Certainly Christ, as a man, brought glory to the Father but this expression goes far beyond that: in fact, he actually shared God’s glory. Listen to what the Lord says in the wonderful high-priestly prayer of John 17: