The Deity of Christ (Part 1)
The study of eschatology and the eschatological view of Preterism is a very important doctrinal study that is quickly gaining interest within Christian circles today. Although it is still looked at for the most part with a jaundice eye, it has finally caught the tentative eye of the futurist camp of the Christian church of today. For all of this, I am grateful, and honored to be apart of this eschatological reformation. It has grown in leaps and bounds from the days when I first got involved in speaking on the topic at seminars in the mid 90’s.
Yet sad to say, as great as this news is for us as Preterists, there is a lot of division and disjuncture among us that has, and is going to hinder people from embracing the truth of covenant fulfillment and a completed eschaton. Even sadder still, many of the disjointed views are not isolated to the field of eschatology itself, but involve some of the most rudiment, fundamental, and basic truths of the Christian faith. I understand that there will always be differences of views on some concepts and details of the parousia. I understand that not everyone will agree one hundred percent with each other as to the exact meaning right down to the most minuscule detail on some of the chapters and verses in the book of Revelation, and that’s okay. None of us have it all figured out in the study of the “end times”. However it is one thing to be correct or incorrect in a non essential doctrine such as eschatology; but to be incorrect in an essential of the faith, is to be caught dead in your sins and therefore without life! There is one essential doctrine that you must believe in, or you are doomed to die in your sins! This essential doctrine I am referring to is the doctrine of the deity of Jesus Christ! This takes precedence over anything else you believe about the Bible! Get this one doctrine wrong, and you’re wrong enough to spend eternity doomed without God.
There are many great minds within the Preterists circles. And I have been privileged to meet many of them personally. (Some I have been able to at least converse with over the phone.) Yet to my chagrin there are those who have unknowingly denied the faith by denying the deity of our Lord Jesus! I say this to our shame! May I add that if we present a flawed Christology, then how can we not understand why mainstream Christianity will not concede to our eschatological views. In light of this, I’m sure that the few who have preached this blaspheme have caused the preterist view to be discarded as completely heretical by the mainstream futurist Christian community! Moreover, if I likewise was introduced to the view of preterism in the days that I was a futurist, by one such a person, I would have also discarded it as a heretical teaching! We have become very soft in our admonishment of some of these blasphemers who are even truculent in their slander of our Lord and savior! I will not tolerate or compromise on this essential doctrine for any reason whatsoever! My call to arms is that all my brothers and sisters in the preterist circles will stand firm in this doctrine as well.
My goal in this article and subsequent articles that I intend to write; is to arm and give the reader the ammunition that is needed to combat these enemies of God! (And yes, they are enemies of God! There is no other way I can state it! Nor will I sugar coat it!) These counterfeit Christians are not Christians at all for the fact that they preach another Jesus that is foreign to the Bible! They present another Jesus that should not entertained in any way shape or form! I will not put up with their blaspheme, and I hope and trust you will not either! If someone has studied the Bible and this topic, reached the conclusion that Jesus is not God, and then preaches this other Jesus – which they claim is not God incarnate who tabernacled among us (Jn.1:14) then that person is an enemy and not a true Christian! They are guilty of bringing another gospel! I myself, want to assure anyone from the futurist camp that is at least open enough to look into the tenants of preterism to feel comfortable enough, as to not feel as if they are looking into a cult. I want them to understand that the majority of us as preterists adhere to the fundamentals of the Christian faith whereas the deity of Jesus is an unmovable foundation stone!
2 Cor 11:4 (NKJV)
“For if he who comes preaches another Jesus whom we have not preached, or if you receive a different spirit which you have not received, or a different gospel which you have not accepted—you may well put up with it!”
Gal. 1:8 (NKJV)
“But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed.”
I have found that in many encounters with Christian cults my beloved brothers and sisters in Christ are not prepared to give a proper defense of the deity of Jesus. So with that in mind, from the onset, I want to again state that my goal and mission in this and some of my upcoming articles is to do just that. To prepare brothers and sisters to be able to give good sound logical apologetics for what they believe about Jesus! I intend to look at what Jesus had to say of Himself in reference to this great topic and what His audience understood concerning His claim. What the New Testament as well as Old Testament writers inspired by the Holy Spirit wrote on the topic. I think we will also look at some of the writings of the early church fathers and their views on the deity of Jesus.
While He graced this earth with His presence, He was the ‘Godman” in Greek it’s the word Theanthropos (Θεάνθρωπος). That means He was one hundred percent God while at the same time one hundred percent man! I would hope that to be able to defend this truth would be a burning desire in each of us; as even likened and exampled in the life of the Apostle Paul. Especially for those who have been called to ministry as myself, the need, feel, and call to defend the gospel. (Phil.1:17) We should all be able to give a defense for the hope that is within us. (1 Peter 3:15)
Without further ado, lets get started. Fact number one is that the deity of Jesus Christ is the cornerstone of our faith! It has been attacked more than any other doctrine since Jesus first proclaimed it in the first century! I want you to know that historically speaking the Deity of Jesus was never even challenged within the Christian church until about the year A.D. 190 when a Byzantine leather merchant (Shoemaker / tanner ) named Theodotus denied it! Of course the Judiazers and unbelievers challenged it from the beginning. But I’m speaking of members of the primitive church, those who professed to be Christian and were members of the church of the first couple of centuries. Of such we have both Oriegn of Alexandria Egypt (A.D. 185 -254) and Arius of Alexandria Egypt (AD.250-336) these are of the most profound champions of the day for the heresy of all those who deny the deity of Christ. It is their teaching about the person and the deity of Christ you get lectured on when you are visited by these so called Christian cults who come knocking on your door! It’s not new, it’s old and just same old heresy the Christian church had to purge itself from at the end of the first century! It has since reared its ugly head many times being repackaged, renamed, retooled, and unfortunately, re-taught to those unable to discern the truth!
The first step we need to take in getting to the bottom of this conflict, is that we need to know what Christ said of Himself pertaining to this topic! My ministry partner Tyrone (Terry) Cropper and I are just so sick and tired of hearing so many uninformed so called Christian groups, Atheists, Muslims, and any other Jesus haters deny the deity of Jesus! (Yes I’m going to use their own term, they love to use against us “HATERS”! That’s just what they are!) Did Jesus claim to be God? Yes He did, and hear is the proof, we are even going to appeal to the Greek text to substantiate my claim!
John 8:24 (NKJV)
“Therefore I said to you that you will die in your sins; for if you do not believe that I am He, you will die in your sins.”
εἶπον οὖν ὑμῖν ὅτι ἀποθανεῖσθε ἐν ταῖς ἁμαρτίαις ὑμῶν
I said therefore to you that you will die in the sins of you
ἐὰν γὰρ μὴ πιστεύσητε ὅτι ἐγώ εἰμι ἀποθανεῖσθε ἐν ταῖς ἁμαρτίαις
if for not you believe that I AM you will die in the sins
Now for all those “haters” of the divinity of Jesus; here is the nail in the coffin that comes later in that very same chapter:
John 8:58 Ἀμὴν ἀμὴν λέγω ὑμῖν πρὶν Ἀβραὰμ γενέσθαι ἐγὼ εἰμί
Truly, truly I say to you before Abraham was born I Am
Now what was the IMMEDIATE RESPONSE? (See John 8:59)
ἦραν οὖν λίθους ἵνα βάλωσιν ἐπ᾽ αὐτόν
Took up therefore stones that to throw (they) upon Him
Wow! Did you grasp that? They wanted to kill Him by stoning! Why? It’s because He claimed to be God! He literally claimed to be the “I Am” Who was, Who is, and Who always will be! In other words, Jesus said to them that when God spoke to Moses – it was actually Him at the burning bush in Exodus 3:14! For some crazy reason, His contemporaries became real upset! Why? Well firstly, in claiming to be the “I Am” in John 8:24, I want you yo notice that He is very emphatic about this belief! He stated that “They will die in their sins” Literally “you will die in the sins of you” (ἀποθανεῖσθε ἐν ταῖς ἁμαρτίαις ὑμῶν ) if they don’t believe this truth both in the beginning of the statement! He makes this bold proclamation and then reiterates it at the end of the statement! Even if you don’t know Greek, you can notice it plainly in my breakdown and word for word translation of it above! There is no doubt that they understood what He was claiming, which is full equality to deity! That is why they took up stones and purposed to destroy Him! Simply put, Jesus made Himself equal with God! An interesting side note is that in John 8:24 when Jesus stated “I said” (εἶπον) That is past tense, meaning that this was not the first time He ever told them this fact! Following the story line as the Apostle John outlines it for us in his gospel, we find more empirical truth concerning the deity of Christ!
Jn. 10:30 ἐγὼ καὶ ὁ πατὴρ ἕν ἐσμεν
I and the Father one are
Now notice the immediate response again as in John 8:58 (You remember that in Chapter 8 they picked up stones to stone Him!) Why? Well it’s spelled out for us here in John10:33 they come right out and state that the reason why they wanted to kill Him was for blaspheme!
We are given the answer: περὶ καλοῦ ἔργου οὐ λιθάζομέν σε
Concerning a good work not we stone you
ἀλλὰ περὶ βλασφημίας καὶ ὅτι σὺ ἄνθρωπος ὢν ποιεῖς
But concerning Blaspheme and that you a man being make
So I ask you, how in the world can the deity of Christ haters say with a straight face that Jesus never said He was God, or that His contemporaries never understood Him to make that claim?! They need again to go back and read John 10:33. It really helps to look at the Greek, because the clarity is unsurpassed and indisputable! It simply does not get any clearer than this! Here again is the actual word for word Greek in English: “Concerning a good work not we stone you, but concerning Blaspheme and that you a man being, (or “only being a man” is the thought here.) make yourself God!” (Stoning was only a part of the Old Testament law for capital offenses such as blasphemy, breaking the Sabbath, cursing your parents or adultery!) Here in John 10:33 Jesus asked them for what reason they were about to stone Him for, and we are given the answer plain and simple. It was because He in their eyes was only a man who was claiming and making Himself to be God! This was not the first time He told them who He was, and it would not be the last. He made this bold claim at various times, and they understood it! Funny how those who oppose this truth can not grasp the fact that the contemporaries of Jesus understood His claim loud and clear! May I also point out that each and every time those who wanted to condemn Jesus to death for blaspheme in answer to His question as to why they wanted to stone Him, never hear Jesus flat out say, “Hold on guys – I never said that I was God”! It’s nowhere recorded in our Bibles that Jesus said, “You silly people, I only said I’m “like” a god, but not God”! Or simply, “You clearly misunderstood Me”! No, He said to them that unless they believed that “I Am” (The name of God given as the memorial name of God for all generations. Ex.3:15) they were going to die in their sins. He even reiterates it!
John 5:18 (NKJV)
“Therefore the Jews sought all the more to kill Him, because He not only broke the Sabbath, but also said that God was His Father, making Himself equal with God.”
Audience relevance as well as speaker intent has been the vociferation of the day! And I think they both bear fruit in recognition here. They are both answered in that the audience, and contemporaries of Jesus understood His claim! Speaker intent was plain and simple, in that He made His point loud and clear to them, as well as to us who can read the claim recorded for us and all forever! He did in fact claim to be God! They understood His claim, hence their immediate reactionary response was to stone Him! Why? For blaspheme! For being a man, He in fact claimed to be God! Yet many still say that Jesus never claimed to be God and deny this most important doctrine of faith! I want to go on record to state, that is a lie that contradicts the claims of Jesus, the reactions of His contemporaries, the New Testament records, and Patristic Church teaching and history!
I’m going to end this article here, but will continue with follow up articles to come in the near future. Study this, digest it, and hopefully your in agreement with me and blessed by it!
© Joe Daniels
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