Friday, April 22, 2011

Behold, They Stand at the Door and Knock, Part 2

A Summary of Biblical Christology

We mentioned last time that the Christology of the Jehovah’s Witnesses falls woefully short of the Christology revealed in the pages of Scripture. In fact, one would need to study diligently to find a more well-attested Biblical doctrine than the deity of Jesus Christ. Robert Bowman and ed Komoszewski provide a helpful mnemonic for assimilating the weight of Biblical evidence for Christ’s deity: Jesus shares the HANDS of God—His honors, attributes, names, deeds, and seat.[1] Soak in these truths, such that they become part of your arsenal of defense against those who would assault the glory of Jesus Christ by robbing Him of His deity. (And be sure to mouse over the references and read the passages, otherwise this post just doesn’t make any sense.)

The New Testament presents Jesus as the recipient of honors reserved exclusively for God. He is lauded as the Creator and Sustainer of the world (Col 1:16–17), honored in doxologies (2 Pet 3:18), and is the object of the saints’ worship (Rev 5:9–10). The Son is to be honored just as one honors the Father (John 5:23), and God Himself commands all the angels to worship Him (Heb 1:6). Such a command would be unseemly if Jesus were a mere angel. Indeed, the angels rightly refuse such worship (Rev 19:10; 22:8–9), while Jesus Himself accepts it without reproof (Matt 14:33; John 20:28).

Jesus also shares the attributes of God, for “in Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form” (Col 2:9); He is “the radiance of [the Father’s] glory and the exact representation of His nature” (Heb 1:3). He is the Holy One of God (John 6:69), is called Faithful and True (Rev 19:10), is righteous in all He says and does (2Tim 4:8), and is the embodiment of love (1Jn 3:16). He is eternal (John 1:1), omnipresent (Matt 28:20), omniscient (John 21:17), immutable (Heb 13:8), and sovereign (Phil 3:20–21).

A study of the names applied to Jesus also reveals His deity. He is not infrequently called God (John 1:1; Tit 2:13; Heb 1:8), even the true God (1Jn 5:20)! As mentioned earlier, He is the Holy One (Acts 3:14; 13:35). He is the Son of God (Matt 16:16), a title for which the Jews sought to stone Him for blasphemy (John 5:18; 10:33; 19:7). On multiple occasions He identified Himself as the “I AM” (John 8:24, 28, 58; 18:5) and thus equated Himself with the covenant God of Israel as revealed in the Old Testament (Exod 3:14), which the Jews recognized as outrageous (John 8:59; 18:6). And of course, He is most frequently hailed as Lord (Lk 2:11; Acts 10:36; Phil 2:11), which is translated from the Greek word kurios. This word is used over 6,000 times in the Greek translation of the Old Testament to translate the divine name.

Further, Jesus shares the deeds of the Father. As mentioned above, He has both created the world (John 1:1–3; Col 1:16) and does now sustain it by the word of His power (Heb 1:3; Col 1:17). Most significantly, Jesus both declares and demonstrates His authority to forgive sins, something that even His opponents understood to be the work of God alone (Lk 5:20–21). Correspondingly, He gives eternal life to His sheep (John 10:28) and gives the Holy Spirit (John 20:22) and His gifts (Eph 4:8–11) to the Church. He also controls the forces of nature (Matt 8:23–27), raises the dead (John 11:25–26), and judges the world (Acts 10:42).

Finally, Jesus shares the seat of the Father, the very position and place of God Himself. He has been seated “far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and every name that is named” (Eph 1:21; cf. Phil 2:9–11). The very throne of God is called “the throne of God and of the Lamb” (Rev 22:1, 3).

In light of the clear and consistent evidence that the New Testament presents Jesus Christ to the world as God Himself, one might wonder what leg the Jehovah's Witnesses have to stand on. After all that, how could they deny that Jesus is God? In upcoming posts, we'll examine the Jehovah's Wintesses' understandings of some key Christological texts and contrast such understandings with a consistently Biblical interpretation.

For unless you believe that I am He,
you will die in your sins.
- John 8:24 -

[1] This post was greatly influenced both by the Bowman and Komoszewski book (Robert M. Bowman, Jr. and J. Ed Komoszewski, Putting Jesus in His Place: The Case for the Deity of Christ [Grand Rapids: Kregel Publications, 2007] ) as well as the Theology II class notes and discussion provided by Dr. Andrew Snider at The Master’s Seminary.

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