Midweek Fellowship – August 31, 2016
“Jesus is God”
Fr. Gary W. Thurman
The world is full of people who believe in Jesus. Muslims believe in Jesus; He is mentioned in the Koran. A lot of people go to Church and talk about Jesus and worship Him. But they believe in Jesus without believing that He is fully God. Some would say that He is the highest of God’s created beings; there are different ideas. But there is a fairly large group of people who, if pushed into a corner, would call themselves Christians, say, “Yes, I believe in Jesus,” and even claim the love of Jesus; but they would reject the fact that Jesus is God.
I have several points to share with you to show you that Jesus is God. First point: It is unto Jesus Christ that every knee and every tongue will confess that He is Lord. “But to Me, every knee will bow, every tongue will swear,” is not originally a verse from Philippians 2:11, but this is actually taken from the Old Testament; and it is actually talking about God the Father. In Isaiah 45, God the Father was speaking because the Son was not yet incarnate. There was no name of Jesus yet, and God the Father said in verses 22-24, “Turn to Me and be saved, all the ends of the earth; For I am God, and there is no other. I have sworn by Myself, the word has gone forth from My mouth in righteousness and will not turn back, that to Me every knee will bow, every tongue will swear allegiance. They will say of Me, ‘Only in the Lord are righteousness and strength.” St. Paul, quoting this in Philippians, says that this Entity to which every knee will bow and tongue will swear is Jesus. It is unto Him that every knee will bow and every tongue will confess.
If in Isaiah, the One Who is speaking says, “I am God, there is no other,” and this applies to Christ, and if there is one God and there is no other, this makes Christ God. God, back in Isaiah, foretold the time and the situation where there will be One coming forth and every knee will bow and every tongue confess that He is Lord; and this will be God. St. Paul tells us that His name, the Name that is above every name, is Jesus.
But some people evangelize unbelievers and get them to believe in a Jesus that is not God. A Jesus that is not God is a false Christ. It is an idol; It is not the true God, nor the true Jesus. We need to be aware of this and help our society to wake up to this thing. The Church needs to awaken from slumber and stand strong.
In the first four centuries of Church history there was no fuzzy line. If somebody was talking about Jesus, you had to know whether they believed He was God or not, because that would make a difference whether or not the person speaking would be accepted into the orthodox catholic Church. Orthodox catholic Christianity has always supported the fact that Jesus is God. To believe otherwise would get one exiled – not just out of the Church, but sometimes, in different periods of history, right out of the country. There were some saints that spent their lives in exile and even in martyrdom because they stood up and said, “Jesus is God.”
The second point to show that Jesus is God: God is Savior and Jesus is Savior, so Jesus is God. In Isaiah 59:15-17, “Yes, truth is lacking; and he who turns aside from evil makes himself a prey. Now the Lord saw, And it was displeasing in His sight that there was no justice. 16 And He saw that there was no man, And was astonished that there was no one to intercede; Then His own arm brought salvation to Him, And His righteousness upheld Him. 17 He put on righteousness like a breastplate, and a helmet of salvation on His head; And He put on garments of vengeance for clothing and wrapped Himself with zeal as a mantle.” God became a “DIYourselfer.” There was no man so He said, “I will just do it Myself because there is nobody to bring salvation.” God saw that there needed to be salvation, so God Himself brought salvation. Jesus also, when He was cleansing the temple, wrapped Himself with zeal. The disciples said, “Remember where the Bible promised that zeal for His house will consume Him?”
In Isaiah 43:11, it says, “I, even I, am the Lord, and there is no savior besides Me.” This is God talking. What was known in the Old Testament was God the Father because He was the only Person of the Trinity they knew at that time. Isaiah 49:26, “And all flesh will know that I, the Lord, am your Savior.” We see three places in the Scriptures where God says, “I, God, am your Savior, the only Savior.” Psalm 106:21, “They forgot God their Savior.” Mary said in the Magnificat (Luke 2:47) “My spirit has rejoiced in God, my Savior.” God is Savior and the only Savior. 1Timothy 4:10, “We have our hope fixed on the living God, who is the Savior of all men.”
In the New Testament there is a new dimension: On Christmas night when the angels appeared over the skies of Bethlehem they testified, “There has been born for you a Savior Who is Christ the Lord.” In Titus 2:13, “We are looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus.” We thought only God was the Savior and that there was only one Savior. Now, Christ Jesus is Savior! This is because Christ is God! This is Christian logic, but the Church hasn’t been teaching this strongly enough, so we have many people in places that they call churches that worship Jesus and they call Jesus Savior, but not God. Thus, their Jesus is an idol. 1John 4:14, “The Father has sent the Son to be the Savior of the world.” Now we see them both in the same sentence because both the Father and the Son are God, our Savior; with the Holy Spirit, one God.
The third point to show that Jesus is God: if we see Christ as the Creator, and there is only one Creator and only one God, then, Jesus is God! Jeremiah 10:12-13 very clearly shows that God is Creator. Jeremiah 10:12-13, “It is God who made the earth by His power, who established the world by His wisdom; and by His understanding He has stretched out the heavens. 13 When He utters His voice, there is a tumult of waters in the heavens, and He causes the clouds to ascend from the end of the earth; He makes lightning for the rain, and brings out the wind from His storehouses.” It is consistent throughout all religions: the thing that makes something God is the fact that He created stuff. In polytheistic religions, the god that made the sun is the sun god; the god the made the moon is the moon god. What makes him god is he created these things. If you didn’t create stuff, you don’t get to become to be a god of any kind.
In the Judeo-Christian ethic, what makes our God special is He is the One God that made everything. We can see this in Psalm 136 and in Acts 17:23-28 where Paul was preaching to the people in Athens how that God, our Father, made everything. He is the Creator and He is God because He is the Creator. Being Creator makes Him God.
In John 1:3, it talks about Jesus, “All things came into being by Him, and apart from Him, nothing came into being that has come into being.” “Come into being” is a fancy phrase for ‘made’. All things were made by Jesus. If being Creator makes Him God, and if all things came into being by Jesus, what does this make Him? Colossians 1:16 says, “For by Him, all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things have been created through Him and for Him.” Hebrews 1:2, “In these last days has spoken to us in His Son,… through whom also He made the world.” These three passages in the New Testament are very dogmatic, not sketchy, that Christ is the Creator. If He is Creator, then, He is God. Jesus Christ is God! He is the Creator, not the creation.
The fourth point that shows that Jesus is God: the Bible says many times, “You shall not worship any other God.” The first Commandment: “I am the Lord, your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage; you shall have no other gods but Me. You shall not make for yourself any graven image. You shall not bow down to anything. Most of all, don’t worship anything except Me.” God’s people took this very, very seriously, to the point that several times in Scripture there were men who began to fall down before the apostles, and the apostles got freaked out about it.
Acts 10:25-26 says that as soon as Peter came into Cornelius’ house, “Cornelius met him, and fell at his feet and worshiped him. 26 But Peter raised him up, saying, “Stand up; I too am just a man.” Peter said to Cornelius that they were the same, flesh and blood, so he should not worship or bow before him. It also happened to St. Paul and Barnabas when they were in the city of Lystra. When they healed a man, all the people in Lystra, who espoused what we call today Greek or Roman mythology, started thinking that Paul and Barnabas were gods. They started bringing cows to the gates so that they could sacrifice to them, wanting to worship them. Paul and Barnabas reacted violently when they heard of this; they tore their robes and rushed out into the crowd crying out, “Men, why are you doing these things? We are of the same nature as you.” Both were very, very motivated to make sure that the people from Lystra did not worship them.
At the end of the book of Revelation, after John the Beloved had received the whole vision he was so overwhelmed! Revelation 22:8-9 says, “And when I heard and saw, I fell down to worship at the feet of the angel who showed me these things. 9 But he said to me, “Do not do that. I am a fellow servant of yours and of your brethren the prophets and of those who heed the words of this book. Worship God.”
These are some of the places in Scripture that illustrate the fourth point. When these three apostles were in a place where people started to worship them, they were strong and vigorous in their opposition. With Jesus, it was totally different. In John 1:49, the first time Nathanael saw Jesus, all Jesus did was say, “I saw you back when you were under the tree.” Nathanael said, “Rabbi, You are the Son of God; You are the King of Israel.” When you call somebody, “Son of God,” you are saying that He is God. Jesus said, “You think that is something? Wait until you see what happens in a little while. You will see the angels descending upon Me.” He did not freak out like the three apostles, He accepted Nathanael’s worship.
After the man born blind was healed, he worshipped Jesus. (John 9: 38) Jesus made no effort to stop him! And after Jesus had risen from the dead and appeared to Thomas, Thomas fell on his knees and said, “My Lord and my God!” Jesus did not say, “Ooops, calm down, Thomas.” He said, “You are blessed because you believed when you saw. Imagine how blessed people will be who haven’t seen.” He did not reject His acclamation. He affirmed it. Jesus agreed with Thomas when he said, “My Lord and my God,” because He is God.
Over and over in the Scriptures, it very strongly says that we don’t worship man and it very strongly says we are to worship God. Jesus Christ allowed Himself to be worshipped. What are we to conclude from this?
The fifth point: the virgin birth proves that Christ is God. I believe that the virgin birth has been so attacked in the Christian circles over the past centuries. For a long time, people never argued; they just accepted the virgin birth as a part of the Christian faith. There are quite a few Christians now who believe that Jesus is God, but they have trouble accepting the virgin birth. One reason is because of the Hebrew word translated “virgin” in Isaiah 7:14, “Behold, a virgin shall conceive and bear a son and you shall call His name Emmanuel.” This Hebrew word used by Isaiah is unique. Every other time the Old Testament mentions the word virgin, there is a particular word that is used and it means virgin, and nothing else. It means a woman who has had no relations with a man. But Isaiah 7 uses a different Hebrew word, almah which can mean not only a virgin, but in rare cases it can also simply mean “young woman.” Because of this, people have been having trouble believing the virginity of Mary. A lot of people question whether or not Jesus was born of a virgin. Let us be honest, virgin birth is a tough thing to do, and as far as we know, this is the only time it happened.
Where the New Testament specifically refers to Mary, she is called a virgin four times. Two times, it uses the Greek word called parthenos, such as the time where Matthew 1: 23 quotes Isaiah7:14. Matthew uses there a Greek word that does the same thing the Hebrew word did. It almost always means virgin, but there can be an outside circumstance referring to a young woman in general. Luke 1:27, which says, “The angel of the Lord appeared to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph,” the word virgin is also the Greek word parthenos, which could mean young woman. So, we have no concrete help yet with the issue, outside of our faith.
But there are two more places in Scripture that calls Mary “virgin:” Matthew 1: 25, which says that after Joseph and Mary got married, he kept her a virgin until Jesus was born. The other is Luke 1: 34, when Mary says to the angel Gabriel, “How can this be, seeing that I am a virgin?” The word translated in these two places as “virgin” is not ambiguous. This word is without doubt. Actually, it is a combination of three words that both Matthew and Luke chose to use. They are words commonly used and without any doubt as to what they mean. The first word that they used to translate virgin is man; the second one is not; the third word is know. When the angel Gabriel told Mary that she was going to conceive, she said, “How can this be since I am a man not know?” If we translate this properly it comes out as, “I have not known a man.” There is no doubt or ambiguity about this, but out of Mary’s own mouth, she said, “Gabriel, this is impossible because I am a man not know!” saying, “I have never known a man.” When in Matthew 1: 25 Matthew tells us about Joseph, “He put Mary away and kept her a man not know,” he was including Joseph as well as any other man. We have biblical, scriptural, textual evidence that Mary was indeed a virgin.
And the virginity of Mary speaks very strongly to Jesus being God. How? Look at what the angel said to Mary in Luke 1, “Don’t be afraid. You have found favor with God. Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name Him Jesus. He will be great and He will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and His kingdom will have no end.” Mary said to the angel, “How can this be since I am a man not know?” The angel’s answer? “The Holy Spirit will come upon you and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. For this reason, the holy offspring shall be called the Son of God.”
Why is the holy Offspring called the Son of God? It is because Mary conceived when the Holy Spirit came upon her and the power of the Most High overshadowed her. Think: if Mary was a man not know, how could there be a child? We all know that in order to a make a child, the lady brings a certain amount of stuff to the game, the man brings a certain amount of stuff to the situation, and the lady’s stuff and the man’s stuff get together and a child comes forth. If the lady has never known a man, if there is no man, how can a child come forth? Who provided the man’s stuff?
The Holy Spirit came upon Mary and the power of the Most High overshadowed her, so the man’s stuff is supplied by the Holy Spirit and the Lord Most High. Between Mary, a man not know, and the Holy Spirit and the Lord Most High coming together, a child is conceived. As the angel said, “You shall conceive in your womb.”
With every other person ever born, birth was with a man and a woman who was man did know. Mary was the only woman in the world that had a child even though she was man not know. The man’s part of the equation was supplied not by a regular guy, but by the Holy Spirit.
If Mary had not been a virgin, everything could have been possible without God’s help. If she had not been a virgin, the other part could have been supplied by some other guy and Jesus would have been the child of the son of Mary and some guy. But because there was not some other guy, because Mary was man not know, Jesus was formed by Mary and the Holy Spirit and the Most High. In Luke 1:35, it says “The Holy Spirit will come upon you. The power of the Most High will overshadow you; and for that reason the holy offspring shall be called the Son of God.” It is saying, “For that reason, because you are a virgin, because you are man not know, the Holy Spirit shall come upon you, and the power of the Most High shall be there, and the one that come forth shall not be called any other name but the Son of God.”
What does it mean to be called Son of God? The only way that Jesus can be God, the only way Mary could give birth to God is if Jesus’ birth Father is Someone other than a guy. The Father had to be the Holy Spirit and the power of the Most High. Why is this a big deal? In John 5, Jesus was confronting the Pharisees again and it says, “For this cause, therefore, the Jews were seeking the more to kill Him because not only was He breaking the Sabbath, but He was also calling God His own Father, making Himself equal with God.” If you say, “I am the Son of God, God is my Father,” you just have made yourself equal with God. If you are equal with God and there is only one God, this makes you God. Jesus said in John 10:30, “The Father and I are one.” There are not two Gods; not three Gods; but only one God – Father; Son, whom we call Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the second Person of the Trinity who is very much God; and the Holy Spirit. This could never have happened without the virgin birth.
I believe that this is why the devil has fought the concept of the virgin birth for so long, because if you can get rid of this, you can easily explain away Mary being pregnant. If Jesus is the Son of God, He is God. We need to know this. It is not a small thing. It is the difference being a Christian and not being one; and we need to be vigilant and to understand that Jesus is God.
The Father is God; Jesus the Son is God; the Holy Spirit is God. The Three are One God. Do not let anyone tell you that Jesus is not God, because His mother was man not know; and the only way He could even exist is if He is God.
Let us pray that a revival of the understanding of the divinity of Christ would go forth. Let us pray that people who didn’t think it was important, people who were sitting on the fence, and people who did not think about it, would suddenly say, “Yes, Jesus is God!” Pray that we would confess it clearly with our mouths and that God’s Holy Spirit, the same Spirit that moved upon Mary and conceived Christ in her womb, will conceive the truth in the hearts of individuals.