God standeth in the congregation of the mighty; he judgeth among the gods.—Psalm 82.1.

[The Divinity of Christ, by a Student.]

Excerpted from:

VOL. II.   SEPTEMBER, 1880.   NO. 15.

He that hath the Son hath life.—1 John 5.12.

As in the days of our Lord’s personal ministry on earth, various views were entertained concerning his person and work; so in our own day the opinions of men on the subject are various and conflicting. To the question of the Saviour, "Whom do men say that I, the Son of Man, am?" the answer must contain many and opposing sentiments. Some, as the Arians, will admit that he is a super-angelic being, the best and noblest of all the creatures of God; while others, as the Socinians, regard him only as a man possessed of all human virtue. But while men are so divided in their opinions on the doctrine of Christ’s divinity, his true disciples are united in testifying to his supreme deity. The confession of all such will accord with that of Peter addressing his Master, "Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God." Anything short of this derogates from the honor due to his divine person.

That Jesus Christ is God, equal with the Father, the Scriptures furnish abundant proof. He is expressly called the true God—"We know that the Son of God is come, and hath given us an understanding, that we may know him that is true; and we are in him that is true, even in his Son, Jesus Christ. This is the true God and eternal life." 1 John 5.20. These words teach most plainly the divine personality of the Son of God. They are the testimony which the Father has given concerning his Son, whom he commands all men to honor, even as they honor himself. In the latter part of the verse cited, the pronoun "this" {470} clearly refers to "Jesus Christ," immediately preceding; and it is of the person designated by this title, that the remainder of the verse is affirmed—"the true God and eternal life." Though the word "God" in the Bible is sometimes applied to angels and sometimes to magistrates, yet when so applied it never occurs in the form in which it is found in this verse. The "true God" is a title of Jehovah, and distinguishes him from all false gods and all creatures. In the 17th chapter of John, the Son designates the Father "the only true God," and the ascription of this title to the Son, proves him to be a divine person, equally with the Father. But this is only one of the many places in which he is explicitly called God, and in connections when it is impossible that any but the true God is intended. In the beginning of the Gospel by John it is declared, "The Word was God." Thus the "Word" here mentioned is a person, and that this person is the Son is proved by the 14th verse following—"The Word was made flesh," &c. In Acts 20.28, the elders are exhorted "to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood." The "he" and "his" refer to God, immediately preceding. The language here used cannot be applied to the Father or to the Holy Ghost, for neither of them became incarnate, and, therefore, being a pure spirit, could not be said to purchase the church with his own blood. But the blood here mentioned is called the blood of God, emphatically "his own blood." There is but one in the universe to whom these words will truly apply, and that is to the eternal Son, who is God manifested in the flesh, true God and true man. Though blood can be predicated of his human nature only; yet by the indissoluble union subsisting between his humanity and his divine person, what could otherwise be attributed only to his human nature, can be ascribed to his whole person. Thus, having but one person, the blood of his natural body is called his own blood, which is indeed the blood of God. The language of this verse, therefore is irrefutable evidence that the Son is God, in the full sense of the word. But we are not limited to the New Testament for decisive proofs {471} of this doctrine. The Old Testament also furnishes conclusive evidence; and taken in the light which the New [Testament] has cast upon it, abundantly sustains the claim of the Son to an equality with the Father in all divine glory and perfections. By comparing John 12.41, with Isaiah 6.1, we are assured that he whom Isaiah saw sitting upon a throne, and who in the 5th verse is called the "Lord (Jehovah) of hosts," was the eternal Son. The ascription of the peculiar title Jehovah is sufficient of itself to establish the doctrine of his supreme deity; for it is the sacred name of the true God, and never in Scripture applied to any created being. It is expressive of his eternal self-existence, and contains in it that glory which he has declared he will not give to another. Isaiah 42.8. The Son is indeed a distinct person from the Father, yet in the divine subsistence he is one with the Father (John 10.30); so that the sacred name applied to the Son is not given to another. This title of Jehovah is frequently given to him throughout the Old Testament, as in Jer. 23.6, where he is called "the Lord (or Jehovah), our righteousness." All the visible appearances of God under the Old Testament economy were in the person of the Son, as appears from John 1.18—"No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him." He was one of the three men who appeared to Abraham in the plains of Mamre, and called a number of times in the same chapter by the name Jehovah. To him Abraham directed his address, and he remained while the other two went towards Sodom. Gen. 18.19. In Zech. 13.7, a man is declared to be the "fellow of the Lord of hosts." "Awake, O sword, against my shepherd, and against the man that is my fellow, saith the Lord of hosts, smite the shepherd, and the sheep shall be scattered; and I will turn mine hand upon the little ones." In the New Testament, Christ applies this prophecy to himself, thus proving his identity with the man who was Jehovah’s fellow, the shepherd that was to be smitten. This verse clearly holds forth the equality of the Son with the Father. How could a {472} mere man or created angel be the fellow and companion of Jehovah? The most excellent of his creatures are but of yesterday, and their highest employment is in adoring the glory of Jehovah, while they cover themselves in conscious unworthiness. None could be the fellow of Jehovah who was not his equal, for he was infinitely exalted above the comprehension of any created intellect, and to any such intelligence, his counsel is unfathomable. Evidently the man here spoken of is the same who is described in the 8th chapter of Proverbs, as being "daily his (Jehovah’s) delight; rejoicing always before him."

In addition to all the names of the true God being given to him, the same attributes are ascribed to him as to the Father, which would not be lawful if he were not God equal with the Father. Thus, eternity is attributed to him (Micah 5.2): "Whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting." This is said of him who was to come out of Bethlehem to be ruler in Israel, who is obviously the Lord Jesus. Matt. 2.6. In the eighth chapter of Proverbs, under the character of wisdom, he says, "I was set up from everlasting, from the beginning, or ever the earth was." Immutability is also ascribed to him (Heb. 13.8.): "Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, and today, and forever." (Heb. 1.12.), "Thou art the same, and thy years shall not fail." Omniscience is attributed to him (John 21.17): "Lord, thou knowest all things." He also knows all that passes in the minds of men (John 2.24): "He knew all men, and needed not that any should testify of man; for he knew what was in man." (Matt. 12.25,) "Jesus knew their thoughts." This searching of the hearts of men is claimed by Jehovah, in the Old Testament, as his own special prerogative. Jer. 17.10. Amos 4.13. The ascription of this knowledge to Christ in the New Testament proves his equality with the Father.

He is also said to be omnipresent (Matt. 28.20): "Lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world." "Where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them." Christ, in making these promises to his disciples, {473} knew all the circumstances in which they would be placed till the end of time, and how widely they would be scattered; so that by his promise he is in all these meetings wherever they may be, though they be distant one from another. These promises he could not fulfill were he not the Almighty God, who alone is omnipresent and who filleth all in all.

The great work of creation is ascribed to him (John 1.5): "All things were made by him; and without him was not anything made that was made." (Col. 1.16,17), "By him were all things created that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible, and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers; all things were created by him, and for him: and he is before all things, and by him all things consist." The visible creation declares the glory of its creator. Even to those who are endowed with no other light than that of nature, the things that are made sufficiently proclaim the eternal power and Godhead of him who called them into being. Rom. 1.20. But when we consider the immeasurable extent of the universe, of which we see but a small speck; and the innumerable hosts of spiritual beings that are in heaven, we become lost in admiration of the power and glory of their omnipotent creator. All this is ascribed to Christ, and he upholds and governs the same. To any finite intelligence this is impossible. He only who is the Lord, wonderful in counsel and excellent in working, is capable of performing such a task. Those who say that Christ was only an instrument by which God created all things, and that he was only a creature destitute of creative power, are chargeable with a plain absurdity; for when it is said that all things were created by Christ, it is obvious that the word "all" is used in its universal signification, as is proved by John 1.3, "Without him was not one thing made that was made." Now, Christ is either God, eternally self-existent, or one of the "all things" that were made; and to say that he is a creature, seeing that he created all things, is to imply that he created himself, while he was a nonentity, which is nonsense. The only rational conclusion is, that he is {474} God, and that he created all things by his own inherent power.

He is also the author of the great work of redemption. Heb. 10.14, "By one offering he hath perfected forever them that are sanctified." Acts 20.28, "The church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood." The work of redeeming a guilty world from the wrath and curse of an offended God could never be accomplished by any finite being. All creatures are dependent on the will of God for their being, and all that any of them can render to him is his own; and he requires all the services of his creatures as duties which they owe to him as creator. So that none could give a ransom to God for another, nor would the highest offering of the highest angel be of any more value as an atonement than the blood of bulls and of goats, which God has declared could not possibly take away sin. God is not profited by any of his creatures, and a jot or tittle of his law is of more value than heaven and earth. Matt. 5.18. But it is declared that Christ, by one offering, has forever redeemed and sanctified his people, and rendered that satisfaction to justice, which could not have been given by the eternal suffering of the whole human race. That his life was a sufficient ransom for the countless millions of his redeemed is full proof that he was a divine person: for as his body was a true natural substance, it of itself could not answer the ends of an atonement; therefore it must have been the infinite dignity of his person, to which his true body was united, that gave an infinite worth and efficacy to his sacrifice. His divinity was the altar that sanctified the gift.

Christ is also the proper object of worship, both by angels and men. (Heb. 1.6), "When he bringeth in the first begotten into the world, he saith, And let all the angels of God worship him." Equal praise and blessing is ascribed, by the whole host of the universe, to him that sitteth upon the throne, and to the Lamb forever and ever. Rev. 5.13,14.

It is a divine command: "Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve." (Matt. 4.10), and to render worship to any living creature is idolatry; to which sin God {475} has annexed the penalty of death. The fact that the Scriptures ascribe this worship to the Son equally with the Father and Holy Ghost, undeniably proves that he is divine. He accepted this worship from his disciples while on earth. Matt. 14.33; John 9.36. He commissioned his apostles to baptize in his name, as well as in the name of the other two persons of the trinity, which is certainly an act of religious homage, and their successors have continued to do the same to this day. So if we refuse to acknowledge the deity of the Son, we must conclude that he was a setter-up of idolatry, and failed in the work which he came to do. He was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil, of which idolatry is among the chief; and we are infallibly assured that he finished the work which his Father gave him to do (John 17.4); and consequently he could not countenance idolatry. This worship, therefore, is an additional proof of his supreme deity.

Thus we have seen that the Scriptures everywhere represent the Son as a divine person: 1st, by ascribing all the names and titles of God to him; 2d, by attributing to him divine attributes; 3d, by representing him as the author of creation and redemption, and 4th, by requiring equal worship and honor to be given to him as to the Father. These proofs should be sufficient to establish this important doctrine, and they are but a few of the many which the Scriptures contain; so that all who, with the Bible in their hands, deny the doctrine of Christ’s divinity, are willfully ignorant and guilty of refusing to "honor the Son even as they honor the Father."