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Basic Bible Doctrines
Chapter 3, The Person of Christ
We believe that the Lord Jesus Christ is true God and true man in the same divine Person. The Lord Jesus Christ is the second Person of the triune Godhead and called the Son of God. The subject of the Person and work of Christ is one of the key doctrines we must understand and accept in order to be fundamentally and scripturally correct. Indeed, if we do not accept the biblical presentation of who Christ is and what He accomplished, there can be no biblical salvation!
We will approach the study of the Person and work of Christ in three points:
• Incarnation (begotten of the Holy Spirit)
• Deity (Son of God)
• Humanity and servitude (Son of man)
The Scriptures teach that the Lord Jesus was begotten by the Holy Spirit, conceived and born of the virgin Mary. To examine this, we turn to Luke, where we read:
And the angel answered, and said unto her, The Holy Spirit shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee; therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God (Luke 1:35).
The corresponding verse is in Matthew 1, where it was declared to Joseph:
…fear not to take unto thee Mary, thy wife; for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit (Matthew 1:20).
The word conceived here is the same word as born in Luke 1:35. Therefore, the Scriptures plainly state that which was born of Mary was of the Holy Spirit.
As to being a virgin, Luke 1:27 states that an angel was sent to a virgin (cf. Matthew 1:23). The Greek word here means a virgin, that is, a woman who had never intimately known a man. Mary herself bore this out in Luke 1, where she said:
…How shall this be, seeing I know not a man (Luke 1:34)?
The important conclusion to these verses is that the incarnation of our Lord was completely miraculous and divine. There was no male involved in begetting Christ. We believe the incarnation of our Lord is a good term because it implies going from one form to another. Scriptural truth is that the Lord Jesus existed eternally as God prior to the incarnation. He was ever the eternal Son of God.
But thou, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall He come forth unto Me that is to be ruler in Israel, whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting (Micah 5:2).
Isaiah 9 says that this child which would be born would be called:
…The Mighty God, The Everlasting Father… (Isaiah 9:6).
We should understand that the Lord Jesus took upon Himself the form of a man while still retaining His Deity. He did not turn into a man, but as it says in Philippians 2, He had been in the form of God (the essence and personification of God), and it was in that state that He:
…made Himself of no reputation, and took upon Him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men (Philippians 2:7).
Thus, He veiled His glory and Deity and enveloped Himself in human flesh, but never did He cease to be God! Indeed, in Matthew 1:23 it says that His name would be called Immanuel, which means God with us!
In the human body that the Lord took upon Himself, He was perfect man and perfect God in the same blessed Person! Philippians 2 goes on to say:
And, being found in fashion as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross (Philippians 2:8).
And so we learn that the reason He was made in the likeness of men was that as man—sinless and perfect—He could bear the sins of the human race in His own body, thus becoming the sinner’s substitute and paying our debt in full. At His resurrection His body was raised and glorified, and He became the first fruits of resurrection to all who would believe in Him. He did all this that He might be the Redeemer of mankind.
Mark well, if He had not been fully God and fully man, He could not have been the Redeemer. This is true because only God is perfect and sinless, as it says in Matthew 19:
…There is none good but one, that is, God… (Matthew 19:17).
Therefore, only He could be the perfect man who would be the perfect sacrifice for our sins. Only the Lord Jesus Christ could bear the sins of others. He also had to be a man that He might die for men. Through the work He accomplished, the Lord Jesus Christ became the eternal Redeemer. We are reminded of 2 Corinthians 5:21:
For He hath made Him, who knew no sin, to be sin for us, that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him.
Those who deny the Deity of Christ must face the reality that if their Jesus be not God, then they do not have a Savior, and they are yet in their sins!
Two things should be noticed in Luke 1:31–35. Mary was told that she would bring forth a son and would call his name JESUS. We should note here that the name Jesus Christ is what is called a transliteration from the Greek, and in the Greek the name would read Iesou Christou.
The actual meaning of the name in English is Jehovah is salvation, the Anointed. Jesus means Jehovah is salvation, and Christ means the Anointed One or the Anointed King. The word son in verse 31 tells of His human relationship to Joseph and Mary.
Verse 32 goes on to say that He would be called the Son of the Highest. Here the word Son has nothing to do with being the offspring of God but rather means the very Person, or the personification, of the Highest. In verse 35 it says that He would also be called the Son of God. Here again the word Son does not mean offspring but the personification of God. In other words, these are distinct references to His Deity!
The word Son has this usage many other times in the New Testament, but suffice it to say for now that this meaning is borne out by such passages as in John, where the Lord said:
…He that hath seen Me hath seen the Father… (John 14:9).
This is also borne out in Colossians:
For in Him dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily (Colossians 2:9).
We will deal further with this term a little later in the chapter.
In Luke 1:31–35 Jesus is declared to be Jehovah Savior, the Son of God, and it says that He, Jehovah, would save His people. In verses 32 and 33 He is declared to be the King who shall sit on the throne of His father, David, and of His kingdom there shall be no end. Here we have the basic good news or the gospel of the kingdom.
These were the truths that the nation Israel became responsible to believe in order to be saved. This good news of the kingdom was that Jesus was the Christ, the Son of the living God, and that His kingdom was being announced at hand. This is exactly what Peter confessed concerning our Lord :
…Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God… (Matthew 16:16).
Here we do not see Christ presented as the Head of the Body of Christ. The Body of Christ was still a secret in the mind of God. Here He is presented prophetically as the King of Israel.
At this point let us examine some of the terms in Scripture concerning our Lord—which many have misunderstood in relation to His incarnation.
The term only begotten is certainly one of these. In John we read:
And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us (and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father), full of grace and truth (John 1:14).
Here, the Lord is called the only begotten of the Father, and in verse 18 He is called the only begotten Son. This term, though if literally translated would be only born, must be understood figuratively as a term of endearment. An exact correlation to this is in Matthew’s Gospel where, at the baptism of our Lord, the Father declared:
…This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased (Matthew 3:17).
In John 1:14 the sense is that the Lord Jesus, the Word of God, became a man and dwelt among men, and His glory was as of an only begotten or dearly beloved with a father. This is His unique relationship with the Father, as both divine and yet now among men in human form in the same Person.
This word begotten is used again of the Lord in Psalm 2, where it says:
…Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten thee (Psalm 2:7).
However, in Acts 13:33 the Holy Spirit Himself interprets this word to be a specific reference to the Lord’s resurrection. Therefore, terms can be and are used figuratively, and this term certainly is.
The next word that has been a stumbling block to many is the word firstborn. In Colossians, speaking of Christ, we read:
Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation (Colossians 1:15).
Here, we do not have a reference to the Lord being created (for He was not created), but rather this is a specific title concerning His place of priority and preeminence over all creation. Verses 16 and 17 offer commentary on this term by saying:
For 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 (Colossians 1:16,17).
By Him—who is the image of the invisible God—all things were created, and by Him and for Him all things consist!
The Lord Jesus could not have been created because as God He is the Creator. Everything that was created was created by Him! Firstborn—or Pre-eminent One—is His title in relation to His creation.
The Lord is also called the firstborn from the dead, and this has to do with His position or rank in resurrection.
Looking specifically at the Lord’s Deity, we have already mentioned the verse in Isaiah 7:14, where it says that a son would be given who would be named Immanuel (God with us). We have also looked at Isaiah 9:6, which says that this child would be called The Mighty God and The Everlasting Father.
Another verse we can use with confidence to show the Deity of Christ is in John’s Gospel:
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God (John 1:1).
This verse has been heavily attacked by many who do not accept the Deity of Christ, but their attacks are false and unfounded.
First, we should say that the King James Version of John 1:1 is a perfectly accurate and reliable translation of the original Greek. The Jehovah’s Witnesses have sought to discredit this rendering, but they are completely without support. They claim that the absence of the definite article the in front of the last word God in verse 1 dictates that it should be translated: “…and the word was a god.” Not only is this wrong grammatically, but it would also make two Gods, which would violate such verses as in Isaiah 45, where it says:
…There is no God beside Me… (Isaiah 45:5).
The Greek word order ends once and for all any argument the Jehovah’s Witnesses might present. In the original Greek in the last phrase of John 1:1 the word God precedes the verb was, and so the phrase reads “and God was the Word.” With this word order God being the predicate nominative in preceding the verb can take no definite article, and it refers to the same God in the previous clause. Therefore, the King James Version is accurate and reliable. The verse proclaims that the Word—the Lord Jesus Christ—was God. This is borne out by verse 3, where it says:
All things were made by Him; and without Him was not anything made that was made (John 1:3).
This tells us that He is the Creator—God!
Another place where Christ’s Deity is declared is in John 10. Here the Lord said:
I and my Father are one (John 10:30).
Many try to explain this as meaning that the Lord meant one in purpose, but the action of the Jews in verses 31 and 33 gave the answer. There we read:
Then the Jews took up stones again to stone Him…For a good work we stone thee not, but for blasphemy; and because that thou being a man makest thyself God (John 10:31,33).
Here we should make no mistake; the Lord from the beginning laid claim to Deity. Some say the Lord corrected the Jews and said that He was only the Son of God. But examining further we see that what the Lord did was to reaffirm His claim by saying:
Say ye of Him, whom the Father hath sanctified, and sent into the world, Thou blasphemest; because I said, I am the Son of God (John 10:36)?
In verse 38 the Lord said that through His works they could know and believe:
…that the Father is in me, and I in Him (John 10:38).
The Lord used the term Son of God to emphasize His words “I and the Father are one.” The Jews again clearly understood His final words:
Therefore they sought again to take Him… (John 10:39).
The simple truth is that Christ claimed to be God, and they did not believe Him!
At this point we should make clear the meaning of the term Son of God. One of the definite meanings of the word son in Scripture is that of personification. For instance, in Mark 3:17 James and John are called the sons of thunder. This does not mean that thunder was their father, but that they were thunderous in their personalities. In Acts 4:36 Joseph was surnamed the son of consolation. This does not mean that consolation was his father but that Joseph was conciliatory in his character or personality.
In Ephesians 2:2 unbelievers are labeled the children (or in the Greek, the sons) of disobedience. Again, this does not mean that disobedience is their father but that men before they are saved are the personifications of disobedience to a holy God. This is why all men need the Savior—because they are dead in trespasses and sins (Ephesians 2:1).
This is exactly the usage of the word son in the phrase “Son of God” and also in the phrase “Son of man,” as we shall soon see.
The clear meaning of this term Son of God will also be demonstrated in the next verses we will examine.
In a remarkable passage in John 8 the Lord spoke to a group of Jews who were contending with Him, and He said to them:
Your father Abraham rejoiced to see My day: and he saw it, and was glad. Then said the Jews to Him, Thou art not yet fifty years old, and hast thou seen Abraham? Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am (John 8:56–58).
The Lord Jesus claimed to be the I AM of Exodus 3. There can be no mistake of His claim here; even the Jews he was addressing clearly understood what He meant:
Then they took up stones to cast at Him… (John 8:59; also, see John 8:24).
The reason they were going to stone Him was that according to the law of Moses the Lord Jesus was blaspheming if He were not truly God, and He was claiming to be God. The problem is that the Jews did not believe Him.
The next passage we will consider is Philippians 2:5–11. In this overall context the Apostle Paul exhorted believers to put on the mind of Christ in their dealings with one another. This mind had to do with the humility and obedient service of Christ to the Father’s will. This was a humility and obedience that was exercised in spite of persecution, suffering, and finally death, which the Father had seen fit to allow in accomplishing His purpose.
The glory of this passage is that Christ placed Himself in this position and manifested this humility though He Himself is Almighty God. Thus, the Apostle said:
Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God (Philippians 2:5,6).
Here in verse 6 the words who, being in the form of God tell us of Christ’s Deity. The word form in the Greek means the external or outward appearance by which something is made visible. Christ is literally the external appearance of God. That is precisely why the Lord did not try to rob that position (think it robbery) to be equal with God—He was God! He is the visible form—the very substance and fullness of God. How wonderful to realize that in this position He took upon Himself the form of a servant!
Christ veiled His glorious form with the form of a servant. He never ceased to be God, though during the time of His humiliation He appeared as a man.
His humility and obedience took Him all the way to the death of the cross, wherefore it says that God has also highly exalted Him. This exaltation does not mean that He is now exalted as God for He had that position before Calvary. This exaltation is that He accomplished, by becoming a man and by way of Calvary, the redemption of sinful man. Now, as the Son of God, He also reigns as the glorified Son of man, the eternal Savior. Thus, in His exaltation as Savior, Philippians says:
Wherefore, God also hath highly exalted Him, and given Him a name which is above every name, That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow… (Philippians 2:9,10).
Here we must understand that the phrase at the name of Jesus means at the name which Jesus possesses. Of Jesus is really in the possessive case and speaks of the name that Jesus owns or possesses.
And that every tongue should confess [and here is the name He has been given] that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God, the Father (Philippians 2:11).
The name that He has been given that every tongue will confess is Jesus Christ the Lord. The lordship of Christ means that as the Savior He is Lord or God and should be addressed always with that title of respect. We (whom He has so wonderfully redeemed) who know Him as our personal Savior should be happy to acknowledge His Deity or lordship over us. In contrast, it seems that one of the marks of the cults and even of many who wrongly divide the Word of truth is the consistent misuse of the name Jesus. We should mark well that even during the Lord’s earthly ministry the Apostles never addressed the Lord by the name Jesus. The narrative does many times, but the Apostles always gave Him a title of respect. Indeed, He said to them:
Ye call me Master and Lord; and ye say well; for so I am (John 13:13).
We ought not to follow the world’s example of constantly referring to the name of His humiliation, blessed as it is. We who do know Him as Lord should always give Him the honor of His name and address Him and speak of Him as the Lord Jesus.
We recommend a book on this subject by Sir Robert Anderson, called The Honor of His Name.
In the Colossian Epistle we have a verse that is a perfect correlation to Philippians 2:6. Speaking of the Lord Jesus, it says:
Who is the image of the invisible God… (Colossians 1:15).
This literally means that He is the visible image of the invisible God! We must ask, “Can words be plainer?” Does this not explain what the Lord meant when He said, “He that hath seen Me hath seen the Father?” Or, when He said, “I and the Father are one?” We should stand ready to defend our Lord’s Deity with these verses.
We have already discussed the term firstborn of all creation as a reference to His Deity and preeminence over all creation, and we want to recall from this passage that verse 16 declares the Lord Jesus is the Creator-God.
For in Him dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily (Colossians 2:9).
This verse complements our previous references by saying forthrightly that the fullness of Deity is resident in Christ. It is a joy to know that we who have trusted Him are “complete in Him” (Colossians 2:10)! Nothing can ever be added to our position in Christ for in Him we are the righteousness of God.
Many of the thoughts of these other verses are restated in the Hebrews Epistle:
Who, being the brightness of His glory, and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power, when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high (Hebrews 1:3).
Notice clearly the words being the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person. Is this not saying the same thing as in Philippians and Colossians? Indeed, it is; these are all clear references to Christ’s Deity. Now the meaning of the title Son of God should be crystal clear; He is the personification—the visible image—of the invisible God!
The overall context of Hebrews 1 should be taken into account as we read such phrases as found in verse 4:
Being made so much better than the angels, as He hath by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they (Hebrews 1:4).
In light of verse 3 these terms mean that He as God and man by way of Calvary became the risen Lord and Christ of Israel. He has not been appointed God for He already was God, but He has been appointed heir to David’s throne, the rightful Messiah and Redeemer of Israel. He has been fully declared to be “the Christ, the Son of the living God” (Matthew 16:16). Hebrews states this clearly:
But unto the Son He saith, Thy throne, O God, is forever and ever: a scepter of righteousness is the scepter of Thy kingdom. Thou hast loved righteousness and hated iniquity; therefore, God, even Thy God, hath anointed Thee with the oil of gladness above Thy fellows (Hebrews 1:8,9).
This anointing above His fellows has to do with the man Christ Jesus upon His resurrection being anointed and vindicated as the King of Israel and Jehovah God in the same Person. No wonder that all the angels of God are to worship Him as God and Christ!
These verses reveal the Father speaking to the Son through the Scriptures and addressing many aspects of His Deity and worthiness to be worshipped. In verse 8 the Son is literally called The God! In verse 10 He is called the Creator. In verses 11 and 12 He is proclaimed as the immutable or unchanging God.
As the Epistle to the Hebrews opens, the Hebrew saints, to whom the letter is sent, are faced with the Son—the Christ of God—the One to whom they must take heed. They must consider their present dullness of hearing and their need to go on to perfection or maturity in obedience and understanding concerning their New Covenant relationship with Christ.
Next, we would like to present a summary of basic scriptural arguments defending Christ’s Deity. These can easily be thought of and conclusively used to show the truth on this subject.
There are several possibilities in this regard, but we suggest these five arguments:
• The Creator argument
• The Son argument
• The I AM argument
• The visible image and one God argument
• The Immanuel or incarnation argument
For the Creator argument, we suggest: Genesis 1:1; John 1:3,10; Colossians 1:16; and Hebrews 1:10.
For the Son argument: John 10:30,36; Mark 3:17; Romans 1:3,4; Ephesians 2:2; Colossians 2:9; and Hebrews 1:8.
For the I AM argument: John 8:58 and Exodus 3:14,15.
For the visible image argument: Isaiah 44:6; 45:5; Philippians 2:6; Colossians 1:15 and 2:9; Hebrews 1:3; and John 14:9.
For the incarnation argument: Matthew 1:21,23; Isaiah 7:14; 9:6; and also in this regard, the Lord Jesus and Jehovah are joined as the one Savior in Isaiah 43:11 and Matthew 1:21.
We should mention also that the Deity of Christ is attacked by those who say there are other beings in Scripture called both sons of god and gods and that these are created beings. For instance, it says in Genesis:
“..The sons of God came in unto the daughters of men… (Genesis 6:4).
It also says in Job:
Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan came also among them (Job 1:6).
From this it should be clear that angels are sometimes referred to as the sons of God. Nevertheless, in both cases the context clearly defines how this phrase is to be interpreted. We know that angels are created beings and have no claim to Deity, but on the other hand we know that the Lord Jesus is called “the fullness of the Godhead bodily” and “the visible image of the invisible God.”
In Hebrews 1 a clear distinction is made between the Son, who is the brightness of God’s glory and the express image of God’s person, and the angels who were created to be ministering spirits, who are commanded to worship the Son!
Such worship would indeed be blasphemy if Christ is not Jehovah God for only God is worthy of worship. In Exodus God said:
For thou shalt worship no other god; for the Lord, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God (Exodus 34:14).
God also said in Isaiah:
…My glory will I not give to another… (Isaiah 42:8).
Another pertinent reference is 2 Corinthians 4:4, where Satan is called the god of this world. Here it is clear and obvious that Satan is the self-appointed god of this present evil age. He has tried to usurp the worship of men and angels away from God the Father, and through disobedience men have played into the hands of this wicked fallen angel. Nevertheless, the context again is clear as to exactly the proper interpretation of these terms. Indeed, if we continue reading the verse, it says:
…the god of this age hath blinded the minds of them who believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them (2 Corinthians 4:4).
Nowhere in Scripture is anyone ever referred to as a god or a son of god and denoted to have any form of Deity or equality with the Father except the Lord Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit.
HUMANITY AND SERVITUDE
Next, we address Christ’s title, the Son of man. Many have misunderstood not only this phrase but also this aspect of our Lord’s earthly ministry. This misunderstanding has led many to deny the Deity of Christ.
Our Lord’s favorite title of Himself was the Son of man. The Lord said:
…The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of man hath not where to lay His head (Matthew 8:20).
As the Lord began to be rejected, He referred to Himself by this title more and more. As with the term Son of God, the term Son of man does not mean the offspring of man but the personification of man. He is the God-man, the perfect man, the man in whom was no sin.
Christ was fully God and possessed the nature of Deity to which was added a human nature. It was like our human nature in every respect except without sin. He had the nature of God and the nature of man. This does not mean that he became two different people, but that as God He now possessed a human nature and body, making Him both divine and human in the same Person. Contrast this, if you will, to the believer today. We are human in nature to which is added the new nature through the indwelling Holy Spirit. But this does not make us God. We are still human but now redeemed and given spiritual life. But Christ is God. He is Deity to whom was added human nature, and thus, in the same Person He is fully God and fully man.
It is as the Son of man (the very embodiment of perfection, He who was perfectly obedient to the Father’s will) that He will be the judge of men:
For the Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son (John 5:22).
As the Son of man He had a ministry to fulfill, and it was indeed a ministry of humility and suffering. This is one aspect of the work of Christ that many have had difficulty reconciling with His Deity.
Let us again begin with the truth of Philippians 2:6–8. The Lord Jesus, who was in the form of God, made Himself of no reputation and took upon Himself the form of a servant and was made in the likeness of men.
Verse 8 continues:
And, being found in fashion as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. (Philippians 2:8).
Here, we see the Lord of glory from eternity past go through His humiliation and condescension and on to glorification as the man Christ Jesus. But now we must see that He also had to be a perfect servant to fulfill the Father’s will in providing not only redemption but also in being the perfect intercessor and helper of the believer in our human need. We learn from the Hebrews Epistle (concerning Christ’s high priestly work for Israel) that:
For we have not an high priest who cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities, but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin (Hebrews 4:15).
We must understand that this does not mean Christ can now sympathize with our sin—He does not. But He can be touched with the feeling of our infirmity, that is, our human frailties and weakness and our strivings in the path of obedience. The believer is exhorted to come boldly unto the throne of grace to obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need. Continuing on:
Though He were a Son, yet learned He obedience by the things which He suffered (Hebrews 5:8).
Some have thought that when Christ was on earth He did not feel sufferings like we do but was spared the pain of human existence. However, Hebrews 5:8 and other passages teach just the opposite. He felt even more keenly the same pain, sorrow, and infirmities as we! When He suffered on the cross, it was real; and the pain was real as He bore the judgment of God for our sins. Through His absolute sinless perfection, His suffering, and His perfect obedience, He became the perfect Savior—both as the sacrifice for our sins and as the intercessor for the saint in our human needs. How wonderful to think that the Lord of glory, Almighty God, would do all this for such sinners!
As we consider the perfect humanity and servitude of our Lord, we find ourselves faced with some remarkable limitations that He placed upon Himself. So perfect was His servitude and obedience that in John 14 He said:
…My Father is greater than I… (John 14:28).
Also, the Lord said:
For I have not spoken of Myself; but the Father, who sent Me, He gave me a commandment, what I should say, and what I should speak (John 12:49).
Again, we read in John:
…I do nothing of Myself; but as My Father hath taught Me, I speak these things (John 8:28).
Concerning His very knowledge, the Lord said:
But of that day and that hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels who are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father (Mark 13:32).
Christ voluntarily submitted Himself to the Father’s will:
For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will but the will of Him that sent me (John 6:38).
This will is plainly stated in Hebrews 10, where we read:
Then said He, Lo, I come to do Thy will, O God. He taketh away the first, that He may establish the second; By which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all (Hebrews 10:9,10).
Yes, Christ was indeed the perfect servant. So perfect was His submission to the Father’s will that He was content, as a man, to not even know anything except what the Father had taught Him. But does this mean that He at any time ceased to be God? No, indeed, for we have seen too many other passages that teach the contrary. What our Lord did was to voluntarily humble and limit Himself as a servant—a perfect human servant—so that He might accomplish all the Father’s will in everything pertaining to our needs.
To draw our thoughts together, the Scriptures clearly present these three aspects of our Lord’s Person and work:
• His eternal Deity and equality with the Father
• His perfect voluntary humanity and service
• His glorification as the Redeemer, the man Christ Jesus
Those who would scoff at any of these aspects of the Lord’s Person would do well to consider the words of Thomas directed toward our Lord in John:
And Thomas answered, and said unto Him, my Lord and my God (John 20:28).
Finally, we are going to consider the many offices of our Lord in relation to the most important division in the Bible—prophecy and the mystery.
The most common three-fold division of the offices of Christ are:
While these offices are correct, it is important to remember that these are in relation to the prophetic program of God for the blessing of the earth through the nation Israel. The Book of Acts quotes Deuteronomy 18:18,19:
…A prophet shall the Lord, your God, raise up unto you of your brethren, like unto me; Him shall ye hear in all things…And it shall come to pass that every soul, who will not hear that prophet, shall be destroyed from among the people (Acts 3:22,23).
Thus there can be no doubt that Christ was not only a prophet, but “that prophet.”
The Book of Hebrews points out again and again Christ’s high priesthood for Israel:
Seeing, then, that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God… (Hebrews 4:14).
And of course Luke 1:32,33 refers to Him as the One who would sit on the throne of David and be Israel’s King forever.
Christ’s present office, however, during this secret administration of grace is that of Head of the church, which is His Body.
And hath put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be the head over all things to the church, Which is His body, the fullness of Him that filleth all in all (Ephesians 1:22,23).
From this we should gather two important facts. First, as the man Christ Jesus—the glorified Redeemer—He holds a place common to saints or believers of both programs. He is the basis of good news and the power of God unto salvation for all men. Christ is the foundation of all of God’s blessings to mankind, and the cross of Calvary is the only way of salvation for any man.
Second, the Scriptures present that Christ and His redemptive work can be preached according to two different programs.
Luke 1:31–35,68–75 presents Christ according to prophecy, that is, a program that had been made known by the mouth of the prophets since the world began—that Christ is Israel’s Prophet, Priest, and King.
But Romans 16:25 presents Christ according to the revelation of the mystery, which was kept secret since the world began. Under this program He is the Head of a secret church, which is the Body of Christ, made up of redeemed sinners whether Jews or Gentiles, reconciled through faith in the finished work of Christ alone.
Thus, the Lord Jesus Christ is the center of all God’s good news and the Lord and Savior of all the redeemed.
It can be stated that the Messiah of Israel is also the Head of the Body, that the King of the Jews is also the Lord of the Body of Christ. Nevertheless, there is a clear distinction to be made in the accurate preaching of Christ according to the right division of the Scripture. God clearly has a program for the earth which is centered in Christ and is the subject of prophecy. God also has a program for the heavenlies which is also centered in Christ and is the subject of the mystery. The first program was made known through the prophets, but the mystery was made known only through Paul.
Christ has one office common to both programs, and that is the office of Savior and Lord.
As Savior we primarily mean He who by means of His substitutionary, sacrificial death, burial, and resurrection redeemed us from our sins and made possible our justification before a Holy God. This work Christ performed is directly applied to all who express faith in God’s revealed truth for their given dispensation.
The fullness of this truth is revealed in the Pauline Epistles and is borne out in progressive revelation in the prophetic Scriptures. Acts 4:12; 1 Timothy 2:5,6; and Titus 2:13,14 are a few of the many references we might list.
Concerning the designation Lord [Greek, kurios] in the title the Lord Jesus Christ, we should note that the word Lord directly signifies His Deity and is equivalent to the word God.
A. T. Robertson in his Word Pictures in the New Testament, Volume 4, page 167, says, “The term kurios [Lord], as we have seen, is common in the LXX [Septuagint] for God.”
Sir Robert Anderson states it this way, “…we must remember that throughout the Septuagint [Greek] version of the Old Testament, upon which the language of the New Testament is formed, the same word (kurios) is used in every instance as the Greek equivalent of ‘Jehovah’ in the Hebrew Bible” (The Honour of His Name, pages 6,7).
The numerous verses we have examined that show Him to be God should be proof enough, but remember that in Philippians 2:10 it said that at the name Christ owns (Jesus Christ, the Lord) every knee shall bow and every tongue will confess Him as Lord to the glory of the Father. Also, remember Thomas’s confession in John 20:28, “My Lord and my God.”
Recognition of Him as Lord is also a necessity in salvation, for it says in Romans:
That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus [or Jesus is Lord], and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised Him from the dead, thou shalt be saved (Romans 10:9; also, see 1 Corinthians 8:6; 12:3; and Ephesians 4:4–6).
May we who have confessed Him as Lord and have been saved by His grace proclaim Him as such to others in our words and in our walk. May we yield to Him as the Lord of our lives and always seek both in word and in deed to give Him the honor due His name!
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