Prof. Wm. Moenkemoeller
1923 Synod Convention Essay
During the past months no doubt many a serious-minded Christian has been greatly disturbed by the agitation going on both in the religious and in the secular press on the question of the Divinity of Jesus. Prominence has been given to the discussion by the public utterances, widely circulated by the daily press, of such men as Dr. Fosdick, the Baptist preacher in a New York Presbyterian church, and the Rev. Percy Stickney Grant, a New York Episcopal Rector.
It is needless for us to go into the details of the controversy. What concerns us is this: Is there any real cause for alarm? Does the fact that the Divinity of Jesus is questioned, that it is denied by men reputed for their learning, indicate perhaps that after all we have been mistaken in our belief that Jesus Christ is true God, begotten of the Father from eternity? I answer most emphatically: Not in the least. Why? Because in the first place it isn’t at all surprising that this doctrine is assailed. We must rather expect it.
Let us for a moment consider the position of this doctrine in our Christian faith, and we shall quickly see that it is quite natural that it should be selected as the principal point of attack by the foe of man’s salvation.
The Doctrine of the Divinity of Jesus is fundamental in the Christian religion; on it rests the article with which the Christian Church stands and falls: the Article of Justification by Faith. Wherever the scriptural teaching of justification by faith is upheld there we have the chief essential of the Christian religion as to the way of salvation. “When this doctrine falls then there is no longer an essential difference between the Christian religion and Judaism, Mohammedanism, Buddhism or any of the other so-called religions; then there is at best only a difference of degree, but not of kind. For all religions would then be the same in the basic principle that man must find his salvation in himself, in his own deeds of one sort or another. And in that case there would be no hope of salvation for man. For the one great trouble with man is that he cannot gain God’s favor by anything that he may do himself. Man’s work, no matter how good they may appear, do not meet the requirements of the Holy One. “All our righteousnesses are as filthy rags in His sight.” Is. 64,6. The human race is steeped in sin, which is at the bottom of all the misery that makes this world a vale of tears. No reasonings of mind can argue sin away; no flights of oratory can sweep it aside. It is a condition, not a theory. There are in other respects many and often great differences among the children of men; differences of personal appearance, differences of race, differences of intelligence, differences of social standing, etc. But in one respect “there is no difference, for all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” Rom. 3,22. To be sure, sin manifests itself in various ways in different people, and in varying degrees, but the verdict of God stands “there is not a just man upon earth that doeth good and sinneth not.” Eccl. 7,20.
Therefore the apostle is so emphatic in his oft repeated declaration that “by the deeds of the law shall no flesh be justified in His Eight.” Rom. 3,20.
But Jesus Christ is the Savior of the sin-sick world because He is “the lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world.” John 1,29. He was “made under the law, to redeem them that were under the law that we might receive the adoption of sons.” 1. John 2,2. “His blood cleanses us from all sins.” 1. John 1,7. That is what is meant when we read Eph. 2,8.9. “By grace are ye saved through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not of works, lest any man should boast.” That is the import of the words of Jesus, when He says: “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life; no man cometh unto the Father but by Me.” John 14,6. In this sense the apostle says: “This is the stone which was set at naught of you builders, which is become the head of the corner. Neither is there salvation in any other; for there is no other name given among men, whereby we must be saved.” Act. 4,12.
Yes, the Christian religion enjoys the glorious distinction of being the only true religion, the only saving religion because it holds up before the eyes of sinful man the Savior he needs, “whom God has set forth to be a propitiation through faith in His blood to declare His righteousness for the remission of sins.” Rom. 3,25. As a beacon-light bringing cheer to the sin-tossed souls of men this Gospel of Jesus Christ must forever shine forth in all its heavenly brightness; else there is no hope for man. As the very heart it must pulsate with life throughout the whole system of the Christian religion.
However, salvation by grace through faith in Christ Jesus falls the moment the Divinity of Jesus is surrendered. If Jesus is not in the literal sense of the term true God begotten of the Father from eternity, if He is only man — albeit the first of men, the noblest type of manhood that ever walked upon earth — He cannot be the Savior in the sense that faith in Him justifies in the sight of God. At best He can then be only a teacher — the most sublime teacher, if you will, yet only a teacher; or a model — the most perfect model ever set before man, if you please, yet a model. In that case His importance for us will be only as a guide to be followed, but never as the one who has made reconciliation between God and man. Let no one be deceived when these who deny the Divinity of Jesus speak with glowing words about Christ’s charming personality, about His lofty teachings, and His inspiring example. What comfort is there in that when man’s conscience is racked by the law of God which convicts him of sin and threatens him with Divine wrath? What good does it do to set before the sinner’s eye an ideal which he knows he cannot reach, which recedes farther and farther the harder he tries to reach it? Yet nothing more can Jesus be to us if He is only human.
A being only human which met all the requirements of God’s law would certainly be accounted just before God for itself, but never for others, never for the entire human race. The righteousness of a mere man would not have the weight, the requisite value to balance the transgressions of the entire human family. But that is what is needed, someone who is qualified to stand before the judge in Heaven as the representative of all; who can fulfill the law’s demands not only for himself, but for all; whose righteousness the justice of God will accept as a full and sufficient equivalent for the unrighteousness of all the rest. Again, if a mere human being seals his testimony with a violent death at the hands of his persecutors, though it be the ignominious and painful death of the cross, such a death is a sublime martyrdom, but it cannot pay the accumulated debt heaped up by the countless millions of sinners throughout the ages. There is absolutely no proportion between the death of a mere human being and this tremendous load. But just that is what we must have: someone who can act as our substitute to pay the debt for us, someone whose suffering and death will be a full equivalent for the penalty incurred by man through his sins, someone by whose sacrifice for us the justice of God is satisfied and His wrath is appeased. As the Psalmist says: “None of them — i.e. men — can by any means redeem his brother, nor give to God a ransom. for him, for the redemption of their souls is precious.” Ps. 49,7.8. If Jesus is not the Son of God, there is no truth in the apostle’s declaration, “This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptation that Christ Jesus is come into the world to save sinners,” 1. Tim. 1,15. Nor in those favorite words of the Prophet: “Surely He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we did esteem Him stricken, smitten of God and afflicted. But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement of our peace was upon Him; and with His stripes are we healed.” Is. 4.5. In fact the whole structure of the gospel collapses, if Jesus is not in very truth the Son of God. made man. It is on this basis only that He is what the Scriptures claim for Him.
For surely, if the Son of the Most High Himself descends from His heavenly throne and is made flesh to take our place before the law of God, there can be no doubt but that His fulfillment of the law in our stead, as our representative, outweighs our delinquencies; and His holy precious blood, immeasurably more valuable than all the silver and gold of the world is a price accepted by the Father in full payment for ail our sins.
Thus the Divinity of Jesus is indeed a question of life or death for the Christian religion and for man’s hope of eternal salvation. As St. John puts it: “These — signs which Jesus did — are written that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing ye might have life through His name,” John 20,31.
Now when we view the case in this light — and it is the only true perspective consistent with the facts — is it great wonder that the Divinity of Jesus should be assailed? Must we not rather expect an attack at this point? Is it not quite natural that the foe of man’s salvation should aim at the very foundation of the Christian faith? Ah yes, the foe of man’s salvation, Satan. To mention him explains all. Luther says of him: “Much guile and great might are his dread arms in fight; on earth is not his equal.” So it is.
The men and women who lend the influence of their voice and their pen to cast doubts and aspersions on the Godhead of Jesus may not realize what they are doing. They may imagine that they are serving the cause of more enlightened knowledge; they may be laboring under the delusion that the position of Jesus as man’s savior is not at all affected by the question of His Divinity. But Satan knows what he is after. He is quite willing to let people hold and express lofty sentiments about the good man Jesus — he even permits Mohammed to do that — if only they do not believe Him God. For even so he has gained his point; he has robbed man of his Savior, and man does not know that he has been robbed. The wily deceiver seems to take particular delight in attacking the Christian religion along these lines, because it is so easy for him to cover up his real purpose here, and then also because the doctrine of the person of Jesus as God and man is the great mystery of the Christian religion far transcending the comprehension of any created mind, about which questions and doubts will most readily be entertained by men.
The observation just made is amply borne out by the events in the life of the Christian church. If we turn over the pages of history from the clays of Christ down to the present time we shall find that the great doctrinal controversies centered almost always around the person of Christ, in particular around the question of His Divinity. Let us take a brief survey of the history of Christian doctrine. It will prove most interesting and at the same time highly instructive for our present purpose.
At the outset it may be well to remember that when Jesus entered upon His public ministry He was led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil. Matt. 4,1. And what thought was uppermost in the devil’s mind as he set out on his temptations? “If thou be the Son of God” he begins, and again “If thou be the Son of God,” he continues. He knew quite well that Jesus was the Son of God, and he also knew that because of this fact Jesus was his dangerous antagonist. But perhaps he entertained the vain hope that he might sow the seeds of dissension between the Son and the Father, that he might bring about an estrangement between the two, and that perhaps the Father would disown the Son and refuse to accept his work. Or it may be that he imagined he could implant doubt as to His divine Sonship into the heart of Jesus and thus turn Him from His course. At any rate we cannot fail to see that the Divinity of Jesus was the thorn in the devil’s side from the very beginning.
You are also aware of the fact that the one claim of Jesus most obnoxious to the leaders of the Jews was His claim to be the Son of God. Passing over the many other instances where this was plainly evident let me for the present recall to your mind that memorable scene in the palace of Caiphas during the awful night from Maundy-Thursday to Good-Friday. Jesus is on trial for His life before the highest court of Israel. All attempts to fasten a charge upon Him have failed lamentably. Then the Highpriest rises in all the dignity of his office, puts Jesus under oath and says: “I adjure thee before the living God that thou tell us whether thou be the Christ, the Son of God.” And when Jesus solemnly avers, “Thou hast said,” the Highpriest rent his clothes saying, He hath spoken blasphemy; what further need have we of witnesses? Behold now ye have heard His blasphemy; what think ye? They answered and said, “He is guilty of death.” Matth. 26,63–66. They knew not what they were doing. But the devil knew; or rather he knew what he wanted. He would forever silence this testimony that Jesus is the Son of God, hoping that in that way he might frustrate the work of salvation. It is beside our present question to show how the devil made his great mistake here. Our purpose now is to show what he was aiming at.
The machinations of the evil one did not cease, when he saw that in spite of all opposition the Church of Christ with its life-giving gospel was being firmly established upon earth. Indeed we have unmistakable evidence in the writings of the apostles that even among the early Christians voices were already heard casting doubt on the Divinity of Jesus. For obviously that is what John must have had in mind when he wrote “Whosoever shall confess that Jesus is the Son of God, God dwelleth in him and he in God.” 1. John 4.15; and “Who is a liar but he that denieth the Father and the Son. Whosoever denieth the Son, denieth that Jesus is the Christ? He is Antichrist who denieth the Father and the Son. Whosoever denieth the Son, the same hath not the Father. … These things have I written unto you concerning them that seduce you.” 1 John 2,22.23.26. And “For many deceivers are entering into the world who confess not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh. This is a deceiver and an antichrist. … If there come any unto you and bring not this doctrine receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed, for be that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds.” 2 John 7,10.11. We may repeat here that the avowed purpose of this apostle in writing his gospel is to show that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God. We know from the testitimny of the early Christian writers that Cerinthus who was a contemporary of St. John in his later years claimed to be a Christian, but among other false doctrines he held views concerning the person of Christ which clearly denied the Divinity. Thus early was the devil beginning to bore from within.
It is quite natural that we hear little of doctrinal controversies during the second and third centuries, when the bloody persecutions were going on under the heathen Roman Emperors. It was the time when the life of the infant Christian church was to be crushed out by physical force. Besides, only very few literary documents springing from Christian sources have come clown to us from these times.
But when Christianity had successfully weathered these storms and the Roman Emperor Constantine had himself embraced the faith so violently attacked by his predecessors, the attempt to effect the ruin of the Church by insidious propaganda from within was renewed. And it is noteworthy that the person of Jesus, His Divinity became the subject of a most intense and long-drawn-out controversy. In fact, the first great General Council of the Church, which met at Nicea in Bithynia A.D. 325, was called by Emperor Constantine primarily for the purpose of settling the question of the Divinity of Jesus. The fires of debate had been kindled by Arius, a Presbyter of Alexandria, who taught that Jesus is a created being. He conceded that was the first of creatures and the being by which all other creaturely beings are made, that He was not created in time, since time began with creation. Yet Jesus was only a created being, not God, co-eternal with the Father. His slogan was “Once He was not.” Arius was deposed by his Bishop; but influential ecclesiastics befriended him, took sides with him, and his doctrine spread far and wide. The Church was agitated to its very center, and so the Emperor called that famous Council which was made up of representatives from all Christendom. The results of the deliberations of this body were laid down in that well-known document, the Nicene Creed, which is the second of the fundamental confessions of the Church. As you are well aware it follows the lines of the Apostles’ Creed; in fact it is an amplification of it. The second article begins thus: “And — I believe — in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God, begotten of the Father before all worlds, God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God, begotten, not made, being of one Substance with the Father, by whom all things are made; who tor us men and for our salvation came down from heaven and was made man. …”
But such was the upheaval that had been caused in the Church by the controversy that the formulation and adoption of this straightforward and clearcut declaration did not end the strife. The debate went on with changing fortunes. At times it seemed as though Arianism, which ever and again raised its head, would yet become dominant in the Church. Athanasius, Bishop of Alexandria, the champion of truth, the intrepid defender of the Divinity of Jesus, was four times driven into exile. True, the Nicene Theology finally established its ascendancy, particularly when in 381 it was reaffirmed in the Council of Constantinople (where the words; “God of God” were added), but it was after more than half a century of hard-fought struggles. And then Arianism was by no means dead. It lived on. Time after time it re-asserted itself, not infrequently in a most menacing way. And we know it isn’t dead to-day. But it was stigmatized by the Church at large as a heresy.
For a time the main charge of Satan was now shifted to another quarter. Though he did not altogether cease his attacks upon the Divinity of Jesus, yet when his first terrific onslaught in that direction had failed he changed his tactics. But ever was his evil eye on the person of Christ as his target. For four centuries the controversies raged about the person of Jesus in connection with the question of the Trinity, about His human nature, about the relation of the two natures, whether there is in Christ but one will or two wills etc. It is not within our scope now to go into details concerning the false doctrines held and defended by Eutychus, by the Monophysites and the Monotheletes and many others. Our interest in this discussion is merely to point out that for nearly five centuries the Church was violently torn by debates on the person of the Savior. If Satan could not succeed in destroying belief in the Divinity of Jesus he would attack from another side, showing that he was very conscious of the importance of the question, that it is indeed a question of life or death for the Church. By the grace of God Truth triumphed over all attempts at its subversion. It found able expression in that forceful document named for Athanasius The Athanasian Creed, which however was composed in all probability sometime during the 6th century. Let me quote the words pertaining especially to the person of Christ. “Furthermore it is necessary to everlasting salvation that he also believe faithfully the incarnation of our Lord Jesus Christ. For the right faith is what we believe and confess that our Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, is God and Man; God of the Substance of the Father, begotten before the worlds; and Man of the substance of His mother, born in the world; perfect God and perfect Man of a reasonable soul and human flesh subsisting; equal to the Father as touching His Godhead, and inferior to the Father as touching His Manhood; who, although He be God and Man, yet He is not two but one Christ; one not by conversion of the Godhead into flesh, but by taking the Manhood into God; one altogether; not by confusion of Substance, but by unity of person. For as the reasonable soul and flesh is man, so God and Man is one Christ. …” Conc. Trigl. p. 33.
Now these Christological controversies had been carried on for the most part in the where people were given in a larger measure to speculative thought. In passing it may be said that in the more practical West, i.e. in the Latin Church, the offensive followed another course, since it was directed mainly at the question of sin and its extent, and the measure of God’s grace, in the Pelagian and attendant heresies.
Then came the rise and development and ascendancy of Popery, which gradually but effectually laid its baneful blight on Christendom. It is not surprising that we hear little of doctrinal discussion, either on the person of the Savior or on the relation of sin to grace, in that age. Why should the foe exert himself along these lines when had succeeded in submerging the Church in formalism, superstition, and, above all, workrighteousness? He had with consummate craftiness again changed his policy and was accomplishing his fell purpose of keeping men from the only saving way, which is by faith in Christ’s redeeming blood. However, though these centuries were the most batTen in theological thought of any period in the history of the Church, yet there were times when doctrinal disputes did claim the attention at least of parts of Christendom. And it is worthy of note that these turned in one form or another on the questions which had been fought out in the stirring controversies of earlier Satan had not junked his old weapons, He knew what they meant for him, so he adapted them to the changed conditions and again and again them into action. I refer to the Adoptionist Controversy, to the pantheistic system of Scotus, and to the dispute of the Scholastics.
But when the gospel truth once more flashed upon the world in all its original purity by the Reformation wrought under God by His chosen instrument Dr. Martin Luther there was consternation in the camp of darkness, and all the imps of Hell seem to have been let loose in a desperate onslaught along the whole line of Christian doctrine. And not of doctrine alone. Every conceivable weapon, even persecution by fire and sword was enlisted into service to stay if possible the victorious progress of the saving word. But, after all, the attacks were not new, they were the same as of old, only modified here and there to suit the changed condition of the world. This is particularly true of the contentions that arose in the course of time on the person of Christ. For indeed the person of Christ again became the center of fiercest strife.
In the very days of Luther Caspar Schwenkfeld, a devout man no doubt, held that “the human nature of Christ, though truly human, is the offspring of God as well as of the virgin, and hence differs from the nature of man generally.” The inevitable consequence of this view is a surrender of Christ as Savior in the bilical sense. “It is the glorified Christ — says Schwenkfeld — dealing within us, who is the source of true righteousness and of a life which includes a participation in the divine perfections.” Fisher 426–427. And the rejection by the Swiss Reformers and others of the real presence of the body and blood of Christ in the Sacrament led to or rather sprang from an erroneous conception about the person of Christ and furnished the occasion for debate even among the Lutheran theologians. Conc. Trigl. p. 1015.
But scarcely had Luther closed his eyes in death when that iniquitous system of so-called Christian doctrine was developed — not in the heart of Christendom, but on its Eastern outskirts, in Poland — which was to eat its way through the length and breadth of the Christian world, and which today is dominant in a large part of what is called the Church of Christ, being subscribed to by entire denominations, as the Unitarians, Universalists and others, but extending its insidious influence into many other denominations, which still are considered more or less orthodox, at least so far as their official declarations go. I am speaking of Socinianism, which takes its name from Laelius, but more especially from his nephew, Faustus Socinus. These men were Italians, but their principal sphere of operation was Poland, It is a most elaborate System which they worked out, and the cardinal point of it is the doctrine about the person of Christ, in particular everything centers about the denial of Christ’s Divinity, and hence of the satisfaction or the vicarious atonement of Christ. Christ’s office is that of teacher and legislator, nothing more.
The craftiness of Satan is seen especially in this that Socinianism does not seek to perpetuate itself as a distinct sect. To many even of those who take the Socinian view the very name of Socinianism is unknown. It spreads as a view, as an opinion. And as such it has indeed made sad havoc of the Church. We have the results round about us on every hand in the modern pulpit, on the lecture-platform, and in the press, both the secular and the religious.
But let us not forget, it is nothing new. Socinianism is Arianism revived, but elaborated into a complete doctrinal system with its logical consequences eliminating Christ as the Savior in the biblical sense clearly seen and boldly drawn. The Devil has become more desperate knowing that he has but little time left. And if we did not have the straight-forward promise of Christ that the gates of hell shall not prevail against His Church, we would have cause to fear — not that the gospel as given in the sacred Book should ever be proven a deception, no indeed — but that the Church might eventually be torn from its foundation and be utterly destroyed. For the inroads that Socinianism had made during the last hundred years or more and is making to-day in the visible Church are in truth frightful.
Of course there are many other distressing factors entering into the deplorable situation as we have it in our time. In the wake of Socinianism followed other destructive tendencies, developing at a high rate of speed and entirely to subvert everything that formerly was held most sacred and inviolable. Satan is working more strenuously than ever and displaying more cunning than ever before in the history of the world. No wonder, he now has an experience of more than 6000 years to back him. Once the weapons of human criticism having been leveled against the very citadel of the Christian faith and having scored such a success as the building up of the Socinian system, it was to be expected that these same weapons should be employed in other directions as well. With an astounding display of learning Spinoza, the converted Jew entered into an examination of the Scriptures and became the precursor of the rationalistic critics of Europe as also the of modern Pantheism. And to-day biblical criticism of every conceivable shade is rampant, aided and abetted at every step by the wild claims of science falsely so called, especially by the fad of our day — evolution.
But enough of this. In taking you thus hurriedly over the battlefields of the Christian Church for this hasty survey of the doctrinal struggles it has been our endeavor to show that from the very outset the main target for the foe’s attack has been the person of Christ, in particular His Divinity, and this for the very evident reason that Christ is in the most eminent sense the center of the Christian religion in whom rests man’s only hope for salvation through His vicarious atonement for the sins of the world — a hope which is without substance if Christ is not true God and true Man.
And it was furthermore our endeavor to reassure the believer that he need not feel any alarm at the situation as it presents itself to-day when the voice of doubt and denial is raised high and ever higher against the person of our blessed Savior. Why should we be alarmed at something which in the very nature of things must be expected and which, moreover, is not new but merely appearing in new and bolder to suit the last days of which the Master Himself said “there shall arise false Christs and false prophets and shall show great signs and wonders, insomuch that if it were possible they shall deceive the very elect. Behold I have told you before!” Matth. 24,24.25. No indeed, the believer need not fear that the foundation on which his faith stands might be taken from under his feet. It cannot, it is too firmly and securely laid by God Almighty Himself. All the powers of darkness, though training their most formidable battering-rams on it time and again have not been able to shake it, nor shall they ever be.
With this assurance to support us we shall all the more earnestly contend for the faith once delivered unto the saints. Jude 3.
I confess it is a keen delight to present the testimony of the Scriptures on the Divinity of our Lord Jesus Christ. This testimony is so clear, so decisive, so overwhelming. You cannot resist its convincing power if you consider it with an unbiassed mind and accept it as it stands. I do not intend to enlarge upon it. Let us once more hear it much in the same order though somewhat extended in scope as we have often heard it in the catechetical instruction of our childhood days and since then in one way or the other from the pulpit. Under the guidance of the Spirit its inherent force will make its own appeal.
In the first place we have that imposing array of passages in which the Savior is unequivocally and unqualifiedly called God.
Rom. 9,5: “…the fathers of whom as concerning the flesh Christ came who is over all God blessed forever.”
Tit. 2,13: “…looking for that blessed hope and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Savior Jesus Christ.”
1. John 5,20: “And we know that the Son of God is come and has given us an understanding, that we may know Him that is true, even in His Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God and eternal life.”
Acts 20,28: “Take heed therefore unto yourselves and to all the flock over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the Church of God which He hath purchased with His own blood.”
1. Tim. 3,16: “And without controversy great is the mystery of Godliness: God was manifest in the flesh.”
John 20,28: “Thomas answered and said unto Him: My Lord and my God.”
Col. 2,8.9: “Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world and not after Christ, for in Him dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily.”
John 1,1: “In the beginning was the word and the word was with God, and the word was God.” (v. 14; and the word was made flesh).
2. Cor. 5,19: “God was in Christ reconciling the world unto Himself.”
Matth. 1,22.23: (quoting Is. 7,14) “Behold a virgin shall be with child and shall bring forth a son and they shall call His name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is God with us.”
Is. 9,6: “For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given; and the government shall be upon His shoulder; and His name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.”
Num. 21,5.6: “And the people spake against God … and the Lord sent fiery serpents” is applied to Jesus 1 Cor. 10,9: “Neither let us tempt Christ as some of them also tempted and were destroyed of the serpents.”
Is. 6,8.9.10: “I heard the voice of the Lord saying, whom shall I send etc. … And He said: go and tell these people, hear ye indeed but understand not etc.” is quoted by John 12,42.43 — as applying to Jesus. “These things said Esaias when he saw His — Christ’s — glory.”
Jerem. 23,6: “And this is His name whereby He shall be called: The Lord our Righteousness.”
Hebr. 1,8 (quoting Ps. 45,7.) “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.”
Are not these passages sufficient to establish the fact that the Scriptures, both of the Old and of the New Testament stand four-square on the proposition that Christ is God?
But this is not all the evidence. We have in the second place a veritable mass of statements to the effect that Jesus is the Son of God, the Son of God not in a figurative sense as others also are called the sons of God, but in the native, the literal sense of the term. The faithful address Him as the Son of God, the Father calls Him His beloved Son, Jesus Himself speaks to and of God as His Father, even the devils confess that He is the Son of God.
Acts 3,13: “The God of Abraham and of Isaak and of Jacob, the God of our fathers hath glorified His Son Jesus.”
1. Tess. 1,10: “And to wait for His Son from heaven.”
2. Cor. 1,19: “For the Son of God, Jesus.”
Rom. 8,32: “God spared not His own Son but delivered Him up for all.”
Matth. 16,16: And Simon answered and said: Thou art the Christ, the Son of God.”
John 1,39: “Nathanael answered and said unto Him: Rabbi, Thou art the Son of God, Thou art the king of Israel.”
John 11,27: “She (Martha) saith unto Him: Yea, Lord, I believe that Thou art the Christ, the Son of God, which shall come into the world.”
John 6,68,69: “Then Simon Peter answered Him, Lord, to whom shall we go? Thou hast the words of eternal life, and we believe and are sure that Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.”
1. John 1,7: “And the blood of Jesus Christ, His Son, cleanseth us from all sin.”
John 1,14: “And we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father.”
Gal. 4,4: “But when the fulness of time was come God sent forth His Son, made of a woman, made under the law.”
Hebr. 1,2: “God … hath in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also He made the worlds, who being the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person.…” (entire chapter).
Matth. 27,54: “Truly, this was the Son of God.”
Acts 8,37: “And he (the eunuch) said: I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.”
1. John 3,8: “For this purpose the Son of God was manifested that He might destroy the works of the devil.”
1. John 4,15: “Whosoever shall confess that Jesus is the Son of God God dwelleth in him and he in God.”
1. John 5,5: “Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God?”
1. John 5,12: “He that hath the Son hath life and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life.”
Hebr. 5,8: “Though He were a Son yet learned He obedience by the things which He suffered.”
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.”
Ps. 2,7 (quoted Acts 4,25 and oftener): “Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten Thee.’ V, 12 “Kiss the Son lest He be angry.”
Matth. 3,17 and oftener: “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.”
Matth. 2,15: “Out of Egypt have I called My Son.”
Luke 1,32: “He shall be great and shall be called the Son of the Highest.”
35: “Therefore also that Holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.”
Luke 8,49: “Wist ye not that I must be about My Fathers Business?”
John 3,16: “God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son.…”
17: “For God sent not His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. He that believeth on Him is not condemned, but he that believeth not is condemned already because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.”
35: “The Father loveth the Son and hath given all things into His hand.”
Matth. 11,27: “All things are delivered unto me of my Father and no man knoweth the Son but the Father, neither knoweth any man the Father save the Son and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal Him.”
John 3,36: “He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life, and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life.”
John 5,17–27: (entire passage).
John 8,36: “If the Son therefore shall make you free ye shall be free indeed.”
— 14,13: “And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.”
— 15,33: “He that hateth me hateth my Father also.”
– 17, 1: “Father, the hour is come, glorify Thy Son, that Thy Son also may glorify Thee.”
— 5: “And now, Father, glorify Thou me with Thine own self with the glory which I had with Thee before the world was.”
Reference has already been made to the fact that the claim of Christ to be the Son of God as the one most vehemently opposed by His enemies.
Matth. 22,42–46 (the last argument of Jesus with His adversaries): “What think ye of Christ? whose Son is He? They say unto Him: The Son of David. He saith unto them: How then doth David in Spirit call Him Lord, saying, the Lord said unto My Lord, sit Thou on My right hand till I make Thine enemies Thy footstool? If David then call Him Lord, how is He His Son?”
Matth. 8,29 (and oftener): “And behold they (the devils) cried out saying: What have we to do with Thee, Jesus, Thou Son of God? Art Thou come hither to torment us before the time?“
Can anyone who hears or reads these expressions avoid the conviction that the Scriptures treat the Divinity of Jesus as a matter of course, as an axiom? It is inconceivable. And then the conclusion is irresistible that if Jesus is not Divine the sacred writers and above all Jesus Himself labored under the hugest delusion that ever beclouded any mind. It is dreadful even to think such a thought, let alone to consider its direful consequences.
We could afford to rest our case here, but there is yet more evidence in the Good Book for our edification on this subject so vital to our faith. Attributes that are characteristic of the Deity are given to Jesus; works that can be performed only by the Deity are ascribed to Jesus; honors due only Deity are accorded Jesus.
John 1,1.2: “In the beginning was the word, and the Word was with God, and the word was God; the same was in the beginning with God.”
Hebr. 13,8: “Jesus Christ, the same yesterday and to-day and forever.”
Rev. 1,8: “I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, which is and which was and which is to come, the Almighty.”
John 21,17: “Lord, Thou knowest all things.”
Matth. 28,20: “Lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world.”
John 2,24: “But Jesus did not commit Himself unto them, because He knew all men.”
1. Cor. 8,6: “And one Lord Jesus Christ, by Whom are all things and we in Him.”
John 8,58: “Jesus saith unto them, Verily, verily I say unto you, before Abraham was I am.”
Hebr. 1,8: “But unto the Son He saith, Thy throne, O God, is forever and ever.”
John 1,3.4: “All things were made by Him, and without Him was not anything made that was made. In Him was life … (10) He was in the world and the world was made by Him.”
Col. 1,13.16: “His dear Son … who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature. 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 He is before all things, and by Him all things exist.”
2. Cor. 4,4: “Christ who is the image of God.”
Hebr. 1,2.3.10: “His Son … by Whom also He made the world … And, Thou, Lord, in the beginning hast laid the foundation of the world, and the heavens are the work of Thy hands. They shall perish, but Thou remainest.”
John 5,23: “For all men shall honor the Son even as they honor the Father; he that honoreth not the Son honoreth not the Father which has sent Him.”
Phil. 2,10: “That at the name of Jesus every knee shall bow of things in heaven and things in earth and things under the earth, and that every tongue shall confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father.”
In addition to these passages which by no means exhaust the testimony on this point I need only refer to the numberless miracles performed by Christ in His own name and with His own power, and to the many miracles recorded of His apostles as performed in the name and by the power of Jesus, and he who runs may read the significance of it all, viz. that according to the Scriptures Jesus Christ is without modification or qualification in very truth almighty, omniscient, eternal God.
We may as well pause here. We have not covered the whole ground. Everyone familiar with the Bible knows that more might be said, if it were necessary. But why should it be necessary? The evidence presented is conclusive, admitting of only one verdict, to wit: The Scriptures teach unanimously and unquestionably that Jesus Christ is true God begotten from the Father from eternity. There cannot be any doubt about that. And this doctrine has been before the world for thousands of years. It has stood the acid test of time. It has been the faith of untold numbers of the children of men brightening their path through life with the radiant light of an heavenborn hope and giving them solid comfort in the hours of death to appear without fear before the judgment-seat of the Most High because they knew that the blood of Jesus Christ, His Son, cleanses them from all sin.
True, this doctrine has been the chief target for the foe’s attacks throughout the ages, and is to-day more than ever. But how could it be otherwise? Because it is so vital to saving faith it must bear the brunt of the assaults. If it were unimportant there would be little concern about it in the enemy’s camp.
Praise be to God, who thus far has kept also us steadfast in the faith. Yes, praise be to God for this. For it is not our work, but His, as St. Paul says, 1 Cor. 12,3: No man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Ghost. And be our prayer always that we may hold that fast which we have that no man take our crown. The opinions of the carnal mind are but shifting sand. Then and then only shall we be standing on solid ground, which cannot give way, no matter how turbulent may be the world about us, when by the grace of God our stand is that which Peter took when he said to Christ: Lord, to whom shall we go? Thou hast the words of eternal life; and we believe and are sure that Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.