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The Deity of Christ-2 (Not edited ~7514) The “I Am” Statements At this point we are only beginning to explore

the classic arguments that Jesus is God, but it is at least clear that Jesus as remembered in the earliest texts understood himself as the heavenly Son of Man of prophetic expectation, possessing a unique relation of Sonship to God the Father, and accepted the ascriptions of Lordship and Messiah, such that our relation to God hinges radically upon our response to him. The direct question to Jesus, ―Who do you think you are?‖ was asked by his pious opponents in a conversation that centered on the question of whether Jesus might possibly be crazy (or demon-possessed). When he answered, ―I am not possessed by a demon,‖ he then added a phrase that convinced opponents that he was indeed crazy: ―If anyone keeps my word, he will never see death.‖ At this his opponents exclaimed, ―Now we know that you are demonpossessed!‖ They were outraged: ―Are you greater than our father Abraham! He died, and so did the prophets. Who do you think you are?‖ (John 8:49–53). Jesus‘ answer astonished them: ―My Father, whom you claim as your God, is the one who glorifies me.‖ ―Before Abraham was, I am!‖ (John 8:54, 58). This caused his shocked hearers to pick up ―stones to stone him,‖ for this is what they perceived their duty to be in relation to blasphemy. Either Jesus was indeed blaspheming against the holy divine name, ―I am‖ (= Yahweh, Exod. 3:14) or he was revealing something about his identity that stands as the central feature of the gospel. John‘s Gospel is organized around a series of key ―signs,‖ each culminating in an ―I am‖ (ego eimi) statement reminiscent of the declarations of Yahweh. When he raised a dead man he said, ―I am the resurrection and the life‖ (John 11:25). In giving sight to the man born blind Jesus said, ―I am the light of the world‖ (John 8:12). When he fed the five thousand, he declared, ―I am the bread of life‖ (John 6:35). He later said, ―I am the door of the sheep‖ (10:7) and ―I am the good shepherd‖ (10:10, italics added). These are extremely immodest statements if applied to an ordinary human subject. Jesus did not teach as the prophets taught when they pointed beyond themselves to the source of the divine revelation. Rather he taught and spoke in the first person, as Yahweh had spoken in the form of ―I am‖ in the Exodus account of deliverance. Luther thought that by this means Jesus deliberately used language ―to stop all mouths‖. The way he taught people is a clue to the remarkable presence he commanded. ―He taught as one who had authority, not as their teachers of the law‖ (Matt. 7:29). The Temple guards remarked, ―No one even spoke the way this man does‖ (John 7:46). When he taught in the Temple courts, the religious leaders were amazed and puzzled: ―How did this man get such learning without having studied,‖ to which Jesus answered; ―My teaching is not my own. It comes from him who sent me‖ (John 7:14–16). Even those of remote Nazareth ―were amazed at the gracious words that came from his lips. ‗Isn‘t this Joseph‘s son?‘ they asked‖ (Luke 4:22). Resurrection as Ultimate Validation His identity was not fully grasped by the disciples until the resurrection. Thomas‘ recognition was particularly dramatic. Having been told by the others: ―We have seen the Lord!‖ (John 20:25), Thomas testily replied: ―Unles s I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe it.‘ A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, ‗Peace be with you!‘ Then he said to Thomas, ‗Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.‘ Thomas said to him, ‗My Lord and my God!‘‖ (John 20:25–28). Jesus could have rejected this ascription. Rather he received it, chiding Thomas not for his adoration, but for the tardiness of his belief, delayed by the requirement of having to ―see.‖ One who could welcome such an ascription must either be God or deceiver. Such claims are not to be found merely in obscure corners of the New Testament or in minor writers. They are found widely throughout all strata of the Gospels and in all Gospels, and they recur in both the early and late epistles. The picture of Jesus that confronts us in the New Testament is too consistent to be fantasized or projected, too unrelenting to be fabricated. These are the claims that we constantly meet on whatever page we read of the New Testament. Turn to most any paragraph of the New Testament and see if you can read it without the premise that God has come in Jesus and the claim that in Jesus we are being met by nothing less than God. The resurrected Lord taught that he would return to judge the world at the end time—a prerogative belonging only to God. Matthew‘s report of his language is audacious: ―Whoever acknowledges me before men, I will also acknowledge him before my Father in heaven. But whoever disowns me before men, I will disown him before my Father in heaven‖ (Matt 10:32–33).

1:23). risk-laden trust. 19. especially in the monotheistic Hebraic tradition. then Christ must either be God or the writ lacks authenticity. The classic tradition is not without careful arguments to attempt to grasp and understand what faith knows—that Christ is God (Tertullian. such a conclusion can only be a deep-seated decision of the whole heart and mind. to whom the divine attributes rightly apply. Jude confessed Christ as ―our only Sovereign and Lord. Matthew identifies him as the same Immanuel expected by Isaiah (Matt. Paul salutes the church of Corinth with the phrase: ―Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ‖ (1 Cor. if the Son possesses attributes that only God could possess. for that would omit the central feature of Christian confession. The Almighty‖ (Gregory of Nazianzus. the Seal‖ ―Lord. Whatever hypothesis best explains the widest range of evidence is the one upon which one may best ground one‘s active. however. the Image.15–16). Classic exegetes thought that no argument of itself could finally convert the heart. the Life. on John. This would require the witnesses to be quite sure they reported accurately.17).‖ the same One who ―delivered his people out of Egypt‖ (Jude 4–5). The delusion premise has a major flaw: If the reports were inaccurate. it must have required an extraordinary motivation to confess Jesus Christ as Lord or speak of him without qualification as the one God. . not to do my own will. Christ is called ―God‖ in the same sense and with the same meaning that the Old Testament applies that address to Yahweh. Hom. 7:14). John calls him the only Son of God.5). King. The author of Revelation calls him ―King of kings and Lord of lords‖ (19:16. from whom are all things and for whom we exist. the Impress.  if the Son is viewed by the apostles as equal to God. ―I have come down from heaven. Only on this eventful and experiential basis were they able to draw the conclusion that he was the heavenly Son of Man. These witnesses. They are so extraordinary that it seems implausible that they would have been invented by the disciples and put in Jesus‘ mouth decades later. the Truth. He That is.  if the Son is worshiped as God without disclaiming it.  if the Son does the works that only God could have done.132). and indeed truly God. No ancient Christian creed fails to confess the deity of Christ. Scriptural Reasoning About Christ’s Deity The primitive Christian community had deep roots in Jewish monotheism. the one God to whom worship is owed. Tractate 121). Acts 1:21–22. based upon whatever evidences one may be able to bring together to achieve a reliable sense of comprehensive coherence. 8:6. ―God with us‖ (Matt. John 15:27. 1. through whom are all things and through who we exist‖ (1 Cor. The motive would have had to have been powerful enough to overcome rigorous piety and religious training to the contrary. Ambose. It is unconvincing to argue that Jesus did not say these things. the Light‖ ―the Effulgence. Sermon 14A. Augustine. had met him as risen Lord. Reasoning from Ascriptions.Why Delusion Is an Implausible Charge All this is very unusual language. they would be challenged and easily discredited. Augustine. Here they are: Classic Reasons That Christ Is God There are five key arguments that flow together in classic Christian teaching to achieve this trust that Christ must be truly God. There is no accompanying recollection that Jesus protested when these terms were ascribed to him (Chrysostom.  IF—the Son is addressed in scripture by ascriptions that could only be appropriate for God. and. Apology 21). and one Lord. Comm. 1 John 1:1). If Jesus Christ is repeatedly called God in Holy Writ. Rather than by argument. Jesus Christ. James refers to him as ―Lord of glory‖ (2:1). Son of God. On the Holy Spirit 13. John 20:10–29. ―For us there is one God. messianic King. Apringius of Beja. Mark 1:1. THEN—Question: where these five streams flow together.‖ the only one to have seen God (John 1:18). Tractate on the Apocalypse. This is why so much deliberate attention is given in the New Testament to accuracy and credibility of testimony (Luke 1:1–4. 29. The Son‘s deity is taught because it is expressed in Scripture in ―lofty utterances‖ such as ―Only-begotten‖―the Way. do they mutually compel faith to confirm that the Son indeed must be confessed as truly God? These five arguments recur in classical exegesis of hundreds of New Testament texts. The traditions reported by synoptic writers could have been contested and corrected by many living eyewitnesses during the period of oral transmission. but the will of him who sent me‖ (John 6:38. 1:3). on John 87. ―God the One and Only. Accordingly. the Father. With such a heritage. Orat. to avoid being discredited.

16:21. 11:24. 5. His works reveal who he is as eternal Son. 9. he could only be God.53)  unsurpassable power (Matt. If Christ was worshiped as God and unresistingly received worship due only to God (1 Cor. 9:14. Acts 1:24. and. 13:8. making himself equal with God‖ (John 5:18). 10:9) is the heart of the Christian confession. Reasoning from God‘s Actions. and on this premise do ―his benefits interpret His nature‖ (P. 25. Heb. 28:20. Recall Paul‘s refusal of idolatrous worship at Lystra (Acts 14:8–20). 17:5. Reasoning from the Divine Attributes. then he must either be a blasphemer or God. stills the storm. Among divine attributes repeatedly ascribed to Christ were:  holiness (―the Holy and Righteous One. Hom. Trin. Hilary. John 11:38–44)  exceptional knowledge (knowing the hearts of all. Chrysostom. who sent him‖ (John 5:23. on John 39). Forsyth. III). by engendering new life in the Spirit (John 5:21). Mark 5:11–15. If Jesus Christ searches the hearts and reveals the thoughts of men.‖ John 14:6)  eternal love (―that surpasses knowledge. who is worshiped as God without disclaiming it.‖ Acts 3:14)  underived being (Col. Luke 16:1–14.‖ Eph. Hilary. by being himself raised from the dead (Matt. 11. T. The Son does not need to grasp at equality with God since he is always and already the eternal Son of the Father (Phil. If it should be the case that Christ in fact performed actions and op erations that only God could do and acted in a way that only God could act. CHC: 188–89).‖ Heb.7). 4. EC I: 219–30). who possesses attributes that only God could possess. then he must be God (Hilary. 2:6. Trin. PPJC: 6). Luke 68. Hilary. Trin. If to him were ascribed attributes that could only rightly be ascribed to God. His accusers were determined to kill him because ―he was even calling God his own Father. Pearson. 3:19) 3. giving life to the dead. ―the same yesterday and today and forever. This is an especially powerful statement in the light of the perennial Hebraic religious antipathy against the worship of a human being. Trin. 1:15)  uncreated eternality (John 8:58. There was little reserve in the adoration given him. lays down his life and takes it up again. then he must be nothing less than true God (Ursinus.62)  absolute veracity (―the truth. Conclusion of the classic Christian consensus: one who is addressed in Scripture by ascriptions that could only be appropriate for God. who is viewed by the apostles as equal to God—such a one must be God. 14:14. The Son is Equal to the Father. Acts 7:59). and if canonical Scripture bears truthful witness. John 4:29. John 5:23.2. John‘s Gospel states that ―He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father. 28:1–15. who does the works that only God could have done. That ―Jesus is Lord‖ (Rom. Matt. (7654) . 9. 11:17. by forgiving sin (Mark 2:1–12). Reasoning from the Adoration of the Worshiping Community.