This question has been pondered, contemplated, meditated on, deliberated, debated, wrestled with and even fought over from the time Adam and Eve left the garden. While there are varying views of “who God is”, most of us agree that Lucifer, Satan, the Devil, the Adversary, the Father of Lies or by whatever other name he is called, “he is not the God which created the heavens, the earth, humanity, and all that is within the earth.” God has chosen to reveal Himself to humanity, telling us of the origin of the heavens, the earth, of mankind and revealing to us His eternal nature and plan. This disclosure has been communicated to us through the sacred writings that have become known as the Bible.
In The Beginning
From the Bible we learn that there was an era in which God existed before time begin, this era is referred to as “eternity past” and is known by God alone. The Bible states, “in the beginning was the word, and the word was with God and the word was God” (John 1:1); “in the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” (Gen. 1:1). This beginning is in “eternity past before time begin.” God lives in eternity and has no beginning nor end of existence, nor is He bound by time. In the beginning God created – “made out of nothing the universe.” The Bible does not try to “prove” Gods existence, but assumes His existence as fundamental to the creation of all things. The Bible informs us that “one God” created everything. In addition to the Bibles assumption that God exists, there are many “logical” reasons to compel us to believe in God, a few of which is listed here.
Argument from cause (cosmology). Creation validates that there is an intelligent, omnipotent, loving Creator (Ps. 19:1-4; Rom. 1:20). There can only be one of three explanations for the existence of the universe: (1) It has always existed (eternal universe); (2) It came into existence by its own power (self-creating universe); (3) God created it. Accepting any of these explanations requires “faith” that transcends scientific proof. It is more plausible to believe in an intelligent, eternal, omnipotent Creator than in the eternity or self-creative ability of non-rational matter.
Argument from design (teleology). The orderliness and design of the universe require the existence of a Designer. The complexity of the simplest forms of life shows that “life did not begin by accident or blind chance.”
Argument from being (ontology). How could the finite human mind even conceive of an “infinite, omnipresent, omnipotent, omniscient, and perfect God unless God imparted that concept?” Every society in history has expressed belief in a Supreme Being, and modern anthropological studies show that the earliest and most fundamental religious belief is not polytheism but monotheism.
Argument from morality. Every human child develops a conscience, and every human society has a sense of morality (Rom. 2:15). Our moral nature reveals that we are more than intelligent animals; we were created in the image of a rational, spiritual, moral Being.
Argument from congruity. Critics may attack the preceding arguments and propose alternative explanations for each, but the cumulative effect of them in overwhelming. Taken together they are compelling. The existence of God is the best, and only, explanation that fits all the facts.
Atheism, the belief that there is no God, is erroneous. Agnosticism, the belief that it is impossible to know whether God exists or not is also untenable. Reason tell us that God exists (Ps. 14:1; 53:1)
The testimony of the Bible and our personal experience and confirmation of its principles assure us that God does live and communicates with humanity. Ultimately, we accept the truth of God’s existence by faith (Heb. 11:6).
The Nature of God
While human reasoning can deduce that God exists, it cannot fully determine the nature of God or the will of God. For mankind to know God, He must reveal Himself.
Generally, God has revealed himself to humanity through, nature, history and conscience, however these revelations by themselves are incomplete. Specifically God has chosen to reveal Himself in special ways through miracles, prophecy, the Bible, the man Jesus Christ and personal experience.
The Bible is the written Word of God, and it reveals God’s plan for the salvation of mankind (II Tim. 3:14-17). It is the sole authority for doctrine and instruction on salvation and Christian living. It provides the most complete revelation of the nature and will of God to the world today.
God’s Non-moral Attribute
Life. God is not an abstraction or a principle, nor is He an inanimate object. He is a living being and the source of all life (John 1:4; I John 1:1-2).
Individuality. God is an individual being with a unique, definite, identity and personality (Gen. 1:1-3, 26-27). Pantheism, the belief that God is nature or the laws, forces, and manifestations of the universe, is wrong.
Rationality. God is an intelligent being with a will, reasoning ability, and emotions (Isa. 1:18; Rom. 9:19). The Bible describes God in terms of human feelings so that we may understand something of His nature, but His emotions transcend our own, and human describes Him imperfectly (for example see Duet. 32:21; Ps. 18:19; 103:13).
Spirituality. “God is a Spirit” (John 4:24). This means He is not made of flesh, blood, bones, or physical matter (Mt. 16:17; Luke 24:39). Although He appeared to people in the Old Testament by temporary visible manifestations (known as theophanies), He does not have a physical body apart from the Incarnation. When the Bible speaks of the Spirit of God in terms of human or animal body parts (such as heart, eyes, nostrils, arms, hands, feet, and wings), it uses figurative language (known as anthropomorphism) to describe the infinite God in finite human terms so that we can understand something of His nature (cf. Ex. 15:8; Ps. 91:4; Isa. 48:13; 66:1; Luke 11:20).
Invisibility. God is invisible to the human eyes unless He chooses to manifest Himself in some way to human senses. No one has ever seen God or can see God in His spiritual essence (John 1:18; I Tim. 6:16; I John 4:12).
Self-existence. God has independent existence; He exists of and by Himself without any external cause, source, agency, or power (Ex. 3:14; Acts 17:24; Rom. 11:35-36).
Eternity. God is eternal, immortal, everlasting (Deut. 33:27; I Tim. 1:17). He has no beginning, and He will have no ending.
Omnipresence. God is present in all places at the same time (Ps. 139:7-13; Acts 17:21-28). There are however, references in the Bible that speaks of God being at certain places in the sense of His center of activity, immediate presence, fullness of glory, visible manifestation, or focus with respect to a particular individual or situations, but these references do not negate the fact that God is omnipresent.
Omnipotence. God is all-powerful ( I Tim. 6:15: Rev. 19:6). He has unlimited power and authority; He can do anything. The only limitations God has are those He willingly places on Himself. For example, He will not violate the principles set forth in His Word. Neither will He be or do anything opposite to His nature which would violate it or contradict it. Therefore God cannot lie, for truth is His very nature. (Titus 1:2)
Omniscience. God has all knowledge (Ps. 139:1-6). He has infinite knowledge of everything, including human thoughts (Job 42:2) and events of the future (Acts 2:23). However, His foreknowledge does not mean He predestines an individual’s destiny. While God foreknows the outcome of an individual’s life, He does not predetermine or force that outcome. He foresees the choices that a person will make, but the person’s destiny is determined by his own response to God’s grace (Rom. 10:10:8-13; 11:2-23). For example, a parent, spouse, or close friend may be able to predict with a high degree of accuracy how a loved one will respond in a certain situation and the consequences of a certain decision. But while humans predict imperfectly, God knows with certainty.
God’s knowledge does not mean that we should embrace fatalism ( the belief that what will happen has already been decided and cannot be changed). It is still important for us to exercise our freedom of choice in every situation and respond to God in faith. Our decisions make a difference, for God’s foreknowledge is in accordance with our choices. For example, it is wonderful when you consider that God already knows whether or not we will be saved in the end. Yet by faith we can have that same knowledge, for if we will continue to believe and obey God we have assurance of salvation.
Immutability. God is unchanging (Mal. 3:6; James 1:17). While His course of action my change to respond to the changes of people, God’s character and attributes always remain the same.
Transcendence. God’s nature, thought, and emotions are far beyond our comprehension and experience for He is infinite and we are finite (Isa. 55:8-9; Rom. 11:33-34). Still, God has revealed Himself to us through the Bible, telling us about His nature and plan. Through the Incarnation He came to our level in order to save us, and through the operation of His Spirit we can have a personal experience and relationship with Him.
Oneness. God is absolutely one (Deut. 6:4). Scripture places tremendous emphasis on this truth, which will be covered in greater detail in a separate section.
God’s Moral Attributes
Holiness. God is holy (Lev. 11:45; 19:2). He is absolutely pure, perfect, sinless, and untainted by evil. He is totally separated from sin and cannot have fellowship with it. Because of God’s holiness, sinful humans must have an atonement (covering or removal of sins) if they are to live in His presence.
Holiness is the fundamental moral characteristic of God upon which His other attributes depend. God’s holiness is the foundation of His love and gives direction to it, instead of vice versa. Because He is holy, He does not love sin or evil. Because He is holy, His love is impartial and eternal rather than arbitrary, capricious, or fickle.
Justice and Righteousness. Justice means that God is fair and impartial; righteousness means he always does what is right, correct, and lawful. God’s justice causes Him to reward righteousness and punish wickedness.
God’s justice is a fearful thing to the unrepentant sinner, because it guarantees that he will be punished in the end. But God’s justice is a great blessing to the people of God. Christ purchased our salvation by His death and resurrection, and based on His sacrifice we can approach God confidently and boldly in time of need. Even though we were sinners, we are saved, blessed, and rewarded on the basis of the righteousness of Christ.
“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness: (I John 1:9). God had no obligation to save us, but once He provided a plan of salvation and paid the price, he is bound by his justice and faithfulness to fulfill that plan in our lives if we obey it. If we repent and confess our sins, there is no question that he won’t forgive us. God will not act arbitrarily or capriciously, for His law has already determined what His response will be. Because Christ has already paid the price, it is a matter of justice with God to forgive us.
Love. “God is love” ( I John 4:8, 18). Christianity is the “only religion to identify God so totally with love.” God loves humans unconditionally. In return, He desires for us to love Him but even when we do no He still loves us. The Bible says, “God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom. 5:8).
When people choose to sin, God’s love for them demands that He hate their sin, for sin harms and eventually destroys them. While God loves people, he cannot ignore, condone, or have fellowship with sin, for that would violate His holiness and justice.
Mercy and Grace. God is merciful and gracious (Ps. 103:8). His mercy means that He is will to forgive sins. His grace means He bestows unmerited favor upon us; He freely provides salvation and blessings. God loves us even though we do not deserve it, and He actively desires to help us in every way.
Mercy and justice exist in eternal harmony in God. His justice demands death as the punishment for all sin, but in His love and mercy God gave His Son to meet the requirements of His justice and yet provide salvation for repentant sinners. Those who reject this gracious provision of God’s mercy will have to face His justice alone (Rom. 11:22).
God is absolutely sovereign in His bestowal of blessings. No one can demand anything of Him. God has revealed the condition under which He will bestow His grace; that grace is received by obedient faith. (Rom. 10:1-21; Eph. 2:8-9).
Faithfulness. God is constant, reliable, loyal, and unfailing (Duet. 7:9; Ps. 119:90). He always fulfills his Word. He always keeps His covenants and promises.
Truth. God is the God of truth (Deut. 32:4). His Word is truth (John 17:17). There is no falsehood, deception, ambiguity, or uncertainty with Him.
Goodness. God is the epitome of virtue, excellence, perfection, benevolence, and kindness (Ex. 34:6; Ps. 31:19; 33:5; 52:1). He delights in doing good. In addition, He is longsuffering, gentle, and compassionate (Ex.34:6; Ps. 18:35; 86:15; 145:8). The Bible also describes God as light, which may be seen as a reference to His holiness and truth (I John 4:8). Point of fact, God’s attributes are so interrelated that is impossible to discuss them in isolation from each other.
THE ONENESS OF GOD
One of the clearest themes of the Bible is an uncompromising monotheism – belief in one God. Simply stated, God is absolutely and indivisibly “one.” There are no essential distinctions or divisions in His eternal nature. All forms of polytheism – belief in more than one God – are excluded (Deut. 6:4).
All the names and titles of the Deity, such as God, Jehovah, Lord, Father, Word, and Holy Spirit refer to one and the same being. Any plurality associated with God only relates to attributes, titles, roles, manifestations, modes of activity, relationships to humanity, or aspects of Gods’ self-revelation.
This is the historic position of Judaism. Both Oneness and Jewish believers find the classic expression of this belief in Deuteronomy 6:4: “Hear, O Israel,: The LORD our God is one LORD.” In subsequent verses, God underscored the importance of this truth by commanding His people to teach it to their children when sitting, walking, lying down, and rising up – which implies, continually.
Jesus emphasized the importance of this teaching, calling it, “the first of all the commandments” (Mark 12:29). Further, Jesus endorsed the Jewish concept of God’s oneness when He told the Samaritan woman, “Ye worship ye know not what: we know what we worship: for salvation is of the Jews (John 4:22).
Numerous biblical passages, including those listed here affirm strict monotheism and exclude any plurality in the Deity:
- “Before me there was no God formed, neither shall there be after me. I, even I, an the LORD; and beside me there is no savior (Isa. 43:10-11).
- “I am the first, and I am the last; and beside me there is no God…I am the LORD that maketh all things; that stretcheth forth the heavens alone; that spreadeth abroad the earth by myself” (Isa. 44:6, 24).
- “There is no God else beside me; a just God and a Saviour; there is none beside me” (Isa. 45:21).
- “I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like me” (Isa. 46:9).
- “This is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent” (John 17:3).
- “There is none other God but one…But to us there is but one God, the Father” (I Cor. 8:4, 6).
- “For there is one God ( I Tim. 2:5).
“Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well; the devils also believe, and tremble” (James 2:19).
FATHER, SON, AND HOLY SPIRIT
The Bible speaks of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit (or Holy Ghost), but it does not use these titles to indicate three persons “in” the Godhead.
The one God is the Father of all creation, Father of the only begotten Son, and Father of born-again believers (see Deut. 32:6; Mal. 2:10; Gal. 4:6; Heb. 1:5; 12:9).
The title of Son refers to God’s incarnation. The man Christ was literally conceived by the Spirit of God and was therefore the Son of God (Matt. 1:18-20; Luke 1:35).
The title of Holy Spirit (or Holy Ghost) refers to God in spiritual activity. It describes the fundamental character of God’s nature, for holiness forms the basis of His moral attributes while spirituality forms the basis of His non-moral attributes. This title is particularly used of works that God can do because He is a Spirit, such things as anointing, regenerating, indwelling, and sanctifying humanity (Gen. 1:1-2; Acts 1:5-8).
These three roles are necessary to God’s plan of redemption for fallen humanity. For our salvation, God provided a sinless Man who died in our place – the Son. In begetting the Son and in relating to humanity, God is the Father. In working in our lives to empower and transform us, God is the Holy Spirit.
Therefore, the titles of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit describe God’s multiple roles and works, but they do not reflect an essential threeness in His nature. Father refers to God in family relationship to humanity; Son refers to God in flesh; and Spirit refers to God in activity. As an example, a person can have three significant relationships or functions – such as an administrator, teacher, and counselor – and yet be one person in every sense. God is not defined by or limited to an essential threeness.
The Scriptures identify the Father and the Holy Spirit as one and the same being. The title of Holy Spirit simply describes what the Father is, for “God is a Spirit” (John 4:24). The Holy is literally the Father of Jesus, since Jesus was conceived by the Holy Spirit (Matt. 1:18, 20). When the Scriptures speak of the man Christ Jesus in relationship to God they use the title of Father, but when they speak of the action of God in causing the baby Jesus to be conceived they use the title of Holy Spirit so that there will be no mistake about the supernatural, spiritual nature of this work.
The Scripture calls the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Jehovah, the Spirit of God, and the Spirit of the Father. The last title, found in Matthew 10:20, shows that the Spirit is not a separate person from the Father but pertains to , or is the essence of, the Father. Additionally, the Scriptures attribute many works of the Father to the Spirit, such as the resurrecting of Christ, and the indwelling, the comforting, the sanctifying, and the resurrecting of believers.
As we have shown, the Son is the manifestation of the one God in flesh. The title of Son sometimes focuses solely on the humanity of Christ, as in “the death of his Son” (Rom. 5:10). Sometimes it encompasses both His deity and humanity, as in “Hereafter shall ye see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven” (Matt. 26:64). It is never used apart from God’s incarnation; it never refers to deity alone.
The terms, “God the Son” and “eternal Son” are non-biblical; the Scriptures instead speak of the “Son of God” and the “only begotten Son.” The Son is not eternally begotten by some incomprehensible, ongoing process; rather, the Son was begotten by the miraculous work of the Holy Spirit in the womb of Mary. The Son had a beginning, which occurred at the Incarnation, as the following verses will show:
- “The Holy Ghost 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).
- “But when the fullness of the time was some, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law” (Gal. 4:4)
- “Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee…I will be to him a Father, and he shall be to me a Son” (Heb. 1:5).
THE NAME OF GOD
The Old and the New Testaments place a strong emphasis on the doctrine of the name of God. In biblical times and thought, an individual’s name was an extension of his personality. That was particularly true regarding the name of God which represents the revelation of His presence, character, power, and authority (cf. Ex. 6:3; 9:16; 23:21; I Kings 8:27-29). In the Old Testament, Jehovah was the sacred, redemptive name of God and the unique name by which He distinguished Himself from false gods (cf. Ex. 6:3-8; Isa. 42:8)
Jehovah is actually the English version of the Hebrew name YHWH, pronounced Yahweh. The ” Old Testament” uses a number of compound names for God that reveal various aspects of His character which are shown below:
Hebrew English Scripture
El-Elyon Most High God Gen. 14:18
El-Roiy The God of sight Gen. 16:13
El-Shaddai Almighty God Gen. 17:1
El-Olam Everlasting God Gen. 21:33
YHWH-jireh Jehovah will see (provide) Gen. 22:14
YHWH-rapha Jehovah who heals Ex. 15:26
YHWH-nissi Jehovah our banner (victory) Ex. 17:15
YHWH-m’kaddesh Jehovah who sanctifies Ex. 31:13
YHWH-shalom Jehovah our peace Judges 6:24
YHWH-saboath Jehovah of host (almighty) I Sam. 1:3
YHWH-elyon Jehovah most high Ps. 7:17
YHWH-rash Jehovah our shepherd Ps. 23:1
YHWH-hosenu Jehovah our maker Ps.95:6
YHWH-tsidkenu Jehovah our righteousness Jer. 23:6
YHWH-shammah Jehovah is present Eze. 48:35
In the New Testament God did a “new thing”, He accompanied the revelation of Himself in flesh with a “NEW NAME.” In the New Testament, THE NAME THAT GOD HAS CHOSEN TO USE WHICH SUPERSEDES AND INCLUDES JEHOVAH AND ALL THE COMPOUND NAMES IS “JESUS.” “Jesus” literally means “Jehovah-Savior” or “Jehovah is salvation.” The name, “Jesus”, expresses that God came to dwell with us and has become our Savior (Mt. 1:21, 23). While others have borne the name Jesus, only the Lord Jesus Christ is the one who actually personifies that name.
“Jesus” is the redemptive name of God in the New Testament. It is the name of supreme power and authority, the only saving name, the name given for remission of sins, and the highest name ever revealed. When there is an occasion to invoke God’s name, Christians should use the spoken name of Jesus as an outward expression of faith in Jesus and in obedience to His Word. The following Scriptures gives us the imperatives and necessities for using the name of “Jesus:”
- “If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it” (John 14:14).
- “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).
- “Through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins” (Acts 10:43).
- “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, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth” (Phil. 2:9-10).
- “Whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of Jesus” (Col. 3:17).
The Apostles and the First Century Early Church baptized, preached, taught, prayed, healed the sick, performed miracles, and cast out unclean spirits in the “name of Jesus”. They refused to be silent about the name of Jesus and rejoiced that they were counted worthy to suffer for His name. The name of Jesus is not a magical formula, for it is effective only through faith in Him and a relationship with Him (Acts 3:16; 19:13-17).
The Deity of Jesus Christ
The Bible teaches that Jesus Christ is both God and man. He is the one God incarnate. The Scriptures state the following: “For in him dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily (Col 2:9). “God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself” (II Cor. 5:19). Godhead is a synonym for deity. It refers to the state of being God, to the sum total of God’s nature. By definition “Godhead” is the fullness of absolute deity. All names and titles of deity apply to Jesus.
As human, Jesus was conceived in the womb of a virgin by the Spirit of God (Matt. 1:18, 20; Luke 1:35). He had no earthly father; God (or the Holy Spirit) was literally His Father. In this way, God united His own divine nature with humanity, therefore making Jesus truly “God with us” (Matt. 1:23).
Christianity rests on Jesus Christ’s identity as God incarnate, and Christians look solely to Jesus as Savior. Only if Jesus is truly God does He have power to save from sin, for only God is the Savior and only He can forgive sin (Isa. 43:25; 45:21; Mark 2:7).
Therefore, acknowledging the deity of Jesus Christ is essential to salvation. In reference to His deity, Jesus said, “If ye believe not that I am he, ye shall die in your sins” (John 8:24), further he said, “Verily, verily I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am” (John 8:58). In these statements Jesus indentified Himself by the name God used for Himself in the Old Testament: “I AM” (Ex. 3:14).
John 8:24 does not demand a thorough comprehension of the Godhead as a prerequisite for salvation; it is possible, and indeed likely, that someone would obey John 3:5 and Acts 2:38 without a theologically accurate understanding the Oneness doctrine (teachings of Christ and the Apostles). It is impossible, however, to receive remission of sins in the name of Jesus and to be continually filled with the Holy Spirit without relying upon the deity of Jesus Christ.
In the Incarnation, God did not surrender any divine attributes, for how could He do so and still be God? Therefore, while Christ was on earth, He displayed omniscience and omnipotence, and His Spirit was omnipresent. He voluntarily veiled His glory and took on the form of a servant, but His divine nature did not change.
Jesus is God in the Old Testament sense; that is what New Testament writers meant when they called Jesus God. The one and only God of the Old Testament incarnated Himself as Jesus Christ, “God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself” ( II Cor. 5:19). The descriptions which follow clearly declare Jesus’ identity as God:
- “The mighty God, The everlasting Father” (Isa. 9:6)
- “God with us” (Matt. 1:23)
- “My Lord and my God” (John 20:28)
- “The eternally blessed God” (Rom. 9:5, NKJV)
- “The image of the invisible God” (Col. 1:15)
- “God….manifest in the flesh”(I Tim. 3:16)
- “Our great God and Savior” (Titus 2:13, NKJV)
- “I and my Father ore one” (John 10:30)
- “The Father is in me, and I in him” (John 10:38)
- “He that hath seen me hath seen the Father…The Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works” (John 14:9-10).
Additionally you can research Acts 20:28, II Cor. 4:4, Hebrews 1:2 as well as II Peter 1:1.
Jesus is the incarnation of all the identity, character, and personality of the one God. All names and titles of God apply to Jesus. Jesus is Jehovah (LORD in KJV). Many Old Testament statements by or about Jehovah are specifically fulfilled in Jesus as the follows scriptures will show:
- Isa. 40:3 predicts that a voice in the wilderness would prepare the way of Jehovah, and all four Gospels apply this prophecy to John the Baptist, who prepared the way of Jesus.
- “The glory of the LORD shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together” (Isa. 40:5)
- Jehovah said in Isa. 45:23, “Unto me every knee shall bow, every tongue shall swear.” Romans 14:10-11 and Philippians 2:10-11 apply this prophecy to Jesus.
- “Therefore my people shall know my name: therefore they shall know in that day that I am he that doth speak: behold, it is I” (Isa. 52:6).
- The “righteous Branch” out of David and the “king” who will reign over the earth in the latter day will be called Jehovah Our Righteousness (Jer. 23:5-6).
- Jehovah predicted, “They weighed for my price thirty pieces of silver” (Zechariah 11:12).
- Jehovah said, “They shall look upon me whom they have pierced” (Zech. 12:10).
- Jesus said, “Before Abraham was, I am” (John 8:58). referring to the name “I AM” that Jehovah had used for Himself in Ex.3:14.
The Old Testament describes Jehovah as the Almighty, only Savior, Lord of lords, First and Last, only Creator, Holy One, Redeemer, Judge, Shepherd, and Light. The New Testament ascribes all these titles to Jesus Christ.
The Sinless Humanity of Jesus Christ
The humanity of Jesus Christ is emphatically proclaimed in the Bible. He was the physical descendant of Adam and Eve, Abraham, David, and Mary. Concerning His humanity the scriptures site the following:
- “Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same…For verily he took not on him the nature of angles; but he took on him the seed of Abraham. Wherefore in all things it behoved him to be made like unto his brethren” (Heb. 2:14; 16-17).
- [Jesus]…”was made of the seed of David according to the flesh” (Rom. 1:3).
- “Who in the days of his flesh, when he had offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears unto him that was able to save him from death, and was heard in that he feared; though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience my the things which he suffered.” (Heb. 5:7-8).
So then, not only is Jesus truly God, but as to His humanity He is also the Son of God. The term Son always has reference to the Incarnation, and to the humanity in which God dwelt and revealed Himself. As shown earlier, the role of the Son began when Jesus was conceived miraculously in the womb of the virgin Mary by the Holy Spirit, as the scriptures states, “Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee” (Heb. 1:5), the Son was “made of a woman, made under the law” (Gal. 4:4).
Jesus was both the Son of God and the Son of man. He was the only begotten Son of God because God’s Spirit literally caused His conception (Luke 1:35). He was the Son of man (humanity) since He had a real human mother.
The designation “Son of ” means “having the nature or character of,” as in the biblical phrases “sons of thunder,” “sons of Belial,” and “son of consolation.” Jesus had the actual character of God as well as that of perfect humanity. “Son of God” draws attention to His deity as well as His humanity, because no one can be like God in every way, be equal with God, or have God’s complete character without being God Himself (Isa. 46:9; 48:11; John 5:18).
By whatever manner we define the essential components of humanity, Jesus had them as the following scriptures show:
- Flesh. “The Word was made flesh” (John 1:14). The Spirit of God did “not change into humanity” , but the Spirit was “manifested in the flesh” (I Tim. 3:16). it was “not a transmutation”, but an “incarnation.”
- Body. “Sacrifice and offering thou wouldest not, but a body has thou prepared me….the body of Jesus Christ” (Heb. 10:5, 10)
- Soul. “My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death”(Matt. 26:38). “His soul was not left in hell” (Acts 2:31).
- Spirit. “And the child grew, and waxed strong in spirit” (Luke 23:46).
- Mind. “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 2:5).
- Will. “Not my will, but thine, be done” (Luke 22:42)
Jesus was a perfect human. He was more than a theophany (a visible appearance of God). He was more than God animating a human body or God in a human shell. He was actually God incarnate – God dwelling and manifesting Himself in true humanity, with everything genuine humanity includes. If Jesus had anything less than complete humanity, than the Incarnation could not have been complete and genuine. Hebrews 4:15 states that “he was in all points tempted like as we are”, the text necessitates than that Jesus therefore had to be completely human in order to be tempted like we are tempted.
Belief in Christ’s true humanity is essential to salvation (I John 4:3). Belief in Christ’s true humanity does not require a complete theological understanding of Christology, but a belief that Jesus actually come in the flesh. The humanity of Christ is necessary because without it there is no death, burial, and resurrection for justification, no blood for remission of sin, and no sacrifice of atonement. The explicit purpose of the Incarnation was to provide a “holy man” to mediate between “God who is holy” and sinful humanity.
Christ’s genuine humanity does not mean He had a sinful nature. Although He was subject to all human temptations and infirmities, yet he was sinless (Heb. 4:15). He committed “no sin, and sin was not in Him (I Pet. 2:22; I John 3:5). Sin includes a sinful nature as well as sinful acts, and Jesus had no sin whatsoever. Human nature was not always sinful, and in point of fact does not have to be sinful, but it became so as a result of Adam and Eve’s sin in the garden, for prior to the fall they lived in a state of moral innocence. Actually, sinful human nature is a distortion and perversion of God’s original design for mankind. Temptation does not require a sinful nature, for Satan tempted Adam and Eve in their state of innocence.
Jesus did not come in sinful flesh, but “in the likeness of sinful flesh” (Rom. 8:3). He came as the “second Adam”, the second representative of the human race, so that through His obedience He could restore to mankind everything Adam lost by his disobedience (Rom. 5:12-21; I Cor. 15:45-49). God gave humanity a fresh start with Christ so that He might yet have the perfect humanity He originally intended when He created Adam. God will conform “His Church” to the image of Christ, that Christ might become the firstborn of a new spiritual family of humans who have overcome sin and death (Rom. 8:29). To accomplish this purpose, Christ came with an innocent, perfect humanity like Adam had in the beginning.
How did Jesus avoid inheriting Adam’s sinful nature like the rest of humanity since he was a descendant of Adam through Mary? From a legal perspective, the sinful nature comes from the father. Although Eve actually sinned first, Adam’s sin had the legal consequences for all of humanity. The Holy Spirit of God was the father of Jesus, so Jesus did not have a sinful father from which to inherit a sinful nature.
The Distinction Between Christ’s Deity and Humanity
It is important to clearly distinguish between the deity and the humanity of Christ. While Jesus was both God and man at the same time, sometimes He spoke or acted from the human viewpoint and at other times from the divine viewpoint. As Father, He sometimes spoke from His divine self-awareness; as Son He sometimes spoke from His human self-awareness. We cannot adequately compare our existence or experience to His.
Only as a man could Jesus be born, grow, be tempted by the devil, hunger, thirst, become weary, sleep, pray, be beaten, die, not know all things, not have all power, be inferior top God, and be a servant. Only as God could He exist from eternity, be unchanging, cast out devils by His own authority, be the bread of life, give living water, give spiritual rest, calm the storm, answer prayer, heal the sick, raise His body from death, forgive sin, know all things, have all power, be identified as God, and be King of kings. These two contrasting lists would be mutually exclusive in any other person, however the scripture attribute both to Jesus, revealing His dual nature.
The prayer of Jesus to God in the garden of Gethsemane is a clear example of the distinction between His deity and humanity. The agony, tears, sweat, desire to escape suffering, and reluctance of the will all relate to the humanity and could not in any way represent deity. Since God is absolutely one, this scene could not portray multiple personalities in the Godhead; rather, it show the vivid contrast and distinction between the humanity and deity of Jesus.
The Union of Christ’s Deity and Humanity
While we must distinguish between Christ’s deity and humanity, it is impossible to separate the two in Christ. His human spirit and His divine spirit were inseparable, actually more precise to speak of the human aspect and divine aspect of His one Spirit. While two distinct wills were present in Jesus, human and divine, the two never conflicted. Jesus was fully aware of His humanity and as well as his divinity.
The Scriptures describe this inseparable union as seen in the following verses: “The Word was God….And the Word was made flesh (John 1:1, 14). “I and my Father are one…The Father is in me, and I in him” (John 10:30, 38). “Believest thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father in me? the words that I speak unto you I speak not of myself: but the Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works. Believe me that I m in the Father, and the Father in me: or else believe me for the very works’ sake” (John 14:10-11). “Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and today, and forever” (Heb. 13:8). The basic nature of Christ cannot change. He will never cease to be God and man united.
Why didn’t Jesus just say, “I am the Father,” instead of , “I and my Father are one”? By stating, “I and my Father are one”, Jesus was stressing His identity as the Father and the union of deity and humanity in Himself. He was more than the invisible Father, he was the Father in the Son, the Deity in flesh. It’s important to note that He didn’t say, “My Father and I agree in one,” as if he and the Father were two separate persons united in purpose only. Rather He expressed that the Father had united with humanity to form one being, Jesus Christ, the Godhead incarnate!
Why did Christ say, “I am in the Father” ? Because in this statement He showed that His humanity was elevated in total union with deity. He did not lose the distinctiveness of His humanity, but His humanity was joined with deity in a way unlike any other man. His words reveal a permanent, inseparable, essential union.
Even the cross did not destroy this union. Christ offered up His blood to God as a sacrifice of atonement “through the eternal Spirit” (Heb 9:14). The Father remained with and in Christ to the end. “Behold, the hour cometh, yea, is now come, that ye shall be scattered, every man to his own, and shall leave me alone: and yet I am not alone, because the Father is with me” (John 16:32). When Jesus cried out on the cross, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” He was not stripped of His deity. He simply expressed genuine human emotion as He experienced the feeling of separation from God, the separation that unrepentant sinners will actually undergo at the last judgment. He quoted Psalm 22:1, in which David felt forsaken but was not actually forsaken by God. The Spirit of God still dwelt in Christ but did not protect His humanity from the full brunt of the human suffering.
Death separated the divine Spirit from the human body, but Christ’s humanity was more than a body. Even while His body lay in the grave, both humanity and deity remained united in His Spirit. At the resurrection Christ’s humanity was glorified, and at the ascension His humanity was exalted. While He is still human, He no longer submits to human limitations and frailties. His humanity is submerged (but not absorbed or obliterated) in the deity. In eternity His human mediatorial role will disappear into the divine office (I Cor. 15:24-28). However He will still manifest Himself through His glorified body throughout eternity (Rev. 22:3-4).
Jesus therefore is the fullness of God dwelling in perfect humanity and manifesting Himself as a perfect human being. He is not a man only, a demigod, a second person “in” the Godhead, divine being temporarily stripped of some divine attributes, the transmutation of God into flesh, the manifestation of a portion of God, the animation of a human body by God, God manifesting Himself in an incomplete humanity, or God temporarily dwelling in a human person. Jesus Christ is the incarnation, the embodiment, the human personification, of the one God!
The purpose of the incarnation was to provide salvation for God’s fallen creation. The Scripture states, “The Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost” (Luke 19:10). This purpose can be subdivided into several headings:
- To reveal the Father (John 1:18; 14:9; Heb. 1:3; I John 1:1-3). As a man Jesus served as a apostle, one sent by God with a mission (Heb. 3:1). He also served as a prophet, one who speaks a message from God (Acts 3:20-23; Heb. 1:1-2).
- To put away sin and destroy the works of the devil (Heb 9:26; I John 3:5;, 8). To accomplish this Jesus, became our high priest, sacrificial lamb , substitute, propitiation, kinsman redeemer, reconciler, advocate, mediator, intercessor, second Adam, and Savior.
- To prepare a church for His second coming (Heb. 9:28).
- To establish the Messianic kingdom on earth, physically as well as spiritually (Isa. 9:6; Jer. 23:5-6; Zech. 14:16-17).
- To judge the world (John 5:22-27; Rom. 2:16).
Essentiality of the Purpose
God came in the flesh as Jesus Christ in order to make a way of salvation for fallen mankind. The Incarnation was for the purpose of the Atonement. The Gospel, literally the “good news”, is that Jesus died, was buried, and rose again in order that all men could be saved (I Cor. 15:1-4). Christianity if unlike any other religion in that the death of its founder is essential to its message.
In that God is holy and just, He cannot overlook sin or have fellowship with sinful humanity. The holiness of God, which is the essence of His nature, demands that He separate Himself from sinful humanity. Separation from God who is the source of all life, means death, both physically and spiritually. Eternal separation from God is the ultimate spiritual death (Rev. 20:14). Therefore, divine justice, as set forth by God’s holy Word, requires death as the penalty for sin (Rom. 6:23). God chose to bind Himself by the principle of death for sin. Without the shedding of blood, the giving of a life, there can be no remission or release from this penalty and no restoration to fellowship with the holy God (Heb. 9:22).
The love and mercy of God, sought to restore humanity to fellowship with Him by providing a substitute to die in our place, and in so doing fulfilling the requirements of His justice and providing salvation for us. The death of animals was not sufficient to remit our sins (Heb. 10:4), because we are of a higher order than they and are created in the image of God. No other person, except for Jesus Christ, can suffer the penalty of death in our place, because each one of us deserve eternal death for our own sin.
God is sinless, but He does not have flesh and blood. As a Spirit He could not shed blood for our sins, nor could He die. To provide a substitute for He came He came to earth as a “sinless man”, Jesus Christ. Jesus was the only sinless man who has ever lived, the only one who did not deserve to die and who could be the perfect substitute for us.
The grace of God provided a substitutionary sacrifice for our sin through the death of the sinless man Jesus Christ. He took our place and suffered the penalty of sin on our behalf. If we believe in Christ and apply His death, burial, and resurrection to our lives by obedience to His Word (Acts 2:38; 19:1-6; Mark 1:15; 16:16; John 3:3-5), then we will experience salvation.
God does not excuse sin and expects all men to be saved as a result of what Jesus Christ provided for us. There is no salvation outside of Jesus Christ. Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me” (John 14:6; 8:24; 10:1-9; Rom. 10-9-17).
There is only “One God” who has created all things, both visible and invisible, and who has chosen to manifest himself to mankind as “Father, Son and Holy Spirit!”