|From the TeachingtheWord Bible Knowledgebase|
Part five of a series. Read part four.
Those who actually believe that Jesus Christ is the one true and living God are a small minority of the world's population - even among those who call themselves Christians. What would you say if someone asked you to defend the doctrine of His deity?
We are continuing our study of the questions that relate to the great declaration about Jesus Christ that we find in Colossians chapter one, verse fifteen: "He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation." By way of brief review, let me mention three things we have already focused upon.
First, what does Paul mean when he declares that Jesus is "the image of the invisible God"? We have seen that the word translated "image" in this verse tells us that Jesus is the exact representation and the complete revelation of God the Father - so exact, and so complete, that as Jesus Himself said in John 14:9, "He who has seen Me has seen the Father."
Secondly, what does Paul mean when he declares that Jesus is "the firstborn over all creation"? We saw that the Greek word that is translated "firstborn" in Colossians 1:15 means "someone or something who existed before other things." It also means "someone who has the inheritance rights of the firstborn." And it also means that the person who bears this title of firstborn is in a position of superiority. The word "firstborn" in Colossians 1:15 is not a word that has to do with birth, or birth order, or even temporal beginning. Paul says that Jesus is "the firstborn over all creation." He is saying that Jesus Christ existed before anything was created. He is eternally existent.
Thirdly, we have answered the question, "What is the Trinity, and what is the place of Jesus Christ in the Godhead?" And we saw, first of all, that the Trinity is an absolutely vital doctrine. It is fundamental. To believe in the God of the Bible, you must believe in the Trinity. If you do not believe in the Trinity, you do not believe in the God of the Bible. We saw that the place of Jesus Christ within the Trinity is this: Jesus Christ is the visible manifestation of the one true, living, and eternal God, who is composed of three united persons of one substance and power, without separate existence.
We saw that the Trinity is a doctrine that human wisdom cannot fully comprehend or explain. It can only be accepted, believed, on the basis of God's propositional revelation in His Word. God calls upon us to do just that - to believe it. We accept the doctrine of the Trinity because God's Word says it is so. The doctrine of the Trinity is not a mere theological technicality. It is one of the rock-bottom fundamentals, one of the non-negotiables, of authentic Biblical Christianity.
How Do We Know That Jesus Christ is God?
This brings us today to a fourth question, and it is related to this matter of the Trinity. We believe, on the authority of the Word of God, on the authority of the declarations that we find within the pages of Scripture, from Genesis to Revelation, in one God, revealed in three Persons. But how do we know specifically that Jesus Christ is God?
Think about this fact: Those who actually believe that Jesus Christ is the one true and living God are a small minority of the world's population - even among those who call themselves Christians.
Most religions, even most nominally "Christian" ones, deny the Bible's teaching that Jesus Christ, the Second Person of the Trinity, is the one true and living God. Mainline liberal churches deny it. Most Emergent Church leaders deny it. Many in the Purpose-Driven Church movement deny it. Pseudo-Christian cults like the Mormons and Jehovah's Witnesses deny it. Roman Catholicism claims to teach the deity of Jesus Christ, but Rome worships Mary alongside of Christ, and Rome usurps the honor that is due only to Christ and gives it to a Pope. According to reliable surveys, two-thirds of American Evangelicals do not believe that Jesus Christ is the only Way to eternal life. Beyond all of these are the open Christ-deniers of Islam, Hinduism, and a host of other pagan religions.
Let me make the question more personal: How do you know that Jesus Christ is God? What do you say when someone asks you that question? If you are a Christian today, are you ready to give an answer for the hope that is within you? Sadly, even many truly born-again Christians are not prepared to give that kind of an answer. As we continue this study in the next installment, I want to make sure that you are equipped to give the answer.
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