Sunday Morning Bible Study
March 10, 1996
At the beginning of chapter 10, Jesus told the story of the Good Shepherd.
He was explaining why some people responded to His teaching by believing in Him, while others just got angry, and rejected Him.
The ones that were responding were doing so because they were His sheep.
His sheep recognize His voice and respond when He calls them.
We ended last week's passage with Jesus telling how safe His sheep were.
»John 10:28-29 And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. 29 My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father's hand.
:30-38 Jesus claims deity
:30 I and my Father are one.
What does Jesus mean by this?
Certainly He is referring to the fact that both He and the Father are holding on to you, and are one in doing the same work.
There are some crazy ideas people have about this verse:
Some teach that Jesus is simply claiming to be the Father.
But the Father and Jesus in Scripture are two distinct persons.
And in fact, the Greek could literally be translated,
"I and the Father, we are one"
The verb "to be" is in the first person plural.
Jesus isn't saying "I and the Father, I am one"
The Jehovah's Witnesses teach that Jesus is simply meaning that Jesus is of one purpose with the Father.
That could kind of be said here, but it doesn't go far enough.
Note that when the Jews take up stones to kill Jesus for blasphemey, that Jesus doesn't just say, "Wait guys, I only meant that I was one with God in purpose only, I didn't mean that I was God."
It means a whole lot more than just one in purpose.
Jesus means that there is a real unity, a oneness of purpose, and power, and nature.
»Philippians 2:5-7 Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: 6 Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: 7 But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men:
Before He took on His human form, Jesus was in all ways equal with God the Father.
Yet He didn't feel like He had to hold on to that right of His, but laid aside His glory and emptied Himself, being then able to take on the form of a man, yet still completely God.
Jesus is calling Himself God.
What we're going to look at today is of vital importance.
You may want to take notes, or get a tape, because the issues we're going to talk about are going to come up in your conversations with people.
The Deity of Christ
a. The truth of Jesus' deity
You just can't get around it.
It's too clear in Scripture not to see it.
What I'm going to give you this morning, as many Scriptures as I'm going to use, is really only an overview. We're just scratching the surface.
1. The Old Testament speaks of His deity
»Micah 5:2 But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting.
»Isaiah 9:6-7 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. 7 Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this.
2. He called Himself God.
»John 8:24 I said therefore unto you, that ye shall die in your sins: for if ye believe not that I am he, ye shall die in your sins.
»John 8:56-58 Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day: and he saw it, and was glad. 57 Then said the Jews unto him, Thou art not yet fifty years old, and hast thou seen Abraham? 58 Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am.
3. The Jews understood that Jesus was calling Himself God, and Jesus never corrected them.
»John 8:59 Then took they up stones to cast at him: but Jesus hid himself, and went out of the temple, going through the midst of them, and so passed by.
»John 5:18 Therefore the Jews sought the more to kill him, because he not only had broken the sabbath, but said also that God was his Father, making himself equal with God.
»John 10:33 The Jews answered him, saying, For a good work we stone thee not; but for blasphemy; and because that thou, being a man, makest thyself God.
4. The apostles called Him God to His face.
»John 20:28 And Thomas answered and said unto him, My Lord and my God.
5. He received and approved worship from humans.
»Matthew 14:33 Then they that were in the ship came and worshipped him, saying, Of a truth thou art the Son of God.
»Matthew 28:9 And as they went to tell his disciples, behold, Jesus met them, saying, All hail. And they came and held him by the feet, and worshipped him.
6. The apostles called Jesus God in their writings.
»John 1:1,14 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God ... 14 And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.
»Romans 9:5 Whose are the fathers, and of whom as concerning the flesh Christ came, who is over all, God blessed for ever. Amen.
»Titus 2:13 Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ;
7. Even God calls Jesus God.
»Hebrews 1:4-8 Being made so much better than the angels, as he hath by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they. 5 For unto which of the angels said he at any time, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee? And again, I will be to him a Father, and he shall be to me a Son? 6 And again, when he bringeth in the firstbegotten into the world, he saith, And let all the angels of God worship him. 7 And of the angels he saith, Who maketh his angels spirits, and his ministers a flame of fire. 8 But unto the Son he saith, Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: a sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of thy kingdom.
vs.4 - Jesus is better than angels
vs.6 - the angels worship Jesus
vs.8 - Even God calls Jesus God
b. Why is it important?
Isn't it only important that I believe in Jesus?
Why do I have to believe He's God?
1. There are other Jesus-es.
Paul rebuked the Corinthians for putting up with all kinds of strange doctrines.
»2Corinthians 11:2-4 For I am jealous for you with a godly jealousy; for I betrothed you to one husband, that to Christ I might present you as a pure virgin. 3 But I am afraid, lest as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, your minds should be led astray from the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ. 4 For if one comes and preaches another Jesus whom we have not preached, or you receive a different spirit which you have not received, or a different gospel which you have not accepted, you bear this beautifully.
It's important that you don't just stop at the name Jesus, but understand correctly which Jesus it is you believe in.
To the Mormons, Jesus is the half-brother to Lucifer.
To the Jehovah's witnesses, Jesus is really Michael the archangel.
To some of the Word-of-Faith teachers, Jesus is just a man, no more God than you and I are.
"Adam was the copy, looked just like God. IF you stood Adam upside God, they look just exactly alike. If you stood Jesus and Adam side-by-side, they would look and sound exactly alike."
Here's something else Copeland claims that Jesus told him:
"Don't be disturbed when people put you down and speak harshly and roughly of you. They spoke that way of Me, should they not speak that way of you? The more you get to be like Me, the more they're going to think that way of you. They crucified Me for claiming that I was God. But I didn't claim I was God; I just claimed I walked with Him and He was in Me. Hallelujah"
There are these other fake Jesus-es designed by Satan to lead you away from the real thing.
Not all Jesus-es are alike.
2. The payment for your sins depends upon it.
Your whole relationship with God, and your eternal destiny depends upon how you choose to pay for your sins.
The Bible says:
»Hebrews 9:27 And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment:
There will be a day when you have to face God for judgment.
When the judgment comes, and you are found guilty of sin, the penalty is death, eternal separation from God.
The entire Bible lays out one thing clearly, that God has set up a system whereby you can allow somebody else to pay for your sins.
That's the whole point behind the sacrifices in the Old Testament, getting man used to the idea that he can allow someone else to pay the price (like a lamb).
But for it to work, the one paying the bill has to have enough pocket change to pay your bill as well as their own.
That's what the Old Testament was hinting at when it required the sacrifices to be "spotless" animals.
If I were to go through life without any sin (an impossible task), I could choose at the end of my life to pay for your sin, die, and go to hell for eternity in your place.
But since I'm not sinless, I'm not going to have enough to pay for you after I pay my own bill with God.
And even if I could do it, I could only pay the price for one person.
But with Jesus, we don't have to worry.
Not only was He sinless, but being God in the flesh, He didn't have just one finite lift to lay down in death, but an infinite life to lay down.
And so He could conceivably pay for the sins of the entire world.
The Bible says:
»Hebrews 10:14 For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified.
»2Corinthians 5:18-21 And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation; 19 To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation. 20 Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ's stead, be ye reconciled to God. 21 For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.
If Jesus is not God, then He cannot fully pay for all of our sins according to God's standards.
:31 the Jews took up stones
This isn't the first time.
They tried it back at the end of chapter 8.
:33 thou, being a man, makest thyself God
The message has come through loud and clear.
Jesus is claiming to be God.
Now, if Jesus wasn't really claiming to be God, this would be a good time to correct the Jews.
But He doesn't.
:34 Is it not written in your law, I said, Ye are gods?
Jesus is now going to try to quiet their criticism by pointing out something interesting in the Jews' own Scriptures.
Jesus is not trying to discount His own deity, as if to say that "Hey, we're all gods, so what's the big deal?"
A.T.Robertson (famous, renowned Greek scholar): "It must not be argued, as some modern men do, that Jesus thus disclaims his own deity. He does nothing of the kind. He is simply stopping the mouths of the rabbis from the charge of blasphemy and he does it effectually."
All Jesus is doing is tripping up these smarty-pants for awhile, so they stop and stand there and go "uh ... duh ... ummm"
Jesus is quoting from:
»Psalm 82:1-8 <<A Psalm of Asaph.>> God standeth in the congregation of the mighty; he judgeth among the gods. 2 How long will ye judge unjustly, and accept the persons of the wicked? Selah. 3 Defend the poor and fatherless: do justice to the afflicted and needy. 4 Deliver the poor and needy: rid them out of the hand of the wicked. 5 They know not, neither will they understand; they walk on in darkness: all the foundations of the earth are out of course. 6 I have said, Ye are gods; and all of you are children of the most High. 7 But ye shall die like men, and fall like one of the princes. 8 Arise, O God, judge the earth: for thou shalt inherit all nations.
The Hebrew word translated "gods" in verse 1 & 6 is "elohim".
It's usually translated "God" (some 2346 times in KJV)
But that's not it's exclusive meaning.
It can mean: rulers, judges; divine ones; angels ; gods
It's translated "god" or "gods" (little "g") some 244 times.
Our English word is kind of similar.
For us, the only difference is whether or not we capitalize the first letter or not.
It's even translated "angels"
»Psalm 8:5 For thou hast made him a little lower than the angels, and hast crowned him with glory and honour.
Psalm 82 was written and aimed at the men who were judges in the land of Israel.
God is warning them that they had better do their job right, because He is standing in their midst.
Even though God called them "gods", it was only because of their power and influence over men's lives
God had even used "elohim" to describe Moses:
»Exodus 7:1 And the LORD said unto Moses, See, I have made thee a god to Pharaoh: and Aaron thy brother shall be thy prophet.
Keep in mind that God warns them that they too are mortal men, and will die like mortal men.
:35 unto whom the word of God came
Namely these judges.
God's Word through the psalmist came to them in the form of the psalm.
He's not talking about every person unto whom the word of God comes.
:35-36 If he called them gods ... Say ye of him, whom the Father hath sanctified ... Thou blasphemest
Hey, if Jesus really is God, should He claim to be something less?
This is a kind of argument known as "reasoning from the lesser to the greater".
John Gill (18th century scholar): the argument is what the Jews call "from the lesser to the greater", and stands thus; that if mere frail mortal men, and some of them wicked men, being made rulers and judges in the earth are called gods, by God himself, to whom the word of God came in time, and constituted them gods, or governors, but for a time; and this is fact stands recorded in Scripture, which cannot be denied or disproved, then surely it cannot be blasphemy in Christ, to assert himself to be the Son of God, who existed as a divine person from all eternity; and was so early set apart to the office of prophet, priest, and king; and in the fulness of time was sent into this world, to be the author of eternal salvation to the sons of men.
The hard thing about this passage is simply because there have been so many people who have twisted and added to it's meaning, that it's hard to pick out the truth.
God doesn't call all men "gods", only these particular men set up as judges over Israel.
There is only ONE God
And He manifests Himself in three persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
God has clearly spoken that there are no other beings on the same par as Himself.
»Isaiah 44:6 Thus saith the LORD the King of Israel, and his redeemer the LORD of hosts; I am the first, and I am the last; and beside me there is no God.
»Isaiah 44:8 Fear ye not, neither be afraid: have not I told thee from that time, and have declared it? ye are even my witnesses. Is there a God beside me? yea, there is no God; I know not any.
»Isaiah 45:22 Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God, and there is none else.
»Isaiah 46:9-10 Remember the former things of old: for I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like me, 10 Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure:
Man is not divine
This is something that Satan tempted man with in the garden, and has been doing so ever since.
»Genesis 3:5 For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.
There's a lot of lies around:
Psychologist M. Scott Peck writes:
"God wants us to become Himsef (or Herself or Itself). We are growing toward godhood. God is the goal of evolution"
Well-known witch Margot Adler quotes from the Whole Earth Catalog and says:
"We are as gods and might as well get good at it."
Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, leader of Transcendental Meditation, says,
"Be still and know that you are God."
"Man ... was created on terms of equality with God, and he could stand in God's presence without any consciousness of inferiority ... God has made us as much like Himself as possible ... He made us the same class of being that He is Himself ... Man lived in the realm of God. He lived on terms equal with God ... The believer is called Christ ... That's who we are; we're Christ!"
The Mormon church teaches that Mormons will become "gods", but a little differently.
Mormon scholar Stephen E. Robinson:
"Now, in fact, the Latter-day Saints would not agree with the doctrine of deification as understood by most of these evangelists, for in the LDS view we receive the full divine inheritance only through the atonement of Christ and only after a glorious resurrection."
Is any of this true?
Remember Psalm 82
»Psalm 82:6-7 I have said, Ye are gods; and all of you are children of the most High. 7 But ye shall die like men, and fall like one of the princes.
These "gods" are going to die like mere men.
They are only "gods" in respect to their judging other men.
Look at what God Himself claims:
»Isaiah 43:10 Ye are my witnesses, saith the LORD, and my servant whom I have chosen: that ye may know and believe me, and understand that I am he: before me there was no God formed, neither shall there be after me.
Does this sound like there are other "gods", other beings on the level of God Himself?
:37 If I do not the works of my Father, believe me not
Jesus isn't asking them to believe in Him just because He claims to be something.
Look at the things He's been doing too!
Application of the Deity of Christ
It not only affects eternity, but it affects your life now!
Not only is your eternal salvation based upon it, but your day-to-day living is as well.
We often talk about "asking Jesus into your heart" when we are saved.
If Jesus is just a good man, well that's nice, but if indeed He is God Himself, then WOW!
Paul talks to the Philippian church about how he has learned to survive and actually be content in every circumstance, whether he's rolling in the dough, or whether he's living in poverty:
»Philippians 4:10-13 But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly, that now at the last your care of me hath flourished again; wherein ye were also careful, but ye lacked opportunity. 11 Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. 12 I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. 13 I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.
The ability to live in contentment comes because Jesus is at work in us.
Jesus, God Himself, is at work in us.
No wonder we can do all things through Jesus who strengthens us.
:39-42 Jesus leaves, more believe
Jesus leaves all the commotion behind, and even more people believe.
:39 they sought again to take him: but he escaped out of their hand
It doesn't seem as if they're going to outright stone Him now, but they want to arrest Him and take Him to the Sanhedrin, where the big guys can question Jesus.
Jesus escaped not because He was afraid, but because it wasn't yet time for Him to be captured.
We've seen this several places already
»John 7:30 Then they sought to take him: but no man laid hands on him, because his hour was not yet come.
»John 8:20 These words spake Jesus in the treasury, as he taught in the temple: and no man laid hands on him; for his hour was not yet come.
There is safety in God's hands.
You too, are just as safe as Jesus.
»Isaiah 54:17 No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper; and every tongue that shall rise against thee in judgment thou shalt condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the LORD, and their righteousness is of me, saith the LORD.
God will provide a way of escape.
»1Corinthians 10:13 There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.
:41 John did no miracle: but all things that John spake of this man were true.
Apparently these people were well acquainted with John the Baptist's ministry.
After all, we're in the area where he spent all his time.
All John was, was a preacher.
He apparently did no miraculous things.
He simply told people to get ready for Jesus, and when Jesus came, John just pointed people at Jesus.
You may not be a miracle-worker, but you can still tell people about Jesus.
I like this!
Sometimes I feel woefully inadequate in my ability to minister to people.
On Wednesdays we have been looking at the great prophets like Elijah and Elisha.
And I'm not even close.
But even John the Baptist was not known as a miracle worker, only someone who spoke about Jesus.
Go plant the seeds!
Tell people the news!