The identity of Jesus Christ is of paramount importance. If he was not who he claimed to be, then Christianity was founded on a lie and is a false religion. On the other hand, if Jesus was the Son of God, then Christianity is the one true faith which leads to eternal life.
Is there sufficient evidence to enable us to know the truth? In my judgment, the evidence is overwhelming. In the Gospel of John Jesus offered compelling evidence of his Sonship (John 5:31-39).
Jesus acknowledged that he was God’s Son. But, He knew that his testimony alone was not sufficient (John 5:31). Even the law required two or more witnesses to establish a matter (Deuteronomy 19:15). Jesus, therefore, offered additional testimony.
John the Baptist proclaimed him the Son of God (John 5:33). John told his disciples concerning Jesus, “I saw, and bare record that this is the Son of God” (John 1:34).
Even more convincing than the testimony of John, was the ministry of Christ. What he did in healing the sick, stilling the tempest, raising the dead and a myriad of other things gave proof to his claim of Sonship (John 5:36). Nicodemus knew the value of Christ’s miracles. They offered positive proof that Jesus came from God (John 3:2).
The Father also bore witness to Jesus’ divinity. At the baptism and again at the transfiguration the voice of God from heaven was heard to say, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased” (Matthew 3:17; 17:5).
Finally, Jesus urged, “Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me” (John 5:39). The Old Testament was fulfilled in Christ. His coming was no accident. At last the promised Messiah had arrived.
No other individual has impacted life and society in the manner in which Christ changed the world. The historian Lecky, an unbeliever in revealed religion, wrote:
“The character of Jesus has not only been the highest pattern of virtue, but the strongest incentive to its practice, and has exerted so deep an influence, that it may be truly said, that the simple record of three short years of active life has done more to regenerate and to soften mankind, than all the disquisitions of philosophers and than all the exhortations of moralists” (W. E. H. Lecky, History of European Morals, ii (1869), p. 88).
How do we explain the phenomenal appeal and power of Christ? We say with the Centurion at the foot of the cross, “Truly this was the Son of God” (Matthew 27:54).
A popular misconception about Jesus Christ is that He is the complete embodiment of the Godhead and that the Father and the Holy Spirit are manifested in Him. This view denies the Biblical doctrine of the Godhead by arguing that there is only one person, rather than three, which occupies the state, office, or quality of being God. Typically, this is called the “Oneness Doctrine.”
Advocates of this teaching cite Colossians 2:9 as proof of their argument. The passage says, concerning Jesus, “in him dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily.” The assertion made is that this verse is saying that Jesus is the literal embodiment of the Godhead and that the Godhead begins and ends with Him. But, this conclusion is not supported by the Scriptural evidence. The context in which Colossians 2:9 appears is a defense against Gnosticism, which denies the divinity of Jesus. Paul argued that Jesus is every bit as divine as the other members of the Godhead.
Another so-called proof text of the Oneness Doctrine is John 15:9, in which Jesus says, “he that hath seen me hath seen the Father.” Again, the assertion is that Jesus affirmed that He is the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, all rolled up in one being. But, that does not fit in with the rest of the Scriptures. It is much more reasonable to conclude that Jesus affirmed His equality with the Father, in this passage (Philippians 2:5-6).
Passages like the record of the baptism of Jesus Christ are endlessly frustrating for those who teach the Oneness Doctrine. In Matthew 3:13-17, we see Jesus being baptized, the Holy Spirit lighting upon Him, and the Father speaking His approval of Jesus from Heaven. This event could not possibly have taken place, as it is described, if the Oneness Doctrine is true.
The fact that there are three beings in the Godhead does not mean that we worship more than one God. As the ancient Hebrews understood it, “The Lord our God is one Lord” (Deuteronomy 6:4).
“For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one.” – 1 John 5:7
Many modern critics of the Bible assert that Jesus was merely a man who was chosen by God to be the Messiah. Even in ancient times, people were confused about the nature of the Christ. “There was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews: the same came to Jesus by night, and said unto him, Rabbi, we know that thou art a teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him” (John 3:1-2). But, Jesus was not just an ordinary human being who was chosen by God to be the Messiah. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16).
There is a sense in which every human being is a child of God (Romans 8:16). There is a special sense in which every Christian is a spiritual child of God (Ephesians 1:5). But Jesus is the “only begotten” Son of God—and that makes Him unique (John 1:14). The English term, “only begotten” is the translation of a Greek term that is pronounced, “monogenes” and which literally means, “only one of a kind” and “of begetting children.” This describes the unique status of Jesus, as being both God and man at the same time. The Father and the Holy Spirit do not fit this description and neither does any human or angelic being. That is why only Jesus could be the Messiah. He is both human and divine, making Him the perfect Mediator to bridge the gap between God and man (1 Timothy 2:5; Hebrews 8:6; 9:15; 12:24; 1 John 2:1). The virgin birth of Christ made Him our Savior (Matthew 1:24-25).
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” – John 3:16
When the prophet Isaiah wrote about the name of the Messiah, he listed several terms, which describe many of the characteristics of His nature. “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” (Isaiah 9:6). Prior to His incarnation, however, He was simply known as the Word. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God…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” (John 1:1, 14).
When He was born into this world, He was given the name, Jesus (Matthew 1:24-25). This is the Greek form of the Hebrew name, Joshua. Both of these names literally mean, Savior (Luke 2:11). Christ is not His last name, but rather His title (Matthew 1:16). This is the Greek form of Messiah. Both of these names literally mean, Anointed and they bear reference to His divinity and to His authority, as the King of Kings and Lord of Lords (Luke 1:32-33). While He lived on Earth, He frequently called Himself the Son of God. This term was an affirmation of His divinity. “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 5:18). Also, He frequently called Himself the Son of Man. This term was an affirmation of His humanity. “And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory” (1 Timothy 3:16).
Most of the time, the New Testament simply calls Him the Lord, which can be problematic, since God, the Father is also called “the Lord” in Scripture. It was a term of respect, which was used by His own disciples (Acts 1:6). Also, they called Him Master and Rabbi or Teacher (John 13:13; John 3:2). To His apostles, Jesus was their Lord and Master, but He was not unapproachable. They could come to Him with any question and they could count on Him to respond with wise counsel. Our relationship with Jesus ought to be the same. His word still speaks to us today (John 12:48).
“That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow…” – Philippians 2:10
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Text: Hebrews 1:4-14
1. The subject of angels has certainly become a popular one lately
a. Bookstores are filled with books dealing with angels
b. Popular TV shows and movies depict angels working in our lives (Highway To Heaven, Touched By An Angel, The Preacher’s Wife, It’s A Wonderful Life)
2. Angels were also an important part of the Jewish religion
a. Angels assisted with the giving of the Law at Mount Sinai – Deuteronomy 33:2; Psalm 68:17; Acts 7:53; Galatians 3:19
b. They appear throughout the history of Israel, coming to Abraham, Daniel, and many others
3. Since the purpose of The Epistle To The Hebrews is to show the superiority of Christ and the New Covenant to the Law of Moses…
a. It is necessary that the writer has something to say about angels
b. So it is that we find the comparison of the Son to prophets followed now by a comparison to angels – Hebrews 1:4-14
4. The premise is clearly stated that the Son (Jesus) is much better than the angels – Hebrews 1:4
a. The reason in a nutshell is that He has by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they
b. That name is Son, a title that only Jesus can properly wear
1) Angels may be called sons of God collectively – Job 1:6
2) But no angel can be called this name individually!
I. JESUS IS THE SON
A. TWO PROPHECIES REFER TO THE MESSIAH AS SON
1. The first is Psalm 2:7
a. A psalm depicting the enthronement of the Messiah (the Lord’s Anointed)
b. In which Jehovah calls the Messiah My Son
c. The begetting has reference to the resurrection of Jesus – Acts 13:33; Romans 1:4
2. The second is 2 Samuel 7:14
a. This passage had immediate application to Solomon, David’s son
b. But as the Messiah he would receive the throne of David
1) It’s ultimate application would be to the Messiah
2) Jesus, the son of David – Matthew 1:1; Mark 10:47; John 7:42
B. BUT NO ANGEL IS EVER CALLED MY SON
1. Collectively they were called sons of God, but never individually!
2. This not only demonstrates Jesus’ superiority to angels
a. It proves that Jesus Himself was NOT an angel!
b. Contrary to what some (such as JW’s) believe
II. JESUS IS THE FIRSTBORN WHO RECEIVES WORSHIP
A. JESUS IS DESCRIBED AS THE FIRSTBORN
1. The term firstborn does not always mean born first
a. It is also used in the Scriptures as a metaphor to describe one who occupies the rank and privilege of being firstborn (without literally being firstborn)
b. Used by God in this way to refer to the nation of Israel – Exodus 4:22
c. Used by God in this way to refer to David, youngest of eight – Psalm 89:20-27
2. It is used of Jesus in this way to stress His preeminence over creation
a. As Paul explains in Colossians 1:15-18
b. By virtue of being the Creator, He maintains the rank and privilege of firstborn!
B. WHEN THE FIRSTBORN CAME INTO THE WORLD, THE ANGELS WERE TO WORSHIP HIM
1. The angels of God were to worship Him. Note well: No created being is or was ever worthy of worship!
a. The angels themselves refused to be worshipped – Revelation 22:8-9
b. The apostle Peter refused to accept worship – Acts 10:25-26
2. Yet Jesus received worship!
a. From the wise men – Matthew 2:11
b. From the leper – Matthew 8:2
c. From the ruler – Matthew 9:18
d. From His disciples in the boat – Matthew 14:33
e. From the Canaanite woman – Matthew 15:25
f. From the man born blind – John 9:38
g. From the women and other disciples following His resurrection – Matthew 28:9,17
h. From the disciples following His ascension – Luke 24:52
III. JESUS IS GOD ENTHRONED AND ANOINTED
A. ANGELS ARE SIMPLY FOR THE SERVICE OF GOD
1. They are created spirits to serve God (called ministering spirits in He 1:14)
2. Their service can be as powerful yet transient as wind or flames of fire, if need be
B. BUT THE SON IS GOD HIMSELF, ENTHRONED AND ANOINTED!
1. The author is quoting from another Messianic psalm – Psalm 45:6-7
2. Notice that the Son is called God! – Hebrews 1:8
a. The Hebrew writer clearly proclaims the deity of Jesus! – Hebrews 1:3a
b. Yet in the next verse we read where it says God, Your God has
1) Here we find a distinction of personalities within the Godhead
2) Which we learn through later revelation involves the Father and the Son (and the Holy Spirit)
3. The Son, Who is God, has been enthroned, and reigns over an everlasting kingdom with righteousness
a. A kingdom of which Daniel said shall never be destroyed – Daniel 2:44
b. A kingdom of which Gabriel (an angel) told Mary: there will be no end – Luke 1:33
c. Both Paul and John wrote of this kingdom – Colossians 1:13; Revelation 1:9
4. This Son, Who is God and King, has been anointed – Hebrews 1:9
a. Of course, the word Messiah means anointed one
b. In this passage, the emphasis is on how Jesus has been anointed with gladness more than Your companions
1) Who are these companions?
2) In view of He 2:11; 3:1, it is likely the followers of Jesus, His brethren!
5. As God, King, and Messiah, Jesus is certainly greater than angels!
IV. JESUS IS THE LORD WHO IS THE ETERNAL CREATOR
A. JESUS IS YAHWEH (JEHOVAH)!
1. Now the Hebrew writer is quoting from Psalm 102:25-27
a. A psalm which addresses God using His covenant name Yahweh (or Jehovah)
b. This is the name that God used to identify Himself to Moses – Exodus 3:13-14
2. But the Hebrew writer by inspiration knew this psalm equally applied to Jesus!
a. Such would be blasphemy, unless Jesus is truly Deity!
b. So while the Son is distinct from the Father (Hebrews 1:9), He and the Father are also one
3. In this chapter, then, we find evidence relating to the nature of the Godhead
a. There is one God, but three distinct personalities within the Godhead
b. As Jehovah, Jesus is not a god, or any sort of created being (contra JWs, Mormons)
c. As the Son who is distinct from the Father, the Son is not the same in personality as the Father (contra the Oneness Pentecostals)
d. Though not a biblical term, the word trinity does help to convey the Biblical evidence as to the nature of the Godhead!
B. JESUS IS THE ETERNAL CREATOR!
1. In the beginning it was He who created the earth and the heavens – Hebrews 1:10
a. As the author had already stated in Hebrews 1:2c
b. As both John and Paul professed – John 1:3; Colossians 1:16-17
2. He is also eternal, therefore unchangeable – Hebrews 1:11-12
a. The heavens and the earth will perish, grow old and be changed – 2 Peter 3:10-12
b. But Jesus will remain, be the same, and not fail – Hebrews 13:8
V. JESUS IS THE SOVEREIGN
A. NO ANGEL HAS BEEN INVITED TO SIT AT GOD’S RIGHT HAND
1. The psalm quoted now is Psalm 110:1
a. This psalm is quoted or alluded to more than any other psalm in the NT
b. It refers to the Messianic reign of Christ that began when Jesus sat down at the right hand of God – Hebrews 1:3; Acts 2:34-36; 1 Peter 3:22
2. That no angel has been asked to sit at God’s right hand
a. Once again proves that Jesus was not an angel (contra JWs)
b. Only Jesus, as the Son of God, has been so invited, and is truly the Sovereign!
B. ANGELS ARE BUT MINISTERING SPIRITS
1. While Jesus sits enthroned in heaven, angels are sent forth to minister (serve)
2. They minister for those who will inherit salvation
a. They have certainly ministered in the past – Luke 1:11-38
b. They will certainly minister at the time of Christ’s return – Matthew 13:36-43
c. But to what extent they minister in the present, the Scriptures reveal little (Matthew 18:10), and we should be careful to refrain from vain speculation
1. In a very forceful manner, the writer to the Hebrews has shown Jesus’ superiority to angels:
a. Jesus is the Son (not angels)
b. Jesus is the Firstborn who receives worship (not angels)
c. Jesus is God enthroned and anointed (not angels)
d. Jesus is the LORD (Yahweh) who is the eternal creator (not angels, who are only created beings)
e. Jesus is the Sovereign, reigning at God’s right hand (angels are but ministering spirits)
2. While angels certainly have a special place in God’s plan for redeeming man
a. They are not to become the object of worship or adoration – Colossians 2:18-19
b. Only Jesus is worthy of such worship and adoration! As innumerable angels proclaimed with a loud voice: Worthy is the Lamb who was slain To receive power and riches and wisdom, And strength and honor and glory and blessing! – Revelation 5:11-12
3. Let Jesus, and not angels, be the focus of your interest and adoration!