READ: Deuteronomy 19-21, Psalm 59, Luke 15, 1 Corinthians 15
JESUS, VERY GOD OF VERY GOD
To downplay the deity of Jesus is to be a false witness. We cannot pretend to not know what we know. The clear revelation of Scripture, the self-testimony of Christ, the witness of the Holy Spirit, and the affirmations of the Apostles and Church Fathers all contribute to our clear understanding (and the irrefutable evidence) that Jesus is God.
Romans 1:4 reminds us that Jesus “was declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the Spirit of Holiness, by the resurrection from the dead.” While it is true that “Son of God” biblically has connotations of kingly power and rule over the nations (and “Son of Man,” the preferred term Jesus used to describe Himself, has connotations of deity as introduced in Daniel), it is also undeniable that the resurrection proved the deity of Jesus. Only man can die, only God can rise from the dead.
The insistence and focus of the Apostle’s teaching was on the resurrection. Why? The resurrection proved Jesus was God, and only if Jesus is God is atonement possible. In fact, if Christ is not risen (if Jesus is not God), then our preaching is empty and our faith in vain. If Christ is not risen, then both our faith and our witness is futile (1 Cor. 15:14-17).
It has become popular to downplay the deity of Jesus in witness. This is a tragic and costly error. Jesus, contrary to current opinion, did not downplay His divinity, He constantly accented it. He forgave sin, He overruled natural law (walking on water, calming storms, multiplying bread), He made Himself equal to God. It was Jesus’ overt claims of deity that made Him hated and had Him killed. To downplay the deity of Jesus in witness, even to Muslims, especially to Muslims, is false witness.
The litmus test of witness can never be reduced to what is palatable to the hearer. Points of disagreement are far more important that points of agreement. We must lead with the superexaltation of Jesus. We most open our mouths and declare the unsearchable riches of Christ. A context and a time that seethes at the elevation of Jesus cannot dictate the terms of our proclamation. We must lovingly, devotedly, consistently, and boldly declare that Jesus is the life-giving Spirit, Jesus is the Lord from Heaven (1 Cor. 15:47), Jesus is the God who forgives all things and subdues all powers.
Do not be embarrassed of the mystery of Jesus, fully man, fully God. All false religions stumble on the nature of Christ. There is only one God, there is only One who has been fully man and fully God. This is the gospel which we stand upon and which saves us. First Corinthians 15: 1-2 succinctly declares: Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures (only man can die). He was buried. He rose the third day according to the Scriptures (only God can rise from the dead). He was seen by Cephas, the Twelve, the five hundred, James, the Apostles, Paul. We too – born out of time – must testify unashamedly that Jesus is God.