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Come Reason's Apologetics Notes blog will highlight various news stories or current events and seek to explore them from a thoughtful Christian perspective. Less formal and shorter than the www.comereason.org Web site articles, we hope to give readers points to reflect on concerning topics of the day.

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Thursday, May 01, 2014

The HANDS Argument for the Deity of Jesus

Is Jesus God? That is one of the most popularly searched questions about Jesus on Google. People can get confused by the idea of God being both three and one. However, the early church recognized that Jesus made specific claims to divinity, and they honored His divinity. This was so apparent, that even the critics of the early church took note of it. Celsus, a Greek philosopher writing around a hundred years of Jesus' death, couldn't figure out why the early Christians revered Jesus as they did. Historian Robert Wilken writes:
Celsus' criticism of the elevation of Jesus to divine status , however, had another dimension. By offering such adoration to Jesus, Christians make him a rival of the one high God, the God above the heeavens, as Celsus calls him. If Christians taught that "God is father of all and that we really ought to worship him alone" there would be no quarrel. But Christians make Jesus almost equal to God, "not because they are paying very great reverence to God but because they are exalting Jesus excessively" (c. Cels. 8.14)1
So from its formative days, Christianity revered Jesus as divine. In their book, Putting Jesus in His Place: The Case for the Deity of Christ, Rob Bowman and Ed Komoszewski lay out a very tight case for why Jesus is properly recognized as God from the evidence of scripture. Using the mnemonic acronym of HANDS, they take you step by step through five different points recorded in the Bible:2

1. Jesus shares the HONORS due only to God.

There are many honors due to dignitaries, but there are certain honors that are reserved for certain positions. The salutation "your Majesty" is reserved for a royal head of state, with princes or lesser positions of royalty being addressed as "your highness." Worship is an honor that is only reserved for God, yet Jesus received worship. Jesus even reinforced this idea when He said refused to worship Satan and instead quoted Deuteronomy 6:13, "Worship the Lord your God, and serve only Him" (Matt. 4:10). Yet Jesus received worship Himself from Thomas (John 20:28) and the rest of the disciples prior to His Ascension ( Matt. 28:17). Thus, the early church was simply continuing to do that which Jesus allowed when He was with them.

Beyond worship Bowman and Komoszewski explain that the scripture documents people praying to Jesus, singing praise songs to Jesus, honoring and serving Him as God. Thus, Jesus holds all the honor of the Father.

2. Jesus shares the ATTRIBUTES of God

One can identify a thing by its attributes. The attributes of a dog are different from the attributes of a pig, which allows us to distinguish between the two. One reason we can recognize Jesus as God is because He shares the very attributes of God. First, the Bible claims that Jesus is the fullness of the Godhead in bodily form. Jesus claimed to have existed even before His birth in Bethlehem (John 8:56) and other passages reinforce this (Col. 1:15, Rom.8:3). Jesus is, in fact eternal, without beginning or end, and an uncreated being (John 1:3, Col. 1:15, Rev. 22:13). Jesus doesn't change, but He "is the same yesterday, to day, and forever" (Heb. 13:8). He's also shown to be omniscient, omnipotent, and in comprehensible.

3. Jesus shares the NAMES that are used of God

Names in ancient cultures were key. People took on certain monikers because it reflected some aspect of their position or character. Thus, Alexander of Macedon was called "the Great" after his whirlwind conquering of the known world. Throughout the New Testament, Jesus is called God, Lord, Savior, the First and the Last, the Alpha and the Omega, Mighty God and more. Also, the early church was taught to baptize people in Jesus' name, pray in Jesus' name, and even find salvation in Jesus' name.

4. Jesus shares in the DEEDS that only God can do.

The deeds of Jesus also match those deeds only attributable to God. Jesus is the creator of the world (John 1:3, Col. 1:16-17) and will judge all humanity (John 5:22-23). When Jesus forgave the paralytic's sins in Luke 5:20, the Pharisees rightly complained saying, "Who can forgive sins but God alone?" Jesus answered their question by performing a miracle in order to prove that he had the power to forgive sins against God. Lastly, Jesus holds the power over life and death, including His own (John 10:18), a power reserved for only God alone (Ecc. 12:7).

5. Jesus shares the SEAT of God—that is Jesus sits on God's throne.

In a courtroom, one can always expect to see the judge's bench raised higher than any other seat. That is to communicate the judge as the presiding authority in the courtroom. Seats and thrones are important symbols that communicate the respective authority of the holder and we will refer to them interchangeably. So when we speak of Jesus' seat or Jesus' throne, it also connotes the authority bestowed on Him. The Bible tells us that Jesus is exalted above even the heavenly creatures (Phil. 2:10, Heb. 1:6, Eph. 1:21). Jesus sits on the throne reserved for God alone (rev. 22:1, Matt. 25:31) and He shares ruling authority with the Father by sitting at His right hand (Heb. 8:1, Heb. 12:2).

While this is a very quick synopsis of their argument, I think Bowman and Komoszewski have done a great job in this book showing why Jehovah's Witnesses and others who claim that Jesus was something less than the creator God fail. The Christians have recognized Jesus as God from the time that He walked the earth; the scriptures leave us no other alternative.

References

[1] Wilken, Robert L. The Christians as the Romans Saw Them. (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1984). 105-106.

1 comment:

  1. Just finished reading Putting Jesus in His Place. It is broad, thorough, honest, accessible, and helpful. Truly a worthwhile addition to any personal or church collection.

    ReplyDelete

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