Berean Bible Study Notes

Learning to be a Berean, Lesson 9

 



A study of the gospel in 1 Corinthians 15, Part 3

In our first study of the Gospel, we had an overview of Jesus as the Christ, our Messiah. We'll continue to come back to that throughout our entire time together, because it is throughout the Bible. In the last lesson, we went over why Jesus had to fully human. He had to be born into the line of David. He had to be born under law and keep it perfectly. He had to be tempted in every way. In order to be our substitute, He had to be as human as we are.

Let's look at the gospel message again and see what comes next:

1 Corinthians 15:3 For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures

Jesus, our Messiah, died for our sins. Some religions, like the Mormons and Jehovah Witnesses, say that Jesus died for the sins of Adam alone - and that by doing that, He made it possible for people to actually do what God requires. That would have been inadequate and pointless. No - He died for the sins of the whole world, just as the Bible said He would. Messiah had to suffer and die, and how that happened was in complete accordance with the Scriptures.

The clearest passage of all is Isaiah 53. It's interesting how the Jews today reject this passage as applying to their Messiah. The ancient teachers all believed that it spoke of Messiah, but after Jesus came, they denied it. In denying it, they are rejecting the gospel! In recent days, the Jews have come to believe that it speaks of Israel as a nation and believe that it was a prophecy of the holocaust. In honor of the ones who died, this passage is apparently no longer even read in their synagogues. How very sad, when it so clearly speaks of Jesus:

Isaiah 53

1Who has believed our message and to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed? 2 He grew up before him like a tender shoot, and like a root out of dry ground. He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him. 3 He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering. Like one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not.

4 Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted. 5 But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed.

6 We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all. 7 He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth. 8 By oppression and judgment he was taken away. And who can speak of his descendants? For he was cut off from the land of the living; for the transgression of my people he was stricken. 9 He was assigned a grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death, though he had done no violence, nor was any deceit in his mouth.

10 Yet it was the LORD's will to crush him and cause him to suffer, and though the LORD makes his life a guilt offering, he will see his offspring and prolong his days, and the will of the LORD will prosper in his hand. 11 After the suffering of his soul, he will see the light [of life] and be satisfied; by his knowledge my righteous servant will justify many, and he will bear their iniquities. 12 Therefore I will give him a portion among the great, and he will divide the spoils with the strong, because he poured out his life unto death, and was numbered with the transgressors. For he bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.

The entire sacrificial system that God set up was a picture of Jesus' ultimate sacrifice for us. Here is just one of the many, many places that speak of that:

Leviticus 5:14 The LORD said to Moses: 15 "When a person commits a violation and sins unintentionally in regard to any of the LORD's holy things, he is to bring to the LORD as a penalty a ram from the flock, one without defect and of the proper value in silver, according to the sanctuary shekel. It is a guilt offering . (See the passage above describing Messiah as a guilt offering) 16 He must make restitution for what he has failed to do in regard to the holy things, add a fifth of the value to that and give it all to the priest, who will make atonement for him with the ram as a guilt offering , and he will be forgiven.

17 "If a person sins and does what is forbidden in any of the LORD's commands, even though he does not know it, he is guilty and will be held responsible. 18 He is to bring to the priest as a guilt offering a ram from the flock, one without defect and of the proper value. In this way the priest will make atonement for him for the wrong he has committed unintentionally, and he will be forgiven. 19 It is a guilt offering ; he has been guilty of wrongdoing against the LORD."

 

Psalm 22 is a rather accurate description of what happens during crucifixion, written hundreds of years before crucifixion was even invented:

Psalm 22:1 My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?(Jesus pointed to this Psalm by his words from the cross) Why are you so far from saving me,so far from the words of my groaning?

6 But I am a worm and not a man, scorned by men and despised by the people. 7 All who see me mock me; they hurl insults, shaking their heads: 8 "He trusts in the LORD; let the LORD rescue him. Let him deliver him, since he delights in him."

12 Many bulls surround me; strong bulls of Bashan encircle me. 13 Roaring lions tearing their prey open their mouths wide against me. 14 I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint. My heart has turned to wax; it has melted away within me. 15 My strength is dried up like a potsherd, and my tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth; you lay me in the dust of death. 16 Dogs have surrounded me; a band of evil men has encircled me, they have pierced my hands and my feet.

17 I can count all my bones; people stare and gloat over me. 18 They divide my garments among them and cast lots for my clothing.

 

The book of Daniel even pinpoints the time (some say the exact day!!) that Messiah would come:

Daniel 9:25 "Know and understand this: From the issuing of the decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until the Anointed One, the ruler, comes, there will be seven 'sevens,' and sixty-two 'sevens.' It will be rebuilt with streets and a trench, but in times of trouble. 26 After the sixty-two 'sevens,' the Anointed One (mashiyach {maw-shee'-akh}- Messiah) will be cut off (karath {kaw-rath'}- cut off, cut down, kill) and will have nothing. (Marginal note in NIV: or off, but not for himself) The people of the ruler who will come will destroy the city and the sanctuary. The end will come like a flood: War will continue until the end, and desolations have been decreed. 27 He will confirm a covenant with many for one 'seven.' In the middle of the 'seven' he will put an end to sacrifice and offering. And on a wing [of the temple] he will set up an abomination that causes desolation, until the end that is decreed is poured out on him."

 

Zechariah 12:10 "And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and supplication. They will look on me, the one they have pierced, and they will mourn for him as one mourns for an only child, and grieve bitterly for him as one grieves for a firstborn son.

These "pierced" passages are very interesting. They speak of crucifixion - a punishment that hadn't been invented at the time of the prophecy. Also, remember how the very layout of the camps of Israel showed the cross? There are other possible pictures of the cross in the Bible, including this one:

Exodus 12:21 Then Moses summoned all the elders of Israel and said to them, "Go at once and select the animals for your families and slaughter the Passover lamb. 22 Take a bunch of hyssop, dip it into the blood in the basin and put some of the blood on the top and on both sides of the doorframe. Not one of you shall go out the door of his house until morning. 23 When the LORD goes through the land to strike down the Egyptians, he will see the blood on the top and sides of the doorframe and will pass over that doorway, and he will not permit the destroyer to enter your houses and strike you down.

 

Isaiah 50:6 I offered my back to those who beat me, my cheeks to those who pulled out my beard; I did not hide my face from mocking and spitting.

 

Deuteronomy 21:22 If a man guilty of a capital offense is put to death and his body is hung on a tree, 23 you must not leave his body on the tree overnight. Be sure to bury him that same day, because anyone who is hung on a tree is under God's curse.

 

More can be found here:

The Sufferings of Christ

 

Jesus didn't say "It is finished" until He had fulfilled every prophecy of the suffering of Messiah. He died in the exact manner specified by God - for our sins. It wasn't just for the sin of Adam, but for the sins of the entire world. Here are just a few of the many passages that speak of this:  

Matthew 26:28 This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.

2 Corinthians 5:21 God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

Galatians 1:3 Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, 4 who gave himself for our sins to rescue us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father

Ephesians 1:7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God's grace

1 Peter 2:24 He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed.

This verse is the clearest of all. In fact, this verse alone kills the "L" (Limited atonement) of the TULIP of 5-point Calvinism. I don't know how anyone can weasel around this one:

1 John 2:2 He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.

 

We know that sin deserves death:

Romans 6:23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

And, not just normal "death" but everlasting destruction and eternal separation from God:

2 Thessalonians 1:6 God is just: He will pay back trouble to those who trouble you 7 and give relief to you who are troubled, and to us as well. This will happen when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven in blazing fire with his powerful angels. 8 He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. 9 They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the majesty of his power.

So, if the penalty for sin is eternal separation from God, then somehow, that is what Jesus paid for us. We're not talking just six hours of physical, human suffering and then death to pay for sin. Think about this. How is it possible that Jesus completely paid the price for each one of your sins? Remember that the penalty for each and every one of your sins is death. According to 2 Thessalonians 1:9 above, the punishment for sin is everlasting destruction and separation from God, and yet Jesus declared the payment to have been made before He actually died. It wasn't His physical death that paid for sins. Now, I'm not saying that the physical death was not part of the price, but it marked the end of the payment. Just follow this through with me:

John 19:30 When he had received the drink, Jesus said, "It is finished." (TETELESTAI)With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.

That word, Tetelestai, means "paid in full." It was marked on tax receipts by tax collectors. You were given a paper marked "Tetelestai" when you had completed your prison term. Jesus proclaimed it from the cross, before he died. According to the Greek lexicon, Tetelestai means:

The way the word is used is in the perfect tense. Here's what it says about that tense:

In other words, Jesus paid completely for our sins. They can never be punished again since that would violate God's justice. Sins can only be punished once, either by a substitute or by yourself. Even our own justice system is set up that way. Of course, if you reject the payment that Jesus made for you, you will still have to suffer the consequences of your sins. (You will have failed to take refuge in your "City of Refuge" and will be in danger of the "Avenger of Blood." We covered that in a previous study)

The only way that Jesus could have been eternally separated from God for our sins, would be if he was God himself. He had to exist outside of time. Why was he in agony in the garden before his trials even began? Why did he sweat drops of blood? Why did he plead for the cup to be taken from him, if there was ANY OTHER WAY? Was he such a weakling that he dreaded the pain? Dreaded the humiliation? Was he less a man than Peter, who was also crucified, yet went to death boldly?

Remember how fervently He prayed:

Luke 22:42 "Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done." 43 An angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him. 44 And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground.

Mark 14:36 "Abba, (Like saying "Daddy" - pleading with His Daddy) Father," he said, "everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will."

Certainly, carrying the weight of our sins would cause agony for our holy, perfect Savior - but what would be the greatest agony of all? To somehow, within six earthly hours, to have been literally separated eternally from his Father! What did he cry from the cross? "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?"

What was he really saying? Was he just crying bitterly that he was on the cross? Or - was he truly forsaken? This is the only time in the whole Bible where Jesus called God anything but "Father." Those were not just words.

Somehow, in a way that we can't even begin to comprehend, Jesus suffered eternal separation from his Father, before he even died. There is no way a mere human could do that. No way that a mere human death would be enough. If he was simply a perfect human, he had only his human suffering to offer - because he declared "Tetelestai!" before he even died. It wouldn't have been enough to pay for even one sin of one man. Only someone capable of infinite suffering would have enough suffering to satisfy God's justice. The only one capable of infinite suffering is God himself. Somehow, as only God could, Jesus stepped out of time and suffered ETERNALLY. And, yet, He was there on the cross the whole time. Our brains can't understand - but if that is what we face for our sins, then somehow, that is what Jesus paid for us.

Yes, His physical death was part of the price, but it marked the END of His suffering. Remember what He said after "Tetelestai":

Luke 23:46 Jesus called out with a loud voice, "Father, into your hands I commit my spirit." When he had said this, he breathed his last.

Notice how He says "Father" again? The separation had ended. When Jesus said, "It is finished," it WAS. The entire payment had been made. He wasn't going to suffer any more at that point. His spirit was going to His Father.

(Note: Any "Christian" who says that Jesus is not the only way - that the Koran is also God's Word, or that Jesus is just the way of Christian redemption and that other religions have other truths - is basically saying that that this infinite suffering was pointless and that God the Father ignored the pleading of His Son)

Combine what you learned last time - about what Jesus gave up to take on human flesh - and add in this. Eternal suffering. Eternal separation from his Father, from whom He had never, ever been separated from before. Yes, He's on His Father's throne now, but somehow, while He was on the cross, He was also eternally separated. Our human brains simply can't comprehend it because we exist INSIDE time. That is love beyond all understanding, all definition. And, He would have done it just for you. If you were the only one who would believe, the only one He could save, He would have done it anyway - just for you. Only God loves like that. Only God loves YOU as much as He loves all humanity.

There isn't a lot written on this, and I don't know why. It's an obvious truth! Here is one article that I found:

 Jesus' Death: Six Hours of Eternity on the Cross By Lambert Dolphin

(A shorter version of the same article) Physics and the Bible: Six Hours in Eternity

 

Jesus IS God. That's what our Bibles say in plain, unambiguous terms:

John 1:1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

John 20:27 Then he said to Thomas, "Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe." 28 Thomas said to him, "My Lord and my God!"

Isaiah 9:6 For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

There are many, many other Scriptures that specifically spell out that Jesus is God. You can see some of those in the links posted at the end of the study. We're going to concentrate on some you may not be so familiar with. And, we're going to try to answer this question: Why do the Jehovah Witnesses, Christian Scientists and others deny so vigorously that Jesus is God?

 

Let's start with that verse the Jehovah Witnesses have so much trouble with:

John 1:1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 3 Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. 10 He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him.

The JW's render that first verse: In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was a god. They've got all these arguments as to why that's the way it should be translated, and they've heard the counter arguments so many times that you'll never make any headway with them. I just say, "Fine! Let's keep reading, shall we?" And so then we get to verse three: Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.

They have no problem agreeing that this is Jesus, but don't seem to understand that it completely invalidates their own arguments. So, then we go to this verse:

Genesis1:1 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.

Who does that speak of? Well in that case, they'll answer "Jehovah." (Actually, the Hebrew is Elohiym here) Now, wait a minute - didn't we just say that without Jesus, nothing was made that has been made?

JW's aside - the use of that word "Elohiym" is interesting, because it is plural and yet used singularly. It shows that all members of the Trinity were involved in the creation.

Colossians 1:15 (Jesus) is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. 16 For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him. 17 He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.

Isaiah 48:13 (Jehovah speaking) My own hand laid the foundations of the earth, and my right hand spread out the heavens; when I summon them, they all stand up together.

Isaiah 44:24 "This is what the LORD says - your Redeemer, who formed you in the womb: I am the LORD, who has made all things, who alone stretched out the heavens, who spread out the earth by myself,

Nehemiah 9:6 You alone are the LORD. You made the heavens, even the highest heavens, and all their starry host, the earth and all that is on it, the seas and all that is in them. You give life to everything, and the multitudes of heaven worship you.

Do you see what this is saying? This word, translated "LORD" is actually Y@hovah {yeh-ho-vaw'}or Yahweh:

Clearly, based on these verses, Jehovah IS Jesus. Let's look at that a little more closely.

Jesus is the I AM

God explains to us what that word means here:

Exodus 3:14 God 'elohiym said to Moses, "I AM WHO I AM. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: 'I AM has sent me to you.'" 15 God 'elohiym also said to Moses, "Say to the Israelites, 'The LORD, Y@hovah (Yahweh) the God 'elohiym of your fathers - the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob - has sent me to you.' This is my name forever, the name by which I am to be remembered from generation to generation.

This is the voice of the burning bush - the I AM. Now, compare that to this verse:

John 8:58 "I tell you the truth," Jesus answered, "before Abraham was born, I am!" 59 At this, they picked up stones to stone him, but Jesus hid himself, slipping away from the temple grounds.

They wanted to stone Him because He was claiming to be that same one - the voice of the burning bush - the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Let that soak in. Do you truly understand what that means? Don't just say "OK" to that. Think about that this week. JESUS was the voice of the burning bush. What are the implications of that?

An article on this: Jesus, the YHWH of the Old Testament

You can go through this the same way from the Greek. Let's take a look at Acts 2, when the Holy Spirit has come and Peter addresses the crowd who had come at the sound of the rushing wind:

Acts 2:14 Then Peter stood up with the Eleven, raised his voice and addressed the crowd: "Fellow Jews and all of you who live in Jerusalem, let me explain this to you; listen carefully to what I say. 15 These men are not drunk, as you suppose. It's only nine in the morning! 16 No, this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel:

17 "'In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams. 18 Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days, and they will prophesy. 19 I will show wonders in the heaven above and signs on the earth below, blood and fire and billows of smoke. 20 The sun will be turned to darkness and the moon to blood before the coming of the great and glorious day of the Lord. 21 And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.'

This was quoted from Joel:

Joel 2:31 The sun will be turned to darkness and the moon to blood before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD. 32 And everyone who calls on the name of the LORD will be saved;

Here you can see that what is being quoted used the word YHWH - Yahweh or Jehovah. When Joel was translated into Greek for the Septuagint, the word "kurios" was used here, as it is in Acts.

22 "Men of Israel, listen to this: Jesus of Nazareth was a man accredited by God to you by miracles, wonders and signs, which God did among you through him, as you yourselves know. 23 This man was handed over to you by God's set purpose and foreknowledge; and you, with the help of wicked men, put him to death by nailing him to the cross. 24 But God raised him from the dead, freeing him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him.

25 David said about him: (Jesus, that is) "'I saw the Lord (kurios - YHWH in Hebrew - see below) always before me. Because he is at my right hand, I will not be shaken. 26 Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body also will live in hope, 27 because you will not abandon me to the grave, nor will you let your Holy One see decay. 28 You have made known to me the paths of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence.' This can be a little confusing. The "Lord" here is Jesus, as part of the Trinity, and the "Holy One" is also Jesus. This is the miracle of our Triune God. He is ONE God, not three.

Here is what's quoted:

Psalm 16:8 I have set the LORD (YHWH) always before me. Because he is at my right hand, I will not be shaken. 9 Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body also will rest secure, 10 because you will not abandon me to the grave, nor will you let your Holy One [d] see decay. 11 You have made known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.

29 "Brothers, I can tell you confidently that the patriarch David died and was buried, and his tomb is here to this day. 30 But he was a prophet and knew that God had promised him on oath that he would place one of his descendants on his throne. 31 Seeing what was ahead, he spoke of the resurrection of the Christ, that he was not abandoned to the grave, nor did his body see decay. 32 God has raised this Jesus to life, and we are all witnesses of the fact. 33 Exalted to the right hand of God, he has received from the Father the promised Holy Spirit and has poured out what you now see and hear.

34 For David did not ascend to heaven, and yet he said, "'The Lord (kurios) said to my Lord (kurios): "Sit at my right hand 35 until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet." '

Psalm 110:1 The LORD (YHWH) says to my Lord ('adown): "Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet."

'adown {aw-done'}

Hebrew for strong, lord, master, king. Here used as a reference to God, the Lord God, Lord of the whole earth, Lord of Lords, Adonai (parallel with Yahweh)

Here is an article that helps explain: From Adonai to Yahweh

36 "Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ."

 

Now, the word translated "Lord" here is kurios in Greek:

It is the same word as used here:

Matthew 4:7 Jesus answered him, "It is also written: 'Do not put the Lord (kurios) your God to the test.'"

Hebrews 1:8 But about the Son he says, "Your throne, O God, will last for ever and ever, and righteousness will be the scepter of your kingdom. 9 You have loved righteousness and hated wickedness; therefore God, your God, has set you above your companions by anointing you with the oil of joy."

10 He also says, (still about the Son) "In the beginning, O Lord, (kurios) you laid the foundations of the earth, and the heavens are the work of your hands. 11 They will perish, but you remain; they will all wear out like a garment. 12 You will roll them up like a robe; like a garment they will be changed. But you remain the same, and your years will never end."

What is Peter's basic argument? By going through the various verses and then ending with "God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ," Peter is saying that the LORD - YHWH - Yahweh or Jehovah - from their scriptures is Jesus. He is using a similar argument here:

Acts 4:10 then know this, you and all the people of Israel: It is by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified but whom God raised from the dead, that this man stands before you healed. 11 He is "'the stone you builders rejected, which has become the capstone.' 12 Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved."

Think about how this must have sounded to his audience. They were certainly familiar with the prophecy from Joel, as above:

Joel 2:31 The sun will be turned to darkness and the moon to blood before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD. 32 And everyone who calls on the name of the LORD will be saved;

And, now, Peter is telling them that there is no name other than Jesus by which they must be saved. Jesus IS Yahweh.

Now, there are times when the word "kurios" means "Lord" in the sense of being like "Lord of the manor." And, there are times when "kurios" clearly refers to God the Father, not the Son. The same is true in the Old Testament. There are times when LORD - that is "Yahweh or Jehovah" also clearly refers to God the Father, as here:

Psalm 2:1 Why do the nations conspire and the peoples plot in vain? 2 The kings of the earth take their stand and the rulers gather together against the LORD and against his Anointed One.

And, yet, remember that we are STILL talking ONE God. It's another of those things that it's just very hard for our human minds to comprehend. Good thing we'll have all eternity (with resurrected brains!) to "get" it. (There are moments when it sort of makes sense to me, but then I'll come back to the same passages and not see it. We all need to keep praying for God to help us understand this a little better as we grow in knowledge of Him)

Anyway, it's perhaps even clearer, here:

Romans 10:8 But what does it say? "The word is near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart," that is, the word of faith we are proclaiming: 9That if you confess with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord," and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved. 11As the Scripture says, "Anyone who trusts in him will never be put to shame." 12For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile-the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him, 13for, "Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved."

If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord - that is, truly God, THE God - that Jesus, God Himself, is your savior, the Lord of Lords and King of Kings of your life - and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will have eternal life. (We'll study that "raised from the dead" part lots more next time)

 

No one has ever seen God

Exodus 33:20 But," he said, (God speaking to Moses)"you cannot see my face, for no one may see me and live." 21 Then the LORD said, "There is a place near me where you may stand on a rock. 22 When my glory passes by, I will put you in a cleft in the rock and cover you with my hand until I have passed by. 23 Then I will remove my hand and you will see my back; but my face must not be seen."

This says that you cannot see God and live. It's that same word, "LORD", but here, it clearly means God the Father. The New Testament agrees:

1 John 4:12 No one has ever seen God

But, wait a minute! What about this?

Numbers 12:6 "Listen to my words: "When a prophet of the LORD is among you, I reveal myself to him in visions, I speak to him in dreams. 7 But this is not true of my servant Moses; he is faithful in all my house. 8 With him I speak face to face, clearly and not in riddles; he sees the form of the LORD.

Who was Moses seeing? In the Exodus passage, he was apparently seeing the back of God the Father. But, Moses met with God many times at the Tabernacle. That's why it was called the "tent of meeting." Who was he seeing then? It must have been Jesus!

And, yet, we're still talking ONE God:

John 1:18 No one has ever seen God, but God the One and Only, (This is one place the NIV calls Jesus "God" more clearly than many translations) who is at the Father's side, has made him known.

So, what is this really saying? That no one had seen God the Father. Yet, look what Jesus says later:

John 14:6 Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. 7 If you really knew me, you would know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him." 8 Philip said, "Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us." 9 Jesus answered: "Don't you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, 'Show us the Father'?

John 10:30 I and the Father are one."

Isaiah 9:6 For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father , Prince of Peace.

I know - it's confusing. It's hard to get your mind around exactly what this means. I'm not going to pretend that I understand it and can explain it. I just know that I am sometimes - maybe often - guilty of saying "three persons yet one God" and still thinking of each as completely separate. Some of our teaching tools that we use to try to explain this are maybe a little misleading themselves. For example, the book, "3 in 1" by Joanne Marxhausen, uses the illustration of an apple in an attempt to help children (and us) understand the concept of the Trinity. While it helps our minds to accept the possibility (like for someone who has formerly rejected it), it's not exactly accurate. It says the peel is apple (not orange or banana), the flesh is apple (not pear or plum), and the core is apple (not grapefruit or watermelon). There are three parts, but not three apples. But, to be more accurate, we have to somehow acknowledge that Jesus (in this analogy) is not part of the apple, but the whole apple:

Colossians 1:19 For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.

Colossians 2:9 For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form

And His Father is also somehow the whole apple - and yet, we're still talking one apple. My unresurrected brain cannot understand it, let alone explain it.

Savior

Isaiah 43:11 I, even I, am the LORD, and apart from me there is no savior.

Isaiah 44:24 "This is what the LORD says - your Redeemer, who formed you in the womb: I am the LORD, who has made all things, who alone stretched out the heavens, who spread out the earth by myself,

Isaiah 45:22 "Turn to me and be saved, all you ends of the earth; for I am God, and there is no other

 

Luke 2:11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord.

Philippians 3:20 But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ,

Acts 4:10 then know this, you and all the people of Israel: It is by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified but whom God raised from the dead, that this man stands before you healed. 11 He is "'the stone you builders rejected, which has become the capstone.' 12 Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved."

 

Jesus is the First and the Last

 Isaiah 48:12 (Yahweh speaking) "Listen to me, O Jacob, Israel, whom I have called: I am he; I am the first and I am the last."

Isaiah 44:6 "This is what the Lord says - Israel's King and Redeemer, the Lord Almighty: I am the first and I am the last; apart from me there is no God."

 

Revelation 1:7 Look, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him; and all the peoples of the earth will mourn because of him. So shall it be! Amen. 8 "I am the Alpha and the Omega," says the Lord God, "who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty."

Revelation1:17-18 ... "I am the First and the Last. I am the Living One, I was dead, and behold I am alive for ever and ever!

Revelation 22:12-13 "Behold, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to everyone according to what he has done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End. 20 He who testifies to these things says, "Yes, I am coming soon." Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.

Revelation 2:8 These are the words of him who is the First and the Last, who died and came to life again.

 

Every knee shall bow before Him:

Isaiah 45:22 "Turn to me and be saved, all you ends of the earth; for I am God, and there is no other. 23 By myself I have sworn, my mouth has uttered in all integrity a word that will not be revoked: Before me every knee will bow; by me every tongue will swear.

Philippians 5:5 Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: 6 Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, 7 but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. 8 And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death - even death on a cross! 9 Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, 10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

 

What does it mean to be the "Son of God?"

You hear this all the time. What exactly does it mean that Jesus said He was God's Son? Can that mean that He's not God? People use that all the time - "He never said he was God - just the son of God."

The Pharisees knew exactly what it meant:

John 10:24 The Jews gathered around him, saying, "How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Christ, tell us plainly."

25 Jesus answered, "I did tell you, but you do not believe. The miracles I do in my Father's name speak for me, 26 but you do not believe because you are not my sheep. 27 My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. 28 I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father's hand. 30 I and the Father are one."

31 Again the Jews picked up stones to stone him, 32 but Jesus said to them, "I have shown you many great miracles from the Father. For which of these do you stone me?"

33 "We are not stoning you for any of these," replied the Jews, "but for blasphemy, because you, a mere man, claim to be God."

36 Why then do you accuse me of blasphemy because I said, 'I am God's Son'?

John 5:17 Jesus said to them, "My Father is always at his work to this very day, and I, too, am working." 18 For this reason the Jews tried all the harder to kill him; not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God.

Every time that Jesus said He was God's Son, He was claiming to be God.

 

Some conclusions

Where does this leave us? I'm going to go through a few more passages here, and see if they make sense together.

 

John 8:23 But he continued, "You are from below; I am from above. You are of this world; I am not of this world. 24 I told you that you would die in your sins; if you do not believe that I am [the one I claim to be](the words in the brackets are not in the Greek), you will indeed die in your sins."

25 "Who are you?" they asked. They don't want to believe what He seems to be saying.

"Just what I have been claiming all along," Jesus replied. 26 "I have much to say in judgment of you. But he who sent me is reliable, and what I have heard from him I tell the world."

27 They did not understand that he was telling them about his Father. 28 So Jesus said, "When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am [the one I claim to be] and that I do nothing on my own but speak just what the Father has taught me. 29 The one who sent me is with me; he has not left me alone, for I always do what pleases him." 30 Even as he spoke, many put their faith in him. 31 To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, "If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. 32 Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free."

33 They answered him, "We are Abraham's descendants and have never been slaves of anyone. How can you say that we shall be set free?"

34 Jesus replied, "I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave to sin. 35 Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever. 36 So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. 37 I know you are Abraham's descendants. Yet you are ready to kill me, because you have no room for my word. 38 I am telling you what I have seen in the Father's presence, and you do what you have heard from your father."

39 "Abraham is our father," they answered. "If you were Abraham's children," said Jesus, "then you would do the things Abraham did. 40 As it is, you are determined to kill me, a man who has told you the truth that I heard from God. Abraham did not do such things. 41 You are doing the things your own father does."

"We are not illegitimate children," they protested. "The only Father we have is God himself."

42 Jesus said to them, "If God were your Father, you would love me, for I came from God and now am here. I have not come on my own; but he sent me. 43 Why is my language not clear to you? Because you are unable to hear what I say. 44 You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father's desire. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies. 45 Yet because I tell the truth, you do not believe me! 46 Can any of you prove me guilty of sin? If I am telling the truth, why don't you believe me? 47 He who belongs to God hears what God says. The reason you do not hear is that you do not belong to God."

48 The Jews answered him, "Aren't we right in saying that you are a Samaritan and demon-possessed?" 49 "I am not possessed by a demon," said Jesus, "but I honor my Father and you dishonor me. 50 I am not seeking glory for myself; but there is one who seeks it, and he is the judge. 51 I tell you the truth, if anyone keeps my word, he will never see death." (Believes it - treasures it)

52 At this the Jews exclaimed, "Now we know that you are demon-possessed! Abraham died and so did the prophets, yet you say that if anyone keeps your word, he will never taste death. 53 Are you greater than our father Abraham? He died, and so did the prophets. Who do you think you are?"

54 Jesus replied, "If I glorify myself, my glory means nothing. My Father, whom you claim as your God, is the one who glorifies me. 55 Though you do not know him, I know him. If I said I did not, I would be a liar like you, but I do know him and keep his word. 56 Your father Abraham rejoiced at the thought of seeing my day; he saw it and was glad." 57 "You are not yet fifty years old," the Jews said to him, "and you have seen Abraham!"

58 "I tell you the truth," Jesus answered, "before Abraham was born, I am!" 59 At this, they picked up stones to stone him, but Jesus hid himself, slipping away from the temple grounds.

 

Now, having read through that, take a look again at what Jesus said earlier: I told you that you would die in your sins; if you do not believe that I am, you will indeed die in your sins." I left out what was not in the Greek. The extra explanation is certainly not wrong. He is telling them that if they do not accept that He is the "I am" - that their long-awaited Messiah is God Himself, they will die in their sins.

Now, knowing that, let's take a look at some familiar passages again:

Romans 10:9 That if you confess with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord," and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.

What does it mean to say that Jesus is Lord? It means two things - that you believe that Jesus is God, and that He truly is Lord for you. He is your leader, your master, your king, your God. That passage goes on to say:

Romans 10:10 For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved. 11 As the Scripture says, "Anyone who trusts in him (Still speaking of Jesus) will never be put to shame." 12 For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile - the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him, 13 for, "Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved."

This doesn't mean that everyone who calls out "Lord" or even "Jesus!" will be saved. "Calling" on the Lord doesn't necessarily mean "calling" as we think of it. It means seeking, worshipping, believing in the one you are calling on. "Name" here means everything connected with that name, as the Blueletterbible explains here:

This is actually saying that everyone who believes in Jesus as God, who worships Him as Lord - will be saved. When you "call on the name of the Lord," you're believing in Him as God, Messiah, Savior. You may not understand everything about Him yet, but you're trusting that He is the one who can save you.

1 John 4:15 If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in him and he in God. 16 And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. 

This doesn't mean "a" son of God, or "a" god like the Mormons believe in. It doesn't mean a created "son" of God, who isn't God himself, like the Jehovah Witnesses believe in. As we saw earlier, to call Jesus the "Son of God" means that you see Him as GOD, truly God. The Bible is saying that you if you believe that Jesus is truly God, Yahweh, God Almighty, you didn't come to that conclusion on your own. This is evidence that you are really saved - that God lives in you. Here is another verse that says the same thing:

1 Corinthians 12:3 Therefore I tell you that no one who is speaking by the Spirit of God says, "Jesus be cursed," and no one can say, "Jesus is Lord," except by the Holy Spirit.

Jesus will never be King of Kings and Lord of Lord - truly THE God - for YOU unless the Holy Spirit reveals Him that way for you.

We've covered a lot of ground in this study. To boil it down to one thing: You cannot reject Jesus as God and still be saved. It may be possible for someone to be saved and not yet understand that Jesus HAS to be God (although that's probably one of the very first things that the Holy Spirit will teach that person) - but you cannot DENY and REJECT Him as God and still be saved. That is one reason that all of Satan's religions specifically reject Jesus as our true God. He can be "a" god, but not THE God. A savior that is not God is no savior at all. Only God could have fully paid for your sin.

If you are interested in one way to talk to a Jehovah Witness about these things, you may be interested in a letter that I wrote:

Jehovah Witness: Letter to a Friend

 

A common objection:

Jesus can't be God because He prayed to God!

Jesus did pray many, many times to His Father, who IS His head. Jesus gave up much to be our savior. He took on human flesh. He put Himself not only under the Ten Commandments, but all of Moses' Law. What is the greatest law of all?

Matthew 22:36 "Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?" 37 Jesus replied: "'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' 38 This is the first and greatest commandment.

As a human, of course Jesus prayed to God the Father. He would be failing to keep this commandment if He didn't. He kept all the law perfectly. He is fully human. He had to be, in order to save us. That doesn't stop Him from being fully God, as you've seen in this study. Both are true, and that's difficult to understand. If someone raises this objection with you, just tell her, "A God that is small enough for your human mind to understand is not big enough to save you."

 

Some additional articles:

Who is Jesus?

From the Beginning only God is to be Worshipped

Jehovah's Name is Jesus

Jehovah is Jesus

JESUS IS GOD

 

The sad story of someone who finally rejected that Jesus is God:

A Skeptic Reflects upon Jesus Christ

by Wayne Jackson
Christian Courier: Penpoints
Monday, February 19, 2001

 

In the next lesson, we'll begin covering the next section of our gospel:

1 Corinthians 15:3 For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures

We'll be covering some apologetics for Jesus' death and resurrection, plus some very interesting things on our own resurrection.



Learning to be Bereans Bible Study



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Now the Bereans were of more noble character than the Thessalonians, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true. - Acts 17:11



© 2012 This study was written by Jacqui Komschlies and last updated 1/2/2012. If you have questions, comments, corrections or concerns, please write me.

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