Re-examining the Trinity - Yeshua (Jesus) the Son: Man or God?
Personality and Divinity of Yeshua (Jesus)
There is little question about the divinity and personality of the Father, so for the rest of this article we will examine whether these attributes are equally true for Yeshua the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
Direct references to Christ as God
That Yeshua is God is clear in the Bible. The book of John opens with this very theme “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. (John1:1,2). The Word is none other than Christ “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”. “All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made” (vs 14).
Revelation makes it crystal clear who the Word is:" And he was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and his name is called The Word of God" (Revelation 19:13).
The Father's Testimony
In Hebrews chapter 1 we find a comparison being made between the angels and Christ. While God “maketh his angels spirits, and his ministers a flame of fire “He saith to His son “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?”. He (God the Father) went on to identify Christ as God “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” (Hebrews 1:8).
Clearly God the Father recognized Yeshua as God. Even those who are members of organizations that teach differently about Christ do not seek to argue this claim, as doing so would be to reject God's own testimony, or make the author of Hebrew a liar.
Christ's Eternal Existence
We know that Christ existed with the Father before coming to earth; but how long before?
He was before the earth:
He created all things “All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.(John 1:3), therefore He must have existed before all things.
“I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty” (Revelation 1:8).
Four times in the book of Revelation Christ refers to Himself as the Alpha and Omega (Rev 1:11; 1:17; 21:6; 22:13); three times as the “beginning and the end” (Rev 1:8; 21:6; 22:13); four times as the “first and the last” (Rev 1:11; 1:17; 2:8; 22:13)
Wherever you look in eternity, Christ is there.
“But thou, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall come forth unto Me He that is to be ruler in Israel, whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting (Micah 2:1).
Hearken unto me, O Jacob and Israel, my called; I am he; I am the first, I also am the last. Mine hand also hath laid the foundation of the earth, and my right hand hath spanned the heavens: when I call unto them, they stand up together... I have not spoken in secret from the beginning; From the time that it was, there am I; and now the Lord God, and his Spirit, hath sent me (Isaiah 48:12-16).
Christ is the self-existing one, possessing life within himself (John 1:4).
Would it be OK for one other than God to die for humanity?
Why could an angel, for example, not have died to redeem man? We touched on this in the introduction, so we won't say much more here. Maybe just an illustration: If the pre-incarnate Christ was a created being, then the sacrifice of God could be compared to a man giving up his favorite pet to save a train full of people; instead we have a sacrifice reflected in the story of a railroad switchman who had the choice between closing the rails and watching his son run over, or bypassing it and have the train full of people die. He made a sacrifice, and that sacrifice was as valuable as he was.
“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). Indeed, the one who died on that tree was no less than God:
[Christ] being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross! (Philippians 2:6-8)
It does something marvelous in us to know that the Creator of the universe would condescend to live among us and die for us.
It was not sufficient – nor morally acceptable – to send one of His creatures to die for another creature. No, He gave the best He had – Himself – in the form of His son Yeshua. That tells us how costly sin is; it also tells us just how much God loves us!
The central issue in the great controversy between God and Satan is whom we will worship. The final test of allegiance – the mark of the beast – is largely about worship. False worship has been the surest way of incurring the wrath of God; we see this time and again in the history of Israel.
The most severe penalty ever issued will be met by those who practice false worship “And the third angel followed them, saying with a loud voice, If any man worship the beast and his image, and receive his mark in his forehead, or in his hand, The same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of his indignation; and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb: And the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever: and they have no rest day nor night, who worship the beast and his image, and whosoever receiveth the mark of his name”. (Revelation 14:9-11)
Worship is serious matter. The Bible is clear: only God is to be worshiped “Then saith Jesus unto him, Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve” (Matt 4: )
When John fell down before a majestic angel to worship him, the angel firmly charged him not to “And he said unto me, See thou do it not: I am thy fellowservant, and of thy brethren that have the testimony of Jesus: worship God: for the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy. (Revelation 19:10).
Peter was likewise careful not to receive worship: “And as Peter was coming in, Cornelius met him, and fell down at his feet, and worshiped him. But Peter took him up, saying, Stand up; I myself also am a man”.
Yet, we see several instances of Christ receiving worship (John 9: 38, Matthew 28:9), as a matter of fact, the Father commanded the angels to worship Yeshua “And again, when he bringeth in the firstbegotten into the world, he saith, And let all the angels of God worship him” (Hebrews 1:6).
In short – only God is to be worshiped. So, what does it say about Christ if he is indeed worshiped, he accepts worship, and God the Father approves of Him being worship? The only conclusion is that Yeshua is as much God as is the Father and the Holy Spirit!
Forgiving Sins – can any but God forgive sin?
He was Son before the Incarnation
It might come as a surprise to many, that Yeshua was God's son even before the incarnation. How do I know? Because the Bible said so:Who hath ascended up into heaven, or descended? who hath gathered the wind in his fists? who hath bound the waters in a garment? who hath established all the ends of the earth? what is his name, and what is his son's name, if thou canst tell? (Proverbs 30:4).
Consider this argument that the writer of Hebrews presents in the opening chapter to establish the supremacy of Christ.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? (Hebrews 1:5).
When did the above conversation take place between the Father and Son? Obviously not at the incarnation. Notice the verse following this one:And again, when he bringeth in the firstbegotten into the world, he saith, And let all the angels of God worship him (Hebrews 1:6).
Notice the seemingly insignificant phrase "and again". God had made the point once, and then he's making the point again. This time it is when he brought in the firstbeggotten into the world. Note that the firstbeggotten existed before; here is is brought into the world.
What does it mean that the Son existed before the incarnation? That He is a true Son of God. He was brought forth from God in eternity. He was not created, he was brought forth.
Some make a wreck of this by saying that because He was begotten He is not God. That is completely misguided. If I, being human, have a son, what will my son be? Human of course! Quite the opposite of those who try to downplay Christ deity on account of Him being brought fourth: The fact that He was begotten of God, means He has the same DNA as God. He is the express image of the Father (Hebrews 1:3). The Father called Him God (Hebrews 1:8).
But it does raise the question: If the Father is God, and the Son is God, wouldn't that mean there are two God's?
Only one God
The Hebrew word for God is Elohim, which is the plural of the word El (meaning "magistrates"). While it indicates a plurality within, the Bible is clear that there is only one such Elohim. To understand we consider how singular words often refer to multiple persons/things, for example “the people are one” (Genesis 11:6), "I and my Father are one" (John 10:30), “That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us”(John 17:21). I often use the concept of a government to illustrate this. In a country there is only one government, headed by a president, king, prime minister etc. While there is only one such government in the country, there are multiple members of the government with different roles. The universe is governed by God (The Magistrates). There is only one such government, and it consist of three persons, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
Another common illustration is that of a family. I explained it to my daughter, Abigail, when she was four y.o, this way: “You see the picture of that man in the water; he represents God in human form. You see the bird above him; that is the Holy Spirit. He is also God – in the form of a dove. And these words that we read “This is my beloved son…” is God speaking from heaven. Look. There are three of them in their family, just as there are three of us in our family”
I’m not sure how well that helped Abigail to understand, and I am sure it is overly simplified. When it is all said and done, we will have to accept that there are things about God (and even about our tiny planet) that will remain a mystery for us. God has given us sufficient knowledge of Himself however, for us to make intelligent decisions regarding Him. As a matter of fact, one reason why Christ walked among us those thirty three years was so that we could truly see what God is like (John1: 18).
What an awesome reality. The God who created us decides to walk in our shoes. Because of this He is able to have compassion on us, because he is touched with the feelings of our infirmities. And he has shown us how to live to please God.
Most importantly, he is able to represent us before God because He has met the full requirement of the law, in living a perfect life and offering that perfect life as atonement for the human race. God becoming man reveals the character, love, and humility, of our God; and the ultimate beneficiary are those who receive Him.