Tag Archives: Christology

Before Abraham was, I am

57 Then said the Jews unto him, Thou art not yet fifty years old, and hast thou seen Abraham?
58 Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am. (Jn. 8:57-58 KJV)

When Moses saw the burning bush, God spoke to him. God said that he had heard the groans of Israel in slavery in Egypt, and that he would remember the promise that he made to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

Moses asked his name.

God said, “I am who I am”. This was the Holy Name of the Holy One of Israel.

The word “god” can refer to many things – even princes or angels. It can refer to false gods or the one, true God. But the name YWWH – which sounds like the Hebrew for I AM – can only refer to the one, true eternal God. To refer that holy name to anyone or anything else was the highest form of blasphemy according to the revelation of God.

And Jesus of Nazareth referred it to himself. If he was not the one true eternal God, then he deserved to be stoned. The Jews would have been right.

But if he was truly the one, true, eternal God then he is to be worshiped and adored and feared.

When he rose from the dead, God declared him to be without sin. The grave could not hold him for he was free from all sin. He then showed himself to truly be the Holy One of Israel, as Peter declared on Pentecost:

27 Because thou wilt not leave my soul in hell, neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption.

28 Thou hast made known to me the ways of life; thou shalt make me full of joy with thy countenance.

29 Men and brethren, let me freely speak unto you of the patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried, and his sepulchre is with us unto this day.

30 Therefore being a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him, that of the fruit of his loins, according to the flesh, he would raise up Christ to sit on his throne;

31 He seeing this before spake of the resurrection of Christ, that his soul was not left in hell, neither his flesh did see corruption.

32 This Jesus hath God raised up, whereof we all are witnesses.

(Acts 2:27-32 KJV)

Peter, quoting from Psalm 16, shows how the scripture declares that the one who rises from the dead is indeed the one true eternal God, and is therefore to be worshiped. If he is raised from the dead, then he is holy and without sin, for the wages of sin is death. If he is without sin, then he spoke only the truth, including the truth about himself. Which means that the Holy One of Israel is none other than Jehovah himself.

3 Concerning his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, which was made of the seed of David according to the flesh;

4 And declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead: (Rom. 1:3-4 KJV)

This is also confirmed by John’s vision in Revelation:

8 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. (Rev. 1:8 KJV)

Only Jehovah can say of himself “which is, which was, and which is to come”. This refers to absolute, unchanging being, not created being. Created being is becoming, changing, moving, contingent. But uncreated being is absolute, eternal, unchanging. The very first verse of the Bible makes the difference between uncreated being and created being – “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.”

Before the beginning, there was only God. All things were created by him. All that is not God was created by God. Uncreated being is set in contrast to created being.

In Revelation 1:8, Jesus of Nazareth is given the titles of uncreated being, that is, the name and attributes of Jehovah Himself.

In John 8, referenced above, Jesus refers to himself as above time and space – eternal, uncreated being. The same person who is not yet 50 years old is also the I AM of Abraham.

To use the language of classical Christology, the one person – Jesus Christ – exists in two natures, without division, without separation, without confusion, without change. One person in two natures, true God and true man.

That which can be said of God can be said of Christ. Eternal, which is, and which was and which is to come, the I AM of Abraham, immutable, absolute, the Holy One of Israel.

And that which can be said of man can be said of Christ, except sin. Finite, changing, weak, hungry, human, growing, learning, not knowing, bleeding, hurt and dying, submissive to the Father, learning obedience.

And yet there are not two persons, but one person. One Lord. One Jesus. One Christ.

The One who was laid in a manger and wrapped in swaddling cloths was the same almighty being that appeared to Moses at the burning bush.

The One who learned his alphabet is the same almighty being that spoke the worlds into existence.

The One who spoke to the woman at the well in Samaria was the Commander of the Lord’s Armies, who led Joshua into Canaan and overthrew his enemies.

The One who listened to the widow pour out her complaint was the one who struck Uzzah dead for touching the ark of the covenant.

The One who filled the earth with his glory in the sight of Isaiah was the same almighty being who was bruised for our iniquities, nailed to a Roman Cross and left to die.

The One who thundered at Job’s friends from heaven was the same almighty being that cried out, “I thirst” on the cross.

And this is necessary for our salvation, for only the same human nature which sinned can make satisfaction for sin, and only the infinite, almighty Son of God can bear the burden of God’s eternal wrath against sin and redeem others from it.

And this one person is Jesus Christ of Nazareth, born of Mary, crucified, dead and buried. And on the third day he rose from the dead.

And today he is still true man, but glorified, as we will be. The heir to the throne of David ruling over all things according to the scripture, giving us a sure pledge that where he is, we will one day also be.

And he is also true and eternal God. We can cry out to him, for he hears our prayers. We commit our ways to him, for he is able to keep all that we’ve committed unto him against that day. We will never be ashamed, for he does not change, he is almighty, everywhere present, and and no time absent from us.

The same I AM that heard the cries of Israel in Egypt and remembered his covenant with Abraham is the same almighty being that took the form of a slave and submitted himself to the wrath of God for us and for our salvation.

So what do we do?

18 For you have not come to the mountain that may be touched and that burned with fire, and to blackness and darkness and tempest,

19 and the sound of a trumpet and the voice of words, so that those who heard it begged that the word should not be spoken to them anymore.

20 (For they could not endure what was commanded: “And if so much as a beast touches the mountain, it shall be stoned or shot with an arrow.”

21 And so terrifying was the sight that Moses said, “I am exceedingly afraid and trembling.”)

22 But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, to an innumerable company of angels,

23 to the general assembly and church of the firstborn who are registered in heaven, to God the Judge of all, to the spirits of just men made perfect,

24 to Jesus the Mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling that speaks better things than that of Abel.

25 See that you do not refuse Him who speaks. For if they did not escape who refused Him who spoke on earth, much more shall we not escape if we turn away from Him who speaks from heaven,

(Heb. 12:18-25 NKJ)

God in these last days has spoken to us by his Son. We no longer stand before Sinai fearful of the thunder and fleeing from the voice of God. We have come to Sion, the city of Jesus Christ, the heir of David, the Mediator between God and man, true man and true God. If we refuse the gentle waters of Shiloah, the river of destruction will flow (Isaiah 8 and John 9). God’s patience is not unending. The Day of Judgment will come. Hear the voice of Jesus – “Come unto me, and I will give you rest.”

He is willing to do it, for he knows what it is like to be tired and hungry and weak, being true man. And he is able to do it, being almighty God.

But at the same time, it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the Living God. The one who came in a manger will appear the second time for judgment.

This is Christianity. This is the Christ, the Son of the Living God, the way, the truth and the life.

No one comes to the Father but by him.

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Eternal Subordination–It’s a salvation issue!

2014-07-03 10.30.43There has been much written lately about the Eternal Subordination of the Son, and much of it is technical. What I want to do in this post is to bring it down to the basics.

Here is the question: Is the second person of the Trinity, Jesus Christ, the Jehovah God of Israel?

The church has always confessed that he is indeed Jehovah God. As Jehovah, He is the proper object of our prayers and sovereign over all things.

Paul explicitly states this truth in Romans 10:9-13

9 because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.
10 For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.
11 For the Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.”
12 For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him.
13 For a”everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

The two parts of Paul’s gospel are these: First, to confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord, and, second, to believe in your heart that God has raised him from the dead.

The question is, then, what does it mean to confess that Jesus is Lord? There are two possible interpretations if you take this verse by itself. First, it may mean to confess that Jesus is your master, whose law is to be obeyed. This is a possible meaning of the Greek “Kyrios”. It can mean a master, one who owns you and whose will is to be obeyed.

There is no question that this truth is taught concerning Jesus. But is that what is being taught in this particular verse?

Looking at the context, we see that something much deeper is being taught. Paul’s demonstration from the Old Testament scriptures of the truth he is teaching is found in verse 13: “Everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”

In other words, Paul is teaching that the way that you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord is by calling upon him for salvation, as was foretold by the prophet Joel:

31 The sun shall be turned to darkness, and the moon to blood, before the great and awesome day of the LORD comes.
32 And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved. For in Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there shall be those who escape, as the LORD has said, and among the survivors shall be those whom the LORD calls.

To make this simple, Paul quotes Joel 2:31-32 to bear witness to the gospel. If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord – as is written in Joel 2 – you will be saved.

The word that Paul uses is Kyrios (Lord, master, ruler, owner). But the word that Joel uses is YHWH (Jehovah), which is the personal name of Israel’s covenant God, the creator of heaven and earth, sovereign God and the only object of our prayers, and the only redeemer. “Kyrios” can refer to a husband, an owner of slaves, a landlord, much like our word “lord”; but YHWH can only refer to the one true God.

When the Old Testament was translated into Greek, the Hebrew YHWH was translated by the word Kyrios (lord), much like our modern English Bibles. This follows the Jewish custom of preserving the sacred name of God. Whenever a Jew would come upon the word “YHWH” they would pronounce it “Adonai”, meaning “lord”. This custom continues to our day, whatever language one speaks.

But the Hebrew text itself in Joel 2 doesn’t say “lord”; it says YHWH. In our English versions every letter of LORD is in caps, indicating that it translates the Hebrew YHWH. This is important to our interpretation of this text.

So then the question of interpretation is this. Is Paul saying that salvation is calling Jesus our owner and master? Or is it calling Jesus YHWH, the creator and sustainer of the universe?

And by quoting Joel, Paul removes all doubt. Salvation depends upon calling upon Jesus the son of Mary, who also is YHWH the eternal second person of the divine trinity, to save us.

This calling must be done with the mouth and believed in the heart. When we call upon Jesus we are calling upon Jehovah God, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

This is simply a sample passage of many. Throughout scripture, Jesus of Nazareth is identified as YHWH, the God of Israel. The heart of the Christian faith is that Jesus, who walked among men, who suffered and bled and died, who rose from the dead, is one and the same Jehovah God, who spoke to Israel from Mt. Sinai, who is the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

Since this is true, the following passages also apply to the person of Jesus Christ.

25 To whom then will ye liken me, or shall I be equal? saith the Holy One.
26 Lift up your eyes on high, and behold who hath created these things, that bringeth out their host by number: he calleth them all by names by the greatness of his might, for that he is strong in power; not one faileth.
27 Why sayest thou, O Jacob, and speakest, O Israel, My way is hid from the LORD, and my judgment is passed over from my God?
28 Hast thou not known? hast thou not heard, that the everlasting God, the LORD, the Creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not, neither is weary? there is no searching of his understanding.
29 He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might he increaseth strength (Isa 40:25-29 KJV)

 

18 For thus saith the LORD that created the heavens; God himself that formed the earth and made it; he hath established it, he created it not in vain, he formed it to be inhabited: I am the LORD; and there is none else. (Isa 45:18 KJV)

 

9 Remember the former things of old: for I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like me,
10 Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure: (Isa 46:9-10 KJV)

 

13 Who hath directed the Spirit of the LORD, or being his counsellor hath taught him?
14 With whom took he counsel, and who instructed him, and taught him in the path of judgment, and taught him knowledge, and shewed to him the way of understanding?
(Isa 40:13-14 KJV)

 

11 My days are like a shadow that declineth; and I am withered like grass.
12 But thou, O LORD, shalt endure for ever; and thy remembrance unto all generations.
(Psa 102:11-12 KJV)

 

14 And God said unto Moses, I AM THAT I AM: and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you (Exo 3:14 KJV)

 

8 Give thanks unto the LORD, call upon his name, make known his deeds among the people.
9 Sing unto him, sing psalms unto him, talk ye of all his wondrous works.
10 Glory ye in his holy name: let the heart of them rejoice that seek the LORD.
(1Ch 16:8-10 KJV)

 

3 I will call upon the LORD, who is worthy to be praised: so shall I be saved from mine enemies. (Psa 18:3 KJV)

How many more do we need? If Jesus is Jehovah, then he is taught of no one, submits to no one, does all his good pleasure, is the only source of our salvation, is the only name worthy to be praised, owes his origin to no one and is worthy of praise, glory, honor and blessing forever and ever.

If this is not the case, if Jesus is NOT Jehovah, then we are horrible blasphemers every time we sing praise to Him.

If he IS Jehovah, then he submits to no one.

Compare this, then, to current teachers of ESS – the Eternal Subordination of the Son:

The Father, then, is rightly the primary object of Christian prayer, since he is the one who, as designer and architect of all things, has highest authority and position over all things. The Son, for his part, accomplishes the atoning work by which alone he may bring those who believe in him to the Father (2 Cor 5:18-20; 1 Pet 3:18). The Son, then, is not primarily the object of the Christian’s prayers but rather the one through whom his prayers are brought to the Father. (Bruce Ware)

Though all three members of the Trinity are equal in power and in all other attributes, the Father has a greater authority. He has a leadership role among all the members of the Trinity that the Son and the Holy Spirit do not have. (Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology (Grand Rapids: Zondervan 1994) p 459

In this chapter, I will attempt to show that this “temporary submission” view is incorrect. In contrast to that view, I will examine the meaning of the names “Father” and “Son” as well as 31 passages of Scripture that give evidence that God the Father has eternally had a role of leadership, initiation, and primary authority among the members of the Trinity, and that the Son has eternally been subject to the Father’s authority. (There are also good reasons to hold that the Holy Spirit has eternally been subject to the authority of the Father and of the Son, but it is not the focus of this essay.) (Wayne Grudem)

And rather than back down when confronted with the charge of anti-nicean trinitarianism (read “heresy”) they continue to teach this and dig themselves into deeper and deeper holes. Salvation is at stake. This is not simply a difference of opinion among Christians. This is the heart of the Christian faith.

You cannot say that Jesus has all the same attributes as the Father and ascribe to him an eternal subordination role. Either he is sovereign, or he is not. If he is Jehovah, he is sovereign. If he is sovereign, then he submits to no one, by definition.

This is the foundation of the faith, according to the scripture and the confession of the church. Anything else is another gospel. Let’s call it what it is. Damnable heresy. That isn’t me. That’s the bible. If Jesus is not the object of our prayers, according to Ware, then he is not God. You can quibble over the meanings of ontological and economical all you want, but the point is still there. Jesus is God or he is not. If he is God, he is the One we pray to. If he is not, then say so and be done with it.

But don’t call yourself a Christian.

There is much more to be said. But you, gentle reader, study this issue from the scriptures. Salvation is at stake. It is not a minor thing. If one is to be saved, according to Paul, one must confess with his mouth that Jesus is one and the same Jehovah, Covenant God of Israel.

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