How do we know that Christ is God?
The deity of Christ, confirmed by His perfect life, unique ministry and triumphant Resurrection is vigorously affirmed by the prophets, the apostles and the cumulative testimony of the Bible.
We have Christ's own claims to deity.
There were occasions when He openly claimed to be the Messiah (Mark 14:61-64; Luke 22:66-71; John 4:25-26).
To claim Messiahship was to claim deity (Psalms 2:6-12; Isaiah 9:6; Zechariah 13:7).
The Jews recognized this implication of Jesus' claim to Messiahship (John 10:33).
He made unique claims for Himself (John 6:35; John 8:12; John 10:7, John 9; John 10:11; John 11:25; John 14:6; John 15:1).
He declared Himself to be one with the Father (John 10:30; compared with John 5:18).
He accepted the declaration of Thomas, 'My Lord and my God!' (John 20:28-29).
God Himself came to redeem men and women
Everything about His life serves to substantiate His claims to deity.
There is the evidence of His supernatural conception and birth (Matthew 1:18-25; Luke 1:26-56; Luke 2:1-40).
There is the evidence of His sinless life:
- He committed no sin and no deceit was found on His lips (1 Peter 2:22).
- He could ask a question that only a perfect human being would rightly dare to ask, 'Can any of you prove me guilty of sin?' (John 8:46).
- Pilate's wife called Him 'That innocent man' (Matthew 27:19).
- Judas said, 'I have betrayed innocent blood' (Matthew 27:4).
- The dying thief declared, 'This man has done nothing wrong' (Luke 23:41).
- The Roman soldier in charge of the crucifixion declared, 'Surely this was a righteous man' (Luke 23:47).
- No amount of provocation caused Him to act wrongly (1 Peter 2:23).
There is the evidence of His remarkable insight and knowledge:
- He needed no evidence from others about individuals, for He could tell what people were really like (John 2:24-25);
- He knew His betrayer from the beginning (John 6:70-71; John 13:10-11);
- He anticipated Peter's denial and restoration (Luke 22:31-34).
There is the evidence of His unique teaching: the authority of His teaching astonished all who heard Him (Matthew 7:28-29; John 7:45-46). The prophets, for example, said, 'This is what the Lord says' (Ezekiel 21:9), whereas Jesus said, 'I tell you the truth' (Matthew 5:18).
There is the evidence of His miracles:
- These were never selfish or merely spectacular (Matthew 4:5-7).
- Those who witnessed the miracles sensed themselves to be in the presence of God (Mark 1:27; Luke 5:26; Luke 7:16; Luke 9:43).
- The miracles were 'signs' of Christ's deity (John 20:30-31). The Jewish exorcists invoked the name of the Lord, but Jesus commanded, and evil spirits, the wind and the waves obeyed Him (Mark 1:27; Mark 4:41).
There is the overwhelming evidence of Christ's resurrection:
- All the gospel writers record it in detail (Matthew 28:1-20; Mark 16:1-20; Luke 24:1-53; John 20:1-21).
- Both Peter and Paul make mention of it in their letters (1 Peter 1:3, 1 Peter 1:21; 1 Corinthians 15).
- The apostolic preaching emphasised the Resurrection as the chief witness to Christ's deity (Acts 2:32; Acts 3:15, Acts 3:26; Acts 4:33).
- God the Father declared Christ to be His Son by the resurrection, thus endorsing every claim Christ had made (Romans 1:4).
To the evidence of Christ's claims and unique life to His deity, there must be added the witness of the prophets, including John the Baptist.
Some of the prophetic psalms spoke of a divine Messiah (Psalms 2:6-12; compared with Hebrews 1:5; Psalms 45:6-7; compared with Hebrews 1:8-9; Psalms 110:1; compared with Hebrews 1:13).
Isaiah spoke of the Messiah whose name would be called Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, and Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6).
Jeremiah declared that the Messiah would be called 'The LORD Our Righteousness' (Jeremiah 23:5-6; compared with 1 Corinthians 1:30).
Micah speaks of the Messiah as One whose origins have been of old, from ancient times, from everlasting (Micah 5:2).
Zechariah records God speaking of the Messiah as His fellow, the One close to Him (Zechariah 13:7).
John the Baptist not only described his ministry as making straight the way of the Lord (John 1:23; compared with Isaiah 40:3) but he testified that Jesus is the Son of God (John 1:34).
We have also the witness of the apostles to the deity of Christ.
Peter's confession, 'You are the Christ, the Son of the living God' (Matthew 16:16), marked a vital stage in the spiritual understanding of the apostles.
The apostles saw Christ's glory as He lived among them, such glory as befits the Father's only Son (John 1:14; 1 John 1:1).
John bears witness:
- 'The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us' (John 1:14; compared with John 1:1-4);
- John identifies the glory of the Lord that Isaiah witnessed as the glory of Christ (Isaiah 6:1-3; John 12:41);
- The truth of Christ's deity was the great fundamental for John (John 20:31; 1 John 5:20).
Peter bears witness:
- He heard the testimony of God the Father concerning Jesus Christ His Son (2 Peter 1:16-18);
- He speaks in Trinitarian terms of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit (1 Peter 1:2).
Paul bears witness:
- The first truth he proclaimed after his conversion was that Jesus 'is the Son of God' (Acts 9:20).
- The Church, he declares, God 'bought with his own blood (Acts 20:28).
- In Christ all the fulness of the Deity lives in bodily form (Colossians 2:9).
Finally, we have the witness of the Bible itself.
References to God in the Old Testament are in the New Testament applied to Christ. Examples:
- Christ is the Lord (Isaiah 40:3; compared with Matthew 3:3);
- Christ is the First and the Last (Isaiah 44:6; Revelation 1:17);
- Christ is the Judge (Ecclesiastes 12:14; compared with 1 Corinthians 4:5).
The works of God are ascribed to Him:
- The work of creation was His (John 1:3; 1 Corinthians 8:6; Colossians 1:16; Hebrews 1:2);
- The work of preservation in providence is His also (Hebrews 1:3).
Characteristics that belong only to God are ascribed to Christ:
- He is everywhere present (Matthew 28:20);
- He is all-powerful (Philippians 3:21; Revelation 1:8);
- He knows everything (John 16:30; 21:17; Revelation 2:23);
- He is unchanging (Hebrews 13:8);
- He forgives sins (Mark 2:7, 10; Colossians 3:13).
The deity of Christ throws amazing light upon the love of God: God Himself came to redeem men and women (2 Corinthians 5:19).
Christ is worthy of our worship: all God's angels worship Him (Hebrews 1:6), as does the whole of heaven (Revelation 5:11, 12).
His deity gives unique value to His death: by His death we may be redeemed for God and set free from all wickedness (Titus 2:14; Revelation 5:9).
Christ is the object of Christians' faith: men and women are to be urged to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and be saved (Acts 16:31).
The Church is built upon the truth of Christ's deity (Matthew 16:18).
Christians' relationship to Christ is the most important reality of their life (Philippians 3:7-11).