The Person and Nature of Christ

Recently I was asked, “Who is this Jesus Christ and what was his mission? Is he God? What was the purpose of His life on earth?” I will attempt to discuss the person and nature of Christ, considering His deity, humanity, preexistence and ministry as the incarnate Jesus. While the answer can be made in just a few paragraphs, it would be impossible to fully describe Christ. The Apostle John puts it this way: “And there are also many other things which Jesus did, the which, if they should be written every one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written. Amen.” (John 21:25)
With that thought in mind, let us look at Christ’s Person and Nature.

Christ’s Deity

Jesus Christ is God. Four simple words. I don’t speak them lightly, but with conviction. Over and over again the Bible declares this truth. God declares it. Jesus declares it and those closest to Jesus while he lived on the earth declare it.
The attributes of Christ can only be ascribed to God. For example; Jesus is everywhere, He is omnipresence (Matthew 18:20). He is all knowing, omniscient (Mark 11:2-6, John 4:14). Jesus is all powerful, omnipotent (2 Corinthians 12:9; Matthew 28:18; Mark 1:33-34) Jesus is immutable, He is the same yesterday, today and forever immutable (Hebrews 13:8). All of these attributes are attributed to God the Father. Therefore, since they are ascribed to God the Father and Jesus the Son, Christ must be God.
In the creation of the heavens and the earth, Genesis chapter one, proclaims that it is God, Elohim, that is the creator. Jesus is called Elohim in Hebrews 1:8, John 20:27-28; Titus 2:13.
When Moses met God on the mountain, the Lord identified Himself as “I AM”, the all sufficient, eternal God. This name is given to Jesus as He calls himself “I Am” in John 8:58.

Christ’s Preexistence

Since Christ is God and Creator, He is therefore pre-existent to creation. While there are many passages that speak of this truth, none are clearer than the first chapter of the Gospel of John. John makes statements of fact as they relate to Christ and everything else that follows in the book is given to support those facts.
We can see His preexistence through His relationship through eternity, and His equality with the Father. Jesus has always existed and that can be seen in His relationship through eternity. “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. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.” (John 1:1-3)
In the Revelation, Jesus is identified as “I am the 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). These phrases identify Christ as the “I Am”. I Am being He who is and was and is to come. This is the description of Jesus the Christ; He preexisted all things including time.

Christ’s Humanity

Jesus the Christ had two natures in His incarnate state; He was all God and He was all man. His humanity can be found in several ways. He had human parentage; he was born of a woman. He took the form of a human body in fulfillment of the Old Testament prophecies. That is, he was to be “seed” of the woman, He was to come from the seed of Abraham and be of the seed of David.
His human birth is well documented in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke. While He had a human mother, he was not born with a sinful nature.
We know little of His childhood until He was twelve years old and the Gospels captured the dialog between Jesus and His parents. We are told that He grew in stature and wisdom and that His parents taught Him the Law. He was raised as a son of Israel and attended the Feasts of Israel in Jerusalem with His earthly father and family.
Throughout His earthly ministry we see evidences of His humanity as He had compassion on the multitudes, He grew weary, hungered, thirsted and wept. While hanging on the cross, Jesus had compassion on His mother and gave her to the Apostle John. He had the appearance of a man (John 4:9; Luke 24; John 20:15, 21:4-5). 80 times in the New Testament, Jesus took upon Himself the human title, the “Son of Man”.
Jesus required a human body in order to fulfil the prophecies concerning the Messiah. Hebrews 2:9-17; Jesus was to “taste death for every man in order to bring many sons unto glory, and to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings.” (Hebrews 2:9-10)

Christ’s Ministry

The scriptures are silent concerning the activities of the God-head in eternity past. However, Christ was present before the creation as the redemptive plan for mankind and creation were established before the creative acts found in Genesis 1:1.
The reason for the incarnation is to redeem mankind. He came to die for our sins (Hebrews 2; Romans 8:32), become the believers High Priest and be our example for life (1 John 2:6; Philippians 2:5-8; 1 Peter 2:24).
His earthly ministry included proclaiming the “Kingdom of Heaven is at hand”, teaching the masses, performing miracles, and confronting false teaching.
Jesus earthly ministry included His crucifixion. Through His death on the cross as the substitute for man, He fulfilled the Old Testament scriptures (Isaiah 53; Psalm 22) concerning the Messiah. With His sacrifice, atonement, reconciliation, propitiation, redemption and substitution of the Law, became manifest in Christ. The purpose of Christ’s crucifixion is that He might justify fallen man (Romans 4:23-25).
The final chapter in Christ’s earthly ministry was in His resurrection and ascension. It was necessary that Christ rise from the dead: 1) to fulfill prophecy, even His own; 2) His resurrection is the everlasting guarantee of the forgiveness of our sins; and 3) His resurrection was also the guarantee of the believer’s resurrection. He was raised for our justification according to 1 Corinthians 15:1-4, 12-17.
By His ascension we see the completed ministry of Jesus Christ. His work continues today as our great High Priest. John 17:1 ff. John 6:62. Recorded in Acts 1:9-11. His ascension marked the end of His humility. Ephesians 1:20-23.

In summary,Matthew sums up the works of Christ:
Matthew 20:28 Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.

Can Jesus be found in Every Book of the Bible?

Jesus was crucified and buried in a borrowed tomb. Three days later, He was resurrected and showed Himself to His disciples and many others. The Gospel of Luke lets us in on a conversation of two of Jesus’ disciples and Himself. Jesus took some time with two men on the road to Emmaus that were discouraged and forlorn. In their minds, their great teacher and rabbi had been killed and lost to them. And like sheep that are lost without their shepherd, they needed to be tended. Jesus took the opportunity to teach them that Christ could be found in all the scriptures.

Luke 24:27 And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself.

The scriptures that Luke refers to are the Law and the Prophets. The following list can be found on many websites (I don’t know the original author) but I have taken the liberty to edit and add to the original list. It is a very interesting look in finding Jesus in every book of the Bible.

Enjoy

Old Testament

Genesis – Creator, Seed of Woman, and Promised Redeemer

Exodus – the Passover Lamb; the Smitten Rock

Leviticus – High Priest, the Altar and the Lamb of Sacrifice

Numbers – The pillar of Cloud by day and the pillar of Fire at night and water in the desert; The Brazen Serpent

Deuteronomy – A Prophet like unto Moses, He becomes the curse for us

Joshua – Commander of the Lord’s host, the Captain of our Salvation

Judges – The Judge and Lawgiver, He delivers us from injustice

Ruth – our Kinsman-Redeemer

1 & 2 Samuel –Prophesied Son of David; Prophet/Priest/King, King of grace & love

1 Kings – The Reigning King and a Ruler greater than Solomon

2 Kings – the powerful prophet

1 Chronicles – Son of David that is coming to rule

2 Chronicles – the King who reigns eternally

Ezra – Priest proclaiming freedom and the Faithful Scribe; He is One with the good hand

Nehemiah – the One who restores what is broken down

Esther – Advocate, Protector of his people; the Unseen Hand

Job – The Ever Living Redeemer, Dayspring from on High, Mediator between God and man

Psalms – The Shepherd and our Song in the morning and in the night; the Coming Messiah

Proverbs – The Wisdom of God

Ecclesiastes – He is the Hope of our resurrection, and our meaning for life; He is the Truth above the Sun

Song of Solomon – Author of faithful love, Lover and Bridegroom; the Rose of Sharon

Isaiah – Suffering Servant; Wonderful, Counselor, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father

Jeremiah – the weeping Prophet, Messiah; He is the Lord our Righteousness

Lamentations – He assumes God’s wrath for us; our Weeping Prophet

Ezekiel – Son of Man; the One with the Right to Rule; He is the Prince who enters the Eastern Gate

Daniel – He is in the fire with us, The Son of Man coming in the clouds; the Ancient of Days

Hosea – Faithful Husband, the Bridegroom

Joel – He is the Baptizer with the Holy Spirit; He is the One roaring out of Zion

Amos – Restorer of Justice, the Burden Bearer; He is the One standing upon the Altar

Obadiah – Judge of those who do evil, the Mighty to Save

Jonah – the Great Missionary, God of Forgiveness

Micah – He casts our sin into the sea of forgetfulness, the Messenger with beautiful feet; the Ruler of Israel

Nahum – Stronghold in the day of trouble, the Avenger of God’s Elect

Habakkuk – The Lord in His Holy Temple; The Great Evangelist, He crushes injustice

Zephaniah – the Warrior who saves, the Restorer of the Remnant; He is the Lord in the midst

Haggai – He is the desire of all nations; Restorer of worship, He has the Signet Ring, He is the Cleansing Fountain

Zechariah – the Humble Messiah pierced for us riding on a colt

Malachi – He is the Sun of Righteousness who brings healing

New Testament

Matthew – the Messiah who is King, Immanuel, God with us; King of the Jews

Mark – the Messiah who is a Servant, the Miracle Worker

Luke – the Son of Man, Messiah who is a Deliverer

John – the Son of God, Messiah who is a God in the flesh, the Bread of Life

Acts – the Ascended Lord, the Builder of the Church; the Spirit who dwells in His people

Romans – the Righteousness of God

1 Corinthians – the Last Adam, power and love of God, the Resurrection; the First-fruits from among the dead.

2 Corinthians – He is the down payment of what’s to come, He is the God of all comfort; He is the Unspeakable Gift

Galatians – He is the Seed of Abraham; He is our very life, the One Who sets us free

Ephesians – the Christ of Riches and Head of the church

Philippians – the Joy of our life, the One who meets our every need

Colossians – The fullness of the Godhead, He holds the supreme position in all things; He is the preeminent One

1 Thessalonians – our Comfort in the last days, our Hope

2 Thessalonians – our soon coming King

1 Timothy – the Mediator between God and man, Savior of the worst sinners, Faith; He is God manifest in the flesh

2 Timothy – Leader of the leaders, Stability in life

Titus – the Blessed Hope, the Foundation of truth

Philemon – Savior of Slaves; our Mediator, the Friend that sticks closer than a brother, our Benefactor

Hebrews – our High Priest He is Superior in all ways

James – He matures our faith, the Great Physician; He is the Judge standing before the door

1 Peter – our Chief Shepherd, the hope in times of suffering and our Example

2 Peter – He is the Day Star; the One who guards us from false teaching

1 John – He is our Advocate; the source of all fellowship, our Life

2 John – God in the flesh; the Confession of One Who is True

3 John – source of all truth

Jude – protects us from stumbling, the God our Savior

Revelation – Soon coming King, King of Kings and Lord of Lords, The Alpha and the Omega, The Beginning and the End, Who was and is and is to come; He makes all things new.

 

Was Paul an Apostle?

I have been asked this question many times. Each time I give a quick response. But recently I was asked to support my position. So, I spent time in research and present the following.

Defining an Apostle

The Greek word for apostle, “apostolos” is defined as a “delegate, person sent by another, a messenger, envoy.” “He that is sent” is the most common definition. There are two instances where the Greek word apostolos is not translated as “apostle,” but rather as “messenger” or “representative” (2 Cor. 8:23 and Phil. 2:25).
There are two specific listings of the Apostles (Matthew 10:2-4 and Luke 6:14 (Mark 3:16 and Acts 1:13 list the disciples without naming them as Apostles).
What are the biblical qualifications for an Apostle?
First, the individual must have seen the resurrected Christ. (John 15:27; Acts 1:21-22; 4:33; 22:14-15; 1 Corinthians 9:1). All of the original Apostles saw the resurrected Christ (John 20:19-29) except of course Judas.
Second, they must have personally been called to that office by Jesus (Luke 6:13; Acts 1:2; Galatians 1:1). For example we have the recorded calling of only Peter, Andrew, James, John and Levi of the original twelve. The other seven are not recorded.
Third, they must exhibit the power of working miracles (Mark 16:20; Acts 2:33, 43; 5:2; 1 Corinthians 12:8-11). Jesus gave the twelve Apostles the power to perform miracles when He sent them forth (Matthew 10:1-4).
After Jesus was taken to heaven, the remaining Apostles and disciples decided to fill the vacancy by Judas. They added one other requirement:
Acts 1:21-22 Wherefore of these men which have companied with us all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, 22 Beginning from the baptism of John, unto that same day that he was taken up from us, must one be ordained to be a witness with us of his resurrection.
They felt that the replacement should be a true replacement, must have accompanied “with us all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, beginning from the baptism of John, unto that same day that he was taken up from us.”

How many Apostles are there anyway?

If you answered 12 or maybe 13, you might be in for a little surprise The following names are specifically mentioned in the bible as being Apostles. For this exercise, I will be using the King James Version.
1. We have the original 12: Matthew 10:2-4 Simon, Andrew; James, John, Philip, Bartholomew; Thomas, Matthew, James, Lebbaeus, Simon the Canaanite, and Judas Iscariot – Matthew 10:2-4.
2. Matthias, Judas’ replacement, – Acts 1:26
3. Jesus’ half-brother James, the leader of the church in Jerusalem – Galatians 1:19
4. Barnabas, who accompanied Paul on his missionary journey – Acts 4:36; 14:14
5. Apollos – 1 Corinthians 4:6-9
6. Timothy and Silvanus – 1 Thessalonians 1:1; 2:6
7. Epaphroditus – Philippians 2:25
8. Jesus Christ – Hebrews 3:1
For the purpose of this study I left out Paul, as that is the central question “Is Paul an Apostle?”

Should Paul be included in the list of Apostles?

First and foremost, if the Bible is true, and it is the Word of God, then by Paul proclaiming he was an Apostle of Jesus Christ ought to be enough for us to automatically include him in the list of Apostles.
But, is there more? Well the book of Acts records the calling and conversion of Saul of Tarsus, to Paul. Saul, was a staunch supporter of Judaism and as such he despised this new movement.

Acts 9:1-2 ¶ And Saul, yet breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord, went unto the high priest, 2 And desired of him letters to Damascus to the synagogues, that if he found any of this way, whether they were men or women, he might bring them bound unto Jerusalem.

It was Jesus who chose Paul, in much the same fashion as the selection of James, John, Peter, Andrew and Levi. The only difference is that Saul was chosen by the resurrected Christ. His instructions from Jesus was to proclaim the Gospel to his people, the Jews, but his real ministry focused on proclaiming the Gospel to the Gentiles.

Witnesses proclaim that Paul was an Apostle

Barnabas witnessed that Paul had seen the resurrected Christ (Acts 9:27)
Luke, the author of the Gospel and the book of Acts declares that Barnabas and Paul were Apostles (Acts 14:14)
Paul proclaims himself to be an Apostle: (Romans 1:1; 11:13; 1 Corinthians 1:1; 9:1-2; 15:9; 2 Corinthians 1:1; Galatians 1:1; Ephesians 1:1; Colossians 1:1; 1 Timothy 1:1; 2:7; 2 Timothy 1:1; 11.

Let’s take the requirements listed above and see if Paul fits.

Did Paul see the resurrected Christ? The conversion of Saul is recorded in the ninth chapter of the book of Acts takes place as the resurrected Christ confronts him on the way to Damascus; “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?” 5And he said, “Who are you, Lord?” And he said, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. 6But rise and enter the city, and you will be told what you are to do.”
1 Corinthians 9:1 ¶ Am I not an apostle? am I not free? have I not seen Jesus Christ our Lord? are not ye my work in the Lord?
Was Paul personally called to that office by Jesus? Since the definition of an Apostle is “one who is sent” it is clear that Jesus sent him, “…rise and enter the city, and you will be told what you are to do.”
Did Paul perform miracles? The answer is yes! Look at the following list.
Blinded Elymus – Acts 13:11 And now, behold, the hand of the Lord is upon thee, and thou shalt be blind, not seeing the sun for a season. And immediately there fell on him a mist and a darkness; and he went about seeking some to lead him by the hand.
Healed a cripple man – Acts 14:10 Said with a loud voice, Stand upright on thy feet. And he leaped and walked.
Exorcised a demon – Acts 16:18 And this did she many days. But Paul, being grieved, turned and said to the spirit, I command thee in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her. And he came out the same hour.
Miracles in Ephesus – Acts 19:11-12 And God wrought special miracles by the hands of Paul: 12 So that from his body were brought unto the sick handkerchiefs or aprons, and the diseases departed from them, and the evil spirits went out of them.
Restored life to Eutychus – Acts 20:10-12 And Paul went down, and fell on him, and embracing him said, Trouble not yourselves; for his life is in him. 11 When he therefore was come up again, and had broken bread, and eaten, and talked a long while, even till break of day, so he departed. 12 And they brought the young man alive, and were not a little comforted.
Not affected by a deadly viper – Acts 28:5 And he shook off the beast into the fire, and felt no harm.
Healed a mon on Melita – Acts 28:8 And it came to pass, that the father of Publius lay sick of a fever and of a bloody flux: to whom Paul entered in, and prayed, and laid his hands on him, and healed him.
Paul’s testimony to the church at Corinth – 2 Corinthians 12:11-12 ¶ I am become a fool in glorying; ye have compelled me: for I ought to have been commended of you: for in nothing am I behind the very chiefest apostles, though I be nothing. 12 Truly the signs of an apostle were wrought among you in all patience, in signs, and wonders, and mighty deeds.
Did Paul Accompany Jesus from His baptism until the day He was taken from heaven. No. This was a requirement that Peter and the other Apostles applied to fill the spot vacated by Judas. But, Galatians 1:17-18 and 2 Corinthians 12:1-5 declare that Jesus taught Paul for 3 ½ years in Arabia.

Additional thoughts

Paul declared that his calling was “not of men, neither by man” (Galatians 1:1), unlike Matthias, his calling was not by man but by the Resurrected Christ. Paul states that he had no interaction with the other Apostles until many years later (Galatians 1:16).

Should Paul be included in the list of Apostles?

I believe it that Paul should be included in the list of Apostles. The canon of scripture includes it. Christ’s testimony and calling are sure. Paul did many miracles. Paul preached the Gospel to Jews and Gentiles alike. Paul saw the resurrected Christ. The only area where he did not meet the requirement was following Jesus for those 3 ½ years from His baptism to His ascension. But, Jesus spent the same amount of time with Paul as He spent with the original 12.

Let Freedom Ring

Normandy Liberty Bell
Image by dbking via Flickr

On Monday we celebrated the 4th of July for the two hundred and thirty-fifth time.  This holiday is celebrated in towns and  cities all across America with parades, picnics, barbecues, fireworks and concerts.  It is on this date that the United States commemorates Independence Day.
It is a federal holiday, celebrating the writing of the Declaration of Independence, declaring our desire for independence from Great Britain signed on July 4, 1776.

John Quincy Adams is quoted as saying, “You will never know how much it has cost my generation to preserve your freedom. I hope you make good use of it.”

Have you ever taken your freedom for granted?  The greatest sacrifice is one laying down his life for another.  We should remember the importance of Independence Day as a struggling group of people were united into a nation as they declared their Independence from Great Britain.

Our freedom has been purchased by the blood that has been shed by the men and women who have defended our country, some paying the greatest price with their own lives.

Today’s military is manned by some of the most interesting people.  They love the US so much that they will leave it and go to foreign lands to defend it.  They revere freedom so much that they will give up their own freedoms and serve this nation in the military.  And finally they love peace so much that they will go to war in order to have peace.

As citizens of the United States of America, we have a responsibility to be thankful to those who have served our great Nation.

However, we will never truly have freedom until we accept Jesus into our lives.  Jesus declares freedom for mankind in the eighth chapter of the Gospel of John.  “Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free…If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.” John 8:31-32, 36.  Little did those within hearing distance of Jesus realize that their freedom would cost Jesus His life.

The Apostle Paul wrote to his protégé Timothy and explained what Jesus did for mankind; “For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; Who gave himself a ransom for all…” (1 Timothy 2:5-6)

Just as the military man will lay down his life for the defense of freedom for our nation, about two thousand years ago, Jesus was the ultimate example when he willingly gave up his life for mankind.

As you remember and celebrate Independence Day, remember those who gave so that this nation is still free today.  Also be thankful to God for sending His Son as a “ransom for all.”