This sermon is number 2 in a series of 5
The Man Of The Millennium - Part 2
"The Deity Of Christ"
by David Legge | Copyright © 2000 | All Rights Reserved | www.preachtheword.com
Now turn with me in your Bibles to the book of Hebrews, the book of Hebrews and chapter 1. And as I've already said this morning we've been looking at a series of studies entitled "The Man of the Millennium", looking at the person, the character and work of our blessed Lord Jesus Christ. We've looked already at the subject of "The Pre-Existent Christ", who He was, and what He was before the world began, and before He came into human flesh here upon the earth. We're going to look this morning at the subject of "The Deity Of Christ". If you don't know what that means, that simply means this: how the Lord Jesus Christ was, and is, God. So let's look at Hebrews chapter 1 together, verse 1: "God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds; Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high: Being made so much better than the angels, as he hath by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they. 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? And again, when he bringeth in the firstbegotten into the world, he saith, And let all the angels of God worship him. And of the angels he saith, Who maketh his angels spirits, and his ministers a flame of fire. 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. Thou hast loved righteousness, and hated iniquity; therefore God, even thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows. And, Thou, Lord, in the beginning hast laid the foundation of the earth; and the heavens are the works of thine hands: They shall perish; but thou remainest; and they all shall wax old as doth a garment; And as a vesture shalt thou fold them up, and they shall be changed: but thou art the same, and thy years shall not fail. But to which of the angels said he at any time, Sit on my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool? Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation?"
Then turn with me - keep your finger in Hebrews chapter 1 - turn with me to the book of Romans, Romans chapter 9 - Romans chapter 9 and verse 5, we'll read from verse 1 to get the context. Paul says: "I say the truth in Christ, I lie not, my conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Ghost, That I have great heaviness and continual sorrow in my heart. For I could wish that myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh: Who are Israelites; to whom pertaineth the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the law, and the service of God, and the promises; Whose are the fathers, and of whom as concerning the flesh Christ came, who is over all, God blessed for ever. Amen."
Let's have a word of prayer together: Our dear Father in heaven, we come before Thee and we ask for Thy help - we need Thee as we turn to Thy word. And Lord we hear the word to us, that came to Moses: 'Take off the shoes from off thy feet, for the place whereon thou standest is holy ground'. Lord we are on holy ground when we consider the person of Thy Son, we pray that we would be reverent as we walk, as we think, as we meditate, as we contemplate the great Saviour that we have. May He come, may He presence us by His Spirit, Amen.
Who was the Lord Jesus Christ? This is a question that many ask - in fact the Lord Jesus Christ asked it Himself: 'What think ye of Christ? Whose son is He?'. He asked His disciples on occasions: 'Whom do men say that I am?'. And the question that echoes across all of humanity and all of our world today - there cannot be another important question, more [important] than this: 'Who was Jesus?'. For if Jesus Christ is not God, if He is not deity, then Christianity is the greatest farce that has ever appeared upon the face of the earth. Our faith is a farce, everything we believe - and in fact, what we are as Christians, as Christ's ones, as the followers of Christ, are nothing more than idolaters for worshiping what is only a mere man. But if He is God, then those - whether in religion, or philosophy, or downright atheists - are the profoundest of liars and blasphemers that the world has ever seen. But worse than this: if Jesus Christ is not God, then He is a blasphemer - He is an imposter and He is a liar! If He is not God then He certainly is not good, but He was either a liar or a lunatic.
I hope you can see that the deity of Christ is the key doctrine of the scriptures. You could almost say that there is not a more important doctrine within the word of God, than the fact that the Lord Jesus Christ is testified to be God of very God. Reject it and the Bible becomes a confused fairy tale of lies. Accept it and it becomes the ordered revelation of God to all the world, to all men, that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and God the Son. The basis of Christianity is found in 1 Timothy chapter 3 and verse 16, simply this: 'God manifest in the flesh'. Jesus, we believe, the word of God testifies, the church fathers have written: Jesus Christ is God displayed in the flesh.
There are many testimonies that we can read about Christ's deity - and in fact some unbelievers have tripped over themselves, even infidels have tried to out-do each other, in applauding the character of the Lord Jesus Christ. Listen to a few of them: Lord Byron, the poet, said this: "If ever a man was God, or God was man, Jesus Christ was both". Napoleon Bonaparte, the ruthless conqueror, said this: "I know men, and I tell you Jesus was not a man. Superificial minds see a resemblance between Christ and the founders of empires, and the gods of other religions, but that resemblance does not exist. Jesus alone founded His empire upon love, and at this hour millions would die for Him". That's unbelievers now, but sadly admiration is not what the Lord Jesus Christ wants. And people across our world - whether in religion or academia - can praise this Man, who they believe is a man alone, but it doesn't matter, Christ wants our souls, not our admiration.
There's the testimony of unbelievers, but we find also the testimony of believers. Alexander White, the great Christian writer, said this: "The longer I live, the firmer in my faith I am rooted in the Godhead of my Redeemer. No one, short of the Son of God, could meet my case. I must have one who is able to save to the uttermost". We have the testimony of unbelievers, we have the testimony of believers, we have the attack of modern denials and unbelievers. Graham Scroggy (sp?), the great preacher, claimed that the last battle of the whole of the Christian age, as the first, will rage around the person of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Listen to some of the cults and what they say about our blessed Lord: Spiritism asserts that 'it is an absurd idea that Jesus was more divine than any other man'. Christian Science claims that 'Jesus Christ is not God, as Jesus Himself declared, but the Son of God'. Seventh-Day Adventism says that 'Christ inherited a sinful nature' - and that's a quotation, and what they do is deprive Him of His Godhead, His deity, and debase Him to the level of a sinful man like you or I. Jehovah's Witnesses boldly state, I quote: 'Jesus was not God the Son'. Christadelphianism, on the upsurge at the moment in our province, denies the deity to Christ in these words: 'Jesus is the name of the virgin's son, and not that of an eternally pre-existent God who came down from heaven and in some mysterious way became incarnate flesh'.
Do you see now why so many in our world, the ordinary man in the street, is confused about the identity of the Lord Jesus Christ? Who is this man? What think ye of Christ? Whose son is He? Is He the mere son of human flesh, or is He the Son of God? Many voices in our new world clamour for our attention and our instant allegiance without thinking this thing through - and so many sign the card of this religion or the other religion - and maybe even we do it in our own faith, we adhere to these things without thinking them through with the word of God open before us. I want us to meditate on Hebrews chapter 1, if you turn to it with me, as we look, not just at the testimony of Christ's deity from unbelievers and believers and even the modern denials of those that do not believe who He was, but I want us chiefly to see this morning the testimony of the holy scriptures - the word of God. Now let me say this, as we have read in the book of Romans, that the testimony of the Bible is emphatically and dogmatically: 'Christ who is God over all, for ever praised. Amen'.
Look at Hebrews 1 for a moment, look at verse 2, this person - speaking of Christ: 'Hath in these last days [God has] spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds'. Now this is the first thing I want you to notice from Hebrews 1: He - the Lord Jesus - is the revelation of God. God, who in the Old Testament and in other dispensations, spoke to mere men and mortals and those that cried on His name, by prophets and all sorts of ways - God now comes to a dying world and speaks to us through His Son. Jesus Christ is the revelation of God. Now I don't mean this: I don't mean that He's merely the instrument by which God speaks to us, but I mean that His very character, His very person, the essence of His being is the very character of God, by which God speaks to us. Christ is the full expression of the Father's heart. What is it that John said in chapter 1? In the beginning was the word - we thought about it a few weeks ago - the word was with God, the word was God. What is a word? A word is the expression of our thoughts and our feelings - you could say that a word is the expression of what we are inside. And Jesus Christ as the incarnate word of God was the expression in flesh, in humanity, of what God was and who He is.
Isn't it wonderful? Look at verse 2 and 3: "[God] hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son" - verse 3 - "who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person." - verse 10 - "And, Thou, Lord, in the beginning hast laid the foundation of the earth; and the heavens are the works of thine hands". Not only does the Lord Jesus display the revelation of God, but He displays the very power of God! What does the writer to the Hebrews say? 'By whom he made the worlds...upholding all things by the word of his power'. Listen, the Lord Jesus Christ is and was the Creator of all things. He is the sustainer, the upholder of all things - all that exists in our universe owes its existence to the Lord Jesus Christ. He is the originator and the Lord of all the universe and all its laws. He is its bond of unity, He is its axis of harmony, He is the Creator - God blessed for ever! He displays the mighty power of God. Verse 3 says that He is the express image of God's person, it says that He's the brightness of God's glory. Not only is He God's revelation and the power of God displayed, but He Himself in His bodily form manifests the glory of God!
I want you to think about this. He is the brightness of God's glory - do you know what the word 'brightness' signifies? It means to send forth a light, a light radiating from a luminous body - and if you think of a luminous body, like a torch, as being God and the light that comes from it is the expression of what He is and who He is - that is the Lord Jesus Christ. Christ is the out-shining of God's glory, Christ is the divine glory - that Shekinah cloud that rested upon the tabernacle is fully manifested within the person of the Lord Jesus Christ. The glory of God which no man can see, and no man can live, shines forth in the fullness and the perfection of His blessed Son.
Oh, can you see the matchless character of Jesus? Can you? There is no one like Him. Pilate said, and asked: 'This man, is He not without fault?'. Do you see the masterly teaching of the Lord Jesus Christ? They said: 'Never a man spoke like this man'. The common people heard Him gladly, His words were like honey as they fell from His lips. Do you know what Charles Darwin said - and you know who he is, he thought of the theory of evolution - he said this: 'A man shipwrecked on an unknown coast and desert island should devoutly pray that the lesson of the missionary has reached there'. What did he mean? He meant that the teaching of the Lord Jesus Christ was masterly, the teaching of the Lord Jesus Christ was revolutionary and transforming in its substance, that the world, now even - with His teaching - as it was in the Acts of the Apostles, is being turned upside down, by His masterly teaching.
Do you see the marvellous influence of the Lord Jesus Christ? What do I mean? Well Socrates, the great philosopher, he taught for 40 years. Plato taught for 50 years. Aristotle for 40. Jesus Christ for 3 - and He transcends the 130 years of the others combined! He wasn't an artist, but the greatest artists in the world have painted some of the fairest paintings of Him - Raphael, Michelangelo, Da Vinci - all of Him, the greatest works of art. He was not a poet, He was not a musician - but Dante, and Milton, and Shakespeare could all bring, [or] they thought they could, exhaustively in their words what they thought of this blessed man Jesus Christ. Haydn, and Handel, and Beethoven, and Bach - they all resounded this great man.
But sure, He was only a carpenter in Nazareth, wasn't He? Was He? Could a mere man have this matchless character? Could a mere man emit such masterly teaching and have such marvellous influence as this blessed man had? Methuselah, we read about in the book of Genesis, he lived for 900 years - he never said a word worth writing down - he lived nine centuries and never did a single act worth repeating! But He lived 3 years - the Lord Jesus Christ lived 3 years in the face and publicity of the world - He split time in two, and the world has never been, and will never be, the same again.
Look at Hebrews again, verse 3 tells us: 'Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high'. He is the express image of God's person, that is why He can sit at the right hand of Majesty. Do you know what that Greek word 'express image' means? It has the idea of a mark left by a seal, or by a stamp. The literal translation is that He, the Lord Jesus Christ, is the very impress of His substance - the Lord Jesus is God in essence. What did Wesley say? 'God of very God, Light of Light'. He's not simply the Son of God - but He's God the Son, God the Son.
But look again at verses 8 to 10 of Hebrews: 'But unto the Son he saith' - this is God the Father saying to the Son - 'Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: a sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of thy kingdom. Thou hast loved righteousness, and hated iniquity; therefore God, even thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows. And, Thou, Lord'. In verse 8 the Father calls the Son 'God', in verse 10 the Father calls the Son 'Lord'. Can you see the majesty of His person?
The New Testament writer here quotes Psalm 45, and Psalm 45 is one of the most definite statements regarding the deity of the Lord Jesus Christ, where the Father testifies to the Son openly that He is God! You can say all you like - whether it's the Spiritists, or the Christian Scientists, or the Seventh Day Adventists, or the Jehovah's Witnesses, or the Christadelphians - no matter what it is, you can say all you like, for God says to His Son: 'Thou art God, Thou art Lord'! Christ is the supreme Sovereign, and His kingdom, and His government, and His reign shall know no end. And if you look at verses 10 to 12 you can see the immutability of His person: 'Thou, Lord, in the beginning hast laid the foundation of the earth; and the heavens are the works of thine hands: They shall perish; but thou remainest; and they all shall wax old as doth a garment; And as a vesture shalt thou fold them up, and they shall be changed: but thou art the same, and thy years shall not fail'. The writer quotes Psalm 102, He speaks of Jehovah's immutability, His unchangeableness - how all may change, but Jehovah never changes - but he applies it to the Lord Jesus. 'Thou art my Son, today I have begotten Thee' - he is laying down that all may change, but Jesus never! He changes not, Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.
And because my Lord never changes, His ability never abates, His character never changes, His faithfulness never fails, His perfection never perishes and His virtues never vary. In Him, blessed God-man, there is no shadow of turning for He is very God of very God - do we not, this morning, want to fall at His blessed feet and say with doubting Thomas, 'My Lord and my God!'. He is the Alpha and He is the Omega, He is the beginning and He is the ending, the first and the last - He is eternal God! He has the divine prerogatives of creation, He is life-giving, He can say 'Have life', He can say 'Thy sins be forgiven thee', He can pronounce judgement, He can receive worship!
There is a theory among theologians concerning the second chapter of the book of Philippians. That where it speaks of the condescension of the Lord Jesus Christ, and it says these words in verse 8: 'He humbled himself', they read it that He emptied Himself of His deity. What do we think of that? We think nothing. For He could never cease to be what He always was! He humbled Himself, but He never ceased to be what He was in nature. For if you look at Philippians chapter 2 and the [sixth] verse, you'll see this 'Who, being in very nature God, did not consider it equality - to be grasped at'. We thought, the first week of our studies, that in eternity past He was rich - but for our sakes He became poor, that we through His poverty might be made rich. But do not, for one moment, think this: that Christ Jesus was stripped of His deity - never! But He voluntarily, of Himself, suspended the use of some of His divine attributes - for a season - but He never ceased to possess them! They may have been veiled, but believe you me they were there.
Do you remember - let's think - do you remember how He exercised His power over nature? How He exercised His power over demons, over angels, over disease, over death? Because He is God! He is omnipotent, all-powerful - 'All power is given unto Me', He said! Do you remember how He said, and John said of Him in John chapter 2:24, that He knew all men. He could see what they were going to say before they said it, He could see with His 'laser' eyes right into their hearts and souls - the depths of their person and motives. He knew all men, He was omniscient, all-knowing. Do you remember in the great commission? He declared, 'Go you into all the world and preach the gospel, and lo, I am with you always'! He was omnipresent, and that is why we can say that we know He is with us! Only God could create the world! Only God could raise the dead! Only God could judge a world of sinners! That is why, when His disciples and helpless sinners fell down before Him and worshipped Him, He received it.
Let me ask a few questions as we finish. He was the One who said, 'Before Abraham was, I am' - could a man say that? He was the One who said to the Lord, in prayer, 'Glorify Me with the glory I had with Thee before the world was' - can a man say that? He was the One who said, 'Come unto Me all ye that labour and are heavy-laden and I will give you rest' - could a man say that? He said, 'Which one of you convinceth me of sin?'. He said, 'I will come again!' - could a man say that?
Why does He need to be God? Could He not just be a good teacher, or a prophet? Would it not satisfy Christians if He was simply a good man, that was an example for all the world? Why does He need to be God? Let me tell you this: He needs to be God because I want a God to be my Saviour! The Unitarians say - and this is a quotation - 'I am my own saviour'. God help them! For I don't want a mere man as my Saviour, I want the greatest kind of Saviour, and only God can save me to the uttermost! Only God can forgive my sins. Sure they asked Him, 'Who can forgive sins but God?', and He forgave sins because He was God!
Why does He need to be God? Because the world needs a Saviour God. I don't just need Him, you don't just need Him, but the whole dying world - where the anarchists cry 'Let social order go!', where the criminals have no responsibility for their existence, where the poor are struggling, the masses are fighting against injustices and inequalities, the academia are testing everything under the microscope to see if it be so, and modern society in all of its finery and dignity of neo-new-paganism, and atheists by the ton around us, and a planet with an aching void of agnosticism in the depths of its soul - who do they need? Do they need a man? Do they need a prophet? Do they need a teacher or a leader? Who will we give them? Will we give them the Christ of the philosophers? Will we give them the Christ of the theologians? Will we give them the Christ of academics? Or will we give them the Christ of God, from the gospel? You see the world needs Him. The world can't have a man, they must have the God-man.
But finally, only a Saviour can change your life - [a Saviour] that is God. Only God can save me, He did so many miracles in creation and everything else, but one of the greatest miracles is this: the miracle of His grace. That He redeems, He can save all kinds of men everywhere - good and bad. The self-sufficient: the one who says, 'I don't need God. I'm good enough, I go to my church, I do everything well' - God saves that man, but it needs God to save him. The person who is moral, who thinks that they live uprightly, who thinks that they do their neighbour no wrong - it will take a Saviour who is God to save them! A chemist can take the black oil and make it clear, transparent paraffin - that's what the chemists can do, and the scientists - but it takes God to make a sinner clean. It takes a Saviour who is divine! Only God can make a filthy drunkard a missionary, or a pastor, or a church leader! Only Christ, who is God, can take Saul, a bigot and a murderer, and make him the greatest apostle! Only God can take John Bunyan, a drunkard and a swearing rogue, and touch his heart, his mind, and his tongue to write Pilgrim's Progress. That's why the Psalmist cried: 'This poor man cried and the Lord heard me!'. Have you heard this cry: 'Jesus, I'm a drunkard, can You make me sober? Jesus, I'm unclean, can You make me pure? Jesus, I'm profane, I'm a blasphemer, can You help me pray? Jesus, I'm lost, can You save me?'. Yes He can, for He is God - God, blessed forever.
Christian, think of this for a moment: you're going through sickness, you're in hospital, there's problems in the family, there's problems in the home, there's problems in the mind - who do you want, a man or God? I want God. I want God with us. I want the God, the omnipresent God-in-man who can say, 'I am with thee always, even unto the end of the age' - that's who I want. I want the Wonderful Counsellor, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace. I want Him.
He had no cornfields, He had no fisheries - but He could spread a table for 5000 and have bread and fish to spare. He walked on no beautiful carpets, or velvet rugs - but He walked on the waters of Galilee, and they supported Him. And when He died, few men mourned for Him, yet the sun was darkened with a black mourning garment. When He hung upon that cross, few men shook and trembled for their sins - but the whole planet quaked as they realised - the whole of nature - who it was that was dying, God forsaking God! Who can understand it? Corruption couldn't get hold of His body, and the soil that had been reddened with His dear, ruby blood could claim it in the dust - but it couldn't claim His body! He wrote no book, He built no church, but He changed the world! Could only the son of Joseph and Mary do that? Was it merely the blood of a man that was poured out at Calvary? What thinking human being can keep from exclaiming 'My Lord and my God'!
Let me finish with this story. When Julian the Apostate, who sought to destroy Christianity, was on the march in his empire - there was a member of his army who was a Christian. And he was being tormented by the rest of the army, and one man came up to that Christian soldier and said this, 'Where is your carpenter now?'. His answer was this: 'He's making a coffin for you and your emperor'. A few months afterwards Julian received a mortal wound in battle, and realising that it was his death, he took his hand and dipped it into the blood of his wound and he threw it up, toward heaven, exclaiming as he did so: 'Thou hast conquered, oh Galilean!'.
He is our Lord, and He is God - blessed be His name. Let us pray together: Oh Jesus Christ, Thou Son of God and Son of Man, Thy love no angel understands, nor mortal can. Thy strength of soul, Thy radiant purity, Thine understanding heart of sympathy, the vigour of Thy mind, Thy poetry. Thy heavenly wisdom, Thy simplicity - such sweetness and such power in harmony. Thy perfect oneness with Thy God above, the agony endured to show Thy love; Thou who didst rise triumphantly to prove, Thou art the living God - before whom death and hell itself must shake and move. Thou Son of God, grant us Thy face to see, Thy voice to hear, Thy glory share - never apart from Thee, ever Thine own to be, throughout eternity.
Our Father we thank You for the One, having not seen, we love Him. He is the altogether lovely One to our souls, and Lord we thank Thee that He was not a mere man, but He was God - and as God, we fall at His feet as dead, and we worship Him. Take us now to our homes in safety, we pray, in that lovely name of the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.
Preach The Word.
This sermon was delivered at The Iron Hall Assembly in Belfast, Northern Ireland, by Pastor David Legge. It was transcribed from the second tape in his Man Of The Millennium series, titled "The Deity Of Christ" - Transcribed by Andrew Watkins, Preach The Word.
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