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The truth about Jesus

By James R. Spencer

Jesus forced His listeners to think about who He is. He asked the Pharisees, "What do you think about the Messiah? Whose son is he?"

They answered, "He is the son of David."

Jesus said, "Then why does David — speaking under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, call him Lord?" (Matthew 22:41-43, New Living Translation).

Jesus then asked, since David called the Messiah Lord, "How can he be his son at the same time?"

Vantage point by Ken Horn: So What?

This question has one answer: Jesus is before and superior to David. He told the same class of questioners that He was older than the patriarch Abraham: "Before Abraham was, I am" (John 8:58, KJV).

Jesus is fully God and fully man.
God reveals himself progressively in the Bible. From the Old Testament we learn there is only one God. Once that light is burning brightly, the New Testament introduces Jesus who says, "If you have seen me you have seen the Father" (John 14:9).

For two millennia the church has believed that Christ is both fully man and fully God. Throughout the last 2,000 years, groups have arisen within the church to reject this bedrock Christological foundation — groups the church traditionally has called cults.

Two fundamental errors about Christ’s nature either deny the full deity of Christ or deny His full humanity. Those who deny Christ’s full deity make Him merely a human who is adopted, in some special way, by God. Those who deny His full humanity make Christ into a mere appearance of God, making Him something other than fully human. Although these problems may at times seem only to be theoretical musings ("What difference does it make if you love Jesus?"), in reality these errors always produce bad fruit.

Jesus is a real man.
Let’s examine the teaching that asserts Jesus is simply an appearance of God, not really a human. God just sticks His head out of heaven and pretends to identify with us. If that were true, then Jesus’ death — the death which is supposed to save us — is not really a death. It is only a spiritual play, an act, a sham.

No, the Bible says Jesus took upon himself human flesh and upon that flesh were heaped the sins of mankind. If that is not true, then Jesus did not pay the price of sin, did not die, is not resurrected. If Jesus was not truly a human being, we remain guilty before God.

This error is seen in Christian Science and in all of the so-called "religious science" denominations. These groups speak of the "Christ Spirit" or the "Christ Nature." In their minds, God is a concept — Divine Love. Our job, they say, is to become in tune with this illusory Christ Nature; and, when we do, we will see that the material world, with its bodily illnesses and human passions, is no more real than Jesus. They are illusions. Such thinking not only makes Jesus into an ethereal, wispy ghost, but it makes mankind into that as well. If real flesh was not resurrected in Christ, we are yet in our sins and will die in them.

Jesus is fully God.
The most common error about Jesus makes Him human, but not fully God. He may be "almost" God, or "the Savior," but He is not the one true living God and Creator of the universe. Some see Jesus as a great man who attracts the attention of God and is somehow possessed by God. In reality, that is the description of a Spirit-filled Christian.

But Jesus is not merely a human who is in close communion with God; He is God. The Bible declares that Jesus exhibits all the attributes of God revealed in the Old Testament — omniscience, omnipotence and omnipresence. He is the Creator of all things. He is worshiped by the disciples and even called God by Thomas. He demonstrates that He is the Lord and giver of life because He lays His life down and then takes it up, kindling in us the hope of resurrection.

Those who refuse to make Jesus Lord of all do not allow Him to be God at all. For He is either the God of the Old Testament who wraps himself in flesh and presents himself to us in the New Testament, or He is a pretender. He cannot be another God, for there is no other God. The Bible eliminates the possibility that Jesus is — somehow or some way — another god. The Bible records God’s final words on this: "Before me there was no God formed, neither shall there be after me. … I am the first, and I am the last; and beside me there is no God. … Is there a God beside me? yea, there is no God; I know not any" (Isaiah 43:10; 44:6,8).

The Bible says of Jesus, "All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made" (John 1:3). But those groups which refuse to recognize Him as the Creator assign to Him a lesser nature: Jehovah’s Witnesses think of Him not as the Creator of All, but as the first thing God created. Mormonism makes Jesus the son of a god named Eloheim, a god who has a father and a grandfather (although we do not know their names).

Words must mean something, or they mean nothing.

When we say we "believe in Jesus," we must identify what the term Jesus stands for. If I believe in a Jesus who is not God, I may as well put my faith in any other good man. If I believe in Jesus who is not fully man, I am no better off than those New Agers and occultists who commune with the Christ Spirit, but who fail to recognize the biblical Jesus.

James R. Spencer is a minister and author of seven books on cults, the occult and secularism. He lives in Boise, Idaho.

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