The Divinity of Christ, part 17
The REAL antichrist(s)
In our last installment, we were discussing 1 John 4, verse 1-3. We briefly mentioned the tremendous influence that C. I. Scofield and his Reference Study Bible have had upon the church in the past nearly 120 years now. (…as he promoted Futurist eschatology and a singular “Anti-christ.)
1 John 4, verse 2 tells us…
2 Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God:
Now here is where the truth of the deity of Christ becomes evident again, because consider this train of logical thinking. There are relatively few people who actually deny that this Man—the One who became known in the English-speaking world as Jesus Christ—that He actually lived.
We just don’t meet many people who claim that He never lived. In other words, most people do NOT deny that Jesus Christ appeared in the flesh. That is not a strain on anyone’s credulity. But the apostle John said that there are many antichrists: that is, those who deny that Jesus came in the flesh.
You see, it is no big deal to believe that Jesus was a man who lived in Galilee about 2,000 years ago. So what! Hundreds of millions of men have lived and died over the centuries. It does not take the Spirit of God to lead someone to believe that Jesus existed in the flesh any more than it takes the Spirit of God to believe that Napoleon or Alexander the Great lived in the flesh. It does not take the Spirit of God to believe that your great-grandfather appeared in the flesh either. Do you see what I am driving at?
The point is that if Christ Jesus were only a man, then anyone can agree that He lived about two millennia ago. It is simply an historical fact. It is no big deal! But yet, John told us that the only way anyone could confess (meaning, to profess or to agree or to believe) that Jesus came in the flesh is if that person has the Spirit of God.
Because (and here is the difference) the Spirit of God causes that person to believe that Christ was no ordinary man, but that He was and is indeed God manifested in the flesh. In other words, that Jesus…is…God. It takes the Spirit of God to believe that!
And so now do you see that in point of fact, those who deny the deity of Christ are actually, by Bible definition, antichrists? …because they deny that Jesus was God manifested in the flesh! Do you understand this? Let’s go back to …
1 John 2:22 Who is a liar but he that denieth that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist, that denieth the Father and the Son.
You see, the one who is antichrist by denying that Christ is God, does not just deny the Son, but he is denying the Father also! Is that not the clear statement there? That fact ought to make some people begin to reconsider their beliefs about who Jesus is.
1 John 2:23 Whosoever denieth the Son, the same hath not the Father: (but) he that acknowledgeth the Son hath the Father also.
Do you see the implied equality there?
1 John 2:24 Let that therefore abide in you, which ye have heard from the beginning. If that which ye have heard from the beginning shall remain in you, ye also shall continue in the Son, and in the Father.
There is that idea again. Where did John get this idea that if you reject the Son, you are rejecting the Father also? Well, he got it from the Savior’s own mouth. Look at the gospel of John, chapter 5. I will show you three examples of what John was witness to and he wrote them down for us in his gospel account. This is Jesus speaking.
John 5:22 For the Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son:
Parenthetically, there is another proof: Remember, only the eternal Creator-God can be the One who judges all things and all people. Continuing…
John 5:23 That all men should honour the Son, even as they honour the Father. He that honoureth not the Son honoureth not the Father which hath sent him.
Turn to John 8. We will now see a second occasion when John witnessed our Lord equating Himself with the Father.
John 8:19 Then said they unto him, Where is thy Father? Jesus answered, Ye neither know me, nor my Father: if ye had known me, ye should [i.e., would] have known my Father also.
Go to John 12 where we have a third witness from the lips of the Savior Himself.
John 12:44 Jesus cried and said, He that believeth on me, believeth not on me, but on him that sent me.
45 And he that seeth me seeth him that sent me.
Let’s add one more. John 15. This is a fourth and equally powerful witness to the unity and equality of the Father and the Son.
John 15:23 He that hateth me hateth my Father also.
24 If I had not done among them the works which none other man did, they had not had sin: but now have they both seen and hated both me and my Father.
My dear brothers and sisters, we can hardly turn a page in the gospel of John without encountering another proof of the deity of Jesus the Christ.
Does it make sense why antichrists and antichrist religions in general so despise the gospel of John, why it is attacked more vitriolically than any other? It is because it is so loaded with assertions of the divinity/deity of Jesus Christ.
And if the gospel of John is the prime book in the New Testament in that regard, then I would nominate the book of Isaiah as the chief contender in the Old Testament. Let us now go verse by verse through just one chapter in Isaiah and let us see how many references to the deity of the Savior that we can find. Isaiah, chapter 40.
How many of you are familiar with the Hallelujah chorus from Handel’s Messiah? I think that most of us have heard it at one time or another—and that is usually at Christmastime. It is part of a larger work, the form of which is called an Oratorio. How many of you have heard the entire Oratorio?
Handel’s Messiah has been one of my very favorite pieces of music for decades. To me, it is heavenly music. It is about as close to musical perfection as I think is possible this side of the resurrection. Astonishingly, in 1741, George Frideric Handel sat down and created it all in only about a month’s time—absolutely a phenomenal accomplishment.
All of the lyrics for this oratorio come from the KJV Bible and were compiled for Handel’s musical score by Charles Jennens. Several of the pieces of the Oratorio have their texts taken from right here in the first five verses of this 40th chapter. Then verse 9 is another number all by itself, as is verse 11. Beginning in verse 1 now, we read:
Isaiah 40:1 Comfort ye, comfort ye my people, saith your God.
2 Speak ye comfortably to Jerusalem, and cry unto her, that her warfare is accomplished, that her iniquity is pardoned: for she hath received of the LORD'S hand double for all her sins.
3 The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the LORD, make straight in the desert a highway for our God.
So, there in verse 3 is that verse which I believe we discussed or mentioned a back earlier in this series of studies. Do you remember how we looked at it in connection with the verse (3:1) in Malachi? Here then is the prophecy about John the Baptist’s mission to precede the Messiah.
Furthermore, we notice that the word LORD is in all caps, isn’t it? Which tells us that the translators removed the holy name YHWH. So what it is really saying is that John the Baptist is to prepare the way for Yahweh. Centuries after Isaiah and Malachi, who was it who came to earth to fulfill this prophecy? Jesus! God in the flesh!
Turn to Luke 1 where we find John the Baptist’s father Zacharias repeating the prophecy just after the birth of John.
Luke 1:67 And his father Zacharias was filled with the Holy Ghost, and prophesied, saying,
And then he goes on to prophesy at length, but we will pick it up at the pertinent portion down in verse 76:
Luke 1:76 And thou, child, [referring to his son, John] shalt be called the prophet
of the Highest:
Let us pause to note the word “Highest.” It is an adjectival-noun, and it is a reference to El-Elyon, the Most High God.
:76 (cont’d) for thou shalt go before the face of the Lord to prepare his ways;
In some of our English Bible versions, the translators do us a disservice in a verse such as this where it is clearly a case of Zacharias referring to and essentially paraphrasing Isaiah 40, verse 3, where we had seen that they removed the holy name and substituted LORD in all caps.
Now here in the New Testament, they don’t even put “Lord” in all caps, which makes it even more difficult for the average reader to make the connection that it is Yahweh-God being spoken of in both cases, in the Old Testament and the New. Do you see the point? Back to Isaiah 40 now, where we pick up in verse 4.
Isaiah 40:4 Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low: and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough places plain:
5 And the glory of the LORD [YHWH] shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together: for the mouth of the LORD hath spoken it.
Does the first part of verse 5 ring any bells with you? “the glory of the LORD shall be revealed?” Remember in a previous entry in this series where we were discussing the death and resurrection of Lazarus? That was in John 11. Keep a bookmark here and go to John 11.
John 11:4 When Jesus heard that, he said, This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God might be glorified thereby.
The glory of God was manifested through the Son! Let me suggest another manifestation of the glory of YHWH, as revealed in the Son, found in Matthew 17. But first, let us read and consider part of verse 9 here in Isaiah 40. (Again, as I read this verse aloud, I can hear in my head the choir and orchestra performing it in concert. So lovely! So heavenly!)
Isaiah 40:9 O Zion, that bringest good tidings [the gospel], get thee up into the high mountain; O Jerusalem, that bringest good tidings, lift up thy voice with strength; lift it up, be not afraid; say unto the cities of Judah, Behold your God!
Who was it that appeared in “the cities of Judah?” Behold your God: Jesus! The segue from here in Isaiah to Matthew is that the ideas of the gospel, the high mountain and the glory of God being revealed are also found in Matthew 17.
Matthew 17:1 And after six days Jesus taketh Peter, James, and John his brother, and bringeth them up into an high mountain apart,
You see, on this occasion the glory of God was going to be revealed privately to Peter, James and John, up on a high mountain. On that high mountain, it says that Jesus …
2 And was transfigured before them: and his face did shine as the sun, and his raiment was white as the light.
3 And, behold, there appeared unto them Moses and Elias talking with him.
4 Then answered Peter, and said unto Jesus, Lord, it is good for us to be here: if thou wilt, let us make here three tabernacles; one for thee, and one for Moses, and one for Elias.
5 While he yet spake, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them: and behold a voice out of the cloud, which said, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him.
6 And when the disciples heard it, they fell on their face, and were sore afraid.
7 And Jesus came and touched them, and said, Arise, and be not afraid.
8 And when they had lifted up their eyes, they saw no man, save Jesus only.
9 And as they came down from the mountain, Jesus charged them, saying, Tell the vision to no man, until the Son of man be risen again from the dead.
This vision was a private, sneak preview, as it were, which these three specially-selected apostles received from the Lord, a preview of Him in His glorified, post-resurrection body. We saw in the story of Lazarus that glorification had to do with resurrection. Let me show you that this is the case with Christ as well. Continued in the next blog….