We run into some supposed dilemmas when we assert that Jesus Christ was God while being a man on this earth. Jehovah’s Witnesses will jump on this belief and say that we are contradicting ourselves and the Bible – for how can Jesus be a man and be God at the same time, as we argue, if:
· God is Invisible, Jesus was visible;
· God is Immutable (unchangeable), Jesus changed forms;
· God is not a man, Jesus was a man;
· God is a Spirit, Jesus was flesh and bones;
· God doesn’t Pray, Jesus prayed;
· God Submits to no one, Jesus submitted to God;
· God is Immortal, Jesus died;
· God is Impeccable (impossibility of sin), Jesus overcame temptation;
· God is Untemptable (James 1:13), Jesus was tempted (Matthew 4:1);
· God is Omnipotent (all-powerful), Jesus couldn’t carry a cross;
· God is Omni-present (everywhere), Jesus existed in body of flesh;
· God is Omniscient (all knowing), Jesus learned (Luke 2:46);
· God is Tirelessness, Jesus slept.
I want to spend some time considering this issue, first by looking at the qualities of God that makes Him unique, then by dealing with the question of Christ’s relationship to the Father. How “godly” was Jesus in this physical world, shackled by a human body? Did He leave divinity behind to become a man, or did He bring that divinity with Him, as Colossians 2:9 seems to indicate, saying, “For in Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form”? God is no mere man, that we should behold Him in simple form, and He does not succumb to the spiritual weaknesses of mankind, though we are fashioned in His image. We sometimes forget about this fact, friends, and think that our shortcomings somehow translate to God. Some argue that if we are made in God’s image, and we have so many faults, then so does God. But He was not made in our likeness – it was the other way around. We are the ones who fall short of His standards, morals, laws, expectations, and potential. It is not God who instills in us evil, but we ourselves decide to turn our hearts away from Him. We choose sin, just as He consistently chooses righteousness. What makes us God’s image is our ability to choose good – in application, though, we truly fall short!
The Differences Between God and Man
First, God is not a creature and never had a beginning point. Does that not just boggle the human mind? Considering the fact that we are such linear beings, the concept of eternity is unfathomable. Everything in this world has a beginning and an end, or a season (Ecclesiastes 3:1-8). We are born and we die, we go to war and we make peace, our garden blooms and then it dies. Nothing in our knowledge is without limit. Not even the “universe” is something we can wrap our minds around, and it is even a created thing. God is described as “eternal” in Deuteronomy 33:27 and “eternal Father” in Isaiah 9:6. “Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen” (1 Timothy 1:17). There are some points to note on the matter of God’s eternality:
· If He had no beginning, then it means He has no end. The practical application is that God holds a unique perspective. He is not limited by the fact that an event happened before He was born, and He is not distracted by the possibility of death.
· Everything we do revolves around time in a linear system. We have time divided into seconds, minutes, hours, days, weeks, etc. We work for a certain amount of time, celebrate anniversaries, go to high school reunions, retire at a certain age, etc. We cannot possibly have the same perspective as God.
· We are laden with the distractions of time. Instead of serving God the way we ought to, we give Him a certain number of hours per week.
· We should consider ourselves blessed to have a God who does not treat us the way we treat Him. What if we had to schedule an appointment to pray? Or receive a confirmation e-mail letting us know that our prayers may take “4 to 6 weeks to arrive”?
Another quality that is unique to God is His omnipresence. This means that He is everywhere at all times. Again, this is a difficult statement to comprehend because it denies everything we have ever known about existence. We live in one place, move to another, go here and there – but no matter what happens, we are only in one place at a time. “Where can I go from Thy Spirit? Or where can I flee from Thy presence? If I ascend into heaven, Thou are there; if I make my bed in Sheol, behold, Thou art there. If I take the wings of the dawn, if I dwell in the remotest part of the sea, even there Thy hand will lead me. If I say, ‘Surely, darkness will overwhelm me, and the light around me will be night,’ even the darkness is not dark to Thee, and the night is as bright as the day. Darkness and light are alike to Thee” (Psalm 139:7-12). It is not that God is just a concept that goes with us, similar to the way we talk about a deceived relative’s memory “following us.” God is actually everywhere. He sees everything, can fit anywhere, can go here or there at His discretion, and knows where we are at all times. God does not need earthly or created dwellings, for He is too big to be confined. “Heaven is My throne, and earth is the footstool of My feet; what kind of house will you build for Me? Or what place is there for My repose?” (Acts 7:48-50).
· The benefit to the believer is that God is always available. There is not waiting room, no long wait on hold, or no receptionist. When we need God, He is already with us.
· Through tribulation, we need to keep in mind that what is happening to us is not going without a witness. God knows our sufferings, and expects that His guidance and love will be enough for us to pull through. We should not expect anything different (Psalm 23:4-6).
· We need to learn that loneliness is invalid in God’s eyes. When we make excuses about our poor service or lack of obedience, it does not fly with Him. “I’m alone in this world, woe is me” or “Nobody loves me” or “Nobody is ever there for me” are all phrases that need to be banished from our vernacular.
God is also all powerful, or omnipotent. Job 42:2 states, “I know that Thou canst do all things, and that no purpose of Thine can be thwarted.” Add to that God’s own words in Isaiah 46:8-11, “My purpose will be established, and I will accomplish all My good pleasure.” Also see Acts 2:22 and, speaking of Christ, Colossians 1:16-17. The beneficence of having an all-powerful God is clear to those who do not displease Him. On the one hand, He can do all things, strengthen us, help us, create a world that is perfectly suitable for our existence, and save us through the grace of Jesus Christ (Colossians 1:19-23). On the other hand, He has the power to punish the wicked, and keep them in a place that is terrible beyond description (2 Peter 2:9). He also has the power to conquer Satan and send Him to Hell for eternity (Luke 10:18, Revelation 20:10).
Some Qualities Of God In Which Man Can Share
Being created in God’s image, there is no doubt that some of His qualities were imbued in us upon creation. But any similarities that exist are only positive. All of the faults that exist in our nature, actions, attitudes, and ethics exist because of a rejection of some moral characteristic of God. Evil is only the absence of God!
· God is a spirit, without flesh and bones (Luke 24:39). We have spirits, as well, that exist in our bodies. Upon death, our spirit returns to God (Ecclesiastes 12:7).
· God is a person, which means He has individual characteristics. He has an attitude, attributes, convictions, and feelings that can be hurt.
· God has the moral attribute of love (1 John 4:8,16).
· Moral attribute of Light (truth) – 1 John 1:5, John 17:17).
· Moral attribute of holiness (1 Peter 1:16).
· Moral attribute of mercy (Psalm 103:8).
· Moral attribute of gentleness (Psalm 18:35).
· Moral attribute of goodness (Romans 2:4).
· Moral attribute of perfection (Matthew 5:48).
· Moral attribute of justice (2 Thessalonians 1:5-8).
· Moral attribute of faithfulness (1 Corinthians 10:13).
· Moral attributes of patience (2 Peter 3:9).
Jesus Christ: Just a man or divinity in the form of man?
As has already been stated, the Jehovah’s Witnesses do not believe that Jesus was God on earth because: “Jesus was a man, God is not a man, therefore, Jesus was not God.” Yet, there are too many verses in the Bible that contradict this assertion. “For in Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form” (Colossians 2:9). “Although [Christ] existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself be becoming obedient to the point of death, even death upon a cross” (Philippians 2:5-11). "When Jesus came to this earth he did not lose his power, he did not lose his prerogatives, his privileges. He did not cease to be God. He took another role, he didn't use what he had. He came to serve, not to show himself to be God. He came to do the will of the Father, and coming to earth Jesus changed roles. He took on himself the form of a servant. As a servant Jesus did every thing in this role. As a servant, Jesus would not, he did not use his innate power to give himself glory, which he surrendered. He lived in the flesh. He experienced in every way what the human spirit experiences in the body. He imposed upon himself all the limitations necessary or commensurate with this role." … "We do not agree that He was stripped of them so that He did not possess the characteristics that make him God. To the man, we believe that Jesus retained His deity, as the word is legitimately defined" (Frost-Welsh Debate, Gene Frost).
· Jesus gave up His omnipresence, but that is not a condition of being God, because the fullness of deity dwelt in Jesus (Colossians 2:9).
· Although Jesus was omniscient before incarnation, Jesus had to learn things from his childhood on. Obviously, then, omniscience is not an absolute condition of being God, because all the fullness of deity dwelt in Him.
· Even though He gave up omnipotence, this was not a condition of deity, either, for the same reason as above.
· This means that the “fullness of deity” or the true essence of being God means more than just what God can do. The one thing that Jesus was able to keep throughout His earthly life was His perfection. This makes perfection something special – it is a quality of the “fullness of deity” that transcends the divide between physical and spiritual. What God is, His nature and everything about Him, is more embodied in His perfection than in His powers, presence, or knowledge. While those things are impressive, and absolutely out of reach to us as humans, they are only side effects of His perfect nature. What made Jesus God in bodily form was His perfection – a standard that we can only strive for!