How Can You Be Certain That Jesus Is God?
- Meg Bucher Writer and Author
- 2020 28 Feb
The Bible tells the story of God’s redemptive plan in Jesus from beginning to end. From Genesis to Revelation, we see the fingerprints of our Savior. “All along,” wrote Glen Scrivener for desiringGod.org,” “true faith was messianic faith, centered on Christ himself.” Emmanuel, God with us, Jesus was born incarnate on the earth fully human and fully God.
“The Bible teaches that Jesus is not merely someone who is a lot like God, or someone who has a very close walk with God,” wrote Matt Perman for desiringGod, “Rather, Jesus is the Most High God himself.” What’s more, Jesus promised never to leave us alone. Believers are given the gift of the Holy Spirit, dwelling in us at all times. God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit are three separate persons that make up the one Triune God.
The mystery of the trinity and the incarnation is a subject that theologians much brighter and more qualified than I study in depth. This article is a mere starting point but continue after reading and explore God’s Word further. Inquire after sound, bright minds for additional theological truths about Jesus. A good theologian sees God’s Word as the ultimate authority for our earthly understanding of God. The Christian faith is not one of explanations we pull out of thin air, but of historical fact, evidence and eyewitness.
Who Does the Bible Say Jesus Is?
The Bible says Jesus is God’s Son, one person of the Trinity. He existed from the beginning with God because He is God, and He was born incarnate to the virgin Mary at God’s ordained time. He has two distinct natures in his person, one man fully human and fully divine. The Apostle Paul reminded the Colossians who Jesus is:
“The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.” (Col. 1:15-20)
Many debated the specifics of who Jesus is, even in the first formative years of the Christian faith and establishment of the church. It was so hotly debated, The Chalcedonian Creed, or Definition of Chalcedon, was established by the convergent council of over five hundred bishops in the year 451, to decisively define the Incarnation, “that Jesus Christ is God and man, yet one person, forever.” The creed states:
- “Jesus has two natures- He is God and man.
- Each nature is full and complete - He is fully God and fully man.
- Each nature remains distinct.
- Christ is only one Person.
- Things that are true of one nature are nonetheless true of the Person of Christ.”
Jesus is one person in the Trinity. Our Triune God is also one of the great mysteries of Christianity. “God has always worked in the Trinitarian pattern: from the Father, through the Son, by the Spirit,” Glen Scrivener of desiringGod observed, “He did not begin to be triune - the Father did not begin to need a mediator - at Christmas (John 1:1-14).”
John 1:1-5 says, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.”
Jesus, perfectly united in the Trinity at Creation, chose to come to earth and save us. He is the very Word of God. The Light of the Word. His sacrifice was always meant to save us. From the beginning of time, God knew who we would be, and how He would make a Way for us to find our way back to Him. We are His beloved Creation. The Moody Bible Commentary explains, “Since the Word was God, everything that God was in essence, the Word was also.”
Why Was a Creed Necessary? What Were People Getting Wrong about Jesus?
Well-known theologian and professor, Sinclair Ferguson succinctly lays out four Christologies (Christology is the branch of theology that studies the nature and work of Christ) that deviated from Jesus’ identity according to Scripture and why these four historical errors were dangerous.
Ferguson describes the divisions started by four men on desiringGod.org and they are summarized below.
1. Arianism, started by Arius, stated that Jesus Christ was not fully God.
The problem: If Jesus is less than God how can He reconcile others to God.
2. Apollinarianism, started by Apollinaris, reported that Jesus did not have a human mind.
The problem: If Jesus is not fully human then He is not like us and He cannot mediate for us.
3. Nestorianism, allegedly started by Nestorius, claimed that after the incarnation there were two persons of Jesus, divine and human.
*Some question whether Nestorius actually held to this view.
The problem: Two persons meant that only the human person of Jesus died on the cross (because a divine person cannot die), and just the human part of Jesus cannot atone for the sins of many. Ferguson further explains, “It requires an infinite person to make adequate substitution for the salvation of a multitude that no one can number.”
4. Eutychianism, started by Eutyches, purported that after the incarnation Jesus had one nature combined.
The problem: Two natures mixed together mean that Jesus was not fully human and cannot be a substantiation for humans.
Ferguson asks us to now notice the four major emphases in the Chalcedon Creed, or Definition of Chalcedon, which we read in the previous section:
“First, Christ is perfectly and truly God and perfectly and truly man, with a rational soul and a real body. Therefore, the Logos does not take the place of the soul. Second, he is of the same substance as God. Therefore, he is not less than God, but truly God. Third, he is the Son of God eternally begotten by his Father but also made flesh in the womb of the Virgin Mary, the Mother of God. Therefore, he is one person, not two. Fourth, he is now one Person with two natures, divine and human. Therefore, these two natures are never confused with each other, changed into each other, or divisible or separable from each other.”
Old Testament Scripture References about Jesus
The Old Testament is full of fulfilled prophecies, including over 300 prophecies fulfilled by Jesus’ birth, life, death and resurrection. The following are a small fraction of the mention of His deity and prophecy in the Old Testament.
10 Old Testament References about the Christ
“The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone;” Psalm 118:22
“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” Isaiah 9:6
“Then you will know that I, the LORD, am your Savior, your Redeemer, the Mighty One of Jacob.” Isaiah 60:16b
“I know that my redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand on the earth.” Job 19:25
“Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.” Isaiah 7:14
“The LORD your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from amount you, from your fellow Israelites. You must listen to him.” Deuteronomy 18:15
“…no harm will overtake you, no disaster will come near your tent. For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways; they will life you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.” Psalm 91:10-12
“Rejoice greatly, Daughter Zion! Shout, Daughter Jerusalem! See, your king comes to you, righteous and victorious, lowly and riding on a donkey, on a cold, the foal of a donkey.” Zechariah 9:9
“Who has believed our message and to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed?” Isaiah 53:1
“The LORD says to my lord: ‘Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet.” Psalm 110:1
New Testament Scripture References about God’s Son
The New Testament begins with the birth of Jesus but is heavily focused on His ministry, last days on earth, death and resurrection. “The miracle of the incarnation is that this one person became everything we are without ceasing to be everything he is,” wrote D. Blair Smith for thegospelcoalition.org. The Bible also teaches us that Jesus is God by revealing shared attributes.
Christ’s very presence changed people in an instant. A healing from Him rid people of life-long ailments and raised others from the dead, a power that only God has. Just a sheer touch of His robe brought forth healing for a woman who suffered her entire life with an incurable condition. Jesus came close to those around Him during His time on earth. He had friends. He grew in wisdom and favor with His Father. “At Caesarea Philippi, Jesus asked the disciples, ‘Who do you think that I am?’ (Matt. 16:13), wrote Ligon Duncan for TGC, “And Peter answers on behalf of all of them, ‘You are the Christ- you are the Messiah - the Son of the living God’ (Matthew 16:16). And Jesus says to Peter, ‘You’re right. God has revealed this to you’ (Matt 16:17).”
Though He was sinless, this was God’s Son treading on our soil, living in our skin so as to take on the role of perfect sacrifice for us. He left God’s side to be born incarnate, he grew in wisdom through learning and experience just as humans do. “When Jesus reveals to his fearful disciples that ‘it is I’ (Matthew 14:27; Greek ego eimi), this isn’t a call to recognize his human features that mark him out as ‘Jesus as Nazareth,” wrote D. Blair Smith for TGC, “he’s appropriating Yahweh’s name revealed in Exodus 3:14 (I AM: ego eimi). He’s commanding his disciples to take heart and not be afraid because he, the one walking on the water, is Yahweh.”
Jesus will return! God will once again come to earth and be close to us! In the same way He ascended to heaven, He will again return, coming on the clouds. The following verses are a small representation of Jesus’ deity in the New Testament. (Click here to read more about the names of Jesus in the Bible.)
10 New Testament References to Jesus the Messiah
“…while we wait for the blessed hope- the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ.” Titus 2:13
“Thomas said to him, ‘My Lord and my God!” John 20:28
“No one has ever seen God, but the one and only Son, who is himself God and is in closest relationship with the Father, has made him known.” John 1:18
“‘I am the Alpha and the Omega,’ says the Lord God, ‘who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty.’” Rev 1:8
“I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.” Rev 22:13
“fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews 12:2
“And a voice from heaven said, ‘This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.’” Matthew 3:17
“‘Very truly I tell you,’ Jesus answered, ‘before Abraham was born, I am!’” John 8:58
“The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, ‘Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!’” John 1:29
“Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin.” Hebrews 4:14-15
What Is Jesus' Relationship to the Father and the Spirit?
“Jesus answered, ‘I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.’” John 14:6
The Triune God consists of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. Three separate persons in one, sharing the same essence, distinct yet in unity with each other. Each person of the Trinity is fully God and worthy to be worshiped. Jesus is God, but Jesus is not the Father nor is He is the Holy Spirit. The Father is God, but He is not the Son nor the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is God, but He is not the Son or the Father. They are three persons in one God, 1 x 1 x 1 = 1.
God the Father - “Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” Phil. 1:2
God the Son - “while we wait for the blessed hope—the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ,” Titus 2:13
God the Holy Spirit - “Then Peter said, ‘Ananias, how is it that Satan has so filled your heart that you have lied to the Holy Spirit and have kept for yourself some of the money you received for the land? Didn’t it belong to you before it was sold? And after it was sold, wasn’t the money at your disposal? What made you think of doing such a thing? You have not lied just to human beings but to God.’” Acts 5:3-4
Jesus is God the Son. Ephesians 1:22 says, “And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church,” Jesus is the way to the Father in heaven. Hebrews 4:16 encourages, “Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”
Through the Holy Spirit, our prayers reach the ears of our Father, and God’s wisdom is brought close to and revealed to us as it applies to our daily lives. 1 John 2:1 says, “My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have an advocate with the Father - Jesus Christ, the Righteous One.” The Living God, lives in us because Jesus died and rose for us. And Jesus sits at the right hand of the Father and advocates for His saved and adopted children every day.
We are compelled by the very Holy Spirit of God to “Go,” as He instructs in Matthew 28:19. It is Christ, in us, through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit by the authority of God, by which we accomplish His work for the Kingdom.
“Then Jesus came to them and said, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.” Matthew 28:18
God doesn’t need us to accomplish His purposes, but out of His love for us He involves us, growing our hearts to be more like His as we follow Christ’s example. The only way we can come to God is through Jesus Christ. “For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus,” 1 Timothy 2:5.
John 14:6 says, “Jesus answered, ‘I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
Why Did So Many People Struggle to Connect Jesus with God in the New Testament?
God’s chosen people, the Jewish people, had studied the Scriptures intently their entire lives. For generations, their rich faith and immense history with God had been passed down and cherished. When Jesus was born on earth, He did not look the way they expected Him to. Many were expecting a powerful king and a military conqueror. But Jesus was born in Bethlehem, in a manger. Though over 300 prophecies were fulfilled, many failed to reconcile who Jesus was within the Scriptures. They were looking for the conquering Savior they wanted, rather than the One God had sent. Jesus, Himself said, “I am!” Jesus claimed to be God, Himself, when the people were looking for a separate Savior sent by God, but not God, Himself. Even though He was everything God said He would be, who Jesus was didn’t line up with their theology.
How Can I Explain to Others Who Jesus Is?
“For God so loved the world, He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16
The best explanation of Jesus is the testimony of a life changed by His presence in it. John 8:32 says, “Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” We are placed perfectly by a purposeful God. “This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.” (1 John 4:10)
Our lives are meant to serve and honor God, bringing others to know Him through the Gospel of Jesus Christ, “the way, the truth and the life.” When people ask hard questions about Jesus, give them answers, or point them to someone who can answer them directly. Our lives are our testimony, and our faith is not whimsical nor fragile.
“When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, ‘I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” (John 8:12)
We have a responsibility to share the testimony of what Jesus has done for our lives, and to KNOW the truth of God’s Word. John 10:11 says, “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for his sheep.”
When we strive to seek and see Jesus throughout the entirety of Scripture, He is faithful to reveal Himself to us. He is there, ever so faithfully; as Glen Scrivener explains on desiringGod: “Perhaps we’d be helped by a simple framework for how Christ is at the heart of the Scriptures: he is patterned, promised, and present from Genesis onward.” He continues by pointing out these passages in the New Testament that point to Jesus’ presence in salvation history:
“The “I Am” in whom Abraham rejoiced was Jesus (John 8:56–58).
The Lord who motivated Moses was Christ (Hebrews 11:26).
The Redeemer who brought them out of Egypt was Jesus (Jude 5).
The Rock in the wilderness was Christ (1 Corinthians 10:4).
The King of Isaiah’s temple vision was the Son (John 12:40–41).”
Jesus stands at the center of salvation, He is the author of freedom: “So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” John 8:36
Photo credit: ©GettyImages/nu1983
Meg writes about everyday life within the love of Christ as an author, freelance writer, and blogger at Sunny&80. Her first book, “Friends with Everyone,” is available on amazon.com. She earned a Marketing/PR degree from Ashland University but stepped out of the business world to stay at home and raise her two daughters. Besides writing, she leads a Bible Study for Women and serves as a Youth Ministry leader in her community. She lives in Northern Ohio with her husband, Jim, and two daughters.