Saturday, September 24, 2016

Truths that save the soul - One Lord Jesus Christ, Equal with the Father

John 5:18  "For this reason therefore the Jews were seeking all the more to kill Him, because He not only was breaking the Sabbath, but also was calling God His own Father, making Himself equal with God."

We noted in yesterday's post Jesus' unfolding of His true identity in John 5:21-26. His astonishing statements regarding His own deity served to present eternal truths that save the soul - the first of which being: "One Sovereign God, Who is Father". This first major truth provides the bedrock for what will be Jesus' revelation concerning His own equality with the Father and thus - His claim to Deity. Such truths are vital for Christians to understand. There are those truths that constitute "truths that save the soul" - with the truth about God being "One Sovereign God, Who is Father" fitting in such a category. Today's post turns to Jesus' words in John 5:16-46 once again to consider a second truth that saves the soul: namely, "One Lord Jesus, Equal to the Father."

Second Truth that saves the soul: "One Lord Jesus, Equal to the Father"
When we consider the characteristics of God the Father enumerated by Jesus in John 5:21-26, we find the following five main descriptions by which Jesus' teaching aligns with the revelation fo the Old Testament:

a. John 5:21a The Father raises the dead.  
-Dt 6:4-5 We are reminded here that God is One God
-Deut 32:6 “Do you thus repay the Lord, O foolish and unwise people? Is not He your Father who has bought you? He has made you and established you.  
-Dt 32:39 See now that I, I am He,
And there is no god besides Me; It is I who put to death and give life. I have wounded and it is I who heal,
And there is no one who can deliver from My hand. 
b. John 5:22 The Father is the Final Judge. 
-Genesis 18:25b “Shall not the Judge of all the earth deal justly?” 
-Daniel 12:2 “Many of those who sleep in the dust of the ground will awake, these to everlasting life, but the others to disgrace and everlasting contempt.”

c. John 5:23 The Father is Worthy of worship.  
-1 Chronicles 16:29 "Give to the Lord the glory due His name; Bring an offering, and come before Him. Oh, worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness!"

d. John 5:24 The Father is Savior Alone. 
-Isaiah 43:11 “I, even I, am the Lord, And there is no savior besides Me.”

e. John 5:26 The Father is Self-sufficient. 
-Psalm 90:2 “Before the mountains were born Or You gave birth to the earth and the world, Even from everlasting to everlasting, You are God.”

These five main qualities are important in how the New Testament develops in its understanding of the identity of Jesus Christ. The assertion of God being One God Who is Father was not disputed among the Jews. Theologians across the years have sometimes used a convenient way of describing God and everything else by way of categorizing God in one category and creation in another category. We call such a summary "Creator vs Creation dividing line", as seen in the visual chart below:

God, the Creator      The Creation
One God, Who is        Angels
The Father                 Humans

Certainly, one could put other things in the second column: your dog, cat, car or whatever. God alone is in His own category. The Person of the Father bears the properties of Deity enumerated above in Jesus' description of Him. 

So is Jesus equal to the Father?
As Jesus carries on his response to the Jewish officials, He then intersperses His description of the Father with a description of His relationship to the Father. Prior to Jesus' ministry, no Jew conceived of the Father on personal terms. As we noted yesterday, Jesus' reference to Yahweh of Israel as His own Father was shocking to Jewish sentiment. So with respect to both the five main qualities of Deity outlined by Jesus about the Father, what did He say about Himself. Again, we turn to John 5 for the answers:

a. John 5:21b, 5:25 Jesus, the Son, raises the dead.

b. John 5:22, 30 Jesus, the Son, is the final Judge.

c. John 5:23 Jesus, the Son, is Worthy of worship.

d. John 5:26b Jesus, the Son, is       Self-sufficient

e. John John 5:39-40 Jesus, the Son, is Savior Alone.

This presents an amazing truth concerning the Person of Jesus Christ. The first eternal truth regarding God being One God Who is Father is not denied. Nonetheless, the equality of the Son with the Father is affirmed. So, how is it that both are true. From Jesus' teaching elsewhere (example: John 17:22-23), we find that He as the Son, and the Father as the Father, are two Persons sharing in the One nature of Deity. Concerning the little chart we noted earlier, where would this place Jesus in the Creator/Creation divide?

God, the Creator      The Creation
One God, Who is        Angels
The Father and          Humans
Who is the Son          Universe

With respect to Jesus' Divine nature, He is equal with the Father. But now, what about the fact that He is also man? Does this mean He ceased being equal with the Father? Remember, since Jesus' incarnation, He as One Person forever will expresses His existence in two ways: as truly God and truly man. If we were to appeal once more to our chart, it would fill out in the following way:

God, the Creator      The Creation
One God, Who is        Angels
The Father and          Humans
Who is the Son--------Jesus the man

Touching His human nature, Jesus operates on the creation side of the divide. Touching His Deity, He ever remains and operates on the Creator-side of the Divide with the Father. As Jesus walked this earth as a full-blooded man, He ever-retained His equality of nature and glory with the Father in the heavenly realms. His prayer in John 17:5 reminds us of His Pre-eternal. Such glory was retained by Christ and at His ascension was declared and reaffirmed in His exaltation. Amazingly, Jesus now retains the full-humanity He began partaking of from Mary's virgin womb - a reality which will forever cleave unto His Person. In short, Jesus Christ as God in human flesh is equal to the Father (and the Person of the Holy Spirit) with which He shares the One, eternal, Divine being as God. 

Closing thoughts
If Jesus Christ was not equal to the Father, then there would be no way He could provide salvation - since salvation is of the LORD (Isaiah 43:10-11; Jonah 2:9; Acts 4:11-12). As equal sharer in the One Divine nature with the Father, the Son of God came to our world to become an equal sharer with us in a truly human nature. If Jesus were not truly man, then He would be unable to be our Savior, since without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sin (Leviticus 17:10-11; Ephesians 1:7; Hebrews 9:27-28). As we have seen today, this is yet another truth that saves the soul.       

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