Why So Much Fuss About the Trinity, Part 4: Jesus the Prayer & Praise Receiving God

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Why So Much Fuss About the Trinity, Part 4: Jesus the Prayer & Praise Receiving God

In light of our last study, covering the reality of Jesus’ self-existence, we will now look at what that means, as it concerns how we should relate to Him. If indeed Jesus is Jehovah [Yahweh], this reveals clearly, why He would be worshipped throughout the entire Bible. This is significant, the reason being that if Jesus is anything but God, in the highest sense, if He is created, begotten, brought into existence, at some point far back during the ceaseless ages of eternity, so far back that it is almost like eternity, then He still is not worthy of worship. The reason is that He would not be God in the highest sense. Remember that Ellen White states “Christ was God essentially, and in the highest sense. He was with God from all eternity, God over all, blessed forevermore.”[1] A dissection of this statement is pivotal.

 

God Essentially

Firstly, “Christ is God essentially…” meaning that He is God in nature, in His very essence or to the core of his being. Yet, just in case someone might say, that means “He is God because the Father gave Him the power, to exist in that way,” we must look at the second part of the statement “and in the highest sense…” This means that as it relates to every aspect, in which the Father is God, to the highest degree, so is Christ. One aspect being that the Father was never begotten, everyone can agree on that point. If that is the case, that is the very reason why we must be careful in our understanding of word “begotten”, as it relates to Jesus Christ. Even if someone was wrestling with the first two parts of the statement, Ellen White goes on to say plainly “He was with God from all eternity…” How can One exist “from all eternity,” yet be begotten, in the sense of how many Anti-Trinitarians define “being begotten?” Respectfully, I would say that it is a contradiction. If Jesus is somehow not God, in the same way that God the Father is (as it relates to power and existence), this means that He is inferior in some way, or to some degree, and as a result, He is not God in the highest sense. This is why Ellen White uses some of the same concepts, redundantly in her writings, to make it clear who Jesus is. For Jesus to be inferior in any degree, as to what it means to be God, means that He may be supernatural, as angels are, but not God. The moment that a certain form of theology gets into the arena of an entity being created, or generated, is the moment eternal existence falls out of the picture; you cannot have both. Consequently, whatever wording we may use to explain that entity, it is not worthy of worship. It has fallen from the realm of the infinite to that of the finite. Someone cannot choose, to give someone else the ability, to exist from all eternity.

 

In light of that which we touched on above, it is vital for us to realize that the very reason Jesus is worthy of worship, is due to the fact, that he is eternal God, not a begotten God. In this article, we will look at a few instances in which he was worshipped or acknowledged as God, spanning from the Old Testament to the New Testament. There is a potent principle laid out in the John 1:18, that helps us to understand the gravity of who Jesus was in the Old Testament, as I touched on, at the end of the last article. In the King James Version of the Bible, John 1:18 states “No man hath seen God at any time, the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him.” In the English Standard Version, it says the same thing, this way “No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known.” In the New Living Translation, it says the theology behind the verse, even more directly, by saying “No one has ever seen God. But the unique One, who is himself God, is near to the Father’s heart. He has revealed God to us.”

 

The God that no one has seen, just by looking at the verse contextually, is the Father. This means that from the fall of man, all the way to the incarnation, no human being has ever seen God the Father. It is true that before the fall, Adam and Eve did have direct communion with the Father, for there was no sin separating them from seeing His face. However, after the transgression of our first parents, no man or woman since that time has ever seen the Father. This then begs the question, who was the God, who revealed Himself in the Old Testament? The book Desire of Ages, answers this question very clearly. It states:

“Ever since Adam’s sin, the human race had been cut off from direct communion with God [the Father]; the communication between heaven and earth had been through Christ; but now that Jesus had come “in the likeness of sinful flesh” (Romans 8:3), the Father Himself spoke [at Jesus’ baptism]. He had before communicated with humanity through Christ; now He communicated with humanity in Christ. Satan had hoped that God’s abhorrence of evil would bring an eternal separation between heaven and earth. But now it was manifest that the connection between God and man had been restored.”[2]

Notice the statement, speaking in the context of the incarnation, states that before the incarnation, God the Father communicated with man “through” Christ. Meaning that the One who spoke to Moses from the burning bush, was not the Father, but the Son. Jesus was the instrumentality, through which God communicated His messages to mankind in all the Old Testament. Hence, we read these two statements concerning Jesus in relation to the burning bush, and the guidance of Israel, by the pillar of fire by night, and the pillar of cloud by day:

 

“This great purpose [alluding to the coming of Christ in human form] had been shadowed forth in types and symbols. The burning bush, in which Christ appeared to Moses, revealed God.”[3] Notice according to this statement, Christ was already fulfilling John 1:18, by revealing the Father, in the Old Testament. Jesus was the One communicating with Moses in the burning bush.

The second statement concerning Mount Sinai, goes as follows “All the communion between heaven and the fallen race has been through Christ… Christ was not only the leader of the Hebrews in the wilderness—the Angel in whom was the name of Jehovah, and who, veiled in the cloudy pillar, went before the host—but it was He who gave the law to Israel. Amid the awful glory of Sinai, Christ declared in the hearing of all the people the ten precepts of His Father’s law. It was He who gave to Moses the law engraved upon the tables of stone.”[4]

 

This is an intense revelation, because if all communication between the Father and man was through Christ, then Adam, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Moses, the rest of the patriarchs and prophets, even all of Israel, when they worshipped or prayed, they were worshipping Jesus. He was the God leading them. The I AM, of the Old Testament. When the people fell prostrate to pay homage to the God leading them, it was Christ they were paying homage to. As established before, they could rightfully do this, because of Christ’s eternality. As eternal God, He had the perfect right to receive such worship. He was the self-existent God of the Old Testament, self-existent meaning, that the only one He depended on for His existence, was Himself.

 

Worship of Christ in the New Testament

The powerful thing about Jesus in the New Testament, is that even in light of His condescension through becoming man, He was still worthy of worship, because He was still eternal God. His condescension did not change His status, and what was due to Him. In John 9, concerning the story of the man born blind, we see a perfect example of Christ receiving worship. In this situation, after the man who was born blind was healed by Jesus, he was brought before the leaders of the Jewish nation to testify, but they rejected his testimony. A little later when Jesus came to him again, it is startling to see what takes place, in light of the subject we are covering. John 9:35-38 states:

Jesus heard that they had cast him out, and having found him he said, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?” He answered, “And who is he, sir, that I may believe in him?” Jesus said to him, “You have seen him, and it is he who is speaking to you.” He said, “Lord, I believe,” and he worshiped him.

In light of the statement “Lord, I believe,” and he worshiped him” the NIV Application Commentary states

The blind man thus becomes a model of every believer who embraces Jesus’ lordship and suffers persecution as a result. This is evident particularly in the double use of the Greek word kyrios in 9:36 and 38. In the first instance, kyrios simply means “sir” (NIV), to reflect the respect the man has for Jesus. But once Jesus unveils the true meaning of his personhood, the man’s attitude is transformed. Thus in 9:38 kyrios (“Lord”) parallels Thomas’s attitude of worship in 20:28; both men recognize that they are standing before a revelation of God.[5]

Notice, Jesus in this passage, is not just perceived as a channel through which God works, but far greater than this, He is seen as a revelation of God, and is worshiped as such by the blind man.

 

This leads into our last revelation of someone acknowledging Jesus as God in this article, but it is definitely not the last acknowledgment of Him as such, in the New Testament. It is seen at the latter part of the gospel of John, covering Thomas’ encounter with Jesus, after His resurrection. John 20: 25 states, that Thomas because he was not there to see when Jesus came to the twelve disciples, said “Unless I see in his hands the mark of the nails, and place my finger into the mark of the nails, and place my hand into his side, I will never believe.” Eight days later however, Jesus appeared again to his disciples, and this time Thomas was with them. Jesus, revealing that He heard what Thomas said, eight days prior, said to Thomas “Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side. Do not disbelieve, but believe.” (John 20:27) The response of Thomas, to this revelation, baffles the mind of many. Right there in that moment, Thomas ascended in His understanding of who Jesus was. Can you imagine, before this moment, Thomas saw Jesus raise others from the dead, but now Jesus Himself, the One who died a few days prior, was standing before him. In such an earth-shattering moment, we would all probably exclaim what Thomas said. No doubt, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, Thomas exclaimed “My Lord and my God.” Concerning the statement “My Lord and my God” the New American Commentary states:

“Thomas’ response forms the high point of the confession in the Gospel [of John]. What it does is bring the gospel full circle from the Prologue, where it is emphatically said that the “Word was God” (John 1:1) to this confession, “My Lord and my God.” In the process of writing the gospel the evangelist has proclaimed that Jesus was active in creation (1:2), the Word who became incarnate/enfleshed (1:14), the sin-bearing Lamb of God (1:29, 36), the Messiah (1:41; 4:25-26), the Son of God (1:48) …the Son of Man (9:35) …the bearer of truth (18:37), the crucified King (19:15), the risen Lord (20:20) and God (20:20).”[6]

 

Conclusion

In conclusion, via this article, we have seen that Jesus was indeed the self-existent God of the Old Testament. Because He is the self-existent One, He received worship, all throughout the Old Testament. It was not necessarily because of His power to provide for Israel, and work miracles for them, that He was worthy of worship. More than the superiority of miracle-working/physical power was the fact that He had that power because of His superior essence, meaning that Jesus is eternal in essence or by nature. All of the powers that He may possess as God, flows from this one reality. His eternal power, provision, all of His abilities that never wanes, stems from the reality that He is endless. For this reason, Jesus, like His Father, is worthy of worship, for both are eternal. And for this very reason, He has and forever will be worthy of worship, even from the time of His incarnation onward. From His eternal being, came His eternal power, to work glorious miracles, and for this reason, we read concerning His usage of that power, that

“neither did he hesitate to accept the honor offered him on these occasions [moments when he cleansed the leper or calmed the sea], nor seek to divert the minds of the people from himself, as though his miracles were not wrought by His own power.”[7]

He was worthy of the honor, for He knew that His infinite power to work miracles, was coming from the fact, that He was the infinite God.

Read the rest of Akeem’s series on the Trinity

______

Notes.

[1] Ellen White, The Word Made Flesh, (The Review and Herald, April 5, 1906), pg.8

[2] Ellen White, Desire of Ages (Mountain View, CA: Pacific Press, 1898) 116.

[3] Ellen White, Desire of Ages (Mountain View, CA: Pacific Press, 1898) 23.

[4] Ellen White, Patriarchs and Prophets (Washington, D.C.: Review and Herald Publishing Association) 366.

 

[5] Burge, Gary M., The NIV Application Commentary: John, (Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, MI 2000) 276.

[6] Borchet, Gerald L., The American Commentary: Vol. 25B: John 12-21, (Broadman & Holman Publishers, Nashville, Tennessee 2002) 314, 315.

[7] White, Ellen, Spirit of Prophecy, vol. 3, (Battle Creek, MI: Seventh-day Adventist Publishing Association, 1878) 277.

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About the author

Akeem James

Akeem James is originally from Trinidad and Tobago, and has lived in the United States since 2001. At the age of 16, he surrendered his life to Jesus Christ, and became a Seventh-day Adventist. Currently, he obtained his Masters in Divinity degree from Andrews University and is the director of Ultimate Cry Ministries.