The Sufficiency of Christ Distilled by John Calvin

“We see that our whole salvation and all its parts are comprehended in Christ [Acts 4:12]. We should therefore take care not to derive the least portion of it from anywhere else. If we seek salvation, we are taught by the very name of Jesus that it is “of him” [I Cor. 1:30]. If we seek any other gifts of the Spirit, they will be found in his anointing. If we seek strength, it lies in his dominion; if purity, in his conception; if gentleness, it appears in his birth. For by his birth he was made like us in all respects [Heb. 2:17] that he might learn to feel our pain [cf. Heb. 5:2]. If we seek redemption, it lies in his passion; if acquittal, in his condemnation; if remission of the curse, in his cross [Gal. 3:13]; if satisfaction, in his sacrifice; if purification, in his blood; if reconciliation, in his descent into hell; if mortification of the flesh, in his tomb; if newness of life, in his resurrection; if immortality, in the same; if inheritance of the Heavenly Kingdom, in his entrance into heaven; if protection, if security, if abundant supply of all blessings, in his Kingdom; if untroubled expectation of judgment, in the power given to him to judge. b(a)In short, since rich store of every kind of good abounds in him, let us drink our fill from this fountain, and from no other. Some men, not content with him alone, are borne hither and thither from one hope to another; even if they concern themselves chiefly with him, they nevertheless stray from the right way in turning some part of their thinking in another direction. Yet such distrust cannot creep in where men have once for all truly known the abundance of his blessings.”
–Institutes of the Christian Religion, pp. 527-528

God’s Grace In Justifying the Sinner – Robert Traill

GOD’S GRACE IN JUSTIFYING THE SINNER

A Sermon by

Robert Traill

Galatians 2:21 – “I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain.”

The scope of the apostle Paul in this epistle, is to reprove the church that he writes to, for a great and sudden apostasy from that faith of the gospel that they were planted in: the apostle Paul himself was one of the main planters amongst them; and quickly after his removal from them false brethren crept in amongst them, and perverted them from the simplicity that was in Christ: their great error lay here, in mixing the works of the law with the righteousness of Christ, in the grand point of the justification of a sinner before God. Throughout this epistle the apostle argues strongly against this error: they had not renounced the doctrine of Christ; they did not deny justification by faith in him; but they thought that the works of the law were to be added to their faith in Christ, in order to their justification.

I shall only take notice briefly of a few of his arguments against this error, as they lie in the context, to lead you to the words that I have read, and mean to speak to.

The former part of the chapter is historical, telling them what he had done, and what had befallen him some years ago; how he was entertained and received by the great servants of Christ at Jerusalem, Peter, James, and John, that seemed to be pillars, and were indeed so: see the first ten verses. The next thing that he breaks forth into, in point of arguing with them, is upon the account of Peter’s dissimulation, and Paul’s reproof of him: the point seemed to be very small; Peter had made use of his Christian liberty in free converse with the believing Gentiles; but when some of the brethren of the Jews came from Jerusalem, he withdrew himself, and separated from them, fearing them of the circumcision; “fearing that they would take it ill:” a weak kind of fear it was, and upon this small thing the apostle set himself against him with great zeal. I withstood him, saith he, to the face, because he was to be blamed, ver. 11. By this withdrawing the use of his Christian liberty, he hardened the Jews, and he weakened the hands of the weaker Jewish converts, that thought the wall of partition between the Jews and Gentiles was not yet taken away.

First, his argument against mingling the works of the law with faith in justification, is taken from the practice of the believing Jews. What way did they take to be justified? We who are Jews by nature, and not sinners of the Gentiles, knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ; even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law; for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified, ver. 15, 16.

Secondly, his next argument is taken from the bad effect and sad consequence of seeking righteousness by the law, ver. 17, which, because it is something dark, I would explain it a little in a few words: But if, while we seek to be justified by Christ, we ourselves are also found sinners, is therefore Christ the minister of sin? God forbid. If so be we that have sought righteousness in Jesus Christ, if we have yet any dealings with the law in point of righteousness, we are found sinners still; and if a justified man be found a sinner, why then Jesus Christ, instead of delivering us from the bondage of the law, is found a minister of sin.

Thirdly, his third argument is yet strongest of all, and some way the darkest, ver. 20. For I through the law am dead unto the law, that I might live unto God. As if he should have said, “For my part, all the use that I got of the law, the more. I was acquainted with it, it slew me the more, and I died the more to it, that I might live to God; all that the law can do to me in point of justification, is only to condemn me, and it can do no more;” and whenever the law enters into a man’s conscience it always does this: When the commandment came, sin revived, and I died: the commandment slew me (Rom. 7:9, 11 ).

Fourthly, his next argument is taken from the nature of the new life that he led, ver. 20. I am crucified with Christ, nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh, I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.” Words of extraordinary form, but of more extraordinary matter: words that one would think seem to be some way cross to one another: but yet they set forth gloriously that gracious life that through Christ Jesus is imparted to justified believers. “Christ died for me, and I am crucified with Christ; and yet I live, but it is Christ that lives in me, and Christ lives in me only by faith.”

My text contains two arguments more, drawn from a common natural head of arguing against error, by the absurdities that necessarily flow from it; and they are two the greatest that can be, “Frustrating the grace of God,”—and “making the death of Christ to be in vain.” And greater sins are not to be committed by men: the greatest sin, the unpardonable sin, is expressed in words very like to this, Heb. 10:29—”Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden underfoot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite to the Spirit of grace?” And how near to one another are frustrating the grace of God, and doing despite to the Spirit of grace, and making Christ’s death to be in vain, and counting the blood of the covenant an unholy thing!

There are two words to be explained before we go any further: First, what is the grace of God? Secondly, what is it to frustrate the grace of God?

First, what is the grace of God? The grace of God hath two common noted acceptations in the Scripture.

First, it is taken and used in the Scripture for the doctrine of the grace of God, and so it is frequently used; the gospel itself is called the grace of God (Tit. 2:12). The grace of God, that bringeth salvation, hath appeared unto all men: that is, the gospel; for it is the teaching grace of God that is there spoken of, called by the apostle, the gospel of his grace. And this grace of God may be received in vain. Many may have this grace of God and go to hell. Pray that you receive not the grace of God in vain.

Secondly, by the grace of God in the word is understood the blessing itself; and this is never frustrated; that grace that called Paul, that grace that wrought mightily with him, that was not given him in vain: the grace that was bestowed was not in vain, for I laboured more abundantly than they all; yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me. The gospel of the grace of God is frequently frustrated, but the grace itself is never so.

Secondly, what is it to frustrate this grace of God? The word that I remember in the original is used, Mark 7:9—Ye make void (or reject) the commandments of God. It is the same word with that in my text: to frustrate the grace of God, is to defeat it of its end, to miss the end of it. In Luke 7:30 it is said the Pharisees and Lawyers frustrated the grace of God against themselves; or, as we read it there, they rejected the counsel of God against themselves. The true grace of God itself can never be frustrated, it always reaches its end, for it is almighty: but the doctrine of the grace of God is many times rejected; and the apostle here in the text speaks of it as a sin that they are guilty of that speak of righteousness by the works of the law. There is one thing that I would observe in general from the scope of the apostle, that in the great matter of justification the apostle argues from his own experience: the true way to get sound light in the main point of the justification of a sinner before God, is to study it in thy own personal concern; if it be bandied about by men as a notion only, as a point of truth, discoursing wantonly about it, it is all one in God’s sight whether men be sound or unsound about it; they are unsound in heart how sound soever they are in head about it. The great way to know the right mind of God about the justification of a poor sinner, is for all to try it with respect to themselves. Would the apostle say, “1 know how I am justified, and all the world shall never persuade me to join the righteousness of the law with the righteousness of Christ.”

There are four points of doctrine that I would raise, and observe from the first part of these words:

First, that the grace of God shines gloriously in the justifying of a sinner through the righteousness of Christ.

Secondly, it is a horrible sin to frustrate the grace of God.

Thirdly, All that seek righteousness by the law do frustrate the grace of God in the gospel.

Fourthly, that no sound believer can be guilty of this sin.

I would speak to the first of these at this time: “That the grace of God shines gloriously in the justifying of a sinner by the righteousness of Christ alone.” When the apostle speaks of it, how frequently is this term grace added? Being justified freely by his grace, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, Rom. 3:24. That being justified by his grace, we might be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.

There are four things to be explained here, that will make our way plain to the proof of this point. What is justification? Who is it that doth justify? Who are justified? And upon what account?

First, what is justification? We read much of it in our Bible, and the doctrine of it is reckoned one of the fundamental points of the true Christian religion, and so indeed it is. This grand doctrine, the fountain of our peace, and comfort, and salvation, was wonderfully darkened in the Popish kingdom; and the first light of the reformation, that God was pleased to break up in our forefathers’ days, was mainly about this great doctrine. Justification is not barely the pardon of sin; it is indeed always inseparable from it, the pardon of sin is a fruit of it, or a part of it. Justification is God’s acquitting a man, and freeing him from all attainder; it is God’s taking off the attainder that the broken law of God lays upon every sinner. Who is he that shall condemn? It is God that justifies, Rom. 8:33. Justification and condemnation are opposites; every one is under condemnation that is not justified; and every justified man is freed from condemnation. Justification is not sanctification; it is an old Popish error, sown in the heads of a great many Protestants. to think that justification and sanctification are the same: justification’ and sanctification are as far different as these two:—There is a man condemned for high treason against the king by the judge; and the same man is Sick of a modal disease and if he dies not by the hands of the hangman today, he may die of his disease tomorrow: it is the work of the physician to cure the disease, but it is an act of mercy from the king that must save him from the attainder. Justification is the acquitting and repealing the law-sentence of condemnation; sanctification is the healing of the disease of sin, that will be our bane except Christ be our physician.

Justification and sanctification are always inseparable, but they are wonderfully distinct. Justification is an act of God’s free grace; sanctification is a work of God’s Spirit: sanctification is a work wrought within us, justification is something done about us, and therefore justification is every where spoken of in the word in the terms of a court act.

Secondly, who is he that justifies? I answer God only: Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that justifies, who shall condemn? Rom. 8:33. He only can justify that gives the law: he only can justify that condemns for sin: he only can justify that is wronged by sin, Mark 2:7. The Pharisees blasphemed, it was in their darkness; but yet the truth that they spake was good, though the application of it was quite naught: Why doth this man speak blasphemies? Who can forgive sin, but God only? In the case of the man sick of the palsy, whose sins Christ first forgave before he healed him of the palsy—so that the forgiveness of his sins was his justification, and the healing of his disease was as if it were the type of his sanctification—-their application was wrong, in that they did not know that Christ was God, and that he had power on earth to forgive sins: but the truth itself was sound—”none can forgive sins but God only.”

Justification is an act of the judge; it is only the judge and lawgiver that can pronounce it: and there is but one law-giver, saith James, that can both save and destroy, chap. 4:12. “None properly offended by sin but God, and nothing violated by sin so immediately as the law of God.”

Thirdly, who is justified? Every one is not justified. What sort of a man is he that is justified? Justification is the acquitting of a man from all attainder, and it is God’s doing alone; but what sort of a man is it that is justified? !s it a holy man? A man newly come from heaven? Is it a new sort of a creature, rarely made and framed? No. It is a sinner: it is an ungodly man: “God justifies the ungodly.”

The man is not made godly before he is justified, nor is he left ungodly after he is justified; he is not made godly a moment before he is justified, but he is justified from his ungodliness by the sentence of justification: when he is dead in sins and trespasses, quickening comes, and life comes, Eph. 2:1.

Fourthly, upon what account is all this done? And this is the hardest of all. You have heard that justification is the freeing of a man from all charge, and that it is done by God alone, and given to a man before he can do anything of good—for no man can do anything that is good till he be sanctified, and no man is sanctified till he is justified—but the grand question is, How can God justly do this? Saith the apostle, Rom. 3:26. That he might be just, and the justifier of him that believeth in Jesus. How can God be just, and yet justify an ungodly man? “To justify the wicked, and to condemn the righteous, are both an abomination in the sight of God,” when practised by man, Prov. 17:15. How then can God justify the ungodly? The grand account of this is, God justifies the ungodly for the sake of nothing in himself, but solely upon the account of this righteousness of Christ, that the apostle is here arguing upon: Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Jesus Christ, whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, Rom. 3:24, 25. When God justifies a man, the righteousness of Christ is reckoned to him, and God deals with him as a man in Christ; and therefore his transgressions are covered, and the man is made the righteousness of God in Christ, because Christ is made of God unto him righteousness, I Cor. 1:30. Of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us righteousness. Where is the poor man’s righteousness that is justified? It is in Christ Jesus. For, 2 Cor. 5:21, he hath made him to be sin for us who knew no sin, that we might be made the righteousness of God in him. And to be made the righteousness of God, is nothing else but to be made righteous before God in and through Jesus Christ.

These things considered, the proof of this point is very easy—That the grace of God shines gloriously in the way of justifying a sinner by the righteousness of Jesus Christ: I shall therefore add but a few things more in the proof of it.

First, in this way all is of God, and nothing of the creature’s procuring, and therefore it is of grace. Grace always shines most brightly where man appears least; every thing that tends to advance the power and efficacy of man’s working, always hinders the shining forth of the glory of the grace of God; but in this way of justifying us through the righteousness of Christ, grace shines forth most gloriously, because it is all of God: we do nothing in it. To instance in a few things here,

First, the finding out of this righteousness by which we are justified is of God alone. If the question had been put to all the angels in heaven, and to many worlds of men, if this one question had been put, How can a just and holy God justify a sinner?, no created understanding could ever have been able to find out how it could be done; it was the infinite wisdom of God alone that found out this way. He will send his own Son to be a sinless man, that shall sustain the persons, and bear the sins, and take away the sins of all that shall be justified. The native sense of all mankind is this: when we know any thing of God, we know that it stands with his nature to condemn sin, and hate the sinner; but how it can stand with his justice to acquit a sinner; it is God only that could find out that.

Secondly, as the finding out of the way of our justification is of God alone, so the working out of it is Christ’s alone. There was no creature of God’s counsel in finding out the way, so there was no creature Christ’s helper in making the way. All the great work of fulfilling the righteousness of the law was done by Christ alone; none could offer to help in the great work of bearing the weight of his Father’s wrath, and bearing the burden of the justice of God, for the sins of his church. Our Lord was the alone bearer of this, he alone brought in everlasting righteousness, and put away sin by the sacrifice of himself, Heb. 9:26.

Thirdly, the applying of this righteousness is only of God alone. It is the work of the Holy Spirit to bring it close unto the sinner by faith: and here we have as little to do as in the former. There was none of God’s everlasting council in the finding out this way, nor had Christ any helper in the work of redemption; and we help the Spirit of God as little in his work of applying this: for till the grace of God prevails upon the heart, there is a constant struggling against it. There are many poor sinners that have struggled with the Spirit of God, seeking to save them, more than many believers have ever strove with Satan, seeking to destroy them. All unbelievers are led more tamely to hell by the devil, than believers are led quietly to heaven by the Spirit of God.

Fourthly, the securing all this by the everlasting covenant is of God only. We seal God’s covenant by our faith for the benefit of it; but it is Christ’s great seal that is its security, even the seal of his own blood. This is my blood of the New Testament, which is shed for many, for the remission of sins, Matt. 26:28. And so much for this first thing: The grace of God shines gloriously in the way of justifying a sinner by the righteousness of Christ; because it is altogether of God, the sinner hath no hand in it.

Secondly, this will further appear, if we consider what vile creatures the receivers of it are; they have nothing to procure it, nothing to deserve it, but a great deal to deserve the contrary. In, that Romans 5 they have three names; ver. 6 we are called ungodly; In due time Christ died for the ungodly. Ver. 8 we are called sinners; Whilst we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Ver. 10 we are called enemies; When we were enemies, were reconciled to God by the death of his Son. Here are three names; Ungodly! Sinners! Enemies!

The highest words whereby ill-deserving can be well expressed; and it is the usual way of the Spirit of God, to lay open the worst in a poor sinner, when God is about to give the best and all they that receive it, receive this grace under these names. God be merciful to me a sinner, saith the poor publican; and this man, saith our Lord, went down to his house justified, Luke 18:13, 14. Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief, saith Paul, I Tim. 1:15.

And not only is it so that they are undeserving and unworthy, but they are also very proud and vain, and have a great opinion of themselves; and must it not be great grace then to justify such men? Thou sayest I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing, saith our Lord to the church of Laodicea, and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked: even when Christ is courting them to buy of him his gold and white raiment, Rev. 3:17, 18.

Thirdly, the grace of God in justifying a sinner through the righteousness of Christ appears to be very glorious, even in the very naming of it: it is the grace of God: it must be great grace, for it is the grace of God: it is the grace of a holy God: it is the grace of a just God; it is the grace of a powerful God: it is the grace of that God that can do every thing; every name that exalts the glory of God, doth also raise the value of this grace: it is the grace of God towards vile sinners, and that makes it great indeed. Let us consider this grace of God a little.

This grace of God is dear to God; and therefore it is the more grace. The grace of God in justifying us is dear to God; it cost the Father dear to part with his own Son; it cost the Son dear to part with his own life to bring in this righteousness; and, if I may so say, it cost the Holy Ghost dear to work the faith of this righteousness in the heart of a poor sinner. When we consider how all things else that God did were easily done but this: when the world was to be made, no more is to be done, but “Let it be;” but when the world was to be redeemed, “Let it be” will not do; a body must be prepared for the Son, and that body must be sacrificed for sin, and be slain, and sustain the wrath of God, and the curse of the law; and all this to bring in an everlasting righteousness.

Again: This grace that was so dear to God comes to us good cheap, we give nothing for it: the Lord will take nothing for it, we have nothing to give: the apostle does not think it enough to say being justified by his grace, but he adds, being justified FREELY by his grace, Rom. 3:24. Whosoever will, let him take of the water of life FREELY, Rev. 22:17. Taking implies some freedom in it, but taking freely is a redoubling of the expression. This grace of God, that is so dear to God, comes good cheap to us, it cost us nothing.

Again, this grace of God is everlasting; it is the eternal raiment of all believers, even of them that are in heaven. Saith the apostle, Rom 5:21, Grace reigns through righteousness unto eternal life, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Observe, neither grace, nor righteousness, nor eternal life, nor Jesus our Lord, cease in heaven; they are all there together; Christ as the author of eternal life, and worker of righteousness; and the believer as the possessor of eternal life, and the enjoyer of this life; and grace as the high spring of all; grace is in heaven; the reign of grace is only in heaven. That of Revelation 19:8 is by most understood to relate to the other world; and it is said there, that “unto the Lamb’s wife it was granted to be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white;” and that fine linen is the righteousness of Christ, in which the saints stand everlastingly accepted before God. Behold I and the children that thou hast given me! saith our Lord, Heb. 2:13, and their glory in heaven is to behold the glory that he had with the Father, as their head, before the world began, John 17:24.

Again, it is grace, because it is very abundant: it is a usual thing in the Old Testament to call great things by the name of God, as the trees of God, the city of God, the river of God; now this grace of God is so-called because it is great, exceedingly abundant: saith the apostle Paul concerning it, The grace of our Lord Jesus was exceeding abundant towards me, I Tim. 1:14. Did ever any of you know how many sins you had? Yet you must have a great deal more grace, or you can never be saved; there must be more grace than sin, or you cannot be saved, Rom. 5:20. The law entered that sin might abound: but where sin abounded grace did much more abound. I do not say, no man can be saved unless he hath more inherent grace than he hath inherent corruption in him; but, unless there be a greater abundance of the grace of God for covering of sin, than there is of sin to be covered, no man can be saved: the apostle adds a much more abundance to it. One would think there was enough of sin and guilt in the disobedience of the first Adam; and so there was: but, saith the apostle, the matter is far greater here: And not as it was by one that sinned, so is the gift; for the judgment was by one to condemnation; but the free gift is of many offences unto justification: for if by one man’s offence death reigned by one, much more they that receive abundance of grace, and of the gift of righteousness, shall reign in life, by one, Christ Jesus, ver. 16, 17 of that fifth chapter of Romans. There is abundance of grace, and of the gift of righteousness through Jesus Christ, needful to save any sinner. When the Lord makes this matter to balance in the eyes of his people, and there are great discoveries made to them of the aggravations and of the multitude of their sins; this is a common wicked thought arising in their awakened consciences: Can God forgive? Can God pass by so many and so great transgressions? It is a sinful thought, the plain meaning of it is, “Is there more grace in God than there is sin and guilt with me?” We were all undone if it was not so; if Christ’s righteousness was not more able to justify than the first Adam’s sin was to condemn, no man could be saved.—The grace of God shines in this way of the justification of a sinner by the righteousness of Christ, in that there is an abundance of it imparted to all them that partake of it.

APPLICATION. You have heard that the grace of God shines gloriously in the justification of a sinner by the righteousness of Christ: in all your dealings, then, with God, mind grace mainly: they that never had an errand to God for .the blessing of justification, they may possibly be saved; but they are not yet in the way to salvation that were never yet concerned about this question, How shall a man be acquitted before God? Or that never treated, with God about justification? In all your dealings with God still remember grace: when you come for justification, plead for it as grace: when you receive it, receive it as grace: and when you praise for it, praise for it as grace; and thus will you behave as the people of God have done. When you plead for it, plead for it as grace; bring nothing with you in your hand, offer nothing to God for your justification; it is a free gift: if God be pleased to give it, in his great bounty, you shall be saved. You have no reason to quarrel if God doth not give it: you have nor reason to fear but God will give it. Though you do not deserve it, yet he hath promised it. As there is a fulness of righteousness in Christ to procure grace, so there is a fulness of grace in the tender of the gospel; and you are to believe that Christ is willing to make all this over to sinners.

When you receive justification, receive it as grace; sometimes we get it as an alms, and sometimes in the gospel the Lord offers it as a gift, and we are to receive it as such. if the Lord tenders you the gift of righteousness through Jesus Christ, do not say you cannot receive it; do not say you are not meet for it; the question is, Are you in need of it? Are you not guilty?. And is not a pardon suitable for the guilty? Receive it as a grace. The true reason why so many neglect right dealing with God for justification, and slight God’s dealing with them about receiving it, is because their hearts stand at a distance from, and they have a sort of a quarrel with mere grace. As it is certain that nothing but grace can save the sinner, so it is as certain there is nothing more unpleasing to the sinner than grace; than that good, which when received he must always own the bounty of the giver, and never to eternity be able to say, “My own hand hath made me rich.” Christ will bring none to heaven that are in that mind. He that will not be rich in Christ, must be poor and condemned still in the first Adam. Know ye not, saith the apostle, the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, who though he was rich, yet he became poor, that we through his poverty might be made rich, 2 Cor. 8:9. The riches of a believer stands in the poverty of Christ; and every true believer counts Christ’s poverty his riches.

Union With Christ

Union with Christ, to be “in Christ”, is a powerful description of our personal relationship to God in Christ, and to one another corporately. The following link will take you to episode 123 of the EFCA Theology Podcast, where pastor Dr. Erik Thoennes shares theological and pastoral insights that may prove helpful for you.

“Union with Christ” with Dr. Erik Thoennes

During the discussion, Dr. Thoennes mentions two resources:

 

Jesus Christ / Jehovah’s Witnesses Q&A, part 2

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An Evangelical Response to the April 1, 2012 Watchtower.

The Watchtower has a thing about Jesus Christ. They write about him regularly. A careful reading of the Bible alongside their publications reveals significant differences between what the Bible says, and what the Watchtower says about Jesus.

The April 1, 2012 Watchtower is another attempt to build a persuasive case for their specific understanding of Jesus; who he is, what he has done, and why it matters to us today.

Claiming to present “the answers to our questions”, the article contains many misunderstandings, errors, and even deception.  Rather than presenting reliable and accurate answers taken from the Bible, they paint a picture of Jesus which is flawed in critical ways. The Watchtower Jesus is another Jesus, not Jesus Christ from the Bible.

Let’s look at one of the question and answers. The Watchtower writes:

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The Watchtower position in this specific answer can be broken down and summarized in two specific thoughts:
1) Jesus’ subordination to God demonstrates that he never considered himself equal to God.
2) Jesus distinguished between himself and God, showing they are separate persons. The Watchtower sees in this an explicit denial by Jesus of being God.

Worldview and Philosophy
Few of us are trained philosophers, but we are all philosphers nonetheless. We construct a philosophical worldview at a personal level which acts as a filter through which we try to make sense of the world. Worldviews – everyone has one, and they are always philosophical in nature. The Watchtower “answer” above contains several philosophical ideas.

A Few Words About a Few Words
Subordination

Equality

Personhood

Being

First, subordination is a statement about what a person does in relation to a position or office… the position they occupy in a constructed hierarchy. For example, a front-line employee in a corporation is subordinate to their supervisor or manager. Within an organization, an employee is rightly said to be subordinate to their boss in position or rank. But take note that this subordination is not a statement concerning the employee’s essential being. It does not concern their inherent worth as a human compared with the inherent worth of their boss’s humanity. A boss is not a higher order human being compared to the employees under them. In other words, subordinate in position is not a statement concerning someone’s essence or being, their nature.

Personhood

Second, the Watchtower approaches personhood as though our exerience of personhood is the norm, the standard of existence for all beings, including Almighty God. This is an assumption on the part of the Watchtower.

Response

Our response will be wide-ranging. It simply must be. The Bible is filled with teachings, allusions, types, poetry, and prophecies concerning who Jesus is. In fact, we will even see passages from the Old Testament concerning Jehovah taken up and applied by New Testament authors to Jesus. It has been said by others that we can find Jesus on every page of the Bible. To understand who he is, we must spend time and energy seeking throughout the breadth of biblical revelation God has gifted us with.

This wide-ranging examination is in contrast to the Watchtower’s approach. As pointed out in our initial look at this edition of the Watchtower, they limit their investigation into who Jesus is by examining only what Jesus said about himself in the gospels. The Watchtower’s limitation on the evidence and testimony they will consider is an artificial one, one that ignores the incredible nature of the Word of God concerning its own internal unity and claims to inspiration by God.

And yet… this little article is but a nick on a corner, a bare scratching the surface of all the Bible has to say about Jesus. I feel my inadequacy quite sharply, but also the awesome power of God who uses His Word in the winning of souls to the kingdom. Onward.

To develop a grounded and well-formed answer to the question posed, “Is Jesus actually God?”, we will examine five main testimonies:

1) What does God say?
2) What does Jesus say?
3) What do Jesus’ friends say?
4) What do Jesus’ enemies say?
5) What does all of creation say?

1) What does God say?

Is Jesus actually God? Should we consider what God has to say about such a critical question? When we examine the claims of the Bible concerning its inspiration from God, then what he says in the Bible is supremely important, revealing details we would otherwise be ignorant of.

All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet:  “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son,and they shall call his name Immanuel”(which means, God with us).  (Matthew 1:22-23)

The Lord has set the stage, bringing about the fulfillment of his long-standing promise, bringing to us a son born of a virgin, whose name is Immanuel. This name means “God with us”. An exceptional child, where both the means of his birth and his name bear testimony of his unique nature. In this one little passage, we see the incarnation of the Son of God in action. His unique conception is so designed by God to bring about the only appropriate response. “Immanuel. God with us.”

Immanuel arrives as no other has, for “the virgin shall conceive and bear a son.” God is involved with this little life in an entirely unique way, opening vistas before us which are unimaginable apart from this great act of God’s mercy. This profound miracle bears the weight of God’s testimony, even “God with us”.

Let that sink in for a moment. God delivered a message long ago by the prophet that an even-better message would be given. God, in his providence, brought about the fulfillment of this prophecy which would deliver a more sure word of God’s gracious mercy; the birth of the son Immanuel. This special one, whose arrival had been anticipated and longed-for by the people of God for many centuries, had arrived. He is, in the best and fullest sense, “God with us”.

“Is Jesus actually God?”

To be “God with us” in the context of Hebrew monotheism is not meaningless, nor is Immanuel a throwaway name. When Almighty God, who is jealous for his own glory, identifies the virgin-born as “God with us”, we have no choice but to sit up and take notice. In every way, the Lord is careful and takes great pains to ensure we do not confuse him with his creation. Here we see, not a moment of divine dementia, but instead the opening of our eyes to the absolutely unique person of Jesus Christ. God is using this ancient message from the prophet Isaiah, even today, to tell people everywhere who Jesus is. He is no mere man. He is man, indeed fully man, but also far, far more.

For this is he who was spoken of by the prophet Isaiah when he said, “The voice of one crying in the wilderness:Prepare the way of the Lord;make his paths straight.’”  (Matthew 3:3)

which itself is a quote from the prophet Isaiah: 

A voice cries:“In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord;make straight in the desert a highway for our God. (Isaiah 40:3)

John the Baptist’s work is seen as preparing the way of the Lord. When you look at his personal context, he is understood to be the forerunner of Jesus. When you look at his prophetic context, he is seen as preparing the way for Jehovah. Readers of the New World Translation take note, Jehovah and Jesus are connected here in a profound way. A clear reference to Jehovah in Isaiah has become a proclamation of Jesus’ arrival. The predicted forerunner of Jehovah is now known as the forerunner of Jesus.

God’s prophet pictures nothing less than the arrival of Jehovah as king of his people. God’s predicted forerunner, announcing his arrival as the savior king, is John the Baptist. Matthew recognizes this king, this messiah predicted. He is Jesus.

I recognize the wilderness spoken of here by John the Baptist. The desert is familiar territory. My life of sin and futile rebellion are pictured vividly in all their stark emptiness. But wait. One is coming who can change all of that, for me, for you, for all who would repent. John calls us to the Lamb of God, given for our sin, that we would be raised to new life in Him.

And when Jesus was baptized, immediately he went up from the water, and behold, the heavens were opened to him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming to rest on him; and behold, a voice from heaven said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.” (Matthew 3:16-17)

The Father speaks! His good pleasure in his son is tenderly displayed here in all its vast infinity. When God speaks, we must listen. This one, rising from the waters of baptism (not for remission of sins but rather to fulfill all righteousness) is the beloved Son of God. Beloved by the Almighty. Oh, what soaring affirmation that lifts the human heart to adore this same one beloved by the Father! We do well to place our feet in the footsteps of the Father, as a toddler imitates the gait of his daddy, to commit our hearts in full-orbed love for this Savior, this Son of the Father.

See, God does not say “my first and only direct creation”, as the Watchtower would have us believe. If our own family relationships are to teach us anything, it must be grasped by all but the most profoundly abused, that a son’s position of esteem in a father’s heart is not equivalent to a mild happiness in a well-designed robot he constructed. By no means! My sons and daughters are in my heart, for they are flesh of my flesh and my blood courses in their veins. He is my son! She is my daughter! They are my beloved ones. Let all other constructs, labors, and inventions be cursed forever in comparison. The greatest achievement of my mind or hands shares no glory in my heart beside my own children. They are of a separate order, a unique and precious gift from the Father, and all “things” are unworthy of comparison.

Read again this testimony of the Father for his son. Does this testimony of God reverberate in your hearing, or does it fall flat to the ground, as if the Father professes some good will for an elevator or clever toaster? The Watchtower would instruct you to believe Jesus is only a mere creature, a derived, dependent, temporarily-existing finite human with some extra memories of someone else’s existence injected into his mind. But the testimony of God speaks volumes more about this one, this Son of God, well-pleasing to the Father.

He [Peter] was still speaking when, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him.” (Matthew 17:5)

On the mount of transfiguration, as Jesus’ appearance is changed miraculously before the small circle of disciples, the Father speaks from within the bright cloud. He speaks again of his beloved Son, just as he did at Jesus’ baptism. Here we see the beloved, well-pleasing Son displayed in veiled heavenly glory.

Jesus is not some kind of creaturely retread, or Michael-recycled. To picture the Most High, who is jealous of His own glory, sharing the stage with Jesus feels unsettling, out of order, if all we have here is a fancy glowing man.

This scene is not the adding of glory to one who did not possess it. It is not a preview of some other creature’s so-called “honor” (hint: the Watchtower’s Michael-recycled), given in a vision to the unsuspecting and certainly confused disciples in attendance. Instead, it is the partial unveiling of the Lord of Glory. Jesus, arrayed in splendor, announced by the Father, is the well-pleasing one, his Beloved Son. As one has described it, “This tranfiguration of Jesus is the appetizer, whetting our appetite for the full display of His glory in heaven.”

And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. (Luke 2:10-11)

Good news of great joy, not only for those of Bethlehem, not only for the Jews, not only for those alive at that time. Christ the Lord is born this day, which is news of great joy for all people. This is great news for our joy today, for you and for me. The Savior, the Messiah, has arrived. At the time of his birth, he is Christ the Lord; which again, is quite a departure from the “food in due season” provided by the Watchtower organization.

Something as simple and straight-forward as this announcement from God, delivered by angels, becomes twisted, convoluted, and non-sensical in the hands of the Watchtower. In it’s simplicity, “unto you is born this day… a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.” The Watchtower says, “a creature has been miraculously born, who is not ‘the Christ’ yet, who is not the Savior yet but who does have some impersonal connection with an angel named Michael (who no longer exists)… but this little one who will become the Christ at his baptism will also be granted memories of that angel named Michael at that time, so that he will know things that angel experienced but which has no connection to him in his current state or labor. These memories will strengthen the resolve of this Messiah, but we’re not sure why.”

The Watchtower’s message isn’t good news. This mess of make-believe is not coming from the text. God’s word stands sure. The child born is Christ the Lord, which is news our worn and weary world needs.

2) What does Jesus say?

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’ (Matthew 7:21-23)

In describing apparent devout religious Jews, the doubled “Lord” is superbly placed within the account of Jesus as judge of all. “Lord” was a common term among Jews of Jesus’ time to refer to Jehovah. The doubled “Lord, Lord” pictured in the final judgment here bears even more dignity, and it is addressed to Jesus himself. What a perfect opportunity for Jesus to set the record straight, if their error was believing he was equal with God. Yet, his rebuke is not about this profession. Instead, it is about the dissonance between their profession and their lives. Although they thought most highly of Jesus in the world of ideas, they lived a life contradicting that very belief. They were “workers of lawlessness.”

Jesus elevates himself here as the judge of all, the one in whom we may safely place our faith and to whom we may rightly live. This is not a picture of some blank-slate creature who has been hijacked by Jehovah through brain-washing techniques to think it is someone else (as the Watchtower proposes).

Jesus pictures himself, in a devout religious Jewish context, as “Lord, Lord”, fully knowing the weight borne by the title in this specific cultural context. This is not, “Sir”, or “Sir, Sir”, or even “Your Highness” as we may think is being said in our current setting. This is a form of address where the Most High is meant. If Jesus was simply and merely being misunderstood by his hearers, this is the perfect opportunity to set the record straight. But instead of denying his Deity, he frames their judgment in the context of them addressing him as the One True God, without comment or editorial on this aspect of their profession. Dear friends, Jesus is “Lord, Lord” in every aspect, in every act, in very nature God.

And behold, some people brought to him a paralytic, lying on a bed. And when Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Take heart, my son; your sins are forgiven.” And behold, some of the scribes said to themselves, “This man is blaspheming.” But Jesus, knowing their thoughts, said, “Why do you think evil in your hearts? For which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Rise and walk’? But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”—he then said to the paralytic—“Rise, pick up your bed and go home.” And he rose and went home. (Matthew 9:2-7)

The Savior has arrived, demonstrating his true nature in the most practical of ways. The invisible greater miracle precedes the visible lesser one. The lesser miracle stands as testimony of the greater, that all would see and understand that forgiveness of sins pronounced by Jesus is real, true, and authentic. The true Savior grants true forgiveness.

If we would look merely on the surface, healing the paralyzed man may appear to be the more profound, life-changing miracle. But elevating the outward physical manifestation over the inward spiritual reality is to turn Jesus’ work inside out. The man has been forgiven of all his offenses, all his detriment, all his unbelief and rebellion and hardness of heart, committed personally against and in opposition to God Himself. The previously-paralyzed-but-now-healed, previously-dead-in-sin-but-now-alive has a clean record and a lasting peace with the Almighty, which shall never end. Jesus’ forgiveness has brought life where there was no life, strength where there was no strength, hope where there was no hope. He sends the man home, whole and healed, inside and out, walking in spirit and in body, where there was only death and paralysis before.

It is no blasphemy that Jesus commits here, but it is true and real forgiveness of offenses against the Almighty. Pause to consider something… if I were to say to your most hate-fueled enemy, “I forgive you all your offenses against Joe V. Witness (insert your name there)”, could you accept that this person was now fully, freely, and completely forgiven by you? This person who has sought to offend you in the most personal and repugnant ways: lying, slandering, abusing, stealing, cursing, beating, and dismissing you as well as oppressing your family in the most injurious ways; this one now has a clean slate with you based on my word? Would that be acceptable in your eyes? Of course not! “Who are you to forgive them for me?”

All things have been handed over to me by my Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him. (Matthew 11:27)

In the broader context of Matthew 11, Jesus is speaking of salvation and judgment in all their vivid color. In verses 25-26, the sovereignty of the Father over all things, including salvation, is highlighted. Then the Son places himself in the center of that picture, as the one who has received all things (pertaining to salvation) from the Father, revealing the true depths of his relationship with the Father. Father and Son have a mutual complete understanding of one another, which is an astounding claim. No mere creature may claim this for himself. In revealing and relating, selecting and saving, Father and Son are equals.

This is not some puny little man, endowed with a fingernail of authority who has lofty thoughts concerning God. Instead, the Son reveals the interpenetrating nature of Father and Son, where every corner of their individual inner existence is known and understood by both in their entirety. This is no place for a mere man who has been brainwashed. The Watchtower God has brainwashed their “Jesus” by inserting memories into his mind, out of concern with convincing him he was another creature, an angel named Michael. How could such a confused creature hope to understand the Father in all things, when he doesn’t even understand who, or what, he is?

But that is not the case at all. Listen to Jesus. He knows himself. He knows he has been given all things. He knows the Father entirely, and He reveals the Father to all whom he wills.

And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18-20)

Who is this Jesus, given “all authority in heaven and on earth”? The Watchtower says, “Jesus never considered himself equal to God.” Yet we see Jesus here, possessing all authority spanning all of creation. The ordinance of baptism which he prescribes here, includes himself in the formula. “Jesus never considered himself equal to God”, says the Watchtower. Yet we see Jesus here, standing with the Father and the Spirit as the identified Savior of the professing Christian. “Jesus never considered himself equal to God.” Yet we see here that his word and his presence are given for the strengthening of the saints in all places, at all times.

Dear friends, the Watchtower tries to marginalize Jesus, but God’s word stands true. He is so interwoven in the text with the one true and living God, that there is no seam to be found between Father and Son in their identification as God.

3) What do Jesus’ friends say?

Immediately he made the disciples get into the boat and go before him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowds. And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up on the mountain by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone, but the boat by this time was a long way from the land, beaten by the waves, for the wind was against them. And in the fourth watch of the night he came to them, walking on the sea. But when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were terrified, and said, “It is a ghost!” and they cried out in fear. But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, “Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid.” And Peter answered him, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” He said, “Come.” So Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water and came to Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out, “Lord, save me.” Jesus immediately reached out his hand and took hold of him, saying to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” And when they got into the boat, the wind ceased. And those in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.” (Matthew 14:22-33)

What an incredible, wonderful scene. Peter’s real bravery and faith shine but not as much as the glory of the Son of God. Jesus invites Peter out of the boat and onto the waves. Peter continues to look at the spectacle as he walks on the water towards Jesus, and in doing so, his faith in Jesus falters. As he begins to slip into the tumult, he cries out in faith once again, “Lord, save me.” The trustworthy Savior reaches out his hand to the disciple at his side, saving him in the immediate context, picturing salvation from far greater chaos – the rebel heart of each disciple who comes to Jesus for salvation.

The scene is deeply religious at its core. The disciples panic, thinking Jesus is a ghost. Immediately, Peter engages with Jesus and participates in the miracle. Upon entering the boat, the storm ceases. In this scene, the disciples worship Jesus, proclaim that he is the Son of God. The story shouts “glory” in the open display of the powers of Jesus. Master of the water. Master of the waves. Master of the storm. Savior. Is it any surprise that the disciples reacted as they did?

Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” And they said, “Some say John the Baptist, others say Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” (Matthew 16:13-16)

Peter makes the great confession which stands as the testimony of the gospel, that Jesus is truly the Christ, the Anointed One, the Messiah, the Savior, the one sent to save his people. Not only is he the one sent to save; his character, power, and authority are such that Peter believes Jesus is the revealer of God to men. Jesus is not a hologram, or a ghost, or an angel who puts on a human suit to bring God’s message to men. He is the living God’s very own son, displaying the character of the one true God by possessing that character in himself.

Examining Peter’s confession from within the Watchtower would mean he is confessing Jesus is the first and only direct creation, the first and only directly-created-by-God creature, as Michael the Archangel. The Watchtower explains in numerous places in their literature that Jesus’ identity as “the Son of God” is purely due to the fact that he is the only one (within Watchtower theology) to be created directly by God. This is another one of the points where the “system” of Watchtower belief does not stand up under scrutiny. We will be writing a separate piece to provide an in-depth analysis of the Watchtower’s views of “being”. Considered here, Peter’s confession is so much more than an identification of Jesus as “the first created creature”.

Peter’s confession draws out the incredibly profound impression that Jesus has made on the disciples. While remote observers may think this Jesus is merely or only an itinerant rabbi with a group of students, Peter speaks the mind of those disciples. This one among them is like none other, greater than every rabbi, greater than every teacher, greater than every other person in the world. Jesus’ greatness is not a perception that he is God’s only directly-created creature, possessing a nature infinitely less than God in every way. No. Instead of professing that Jesus is a mere creature, a derived, dependent, insufficient creature; Peter confesses that Jesus possesses, within himself, the very nature of God Almighty, the very nature of the living God, as a true son displays the nature and character of his father.

Peter’s confession is not a statement about “which number were you holding when God started creating?” The sonship that Peter speaks of goes to the very root of Jesus’ nature, of Jesus’ identity, of his being.

Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward him and said of him, “Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom there is no deceit!” Nathanael said to him, “How do you know me?” Jesus answered him, “Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you.” Nathanael answered him, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!” (John 1:47-49)

Nathanael’s response seems all out of proportion to his very brief interaction with Jesus. Obviously there is more going on here than we are explicitly told. Nathanael’s time under the fig tree bore meaning known only to him, or so he thought. Whatever happened, Jesus is telling Nathanael that he saw Nathanael there. Nathanael was not as alone as he thought.

Although originally skeptical of Philip’s identification of Jesus, Nathanael’s attitude shifts rather dramatically as Jesus reveals he knows Nathanael. Responding to Jesus, Nathanael now addresses him as “Rabbi” (teacher), “the Son of God”, and “the King of Israel”. This is an ascending progression, climaxing with Nathanael committing himself into the hand of his King (note the earlier identification by Jesus that Nathanael is a true Israelite). At this early stage of his knowledge of Jesus, Nathanael is using known messianic titles for Jesus.

Note that “the King of Israel” in a Jewish frame of reference is a title and position which God proclaims for himself in Zephaniah 3:15. “The Lord has taken away the judgments against you;he has cleared away your enemies.The King of Israel, the Lord, is in your midst;you shall never again fear evil.” I do not say, at the time of Nathanael’s proclamation of the Christ, that he fully loaded this meaning into the titles ascribed to Jesus. Ongoing revelation inside the Gospel of John and across the breadth of scripture will reveal the unsoundable depths of Christ.

Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.” Martha said to him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.” Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?” She said to him, “Yes, Lord; I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who is coming into the world.” (John 11:23-27)

Jesus is unlike every other prophet or priest. All who came before, in truth, pointed to another. Jesus’ message is himself. “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me… “. He is not merely the provider of resurrection. He is the resurrection. He is not merely the conduit used to provide life. He is the life. Our resurrection, our life, are linked here with unbreakable bonds to Jesus. Our faith must be in him. He possess llife in himself and gifts his followers, his disciples who believe in him, with life that overcomes the grave. Much more could be said, but we will leave the discussion on the nature of resurrection for another time.

Martha responds to Jesus. Responding to him, not simply or only to his message. No, it is faith Martha has placed in him. He is her Lord, “the Christ, the Son of God, who is coming into the world.” Martha is not confessing a belief that Jesus is a mere creature, as the Watchtower paints him. Martha is not confessing a belief that this man in front of her is an amalgam of man and angel, or that he has been brainwashed by Jehovah into believing he was Michael the Archangel. Hers is not a faith in a man deceived by God. No, her faith is in the Messiah, the Son of God, who is coming into the world, and who is her Savior in every way she grasps.

Eight days later, his disciples were inside again, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” Then he 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.” Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!” (John 20:26-28)

Jesus comes back to catch the disciple who was absent from his first appearance to the group. Jesus knows the dialogue between Thomas and the witnessing disciples, and challenges him on exactly those evidences that he demanded. Thomas need to know it was Jesus risen, and the proofs he wanted were concerned with the physical body of the risen Jesus. He wants to see Jesus with the marks of crucifixion, which the other disciples had mentioned to him, and he wants to touch them to confirm it is really, truly Jesus risen from the grave.

Jesus steps into the intimate setting with the group now including Thomas. He shows the wounds and invites the touch of Thomas, to break down the barriers of his unbelief. There is tenderness and persistence displayed by Jesus that makes my heart sing in praise to him. He did not give up on Thomas. He did not leave him in unbelieving despair. He did not walk away from him or deny his struggle to believe what no one had ever seen before these days and this Jesus. Instead, he returns to the scene in mercy and evident love for Thomas. Jesus calls Thomas to believe in him… not simply to believe that he has risen, but that he has defeated death and is risen again, the Savior.

Thomas’ response is loaded with profound depth. His profession of faith in this Jesus speaks for itself. “The Lord of me and the God of me!” “My Lord and my God!” After three years following Jesus through personal interaction, teaching, and witnessing his miracles; Thomas’ ripe faith blossoms in this encounter with his Lord, with his God. Thomas makes the supreme exaltation of Jesus Christ explicit in the mouth of a disciple, in a way that the Watchtower says never happens. He identifies Jesus as “the God”. Not merely “a god”, “some god”, “an angel”, “an exalted spirit creature”, or any other designation infintely lesser than the infinite Creator God. Jesus is Thomas’ Lord, Thomas’ God.

The merciful Savior has won the heart, mind, and faith of the struggling disciple in its entirety. Thomas has met the One who is truly the Savior of all who come to the faith that Thomas professes.

“My Lord and my God!”

4) What do Jesus’ enemies say?

And the tempter came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.” But he answered, “It is written, “‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” (Matthew 4:3-4)

The old accuser seeks to trip up the savior, tempting him to satisfy his physical hunger (which would be tremendous at the end of this fast) through an act of creation by command. The devil, trying to exert every pressure, challenges the identity of Jesus as the Son of God. The Watchtower’s portrayal of “the Son of God” is that a spirit creature was the only direct creation of the Father, and that all other creatures were brought into existence through the work of the Father in cooperation with this first created creature, as though “Son of God” is an identification of order of creation and not speaking of his essential nature. The old devil is not challenging Jesus on the basis of order of creation. He is challenging this man as one who possesses the creative ability of God.

And when he came to the other side, to the country of the Gadarenes, two demon-possessed men met him, coming out of the tombs, so fierce that no one could pass that way. And behold, they cried out, “What have you to do with us, O Son of God? Have you come here to torment us before the time?” (Matthew 8:28-29)

The demon-possessed speak the fear of their demonic oppressors. They are afraid of the judge, the one who comes to put their wicked freedom to an end. They are afraid of the Son of God, not because he is the first one created by God, but because he is the Son of God who will judge them, as the Son of God in essential nature, and who can, by virtue of his Deity, judge and punish them for all time.

But Jesus remained silent. And the high priest said to him, “I adjure you by the living God, tell us if you are the Christ, the Son of God.” Jesus said to him, “You have said so. But I tell you, from now on you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of Power and coming on the clouds of heaven.” (Matthew 26:63-64)

Jesus elevates his person, nature, and glory to the highest level, “seated at the right hand of Power”. The high priest has accosted him, demanding a clear answer to the burning question, “Are you the Christ, the Son of God?” While the high priest has the title Son of God in mind as a messianic title, Jesus ensures that the high priest and the assembled court understand how high he is. Jesus elevates the messianic to the heavenly, to the Divine! He does not possess a title. He is the Son of God, seated at the right hand of the Father and coming with the clouds of heaven (which is another illustration meant to paint Christ as truly God).

Remember the Watchtower’s original premise, that Jesus never considered himself equal with God. Have you not read the passage above? To be seated at the right hand (the position of blessing and honor) of the Power is a claim to equality with the Power. This is unmistakable to all but those with prior commitments which do not allow them to acknowledge the clear language used by Christ in this confrontation and revelation.

5) What does all of creation say?

And I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, and all that is in them, saying, “To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever!” (Revelation 5:13)

Finally,what will you and I say of Jesus when we see him at the end of all things? What will the entirety of creation say of Jesus? The picture painted in Revelation 5 is heavy with the weight of glory and the vocabulary of worhip. “To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever!” You and I and all of creation will join our voices in unison to worship the Father and the Lamb simultaneously. Read Revelation 5 in its entirety. It is no mere display of respect to a creature-king. The vocabulary and actions of worship are present and presented to the Lamb proper.

Dear Jehovah’s Witness friend, you will worship Jesus one day. It is my heart’s desire that you would be prepared and eager to offer that future worship by believing in Jesus today, embracing him as Savior and King without reservation. I have sought to present accurately what the Bible tells us about Jesus, that you may see and believe in the biblical Jesus. The Watchtower presents a caricature of the biblical Jesus, concealing his rich beauty behind a veil of confusing creatureliness.

Jesus says, “Surely I am coming soon.” Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.

Two Prayers to Jesus: Considerations For Jehovah’s Witnesses

At the end of I Corinthians, Paul is closing his letter with final encouragements, writing by his own hand. His heartfelt desire for the return of Christ springs forth in a brief prayer to Christ:

… O our Lord, come! (1 Corinthians 16:22, New World Translation)

In the NWT Reference Bible, there is a cross-reference at this point to Revelation 22:20, which reads as follows:

“He that bears witness of these things says, ‘Yes; I am coming quickly.’” “Amen! Come, Lord Jesus.” (Revelation 22:20, New World Translation)

Jesus is coming! These precious prayers spring instantly from the saints, offered without hesitation in full faith in the one they call on. Both Paul and the author of Revelation pray to Jesus, asking him to come. They pray to Jesus. This is spontaneous prayer to Jesus, reflected in the Jehovah’s Witness translation of the Bible. These biblical passages contradict what the Watchtower teaches JWs worldwide. The organization tells them it is unacceptable to pray to Jesus because he is not God. And yet… their own Bible tells them otherwise. Paul and John prayed to Jesus.

Who is the Watchtower to restrict what these apostles demonstrate by their own prayers to the Coming One? Is this how the “biblical religion” of the Watchtower works? The words and rules of men overrule the Word of God? It is deadly dangerous to trust the words of men over the Word of God. You are in danger if you eat their so-called ‘food in due season’. The so-called spiritual feast of the Watchtower religion is, in reality, corruption and death, killing the soul with rules that directly contradict the Word of God.

Jehovah’s Witnesses, time and time again you go house to house and try to convince people that the Watchtower religion is the only true and biblical faith. How can a religion be called ‘true and biblical’ when it restricts people from following clear teachings of the Bible? The Watchtower places its own words as more important than the inspired text of Scripture. The Scriptures teach, proclaim, and demonstrate the faithful practices of the apostles and early church.

You are safe in following these fine examples of faith found in the Bible. Call on Jesus today! He can hear your prayer and will be faithful to answer it.

Come, Lord Jesus.