By William S. Plumer, 1867
"Come, let us shout joyfully to the Lord, shout
THE DIVINITY OF CHRIST
The design of this chapter is to state and prove the doctrine of the true, proper, and supreme divinity of the Lord Jesus Christ. His Godhead is true, not fictitious; it is proper, not figurative; it is supreme, not merely super-angelic. None is divine in a higher sense than the Savior of lost men. The proofs of this truth are various, multiform, and abundant.
I. The names of God are, in Scripture, given to Jesus
Lord Jesus, God over all, Almighty Jehovah—be our Friend. Bless and help each one of us. Be unto us a horn of salvation.
II. Divine attributes are also ascribed to him.
ETERNITY is one of his perfections: "In the beginning was the Word." John 1:1. John the Baptist was born six months before our Lord, yet of our Savior he says, "was before me." John 1:15. In prophecy, Christ gives this account of himself: "The Lord possessed me in the beginning of his way, before his works of old. I was set up from everlasting, from the beginning, before ever the earth was." Proverbs 8:22, 23. When on earth, he asserted his own eternity and self-existence: "Before Abraham was—I am." John 8:58. More than sixty years after his ascension from Olivet, and within eight verses of the close of the New Testament, Jesus says of himself, "I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last." Rev. 22:13. He who is himself the Alpha, the first, the beginning—must be self-existent, independent, and eternal. Surely he who can truly thus speak of himself is divine.
O eternal Son of God, Father of eternity—remember that we are of yesterday and are crushed before the moth. Bring us, in the fullness of your grace, to behold your glory, which you had with your Father before the world was.
OMNIPRESENCEis another attribute of God claimed by Christ: "Where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them." Matt. 18:20. Christ could not thus meet all the little groups of his worshipers in all parts of the world, unless he were omnipresent. He claims the same perfection when he says to his disciples, "Lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world." Matt. 28:20. If this promise conveys any natural and obvious sense, it is one that, beyond a doubt, implies the omnipresence—and therefore the divinity, of Jesus Christ.
Blessed Savior, who is everywhere present, preside in all our solemn assemblies, large and small. Walk in the midst of the golden candlesticks. Be unto us for a little sanctuary.
OMNISCIENCEis another attribute of God belonging to Christ. Peter said, "Lord, you know all things." John 21:17. By his omniscience, Jesus declared Judas a devil, even when he was unsuspected by any of his intimate friends. By his omniscience, he convinced Nathanael of his Messiahship and Divinity. Two things are wholly inscrutable, except to omniscience. One is, the human heart. Yet we are expressly informed that, even in his humiliation, Jesus "knew all men, and needed not that any should testify to him of man, for he knew what was in man." John 2:24, 25. And when for three-score years the Son of man had been in glory he said, "All the churches shall know that I am he who searches the heart." Rev. 2:23. The other thing unsearchable except to God only, is the Divine nature. Yet Jesus declares that he is master of that solemn mystery: "As the Father knows me, even so know I the Father." John 10:15. Surely he who thus knows the unsearchable God, is himself God.
Lord Jesus, search us, and know our hearts, try us, and know our thoughts, and see if there be any wicked way in us; lead us in the way everlasting; and reveal to us the glorious mystery of God.
IMMUTABILITYis another perfection belonging to God only; and by inspired men it is ascribed to Jesus Christ. Having shown that this earth and the heavens above, with all that is grand and solid in them, must pass away, the Scriptures say of Christ, "You are the same, and your years shall not fail." Psalm 102:25-27; Heb. 1:10-12. The inspired author of the epistle to the Hebrews declares in explicit terms that "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever." Heb. 13:8. Without profaneness, we cannot ascribe unchangeableness to any but God. Yet Paul says that Jesus is ever the same. Is he not Divine?
Blessed Savior, we rejoice that you are the same as when you wept at the grave of Lazarus; as when you poured salvation on the dying thief; as when, in ascending to glory, you blessed your followers. We rejoice that your state is changed and your nature immutable. Oh pity and bless us. Be unto us a sure foundation—a munition of rocks.
Beyond all doubt,OMNIPOTENCE is an attribute of God alone. We cannot reason with one who persistently contends that almightiness is the property of man or angel. But God's word abundantly teaches that Jesus Christ is omnipotent. Surely he who in his own name raises the dead, and subjects the universe to his power—is almighty. Paul says Jesus does both these things: "Our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. He will transform the body of our humble condition into the likeness of His glorious body, by the power that enables Him to subject everything to Himself." Phil. 3:20, 21. Surely such energy is omnipotent!
In Rev. 1:8, Christ thus reveals himself: "I am the Alpha and the Omega—the One who is, who was, and who is coming, the Almighty." Nor did Jesus acquire omnipotence by his ascension to glory. Indeed, almightiness cannot be acquired, else a creature would become God. But even in his humiliation Jesus said, "What things soever the Father does, these also does the Son. As the Father raises up the dead and quickens them, even so the Son quickens whom he will." John 5:19, 21. Jesus could do none of these things, if his power could be resisted. But irresistible power is omnipotent power, is divine power, and so Christ is divine.
O you who is, who was, and who is coming, the Almighty—cover us in the hollow of your hand. If our hold on you is feeble, let your hold on us be the grasp of omnipotence. Go forth conquering and to conquer, until earth owns you Lord of all.
III. Those things which can be done by none but God are done by Jesus Christ, and therefore he is God. Such is the work of CREATION: "All things were made by him; and without him was not anything made, which was made." John 1:3. "By him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him." Col. 1:16. If by creation the Father is shown to be truly God, by creation also we establish the divinity of the Son.
Glorious Redeemer, we all were made by you and for you. We own your perfect and sovereign right to us and over us. All we have and are, in soul or body, belongs to you. Nor can anything dissolve the ties that bind us to you forever.
Jesus Christ alsoUPHOLDS, PRESERVES, and GOVERNS the worlds which he has made. Isaiah says: "The government shall be upon his shoulder." Isaiah 9:6. Paul says: "To the Son he [the Father] says, Your throne, O God, is forever and ever." Heb. 1:8. In one place the same apostle says, he "upholds all things by the word of his power." Heb. 1:3. In another he says: "He existed before everything else began, and he holds all creation together." Col. 1:17. Indeed his care and superintendence of all things is a necessity; for Paul says: "He must reign until he has put all things under his feet." 1 Cor. 15:25.
Thus all creatures, from the smallest insect that is seen by the microscope up to the archangel that worships and ministers before the eternal throne; all events, from the falling of a hair of the head to the destruction of nations by famine, pestilence, and war; all rule and authority, from that of a petty official, to that of thrones and principalities in heaven; the material universe, from the least particle which floats in the sunbeam to the grandest system of worlds which roll in immensity—all hang dependent on his powerful providence! And if one link in the chain of that dependence were broken, they would all rush headlong to destruction! He always has governed this world; and he shall ever hold the scepter over it, until his last foe shall be vanquished, and his last hidden one made victorious!
Lord Jesus, who upholds all things by the word of your power, bear us up, bear us on, bear us through, giving us the victory over death, and hell, and all the powers of darkness.
Again,REDEMPTION is more glorious than creation or providence; and Jesus Christ is the sole author of redemption. I never heard of anyone who believed in redemption by the Lord, who did not ascribe it to the Son. He alone was fit for this great work. Beveridge says: "Man can suffer, but he cannot satisfy; God can satisfy, but he cannot suffer; but Christ, being both God and man, can both suffer and satisfy too. And so is perfectly fit both to suffer for man and to make satisfaction unto God. And thus Christ, having assumed my nature into his person, and so satisfied Divine justice for my sins—I am received into grace and favor with the Most High God."
Two things the Scriptures make very clear. One is, that Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law—that salvation is by his blood and righteousness. The other is, that for this redemption Christ is entitled to the warmest love and the highest honors, and that he actually receives both from all the redeemed. The Author of one's eternal salvation cannot be inferior to the Author of one's earthly existence, and so ought to be honored and adored, because he is Divine.
Lord Jesus, who has died the just for the unjust, set your love on us, wash us from our sins in your most precious blood, and make us kings and priests unto God.
Moreover, when Christ was on earth,he claimed and exercised the power of pardoning men's iniquities. "Man, your sins are forgiven"—were his brief and solemn words of superhuman authority. He himself tells us that he thus spoke that we "might know that the Son of man has power on earth to forgive sins." Matt. 9:6. In fact, Christ is exalted a Prince and a Savior to this very end, that he may grant repentance and remission of sins. Truly he is God.
Lord Jesus, spread the skirt of your bloody garment over our souls, and grant us repentance and remission of sins—and we shall be saved.
Nor is this all.Jesus Christ shall raise the dead. In Deut. 32:39, God says, "I kill, and I make alive." In Rev. 1:18, the Lord Christ says, "I have the keys of hell and of death." Raising the dead is an act of almighty power, and so no creature can do it. Yet Paul says, "In Christ shall all be made alive." 1 Cor. 15:22. When on earth, Jesus gave life to the dead. He spoke, and was obeyed, like a God: "He shouted with a loud voice, 'Lazarus, come out!' The dead man came out bound hand and foot with linen strips and with his face wrapped in a cloth." John 11:43-44. He said, "This is the will of him who sent me, that everyone which sees the Son and believes on him may have everlasting life, and I will raise him up at the last day." John 6:40. Nay more, he even raised his own body from the dead: "I lay down my life, that I might take it again." "Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up." John 2:19; 10:18. Truly this is the Son of the Highest, and may fitly count it no robbery to be equal with God.
Kind Redeemer, we cheerfully follow you into the grave, in hope of a glorious resurrection. We would not live always. In the last day raise us up, and make our vile bodies like unto your glorious body. Give us part in the first resurrection.
In like manner shallJesus Christ judge the living and the dead at his coming. He expressly says that the Father has given the Son "authority to execute judgment also, because he is the Son of man." John 5:27. In the same chapter he says: "The Father judges no man; but has committed all judgment unto the Son." John 5:22. The great tribunal before which we must all stand is "the judgment-seat of Christ." Romans 14:10. In Rev. 1:7, John says, "Behold he comes with clouds, and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him; and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him." If Divine perfections are required for anything, it is for deciding on the destinies of men and angels; yet the unerring God has committed this judgment into the hands of Christ. He must, therefore, be God.
Lord Jesus, when you come in your glory, with all your holy angels, and the heavens shall flee away at your presence—by your mercy let us have boldness in the day of judgment.
And as Jesus made, and governs, and shall judge the world,so shall he destroy these heavens and this earth. So says inspiration: "You, Lord, in the beginning have laid the foundations of the earth, and the heavens are the works of your hands: They shall perish . . . as a vesture shall you fold them up, and they shall be changed." Heb. 1:10-12. Who can do this, and do it with the ease with which man folds up a garment and lays it aside—but God alone? Yet Jesus Christ shall do this very thing. Surely he is divine.
Jesus, our Lord and our God, when you shall dissolve the frame of all sublunary things, remember and spare us according to the riches of your grace in glory.
IV.The Bible has done more to root out idolatry than all other books. It declares that idolaters shall have their part in the lake of fire. Yet this same holy book authorizes the highest acts of worship to be offered to Christ. Faith in him is as much required as faith in the Father: "You believe in God, believe also in me." John 14:1. We are required in both Testaments to embrace him and trust in him on pain of perdition: "Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and you perish from the way when his wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are all who put their trust in him." Psalm 2:12. "He who believes not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abides on him." John 3:36. The Scriptures never require of us to rely on man. On the contrary, they say, "Cursed is he who trusts in man." Jer. 17:5. But they also say: "There shall be a Root of Jesse, and he who shall rise to reign over the Gentiles; in Him shall the Gentiles trust." Romans 15:12. Yes, more: "At the name of Jesus every knee shall bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth." Phil. 2:10. And all this is by God's command; for "when he brings in the First-begotten into the world, he says, And let all the angels of God worship him." Heb.1:6. Before he was born, his mother's cousin Elisabeth by the Holy Spirit called him "My Lord." Luke 1:43. After his resurrection, Thomas adoringly said, "My Lord and my God." John 20:28. The first Christian martyr worshiped him, crying, "Lord Jesus, receive my spirit." Acts 7:59. That Jesus receives the highest worship offered in heaven the Scriptures clearly assert: "Then I looked again, and I heard the singing of thousands and millions of angels around the throne and the living beings and the elders. And they sang in a mighty chorus: 'The Lamb is worthy—the Lamb who was killed. He is worthy to receive power and riches and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and blessing.' And then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea. They also sang: 'Blessing and honor and glory and power belong to the one sitting on the throne and to the Lamb forever and ever!'" Revelation 5:11-13. No part of God's word speaks of a higher degree or more complete universality of solemn worship than is here said to have been offered to the Son. Verily he is divine. He is God. He has supreme divinity. There is no idolatry in heaven, yet Jesus is worshiped there.
O Lamb of God, grant us this one favor—to worship you with true devotion here below, and after this life to unite with the heavenly throng in ascribing to you blessing, and honor, and power, and glory, and salvation.
The foregoing is but an outline of the argument on this glorious theme. The Bible is full of it. Sometimes we have nearly whole chapters devoted to this weighty matter. Such are the eighth chapter of Proverbs and the first chapter of the epistle to the Hebrews. Many considerable portions of several books of the Bible are given to establish the same truth. The gospel by John is evidently written chiefly for the same purpose. The very first verse may be taken as a text of the whole: "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." Time would fail us to dwell on each of the proofs of our Lord's divinity found in this gospel.
Indeed, we may with Melville say: "There is no such book of contradictions as the Bible, if there be no person who was both human and divine. Nothing but such a combination will make sense of the Bible, or rescue it from maintaining a vast mass of inconsistencies. Some may think that it would simplify the Christian theology to remove from it the mystery that two natures coalesced in the one person of Christ; but as the divinity of our Lord is the foundation of our hope, so is it the key to the Bible. We acknowledge, reverently, a great mystery, but not the thousandth part as great as the whole Bible becomes on the supposition that Christ was only man."
1. If Jesus Christ is divine, he may safely be trusted with our whole case.He will betray no interest committed to him. He invites all to come. He welcomes all who come. He is all-sufficient. He is chosen, called, and ordained of God—to this very work of saving lost men who seek a refuge in him. A pious man once said: "If I did not know my Savior to be God, I would this night lie down in despair: the Scripture could in this case convey no comfort to my mind." But He is divine, and we may safely rest the whole weight of our salvation on his almighty arm, and trust our most complicated affairs to the solution of his infinite wisdom.
2. Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ is a most reasonable duty."He who has the Son has life; and he who has not the Son of God has not life." 1 John 5:12. If we fail here we fail utterly, for there is salvation in no other. He is the Rock. All hopes not built on him must forever perish. Jesus is set for the rise and the fall of many. He will be to us a rock of salvation or a stone of stumbling; the shadow of a great rock in a weary land, or a rock of offence to the unbelieving. I have long since ceased to marvel that Jehovah has laid such stress on this doctrine. In their measure the pious do the same. They all cling to it as their last hope. Oh that every man would ask God to give him faith, saving faith; for no man can say that Jesus is the Lord—but by the Holy Spirit. 1 Cor. 12:3.
3. Will you have this Lord Jesus for your Savior?Will you bow your head, and take his yoke upon you? If you confess and forsake your sins, he is faithful and just to forgive your sins, and to cleanse you from all iniquity. Will you have him? You need him. You need him now. You need him urgently. You need him to help you live. You will need him to help you die. You will need his grace and mercy forever.