God revealed, worshipped
The sovereign deity of the universe is God Almighty, who is to be worshiped in spirit and in truth. He is eternal, infinite, holy, self-existent Spirit who created, sustains, rules, redeems, and judges His creation. He is one in nature, essence and being. God is revealed in Scripture as Father and Son.
The Bible testifies to God’s existence from the first verse onward, declaring, “In the beginning God . . .” (Genesis 1:1). The God of the universe has made Himself known to humanity through creation, through His providential care for all things, through His written Word (the Bible), and through the living Word — His Son, Jesus Christ.
The creative power of God may be seen in the heavens, the earth, and all His wonderful works (Psalm 19:1; Romans 1:19, 20). The sovereign glory of God may be seen by His giving of the law and by the promise of salvation in the prophets. His manifold wisdom is seen in all the written Word, inspired by His Spirit (2 Timothy 3:15, 16). His righteous character, revealed in all the above, is most clearly seen in the person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ, His Son.
Jesus Christ is the Word who was God from the beginning and who became flesh. In Jesus all the fullness of the Godhead dwelt bodily. He is the finest revelation of God by whom we have the forgiveness of sins and eternal life (Matthew 11:27; John 1:1-14; 14:9; Philippians 2:5-11; Colossians 1:15, 19; 2:9; Hebrews 1:1-3).
The Deity, thus revealed as Father and Son, is the only true God, who alone is worthy to be worshipped. Worship expresses reverence to Him through exaltation, praise, and surrendered lives (Psalm 95:6, 7). Our Master Teacher instructed us in the importance and manner of true worship, saying that we “must worship in spirit and in truth” (John 4:23, 24). Conversely, those who worship God only with their mouths and not their hearts, or according to the doctrines and commandments of men, do so in vain (Matthew 15:6-9).
Attributes of God
God may be known by attributes that are intrinsic to His person. Among others, He is . . .
Almighty, sovereign: The term almighty, or omnipotent, means having absolute power over all things. “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty, who was, and is, and is to come” (Revelation 4:8; see also Revelation 16:7 and Genesis 17:1). God’s sovereignty means that His authority is above all others; He has neither superior nor equal. The Lord is God; besides Him there is no other. He reigns supreme (Deuteronomy 4:35; 10:17; Psalm 24:1, 10; 1 Timothy 6:15, 16).
Eternal: God is without beginning or end. He is unlimited by time and cannot die. “Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory for ever and ever” (1 Timothy 1:17; see also Deuteronomy 33:27; Psalm 41:13; 90:2b).
Self-existent: In contrast to the dependent state of humans and all created things, God is independent of all others; He needs nothing. He will always remain unaltered, absolute Being. This is implied in the revelation of His name to Moses: “I AM WHO I AM . . . say to the Israelites: ‘I AM has sent me to you’” (Exodus 3:14).
Omnipresent, invisible spirit: “God is spirit . . .” (John 4:24). In His essential nature, God has none of the limitations of space and matter. His presence may be experienced anywhere and everywhere (Psalm 139:7-10; Jeremiah 23:24). To human eyes, He is invisible. “No one has ever seen God . . .” (John 1:18; 1 Timothy 1:17).
Holy: God’s holiness refers to His being separate and different from everything that is not God, from all things common. This is expressed throughout Scripture in many ways, particularly in the repeated refrain “Holy, holy, holy” that is descriptive of God alone (Revelation 4:8; see also Leviticus 19:2; Isaiah 6:3; and Luke 1:49).
Good: God is morally perfect. He is true, just, and right in all His ways and words. God is not only good but the very definition of goodness and the standard of morality. This central characteristic is commonly found in praises of God’s righteousness and faithfulness (Psalm 40:10; 119:138; 143:1; Isaiah 11:5; Revelation 19:11).
All wise: God’s wisdom and knowledge are beyond our comprehension (Romans 11:33, 34). In connection to creation, His knowing is infinite and intimate (Psalm 147:5; 139; 1 Timothy 1:17; Matthew 6:8). And in respect to time, His knowing is immediate and exhaustive (Isaiah 46:10; Romans 8:29). Therefore, God is all wise in every decision and action (Jude 25).
All loving: “God is love” (1 John 4:8). The great mercy and grace of God are celebrated throughout the Old Testament (Exodus 34:6; Psalm 116:5; Jonah 4:2), but are demonstrated most dramatically in the offering of God’s only Son as a sacrifice for sin (John 3:16; Romans 5:8; Ephesians 1:4-7; 1 John 2:1, 2). “We love Him because He first loved us” (1 John 4:19, NKJV).
One God, revealed as Father and Son
From start to finish, the Bible knows only one God. The Hebrew shema says it best: “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one” (Deuteronomy 6:4; see also Deuteronomy 4:35; 32:39; 2 Samuel 7:22; 1 Chronicles 17:20; Psalm 86:10; Isaiah 43:10; 44:6; 45:5, 14, 18; Mark 12:29; 1 Corinthians 8:4; Ephesians 4:6; 1 Timothy 2:5).
While Christianity is a monotheistic faith and while our God is numerically one, the best biblical evidence points to the fact that He is uniplural in His divine person. Uniplural suggests that God is one in essence but more than one in expression. His uniplurality was fully revealed in the divine-human person of Jesus Christ, but was intimated throughout the Old Testament in various ways. For example:
- God’s occasional use of plural pronouns to refer to Himself (Genesis 1:26; 11:5-9; Isaiah 6:8)
- References to a divine Son (Psalm 2:7-12; Isaiah 9:6-7; Daniel 3:25)
- Personification of the “Word of God” (Psalm 33:6; 107:20)
- The Hebrew words elohim (translated as “God” or “gods”) and adonai (translated as “Lord” or “lords”) may be references to the plurality of God’s nature, as well as to the plurality of His power and majesty.
- The Hebrew word echad (translated “one” in the shema of Deuteronomy 6:4) can refer to a composite, integrated whole, thus allowing for the uniplural nature of God.
God the Father
God the Father of whom are all things, whom no one has seen nor can see, reigns in the heavens and transcends our complete knowing. He is revealed as our loving heavenly Father by His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. Ultimately, God the Father will restore perfect harmony to all creation through Christ and reign eternally over the redeemed.
Though God was regarded as Father by Israel (Isaiah 63:16; Jeremiah 3:4; Malachi 1:6) and a divine “Son” is suggested in a few Old Testament texts (e.g., Psalm 2:7), Old Testament references do not explicitly distinguish God as Father and Son. It is mostly in the New Testament that we come to know God as our personal Father.
It is by Jesus the Son that God is primarily revealed to the world as a loving Father in heaven. From the teachings of Christ and His apostles, we learn that God the Father is the source of all things. “For us there is but one God, the Father, from whom all things came and for whom we live . . .” (1 Corinthians 8:6; Ephesians 4:4, 6).
This God who is an eternal, invisible, yet omnipresent Spirit-being, reigns in the heavens and far exceeds our ability to fully know and comprehend Him (Matthew 6:6; 11:25-27; Mark 11:25; Luke 10:21, 22; 11:2; Romans 11:33, 34; 1 Corinthians 2:16).
Following Jesus’ example, we may approach the almighty Father in familiar terms without showing disrespect: “Going a little farther, he fell to the ground and prayed . . . ‘Abba, Father . . .’” (Mark 14:35, 36a). Abba is an Aramaic term of endearment, equivalent to our English word daddy. We are free to call upon our heavenly Father by this familiar term. “You received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, ‘Abba, Father’” (Romans 8:15; Galatians 4:6).
Further, Jesus revealed the intent of God the Father to restore harmony throughout His creation through the Son. God was pleased to provide for reconciliation of the fallen world to Himself, through Christ (Romans 5:10; 2 Corinthians 5:18, 19; Ephesians 1:10; Colossians 1:19, 20).
Finally, the Father has committed all judgment to the Son (John 5:22, 27; 1 Corinthians 15:20-28; Revelation 20:11-15). When Jesus has judged the world and deposed everything that now opposes God, He will have completely restored righteousness and peace. Then the Father will reign supreme with the righteous throughout eternity (1 Corinthians 15:28; 2 Peter 3:10-13; Revelation 21:1-4).
Jesus the Son
Jesus Christ is God’s one and only begotten Son. As begotten, not created, He shares the nature, names, and attributes of God with the Father. As Son, not Father, Jesus is subordinate to His Father in rank. From eternity, the Son was with the Father, shared the Father’s glory as the pre-incarnate Word, and with Him created and sustains all things. Jesus the Christ (Messiah) was born of the Virgin Mary by the power of the Holy Spirit, thus uniting two natures — human and divine. Jesus lived without sin, died as an atoning sacrifice for sin, was entombed for three days and three nights, was resurrected bodily, and ascended to His Father to serve as mediator and high priest. He reigns as Lord in heaven and will return to earth as judge and king. Now it pleases the Father that the Son be preeminent in all things and receives our worship.
Jesus Christ is the foundation and head of the true Christian church and of all Christians individually. Old Testament prophecies spoke of His coming as Messiah, Savior, and King. These were fulfilled in His birth, life, death, resurrection, and ascension; they will be consummated at His return.
God’s one and only begotten
The introduction of Jesus as the divine Son of God occurred before He was born, when the angel Gabriel told His mother, “Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God. You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High” (Luke 1:30-32).
John’s Gospel uses the Greek term monogenes, translated “only begotten” (KJV, NASB; or “one and only,” NIV), exclusively to describe Jesus as God’s Son — five times (John 1:14, 18; 3:16, 18; cf. 1 John 4:9). This “only begotten” phrase refers to the Son’s relation to His Father, and is significant in two ways:
- It refers to the exclusive, intimate relationship shared by the divine Son and His Father: “No one has ever seen God, but God the One and Only, who is at the Father’s side, has made him known” (John 1:18).
- As the “only begotten” Son, Jesus is contrasted with others who became the “sons” of God by faith in His name, thereby becoming God’s adopted children (John 1:12, 13; Galatians 3:26; Romans 8:15).
Sharing God’s names and nature
The unique nature and identity of Jesus Christ is further seen in Scripture by the fact that several divine names are used in reference both to the Father and the Son. For example, the ancient Old Testament (Hebrew) name for God, Yahweh (or Lord), is later employed in the New Testament for the person of God’s Son.
In Matthew 3:3; Mark 1:2, 3; and Luke 3:4-6 a prophecy is quoted from Isaiah 40:3: “In the desert prepare the way for the Lord [Yahweh]; make straight in the wilderness a highway for our God.” In Isaiah, the Lord is God. In the Gospels, it is Jesus!
In Genesis 1:1 and 2:4, God the Lord (Yahweh) is the Creator. But in John 1:1; Colossians 1:16; and Hebrews 1:2 Jesus is Creator of all things. In Hebrews 1:10 the Father praises the Son for creating the heavens and the earth, referring to the Son as Lord (Yahweh). In the matter of Creation, Christ is associated with the name Lord (Yahweh) in the closest possible way.
Joel 2:32 says, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord [Yahweh] will be saved.” Paul quoted this in Romans 10:13: “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” In Joel, Yahweh saves; but in Romans, Jesus saves. Thus Jesus shares the name Yahweh with the Father.
Also compare Isaiah 45:22, 23 with Philippians 2:11, where the sole allegiance of all things to the Lord (Yahweh), according to Isaiah, is now delivered up to the Lord Jesus Christ, according to Paul — all to the glory of God!
Thus we see that New Testament writers and believers refer to Jesus as Lord with the same reverence and preeminence that they gave to the Lord (Yahweh) of the Old Testament.
Among other examples of addressing Christ and His Father by the same names or titles are these:
- First Timothy 6:14-16 uses the phrase “King of kings and Lord of Lords” in a context that describes God the Father. The same phrase is used as a label for the returning Christ in Revelation 19:16.
- Hebrews 1:8, quoting from Psalm 45:6, 7, reports that the Father God can address His Son directly as God: “About the Son he [God] says, ‘Your throne, O God, will last for ever and ever. . . .’”
- In Revelation 1:8 (NKJV), 11, 17 the glorified Christ takes names for Himself (Alpha and Omega, Beginning and End, First and Last) that have been reserved for Yahweh (see Isaiah 41:4; 44:6; 48:12).
- Thomas addressed Jesus as “My Lord and my God!” (John 20:28).
The preceding text introduces a most striking illustration of the fact that the Bible’s inspired authors and Jesus’ disciples could easily speak of Him in highest terms, even calling Him God. Ten additional examples of this are found in: Isaiah 9:6; Matthew 1:23; John 1:1; 5:18; 20:28; Romans 9:5; Colossians 2:2, 9; 1 Timothy 3:16; Titus 2:13; Hebrews 1:8; and 1 John 5:20.
Jesus shares not only the names of God but also His nature:
“Who [Jesus], being in very nature God . . .” (Philippians 2:6).
“He is the image of the invisible God . . . For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him. . . . For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form” (Colossians 1:15-19; 2:9).
“The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being . . .” (Hebrews 1:3).
Jesus shares the prerogatives of God
Among the most compelling evidences Scripture offers for Christ’s divinity and equality of essence with His Father is this: What only God can do, Jesus did! Note these examples:
- Only God is the Creator; Jesus Christ created: “Through him [the divine Word] all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made” (John 1:3; see also 1 Corinthians 8:6; Ephesians 3:9; Colossians 1:16; Hebrews 1:2).
- Only God saves and forgives sins; Jesus does the same: “He said . . . ‘Son, your sins are forgiven.’ Now some teachers of the law were . . . thinking to themselves . . . ‘Who can forgive sins but God alone?’ . . . ‘But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins . . .’” (Mark 2:5-7, 10; see also Luke 2:10, 11; Acts 4:12).
- Only God is sinless; Jesus Christ never sinned: “We have one [high priest] who has been tempted in every way, just as we are — yet was without sin” (Hebrews 4:15; see also 7:26, 27; 2 Corinthians 5:21).
- Only God rightly receives worship (Matthew 4:10) and prayers; Jesus received both: “They saw the child [Jesus] with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshipped him” (Matthew 2:11; 8:2; 14:33; 28:9, 16, 17; John 9:38; Revelation 5:13). While they were stoning him, Stephen prayed, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit’” (Acts 7:59; cf. Matthew 9:18; 15:25; Luke 24:52).
- Only God sees the secrets of men; Jesus did as well: “[He] had no need that anyone should testify of man, for He knew what was in man” (John 2:25, NKJV; see also Matthew 9:4; Mark 12:15; John 6:15, 64).
- God controls the elements; so did Jesus: “And in him [Christ] all things hold together” (Colossians 1:16, 17; see also Hebrews 1:3; Matthew 4:23; Mark 1:27; 4:39, 41).
- God has life in Himself; so does Christ: “Jesus said to her, ‘I am the resurrection and the life’” (John 11:25). “For just as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, even so the Son gives life to whom he is pleased to give it” (5:21, 28, 29).
- God sends the Spirit, and so does Christ: “But when the Helper comes, whom I shall send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father . . .” (John 15:26; 16:7b, NKJV).
- God is king and judge, and so is Christ (John 5:22, 27).
The foregoing points lead us to the firm conclusion that Jesus Christ the Son was, in His preexistence and in His eternal essence, God. Not a second God, He shared the singular deity of the Father. Jesus was introduced as such in the announcement of His impending birth: “The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel — which means, ‘God with us’” (Matthew 1:23). The full import of the Immanuel passage is seen when we read it against the backdrop of the prophecy from Isaiah that it fulfills. Isaiah 9:6, 7 refers to a promised Child, the Son who will rule and be called “Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of His government and peace there will be no end . . .” (NKJV).
And what would Christ himself say about His relation to God, His Father? Jesus made at least three statements that were understood by His Jewish audiences as claims to deity:
- “‘My Father is always at his work to this very day, and I, too, am working.’ For this reason the Jews tried all the harder to kill him . . . he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God” (John 5:17, 18). Jesus did not deny their understanding of His statement, though they threatened Him harm because of it.
- “‘I tell you the truth,’ Jesus answered, ‘Before Abraham was born, I am!’” (John 8:58). Because of this, the indignant Jews attempted to stone Him for blasphemy (v. 59), associating His “I am” with God’s self-revelation to Moses: “I AM WHO I AM” (Exodus 3:14). This violent reaction to the use of “I am” by Jesus is seen in Mark 14:61-63, thus confirming that those two words were a claim to self-existent Deity.
- “I and My Father are one” (John 10:30, NKJV). Again note the Jews’ reaction to this claim: They picked up stones to stone Jesus for blasphemy, interpreting His statement as a claim to be God (vv. 31-33). The Greek neuter pronoun hen, translated “one,” goes beyond the meaning of merely being “one in purpose” with God. In using this word, Jesus asserted His equality with God in character and nature, while preserving His personal individuality.
Subordinate to the Father in rank
The phrase “only begotten Son of the Father” reveals two complimentary truths about Jesus Christ: 1) His inherent, essential nature and 2) His position within the Godhead.
In regard to nature, the phrase indicates the full deity of Christ. Through begettal, the Son consists of the same nature, substance, or “stuff” as the Father. The term begotten reveals the Son’s divinity because the One from whom He was begotten is divine. Since the Son is of the same divine substance as the Father, He is an equal member of the Godhead and shares with the Father the nature, attributes, and title of God.
In regard to position, the phrase “only begotten Son of the Father” also indicates their relationship as Father and Son. The term begotten indicates that the Son is under the Father’s authority. The Son is begotten, while the Father alone is unbegotten. Because the Son acts only in accord with the Father, and not of Himself, He is subordinate to the Father in divine rank (John 5:19, 20).
However, the subordination of the Son to His Father does not make Him a separate or second God. By nature, the Son remains equal to the Father, sharing with Him the one divine substance of the Godhead. Although the Father and Son differ in role and position, the equality in nature of Father and Son preserves the oneness of the Godhead.
For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet . . . . Now when it says that “everything” has been put under him, it is clear that this does not include God himself, who put everything under Christ. When he has done this, then the Son himself will be made subject to him who put everything under him, so that God may be all in all (1 Corinthians 15:25-28).
The recorded experiences of Jesus Christ here on earth show that He was not only divine but also truly human. The fact of His full humanity explains much of the subordination and limitation that are described of Him who was also fully divine.
As a man:
- He was born of a woman and experienced the developmental stages of childhood.
- He worked as a carpenter, became weary in body as well as hungry and thirsty.
- He had limited knowledge on the future (Mark 13:32).
- He experienced all temptations common to man and the emotions of anger, fear, etc.
- He suffered, bled, and died as a man.
Readers are encouraged to invest additional study in these classic texts on the deity and humanity of the Son:
- John 1:1-14 – He was the Word — God — and with God in heaven. He took on flesh and tabernacled among us on earth. This is the most profound statement of deity and incarnation in the Bible.
- Philippians 2:5-11 – He did not cling to equality with God. Prior to His incarnation, Jesus existed “in very nature God” (v. 6), a condition that did not change with His incarnation. So while “in very nature God,” He took upon Himself “the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness” (v. 7), as a temporary condition. Thus, in His incarnation, Jesus, the Messiah, united the nature of God with the nature of man.
- Colossians 1:15, 19; 2:9 – “He is the image of the invisible God . . . For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him . . . For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form.”
- Hebrews 1:1-14 – He is the radiance of God’s glory and exact representation of His being (v. 3) — so much better than the angels (v. 4):
- Angels are created; the Son is begotten (v. 5).
- Angels are worshippers; the Son is worshipped (v. 6).
- Angels are created and made; the Son is Creator (vv. 7, 10-12).
- Angels are sent from God; the Son is God, with God (vv. 8, 9, 14).
- Angels worship around the throne; the Son is on the throne (vv. 6-8, 13).
As Hebrews 1 stresses the deity of the Son, so Hebrews 2 emphasizes His humanity (see especially vv. 9-18).
Preexistence and incarnation
The Son was with the Father from eternity and shared the Father’s glory as the pre-incarnate Word. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God . . . He was in the beginning with God . . . . And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father . . .” (John 1:1-3, 14; see also 17:5, NASB). Thus the pre-incarnate Son in heaven came to be the Lord Jesus Christ here on earth (Matthew 1:18, 20-22 and Luke 1:26; 31-34; 2:4-7).
In 2 Corinthians 8:9 Paul described Jesus’ incomprehensible sacrifice in becoming human: “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich.”
Life, death, burial, resurrection, ascension
Jesus lived without sin (2 Corinthians 5:21; Hebrews 4:15; 1 Peter 2:22; 1 John 3:5). The earthly life of Christ represents full submission and obedience to the Father’s will (Hebrews 10:7). His obedience was seen in carrying out His mission to bring salvation, healing, deliverance, and hope. Jesus accomplished this through preaching, teaching, healing, overcoming the enemy, and demonstrating God’s lovingkindness to sinners. This perfect obedience completely satisfied the righteous demands of God’s law and qualified Jesus to lay down His life as an efficacious sacrifice, not for His own sins but for the sins of the world.
Jesus died as an atoning sacrifice for sins and was buried. The cross of Jesus Christ is central to the account of all four New Testament Gospels and to the writings of the apostles that follow. The Gospels focus on the historical facts of His death and burial, while the Epistles emphasize the spiritual application: “Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried . . .” (1 Corinthians 15:3, 4a; Philippians 2:8; Ephesians 1:7;
1 Peter 1:18, 19; 1 John 2:2).
Jesus was raised bodily from the dead. The resurrection and ascension of Christ bring the accounts of His death and burial to their appointed, triumphant culmination. “In the end of the sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, came Mary Magdalene and the other Mary to see the sepulchre. . . .” (KJV). The angel(s) said to the anxious women, who made multiple visits to the tomb, “Fear not ye: for I know that ye seek Jesus, which was crucified. He is not here: for he is risen, as he said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay” (Matthew 28:1, 5, 6; Mark 16:1-6; Luke 24:1-9; John 20:1-8, KJV).
Christ’s victory over death and the grave was central to the message of the early church (Acts 1:3, 4; 2:32; 3:15; 4:10; 10:40; 13:30; 17:31). One of Apostle Paul’s greatest chapters, 1 Corinthians 15, insists on the essential truth of Jesus’ bodily resurrection, and unpacks its precious hope and promise.
Jesus will return to sit as judge and reign as king. “When the Son of Man [Jesus] comes in his glory and all the angels with him, he will sit on his throne in heavenly glory. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats” (Matthew 25:31, 32; John 5:22; Acts 10:42; Revelation 1:5; 17:14; 19:16).
It pleased the Father that the Son be preeminent in all things. “He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. . . . he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy” (Colossians 1:15, 18; Philippians 2:8-11).
Jesus Christ the Son of God is Lord of all and worthy of our worship! “‘To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be praise and honor and glory and power, for ever and ever!’ The four living creatures said, ‘Amen,’ and the elders fell down and worshipped” (Revelation 5:13, 14; see also Matthew 28:9-17; Luke 24:52; Hebrews 1:6).