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* ALL Questions about Jesus Christ *

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Where is Jesus now? Is Jesus in heaven?​


ANSWER

According to Mark 16:19 and 1 Peter 3:22, Jesus is in heaven right now at the right hand of God the Father. Luke 24:51 and Acts 1:9-11 describe the bodily ascension of Jesus, which occurred 40 days after His resurrection. Jesus had told His disciples that He was going to prepare a place for them and for all believers (John 14:2–3).

It is plain from Scripture that Jesus’ ascension was a literal and bodily return to heaven. He rose up from the ground gradually and was received into a cloud while His disciples and other astonished onlookers gazed in wonder. Then two angels appeared and promised Christ’s return “in just the same way that you have watched Him go” (Acts 1:11). This marked the end of the human limitations Jesus had during His earthly ministry. Some of the attributes He possessed as God had been temporarily suspended, but now the suspension was over. His heavenly glory returned—a glimpse of which was seen at the Transfiguration (Matthew 17:1–9).

King David said in the Spirit, “The LORD says to my lord: ‘Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet’” (Psalm 110:1). This verse literally says, “Yahweh says to Adonai.” This is a remarkable conversation between two Persons of the Godhead. In Matthew 22:43–45, Jesus applies this psalm to Himself, claiming that He is more than the son of David, but that He is David’s Lord. Jesus’ place is at the right hand of God, the place of divine honor.

Other passages that indicate Jesus’ presence in heaven are Matthew 26:64; Luke 22:69; Ephesians 1:20; Colossians 3:1; Hebrews 12:2; and Revelation 5:7. Also Stephen, just before he died, had a vision in which he “looked up to heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God” (Acts 7:55).

So, biblically, Jesus is in an actual place called heaven, a place of glory where God dwells with His angels and redeemed children. In another sense, Jesus is also with us here, in this world. Jesus, being God, has all of the attributes of God, including omnipresence. So, Jesus and the Father and the Holy Spirit are everywhere and not just “in heaven.” As Solomon said in 2 Chronicles 2:6, “The heavens, even the highest heavens, cannot contain him.”

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God the Son Incarnate: The Doctrine of Christ by Stephen Wellum

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Where does the saying “He is risen; He is risen, indeed” come from?​


ANSWER

A traditional Easter greeting in the Western church is the exclamation “He is risen!” and the traditional response is “He is risen, indeed!” The words are sometimes accompanied by the exchange of three kisses on alternate cheeks, depending on the church. In the Orthodox and Catholic churches, the greeting is called the “Paschal greeting” and is a very old custom.

The greeting is ultimately based on Luke 24:34. Translations throughout church history, from the Latin Vulgate (c. AD 400) to the ESV (2001) have translated this verse nearly identically: “The Lord has risen indeed, and has appeared to Simon!” (ESV). Exactly how the saying became a standard greeting in the church is not known, although there are various theories regarding how it came into common usage.

We do know that, at first, the greeting was more common in Eastern and Byzantine liturgies than in the Western church. There is a tradition in the Eastern Orthodox Church that the saying was made popular by Mary Magdalene when she supposedly addressed Emperor Tiberius in Rome with the words “Christ is risen.”

Using this address should be more than an empty tradition. The words “He is risen!” remind us of the joyous news we celebrate at Easter, that Jesus’ death was not in vain, and that He has the power to overcome death. Saying “He is risen!” allows us to share this incredible truth with each other. The resurrection of Christ gives us hope for salvation and for our own resurrection and eternal life.

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The Case for the Resurrection of Jesus by Gary Habermas

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How long was Jesus on the cross?​


ANSWER

Jesus was on the cross for about six hours. “The chief priests, the teachers of the law and the elders mocked him. ‘He saved others,’ they said, ‘but he can’t save himself! He’s the king of Israel! Let him come down now from the cross, and we will believe in him. He trusts in God. Let God rescue him now if he wants him, for he said, “I am the Son of God”’” (Matthew 27:41–43). Crucifixion was a method the ancient Roman Empire used to carry out the death penalty for those found guilty of a capital offense. Crucifixion was usually reserved for slaves, foreigners, insurrectionists, and those guilty of the vilest crimes.

The Jewish theocrats, in order to eliminate Jesus and maintain their power, devised a plan to convince Roman authorities that Jesus must be killed (Mark 14:1; cf. John 19:12; 19:15). The Jewish leaders accused Christ of encouraging rebellion and proclaiming Himself as King. This charge of insurrection is how Jesus ended up on a Roman cross rather than being stoned to death, the ancient Jewish method of execution.

Crucifixion was designed not only to kill but to dissuade others from criminal actions. Victims of crucifixion were to be humiliated, often left to hang completely naked. The cross carried a stigma, and Jewish Law said it brought a curse (Galatians 3:13; 5:11). The term excruciating literally means “out of crucifying”; crucifixion was an “excruciating” way to die because it was a very slow and painful means to death. Depending on the circumstance, some people could live for days after being nailed to a cross.

Answering the question of how long Jesus was on the cross is complicated by the fact that two systems of marking time are used in the Gospels. Matthew, Mark, and Luke use the Jewish system of marking time. John uses the Roman system. Using the Jewish system, Mark says, “They crucified him and divided his garments among them, casting lots for them, to decide what each should take. And it was the third hour when they crucified him” (Mark 15:24–25, ESV). According to this, Christ’s crucifixion began at 9:00 A.M.

Also using the Jewish system of marking time, Matthew says that “from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land until the ninth hour” (Matthew 27:45, ESV). That is, the darkness lasted from 12:00 noon to 3:00 P.M. This was Jesus’ final three hours on the cross. At the end of that time, “when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his spirit” (Matthew 27:50). After that a Roman soldier made sure of His death (John 19:34), and Jesus’ body was taken down. Jesus had been on the cross from approximately 9:00 A.M. until 3:00 P.M., a total of six hours.

John adds the detail that Jesus’ trial before Pontius Pilate was taking place, according to Roman time, “about the sixth hour” (John 19:14, ESV). Since the Romans started counting their hours at midnight, the “sixth hour” would start at 6:00 A.M.

So, using the Roman system:
“about the sixth hour” = about 6:00 A.M. Jesus is sentenced by Pilate.

Then, using the Jewish system:
“the third hour” = 9:00 A.M. The crucifixion begins.
“the sixth hour” = 12:00 P.M. (noon). Darkness begins.
“the ninth hour” = 3:00 P.M. Jesus dies.

Putting it all together, Jesus’ trial ended about 6:00 A.M. His crucifixion began about three hours later, and He died about six hours after that.

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Read the Bible in One Year

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Was Jesus a prophet?​


ANSWER

Prophets are presented in the Bible as having several functions. First, prophets are spokesmen for God. When the people of Israel asked the prophet Samuel for a king, God told Samuel, “Listen to all that the people are saying to you; it is not you they have rejected, but they have rejected me as their king” (1 Samuel 8:7). Samuel was responsible to relay the Word of God to the people of Israel, and God states that He was the source of Samuel’s authority and words. Thus, Samuel the prophet was God’s representative.

Many other passages in the Old Testament have statements such as “the word of the Lord came to,” indicating that the source of the message was God and not the prophet (e.g., 2 Samuel 7:4; 2 Kings 20:4; Jeremiah 1:4; Ezekiel 3:16; and the opening verses of Hosea, Joel, Micah, Jonah, and Zephaniah). Similarly, Jesus taught a heavenly message: “My teaching is not my own. It comes from the one who sent me” (John 7:16). He also stated that He spoke “just what the Father has taught me” (John 8:28). In Jesus’ High Priestly Prayer, He says, “I gave them the words you gave me” (John 17:8). Thus, Jesus clearly fulfilled the role of a prophet, as He was a spokesman for God.

The second primary function of a prophet in the Bible is what people commonly think of when they hear the term prophecy, and that is foretelling or predicting future events through divine revelation. Foretelling, though not the prophets’ most common task, is another form of their primary role. In speaking on God’s behalf, sometimes the message would include predicting the future. Jesus predicted the future when He told His disciples “that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life” (Matthew 16:21). This prophecy is recorded as fulfilled in all four Gospel accounts (Matthew 27—28; Mark 15—16; Luke 22—24; and John 18—20). Jesus also predicted that, shortly after His ascension, the disciples would receive power at the coming of the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:8). Acts 2 records the fulfillment of the prophecy: the apostles received the Holy Spirit and spoke in languages they did not know to proclaim the gospel to at least fifteen different language groups present in Jerusalem for Pentecost. Thus, Jesus clearly fulfilled the role of a prophet, as He spoke predictively.

A third function of some of the prophets was healing and miracles. Moses performed many miracles, including parting the Red Sea (Exodus 14:21–22). Elijah performed a miracle when he called fire down from heaven to burn up a sacrifice (1 Kings 18:36–38). Elisha performed a miracle when he made the ax head float in the water (2 Kings 6:6). All four Gospel accounts record Jesus performing many miracles and healings (e.g., Matthew 8:14–15; Mark 1:40–45; Luke 8:42–48; and John 6:16–21).

The title “prophet” is used many times in the Gospels when other people refer to Jesus (Matthew 21:11; Luke 7:16; John 4:19). Jesus also alluded to Himself as a prophet in Mark 6:4.

God had told Moses that someday He would send another prophet to Israel, “and I will put my words in his mouth. He will tell them everything I command him” (Deuteronomy 18:18). Jesus was the prophet who fulfilled that prophecy (see Acts 3:22; 7:37). Jesus fulfills all the requirements for a prophet in title, word, and deed. He is the ultimate prophet in that He is the very Word of God Himself (John 1:1).

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God the Son Incarnate: The Doctrine of Christ by Stephen Wellum

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Did Jesus drink wine/alcohol?​


ANSWER

There is only one group of people who are explicitly told in the Bible to never drink wine/alcohol, and that is the Nazirites (Numbers 6:1–4). Jesus was not a Nazirite; He was a “Nazarene,” a native of the town of Nazareth (Luke 18:37). Jesus never took the Nazirite vow.

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Christ’s first miracle of turning water into wine at the wedding at Cana almost certainly involved a fermented beverage. According to Jewish wedding tradition, fermented wine was always served at weddings; if Jesus had provided only grape juice, the master of the feast would have complained. Instead, he said the wine was better than what was previously served; it was apparently a “fine” wine (John 2:10–11).

The Greek word for “drunk” in John 2:10 is methuo, which means “to be drunken” or intoxicated. It is the same word used in Acts 2:15 where Peter is defending the apostles against accusations of drunkenness. The testimony of the master of the feast is that the wine Christ produced was able to intoxicate.

Of course, just because Jesus turned water into wine doesn’t prove that He drank the wine at the wedding, but it would have been normal for Him to do so. What it does prove is that Jesus doesn’t condemn drinking wine any more than He condemns eating bread. Sinful people abuse what is not inherently sinful. Bread and wine are not sinful, but gluttony and drunkenness are (Proverbs 23:2; Ephesians 5:18).

In Luke 7:33–34, Jesus said, “For John the Baptist has come eating no bread and drinking no wine, and you say, ‘He has a demon.’ The Son of Man has come eating and drinking, and you say, ‘Look at him! A glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’” (emphasis added). In verse 33 Jesus is making a contrast between John the Baptist’s “drinking no wine” and His own practice. Jesus goes on to say the religious leaders accused Him (falsely) of being a drunkard. Jesus was never a drunkard, any more than He was a glutton. He lived a completely sinless life (1 Peter 2:22); however, Luke 7 strongly suggests that Jesus did indeed partake of alcoholic wine.

The Passover celebration would also have commonly included fermented wine. The Scriptures use the term “fruit of the vine” (Matthew 26:27–29; Mark 14:23–25; Luke 22:17–18). Of course, Christ participated in drinking from the Passover cup (Mark 14:23).

All Christians would agree drunkenness is sinful, and Christ Himself warns against it (Luke 12:45). However, a biblical view of wine is that it is given as something to delight in (Psalm 104:14–15). There are plenty of warnings against alcohol abuse, in texts like Proverbs 20:1, because sinful men are more likely to abuse wine than to use it in moderation. Those who try to use Jesus’ probable use of wine to excuse their drunkenness should heed the warning in Luke 12:45. Christians who want to keep a biblical view of drinking wine should either drink in moderation, never to drunkenness, or abstain totally.

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God the Son Incarnate: The Doctrine of Christ by Stephen Wellum

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What can we learn from Jesus’ feeding of the 5,000?​


ANSWER

Aside from the resurrection, the story of Jesus feeding the 5,000 is the only miracle recorded in all four Gospels. Obviously, the Gospel writers considered this a significant miracle. When Christ fed the masses that day, He began with only “five barley loaves and two fish,” borrowed from a boy’s lunch (John 6:9). To feed 5,000 people with five loaves and two fish is indeed miraculous, but the Greek term used in Matthew 14:21 specifies males, and Matthew further emphasizes the point by adding, “Besides women and children.” Many Bible scholars believe the actual number fed that day could have been 15,000—20,000 people.

Jesus’ disciples had wanted to send the people away because evening was approaching and they were in a remote place (Matthew 14:15). They knew the people needed to reach surrounding villages soon to buy food, find lodging, etc., or they would likely go hungry (Mark 6:36). But Christ had a better idea: “You give them something to eat” (Matthew 14:16). At this point, the disciples should have recalled the many miracles they had seen Jesus do. Perhaps some of them did, but Andrew asked, “What are [five loaves and two fish] for so many?” (John 6:9). And Philip exclaimed, “It would take more than half a year’s wages to buy enough bread for each one to have a bite!” (verse 7).

Jesus called for the bread and fish to be brought to Him (Matthew 14:18). He then gave thanks for the meal, broke the bread, and gave it to His disciples to give to the crowd. Amazingly, the entire multitude was fed with that small meal. Jesus provided “as much as they wanted” (John 6:11), and “they all ate and were satisfied” (Matthew 14:20). Christ did not just meet the need; He lavished them with so much food that there were “twelve baskets full of broken pieces and of the fish” left over (Mark 6:43).

God will shatter the pint-sized expectations of what His followers can do if they would learn to bring Him what they have already been given. “Little is much when God is in it.” When Christians are willing to offer their lives sacrificially, relinquishing their hold on whatever God has given them in terms of time, money, talents, etc., God will use these ordinary things to create extraordinary things. Christians must never believe their resources are too little to serve God. God delights in taking a humble, seemingly insignificant person and using him or her for His glory (see 1 Corinthians 1:27).

Philip’s mind immediately ran to the cost of the project. He quickly calculated how many man-hours of work it would take to feed all those people; he saw the task as impossible because he approached it as if everything depended on his own work. Jesus’ approach was different. Jesus bypassed all human effort and did the impossible. It’s “‘not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,’ says the LORD Almighty” (Zechariah 4:6).

It is noteworthy that Jesus fed the people through the agency of His disciples. He could have simply snapped His fingers and caused everyone present to have a meal, but He didn’t. Instead, He “gave . . . to his disciples to distribute to the people” (Mark 6:41). In this way, the disciples had to trust the Lord for everything they distributed. They could only give as they received. Philip, Andrew, and the rest were put in a position of total dependence upon the Lord for the supply. God still uses people the same way today.

Christians should also be reminded that their problems are never too large (the “many” of John 6:9) for God to handle. Surely, Andrew was wondering, “What good are we going to do with only five loaves and two fish?” Of course, theoretically, believers know God can easily multiply whatever He wants, to feed as many people as He wants—He is God. The problem comes when we are faced with a practical outworking of the theory; we tend to doubt that God will want to meet our need.

There is a foreshadowing of Christ’s miracle in the life of Elisha in 2 Kings. Elisha told his servant to feed the people gathered there, although there was not enough food for the hundred men. One of the men said, “How can I set this before a hundred men?” (2 Kings 4:42–43) In the end, however, the men not only had enough to eat, but “they ate and had some left” (2 Kings 4:44). Isn’t that just like God? He says He will do more than provide for His people; He will give an abundance (Psalm 132:15).

Christians must bring their lives to God in a spirit of obedience and sacrifice, no matter how insignificant they may think their gifts or talents are (Romans 12:1). When doing so, expect God to do far beyond what can be imagined (Ephesians 3:20). Also, Christians should trust that God not only wants to meet the needs of His children, but He wants to lavish His children with spiritual blessings, even to overflowing (Psalm 23:5).

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God the Son Incarnate: The Doctrine of Christ by Stephen Wellum

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What does Christ mean?​


ANSWER

To the surprise of some, “Christ” is not Jesus’ last name (surname). “Christ” comes from the Greek word Christos, meaning “anointed one” or “chosen one.” This is the Greek equivalent of the Hebrew word Mashiach, or “Messiah.” “Jesus” is the Lord’s human name given to Mary by the angel Gabriel (Luke 1:31). “Christ” is His title, signifying Jesus was sent from God to be a King and Deliverer (see Daniel 9:25; Isaiah 32:1). “Jesus Christ” means “Jesus the Messiah” or “Jesus the Anointed One.”

In ancient Israel, when someone was given a position of authority, oil was poured on his head to signify his being set apart for God’s service (e.g., 1 Samuel 10:1). Kings, priests, and prophets were anointed in such fashion. Anointing was a symbolic act to indicate God’s choosing (e.g., 1 Samuel 24:6). Although the literal meaning of anointed refers to the application of oil, it can also refer to one’s consecration by God, even if literal oil is not used (Hebrews 1:9).

There are hundreds of prophetic passages in the Old Testament that refer to a coming Messiah who would deliver His people (e.g., Isaiah 61:1; Daniel 9:26). Ancient Israel thought their Messiah would come with military might to deliver them from decades of captivity to earthly kings and pagan nations. But the New Testament reveals a much better deliverance provided by Jesus the Messiah—a deliverance from the power and penalty of sin (Luke 4:18; Romans 6:23).

The Bible says Jesus was anointed with oil on two separate occasions by two different women (Matthew 26:6–7; Luke 7:37–38), but the most significant anointing came by way of the Holy Spirit (Acts 10:38). Jesus’ title of “Christ” means He is God’s Anointed One, the One who fulfills the Old Testament prophecies, the Chosen Savior who came to rescue sinners (1 Timothy 1:15), and the King of kings who is coming back again to set up His Kingdom on earth (Zechariah 14:9).

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God the Son Incarnate: The Doctrine of Christ by Stephen Wellum

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What does Messiah mean?​


ANSWER

Messiah comes from the Hebrew word mashiach and means “anointed one” or “chosen one.” The Greek equivalent is the word Christos or, in English, Christ. The name “Jesus Christ” is the same as “Jesus the Messiah.” In biblical times, anointing someone with oil was a sign that God was consecrating or setting apart that person for a particular role. Thus, an “anointed one” was someone with a special, God-ordained purpose.

In the Old Testament, people were anointed for the positions of prophet, priest, and king. God told Elijah to anoint Elisha to succeed him as Israel’s prophet (1 Kings 19:16). Aaron was anointed as the first high priest of Israel (Leviticus 8:12). Samuel anointed both Saul and David as kings of Israel (1 Samuel 10:1; 16:13). All of these men held “anointed” positions. But the Old Testament predicted a coming Deliverer, chosen by God to redeem Israel (Isaiah 42:1; 61:1–3). This Deliverer the Jews called the Messiah.

Jesus of Nazareth was and is the prophesied Messiah (Luke 4:17–21; John 4:25–26). Throughout the New Testament, we see proof that Jesus is the Chosen One: “These [miracles] are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name” (John 20:31). We also hear testimonies that Jesus is “the Messiah, the Son of the living God” (Matthew 16:16). The ultimate evidence that Jesus is indeed the promised Messiah, the Anointed One, is His resurrection from the dead. Acts 10:39–43 is an eyewitness testimony to His resurrection and the fact that “he is the one whom God appointed as judge of the living and the dead.”

Jesus fulfills the role of Prophet, Priest, and King, which is further evidence to His being the Messiah. He is a prophet, because He embodied and preached the Word of God (see John 1:1–18; 14:24; and Luke 24:19); a priest, because His death atones for our sins and reconciles us to the Father (see Hebrews 2:17; 4:14); and a king, because after His resurrection God gave all authority to Him (see John 18:36; Ephesians 1:20–23; and Revelation 19:16).

The Jews of Jesus’ day expected the Messiah to redeem Israel by overthrowing the rule of the Romans and establishing an earthly kingdom (see Acts 1:6). It wasn’t until after Jesus’ resurrection that His disciples finally began to understand what the prophecies in the Old Testament really meant the Messiah would do (see Luke 24:25–27). The Messiah was “anointed” first to deliver His people spiritually; that is, to redeem them from sin (John 8:31–36). He accomplished this salvation through His death and resurrection (John 12:32; John 3:16). Later, Jesus the Messiah will deliver His people from their physical enemies, when He sets up His Kingdom on the earth (see Isaiah 9:1–7).

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God the Son Incarnate: The Doctrine of Christ by Stephen Wellum

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What was Jesus’ mission?​


ANSWER

Several times in Jesus’ life, He shows that He was a man on a mission. He had a purpose, which He intentionally fulfilled. Even at a young age, Jesus knew that He “must be about [His] Father’s business” (Luke 2:49, KJV). In the last days of His earthly life, Jesus “resolutely set out for Jerusalem,” where He knew He would be killed (Luke 9:51). It could be said that the fundamental mission of Christ’s time on earth was to fulfill God’s plan of saving the lost.

Jesus put it this way in Luke 19:10: “The Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.” Jesus had just been criticized for going to the house of a “sinner.” Jesus responded by affirming His mission was to save people who needed saving. Their reputation for sinfulness was not a reason to avoid them; rather, it was a reason to seek them out. Many times during Christ’s ministry, He sought to forgive those whom the self-righteous leaders of the day shunned. He sought out and saved the woman at the well and the Samaritans of her town (John 4:39–41), the sinful woman with the alabaster jar (Luke 7:37), and even one of His own disciples, Matthew, who had been a tax collector (Matthew 9:9).

In Matthew 9, once again Jesus was criticized for “eating with tax collectors and sinners” (verse 11), and once again Jesus responded by stating His mission: “I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners” (verse 13). Jesus’ goal was to save. It was a goal that He reached: “I have brought you glory on earth by finishing the work you gave me to do” (John 17:4).

All through the Gospels, we see Jesus call to repentance and forgive the worst of sinners. No one is too sinful to come to Him. In fact, He goes after those who are lost, as the parables of the lost sheep and lost coin show (Luke 15:1–10). In the story of the prodigal son, Jesus teaches that God will always welcome with open arms those who come to Him with a repentant heart (Luke 15:21–22; cf. Isaiah 57:15). Even today, Jesus continues to seek and save those who humbly place their faith in Him (Matthew 11:29; 18:3–4; Revelation 3:20).

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God the Son Incarnate: The Doctrine of Christ by Stephen Wellum

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What is the significance of Jesus eating with sinners?​


ANSWER

Soon after calling Matthew to follow Him, Jesus ate a meal with “many tax collectors and sinners” in Matthew’s house (Mark 2:15). Matthew had been a tax collector, and these “sinners” were his friends and acquaintances who were now spending time with Jesus. Matthew wanted to introduce people in his social circle to Jesus. The scribes and the Pharisees, who despised tax collectors, complained, but Jesus’ actions in spending time with sinners were in perfect accordance with His mission to seek and to save the lost (Luke 19:10).

In Jesus’ day, rabbis and other spiritual leaders enjoyed widespread respect and were held in high esteem in Jewish society. Almost everyone looked up to the Pharisees. They were strict adherents to the Law, they were the guardians of tradition, and they were the exemplars of piety. In their vaulted position, they avoided those whom they deemed “sinners”—those who did not follow their system of rules. Pharisees and the other religious class of Jesus’ day would definitely not have socialized with tax collectors, who were infamous for embezzlement and their cooperation with the hated Romans.

Jesus chose to eat with sinners because they needed to know that repentance and forgiveness were available. As Jesus’ ministry grew, so did His popularity among the social outcasts of society. Once Matthew was part of His inner circle, Jesus naturally had more contact with the pariahs of His society. Spending time with the tax collectors and sinners was only natural, since He had “not come to call the righteous, but sinners” (Mark 2:17). If Jesus was to reach the lost, He must have some contact with them. He went to where the need was because “it is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick” (Luke 5:31).

Sitting at Matthew’s feast, Jesus broke societal taboos and condemned the Pharisees’ legalistic system of attaining righteousness. The fact that Jesus ate with sinners shows that He looked beyond culture to people’s hearts. Whereas the Pharisees disregarded people because of their past behavior, Jesus saw their spiritual need.

All through Jesus’ ministry, He reached out to those who needed Him. He conversed with a despised Samaritan woman at a well—surprising even His disciples (John 4:27). He forgives an immoral woman in Luke 7, He helps a Syro-Phoenician woman in Mark 7, He touches a leper in Luke 5, and He enters Zacchaeus’s house and dines with him in Luke 19. Again and again, Jesus touched the untouchable and loved the unlovely.

Jesus came to save sinners. Tradition, cultural bans, and the frowns of a few do not matter when a soul’s eternal destiny is on the line. “God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him” (John 3:17).

Jesus saw individuals, not just their labels. He had compassion and sought to meet the needs around Him. In sharing the word of God, Jesus ate with sinners and spent time with them. Seeing all of this, sinners were no doubt inspired to know Him better. They recognized Jesus as a righteous man, a man of God—the miracles He performed bore witness to that—and they saw His compassion and sincerity.

Jesus didn’t let social status or cultural norms dictate His relationships with people. As the Good Shepherd, He sought the lost sheep wherever they had strayed. When Matthew hosted the dinner party, Jesus accepted the invitation. It was a wonderful opportunity to share the good news of the kingdom with those who most needed to hear (see Matthew 4:23). He was criticized for His actions by the self-righteous legalists of His day, but criticism did not deter Him.

Unlike the Pharisees, Jesus didn’t require people to change before coming to Him. He sought them out, met them where they were, and extended grace to them in their circumstances. Change would come to those who accepted Christ, but it would be from the inside out. The kindness of God leads sinners to repentance (Romans 2:4), and Jesus was full of kindness.

Jesus showed us that we shouldn’t let cultural norms dictate whom we evangelize. The sick need a physician. Lost sheep need a shepherd. Are we praying to the Lord of the harvest to send laborers into the field (Luke 10:2)? Are we willing to go ourselves?

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God the Son Incarnate: The Doctrine of Christ by Stephen Wellum

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Did Jesus ever laugh?​


ANSWER

There has long been a notion that Jesus never laughed. Traditionally, paintings of Jesus have tended toward melancholy portrayals of a somber, glum Savior. It is true that Jesus became our Sin-bearer (1 Peter 2:24) and that He “was despised and rejected by mankind, a man of suffering, and familiar with pain” (Isaiah 53:3). Jesus was rejected in His hometown (Mark 6:1–6), He wept at a friend’s graveside (John 11:35), and of course He experienced the cross. However, this does not mean Jesus never had a lighthearted moment or that He never had occasion to laugh.

The picture of Jesus that we find in the Gospels is one of a well-rounded, magnetic personality. He carried children in His arms—and what child wants to be around someone who never laughs (Mark 10:16)? He was accused of being too joyful on occasion (Luke 7:34). He told John’s disciples that it was not a time for mourning (Matthew 9:15).

The very fact that we humans have a sense of humor indicates that God does, too, for we are made in His image. (The existence of penguins, platypuses, and puppies also builds a strong case for God’s having a sense of humor!) Jesus, as the Son of God, shares the Father’s attributes, including a sense of humor.

As the Son of Man, Jesus shares in the full human experience. We cannot imagine life without laughter; even those in dire circumstances have known seasons of joy. Everyone laughs and appreciates good humor. To say that Jesus never expressed joy through laughter is akin to denying His full humanity.

Jesus evinced a sense of humor in His teaching. Jesus’ discussion of the “log” in one’s eye is a purposeful exaggeration—and a lighthearted one at that (Matthew 7:3–5) Also, the incongruous image of a camel going through the eye of a needle contains humor (Matthew 19:24).

Jesus encouraged joyful laughter, most famously in the Beatitudes, recorded in Matthew 5 and Luke 6. Jesus said, “Blessed are you who weep now, for you shall laugh.” Jesus spoke of rejoicing in His parables in Luke 15—the lost sheep, the lost coin, and the lost son were all found. The result in each case was great rejoicing. Even more telling is that Jesus told these stories as illustrations of the “joy before the angels of God over one sinner who repents” (Luke 15:10).

Jesus had a serious mission to accomplish in this world, but He was not one to be somber all the time. There is no verse in the Bible that says, “Jesus laughed,” but we know that He empathized with us completely and felt all of our emotions. Laughter is part of life, and Jesus truly lived.

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Laugh Again/Hope Again: Two Books to Inspire a Joy-Filled Life by Charles Swindoll

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What does incarnate mean? How was Jesus God incarnate?​


ANSWER

The Latin verb incarnare meant “to make flesh.” When we say that Jesus Christ is God “Incarnate,” we mean that the Son of God took on a fleshly, bodily form (John 1:14). However, when this happened in the womb of Mary, Jesus’ earthly mother, He did not stop being deity. Although Jesus became fully human (Hebrews 2:17), He retained His status as God (John 1:1, 14). How Jesus is able to be both man and God simultaneously is one of the great mysteries of Christianity but is nevertheless a test of orthodoxy (1 John 4:2; 2 John 1:7). Jesus has two distinct natures, divine and human. “Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me” (John 14:11).

The Bible clearly teaches the deity of Christ by presenting His fulfillment of numerous Old Testament prophecies (Isaiah 7:14; Psalm 2:7), His eternal existence (John 1:1–3; John 8:58), His miraculous virgin birth (Luke 1:26–31), His miracles (Matthew 9:24–25), His authority to forgive sin (Matthew 9:6), His acceptance of worship (Matthew 14:33), His ability to predict the future (Matthew 24:1–2), and His resurrection from the dead (Luke 24:36–39). The writer of Hebrews tells us Jesus is superior to angels (Hebrews 1:4–5) and angels are to worship Him (Hebrews 1:6).

The Bible also teaches the Incarnation—Jesus became fully human by taking on human flesh. Jesus was conceived in the womb and was born (Luke 2:7), He experienced normal aging (Luke 2:40), He had natural physical needs (John 19:28) and human emotions (Matthew 26:38), He learned (Luke 2:52), He died a physical death (Luke 23:46), and He was resurrected with a physical body (Luke 24:39). Jesus was human in every way except for sin; He lived a completely sinless life (Hebrews 4:15).

When Christ took on the form of a human, His nature did not change, but His position did. Jesus, in His original nature of God in spirit form, humbled Himself by laying aside His glory and privileges (Philippians 2:6–8). God can never stop being God because He is immutable (Hebrews 13:8) and infinite (Revelation 1:8). If Jesus stopped being fully God for even a split second, all life would die (see Acts 17:28). The doctrine of the Incarnation says that Jesus, while remaining fully God, became fully man.

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The Moody Handbook of Theology by Paul Enns

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What is the significance of Jesus calming the storm?​


ANSWER

The story of Jesus calming the storm is told in the three Synoptic Gospels, Matthew, Mark, and Luke. Jesus had been teaching near the Sea of Galilee. Afterwards, He wanted a respite from the crowds so decided to take a boat with the apostles to the opposite shore where there were no large towns (Mark 4:35–36). The Bible reports not long after they sailed, Jesus fell asleep and a storm arose (Luke 8:23).

Here are two important points that reveal the true humanity of Christ: He needed rest and time away from crowds, and He was so exhausted that even the battering of the boat did not awaken Him (Matthew 8:24). These truths should help us realize that Jesus was genuinely human with the same basic needs we all have. Christ’s humanity is part of what qualifies Him to be our merciful intercessor between us and God the Father (Hebrews 2:17).

Although the text doesn’t say which apostles were with Christ on the boat, it’s probable that seasoned fishermen (at least four of the twelve) were aboard. These men were quite familiar with the ways of the sea; certainly, this was not their first squall on the Sea of Galilee, which was known for its sudden raging storms. Even these professional fishermen were frightened by this storm, to the point of fearing they would die (Luke 8:24). “The waves were breaking into the boat, so that the boat was already filling. But [Jesus] was in the stern, asleep on the cushion” (Mark 4:37–38). It’s significant that Jesus’ sleep was deep and sound, even through the storm, which was “already filling” the boat. The Bible says the sleep of a believer will be sweet and peaceful because he knows the Lord is with him (Proverbs 3:24; Psalm 4:8). This is why Jesus, when He was awakened, rebuked the disciples with the question “Have you still no faith?” (Mark 4:40).

The apostles’ lack of faith reminds us that even those who lived and walked with Jesus, saw His miracles, and heard His message still found it difficult to be 100 percent faith-filled all the time. In that way, the disciples were a lot like us. However, their lack of faith was rebuked—and, by extension, so is ours. If Jesus was able to rescue the apostles from the storm, He is also able to rescue us from the storms of everyday life: sickness, job loss, marriage problems, and even the sting of death (1 Corinthians 15:55).

When Jesus “gave orders to go over to the other side” (Matthew 8:18), He knew the storm was coming. He is omniscient (John 2:25); even with a storm brewing, He decided to launch out to sea. The Lord never promised we will never see a storm in life (as a matter of fact, He has told us to expect trouble, John 16:33). Rather, He has promised that He will be with us in the storm. He will never leave His children alone in the midst of trouble; with perseverance they will overcome (Deuteronomy 31:8; James 1:12).

This passage not only reveals Jesus’ true humanity, but also Jesus’ deity because only God can make the “winds and water obey” (Luke 8:25). With one quick word from Christ, the storm abated and the sea became calm (Mark 4:39). The apostles marveled at this powerful display of Jesus’ supernatural ability over the elements (Luke 8:25). This can be immensely comforting to the Christian in a storm. Faith in Christ is never misplaced. If He can calm the storms of the sea with one word, He can calm the storms of life as well.

FOR FURTHER STUDY​

Matthew: Zondervan Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament by Grant Osborne

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How is Jesus greater than all the other great people in history?​


ANSWER

The Bible presents Jesus as greater than all who ever lived before Him and all who will ever come behind Him. Colossians 1 sets out, in no uncertain terms, the doctrine of the supremacy of Christ “in everything” (Colossians 1:18). Ephesians 1:22 says, “God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church.”

Jesus is greater than all creation. As the creator of all things, He would have to be. Jesus proved His supremacy over creation when He calmed the raging storm (Mark 4:39), multiplied the loaves and fish (Mark 8:6—9), gave sight to the blind (Mark 8:22—25), and walked on water (Mark 6:48). “All things have been created through him and for him” (Colossians 1:16).

Jesus is greater than Abraham. Father Abraham was and still is one of the most respected persons in all of history. Once, as Jesus was talking to the Jews about their lineage, they asked Him, “Are you greater than our father Abraham?” (John 8:53). Jesus’ answer was shocking to them: “Your father Abraham rejoiced at the thought of seeing my day; he saw it and was glad. . . . Very truly I tell you, before Abraham was born, I am!” (John 8:56, 58).

Jesus is greater than Jacob. Another patriarch was Jacob, also named “Israel” by God (Genesis 32:28). As Jesus conversed with a woman by Jacob’s Well in Samaria, He told her that He could give her “living water” (John 4:10). Thinking He was referring to some other type of well water, she asked, “Are you greater than our father Jacob?” (verse 12). Jesus replied by contrasting the temporal gift of Jacob with the eternal gift of His own: “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life” (verses 13–14).

Jesus is greater than Moses. There is likely no Old Testament prophet more respected than Moses. He was the lawgiver, the emancipator of Israel, and a worker of miracles. Moses had the unique privilege of speaking to God “face to face, as one speaks to a friend” (Exodus 33:11). Before he died, Moses commanded the Israelites to watch for the coming of another Prophet who would bear some resemblance to Moses: “You must listen to him” (Deuteronomy 18:15). Jesus fulfilled the Law (Matthew 5:17), emancipated us from sin and death (Romans 8:2), and was definitely a worker of miracles (Acts 2:22). Hebrews 3:3 says that “Jesus has been found worthy of greater honor than Moses.”

Jesus is greater than David. In Jesus’ day a common title for the Messiah was “Son of David” (see Matthew 9:27). The Jews’ use of this term signified their belief, based on prophecy, that the Messiah would be of David’s lineage (2 Samuel 7:16). In a dialogue in the temple, Jesus quotes Psalm 110:1, pointing out that David calls the Messiah “my Lord” (Matthew 22:45). The Son of David, therefore, is greater than David and has a lineage greater than an earthly line of royalty.

Jesus is greater than Solomon. King Solomon was unrivaled in wisdom, wealth, power, and prestige (1 Kings 10:23–24). Monarchs from around the world visited Jerusalem during Solomon’s reign and paid him homage. Yet Jesus said, “Now someone greater than Solomon is here” (Matthew 12:42).

Jesus is greater than Jonah. The prophet Jonah was instrumental in one of the greatest revivals in history. Under his preaching, the whole city of Nineveh repented of their sin and turned to God for mercy. A nation infamous for its idolatry and savagery humbled themselves in God’s eyes and turned from their paganism. Yet Jesus said, “Now someone greater than Jonah is here” (Matthew 12:41).

Jesus is greater than John the Baptist. Jesus said that John the Baptist was “more than a prophet” and “there is no one greater than John” (Luke 7:26, 28). Indeed, John was the final prophet of the Old Testament age, he fulfilled Malachi 3:1, and he evinced a power akin to Elijah’s (Luke 1:17). But how did John view Jesus? His prediction shows who is greater: “One is coming who is mightier than I, and I am not fit to stoop down and untie the thong of His sandals” (Mark 1:7). In other words, John was not even in the same category as Jesus. John baptized with water, but Jesus would baptize with the Holy Spirit (Mark 1:8).

Jesus is greater than the temple. The temple in Jerusalem was a glorious place, full of history, meaning, and religious consequence (see Matthew 24:1). Yet Jesus told the Pharisees, “I tell you, there is one here who is even greater than the Temple!” (Matthew 12:6). The temple was where the nation’s priests interceded with God, and Jesus’ ministry of intercession is far greater (Hebrews 8:6).

Jesus is greater than the Sabbath. The sign of the Mosaic Covenant was the keeping of the Sabbath (Ezekiel 20:12), and the Jewish people were scrupulous in maintaining this sign. When Jesus came, He lived under the Law (Galatians 4:4), fulfilled the Law (Matthew 5:17), and showed that “the Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath” (Matthew 12:8).

Jesus is greater than the church. The church is the elect of God who have been called out of the world, redeemed, justified, sanctified, and glorified (Romans 8:30). Eventually, the church will be “a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless” (Ephesians 5:27). Yet Christ is greater. He is the Head of the church, which is His body (Colossians 1:18; cf. John 13:16; 15:20).

Jesus is greater than the angels. Angels are servants of God, but Jesus is God’s only begotten Son, sitting at the right hand of the Majesty on high (Hebrews 1:3, 5; John 3:16). One day all principalities and powers in heaven and on earth will bow before Christ (Philippians 2:10). Jesus is “as much superior to the angels as the name he has inherited is superior to theirs” (Hebrews 1:4).

Jesus’ name is greater than all other names. Jesus, the perfect Man and one and only sacrifice for sin, has been highly exalted. God has given Him “the name that is above every name” (Philippians 2:9). The other names of history—Buddha, Mohammed, Gandhi, Confucius, Krishna, Joseph Smith, and Sun Myung Moon among them—pale to insignificance in the light of the glory of Jesus Christ. It is the name of Jesus that we preach to the ends of the earth, because it is only in His name that salvation is found (Acts 4:12).

“In Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form” (Colossians 2:9). As the Word of God (John 1:1), Jesus is the fullest possible revelation from God to man. God could not have spoken any more plainly.

FOR FURTHER STUDY​

God the Son Incarnate: The Doctrine of Christ by Stephen Wellum

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Does Jesus have a physical body in heaven?​

ANSWER

The physical, bodily resurrection of Jesus is foundational to Christian doctrine and our hope of heaven. Because Jesus rose from the dead with a physical body, every Christian has the guarantee of his own bodily resurrection (John 5:21, 28; Romans 8:23). Now Jesus is in heaven, where He is pictured as sitting in a place of authority, at the right hand of God (1 Peter 3:22). But is Jesus’ body in heaven the same as His body on earth?

The Bible is clear that Jesus’ body was resurrected. The tomb was empty. He was recognizable to those who knew Him. Jesus showed Himself to all His disciples after His resurrection, and more than five hundred people were eyewitnesses to His earthly, post-resurrection presence (1 Corinthians 15:4–6). In Luke 24:16, on the road to Emmaus, two of Jesus’ disciples “were kept from recognizing [Jesus].” However, later, “their eyes were opened and they recognized Him” (verse 31). It’s not that Jesus was unrecognizable; it’s that, for a time, the disciples were supernaturally restrained from recognizing Him.

Later in the same chapter of Luke, Christ makes it plain to His disciples that He does have a physical body; He is not a disembodied spirit: “See my hands and my feet, that it is I myself. Touch me, and see. For a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have” (Luke 24:39). After spending forty days with His disciples, Jesus ascended bodily into heaven (Acts 1:9). Jesus is still human, and He has a human body in heaven right now. His body is different, however; earthly human flesh is perishable, but heavenly bodies are imperishable (1 Corinthians 15:50). Jesus has a physical body, with a difference. His resurrected body is designed with eternity in view.

First Corinthians 15:35–49 describes what the body of the believer will be like in heaven. Our heavenly bodies will differ from our earthly ones in type of flesh, in splendor, in power, and in longevity. The apostle Paul also states that the believer’s body will be an image of Christ’s body (verse 49). Paul discusses this subject again in 2 Corinthians, where he compares earthly bodies to tents and heavenly bodies to heavenly dwellings (2 Corinthians 5:1–2). Paul says that, once the earthly tents come off, Christians will not be left “naked”—that is, without a body to live in (2 Corinthians 5:3). When the new body is “put on,” we will go from mortality to immortality (2 Corinthians 5:4).

So, we know that the Christian will have a heavenly body like Jesus’ “glorious body” (Philippians 3:21). At His incarnation Jesus took on human flesh, and at His resurrection His body was glorified—although He retained the scars (John 20:27). He will forever be the God-Man, sacrificed for us. Christ, the Creator of the universe, will forever stoop to our level, and He will be known to us in heaven in a tangible form that we can see, hear, and touch (Revelation 21:3–4; 22:4).

FOR FURTHER STUDY​

God the Son Incarnate: The Doctrine of Christ by Stephen Wellum

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What are the basics of Jesus’ teaching?​


ANSWER

The basics of Jesus’ teaching are profound yet simple enough for a child to understand; they are spiritual yet relevant to everyday life. Basically, Jesus taught that He was the fulfillment of messianic prophecy, that God requires more than external obedience to rules, that salvation comes to those who believe in Christ, and that judgment is coming to the unbelieving and unrepentant.

Jesus Christ taught that everyone needs salvation and that a person’s station in life has no bearing on his or her value to God; Christ came to save people from all walks of life. Neither does anyone’s past sins play a part in his ability to receive forgiveness, and Jesus encouraged His followers to forgive others the same way (Matthew 18:21–35; Luke 7:47). Zacchaeus was a rich tax collector who was undoubtedly despised by everyone in his hometown (Luke 19:7), but Jesus spent time with him. Jesus said, “Today salvation has come to this house” (Luke 19:9). The reason? Zacchaeus had trusted in Jesus, demonstrated by the fact that he repented of his past sins and pledged himself to a life of charity (Luke 19:8). “For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost,” Jesus said to the critical observers (Luke 19:10). He didn’t care who that “lost” person was, rich or poor, male or female, beggar or king. Everyone needs to be born again (John 3:3).

Jesus also taught the way to God is by faith, not through good deeds. He praised faith (Luke 7:9) and challenged those who relied on their works (Matthew 7:22–28). A rich young ruler once asked Jesus, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” (Mark 10:17). Jesus responded with a question: “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone” (Mark 10:18). Christ was not denying His deity or His own goodness, but He knew this young man didn’t recognize Jesus as the Messiah. In His question, Jesus was pointing out that whatever this man thought made someone “good” was false, because no one can do anything to make himself good enough to inherit eternal life (John 14:6). The Jewish religious leaders at the time of Christ shared the young ruler’s perspective, teaching that keeping the Law of God could make one acceptable before God. There are scores of people still today who mistakenly think their “good” life and “good” deeds will be enough to get them into heaven.

Jesus told this young rich man he must give up all of his wealth and follow Him (Mark 10:21). Jesus said this not because charity makes one righteous but because He knew the young man’s god was money. The young man only thought he was keeping the Law; greed was his undoing. He turned away from Jesus in sadness because “he had great possessions” (Mark 10:22). Christ taught that He alone is the source of eternal life. If someone wants to inherit eternal life, he must follow and worship Christ alone (John 6:45–51; 8:31; 10:27; 15:4, 14).

At the core of Jesus’ teaching is the good news of the coming of the Kingdom of God. The Kingdom is mentioned over fifty times in the Gospels. Many of Jesus’ parables were about the Kingdom (Matthew 13:3–9; 13:24–30; 13:31–32; 13:33). As a matter of fact, Jesus said He was sent for the purpose of preaching the coming of the Kingdom (Luke 4:43).

Jesus taught that the Kingdom of God had begun on earth with His ministry. The proof was evident: in fulfillment of prophecy, the blind were made to see, the dead were raised, and sins were forgiven. But Jesus also taught that there is an aspect of the Kingdom that is yet to come (Luke 9:27). His Kingdom is growing and someday will be visibly present (Luke 13:18–21). In what is commonly called “The Lord’s Prayer,” Christ said to pray for God’s Kingdom to come (Matthew 6:10). Jesus taught His followers to remember their calling: they are instruments of God’s grace as they share the good news of Christ’s coming. The more people become subjects of King Jesus, the more His Kingdom is visible to the world.

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God the Son Incarnate: The Doctrine of Christ by Stephen Wellum

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Is Jesus the Creator?​


ANSWER

Genesis 1:1 says that “God created the heavens and the earth.” Then, Colossians 1:16 gives the added detail that God created “all things” through Jesus Christ. The plain teaching of Scripture, therefore, is that Jesus is the Creator of the universe.

The mystery of the triune God is difficult to understand yet is one of the doctrines revealed in Scripture. In the Bible, both God the Father and Jesus are called Shepherd, Judge, and Savior. Both are called the Pierced One—in the same verse (Zechariah 12:10). Christ is the exact representation of God the Father, having the same nature (Hebrews 1:3). There is some sense in which everything the Father does, the Son and Spirit also do, and vice versa. They are always in perfect agreement at every moment, and all three equal only one God (Deuteronomy 6:4). Knowing that Christ is God and has all the attributes of God aids our understanding of Jesus as the Creator.

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” (John 1:1). There are three important things in this passage about Jesus and the Father: 1) Jesus was “in the beginning”—He was present at creation. Jesus had existed eternally with God. 2) Jesus is distinct from the Father—He was “with” God. 3) Jesus is the same as God in nature—He “was God.”

Hebrews 1:2 says, “In these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom also he made the universe.” Christ is the agent of God’s creation; the world was created “through” Him. The Father and the Son had two distinct functions in creation yet worked together to bring about the cosmos. John says, “All things were made through [Jesus], and without [Jesus] was not anything made that was made” (John 1:3, ESV). The apostle Paul reiterates: “There is but one God, the Father, from whom all things came and for whom we live; and there is but one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom all things came and through whom we live” (1 Corinthians 8:6).

The Holy Spirit, the third Person of the Trinity, was also an agent in creation (Genesis 1:2). Since the Hebrew word for “spirit” is often translated as “wind” or “breath,” we can see the activity of all three persons of the Trinity in one verse: “By the word of the LORD the heavens were made, their starry host by the breath of his mouth” (Psalm 33:6). After a thorough study of Scripture, we can conclude that God the Father is the Creator (Psalm 102:25), and He created through Jesus, God the Son (Hebrews 1:2).

FOR FURTHER STUDY​

God the Son Incarnate: The Doctrine of Christ by Stephen Wellum

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