By Alice Childs
“Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool” (Isaiah 1:18).
“Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD” (Deuteronomy 6:4).
“And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness:…” (Genesis 1:26).
“But of that day and of that hour knoweth no man, no not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father” (Mark 13:32).
“Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus: who being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: but made Himself of no reputation, and took upon Himself the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men, being found on fashion as a man, He humbled Himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross” (Philippians 2:5-8). **All emphases mine.**
There has been such an uproar and so much confusion that has come to light regarding the issue of the deity of Jesus Christ. Now, since Jesus Christ is the central figure of not just history but of all the Bible, we must understand who He is since all of history revolves around Him. In fact, the entire Bible — the entire timeline of history — is nothing less than HIS STORY in which we ourselves participate. This Drama of the Ages has been unfolding for nearly seven millennia from the very instant God said, “Let there be… .” At its center is the Triune Godhead.
If we are to understand sin, salvation, and eternity, then we must come to a clear understanding of who God is; for if we get the identity of God wrong, then we will get every other doctrine of the Bible wrong, including the most important doctrine of all, which is the doctrine of salvation; because upon this doctrine hangs the destinies of mankind’s immortal soul. If we get the doctrine of salvation wrong, then nothing else matters.
This is how important, how imperative it is that we understand who Jesus really is, for it is upon Him and Him alone that our eternal salvation rests.
In Isaiah, God is speaking to the nation of Israel through the prophet Isaiah. He begins by calling Israel to join Him in what I think of as one of the greatest teaching sessions of all time. Yes, we are to come to God by FAITH, but God never tells us to leave our intellect at the door.
Faith has to be based upon something, and here God is laying out point by point the very foundation of salvation through Israel’s coming Messiah, who was to be the Lamb of God who would take away the sins of the world.
Israel was already familiar with the concept of animal sacrifices, which God had set up to be visual object lessons to her; lessons that foreshadowed the coming Messiah who was to give His life as an atonement — a propitiation for sin — not just for the sins of Israel, but for the sins of the whole world (John 3:16; 1 John 2:2).
In Isaiah, in context, God is offering an invitation for Israel to “reason together” with Him regarding the meaning behind all of their sacrificial offerings — the point behind every sacrifice that pointed towards the One who was yet to come, who was to be the absolute and ultimate fulfillment of all that those inadequate animal sacrifices hinted.
The animal sacrifices of goats, bullocks, rams, doves, and lambs were visual object lessons to them of the coming Redeemer of all men, whose earthly lineage would be through the Jewish people. However, the sacrifice of these animals was not sufficient to pay in full the sin debt of all mankind. No, that debt could only be paid by GOD.
Only God could make a sacrifice that was both worthy enough and adequate enough to satisfy the JUSTICE demanded by the perfect Law of God. When Adam rebelled and sinned, he violated God’s Law; he thus became a guilty sinner. He “transgressed the Law of God,” the penalty of which was eternal separation from God.
This separation prohibited Adam and all of his descendants from ever being able to be in the presence of God. This loss of perfection and innocence is what Adam LOST. This is what the Bible means when it says we are lost sinners. We are lost, separated apart from God, and are unable to do anything on our own behalf or by our own power to reconcile ourselves back into a right (sinless) standing before an infinite and utterly holy God.
This is why only God could bridge the chasm between holy God and fallen man that Adam’s rebellion caused. This is why all of Adam’s progeny remains lost — separated from God; and this is why condemned mankind had to have a perfect Savior, and why this Savior had to be both fully God and fully man.
You see, everything in God’s Word from Genesis 1:1 all the way through the end of Revelation is intertwined and inextricably interwoven together. It is all one continuous story — HIS STORY, and although the timeline of history is divided into different segments called dispensations, or differing administrations, the entire timeline is all still HIS STORY.
This is the reason that all scripture must be read and studied in its proper context — that is, in context of the entire passage, in context of the book, and in context of the place in which it occurs on history’s timeline. In other words, in the proper dispensation in which the verse or passage of scripture occurs.
Context is everything. Since all scripture is divinely inspired and is “God-breathed,” that means that God Himself is the author of all of it. Every word in it is HIS word which He spoke through the forty different men whom He chose to be His amanuenses — His scribes if you will. It was these men who wrote, but it was God’s words that they wrote.
This is why one verse or portion of scripture cannot contradict any other portion of scripture. No one verse of scripture should ever be taken out of context and an entire doctrine built upon it; because if one verse is pulled away from the context of the entire passage, or the book in which it is located, or the dispensation to which it belongs — or if the group of people it’s addressing is confused or misapplied, then the entire meaning of the verse and/or passage becomes confused, and the meaning of the entire book or passage is misapplied. Once an error of that sort has occurred, then one has moved from sound doctrine into heresy and false teaching.
That’s how serious it is when we approach scripture with a “dumpster dive” methodology, and why it is so dangerous to build an entire doctrine around one verse or group of verses that are pulled out of proper context.
We must learn to approach and understand scripture in light of the whole counsel of God (that is in light of the entirety of what the Word of God teaches) — both Testaments, and in the proper dispensation of God’s timelines of history. When approached in this manner, all seeming contradictions disappear.
Let’s go back and look at one of the greatest controversies that lies at the center of Mark 13:32. That controversy is this: If Jesus is God (and He is), then is there anything that Jesus cannot know?
At first glance, Mark 13:32 appears to completely contradict the already stated fact that Jesus is God. A casual reading of this verse would seem to imply that Jesus cannot be fully God, because God is omniscient — all knowing; thus if there is even one thing that Jesus doesn’t know, then He cannot be God. This is indeed a conundrum, and one for which each of us as believers need to be able to “give an account” (1 Peter 3:15).
However, as we shall see, there is an answer given in scripture. Scripture always explains and interprets scripture, therefore the explanation for the seeming problem of Jesus’s deity being in question in Mark 13:32 is answered fully in Philippians 2:5-8.
In Heaven, which resides in the realm of eternity, the eternal presence of God is outside of Time — that is it is outside of the timeline in which humanity dwells. Jesus, being the second Person of the Triune Godhead and thus God, is eternally existent; eternally omnipotent (all powerful); eternally omnipresent (everywhere at once); and eternally omniscient (all knowing). Therefore, there is nothing that Jesus cannot know.
Now, let’s look at Philippians 2:5-8 and find the answer to the seeming contradiction that lies at the heart of Mark 12:32. In Heaven, before His incarnation into humanity, Jesus–God the Son–had all knowledge. He had to be omniscient because He is God. However, “in the fullness of time,” GOD the Son was incarnated into human flesh. He incarnated into human flesh in order to procure our salvation. He came as a man (albeit still being both fully God and fully man). He came to become as one of us so that one day He could make us to become like He is now!
Only because of His deity was He able to be both fully God and fully man. No mortal fallen man could pay the penalty of Sin that was demanded by the justice of God’s holy Law. In order for mankind to be redeemed, that which Adam’s rebellion lost, the infinite penalty that sin incurred had to be paid in full. Only God was able to do for fallen mankind that which needed to be done in order to save and redeem lost mankind from the eternal penalty of Sin. Only God could do this, but God the Son had to do it as a man.
The very Son of God wrapped Himself in the flesh of humanity, in order to live a perfectly sinless life in complete obedience to the LAW of God. This qualified Jesus, as a man, to die a sinless death in our place in order to pay the infinite pardon of Sin for all Adam’s progeny — a sin debt that was incurred by Adam’s rebellion.
The penalty for the Sin of mankind was required to be paid by a perfect man, to satisfy the righteous justice of holy God; One whose death could qualify as an atonement to redeem lost man; One who was qualified and able to conquer Sin, Death, Hell, and Satan by a victorious resurrection from the grave as a new and glorified man. Jesus alone was that perfect man. He became the firstfruits of all who are willing to be redeemed “in Christ” by believing, according to the scriptures (1 Corinthians 15:1-4). All of this was done by Jesus Christ in order that He might both procure and preserve our salvation.
Because Jesus was willing to pay our sin debt, He incarnated Himself into mortal flesh. In doing so, He placed Himself under the authority of the Father (even though in His divine state He is equal to the Father and the Holy Spirit in His divine essence).
Jesus, when He incarnate (embodied in human flesh), He did not use His own divine power to perform His miraculous deeds while on earth, but rather He acted in full obedience to the Father, and performed His works through the power of the Holy Spirit (Philippians 2:5-8).
On earth, Jesus was still just as much God as He always was; however, as shown in Philippians, He chose to limit or veil His own power, divinity, and omniscience to allow the Holy Spirit to work through Him. As such, while He was on earth, He chose to veil His own deity (although still retaining it) and limit Himself in obedience to the Father so that He could pay our sin debt as a perfect man. He alone was able to do this since, in His earthly incarnation, He alone was able to do so being both God and man.
After He arose from the tomb victorious, He ascended back to Heaven in a glorified body as the first fruits of all who are believers — a glorified body that all believers will one day receive. When Jesus ascended back to the Father after His resurrection, He took back His full authority and His complete knowledge, of which He voluntarily divested Himself when He came to earth.
Now, having ascended back to Heaven, Jesus has taken back all of His glory and divine knowledge. Therefore, Jesus does indeed know not only the day and hour of the rapture of the Church, but more so, in context of the passage in Mark, He knows the day and time of His second coming. It was never a matter of Him not knowing, but the case of Him voluntarily veiling some of His omniscient knowledge in order that He might be in complete submission to the Father’s will and to perform His work as the God man via the power of the Holy Spirit.
Now that He is resurrected and clothed again in the divine glory that has always been His, He is once again seated “at the right hand of the Father” with the full knowledge of everything that He as God possesses, and has always possessed.
The controversy of whether or not Jesus is God is what is at issue. This is why we need to understand what the whole counsel of God has to say, by putting this one verse in proper context. Of course I can’t quote the entire Bible here to make my point, but I can give some verses from both the Old and New Testaments that prove that only God can forgive sins. Therefore, if only God is able to satisfy the Justice of God, then the One who paid that price of redemption could not be anyone less than God.
In our opening verse in Isaiah, God is speaking of the coming Messiah who would be the sacrificial “Lamb of God” — the One who could permanently take their red and scarlet sins and make them “white as snow.”
Let me list a few of the verses from both Testaments that show, from cover to cover, the full deity of Jesus. Then we will conclude by “reasoning together” from scripture WHY Jesus is God, and what would be the eternally devastating consequences to all of mankind throughout history if He were not.
These are just a very few, but are enough to make the point:
I want to conclude this study with us reasoning together using both the scriptures and the intellects that God has given to us. As I said earlier, we are to come to God by faith, but it is not a baseless faith. Faith must have an object or else it is not faith at all, but merely fantasy or wishful thinking.
So, let us look at salvation. It is Jesus Himself who states emphatically that salvation — reconciliation with the Father — can come only through Him. In fact, in this verse Jesus is speaking of Himself, using the very name of God that God gave to Moses back in Genesis. When Moses asked God who He was, God’s response to Moses’ inquiry was “I AM that I AM.” In essence, God told Moses that He is the eternally existent One who is who He is.
God spoke in first person singular; and His answer encompassed His always eternal, self existing, never-ending nature. So, what did Jesus say about salvation? He said, “I AM the way, the truth, and the life; no man cometh to the Father but by me.” And there you have it. The Jews certainly understood exactly what Jesus meant when He made that statement. They knew He was equating Himself with God. This was why they hated Him and sought to kill Him.
Now, think with me and let us reason together: Since Adam’s sin caused the downfall of all men, women, boys, and girls from Adam onward, and since no person is able to save him or herself, then this means that all mankind stands guilty and condemned before a just and holy God. And because we are sinners, we cannot live the sinless life that is needed to satisfy the perfection that God, by His holy character and nature, demands. We are justly condemned sinners (Romans 3:23; Romans 10:9-10; Romans 6:23; Romans 1:16).
This means that Adam’s sin has eternally condemned all of mankind born after him, because no one can live a completely sinless life. This includes being sinless not just in what we do, but in what we say, in what we think, and sinless in the desires and motives of our hearts as well. This is the level of perfection that is required to dwell in the presence of God. That is what Adam lost through his rebellion. That level of perfection is the only thing that could pay the penalty of sin.
This meant that mankind after Adam’s fall was eternally doomed on his own, because no sin-infected human being could ever live sinless enough to redeem or to pay the wages of sin, which was eternal death.
Now, God, being omniscient (all knowing) and eternal, already knew even before He created one molecule that man would fall; that man would lose his perfection. Therefore, in the mind and plan of the Triune Godhead–the Three in One, God had already decided that God the Son would become the God-Man; that in the fullness of time, God the Son would incarnate Himself into human flesh and become a man while still being fully God.
Jesus had to come and live as a man the sinless life demanded by the Law in order that He may satisfy the supreme justice of God. That sinless life could only be lived by Jesus, because He is God. The sinless life that Jesus lived qualified Him to pay the wages of Sin that mankind owed but which mankind could not pay. Jesus as the God-Man did qualify to pay that infinite price.
Jesus Had to die as a man in order that the debt could be paid in full. As the only begotten God-Man, this qualified His death to stand in the stead of all lost and fallen mankind. Also, a sinless man had to be raised from the dead perfect and incorruptible; therefore, Jesus arose from the tomb as that perfect man on the third day. He became the “first-fruits” of all of those who would be among redeemed mankind.
This is why Jesus is God, because only God could do all that was needed to be done to both procure and preserve mankind’s redemption.
Bottom line is this: If Jesus was not both fully God and fully man, then His death on the cross was futile and in vain; and if Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection was insufficient to pay the sin debt of man because He was not “God enough” then everyone is still lost and all of us are headed to an eternal Hell.
Now we can understand the full implications of misinterpreting this verse scripture in Mark. By implication, our misunderstanding of Mark 12:32 implies that Jesus is not fully God, which goes completely against scripture. If one does not believe that Jesus is God, then one does not believe the only gospel that alone can save a lost sinner.
Please, I beg you, harken to the whole counsel of God. There is only one gospel and only one Savior; outside of it all are lost. Jesus Christ, God the Son, is the central figure of everything. The cross is the fulcrum of all history.
In order to be saved, one must believe in Jesus, but one must believe according to the scriptures (1 Corinthians 15:1-4; John 3:16-18). If anyone denies or impugns the full deity of Jesus, then one has denied God; denied the cross; denied salvation; denied the Jesus of scripture, and has denied the only gospel that can set him free and save his soul from eternal Hell. That’s how important believing the full divinity of Jesus is.
Think about it.