“Blogging the Institutes” is my on-going attempt to paraphrase John Calvin’s work, the Institutes of the Christian Religion. You can find out more about the series in the Introduction. For all the posts in this series, check out the Master List.
All of God is in Christ
If you look at what Jesus actually does in the Bible, then you will see how He is God. When He said about himself, “My Father is working until now, and I Myself am also working” (John 5:17), the Jews knew He was making a claim to be God. That’s why they sought to kill Him: not only because He broke the Sabbath, but also because He claimed God was His Father. Can’t you see that His claim to be God is plain? The power to govern the world, and regulate all things, surely belongs to the Creator. But this is also ascribed to Jesus in Hebrews 1:3.
Not only does He rule the world along with the Father, but Jesus also shares other offices with God which can’t be given to people. God proclaims through the prophet: “I, even I, am the one who wipes out your transgressions for My own sake” (Isaiah 43:25). Christ also laid claim to the prerogative to forgive sins and He backed it up with a miracle (Matthew 9:6). Therefore, we see that Jesus had not only the ministry of forgiving sins but the actual power to do so! Furthermore, doesn’t only God have the power to see into our minds and know our thoughts? But Christ also had this power! Therefore, we can infer that Christ is God.
Jesus’ miracles are also great evidence that He is God. I admit that similar miracles are sometimes performed by the apostles and prophets. But there is one very essential difference: They did these things as God’s servants, whereas Jesus exerted His own power. Sometimes, He used prayer so that He could give glory to the Father, but we see that, for the most part, He used His own power. How could He not be the originator of these miracle? He also commissions others to perform them too! The Gospels relate how Jesus have the disciples power to cast out demons, cure the sick, and raise the dead. The apostles also show that the Jesus’ power helped them performed their miracle. They showed quite clearly that their power came from Jesus: “In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth,” says Peter, “Rise up and walk!” (Acts 3:6). It’s not surprising then that Christ appealed to His miracles to subdue the unbelief of the Jews. Especially, the miracles which were performed by His own energy and thus bore the clearest testimony to Him being God.
Only in God is there is salvation, righteousness and life. Christ has all of these things. He is certainly God. Don’t object by saying, “Well, our life or salvation is actually fused into me by God!” But the Bible doesn’t say that Christ merely dispenses salvation, but that He is salvation. Only God is good and just. Christ is also the embodiment of goodness and justice, for John says that, “In Him was life, and this life was the light of men” (John 1:4).
Trusting the evidence, we can boldly put our hope and faith in Him, even though we know it is blasphemous to trust in any created thing for salvation. “You believe in God,” Jesus said, “Believe also in Me” (John 14:1). Furthermore, Paul interprets two passages from Isaiah as being fulfilled in Christ (Romans 10:1; 15:12):
- “Whoever believes in him will not be ashamed” (Isaiah 28:16).
- “In that day, there will be a root of Jesus, which will be a sign for the people, to it the Gentiles will seek” (Isaiah 11:10).
According to Paul, eternal life is found in Jesus.
Again, the prayer of faith is addressed to Jesus. Prayer, as you know, should be made to God. The prophet Joel says, “And it will come to pass that whoever calls upon the name of the Lord (Yahweh) will be delivered” (Joel 2:32). And another passage says, “The name of the Lord (Yahweh) is a strong tower; the righteous run to it and are safe” (Proverbs 18:10). But the name of Christ is invoked for salvation and, therefore, it follows that He is Yahweh. Moreover, check out Stephen’s prayer. He says, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit. Later on in Act, Ananias says, “Lord, I have heard of this man [Paul], how much evil he has done to Your saints at Jerusalem. And here he has authority from the chief priests to bind all that call upon Your name” (Acts 9:13-14). To make it more clear, Paul declared that the only doctrine which He taught was the knowledge of Christ (1 Corinthians 2:2). Consider what how amazing it is that the name of Jesus alone is preached to us, though God commands us to glory only in Himself (Jeremiah 9:24). Who will argue that Jesus is merely human?
We can also add all the salutations to the letters of Paul which pray for the same blessings to come from the Son and the Father. We’re taught through this not only that the blessing of the heavenly Father come down to us through the Son’s intercession, but also that there is a partnership between the Father and the Son for these things. This practical knowledge from the Scripture is surely more solid than any speculation. The person who loves God has the best view of God. We can even say that believers can “touch” God, when they are made alive, enlightened, justified, and sanctified by Christ.