(MOBILE FRIENDLY)

Mormonism and Eternal Truth

Truth is not only
violated by falsehood;
it may be equally
outraged by silence.
(Henri-Frederic Amiel)

THE JESUS OF THE BIBLE

Jesus Christ had a profound effect on the world, more so than any other man who has ever lived. However, it seems that each religious group has a different idea about who he actually was. And although most folk agree that Christ is important enough to warrant a place in their belief systems, their varying beliefs about him make it hard to credit that they could all be talking about the same person.

For obvious reasons we will use the Bible in our search to find out who the real Jesus is. It provides more information about Him than all other known sources combined. Moreover, it authenticates its record with verifiable names of rulers, officials, towns and places and so on. And archeological, historical and secular evidence backs up the biblical record, including evidence confirming battles that were fought, coins that were in use in those days, prophecies that have been accurately fulfilled to the minutest detail, and the list goes on — not just in Jesus’ days, but going quite far back into the days of the Old Testament. So we feel safe in using the Bible as our reference source.

We want to know the truth. For that reason we will examine the scriptures carefully and with open minds, to ensure that we arrive at a well balanced and unbiased conclusion about what the Bible actually teaches concerning Jesus Christ.

CHRIST’S ORIGIN

Mankind came into existence in Genesis 1:26-28, when the first couple, Adam and Eve were created. This indicates that the human race originated right here on earth. On the other hand, Jesus said that he did not have the same origin as we did, but had come “from above.”

“And he said unto them: Ye are from beneath; I am from above: Ye are of this world; I am not of this world.” (John 8:23, KJV)

JESUS IS GOD

The book of Philippians goes one step further, by declaring that prior to coming to earth and taking on the form of a man, Jesus had existed in the form of God and that he was equal to God:

“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 him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men.” (Philippians 2:5-7, KJV)

John 1 quoted below confirms that in the beginning (i.e. before everything else) Jesus was God … and also that He was with God. Then, approximately 4,000 years after the creation of the world, he was made flesh and lived amongst us.

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” (John 1:1, KJV)
“All things were made by him, and without him was not any thing made that was made.” (John 1:3, KJV)
“He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not.” (John 1:10, KJV)
“And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us … ” (John 1:14, KJV).

But how could Jesus be God and be in the form of God, yet at the same time be with God and also be equal with God?

This puzzles us… until we reflect on the obvious: God must, of necessity, be overwhelmingly more complex and greater in every way than we are, otherwise he wouldn’t have been capable of creating us. Mankind and God exist on different levels; God on the supernatural and man on the natural. We are finite, earthly creatures of flesh and blood, limited by the dimensions of time and space; whereas God is spirit, infinite and eternal, and has no boundaries or limitations.

The Bible explains that God is spirit (John 4:24); that His presence fills the heavens and the earth (Jeremiah 23:24); and that no man has seen Him as He really is, as He is surrounded by unapproachable light (1 Timothy 6:16).

Considering all these points, it would be beyond our capacity to understand God exactly as he is. The only way we could even begin to have any sort of idea of what he is like, would be if he revealed to us as much about himself as are are able to understand, in terms that are familiar to us. And this is precisely what he has done through the writings of his prophets in the Old Testament, and by his Son in the New.

“God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds.” (Hebrews 1:1-2, KJV)

“No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him.” (John 1:18, KJV)

“And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory.” (1 Timothy 3:16, KJV)

JESUS CLAIMED TO BE GOD

“If ye had known me, ye should have known my Father also: and from henceforth ye know him, and have seen him. Philip saith unto him, Lord, shew us the Father, and it sufficeth us. Jesus saith unto him, Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Philip? he that hath seen me hath seen the Father; and how sayest thou then, Shew us the Father?.” (John 14:7-9, KJV)

“I and my Father are one. Then the Jews took up stones again to stone him. Jesus answered them, Many good works have I shewed you from my Father; for which of those works do ye stone me? The Jews answered him, saying, For a good work we stone thee not; but for blasphemy; and because that thou, being a man, makest thyself God.” (John 10:30-33, KJV)

The Bible backs up his claims to be God, by explaining that Jesus revealed the invisible God to us in the flesh:

“[Jesus] Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature. For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: And he is before all things, and by him all things consist.”(Colossians 1:15-17, KJV)

To ensure that we have a clear understanding of the impact of above verses from Colossians concerning who Jesus is, we will go through each section separately:

Who is the image of the invisible God:
Jesus was the visible reflection of the invisible God.

the firstborn of every creature:
The term firstborn originated from the ancient Hebrew practice of giving greater honour to the firstborn in a family, than to his siblings (c/f Deuteronomy 21:17). And it became customary to use the term to describe someone who was honoured above others. For instance, God declared that he would make King David his firstborn, the highest of the kings of the earth (c/f Psalm 89:27), Yet David was not the firstborn in his own family. He was the youngest. Nor was he Israel’s first king. Saul was. And in a similar manner, the phrase the firstborn of every creature indicates that Christ was honoured above every creature (i.e. every created being) for the simple reason that he was not a created being, but the Creator himself.

(You will find further examples of terms of speech, including firstborn, here: Understanding Hebrew Terms of Speech.)

For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible:
Christ created all things that are in heaven and on the earth, that are visible (that can be seen in the physical realm) and invisible (that exist in the invisible, spiritual realm)

whether they be thrones or dominions, or principalities, or powers:
According to Hebrew writings, these terms refer to ranks or orders of angelic beings. And according to the previous section, Jesus created them.

all things were created by him, and for him:
Christ created everything for his purposes.

And he is before all things:
He existed right at the beginning, before anything had been created (c/f John 1:1). When he created all that had been created, he was outside of his creation, not part of it.

and by him all things consist:
Jesus sustains and upholds everything..

As Albert Barnes puts it in his Notes, “He [Christ] is the great and glorious and ever active agent by whom the perfections of God are made known.”

JESUS ACCEPTED WORSHIP

When Cornelius worshipped the apostle Peter, he refused his worship and rebuked him:

“And as Peter was coming in, Cornelius met him, and fell down at his feet, and worshipped him. But Peter took him up, saying, Stand up; I myself also am a man.” (Acts 10:25-26, KJV)

However, Jesus accepted the worship of his disciples and others fully, without rebuking them:

“Jesus heard that they had cast him out; and when he had found him, he said unto him, Dost thou believe on the Son of God? He answered and said, Who is he, Lord, that I might believe on him? And Jesus said unto him, Thou hast both seen him, and it is he that talketh with thee. And he said, Lord, I believe. And he worshipped him.” (John 9:35-38, KJV)

“And Thomas answered and said unto him [Jesus], My Lord and my God.” (John 20:28, KJV)

“And as they went to tell his disciples, behold, Jesus met them, saying, All hail. And they came and held him by the feet, and worshipped him.” (Matthew 28:9, KJV)

“And it came to pass, while he blessed them, he was parted from them, and carried up into heaven. And they worshipped him, and returned to Jerusalem with great joy.” (Luke 24:51-52, KJV)

JESUS IS THE MEDIATOR

The purpose of a mediator is to equally represent both sides. And Christ, the God-man, qualifies as the perfect mediator between God and man.

“And to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant …” (Hebrews 12:24, KJV
“For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time.” (1 Timothy 2:5-6, KJV)

Christ’s shed blood on the cross at Calvary ratified the New Covenant for salvation by grace. By his atoning, sacrificial and substitutionary death, he paid the penalty for sin on behalf of all who put their faith in him for redemption.

JESUS REVEALED GOD TO US

It astounds us that in his revelation of what God is like, Jesus consistently displayed utter humility and selflessness. His miracles proved that he had power over life, death, sickness, demons, the forces of nature and the whole of creation; in fact over everything. Yet in spite of his boundless power, when he was unjustly accused, insulted and abused, he reviled not. Resentment and revenge were not in His nature. Not once did he retaliate or hold a grudge. And rather than being derogatory about our sinfulness, arrogance and pride, His response was sadness (Matthew 23:37, Luke 19:41).

Christ stressed that he had come to earth to serve (Matthew 20:28, Mark 10:42-45). And he illustrated love, goodness and humility in a way that was far beyond society’s norms. He was a perfect example to us, showing us in word and in deed that the values of fallen man are upside down. He explained to his disciples that he who is great is not he who has wealth and influence or who wields authority, but he who serves (c/f Luke 22:24-27). And in his sermon on the mount he revealed that it is not power, worldly success, popularity, self-confidence or might that make us blessed, but meekness, gentleness, purity of heart and the like (c/f Matthew 5).

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.” (Isaiah 55:8-9, KJV)

Jesus taught that the two greatest commandments (that embody all the other commandments) are:

“And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment. And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these.” (Mark 12:30-31, KJV)

But we aren’t capable of living up to either of these commandments. No matter how hard we try, we keep falling short. And because of our fallenness we do not have the ability, of ourselves, to reverse the status quo. But God knows that. Consequently he made a way to reveal both his justice in condemning and judging sin, and his mercy to the guilty sinner: In Christ, he took his judgment for our sin upon Himself. He, our pure and sinless Creator bore our sin and our shame so that we, who are guilty, could go free.

“God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself … ” (2 Corinthians 5:19, KJV)

JESUS, THE SACRIFICIAL LAMB OF GOD

“The next day John (the Baptist) seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.” (John 1:29, KJV)

In order to qualify to take our sins upon himself and bear the consequences in our place, Christ had to take on the body of a man, and then he had to live a sinless life. If he had committed any sin, he himself would have had to come under judgment for it. And a person can only pay the ultimate penalty once. If he was to redeem us, he would have to be free of sin.

The whole of mankind has come through the line of fallen Adam. So we have all inherited fallen natures (c/f The Problem of Sin.) On the other hand Christ was an original creation. His foetus was supernaturally created in the womb of the virgin Mary by the power of the Holy Spirit, not though the act of procreation by a fallen man. So he never carried the taint of sin that has been passed down to the rest of us, through the line of Adam

“…Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost (translated from exactly the same Greek term as Holy Spirit). And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name Jesus: for he shall save his people from their sins.” (Matthew 1:20-21, KJV)

Under the Old Covenant, the sacrificial offering of an unblemished animal only covered their past sin. So it had to be repeated over and over again. But it foretold the greater sacrifice of the Lamb of God, that would not merely cover their sins, but would take away the penalty of sin forever:

“And every priest standeth daily ministering and offering oftentimes the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins: But this man [i.e. Jesus], after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God … For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified.” (Hebrews 10:11-12, 14 KJV)
“… having forgiven you all trespasses; Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross.” (Colossians 2:13-14, KJV)

The unblemished animals used in the Mosaic sacrificial system were merely a picture of the coming perfect sacrificial Lamb of God. No animal, no matter how flawless it is, has the same value as a man. Nor would any one man be of sufficient value to cover all the sins of all of the men who had ever lived. But Christ wasn’t just a man: He was God enrobed in flesh. And as the prophet Isaiah explains, the value of all the nations of mankind combined, when compared to the value of God, is as a speck of dust on a scale or a drop of water in a bucket (c/f Isaiah 40:15).

The aim of fallen man is to make ourselves look good in the eyes of others; to be respected, even honoured. But although God was the epitome of purity, he willingly died a criminal’s humiliating and agonizing death for the sake of you and me, the guilty ones. He hung naked for all to see His shame, nailed to a cross, in indescribable pain and suffering, whilst onlookers cursed and jeered at him, insulted him and spat on him. He, the worthy, holy one, bore our sin, our guilt and our shame so that we who are unworthy, could be set freed from the penalty that we so justly deserved.

“For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.” (2 Corinthians 5:21, KJV)
“For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God.” (Ephesians 2:8, KJV)

What God requires of us to qualify for this costly forgiveness, is to believe that Jesus Christ is whom he said he was, that his teachings are true, and to follow him.

“Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent.” (John 6:29, KJV)

JESUS IS THE ONLY WAY TO GOD

“Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” (John 14:6,KJV)
“All things are delivered unto me of my Father: and no man knoweth the Son, but the Father; neither knoweth any man the Father, save the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal him.” (Matthew 11:27, KJV)
“And this is life eternal, that they might know thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.” (John 17:3, KJV)

Copyright © 2017 by Yvonne Gibbs. All rights reserved.

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