Dad upDate/The Deity of Christ in Jn 10:30

Thank you so much for praying for my dad, Roy. He had extensive surgery (about 10 hours) for oral cancer. Doctors removed about 40% of his tongue and grafted on a patch of skin from his leg. He begins swallow and speech therapy soon. They also removed his lymph nodes. Huge stuff going on. But dad’s a tough old Italian, and he’s fighting back to recover. I’m so proud of him. He’s ahead of the doctor’s predicted recovery schedule, so keep in in your prayers. Dad is 80 years young and we want him around for a long time to come.

If you want to email an encouragement to him, please leave a comment after this post, and I will forward all comments to him tonite.  Dad would love to hear from you, friend or stranger, and to know that he’s in your prayers.   

greekbible.jpegMy cousin sent me some scans of really old Bible studies I taught decades ago. One that stood out for me was on the Deity of Christ. I believe, and the Bible teaches, that Jesus is fully human and fully God.

The deity of Christ hotly debated from the 1920’s to the 1970’s. Beginning around the 70’s, evangelicals were united on his deity, but inadvertently began undercutting his humanity. In the last few years of THE EMERGENCY CHURCH, the pendulum has swung back, and I see signs that the doctrine of Christ’s deity is once again slipping. Theological liberalism is theological liberalism whether it’s coming from the old (pro-communist) National Council of Churches or the modern-day spokespeople of the so-called emergent church. Same old story… new words to tell it.

nicene-creed.jpgThe deity of Christ is affirmed in so many places in Scripture we hardly know where to start. It is affirmed in macro ways (direct affirmations like John 1) and micro ways (linguistic details).

Here is one example of the latter.

““My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father’s hand. “I and My Father are one.” Then the Jews took up stones again to stone Him.” John 10:29-31, NKJV.

Here’s what I wrote 15 years ago in my Bible study notes, and I would stand by every word today:

Jesus had three options for the word “one” – he could have used the masculine, feminine, or neuter forms. The word used here (hen) is neuter gender, and could be translated “one thing.”

Notice the precision of Scripture. Jesus’ choice of words bears on the oneness/unity of essence within the Godhead. If he had used the masc/fem genders this would imply “one Person”.

Thus this is not an assertion of identity, but of unity.

The Jews regarded this statement as blasphemous. This is only understandable if we concede his claim of deity.

augustine.jpegSt. Augustine comments on this verse:

“Hear both the ‘are’ and the ‘one.’ In that he said ‘one’ he delivers us from Arius. In that he said ‘are’ he delivers from Sabellius. If ‘one’ not diverse. If ‘are’ both Father and Son.

Huh?

Let’s start with Arius, a church leader from North Africa, at that time the center of Christianity. Arianism taught that Jesus and the Father did not have the same, identical essence, and that Jesus was created from nothing by the Father.

Augustine points out that the word “one” delivers us from Arius. Jesus claims to be “of one essence” (neuter gender) with the Father. If Arius had been right, Jesus could not have made this claim.

Then, Sabellius. He was a 3rd century priest from Libya. He taught that the Trinity was simply a way of describing three aspects of the one person that is God. God wears his Father hat, his Son hat, and his Spirit hat, successively. One at a time. Not simultaneously. Sabellianism is often called modalism. The Son is the Father is the Spirit, one at a time. Modes of being, not distinct persons.

250px-nicaea.jpgChristians rightly rejected Sabellianism.

Its modern counterpart exists in a theological system called Oneness Pentecostalism, of which T.D. Jakes and the music group Phillips, Craig, and Dean are allegedly a part.

Yet centuries ago, Augustine wrote, “in that he said ‘are’ he delivers from Sabellius.” The linear, durative, present tense of the verb indicates that Christ and the Father ARE ONE THING SIMULTANEOUSLY, not successively.

Jesus is God–always has been, always will be. From that first Christmas morning onward, he is also human without ceasing to be God. That will never change either.

God help us if we move the ancient landmarks of the faith.

I’m going to send out the full study on the deity of Christ, typo’s and all, in my next WISEGUY’S newsletter. Click on the mobster up on the right to subscribe!

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10 thoughts on “Dad upDate/The Deity of Christ in Jn 10:30

  1. Mr Giovannetti (Roy),
    I was so sorry to hear of your situation, but so relieved that you were able to find a solution through surgery. Surgery is hard and takes a lot out of you, but the Roy I fished with is one tough Italian. Sabrina and I are praying for a speedy recovery, and when you are back in town give me a call and I can set you up with a river guide who actually catches fish…
    David and Sabrina Mantei
    Fishers of Men

  2. Dear Roy: You have been in our prayers since we found out about your surgery. Just wanted to let you know we have a dear friend who had the same type of surgery you had. She is getting close to 80 as well, still smiling, and praising Jesus! She can no longer talk, but you wouldn’t know that from her shining face and cheerful nods. We love her tremendously and so glad she’s doing well and enjoying life with us. There are many reasons God has us remain here on earth and sharing His joy with others is certainly a huge one. I can see your children/grandchildren enjoy you a lot too. So, keep working on recovery – it’s well worth it! By the way, you have a great son in Dr. G!!!

  3. Rick,
    It’s important because it tells us what God we’re worshipping.
    it’s important because it flows out of what Bible we’re reading.
    It’s important because Christians died affirming “Jesus is Lord [deity]” rather than betraying him and saying “Caesar is Lord.”
    It’s important because, as A.W. Tozer wrote, “The most important thing about a man is what comes to his mind when he thinks about God.” And our minds are to be informed on this supremely important topic by Scripture.

    Bill

  4. Rick,
    Another reason it’s important: What other sacrifice could be perfect? …enough to satisfy the demands of God’s holiness? Our salvation depends on it.

  5. not really talking about arian…but….sabellius would claim the deity of christ, wouldn’t he? if he does, then ? and bob, if the trinity was crucified, wouldn’t that be even more special?

    bill, is sabellius denying the deity, the bible, and jesus as lord……? if i’m misinterpreting that priest then i’ll stand corrected.

  6. Roy, You have been in my thoughts and prayers from the begining of your recovery. You don’t know me but I know you must be a strong man, like your son, and you will by the grace of God recover quickly. I’m happy to know your Dr. is also pleased with your quick recovery.
    Take care!

  7. I do find it interesting (on this subject) that for all of the contemporary Church’s pounding the pulpit on the deity of Christ, that is the opposite of what the first Church did, they pounded the pulpit of His humanity (His deity they of course also affirmed, but the hotly contested topic was the heresies surrounding the nature of nature, is the material world and physical existence inherently evil or good?)

  8. Steve,
    Yep, the pendulum swings back and forth. Much of Christian theology was clarified in the crucible of controversy. The various creeds & doctrinal statements of the church continually clarified the biblical teaching as it was distorted by false teachers. The central core never changed; the original apostolic/Christolic teaching was simply increasingly clarified. And the amazing things is this (as Dorothy Sayers argues so compellingly), the issues of doctrine that the church wrestled with were intensely important to the person on the street. They mattered enormously to the thinking Christian trying to follow Jesus.
    B

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