I was perusing through some old issues of The Restitution Herald which has been the primary publication of the Church of God General Conference, McDonough, Georgia, for over 100 years. One of the articles that caught my eye was dated February 19, 1952, and titled, “Is Jesus God?” It was written by Harold Doan (1924-1983) from a radio message he presented on station WAIT, Chicago. Doan, an Oregon Bible College graduate who was pastor of a church in Chicago, went on to become editor of The Restitution Herald three years later as well as Executive Secretary of the General Conference for many years.
Since one of the important truths the Bible teaches concerns the nature of Jesus Christ, I am taking the opportunity to share this article. God’s Word never changes and this includes the fact that Jesus Christ is the Son of God as well as the Son of Man. Although the article goes back 66 years, Brother Doan’s message is just as true and inspiring now as it was then:
Is Jesus God? Our answer is “No, Jesus is not God but he is the only begotten Son of God.” We could stop right here, but, because this answer is not in agreement with popular theology, we must go on to explain from God’s Word why Jesus cannot be called God.
God is one. “The Lord our God is one Lord” (Deut. 6:4). God said, “I am the first, and I am the last; and beside me there is no God….I am the Lord that maketh all things; that stretcheth forth the heavens alone; that spreadeth abroad the earth by myself” (Isa. 44:6, 24). There are no mathematical miracles connected with these texts. The God of Israel was and is one God, who alone created all things, who alone is the Father of all.
This God, whom we serve, is immortal. Paul said of him, “Now unto the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God” (1 Tim. 1:17). God is immortal, yet we read that “Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures” (1 Cor. 15:3). If Jesus were God, “invisible” could he have been seen of Cephas, five hundred brethren, James, and later by Paul himself, even after his resurrection? Could he have died for our sins if he were “immortal…the only wise God”? If immortal God could die, then hope of immortality is in vain and Paul was wrong when he promised, “When this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory,” (1 Cor. 15:54). If Jesus is God, then God is not immortal or Jesus did not die for our sins. Jesus is not God. He is God’s only begotten Son, born of the virgin Mary, Son of God and Son of Man, able to die for us. “God so loved the world, that he gave [himself? No!] his only begotten Son,” (John 3:16).
It has been said that the only way God could do away with sin was to die for it himself. Where does Scripture teach this? It does not! The Bible clearly teaches that God condemned man to die for his own sins. At the same time, God made provision for a seed of the woman (Gen. 3:15), to eventually stamp out sin. He also made provision for a blood substitute for sin. Eventually, he provided a substitute for man in his own Son, one of his own blood, but never did God even so much as imply that he himself would or should die for the sin of man.
Jesus was limited in knowledge. God is not limited. Jesus once said, concerning the date of his second coming, “Of that day and that hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father,” (Mark 13:32). Jesus said, “No man knows when I will come again. The angels do not know. Even I [the Son] do not know. Only the Father knows.” Was Jesus the Father or the Son? Did he know or did he not know? Could he both know and not know at the same time? How much more reasonable and Scriptural to acknowledge that God in heaven knows all things, and that his Son on the earth was limited, at least in this matter, in knowledge! God knows all; Jesus did not know one fact, the date of his return. Jesus is not God!
1 Timothy 2:5 is a verse extremely important to the Protestant church in that it shows that believers have only one access to the throne of God and that is through Jesus Christ. The verse reads, “There is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.” There is one God, and one mediator, or go-between, between God and men, Jesus. Now I learned in the first grade that one and one is two. Paul probably learned that outstanding fact at some time in his life also. There are three parties mentioned in this verse. There is God. There is the human race. There is the man between the two, reconciling them, even Jesus Christ. Could Christ be God and also the mediator between God and men? Paul said, Now a mediator is not a mediator of one, but God is one,” (gal. 3:20). If Jesus and God were literally one, Jesus could not be mediator between himself and man. The very work Christ is now performing, interceding for man before God, makes it impossible that he himself be God. Jesus is not God; he is the Son of God, mediator between God and men.
In the course of his ministry, Jesus exerted himself to make it clear that he was not God. As Paul said in Philippians 2:6, “Jesus counted not the being on an equality with God a thing to be grasped,” (R.V.). Never did Jesus try to usurp the place of God nor proclaim to be God. He always made it clear that his words came from God, the power to do his works came from God, and that God was greater than he. “I go unto the Father: for my Father is greater than I,” John 14:28). If Jesus had claimed to be God, that claim would have been the first accusation thrown at him when he was tried. Such a claim was not mentioned. In fact, the accusers said only of him, “He ought to die, because he made himself [claimed to be] the Son of God,” (John 19:7).
After his resurrection, Jesus appeared to Mary and said, “Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended unto my Father: but go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God,” (John 20:17). Could Jesus have been speaking of himself? We can see no possibility that he was. Later, when Jesus revealed himself to the Apostle John on the Isle of Patmos and delivered to him the Revelation, Jesus said, “Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of my God, and he shall go no more out: and I will write them upon him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, which is new Jerusalem, which cometh down out of heaven from my God: and I write upon him my new name,” (Rev. 3:12).
Four times in this verse, Jesus, who was at God’s right at the time, referred to “my God.” In this verse, Jesus made the additional distinction between himself and God by saying, “I will write upon him my new name.” Not only will the overcomer bear the name of God and the city of God, but in addition he will bear the new name of Christ, whatever that may be. Jesus was careful, even after his ascension to make a distinction between himself and God. He would not let the rich young ruler call him “good” but said, “There is only good and that is God.” When Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead, he first told Martha, “Said I not unto thee, that…thou shouldest see the glory of God?” Then he prayed unto God saying, “I knew that thou hearest me always: but because of the people which stand by I said it, that they may believe that thou has sent me,” (John 11:40-42). Jesus wanted it clearly understood that his power was derived power, coming down from God.
These texts and many more like them lead us to the reasonable conclusion that God is one. He alone created the heavens and earth. He alone has inherent immortality. He is the source of life. Jesus is his Son, flesh and blood, born of a woman, by miraculous, divine conception. Jesus lived as a man; he suffered; he thirsted; he tired; he was tempted; he agonized upon the cross and literally died. He was raised from the dead, by the power of God, ascended into heaven, and now acts as mediator between his Father, God, and the men [and women] he died to save. God is one; Jesus one; these make two, Father and Son, God and mediator. No, Jesus is not God, he is the only begotten Son of God.
Does this fact in any way detract from the glory of God or from the sacrifice of Christ? No, its truth magnifies God in our sight, and also makes Christ more understandable and real. “There is one God; and none other but he,” (Mark 12:32). How this clarifies our thinking and pin points our love. This God loves us. He had a Son, Jesus, who, because he was without sin was acceptable to God as sacrifice for the sins of all who would believe in him. God loved us. His Son loved us. Jesus died for us, and God raised him from the dead to be our Mediator. Believe in God; put your trust in him. Believe in his Son. Accept his sacrifice as your own and put on his name. You can come into the family of God by him!
Here is the hymn, “For God So Loved the World”: https://youtu.be/wexlu379AF4
Good News to YOU!