‘I believe in Jesus’ are the words uttered by many, but that confession says nothing about the Jesus they claim to believe in. Is it enough to say ‘I believe in Jesus’? An important question to ask is ‘Who is this Jesus that you believe in’?
To some Jesus is just a good man or a prophet. To others Jesus is a non-eternal created being or even the Archangel Michael. Is it important what we believe about Jesus?
The Apostle Paul writing to the church at Corinth said: ‘…if someone comes to you and preaches a Jesus other than the Jesus we preached, or if you receive a different spirit from the one you received, or a different gospel from the one you accepted you put up with it easily enough..’ (2Cor.11:4 NIV)
Some were preaching a different Jesus and a different gospel. Paul was concerned that the Corinthian Christians accepted the ‘right’ Jesus… the one he preached. Who was this Jesus?
As a strict monotheistic Jew, Paul would have been very clear that there is only ONE GOD (Yahweh).
‘…we know that ‘An idol is nothing at all in the world’ and that ‘There is no God but one.’ For even if there are so-called gods, whether in heaven or on earth (as indeed there are many ‘gods’ and many ‘lords’), yet for us there is but one God, the Father, from whom all things came and for whom we live; and there is but one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom all things came and through whom we live. (1Corinthians 8:4-6 NIV italics mine)
There is only ONE GOD, but Paul has no problem identifying Jesus with this ONE GOD.
‘Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord (JESUS) will be saved.’ (Romans 10:13 NIV)
‘And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord (YAHWEH) will be saved’ (Joel 2:32 NIV)
‘The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it.’(1 Corinthians 10:26 NIV) (context shows that the Lord is Jesus)
‘The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it’ (Psalm 24:1 NIV) (the LORD is Yahweh)
Paul takes the Old Testament verses that speaks of the ONE God Yahweh and applies them to Jesus. What was Paul revealing in doing this? Paul clearly believed that Jesus was more than a good man or a prophet. Paul evidently saw Jesus and Yahweh as ONE. Jesus said: ‘I and the Father are ONE’ (John 10:30 NIV). The Jehovah’s Witnesses understand this to mean that the Father (Yahweh) and Jesus are ONE in purpose, but is that what Paul taught?
To the church at Colossae Paul wrote:
The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross. (Colossians 1:15-20 NIV) (italics mine)
For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form (Colossians 2:9 NIV italics mine)
Paul taught that there was far more than a unity of purpose between the Father and the Son. Paul taught that there was a unity of substance… Jesus is God. Writing to the church at Philippi Paul said:
‘In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: who, being in very natureGod, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death – even death on a cross!’ Philippians 2:5-8 (NIV italics mine)
The Jesus that Paul preached was not a created being nor was he an angel. The Jesus that Paul preached was ‘…in very nature God’.
The writer to the Hebrews puts it like this:
The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. (Hebrews 1:3 NIV) (italics mine)
In light of these verses the question: ‘Who is this Jesus that you believe in’? becomes extremely important. There are dangers in believing a ‘false’ Christ.
A.W. Tozer said, “To believe on Christ savingly means to believe the right things about Christ. There is no escaping this.”
Jehovah’s Witnesses believe that Jesus is a created being and an angel; can they be saved by this Jesus? The answer is clearly no.
‘And this is the witness given, that God gave us everlasting life, and this life is in his Son. He that has the Son has this life; he that does not have the Son of God does not have this life. I write YOU these things that YOU may know that YOU have life everlasting, YOU who put YOUR faith in the name of the Son of God.’ (1 John 5:11-13 NWT italics mine)