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What the Bible says about Jesus as God in the Flesh
(From Forerunner Commentary)

Psalm 45:2-7

Psalm 45 is a Messianic prophecy. The word for "God" used once of the Messiah and later for the Messiah's God, is elohim. Paul quotes this psalm in Hebrews 1:8-9 to prove that Jesus ("through whom also He made the worlds," verse 2) is worthy of the worship of angels. To worship anything less than God breaks the first commandment! This shows Jesus to be God before and after His incarnation.

John W. Ritenbaugh
God Is . . . What?

Acts 2:38-42

About 3,000 people responded to Peter's sermon on the Day of Pentecost. They listened intently, and due to God's inspiration of Peter's message, drawn entirely from the Old Testament, linking Jesus personally to the events mentioned in the sermon, they responded. They were, in a way, reliving prophesied events that were vitally important as a foundation for their times and most especially, for their nation's future and ours.

However, the newest converts were still not as spiritually well-prepared as the apostles, not having had the advantage of the close companionship the apostles had had with Jesus during the three-and-a-half years of day-and-night experience with Him. Nonetheless, despite the intensity of the activity on the Day of Pentecost and the rising persecution of the church by the Jews that followed, each person called into the church received the Father's careful scrutiny. He was not calling them to failure. Their calling was not a wild scramble to see who might grab the fabled brass ring. From God's point of view, everything is done in love and given due deliberation, so He therefore does everything judiciously.

The apostles moved rapidly to organize the people into local congregations so the called would have as much contact with them as possible. They wanted to ensure that, through Sabbath sermons and Bible studies, they could teach God's way most efficiently. Jesus essentially followed this procedure, and the apostles imitated Him.

What subjects dominated this early teaching? Since the apostles alone were truly close to Jesus, they likely began—as Peter did in his Pentecost sermon—with His personal fulfillment of the Old Testament prophecies, adding that He was their Creator as well as their Savior and King. Even as a human being, Christ was literally God in the flesh, and though He was now at the right hand of the Father in heaven, by faith they were to answer to Him and give Him their loyalty. It makes sense that this would be among the first thoroughly covered teachings to firmly establish His importance to their salvation and the outworking of God's purpose.

They would also pass on to them what they had witnessed of how He conducted Himself during the time they were with Him. Like us, they would have desired to know about His personal characteristics, including His way of dealing with the apostles as well as with the ordinary “man on the street” regardless of the reasons and attitudes of those who came into His presence.

They surely must have studied into the fact that He was the God of the Old Testament, the LORD, the One who personally entered into the covenant with Abraham, the human father of Israel. He was the One who dealt with Moses and the Israelites in Egypt and at Mount Sinai, making the Old Covenant with the descendants of Abraham. This teaching would naturally lead to studies about the gospel of the Kingdom of God and the ongoing creative labors of the Father and Son, who are making sons and daughters in Their image.

This study would lead to a major area of life-changing instruction. Following the coverts' baptisms, each of them, upon receiving the Holy Spirit, became a vital part of the spiritual Body of Christ. They would need to know their behavioral responsibilities as sons or daughters of God.

Most of the early converts were not being called to duty on the front lines, that is, to preach the gospel to large crowds as the apostles did. God was calling them to support the apostles by continuing their personal growth in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ and by making a witness through their conduct in their communities. Thus, the apostles would have addressed Christian behavior early. Their personal witnesses were important to the ongoing process God directed through Jesus Christ, though on a narrower scale than that of the apostles.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Why Hebrews Was Written (Part Four)

Hebrews 2:9-12

Hebrews 2:9-11 opens to us a spiritual reality that we must come to understand and appreciate if we are to make the most of this wonderful opportunity of salvation that God gave to us completely unbidden. Because of our disobedience and the resulting curse of death placed on us, we could never experience what is said of us in Psalm 8:4-8, which the author of Hebrews refers to here. However, Jesus suffered death and gained the victory for us. As a result, He wears the crown of glory and rules the universe. We know this Being as God-in-the-flesh, but the author uses His earthly name, Jesus, so that we can see the historical setting of His victory.

"Jesus" calls to mind the concept of salvation, as it means "savior." The author writes that Jesus accomplished the redemption of His people by "tast[ing] death," not—interestingly—by merely "dying." To taste death is a graphic illustration of the painful way He suffered and died. He was not spared this excruciating trauma because He was the Son. He experienced suffering, both physical and emotional, to the very marrow of His bones.

In Hebrews 2:10, we find that the "everyone" of verse 9 is, in realty, not in this context the whole world, but it is limited to the "many sons" being brought to glory—in other words, the church. He bore the suffering that should have come upon us as the wages of our sins. He is the Author, the Pioneer, the Trailblazer, the Forerunner, going before us to our salvation. He is the One clearing the path, as it were, as we make our way following our calling. In Hebrews 12:2, He is called "the author and finisher [or perfecter] of our faith." The Father made Him pass through gruesome suffering in our behalf.

He completed His preparation for the responsibility that He now holds as our High Priest; the Father has charged Him with the task of preparing many others to share life with them in the Kingdom of God. Jesus, therefore, is the One who makes men holy. The path to sanctification lies in obedience to doing God's will, and that obedience is to be given out of gratitude because one understands and knows the Father and Son from within an intimate relationship (John 17:3).

Verse 12 quotes Psalm 22:22, putting the words in Jesus' mouth: "I will declare Your name to My brethren; in the midst of the assembly I will sing praises to You." In the holy Family of God, this spiritual relationship supersedes all human aspects. Jesus died for our sins; He redeemed us from the curse of sin; He forgives our sins; He gives us gifts; and He leads us to glory. Because of His sacrificial work, He is not ashamed to give us the name "brothers"! This implies that we, in turn, may call Jesus our Brother. What a privilege to be called brothers of the Son of God!

John W. Ritenbaugh
Where Is God's True Church Today?

1 John 2:22-23

The denial "that Jesus is the Christ" does not imply that the Docetists thought Jesus was not the Messiah. Rather, the Docetists claimed that Jesus—the Man whom John had heard, seen and touched—was not truly God in the flesh and that the true Christ was an ethereal being in heaven. John argues that such a teaching denies the family relationship of the Father and the Son, obscuring the true nature of God.

Furthermore, John writes, anyone who denies that Jesus was God in the flesh, subject to temptation just like all human beings, "does not have the Father either." Such a person simply does not understand the gospel message that we have the opportunity to become members of the God Family (I John 3:1-2). Jesus says, "He who has seen Me has seen the Father" (John 14:9). If we distort the image of Jesus Christ and who He was, we end up altering our concept of the Father also.

Earl L. Henn (1934-1997)
For the Perfecting of the Saints


 




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