By Mike Willis
Recent discussion about the nature of Jesus has resulted in one group of brethren taking the position that Jesus gave up the use of his divine at-tributes in becoming a man. The motivation to adopt this position is to show that Jesus was tempted in all points like as we are. We are in agreement that Jesus overcame temptation without resorting to the use of his divine at-tributes, but not with the arguments made to defend it.
These brethren believe that Jesus made a decision before leaving heaven not to use his divine attributes while on earth. Therefore, the Jesus who came to earth did not have available to him his omnipotent power, omniscience, omnipresence, holiness, and other attributes. The Jesus in which these brethren believe is a Jesus who learned the will of God through the study of the Old Testament. Whatever he knew about God had to be learned through the same channels available to you and me. To believe otherwise would give Jesus an “edge” in resisting sin and, therefore, destroy his example in resisting sin. This concept of Jesus is not true to the biblical text.
The Jesus of the New Testament Was Aware of His Pre-existence With the Father
This is obvious from a plethora of Bible texts. Consider the following:
1. John 3:12-13. Jesus claimed to testify about heavenly things be-cause he had been with the Father. “If I have told you earthly things, and ye believe not, how shall ye believe, if I tell you of heavenly things? And no man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven” (John 3:12-13).
2. John 6:33. Jesus claimed to be the bread of life come down from heaven (John 6:33, 38). The Jews were offended by his claim because they correctly perceived it was an affirmation of his deity (6:41-42). Jesus re-plied by affirming that he was the living bread come down from heaven (6:51) and stated that he would ascend back to heaven (6:62).
3. John 7:29. Jesus claimed to know God, not because he read about him in the Old Testament, but because he came down from heaven. “But I know him: for I am from him, and he hath sent me.” He again declared his intention to return to heaven from whence he came (7:33-34).
4. John 8:14. Jesus affirmed the certainty of his knowledge based on his having come from heaven. “Though I bear record of myself, yet my record is true: for I know whence I came, and whither I go; but ye cannot tell whence I come, and whither I go.” If all Jesus depended upon for knowledge was the Old Testament, the Jewish leaders had equal access to knowledge as he had and his claim to superior knowledge based on his having been from heaven is incorrect. He continued, “Ye are from beneath; I am from above: ye are of this world; I am not of this world” (8:23). “I have many things to say and to judge of you: but he that sent me is true; and I speak to the world those things which I have heard of him” (8:26). “I speak that which I have seen with my Father: and ye do that which ye have seen with your father” (8:38). He spoke the truth that he had heard of (para: in the presence of, before; not “about”) the Father (8:40). He claimed to have “proceeded forth and came from God” (8:42).
5. John 8:56-58. He lived before and knew Abraham.
6. John 13:3. Jesus knew that he had come from God and was going back to God. “I came forth from the Father, and am come into the world: again, I leave the world, and go to the Father” (John 16:28).
7. John 15:15. Jesus made known to his disciples what he had heard from the Father.
8. John 17:5. Jesus was aware of the glory he had with the Father before the world was created. “And now, 0 Father, glorify thou me with thine own self with the glory which I had with thee before the world was.” He was in full possession of his remembrance of what he had experienced as deity prior to the incarnation.
9. John 17:24-25. He was aware of his Father’s love for him before the world was created.
When Jesus was incarnated, he was fully cognizant of his pre-existence and relied upon his memory of his pre-existence for certainty about what he taught as a man. A Jesus without memory of his pre-existence is not the Jesus of the New Testament.
Jesus of the New Testament Was
Aware of His Deity
1. John 4:10. When Jesus spoke to the woman at the well, he said, “If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, Give me to drink; thou wouldest have asked of him, and he would have given thee living water” (John 4:10). Jesus manifested a self-consciousness that he was deity.
2. John 5:23. “That all men should honour the Son, even as they honour the Father. He that honoureth not the Son honoureth not the Father which hath sent him.”
3. John 8:58. Jesus affirmed himself to be the “I AM” (cf. Exod 3:6). “Before Abraham was, I am,” he said.
4. John 10:30. He claimed, “I and my Father are one.”
5. John 10:38. He stated that he was “in the Father” and the Father was “in him.” “…that ye may know, and believe, that the Father is in me, and I in him.” Compare also John 17:21.
6. John 14:3,6. His explained to his disciples his intention to return to the Father to prepare a place for the disciples who loved and obeyed him. Men have access to the Father only through him.
7. John 14:9-10. Jesus told Thomas that if one had seen him he had seen the Father.
8. John 16:15. All things that belonged to the Father were his: “All things that the Father hath are mine.”
Our brethren who deny that the baby Jesus was any different than us in so far as his knowledge was concerned need to tell us when Jesus became aware of who he was. When did Jesus become aware that he was God? Did he know that in the womb, when he came from the womb, when he was a child, when he was baptized? Just when did Jesus become aware that he was God the Son?
Jesus of the New Testament Claimed to Be
Able To Do What the Father Could Do
1. John 5:19. “Verily, verily, I say unto you, The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do: for what things soever he doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise.” Jesus both knew what the Father did and had the ability to do the same.
2. John 10:17-18. He had the power to lay down and take up again his life. “Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I might take it again. No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This commandment have I received of my Father.”
Jesus’ claims to be able to do what the Father does and to both lay down and take up his own life are affirmations of his omnipotence. A Jesus that had nothing but delegated power is not the Jesus of the New Testament. H.P. Liddon correctly observed,
But if the miracles of Jesus be admitted in the block, as by a `rational’ believer in the Resurrection they must be admitted; they do point, as I have said, to the Catholic belief, as a distinct from any lower conceptions respecting the Person of Jesus Christ. They differ from the miracles of prophets and Apostles in that, instead of being answers to prayer, granted by a Higher Power, they manifestly flow from the majestic Life resident in this Worker (The Divinity of Our Lord 158).
Jesus performed miracles because of his own inherent power as the incarnate God, not through delegated power as the apostles did.
Jesus of the New Testament Knew All
Things the Father Did
1. John 5:20. “For the Father loveth the Son, and showeth him all things that himself doeth: and he will show him greater works than these, that ye may marvel” (John 5:20).
2. John 10:15. He knew the Father just as well as the Father knew him. “As the Father knoweth me, even so know I the Father: and I lay down my life for the sheep.”
3. John 21:17. Peter confessed that Jesus knew all things.
The affirmation that Jesus knew all things that God the Father does and knew the Father just as the Father knew him are affirmations of his omniscience. Peter was correct when he said that Jesus knows all things. How sad that brethren would become so wedded to their mistaken under-standings of a couple of texts (Mark 13:32; Luke 2:52) that they reject all of these other statements about Jesus to hold on to a peculiar interpretation of those texts.
Jesus of the New Testament Knew
What Was in Man
On several occasions, the Scriptures speak of Jesus’ awareness of what was in man. He had this knowledge not because of incredible perception or the Holy Spirit gave it to him, but because he was God. John records that Jesus “needed not that any should testify of man: for he knew what was in man” (2:25). The first time he met Simon, he was able to look at the rock-like character traits he possessed and told him that he could be called “Cephas” or “Peter” (rock, see John 1:42). The first time he saw Nathanael, he saw his character and said, “Behold an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile!” (John 1:47). He was fully aware that the woman at the well had been married five times and was living with someone who was not her husband, even though no one had told him; he knew every-thing she had done (John 4:16-18, 29, 39). He was fully aware of Judas’ betrayal of him, knowing his character weakness when he chose him and his plans for delivering him into the hands of the Jews, even though Judas carefully concealed these plans from him (John 13:11, 18). “For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were that believed not, and who should betray him” (John 6:64).
Jesus of the New Testament Was Completely
in Control of His Own Destiny
One of the things that impresses a person as he reads John’s gospel is the Lord’s awareness of his own time to die. He was fully in control of the sequence of events that led to his death. His destiny was not mere happenstance or accident. The Almighty God, the Lord Jesus Christ, was in full control. He spoke of this often.
When his mother asked him to turn water to wine, he said, “Mine hour is not yet come” (John 2:4). His life was on a divine plan to be lived as ordained by God. He was aware of plots against his life that would have led to a pre-mature death and was thereby able to escape them (John 5:13-16). He told his disciples who attended the Feast of Tabernacles, “My time is not yet come” (John 7:6, 8). When Jesus spoke in the Temple no one arrested him because his time was not yet come (John 8:20). He knew just when the hour for the Son to be glorified had come (John 12:23). This was the very hour for which he had come into the world (John 12:27).
When the time for his arrest came, Jesus knew exactly what was to occur: “Jesus therefore, knowing all things that should come upon him, went forth, and said unto them, Whom seek ye?” (John 18:4) When they moved to arrest him, they “went backward, and fell to the ground” (John 18:6). This miracle demonstrated that he had the power to stop his arrest had he so chosen. He was the one in control of the events, not the Jews, Herod, or Pilate.
Those brethren who believe in a Jesus without divine attributes are quick to affirm that they do not deny the deity of Christ. They also are quick to tell us that the Jesus whom they serve had to “grow in knowledge” the same as any other human being. This raises a problem for them.
The Jesus of the New Testament is eternal. He was fully aware of everything that had ever occurred in human history. He knew the revealed word of God because he was one with the Father who revealed it. He knew all that things God had done and intended to do. Did the incarnate Christ forget all of these things when he be-came a man? Did the Christ develop a divine case of Alzheimer’s disease? Did he lose his mind? Perhaps our brethren can explain to us how the Jesus whom they worship was limited in knowledge to what other men know inasmuch as he personally knew all things of human existence (he had omniscience before his incarnation and therefore knew all things) and had participated in the revelation of God’s will to man!
I cannot understand how these many passages of Scriptures can be harmonized with a concept of the nature of the incarnate Son that affirms that he only knew what he could learn by human effort and human experience, read from the Old Testament, and know through inspiration. This Jesus is not the Jesus of the New Testament.
Guardian of Truth XLI: 5 p. 2
March 6, 1997