“God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory.”
– 1 Tim 3:16
The matter of our faith is not something we can take for granted. Jn 6:67-69. It requires us to know beyond measure and to affirm beyond all doubts the cardinal doctrines we believe, that we profess, and that we are building our lives and resting our eternal fate (1 Pet 1:10,16. 1 Cor 15:14, etc.). For if we believe that there is God the Judge of all, that there is eternal happiness as well as everlasting ruin, one of which must certainly befall us upon our expiration from this world, how much then must we take seriously things that pertains to our eternal felicity? Deut 32:29. And central to the believer’s eternal fate is the Person of the Lord Jesus Christ.
“It is appointed unto men once to die, and after this the judgement”. What shall be the basis of our justification before a holy and righteous God, who is “great in power, and will not at all acquit the wicked”? On what ground shall we stand on that Great Day when every open and secret deeds shall be brought to the open to be judged? (Rom 2:19). Every secret sins no matter how “small”, no matter how long it has been committed, and no matter under what conditions they have been done, shall be judged? (Eccl 12:14). How shall we escape the penetrating gaze of the Righteous Judge who will not tolerate any sin? Ps 32:7, Rev 21:27, 1 Cor 6:9-10.
True Christians believe in Christ Jesus who paid for their sins through His substitutionary atonement (2 Cor 5:21). And that this Jesus is the Holy One, the second Adam, the Son of God (His divinity) and the Son of Man (His humanity), our representative Head and Advocate, the seed of the woman promised in Genesis, who fulfilled all the requirements of the Law to the letter (Rom 5:19), the beloved Son in whom the Almighty Father is well-pleased, and was thus qualified to pay in full the price for the sins of His people, “the Lion of the tribe of Juda, the Root of David, [that] prevailed to open the book, and to loose the seven seals thereof.” Rev 5:5.
Believing in the true Christ necessarily entails believing in His person and in all His claims. If we say, as many affirm, that He is the Holy One, the perfectly Righteous One, then that follows that He cannot lie; that all that He told us is truth and just and can be depended on even for all eternity. If any man or woman, therefore, does not believe even in one of Christ’s claims (essentially calling Jesus a liar), but still claim to believe in Jesus, that person’s Jesus certainly will not be the Christ of God, the Holy One; that person will be believing in another Jesus completely, in another rock. And this person, as a consequence, cannot presently be among the ransomed of Christ, among those who Christ’s redemption has been applied. 2 Jn 1:9.
Saving faith is in Christ Himself; not even directly in His works. Gal 3:26, Gal 2:16, Col 1:4, 2 Tim 1:13. True believers believe in Christ’s atoning sacrifice because they believe in the Author of that sacrifice, which is Christ Himself. For we are justified by faith, and this faith is in an Object, in a Person and that Person is Jesus Christ of Nazareth, of the seed of David, of the lineage of Abraham, the promised Seed that bruised the serpent’s head. We see here one reason why the Bible takes genealogies seriously right from the onset so we can be further confirmed in who truly is the true Christ. The Father also confirms His Son at the baptism of John, with the disciples on the Mount of Transfiguration, and by other numerous instances, so we can have everlasting assurance on who the true Christ is.
If, therefore, we are to receive Salvation or be sure we have it, we must of necessity believe not only in the sufficiency of His atonement, that “Christ lived and died for me”, but we must also believe fully in Him and in who He claimed He is. Faith in His works (though a necessity) is not sufficient for Salvation; we must believe in Christ Himself if we are to be saved at all. Some believe in His miracles, but not fully in Him as the Son of God (and consequently in His humanity) and in His claims. Such are mere professors of faith. A “profession” of faith in His miracles or works does not necessarily translate to “possession” of saving faith in Christ Himself. Many followed Christ during His earthly ministry, even at close quarters, but they never believed on His Person all along; they only believed in (and were attracted to) His miracles, to earthly gains. “But there are some of you that believe not. For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were that believed not, and who should betray him.” (Jn 6:61-65) The false prophets who unfailingly shall be damned at His coming believed in His miracles (but they never believed in Him. He was not the Object of their faith, the Lover of their soul); they were never possessors of saving faith, for the LORD said to them, “I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.” Mat 7:21-23, 1 Jn 2:19.
There are many “Christian” churches or organizations, many pastors and preachers whose Jesus is not Jesus the Son of God. It may look alike, but it is not the true God who was manifested in the flesh. “Their rock is not like our Rock”; they are still in their sins notwithstanding their morality or whatsoever. Jn 10:9, 1Cor 15:17. They are still strangers to God and to grace. Prominent among these are the Mormons (also known as the Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter-Day Saints), the Jehovah Witnesses, the Unitarians, and many others. But the list is certainly not limited to these “outsiders”; many who are active or professing members of Bible-believing churches have secret enmity in their hearts against God and the doctrines of Christ (Gal 2:4). Indeed, most apostates went out from among the assembly of true children of God (1 Jn 2:19), so they have always been an ever-present danger.
The Mormon’s Jesus is not the Christ of the Bible. Theirs is the brother to Lucifer as they believe. Ours is Christ the Son of God, co-equal, co-existent and eternally existent with the Father, the promised Seed of the woman, of the lineage of Abraham and of David; He was not created, but rather He’s the Creator God. Jn 1:2-3. He was there in the beginning with the Father, so He cannot be a man (He only put on the likeness of sinful flesh for the purpose of the atonement. Rom 8:3); All things were created by Him (as a consequence this includes the angels) so He also cannot be an angel (Heb 1:5-8). When He came to atone for the sins of the world, He only took up the likeness of sinful flesh to fulfill on our behalf the requirements of the Law and to satisfy the justice of God. In that sense, He is also fully human, “God manifested in the flesh”, the Son of Man. It is by Him and Him only that anyone, no matter the place or age and times the person lived, can be saved. Jn 14:6, Jn 8:56. The Jesus Christ of the New Testament is the Jehovah God of the Old Testament. He was the one that called Abraham out of the Ur of the Chaldees. Gen 15:6-7; that called Samuel by name in the temple. 1 Sam 3:10.
The centrality of this truth to our Salvation is clearly evident; without actively believing it (and consequently confessing it), we are not saved at all no matter our previous experiences; it had been all sham, mere profession, empty emotionalism; the object of such person’s faith has been the wrong Christ, and so never possessed saving faith. “For many deceivers are entered into the world, who confess not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh… Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son. If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed: For he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds.” 2 Jn 2:7-11.
How central! Continuing believing in Christ’s divinity to the very end is evident of a true saving faith; this is eternal life. John 17:3. We cannot trifle with this central of central doctrines; the doctrines of Christ. We must flee from anyone, people, creed or denomination that teaches otherwise; no fellowshipping with the unfruitful works of darkness. No going around the doctrine of the divinity of Christ for any who nourishes the hope of eternal life. “Now the just shall live by faith [in the true Christ]: but if any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him.” Heb 10:38.
Every man or woman who indeed possesses the Holy Spirit indwelling in him or her, and therefore a child of God (Rom. 8:9, 1 Jn 5:9-12), will embrace in its totality the beautiful and blessed doctrine of Christ divinity, for he or she has the Spirit bearing witness within. 1 Jn 2:20-21.
We must avoid totally any person or system that preach or practice otherwise; or that want to add or remove from the true testimony of Jesus in our lives. “He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son. If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed: For he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds.” 2 Jn 2:7-11.
Isaac Watts (1707) beautifully captures the divinity of Christ in the Salvation of His chosen ones. Every believer should ponder deeply on this hymn (emphasis mine):
1 Alas! and did my Savior bleed,
and did my Sovereign die!
Would he devote that sacred head
for sinners such as I?
2 Was it for crimes that I have done,
he groaned upon the tree?
Amazing pity! Grace unknown!
And love beyond degree!
3 Well might the sun in darkness hide,
and shut its glories in,
when God, the mighty maker, died
for his own creature’s sin.
4 Thus might I hide my blushing face
while his dear cross appears;
dissolve my heart in thankfulness,
and melt mine eyes to tears.
5 But drops of tears can ne’er repay
the debt of love I owe.
Here, Lord, I give myself away;
’tis all that I can do.