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The Deity of Christ

Renewing Your Mind / R.C. Sproul
The Truth Network Radio
September 3, 2022 12:01 am

The Deity of Christ

Renewing Your Mind / R.C. Sproul

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September 3, 2022 12:01 am

The Bible clearly teaches that Jesus is much more than another prophet. Today, R.C. Sproul concludes his overview of apologetics by defending the deity of Christ.

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Cross the Bridge
David McGee

Coming up next on Renewing Your Mind. There are many people in the church who all agree that the Bible is the word of God, but they have a vastly different understanding of what the Bible actually teaches. So now the task becomes not one of debating the nature of Scripture. But now the task becomes one of examining carefully what the Scripture teaches and learns new is we must be equipped to defendant in the truth that proclaims Christianity in the 21st century has a unique battle.

Even Christians today argue over what the Bible says here's Dr. RC Sproul on the importance of uniting around the authority of Scripture, we come now to the section in our study of apologetics where we conclude the lecture series by looking in the final analysis at the significance of what we've examined so far. Obviously, the scope of the science of apologetics goes far beyond the two questions that we've examined in all this time we've only looked at two issues and that is the case for the existence of God and secondly the case for the divine origin of the sacred Scriptures. Now, as I said the issues that come up and apologetics go way beyond these two questions in every generation in every age competing secular philosophies collide with the truth claims of Christianity. And so, through the ages, Christian apologists have had the dual as it were, with these competing philosophies because Christianity is not a religion so much as it is what we call a life and world view that is the content of Christianity defines the meaning of human existence and how this world in which we live is related to the existence of God.

Now, in any worldview or life and worldview. You're dealing with a system of thought that system of thought may or may not be consistent internally and coherent. But at least most systems seek to be coherent and to speak to a wide diversity of issues that come along and so Christianity is concerned not just about how we worship, or how we sing or how we pray, but it's interested in the character of God is interested in the question of cosmology that is how this world is constructed. Does this world operate by internal fixed laws that are independent from the power of God or does nature itself depend every moment for its power and operations upon this transcendent God who creates it in the first place. Issues of anthropology are we as human beings created in the image of God for a purpose and therefore our lives have meaning and significance or are we grown-up germs that I suggested before cosmic accidents who have no significance in the final analysis, so how we understand God determines how we understand the world and how we understand God and the world determines how we understand our place within the grand scheme of things, and so again Christianity is a life and worldview is always in competition with them on a collision course with alternate systems of thought and so today's apologists might have to do with the existential list of the analytical philosophers were in the past, empirical philosophy and positivistic philosophy was being debated among Christian I'm sure that whatever is invoked tomorrow in the secular world will provoke new questions and new issues and new responses from the Christian community. One of the things that we enjoy as Christians, having had 2000 years of practice dealing with alternate systems is that when we are confronted by a new philosophical challenge through the Christian faith where we have to defend ourselves are fresh in the new generation will at least have the advantage of 2000 years of reflection on issues that tend to come up over and over and over again in the arena of public debate. One of the problems. New philosophies encounter is that they don't have that back log of resources concerning their points of vulnerability that gives them an advantage as they come on the scene. Nobody thought about the points of vulnerability that they might have an yet when they are exposed to the philosophy of the second glance, they tend to have a short lifespan so that alternate philosophies come and go through church history, while Orthodox Christianity remains standing in the gap but again in dealing with all of these things we have to understand the relationship between the Bible and what we called earlier natural revelation. What we could learn from the study of reality apart from what it says in the Bible because once we establish the Bible is the word of God, the Bible as the word of God tells us that in addition to the information that we get from it that God also reveals truth through the heavens through nature and so when we are studying in the scientific lab. Certain elements of our experience.

We are still trying to think God's thoughts after him were trying to discern the imprint of the creator in the realm of nature again. Historically, the great theologians and apologists of church history have all agreed that all truth is one, and that all truth meets at the top, so that what God reveals in the Scripture in the final analysis will not contradict what he reveals to us outside of Scripture. In the realm of nature, and conversely, if God reveals some truths in nature that truth that is known through nature will not contradict what is found in the Bible. Now, when we establish however the first two premises that we sought to regard here. The existence of God and the authority of the Bible. As I said, we have gone 90% of the way in the task of apologetics. Even though there may be 10,000 more questions that we have to deal with by establishing the authority of the Scripture. The last 10% would include those 10,000 issues that can be dealt with by a careful study of what Scripture says, because Scripture again tells us something about the origin of man.

The origin of the cosmos. It tells us the nature of truth itself. It speaks to us about issues of ethics that we are fiercely divided on such matters as homosexual behavior abortion and the like. All of these issues are addressed by Scripture. But here's the problem that we have we have people within the church who disagree on issues of how we regulate marriage and divorce and sexuality and the like.

These debates that were saying in the newspaper every day and the problem is complicated because some people in the church agree that the normative authority to settle these issues is Scripture, while others within the church say no I don't submit to the normative authority of Scripture. So they want to look somewhere else to establish a basis for their truth claims. For example, in the sexuality debates that have torn major denominations into shreds in our lifetime we see reports coming to bear to the denominations from modern psychological theory or psychiatric theory that completely ignore the teaching of Scripture because those who advocate such views say that contemporary psychological theory trumps whatever ancient view was communicated in the Scripture, assuming that the Scripture of course is not God or the word of God because we know. I would think that if God himself will be hard to speak on an issue, and the American psychiatric Society differed with God, who would you believe certainly acquiesce to the God's word on the matter as being final. But again, the problem is not everybody inside the church, not to mention outside the church agrees that the Bible is normative.

That's why it is imperative that that authority be established early in the whole process of examining truth claims so that you can have an authority that you both submit to, but then the plot thickens when we realize that there are many people in the church who agree that the Bible is the word of God and are willing to submit to the authority of the word of God, but they have a vastly different understanding of what the Bible actually teaches. So now the task becomes not one of debating the nature of Scripture. But now the task becomes one of exegesis of examining carefully what the Scripture teaches and so then all of the questions about what process do you use in discerning what Scripture teaches the science what's called the science of hermeneutics were the rules of interpretation that comes into play when were dealing with issues of biblical interpretation. One of my close friends in ministry is John MacArthur, California, and we have work shoulder to shoulder defending the truth of the authority of the Bible and I really don't know anybody that I think has a higher view Scripture than John does was more devoted to the study of the Bible.

And yet as close as we are in so many points there points that we don't agree on.

For example, Christians who believe in the authority of the Bible. Some believe that we ought to practice infant baptism.

Others say no. We ought not to because there's no explicit command to baptize infants in the New Testament. Nor is there an explicit prohibition and so the two sides that are so divided on the question like that have to rely upon inferences drawn from what the Bible does teach on the implicit evidence from Scripture and you take somebody who's a close friend of mine like John MacArthur and he has done his homework and he studies the Bible and church history, and theological issues are and has come to the conclusion that the church ought not to be engaged in infant baptism. On the other hand, I am convinced that the implicit evidence of Scripture overwhelmingly affirms the propriety of infant baptism and so there we are both committed to the authority of Scripture differing on a point like that. But here's the good news about those disputes. I know when I'm engaged in a discussion like that with my friend John MacArthur that if I could show John MacArthur that infant baptism is the biblical way. I have no doubt in my mind that matter what he said on the matter in the past.

The matter what association she has with religious groups, whatever. Love lines exist right now. John MacArthur would Hon hesitatingly affirmed infant baptism and he is equally sure that if he could convince me that infant baptism were not a biblical principle that I would abandon it in a heartbeat. So we differ.

We differ on a matter that we both think is important, but at least we have the same authority and we can have a discussion together as Christians, both trusting the other person's commitment to the authority of the word of God. So that's a totally different situation and environment from debating with somebody who doesn't affirm the word of God when we give another example that like abortion, I wrote a book several years ago on the case against abortion and since I was writing not only for an Orthodox Christian audience, but more broadly to the culture I tried to establish the case not only on a biblical basis of exegesis, but also on the basis of natural reason and arguing from nature. And so one against the principle of abortion on demand and dealt with the medical evidence that deals about whether the unborn fetus's personal whether it's alive.

Whether it meets the standards of biology in cases like that and so in that realm. I had to go beyond the Scriptures to deal with the issue but with Christians. I'd stick with the Scripture when have to go outside into the natural realm because the Bible is not silent on matters of that sort. But again backing up a say I want to bring this to a conclusion by suing that there are many many questions. For example, does the Bible teach that Jesus is the Messiah. If the Bible is the word of God and the Bible teaches that Jesus is the Messiah than QED. Jesus is the Messiah. One of the great disputes that the churches had to deal with throughout history is the deity of Christ and the question of the deity of Christ is a question that the church wrestled with for the first 300 years of her existence, because the people in the early church were certainly sensitive to the charge that was coming against Christian theology that Christianity was violating a cardinal principle of biblical truths, namely the monotheism that is the hallmark of the Old Testament faith that historic Judaism clearly declares that God is one and if we believe in monotheism. How can we attribute deity not only to God the father but also attribute deity to Jesus Christ.

Doesn't that manifestly demolish historic monotheists.

That's why the church came to the position of the Trinity of distinguishing among the three persons of the Trinity, but saying that the three persons of the Trinity, though they must be distinguished among each other in terms of subsistence, or in terms of persona. Nevertheless, in the Godhead remains a singularity of essence of deity, insisting that God is one in essence, so that though the differences among the persons of the Trinity, father, son and Holy Ghost are real and important distinctions. Those real and important distinctions in the Godhead are not essential distinctions.

Now let me pause for a moment when I use the word essential here. I want to be careful because sometimes we say that something is essential and what we mean by that is that is of supreme importance and is so important that it can't be negotiated. That's not the way I'm using the term here when I say the differences in the Godhead among the father-son Holy Spirit are not essential. I don't mean to suggest are not important or that they're not real, they are real and they are really important, but they do not mean a difference in the absence for the VA God is one big note again, why does the church teach that Christ is divine.

Well me just take a few moments to skip a few references to that in the Gospel according to St. John in the prologue, the opening verses of this text we have an extraordinary affirmation about Christ which affirmation is so extraordinary that this text more than any other busy the Christian intellectuals of the first 300 years in formulating the doctrine of the Trinity. John's gospel begins with these were in the beginning was the word and the Word was with God and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God all things were made through him and without him nothing was made that was made in him was life and the life was the light of men.

Melanie just stopped there in these initial verses of John's Gospel. This is in these words, a bombshell that fell on the playground of ancient thinkers were drawn begins this message by saying something that at first glance sounds contradictory. He begins with these words in the beginning was the word were the logos and RK Heino logos in the beginning was the word and the word was with God not notice that in that phrase the Word was with God, we see a clear distinction between the word and God so it would not be obvious at this point in the text that John is talking about something that was with God at the beginning who must be distinguished from God because that which is with something else is not identical to that something else that in the very next breath he says, and the word was God. So in one sense the logos is distinguished from God. In another sense the logos is identified with God and here we have this eternal self existent logos that in some sense is distinguished from God, and in another sense is identified with God to see the makings of the Trinity already here, in effect, incidentally, when the term with is used here it is used in a significant way at least three different Greek words that are translated can be translated by the English word with theirs. The word soon which we is just UN but comes over in English by the prefix SYA and we synchronize our watches we get them together or we have synonyms word that have mean the same thing basically the pseudo-dog day in Israel was the place where people gather together with each other so the witness of soon is the witness of being together. Then there was the witness of Mehta or Kara in one which can mean alongside of if you see two people walking down the street side by side they are with each other in a side-by-side Mehta or Kara relationship, but the word that is used here in John's gospel for with is the Greek word process, which forms incidentally the root of the word process upon which is the Greek word for face and what we have here is a togetherness, a witness that is not just being together in a group or alongside of each other, but in a face-to-face relationship.

So what John is saying is that from the beginning. The word has been with God in the closest possible relationship. The two distinct persons can have face-to-face relationship, but when we explore the essence of this relationship.

Suddenly the distinction falls aside because the logos was God so again we see reason for Trinitarian formula that says that God is one in essence, the three in person the course. This is the only Texas was the major text that kept people busy for 300 years, but their host of texts in the Scripture that indicate the deity of Christ, not the least of which is that he chases a Jew accepted worship from people at the resurrection. John comes and worships him say, my Lord and my God.

Remember when the apostles received worship from people they completely repudiated when angels received worship from people they were rebuked for worshiping them.

But when Christ received worship. He welcomed it and acknowledged it and he says, before Abraham was, I am and throughout the gospel of John.

The formula Eggo Amy. The double use of the verb to be. Which translates the Old Testament Hebrew phrase Yahweh is self-consciously used by Jesus. Jesus takes upon himself the very name of God.

Jesus declares to those who were with him that he is the Lord of the Sabbath that he has the authority in this world to forgive sins the message that Jesus taught regarding his deity was not missed by his contemporaries. It's because they understood what he was saying that they took up stones to kill him, saying, this man being a man declares himself to be God.

Those are just a few cases where the apologist has to go through the entire New Testament and give the defense for the deity of Christ, based upon the testimony of Scripture because remember when we establish the authority of Scripture. We began with the Scripture as a basically reliable historical document. From there we came to a knowledge of Jesus as a true prophet.

Then we went from Jesus as a true prophet, certifying that the Scriptures were more than simply generally reliable, but were nothing less than the word of God and then we go to the next step that those scriptures that are certified now as the word of God declares that Jesus is more than a prophet but he indeed is the son of God the eternal logos and again this is just one example of how once the Scripture is established we go to the Scripture to settle all of the other country versus arise within the church, particularly about the truth claims of Christian Christians can disagree on many things, but the divinity of Christ is not among them.

Thanks for listing to Renewing Your Mind on the Saturday we have heard another lesson from Dr. RC Sproul series defending your faith as we study the history of classical apologetics. RC is equipping us to defend the existence of God and would like to send you this entire series. There are 32 messages on 11 DVDs simply contact us today with a donation of any amount and we will send them to you. You can call us at 800-435-4343 or you can make a request online at Renewing Your will be wrapping up the series next Saturday so I hope you will take advantage of this opportunity to request these important lessons for donation of any amount just as for defending your faith to get her number is 800-435-4343 in our online address Renewing Your Mind.award next week were going to feature the question and answer session that wrapped up the series and here's a question that one of the audience members asked RC why would a creator that the human race mess up his creation like we have what about injustice, why doesn't he just step in and fix RC will answer that and other thoughtful questions next week here on Renewing Your Mind. I hope you enjoy this

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