This excerpt is taken from “The voices of the prophets” By T. Austin-Sparks
They knew Him not, nor the voices of the prophets which are read every Sabbath. (Acts 13:27 ASV)
We would remind our readers that these messages are constituted by a principle which governs so much of the Bible. It is that, deeper than the words of Scripture, there is a voice; that it was – and is – possible to hear the words and miss the voice. The words are the statements; the voice is the meaning. We have proved this to be the case by such a statement as that in Isaiah 6:9: “Hear ye indeed, but understand not, and see ye indeed (margin: ‘continually’) but perceive not.” This is the condition lying behind our basic quotation in Acts 13:27.
It is sometimes positively amazing and staggering what even Christians – and Christian leaders – can do and say because of this deaf ear to the Spirit. They can take up and pass on most pernicious reports which are sheer lies and do untold harm to others and the Lord’s interests because they do not so walk in the Spirit as to have Him say within: “That is not true.” It is one thing to include belief in the Holy Spirit as a tenet of Christian doctrine, and it may be quite another thing to know when “the Spirit of truth” witnesses within the heart to the truth or the falsehood. It is significant that both the Remnant and the Overcomer are marked by this “hearing the voice.” Jesus placed the ultimate issue of Life or death upon this “hearing the voice (not just the words) of the Son of Man.”
“Every Sabbath” they heard the words, but not the voice.… Let us pray for the ear of Samuel –
“Oh, give me Samuel’s ear –
An open ear, O Lord!
Alive and quick to hear
Each whisper of Thy word!”
The doctrine that Jesus Christ is God like other doctrines of the Christian faith has been contested and debated through the centuries. It is wise to show from the scriptures that it’s not only accurate but worthy of full acceptance. God took it upon Himself right from the book of Genesis to make it so obvious such that, it doesn’t need debating.
In Gen 1:26, we read, “let us make man …”– God brought about creation by His Word through His PowerJohn 1:3, Isa 45:18. He set-out in Genesis to give man the truth that there will come a time His Word will be made manifest to us John1:1, 14 and 10. We should not look down on Him (His Word) because it is for the sake of our sin and sins that He humbled himself Phil 2:8, Matt 1:23, John 3:16. Also, He made it clear that His Power will come to reside in us— and we should not grieve Him (Wonderful counselor) Eph 4:30, John 16:13. So, let us humble ourselves like God has done in coming to us as Immanuel and as the mighty rushing wind Acts 2:2 and believe in Jesus, the Christ as the Son of the living God that we might be redeemed.
The truth that Christ Jesus is the almighty God is one of the most obvious doctrines of the scripture though it’s one of the most difficult teachings of the bible which have hardly settled in the hearts of many who profess Christianity Isa 9:6.
In Eph 2:20, Paul the Apostle establishes a certain truth that guides every matter of doctrine for the church. In view of that, I have quoted John the Apostle and Prophet Isaiah in order to firmly affirm this big truth that Jesus Christ was God before He came to the earth and remained as God while on earth and still God after His resurrection.
In John 1:1 and 14, John the Apostle accentuated what Prophet Isaiah prophesied Isa 9:6, ” to us a child is born, to us a Son is given” we notice that this same son that is given to us, is the same child that is born to us. Isaiah proceeded to tell us that the government (rule) shall be upon His shoulder (power). Then, he unravels the mystery of who Jesus really is by listing His names to us.
Close look at Isaiah 9:6
For to us a Child is born: A Child is a Seed which is the Word. Mary was told, you shall conceive (receive a Seed) and give birth to It as a Son.
A Son is given to us: Meaning the Son will be sacrificed for us (mankind).
The government will rest on His shoulder: The rule of the kingdom He establishes through His sacrifice will be by His Power.
And He will be called: The phrase “will be or shall be”, is indicative of the fact that we (man) will come to know Him progressively (not necessarily sequentially) by these names.
His Names:- *Wonderful Counselor: His resurrection name which was manifested on the day of Pentecost.
*Mighty God: Meaning Lord of lords or hosts Psalm 50:1, 89:8, Jer 32:18
*Everlasting Father: To understand this name properly, we need to understand that the word father is the name of God. Everlasting or eternal is added to distinguish Him from man who He has given the privilege to bear the same name of responsibility with Him as a reminder to act lovingly like Him Isa 63:16, 2 Thess 2:16
*Prince of Peace: Peter the Apostle tell us in Acts 10:36, that the Word sent to us, that is Jesus, is the one who alone brings peace through the preaching of the word by which, all can get peace or reconciliation because He is the Lord of all (John 14:27 NLT, Rom 14:17).
The doctrine about trinity (one God in three persons 1x1x1=1) does not need any flip flopping. To answer the question if Jesus Christ is God emphatically beyond any shadow of doubt, one needs a personal revelation of Jesus Christ from God.
Jesus’ comment on Peter’s reply to His question about Who He was in Matt 16:13-17 is the key to a blessed and faithful understanding of who Christ really is. As is customarily with Jesus, He asked the disciples a general question and as they gave Him answers of what the people thought of Him, He switched His attention on what they themselves (His disciples) thought of who He was. What you and I believe about who Christ is, is more important than speculation of what others believe.
The importance of His question and its answer reveals to us the true identity of Jesus Christ in a way that is astonishing.
The people’s Perceptive
The people’s perception of Jesus is remarkable and shows the mysterious personality of Christ. The three people they associated Him with are Prophets (John the Baptist, Elijah and Jeremiah). Historical antecedents (also from the Torah) armed the people with the understanding that God gives them the prophets to save the people from destruction and the wrath of God and more importantly, to show them God’s way. The words save associated with the work of the Prophets always dealt with salvation from their physical problems even when it was caused by spiritual factors. Given this truth, their perception of Jesus was not wrong and it was proved by blessings (healing, provision of bread and fish etc) which they and their forefathers were used to. Remember manna in Exodus 16, Num 21:8-9, Mark 6:40-42 Matt 4:24. But, the revelation they had of Jesus was grossly limited and as such it did not bring about salvation (regeneration) to their souls.
The sense in which they used the word “save” in Luke 23:35, is what they were used to seeing with their Prophets– powerful people who called fire from heaven and saved themselves and others from problems. The fact that they did not have the revelation of Him as the Son of God made them fail to see that Christ is The Prophet not one of the prophets . As a result, they were blinded and could not understand and receive the type of “save-salvation” He came to give. In their minds, the God of Israel is Holy and does not have a wife and consequently, can’t have a Son. Though the Torah they read was full of prophecies of God’s coming Son Jer 23:5-6, Isaiah 7:14, unlike Simeon Luke 2:25-35, they did not understand it just like the Ethiopian eunuch Acts 8:30-31. They were not bothered about the redemption of their souls— their main concern as many of us today is the physical salvation from earthly troubles which seemed far more important than the rebirth of their spirit and renewal of their minds Rom 12:1-2.
In the light of these overly earthly concerns, Jesus’ posed another question which applies to us today than ever, “For what can a man give in return for his soul?” Mark 8:36-37. The answer to this important question is this, the soul! We must give Him our soul to save our soul and this is what it means to accept or believe in Jesus. He gave His life and demands no less from us!
Jesus by claiming to be the Son of God and inviting man to believe or accept Him is invariably asking to be worshipped and worship, demands the giving of one’s heart, soul and body. This has a huge implication given that only God can demand our lives (worship) since he alone created life and gave us life! Nothing else can demand our worship and stand justified— not the devil, angles or man because only God should be worshipped! Only Him— singular! Isa 45:22.
Peter’s answer “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” solved the puzzle of who Jesus is, with this answer, Jesus pronounced Peter as blessed (consecrated). Peter’s answer and consecration (being set apart) did not come about because of his cleverness and much study of the Torah, zeal or devotion rather, it was God’s sovereign act of revealing to him who Jesus really was. This is interesting–the revelation of Jesus comes from God and it sets people’s heart apart for God John 6:65, 3:16. Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven”.
Jesus’ reply to Peter’s answer to His question is pivotal to dealing with all conversations about who Jesus really is— trying to conceive anyone by philosophizing without cognizance to, “but my father who is in heaven” part of Jesus’ reply to Peter will be a waste of time and giving room for unprofitable disputations which leads to quarrel and ungodliness.
Before the birth of Jesus, an angle of God announced to Mary, “you shall bear a Son and His name shall be called Jesus— which Isaiah revealed as Immanuel (meaning God with us) and He shall save His people from their sins” Matt 1:21-23. The word “us and His people” refers not just to Israel as a nation but mankind Luke 2:28-32. God’s salvation, in the sense of redemption (the saving of the soul) is not done by any other means but only by Himself Ps 98:1. Therefore, the name or person by whom God saves the soul of man is God Acts 4:11-12. God ordained preachers know they can’t give salvation to anyone— God does the saving through the preacher’s planting or watering of His Holy word 1 Cor 3:7.
Peter’s understanding of Jesus as the Christ, the son of the living God is different from the understanding many of us have today. Like Philip, we may still be asking,” Show us the father” but Jesus’ answer will be no different to the one He gave to Philip John 14:8-9.
God only reveals Jesus as God to the people who accept Jesus as His Son. The understanding of the mystery of Jesus Christ as God is not a prerequisite for salvation because receiving Him as God’s Son is accepting Him as the one by whom all things were created. All who truly are gifted with salvation in Christ Jesus are also gifted with the revelation that He is God. Like Philip, we’ll all eventually comprehend it!
The early church did not struggle with this truth. Thomas called out to Jesus after His resurrection, “my Lord and my God” while the church gathered and neither Jesus nor the Apostles rebuked or corrected Him because they understood he was right in his theology. Also, as they were deeply hated and severely persecuted by their own people, they came to the understanding that; their acceptance of Jesus as the Son of God is equivalent to saying He is God even though it was considered blasphemy in their religion John 5:18, Matt 26:63-65. Many professing Christians today do not know this truth but, the Israelites did and even the Muslims know this truth which is the reason they do not want to believe He is the Son of God John 5:18.
So, proving that Jesus is the Christ tantamount to proving He is God. To believe in God is to believe in One God who is the Saviour of all men. To ever believe in one God is to believe in Christ Jesus John 6:44 because God draws man only to Himself.
Matt 17:1-8, is crucial in proving that Jesus is the Son of God! This same revelation was given to John the Baptist at river Jordan at Jesus’ Baptism to fulfill all righteousness. God consistently bore witness to Jesus as His Son and calls on all people, race and religion to believe in Him as His Son John 20:31, 1 John 3:23 . Anyone who does believe is automatically accepting Him as God because the Son of God is God. The Son of God is the Gospel which is, the power of God and the Power of God, is the Holy Spirit Rom 1:16, Luke 24:49.
The scripture tells us that God is bringing many sons to glory by the means of His Power and that Jesus Christ is the first Son among many brethren. Man was made by God to be god over His earth. We are aware that satan is still usurping but this will last only but for a short time from God’s perspective! Ps 90:4, 2 Pet 3:8. The first resurrected Son of God has overthrown him Rev 12:10. He is now God over him in this present age or world and for all ages to come as it was in the beginning. The interesting news is that the First Son among many brethren is bringing His bride (the church) to proclaim and display the truth that He has restored man (the sons of God) to the original intent of God to whom be praise, honor and glory for all eternity Eph 3:10. Amen.
We must understand that at the end, the word “first” takes its proper place as God’s title Isa 44:6 and God will be first (Head) among His sons Col 1:18. This is the reason God spilled His blood in order to make us part of Himself (the body of Christ). This gives us an insight why God vehemently calls His children to participate in His divine nature and inherit His kingdom which He has freely made available, but only His sons will inherit it Titus 2:11-14, 2 Peter 1:3-4, Rev 2:17.
The truth that Jesus, the Christ, Son of the living God is God— our God is not negotiable. He is our blessed hope!