The Lord Jesus Christ is worshiped throughout the New Testament. Only God is to be worshiped; only God is worthy of praise. The Bible abhors idolatry in both testaments. Idolaters have no place in heaven and their worship is always false. Hence, in a book that calls idolatry an abomination and demands that God alone be worshiped and adored, to allow Christ to be worshiped is either blasphemy or Christ is divine and it then becomes proper and necessary to revere him. To not worship Christ then is equivalent to idolatry and blasphemy.
The gospel of Matthew records several instances where Jesus was worshiped. “Wise men from the east came to Jerusalem, saying, 'Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we saw his star when it rose and have to come to worship him'... And going into the house they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him” (Matt. 2:1-2, 11). The disciples worshiped Jesus in a boat after he walked on water and calmed a storm: “And those in the boat worshiped him, saying, 'Truly you are the Son of God'” (Matt. 14:33). Then, the women who followed worshiped Jesus after his resurrection. “And behold, Jesus met them and said, 'Greetings!' And they came up and took hold of his feet and worshiped him” (Matt. 28:9).
Jesus is worshiped on a number of occasions in the gospel of John. Jesus himself spoke about receiving honor just as the Father does: “The Father judges no one, but has given all judgment to the Son, that all may honor the Son, just as they honor the Father. Whoever does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent him” (Jn. 5:22-23). He is then worshiped by a blind man whom he healed. Jesus found the man after he was cast out of the temple and asked him if he believed in the Son of Man. After the healed man discovered Jesus' identity, “He said, 'Lord, I believe,' and worshiped him” (Jn. 9:35-38). And who could forget the enduring words of Thomas, who, at one point, doubted Christ's resurrection. He exclaimed, “My Lord and my God!” when Jesus appeared and revealed himself, forever removing any incertitude or disbelief (Jn. 20:27-28).
Paul tells of a day in the future when “at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Phil. 2:10-11). When discussing his own deliverance, Paul bursts forth in praise, asserting, “To the King of ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever” (1Tim. 1:17).
The author of Hebrews, quoting Deuteronomy, expounds on the supremacy of Christ by proclaiming that he was worshiped. “Let all God's angels worship him” (Heb. 1:6). Peter exhorted his readers to “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity” (2Pet. 3:18). Finally, the book of Revelation shows us that Jesus is worshiped in heaven by the elders, the living creatures, and all creatures in heaven and earth and the sea (Rev. 5:6-14). Jesus is worshiped; there can be no denying this. He receives honor, glory, and praise that is due to God. People bow before him, love, and adore him. A logical conclusion is that Jesus is God!
Not only is Christ identified with God and receives worship, but he does something else only God can do- he saves sinners. He is the sole object of the believer's faith. Without Christ, no one would ever be delivered. He is the Savior, not just because he died to pay the ransom, but also due to the fact that he saves. Salvation is a work of Christ, and if salvation belongs to the Lord (Jonah 2:9), then Jesus is the Lord and therefore God.
Only a few verses of scripture need to be quoted to prove this apparent point; it ought to be evident. Early in Luke's gospel, angels bring good news to shepherds. They say in part, “For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord” (Lk. 2:11). This would not be good news if Christ saved no one. Acts 4:12 further confirms this point, “And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”
Paul, as expected, has much to assert regarding this. “Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God” (Rom. 5:9). “In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace” (Eph. 1:7). “He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins” (Col. 1:13-14). “For God has not destined us for the wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1Thess. 5:9). “The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners” (1Tim. 1:15).
Lastly, Hebrews reveals that “he had to be made like his brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people” (Heb. 2:17). And, “he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them” (Heb. 7:25).
Does the Works of God
The evidence is mounting. It is becoming increasingly clear that Jesus is fully divine. He not only is identified with God, receives worship, and saves sinners, but he also does the very works of God.
Scripture discloses that Christ is the Creator. For our purposes, we are interested exclusively in Christ. Creation is attributed to each member of the Trinity, thus proving the deity of both Christ and the Holy Spirit. “All things were made through him [Jesus], and without him was not any thing made that was made” (Jn. 1:3). Paul tells the believers at Corinth that there is “one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things and through whom we exist” (1Cor. 8:6). He tells the Colossians, “For by him [Jesus] all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities-all things were created through him and for him” (Col. 1:16).
Hebrews tells us that God “has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world” (Heb. 1:2). Later in the same chapter, we read, “You, Lord, laid the foundation of the earth in the beginning, and the heavens are the work of your hands” (Heb. 1:10).
Christ also providentially governs and preserves his creation. Paul told the men of Athens, “In him we live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:28). He was referring to Christ. He told the Colossians that Jesus “is before all things, and him all things hold together” (Col. 1:17). The Hebrew writer said that “he upholds the universe by the word of his power” (Heb. 1:3). God alone preserves or upholds his creation. God alone guides, orchestrates, directs, and leads all creation to his desired end. If Christ sustains and governs creation, then it follows that Christ is God.
The forgiveness of sin, which is a work of God, is attributed to Christ. The second chapter of Mark states that Christ forgave the sins of the paralytic man (Mk. 2:5-12). Luke recounts Jesus' words about the woman that washed his feet with tears and dried them with her hair. He forgave her sins (Lk. 7:41-50). Many more accounts may be given, but these are sufficient to substantiate our claim that Christ is God because he forgives sin.
Jesus gives eternal life. This, again, is a work that only God can accomplish. After feeding five thousand men, Jesus told the crowd, “Do not labor for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you” (Jn. 6:27). He told others, “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand” (Jn. 10:27-28). John encouraged the assurance of his audience when he wrote, “And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know him who is true; and we are in him who is true, in his Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life” (1Jn. 5:20). It is apparent that not only is eternal life found in Christ, but he also bestows this life to his own.
God has appointed Christ as judge. All judgment is reserved for God. So, in imparting judgment to the Son, it becomes unmistakable that Christ is God. “For the Son of Man is going to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay each person according to what he has done” (Matt. 16:27). John relates, “The Father judges no one, but has given all judgment to the Son” and “He has given him authority to execute judgment, because he is the Son of Man” (Jn. 5:22, 27).
In Acts, Paul told his listeners that Jesus “is the one appointed by God to be judge of the living and the dead” (Acts 11:42). He then tells the Thessalonian Christians that Jesus will be “revealed from heaven with his mighty angels in flaming fire, inflicting vengeance on those who do not know God and on those who do not obey the gospel” (2Thess. 1:7-8). Timothy was told by Paul that Christ is “the righteous judge” (2Tim. 4:8).
If Christ has always existed- if he is not a created being but eternal, precisely as the Father is- then he is God. If the scriptures bear witness to his eternal preexistence along with the rest of the evidence presented, then it is beyond dispute that Christ is indeed God of very God. Scripture is not silent on this matter.
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God” (Jn. 1:1-2). John explicitly teaches that Christ, the Word, is God and has always existed. God cannot be created. Jesus calls himself “I am” in John 8:58. This is the name that God gave Moses at the burning bush in Exodus 3. It speaks of God's self-existence, infinite nature, transcendence, otherness, and his eternal being. All of these apply to Jesus. He addresses himself as the I am, therefore ascribing these divine attributes to himself.
Philippians 2:5-11 teaches Christ's equality with God. Also, he existed with God before “being born in the likeness of men.” Christ, the Son of God, has always existed. These scriptures are more than adequate to prove that Christ existed from eternity, hence manifesting the inescapable truth of his deity.
As if this chapter did not have enough to convince any honest reader, there are more arguments that cement the truth of the deity of Christ. One such argument is the confession of demons. Throughout the gospel accounts of his earthly life, Jesus confronted and rebuked demons to free the possessed and to demonstrate his power and authority. These demons would often cry out and display that they knew not only Christ, but also his origin and deity. These confessions are some of the most orthodox and sound statements of the divinity of Christ found in scripture. It would appear that the demonic realm knows a great deal about Christ, having once dwelt in heaven and worshiped him before the worlds began. It is also apparent that men have the ability to sin beyond the very devils themselves while on this earth. Even demons know who Christ is!
“And when he came to the other side, to the country of the Gadarenes, two demon-possessed men met him, coming out of the tombs, so fierce that no one could pass that way. And behold, they cried out, 'What have you to do with us, O Son of God? Have you come here to torment us before the time?'” (Matt. 8:28-29). “And immediately there was in their synagogue a man with an unclean spirit. And he cried out, 'What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are- the Holy One of God'” (Mk. 1:23-24). “And whenever the unclean spirits saw him, they fell down before him and cried out, 'You are the Son of God'” (Mk. 3:11). “And demons also came out of many, crying, 'You are the Son of God!'” (Lk. 4:41).
Another line of argumentation is the confessions and testimonies of people. Peter, by revelation from the Father, declared, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God” (Matt. 16:16-17). Then, Nathaniel exclaimed, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!” (Jn. 1:49). As mentioned above, Thomas confessed, “My Lord and my God!” (Jn. 20:28).
Lastly, perhaps the most revealing and interesting of these examples, is Paul. His life and conversion is possibly the strongest argument for the deity of Christ, apart from scriptural testimony that is. Why? Because Paul was a persecutor of the early church. He opposed Jesus, incarcerated believers in prison, cast his vote to put them to death, and tried to make them blaspheme (Acts 26:9-11; Gal. 1:13). Paul was a monster. Albeit, this persecutor turned into a preacher and missionary. How? Christ appeared to him on the road to Damascus, forever changing his heart, soul, and life (Acts 9:1-19; Gal. 1:15-16, 23).
Like so many of the other Jews and Pharisees, Paul did not believe that Jesus was God's Son or divine before his conversion. So, being the Hebrew of Hebrews, Paul sought to destroy the Way because they followed and worshiped Christ. In his mind, God alone was worthy of worship, making any adoration given to Jesus blasphemy. After his conversion, Paul preached Christ and he proclaimed his deity. “And immediately he proclaimed Jesus in the synagogues, saying, 'He is the Son of God'” (Acts 9:20). “This Jesus, whom I proclaim to you, is the Christ” (Acts 17:3).
Paul was a persecutor turned preacher. This is remarkable because of the reason Paul opposed Christians- they referred to Jesus as God and worshiped him as such. Paul lost everything to follow Christ. This proved that his “religion” before Christ was worthless- rubbish. But, he gained Christ, and by gaining Christ, he gained everything (Phil. 3:4-11).
Let it be known that much more could be said and many more verses could be referenced to prove the deity of Christ. What has been written is sufficient. No matter how many passages are quoted or arguments compiled, if the truth is not revealed by God, sinners will remain blind and hardened. A supernatural work must be done by God in order for people to acknowledge, believe, and trust that Christ is who the scriptures say he is.
Why is the deity of Christ so important? Why all the verses of scripture and arguments? Simply put, if Jesus is not fully God, then he is unable to save us. Our very salvation depends on his person- his deity. As will be explored at a later time, sinners need Christ because he is the God Man. Christ, God's Son, took on flesh to bear our guilt and punishment. The divine nature sanctified the human, making his sacrifice sufficient to turn away the Father's wrath and satisfy his justice in order to make atonement for sin. Oh, this is rich! This is precious truth!
Excerpt from the author's book The Unsearchable Riches of Christ vol. 1: The Person of Christ