Answering Attacks on Jesus' Deity

Posted by Matt Postiff June 9, 2016 on Matt Postiff's Blog under Theology 

Editor's Note: This is a guest post by FBC member Vincent Brattin.

Luke 2:52 And Jesus increased in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and man.

Objection: How can an all-wise God increase in wisdom?

Response: It may be that when Jesus took on human flesh, he took on some human limitations, and this may have included his knowledge. Or, it may be that "wisdom" is being identified as "knowledge + experience," and so as Jesus grew in years and gained in experience, he naturally grew in wisdom as a result.

John 5:19, 30 So Jesus said to them, "Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of his own accord, but only what he sees the Father doing. For whatever the Father does, that the Son does likewise. I can do nothing on my own. As I hear, I judge, and my judgment is just, because I seek not my own will but the will of him who sent me."

Objection: How can an all-powerful God express himself powerless to act on his own accord?

Response: Jesus is saying that His own motives and intentions are so perfectly intertwined with those of the Father that there is no separation. Neither one would do anything apart from the other. Even in a moment of weakness, when it looks like Jesus might "go his own way," he confirms that that unique bond will continue (Mark 14:36, Matt 26:39).

John 14:28 You heard me say to you, 'I am going away, and I will come to you.' If you loved me, you would have rejoiced, because I am going to the Father, for the Father is greater than I.

Objection: How can an all-powerful God say that someone is greater than himself?

Response: We can only surmise the intricacies of the relationship between the members of the Godhead. His ways are above our ways, after all. Evidently God the Son volunteered to be in a subservient role to God the Father (and God the Holy Spirit likewise subservient to both). The Father is greater, in authority, but not in power.

Luke 18:19 (see also Mark 10:18) And Jesus said to him, "Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone."

Objection: Jesus is specifically separating himself from God here, and saying only God is good.

Response: Jesus didn’t say "Don’t call me good." He clearly was and is "good." Jesus is not denying his divinity so much as He is proclaiming it. Here He is giving the rich young ruler a chance to confess who Jesus is.

Luke 19:29-34 When he drew near to Bethphage and Bethany, at the mount that is called Olivet, he sent two of the disciples, saying, "Go into the village in front of you, where on entering you will find a colt tied, on which no one has ever yet sat. Untie it and bring it here. If anyone asks you, 'Why are you untying it?' you shall say this: 'The Lord has need of it.'" So those who were sent went away and found it just as he had told them. And as they were untying the colt, its owners said to them, 'Why are you untying the colt?' And they said, "The Lord has need of it."

Objection: How can God urge his followers into criminal behavior (in this case, a brazen theft of someone's livestock)?

Response: It's not recorded, but it's entirely possible that Jesus had alerted the owner of the colt beforehand what was going to take place. This would certainly explain why the owner expressed no outrage upon being reassured "The Lord has need of it." Given our Lord's character, we can also assume that the disciples returned the colt when he was done using it.

Mark 11:13-14 And seeing in the distance a fig tree in leaf, he went to see if he could find anything on it. When he came to it, he found nothing but leaves, for it was not the season for figs. And he said to it, "May no one ever eat fruit from you again." And his disciples heard it.

Objection: How could God not know when the season for figs would be?

Response: This episode was an object lesson for his disciples about the Jewish leaders in Jerusalem. They were showing the outward signs of spirituality, but not displaying the works or the attitude that result from genuine faith, just as the tree had the leaves, but no fruit. Jesus certainly knew beforehand what He would find on the tree.

Matthew 24:36 (also Mark 13:32) But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only. [Some manuscripts omit "nor the Son"]

Objection: How can God not know the day and hour, especially of something so important?

Response: This is a result of the voluntary limitations that Jesus imposed on Himself by taking on human flesh. I think that there can be no doubt that Jesus, in his present state, does know the day and hour.

Mark 15:34 And at the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, "Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?" which means, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?"

Objection: How can God forsake God?

Response: First, Jesus as a man is bemoaning the fact that He is now without God’s protection. Second, He is reminding all who can hear him that He is fulfilling Psalm 22.

John 20:17 Jesus said to her, "Do not cling to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to my brothers and say to them, 'I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.'"

Objection: How can Jesus be God when He refers to the Father as "my God"?

Response: Jesus could always refer to the Father as "my God" because of His voluntary subservient relationship to Him. But then Jesus made Himself lower still (in fact, a little lower than the angels), so referring to the Father as he did made perfect sense.

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