How do you Perceive Jesus Christ–Pre-Existent and Eternal God or Man Begotten of the Father?

Diana's sunset
kevin dooley / Art Photos / CC BY

One of the most critical questions facing the believer of Messiah has to do with who Jesus Christ (or Yeshua Ha Meschiach for those of us who are Messianic believers) really was. Sadly, the vast majority of the 2.5 billion self-professing “Christians” around the globe seem to have a rather nebulous perception of Jesus; many having arrived at their understanding of Christ through the teachings and doctrines of established, orthodox Churchianity (i.e., fundamentalist and traditional Christianity). Few of us have undertaken a serious investigation of who Jesus was, His true mission here on earth, and His role today in the lives of billions of adherents. Why is there such a fear or hesitancy to examine the Biblical record in search of the truth regarding the One who we refer to as our Redeemer, our Savior, the Messiah, the rock of our salvation, Emanuel, the Son of God?

Anthony Buzzard, professor at Atlanta Bible College, published author, and founder of Restoration Fellowship (www.restorationfellowshi.org) states: “None of us can afford to dispense with the hard work involved in settling who this real Jesus is!” I cannot agree more with his statement.

Growing up and even during my younger adult years, I was terrified to question the identity of the Messiah. Being raised and indoctrinated in the Southern Baptist Church, not only was it considered literally heretical to question the identity of Jesus–who He was, His purported eternal divinity, and His purpose when He walked the earth. Not to mention I had personal concerns that my questioning of the identity of Jesus would bring into serious question my overall commitment to the christian faith. It was not until I took on the challenge of examining the many tenets of the traditional christian faith that I was able to step out of my denominational morass and mindset and search for the true identity of my Savior.

I encourage each of you to do the same. I submit to you that it is not until the true believer receives the full understanding of who the Messiah was and is today (as full as the Spirit permits that is), then he or she will realize the fullness of the message of Yeshua (Jesus) and the glorious and heart-pounding reality of what our Faith is truly about. All signs point to Yeshua Ha Meschiah, from Genesis to Revelations. Thus, it is imperative that this question is asked and every believer receives a correct answer. Failure to seek after the truth has dire repercussions for the believer of Messiah. Consider the Apostle Paul’s (Hebrew–Shaule’s) exhortation to the Church in Thessalonica: 9 The coming of the lawless one is by the activity of Satan with all power and false signs and wonders, 10 and with all wicked deception for those who are perishing, because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. 11 Therefore God sends them a strong delusion, so that they may believe what is false, 12 in order that all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness. (2Th 2:9-12 ESV)

I fully realize the danger that this topic poses, especially if the content of this podcast episode (blog post) is contrary to orthodoxy. I’ll be honest with you: I hesitated for quite a while to discuss this topic because I knew of the potential for hurt feelings, insult to my listeners’ as it pertains to their specific beliefs in Jesus (Messiah), and personally putting myself out there to be discredited and ridiculed by the Fundamentalists and Traditionalists establishments. However, the Spirit spoke to me and I was moved to do what I now believe is the right thing to do and that is to examine the Biblical record regarding the identity of our Savior, devoid of any denominational influence and spin, and not fear any potential fallout from this investigation.

What’you Talk’n About? 

Let’s take a look at some of the prevailing perceptions of Jesus Christ.

According to Catholicfaith.org.uk: At the heart of the Christian faith is the belief that God has become man, that Jesus Christ is Divine. By the word ‘Incarnation’ we mean that God the Son took to himself a human nature for the sake of our salvation. The word ‘Incarnation’ expresses the fact that Jesus Christ is not merely a man, a perfect man or even a saint, but God himself become man to save us and bring us back to God.

Jesus Christ was conceived miraculously through the power of God. He was born through the consent of his mother Mary who made a radical assent to be his mother after a mysterious apparition of an angelic being (Lk 1). As had been prophesised in the Old Testament, Jesus was born in King David’s city of Bethlehem.

The divinity and humanity of Jesus Christ were progressively revealed throughout his life. Elizabeth hailed Mary as ‘mother of my Lord’ and wise men came to worship him at his birth. John’s Gospel states that the Word, who is God, ‘became flesh’.

The Bible says explicitly that Jesus is God. 

There are indeed some interesting elements to this profession of belief:

  • Here the doctrine of the Incarnation is described, asserting that Jesus was God or one of the Gods of a multitude of Gods (i.e., of the Trinity or Duality) or The God who is identified as God the Son. This particular God (the Son) divested himself of his Godly form to become a man for a period of time on this earth.
  • Here the doctrine of progressive revelation is mentioned, implying that over time the identity of Jesus was revealed to mankind and that his identity was and is the Word who is God come in the flesh to this earth to save man from his sins. 

Let us look further. According to religionfacts.com:

Christians answer the question, “Who was Jesus?” by saying Jesus is God. Christians often build the case for their answer on New Testament verses, such as the following: In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God…. The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. (John 1:1,14) Thomas said to him [the resurrected Jesus], “My Lord and my God!” (John 20:28)

But about the Son he [God] says, “Your throne, O God, will last for ever and ever.” (Hebrews 1:8)

In addition, some important titles and functions applied to Christ in the New Testament indicate early belief in his divinity. The statement “Jesus Christ is Lord (Greek kyrios, Hebrew adonai)” is found throughout the New Testament and was one of the earliest Christian confessions of faith. Due to the substitution of the word “Lord” in place of YHWH (the holy name of God that may not be pronounced) in Torah readings, “Lord” had come to be almost synonymous with God in Jewish thinking by the time of Jesus. This associated can be seen in the Jews’ refusal to address the Roman emperor as “lord,” even under penalty of death. {8}

As with Catholicism, we see here that Christians identify Jesus as God.

So There Are Two Gods Then? Right? 

Glass Act at St Peter and St Paul, Lavenham
antonychammond / Foter / CC BY-NC-SA

Should not the thirst of the truth-seeking believer be satisfied by the simple claim that Jesus Christ is the God of the Old Testament or God the Son–one member of the triune or dual godhead–without firm Biblical support? Is it wrong for the truth-seeking believer to seek out the truth of Yeshua’s true identity and bring to task the millions of teachers and scholars (throughout the centuries) who teach a doctrine that Jesus is the God of the Old Testament; or that Jesus existed from the very beginning of time; or that Jesus was THE creator of the universe?

Paul clearly stipulates in his epistle to the Thessalonians that “…failing to believe true things and true facts about the Son of God, God abandoned them to a spirit of delusion.” (Buzzard’s interpretation) Millions upon millions of well-intentioned believers are sadly on a road of perpetual delusion and ultimate destruction because they refuse to take on the hard task of digging and searching through their dusty Bibles for the truth of just who Jesus really is. The few who do take on this arduous and even daunting task will likely come to some startling conclusions about Jesus at the end of their search (although this search never truly ends since the Savior’s persona is limitless and calls for continued study and meditation). With the exception of a small handful of verses from the writings of John the Apostle and a few by the Apostle Paul, the Bible clearly and emphatically states that there is One and Only One God, creator and sustainer of the universe, who alone is God and there is no other like Him.

 9 Remember the former things of old: for I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like me, 10 Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure: (Isa 46:9-10 KJV).

The greatest of all Scripture proclaiming that Yahoveh is the only true God is contained in the Shema:

 4 Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD: (Deu 6:4 KJV)5 And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might. 6 And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: 7 And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up. 8 And thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thine hand, and they shall be as frontlets between thine eyes. 9 And thou shalt write them upon the posts of thy house, and on thy gates. (Deu 6:4-9 KJV) 

The first century saints experienced no confusion on this matter and understood Jesus to be a man, fully human, but begotten and chosen of the Father to bring the Gospel message of the coming Kingdom of Yahoveh to this earth and to atone for the sins of all mankind.

Mar 12:32 And the scribe said to Him, “Right, Teacher, You have truly stated that He is One; and there is no one else besides Him; 

Buzzard provides several rebuffs to the claim that Jesus was the pre-existent God or a pre-existent God (i.e., God the Son).

To begin with, Jesus could not be the Biblically prophesized Messiah if he pre-existed and was God. Why? Because the Messiah (the true Messiah) was prophesized to be a lineal descendant of David.  Think about this carefully. Common-sense would dictate that if Jesus pre-existed David, he could not be a descendant of David, not to mention that He would be God and not a true descendant of David. The Children of Israel were not expecting the Messiah to be Yahoveh incarnate. Thus, the confusion that was experienced by some of the Jews who misconstrued what the Savior was talking about and erroneously believing that he was calling Himself Yahoveh. (31 Then the Jews took up stones again to stone him.

 32 Jesus answered them, Many good works have I shewed you from my Father; for which of those works do ye stone me? 33 The Jews answered him, saying, For a good work we stone thee not; but for blasphemy; and because that thou, being a man, makest thyself God. (Joh 10:31-33 KJV))

Words are indeed important and I have found that the true believer of Messiah must carefully turn and examine each word of Scripture and the New Testament writings if he or she is to receive proper understanding with the aid of the Holy Spirit and at times a well-grounded teacher of the Word.

Furthermore, the Bible speaks of Jesus as begotten of the Father–begetting in Hebrew parlance meaning to conceive as in the act of procreation. Assuming Jesus was God or God the Son in heaven, his coming to earth and taking on human flesh within the womb of Mary would not be a begetting at all, but the transformation of one being who already existed. To make this contention even more confusing, traditionalists who believe that Jesus is the God of the Old Testament “…in some mysterious way engineered his own conception, reduced himself to a fetus and had himself born.” (Buzzard)

The Father created us with the ability to reason and that my fellow Saints in Training does not make sense. Oh sure, the traditional excuse for this insane contrivance has always been that the Incarnation is a mystery and we all know what that is suppose mean: don’t you dare ask that question again or else!

The Gnostics likely developed this contrivance and erroneous understanding of Jesus as God of the Old Testament. Gnosticism, possibly existed before the birth of the Savior, but certainly began to thrive contemporaneously with the ministry of Paul. The doctrine of the Incarnation is encapsulated within the general concepts of Gnosticism. According to the Gnostics, headed popularly by Arius at the time, “…in some sense God, without ceasing to be God, was made man.” (Wikipedia: Christianity and Gnosticism) Simply put, this is paganism: taking neoplatonism, metaphysics of substance, and hypostases (or being) as the wherewithal to develop the erroneously new religion of christianity.

Interestingly, both John and Paul warned against this emerging threat to the one true faith delivered by Yeshua to the Saints (ex.: 2 Thessalonians 2:7 and Revelation 17:5). Yet it is the writings of these apostles that is being used as the proof positives in support of the divinity of Christ. How brilliant is the Enemy, Ha Satan to damage the faith from within itself! According to an article written by Buzzard, Martin Luther was “…so indoctrinated by the popular tradition about the Incarnation of a pre-existing God the Son that he mistranslated the Greek of I John 4:2: He who does not confess Jesus as coming INTO the flesh.” The correct translation is of course: “…Jesus the one who came IN FLESH.”

Here’s the kicker: Jesus Himself proclaimed a monotheistic Hebraic Faith, based upon the Shema: 28 And one of the scribes came, and having heard them reasoning together, and perceiving that he had answered them well, asked him, Which is the first commandment of all? 29 And Jesus answered him, The first of all the commandments is, Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God is one Lord: 30 And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment. (Mar 12:28-30 KJV) 

Here would have been an opportune moment in history for Jesus to claim pre-existent divinity and nullify the Shema if in fact He was the acclaimed God the Son! Yet He did not. Regardless the existence of this centrally defining verse of the Renewed Covenant (New Testament), churchianity continues to preach a pre-existing God the Son while rejecting any probability that Yeshua was begotten (conceived of the Holy Spirit) of the Father and walked the earth as a human being. In retort, traditionalists and fundamentalists will slam upon the table of doctrinal debate a handful of verses found in the writings of John and Paul as proof positive that Gnosticism holds certain validity within the christian faith.

Getting to the Bottom of the Matter

Architecture
blmiers2 / Foter / CC BY-NC-SA

Here are two proof passages used by christians to support their claims that Jesus Christ was God of the Old Testament:

 58 Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am. (Joh 8:58 KJV) 

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 The same was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made by him; and without him was not anything made that was made. (Joh 1:1-3 KJV) 

Both verses clearly challenge the validity of the monotheist’s rejection of the pre-existence of God the Son. But the truth seeker must ask: when the prevailing course of the entirety of Scripture clearly supports the Shema, can these two and a handful of other such verses be explained and truly understood in light of the monotheism that Yeshua Ha Meshiach taught and supported? Absolutely: especially when these verses are considered in illuminating light of historical and Biblical context.

To begin with, it is imperative that one realizes that the Bible cannot be read with our cataract-stricken Western eyes. Israel prospered when she embraced Yahoveh as her One and only God. Conversely, Israel suffered horribly when she dabbled and forsook monotheism for the polytheistic religions of the pagan nations that surrounded her. With this knowledge and experience tightly engrained in to the very fabric of the Hebrew Faith, even the slightest consideration of another God, say God the Son, would be fool-hardy and blasphemous.

Secondly, everything in the Tanakh, the Law, the Prophets, and the Writings pointed to the coming Messiah. The absolute pinnacle of man’s existence could not be met unless Messiah came to establish His earthly Kingdom and vanquish all existing earthly governments. Furthermore, Yeshua established His earthly ministry amongst the Jewish people and His message was based entirely upon the Father’s Commandments and the Torah. Thus, in order to understand Yeshua’s teachings one must have a basic understanding of the Tanakh. In order to understand Yeshua’s mission on this earth, one must understand the many prophecies of Him that adorn the pages of the Tanakh.

One of the biggest reasons why Jews today reject Jesus as the long prophesized Messiah is that Christianity has painted him in such a pagan-light; entirely foreign to the Messiah that was foretold by the prophets of old in the Old Covenant or Old Testament. Many would argue that the eyes of the Jews have been blinded during this current age for purposes outlined in the Father’s plan and indeed there may be some validity to that theory. However, more and more Jews are today coming to accept Yeshua as their Savior because the paganistic façade that Christianity has painted of Jesus is being stripped away and these Yeshua believing Jews are being taught the true faith once delivered to the first century Saints. In other words, when a truth-seeking believer returns to the Hebraic-roots of the Faith, centuries of deceptions, myths, lies, and misinterpretations fall to the ground and expose in its fullest light possible who Yeshua Ha Meschiach truly is and what His true message is all about.

So how could a true Believer of Messiah perceive Yeshua’s message in John 8:58? If the Believer chooses to think like a Westerner, to him or her Jesus would be insinuating that he existed before Abraham. If the Believer were to remove his or her western glasses and put on a pair of Hebraic glasses, to him or her Yeshua would be proclaiming that He was part of Yahoveh’s plan way before Abraham existed. Hallelujah! Does the latter here not make the most sense to the truth seeker?

What about John 1:1-3? According to Buzzard, a careful read of Matthew and Luke provides the reader absolutely no indication of Jesus as a pre-existent God. However, the western mindset seems poised to hijack the Apostle’s poetic description of Messiah to mean that Jesus, eternal and pre-existent, divested himself of his godly stature and took on human flesh to tabernacle with man. Again, the Spirit cries out in the din of western teachings, ideas, philosophies, and doctrines to return to the Hebraic-roots of the writer and his prose: the Word of God, embodied in the Torah, the prophets, and the writings–Yahoveh’s Wisdom (cf. Proverbs 8:22, 30), His Plan–existing before the foundations of the earth were laid–Yahoveh embodied His Wisdom into the very person of Yeshua Ha Meschiach. Oh Glory!

In Conclusion: Who is Yeshua Ha Meschiah? The writer of Hebrews handily provides the answer to this most important question: God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, 2 Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds; 3 Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high; 4 Being made so much better than the angels, as he hath by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they. 5 For unto which of the angels said he at any time, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee? And again, I will be to him a Father, and he shall be to me a Son? (Heb 1:1-5 KJV) 

Granted we could spend several episodes discussing this passage and we’d still not do it justice. Nevertheless, in light of our current topic and the desire to tie all this together at this concluding point, we can quickly come to a grand conclusion.

Prior to the coming of Messiah, Yahoveh spoke to man through His appointed prophets and angels. In the fullness of time, the Eternal chose a man whom He begot through the agent of His Holy Spirit. This man was Yahoveh’s appointed agent and the greatest of all prophets–Yahoveh’s word expressed in human form in the person of Yeshua Ha Meschiach. Yeshua was place in the last portion of the era of mankind to deliver Yahoveh’s message. Thus Yeshua, in addition to being mankind’s redeemer, He is Yahoveh’s proxy to deliver the news of the coming Kingdom of Yahoveh and atone for the sins of every human being who has and who ever lived.

Now the western thinking believer will hone in on the portion of the passage that says: “…whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds…” But when that believer once again removes the garb of western thinking and puts on the Hebraic glasses of truth, he or she can understand that the plan of Yahoveh–that plan being Yeshua Ha Meschiah–existed before the creation of the earth. It is Yahoshua who will be made heir of all that Yahoveh has created. Yahoshua, a human being, born of a woman, conceived of the Holy Spirit…who lived as we do, hungered when he was deprived of food; cried out in pain when he was afflicted; felt the pain of loneliness and the sorrow of losing a dear friend to death; felt joy and sadness; felt hope and also despair.

Call to Action 

I highly urge you to take seriously the things that we’ve discussed in this episode to heart and do your own investigation into the identity of the Messiah. There are many resources that I can recommend to aid you in your search for the truth. In particular, Anthony F. Buzzard’s and Charles F. Hunting’s encyclopedic work “The Doctrine of the Trinity, Christianity’s Self-Inflicted Wound” (International Scholars Publications) provides the truth seeking believer with a Biblically-based overview of the true identity of Yeshua. In terms of the hardcore exegesis of the Biblical record, I would encourage those of you who have the financial resources and desire to invest in the Bible Software, BibleWorks 9 (www.bibleworks.com). This software is simply amazing. This is where modern technology meets the Truth once delivered.

 

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