The ultimate test that unequivocally decides what is and what is not genuine or orthodox Christianity is simply the biblical doctrine of the Person, nature and finished work of Jesus Christ. He made this clear in a question to His disciple Peter: “What do you think about the Christ” (Matt. 22:42). Similar to Jesus’ statement in John 8:24 (cf. chap. 2, sec. 2.4.5) eternal life is absolutely dependent on believing in the Jesus of biblical revelation (cf. John 17:3). The fact is, virtually all major non-Christian cults assert, “Jesus Christ is Lord” (e.g., Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Oneness Pentecostals, etc.). This is, to be sure, a meaningless assertion. For the Jesus of these groups oppose the biblical presentation. The Apostle John indicates in 1 John 2:22-23:
Who is the liar but the one who denies that Jesus is the Christ? This is the antichrist, the one who denies the Father and the Son. Whoever denies the Son does not have the Father; the one who confesses the Son has the Father also (emphasis added).
Thus, proclaiming a belief in God the Father while denying the biblical presentation of the Son (i.e., denying His nature as God-man, His finished work, and His unipersonality [i.e., that He is a distinct Person]) denies God Himself. One cannot remove the Son from the Godhead and yet claim that he or she has salvation – for he or she, as John indicates, does not have God. “He that does not honor the Son,” says Jesus, “does not honor the Father who sent Him” (John 5:23).
In spite of the clear biblical (exegetical) affirmation of the full deity of the Person of the Son, Jesus Christ, non-Christian groups crassly reject this essential truth of God. The deity of the Son is especially seen in places such as: Daniel 7:9-14; John 1:1, 18; 20:28; Romans 9:5; 10:13; 1 Corinthians 2:8; Philippians 2:5-11; Colossians 2:9; 1 Timothy 3:16; Titus 2:13; 2 Peter 1:1; Hebrews 1:3-10; Revelation 5:13-14; and 22:13.
There are several places in the New Testament where the Son is actually called ho theos, “the God,” these would be, as included above, John 20:28; Titus 2:13; 2 Peter 1:1; Hebrews 1:8; and 1 John 5:20. What is theologically noteworthy is that Titus 2:13 and 2 Peter 1:1 (and perhaps 2 Thess. 1:12) are both Granville Sharp grammatical constructions – namely, Sharp’s rule #1. This rule is named after its founder (not inventor) Granville Sharp (A.D. 1735-1813). Sharp was passionate in his unyielding belief in the full deity of Jesus Christ. Sharp’s research of the Greek New Testament led him to discover six grammatical rules in which the Greek article ho, “the” and the conjunction kai, “and” were utilized.
Although there were six grammatical rules that Sharp discovered, rule #1 is the most recognized and cited. Generally (not verbatim), rule #1 states that when the connective kai, “and” connects two nouns of the same case (singular nouns that are not proper [e.g., personal names]), and the article ho, “the” precedes the first noun, but not the second, each descriptive noun refers to the first named person. Hence, Titus 2:13 and 2 Peter 1:1 contain this construction emphasizing the full deity of the Son. Titus 2:13 reads: “Looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus.” Notice the phrase tou megalou theou kai sōtēros hēmōn Iēsou Christou, literally, “the great God and Savior of us Jesus Christ.” Here, the conjunction kai, “and” connects both singular descriptive nouns, theou, “God” and sōtēros, “Savior” and the article tou, “the” proceeds the first noun, theou, “God,” but not the second noun, sōtēros, “Savior.” Therefore, according to Sharp’s grammatical rule, Jesus Christ is tou megalou theou kai sōtēros, “the great God and Savior.”
The same great truth is found in 2 Peter 1:1. Minus the extraneous words preceding the Sharp construction and the adjective megas, “great” in Titus 2:13, the reading in 2 Peter 1:1 is virtually identical: tou theou hēmōn kai sōtēros Iēsou Christou, literally, “the God of us and Savior, Jesus Christ.” According to recognized Greek grammarians (e.g., Robertson, Greenly, Wallace), lexicographers, (e.g., Cremer), and commentators (e.g., Hendriksen) this rule is invariably valid markedly showing the full deity of the Son.
In contrast, Oneness teachers insist that the “Son” denotes only Jesus’ humanity and not the deity of Jesus blatantly rejecting the Son’s deity (seeing the “Father” and “Son” as modes or roles of the unipersonal deity named “Jesus.” While other non-Christian cults see Jesus as not God, but rather as a mere man. However, aside from the biblical passages where Jesus claims that He is God (e.g., John 5:17-18; 8:24, 58; 10:30; 13:19; 18:5-6, 8) and the passages where He is presented as God by His apostles (as seen below), the Son possesses the very attributes of God:
- He has power to forgive sins (cf. Matt. 9:6)
- He is greater than the temple (cf. Matt. 12:6)
- He is Lord of the Sabbath (cf. Matt. 12:8)
- He is the King of a kingdom and the angels are His gathering His elect (cf. Matt. 13:41; Mark 13:27)
- He is the Messiah, the Son of the living God (cf. Matt. 16:13-17)
- He was to be killed and raised from the dead (cf. Matt. 17:9, 22-23; 19;26:2; Mark 8:31; 9:31; Luke 9:22; 18:31-33; John 2:19ff.)
- He is omnipresent (cf. Matt. 28:20; John 14:23)
- He is omniscient (cf. John 2:24-25; 6:64; 16:30; 21:17)
- His is omnipotent (cf. Matt. 8:27; 9:6; 28:18; Heb. 7:25)
- He gave His life as a ransom for many (cf. Mark. 10:45)
- He gives eternal life (cf. Luke 10:21-22; John 5:21; 10:27-28)
- He is the monogenēs theos, “unique/one and only God” that came from heaven (cf. John 1:18; 3:13)
- He pre-existed with and shared glory with the Father (cf. Micah 5:2; John 1:1; 17:5; as will be shown in chap. 4)
- He is Immutable (cf. Heb. 13:8)
- He was worshiped (cf. John 9:35-38; Heb. 1:6)
Virtually every New Testament book teaches the full deity of the Son, Jesus Christ, explicitly or implicitly. This is exegetically seen in passages such as Matthew 1:23; Luke 10:21-22; John 1:1, 18; 5:17-23; Jesus’ seven absolute egō eimi, “I am” statements (viz. John 8:24, 28, 58; 13:19; 18:5-6, 8); John 20:28; Romans 9:5; 1 Corinthians 2:8; 16:22; 2 Corinthians 8:9; Philippians 2:6-11; Colossians 2:9; 1 Timothy 3:16; Titus 2:13; Hebrews 1:3, 8-10; 2 Peter 1:1; 1 John 5:20; Jude 4; Revelation 1:8; and 5:13-14. The biblical evidence is massive.
The Son is Creator
Further, the New Testament specifically presents the Son as the Creator of all things, thus pre-existing (cf. John 1:3; Col. 1:16-17; Heb. 1:2, 10). This is the strongest point of refutation against Oneness theology as well as all non-Christian cults who deny the deity and eternality of the Son, Jesus Christ.
The Son is Worshiped
There is another important piece of evidence affirming the deity of the Son. Scripture presents the Son as receiving the same kind of religious “worship” (proskuneō) as that of God the Father. This important reality can be especially seen, for example, in Daniel 7:9-14, where two distinct divine Persons are being presented (note, v. 9 says “thrones,” thus, not a single throne), the Ancient of Days and the Son of Man. In verse 14, the Son of Man was “given dominion, glory and a kingdom,” by God the Father in which “all the peoples, nations and men of every language might serve [douleuō, i.e., worship, cf. Exod. 20:5; LXX] Him, His dominion is an everlasting dominion which will not pass away” (emphasis added).
In the New Testament, Jesus received religious proskuneō, “worship” – for example, by the men in the boat (cf. Matt. 14:33) and the blind man (cf. John 9:35-38). In Hebrews 1:6, the Father commands “all the angels of God” to proskuneō, “worship” the Son. This kind of worship was clearly religious in nature – for the setting is in the heavens before God the Father. In Revelation 5:13-14, the Father and the Lamb receive the same kind of blessing, honor, and glory and the same kind of worship: “To Him who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb, be blessing and honor and glory and dominion forever and ever. And the four living creatures kept saying, ‘Amen’ and the elders fell down and worshiped [proskuneō].” Note that these acts of proskuneō, “worship” to the Son were not merely in the context of honor and/or falling prostrate before another in mere “obeisance” (as the Jehovah’s Witnesses bible [NWT] says in Heb. 1:6 and other passages where Jesus received worship). Rather the Son was worshiped in a religious context – namely, worship that was reserved for God alone (cf. Exod. 20:5) – creaturely worship is highly forbidden by the Lord. This revealing truth shows that the Son shares the very essence of God the Father. He is God in the same sense as that of the Father (cf. John 1:1b): “Who always being the brightness of His glory, the exact representation [image] of the nature of Him” (tēs hupostaseōs autou, i.e., nature of the Father; Heb. 1:3; translation mine).
Scripture presents a clear Christology
The Son of God, Jesus Christ is the second Person of the Holy Trinity. The Son is fully God co-existing with the Father (cf. John 1:1; 17:5). He became man (cf. John 1:14). He was sent by the Father (cf. John 6:37ff.) to redeem the elect of God by His sacrificial death on the cross (cf. Mark 10:45; Rom. 5:9-11; 8:32). The Son is the only Mediator between the Father and man (cf. 1 Tim. 2:5). Thus, the Christ of biblical revelation is the divine Son, a personal self-aware Subject distinct from the Father and the Holy Spirit.
This is the Christ that saves. This is the Christ that Paul and the other New Testament authors preached. The very foundation of justification is through this God-man’s infallible and efficacious cross-work, the very instrument being faith alone, not the sacrament of water baptism (i.e., a work) accompanied by a five word formula (viz. “In the name of Jesus” as Oneness Pentecostals assert) of which the church has never prescribed.
Jesus affirmed that unless one has accurate knowledge, assent and trust in the Son of biblical revelation he would perish in his sins (cf. John 8:24). The rejection of the unipersonality and deity of Son and the rejection of the personal distinctions between Jesus, the Father, and the Holy Spirit rejects the very nature of the triune God Himself (cf. John 17:3; 1 John 2:22-23).
Hebrews 1:2, 8, 10: In these last days [God the Father] has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world. . . . But of the Son He [the Father] says, “YOUR THRONE, O GOD, IS FOREVER AND EVER. . . . And, YOU [the Son], LORD, IN THE BEGINNING LAID THE FOUNDATION OF THE EARTH, AND THE HEAVENS ARE THE WORKS OF YOUR HANDS.”