pdf of The Plain Truth – April 1986 e-Book of The Plain Truth – April 1986 link to The Plain Truth – April 1986
The Plain Truth – April 1986
The Plain Truth – April 1986
Is Jesus God?

from Herbert W. Armstrong

Before his death on January 16, 1986, the editor in chief planned this “Personal” and had the entire copy of this issue read to him.

Is Jesus the same as Jehovah? Is there more than one God? Startling as it may seem, there is great confusion today among religious leaders concerning the true nature and office of Jesus Christ.

The Bible was divinely inspired to impart truth to those who seek it with honest hearts and minds. But even this all-important subject has become jumbled.

Jesus Christ came to pay the penalty for sin in our stead. He gave of himself, that we might be reconciled to God.

How was this made possible?

First, if Jesus had been only human, his death could have paid the penalty for but one other human who had incurred that penalty by transgression of God’s spiritual law (Rom. 6:23). Since God the Father created all things by Jesus Christ (Eph. 3:9), and since all things, including man, were made by Jesus Christ, he is our Maker and therefore God, and his life that he gave was of greater value than the sum total of all human beings. For we read, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made” (John 1:1-3, Authorized Version, unless otherwise designated). “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth; we have beheld his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father” (verse 14, Revised Standard Version). Also, “He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world knew him not” (verse 10, RSV). Compare these scriptures with I Corinthians 8:6 and Colossians 1:12-19.

Life alone can beget life. This is the absolute law of biogenesis. Since eternal life is the gift of God (John 3:16), only a God possessing immortality could give it. If Jesus were only human, we could not receive eternal life through him and he could not be our Savior. Man does not have eternal life inherent in himself. But, as God “the Father hath life in himself; so hath he given to the Son to have life in himself.” And, “God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life” (John 5:26 and I John 5:11-12).

On the other hand, Jesus was also human. Since it is human life that has transgressed God’s law, the law claims human life as its penalty. Contrary to popular present-day teaching, the Word of God states that the wages – the penalty – of sin, is death, not eternal life in a so-called “hell fire” (Rom. 6:23). When we sin, we break God’s perfect spiritual law, “for sin is the transgression of the law” (I John 3:4). The penalty for this sin is death. The penalty must be paid. God the Father will not compromise. It must be paid by man. Therefore, Jesus, who is and was God, who has always existed (John 1:1, 2), was actually made flesh (verse 14).

He, who was God, actually became human flesh because I John 4:2, 3 states, “By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit which confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God, and every spirit which does not confess Jesus is not of God” (RSV). He was conceived in and born of the human virgin, Mary. “Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child of the Holy Spirit” (Matt. 1:18, RSV). He was made not only flesh, but human flesh and blood. Notice, in the Revised Standard Version, Hebrews 2:14: “Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same nature…”

Jesus called himself the Son of MAN repeatedly, and also the Son of God. Matthew wrote, “Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, ‘Who do men say that the Son of man is?’ And they said, ‘Some say John the Baptist, others say Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.’ He said to them, ‘But who do you say that I am?’ Simon Peter replied, ‘You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.’ And Jesus answered him, ‘Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jona! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven’” (Matt. 16:13-17, RSV).

We also read: “… Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men” (Phil. 2:5-7, RSV).

He is called God in Titus 2:10, 13. Therefore he is God. The Bible contains so much on these points that the above is a mere fragment of the evidence.

Jesus is also “Jehovah,” although this word is an unfortunate mistranslation used in the American Standard Version. The original name, in the Hebrew, contained the consonants “YHWH.” In writing in Hebrew, vowels were omitted, supplied only in speaking. Today the name is commonly understood to be Yahweh. The meaning in English is “the Eternal,” or “the Ever-living,” or the “Self-Existent.” It is commonly supposed that Yahweh, or – incorrectly – Jehovah, or, as in the Authorized Version, The Lord, or Lord God of the Old Testament, was God the Father of Jesus Christ.

This is a flagrant error!

Yahweh was the God of Israel, the only One of the Godhead known to ancient Israel. When he came in human flesh they did not recognize him. “He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not” (John 1:10). Neither did they know God the Father (Matt. 11:27). “… No man knoweth … who the Father is, but the Son, and he to whom the Son will reveal him” (Luke 10:22).

In Genesis 1 the Hebrew name translated “God” is Elohim. This is a plural word, denoting more than one person. A church or a family consists of more than one person, yet is one church, or one family. In this same sense Elohim – the God kingdom – includes both God the Father and Yahweh, who is the Logos or the Word of God, and also their Spirit emanating from them, the Holy Spirit, the LIFE, CHARACTER and POWER of God. Jesus, in praying for the welfare of the Church, prayed that its many members might “be one as we are one” (John 17:11, 21, Moffatt). The Church is one body, yet composed of many members (I Cor. 12:12). A husband and wife are one flesh, yet two persons.

The Hebrew word translated “God” has two meanings – the God kingdom or the family of God, and the persons composing that kingdom or family. Christ and the Father are ONE God, not two Gods – one Elohim. That is why Elohim said, “Let us make man in our image” (Gen. 1:26).

Yahweh is the “Word” or Spokesman of the Godhead – its second member. As soon as God began to speak to man, it was always Yahweh who spoke (translated “LORD” in the Authorized, and “Jehovah” in the American Standard Version). See Genesis 2:16, 18 and Exodus 20:2. It was Yahweh – the “Word” – who was made flesh. The proof of this is a long study, involving hundreds of passages. I will explain some of them in next month’s “Personal.”