JESUS: “Who is this man?”

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by Martin Schlomer

Last Sunday, I spoke on the Deity of Jesus as a part of the doctrine series, “Foundations.” While it is essential for believers at Elim to understand and be able to support from Scripture the Deity of Jesus, it is also important that we understand how to address some objections that are raised regarding His Deity. When you talk to Jehovah’s Witnesses they will quickly point out two objections which I will deal with in this Last Word.

Speaking of Jesus in Colossians 1.15, Paul writes, “He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation.” At first glance, calling Jesus “the firstborn” appears to teach that He is God’s offspring, born into existence at some point in time and that He is not the eternal pre-existent God. Therefore, JW’s will use this verse to support their belief that Jesus is a created being.

Is this what this verse teaches? The Greek term for “firstborn” can refer to a child who is the firstborn in a family. However, it is also used to describe a person who is preeminent in rank. This second usage is a very common and represents Paul’s usage in Colossians 1.15. His emphasis is on the priority of Jesus’ rank as over and above ALL creation as indicated in the very next verse. This is why Paul goes on to write in Colossians 2.9 “For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form….” Christ is the head over everyone and everything!

The second verse that can be confusing when discussing the Deity of Jesus is the King James translation of John 3.16 which reads, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” Once again, it appears that the word “begotten” teaches that Jesus is God’s offspring, born into existence at some point in time. However, this translation is very misleading. While the Greek term can be used to indicate an only child (Luke 7.12; 9.38) it is also used to describe a person who was unique, set apart, one of a kind. This is how the term is intended here and should therefore be translated “his one and only son” or “his only son” to communicate this one of a kind identity that belongs only to Jesus Christ.

Why is this important? As our culture moves further and further away from its Christian roots and understanding of the Bible, cults will become more and more influential in society. As followers of Christ, we must have clarity in our understanding of the core historic beliefs of Christianity and Scripture.

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Personal and Corporate Growth

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by Brian Sharpe

I would hope as believers our hearts desire would be to grow in our relationship with Jesus.  I would hope that we would say specifically that our relationship with Jesus is the most important relationship we have.  When we look at the Bible both of these statements are at the forefront of the minds of the authors.  Their lives were all about Jesus and growing in that relationship.  They gave up jobs.   They gave up positions of leadership.  It cost a lot of them their life, but nothing else mattered.

Since 1999 I have been working with students to help them grow in their faith.  Over the years I have found that weekend and week long trips are one of the best ways to help a group grow both personally and corporately.  The question I ask is why?  Why do we see more growth on these short trips together than any other time?

I believe that when you live in community with the same goal of growth and service to God you will grow.  That is what I saw a couple weeks ago in Rockaway.  You had a group of students and adults that were there to serve God and grow in their relationship with Jesus.  As a group we processed life and faith every night both individually and corporately.  It was amazing to see God show up.  It was amazing to see God break down barriers.  It was amazing to see God visibly change students.

Is this possible in the large church?  Do we have to be on a trip together as adults to grow personally and corporately?  I think it would help, but it is not practical.  I think what needs to happen is that we make sure we intentionally find people that we can grow together with and not be willing to keep the status-quo.  It is where you and this group are willing to ask tough questions and would be willing to pray for and walk with each other.  To me this sounds a lot like our community groups.

Community groups are our adult small groups.  It is where we meet either every or every-other week.  We pray together.  We study the word together and we talk life together.  It is where we get together to serve God and grow in our relationship with him.  If you are not in a community group make sure to make it a priority this fall.  If we are not living in community with other believers it will stunt our growth in Christ.  God has created us as relational people.  We need to seek out others to grow with.  We need to seek out and be in community.  We need to be in a community group.

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