It didn’t take long after the church began that heresies began to arise. Many of them centered around the person and work of Jesus himself. Today some reject Christianity in general but more frightening to me is the fact that many professing Christians reject the clear biblical teachings regarding the deity of Christ. A “2020 survey conducted by Ligonier Ministries, a Florida-based Reform Church nonprofit found that 52 percent of U.S. adults say they believe Jesus Christ is not God — a belief that contradicts traditional teachings of the Bible through the Christian church, which state Jesus was both man and God. Nearly one-third of evangelicals in the survey agreed that Jesus isn’t God, compared to 65 percent who said: “Jesus is the first and greatest being created by God.”[1] The Ligonier ministries issued a public statement affirming their confidence in the Deity of Christ as contained in the teachings of the Bible. They begin their statement, “We confess the mystery and wonder of God made flesh and rejoice in our great salvation through Jesus Christ our Lord. With the Father and the Holy Spirit, the Son created all things, sustains all things, and makes all things new. Truly, God, He became truly man, two natures in one person.”[2]

The other side of that heresy is that God was not fully man. The “radical distinction between our bodies and our spirits led Gnostics to twist the early church’s understanding of who Jesus was and is. The Gnostics saw Jesus as a messenger bringing the special knowledge of salvation to humanity’s imprisoned soul. They believed that when Jesus came to earth, He didn’t possess a body like our own; instead, the Gnostics taught that He only seemed to have a physical body. This was a denial of the Christian doctrine of the incarnation—the belief that Jesus was both fully God and fully human.”[3]

In his first letter, the Apostle John attacks the Gnostics. He jumps right into his refutation with the first verse. He writes, “That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we looked upon and have touched with our hands, concerning the word of life.” The “word of Life” that John is talking about of course is Jesus himself. You might remember his Gospel where he said, “The Word became Flesh” referring clearly to Jesus. He says four things that are important for us to remember. First, it was from the beginning. This looks back to his Gospel as well as the first verse in the Bible which beings “In the Beginning.” Before anything was created, Jesus was there. Second, “which we have heard.” This involved the physical sense of hearing. Then he adds “which we have seen with our eyes.” This was not an illusion. It was real. Well, maybe Jesus was just an apparition. John says, “we have touched with our hands.” The eyewitnesses, most of whom were tortured to get them to deny what they heard, saw, and felt, died without changing a word of this testimony. According to early tradition, John was boiled in oil better never changed a word of this testimony. Thompson says, “Clearly, he wishes to underscore that what he is bearing witness to is no figment of his imagination, no invention of his own. He wishes to set before his readers the life that is in Jesus Christ.”[4] The question that Jesus posed to Peter, “Who do you say that I am?” is addressed to all of us in each generation. What do you say?




[4] Thompson, Marianne Meye. 1992. 1–3 John. The IVP New Testament Commentary Series. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.