“What think ye of Christ?” – Matthew 22:42
This text follows the Lord’s answer to the Pharisees who, seeking to tempt Him, asked, “Which is the great commandment in the law?” Jesus answered,
“Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.
“This is the first and great commandment,
“And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.
“On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.”
Love to God and love to man are the sum of all revelation and the essence of all religion. As are the heart and lungs to the body, these two commandments are the vital principles on which the life of all the other parts depends. All other precepts spring from them and return to them again.
But why did the Lord follow this statement with the question, “What think ye of Christ?” and then point out that David called Him Lord? Who is this God who should be the primary object of our love? This is not an academic question, something to be debated by theologians in their ivory towers. If we do not know our God and His nature and purposes, how are we to know what we should love? On the church’s concept of God depends its very existence.
The words of our text, “What think ye of Christ?” were spoken before the Christian Church was established, and ever since it was established, this has been the most important question. For with the Christian Church the idea of a trinity in the Godhead came into being. While there is no minister of any Christian denomination who will admit that there is more than one God, yet there is complete confusion in the teaching concerning Christ.
The Sacred Scriptures are full of evidence that there is only one God. He is indeed called by various names, but the absolute unity of the one and only object of worship is so plainly stated that he who runs may read. “Hear, O Israel, the Lord thy God is one Lord.” These words were addressed to all Israel, and similar statements are made throughout the Old Testament. In Isaiah we read, “I am the Lord, and there is none else,” and again, “there is no God else beside me; a just God and a Saviour; there is none beside me. Look unto me and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God, and there is none else.” This is the burden of the teaching of the Old Testament, namely, that there is one God.
And the Old Testament also teaches plainly that in time this one God would come into the world as its Redeemer and Savior. It is not prophesied that another than God would come in His stead. “Unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor: The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.” “And it shall be said in that day, Lo, this is our God; we have waited for him, and he will save us: this is the Lord (Jehovah in the original Hebrew); we have waited for him, we will be glad and rejoice in his salvation.” No one doubts that these are prophecies concerning Jesus Christ and His coming into the world. He is the Prince of Peace, at whose birth into our world the angels sang, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.” But it is this same Prince of Peace who is called “The mighty God, The everlasting Father.”
His birth into the world was a wonder, and so He was first regarded. Then He became thought of as a wise counsellor; even at the age of twelve, on His to the Temple, He astonished the learned doctors with His wisdom. Then in His public ministry it became evident and was said that no man could do these works except God be with him, and finally even the doubting Thomas cried, “My Lord and my God.”
When Jesus was in the world, He said these things of Himself: that He came forth from the Father, that He manifested or brought forth the Father to view, that the Father was in Him, and that He and the Father are one. On another occasion He said to the disciples, “If ye had known me, ye should have known my Father also: and from henceforth ye know him, and have seen him.” And when Philip was yet uncertain whether he understood the Lord’s words and asked for a more explicit statement, “Jesus saith unto him, Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Philip? he that hath seen me hath seen the Father.” Thus He declared to Philip that He was the Father brought forth to view, that in seeing Him men see all that the finite mind can see of the everlasting Father, that He was God manifest in the flesh, the Divine revealed in humanity.
Thus both the Old and the New Testaments declare that there is only one God and that the Lord Jesus Christ is He. The Old Testament, the Gospels, and Revelation testify to the sole Deity of Jesus Christ.
The Lord says, “I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life,” “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest,” “If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink,” “He that believeth on me hath everlasting life,” “I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever,” “All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.” No one but God could say these things, and if we call ourselves Christians, we should certainly accept the words of Christ as true.
The wonderful book of Revelation opens with the words, “The Revelation of Jesus Christ,” declares that Jesus Christ alone is worshiped in the heavens, that He is the first and the last, and that He has the keys of hell and of death, and it closes with the benediction, “The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.”
These final words of the book of Revelation, a book which was written near the close of the first century of the Christian era, show us clearly that in the primitive Christian Church Jesus alone was worshiped. Paul said that in Christ “dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily.” The early Christians did not think of three separate persons in the Godhead, but they were not learned men, they could not explain the Trinity, and as time went on, through contact with the world and with pagan philosophies, their thinking became confused; and in 325 A.D. the Nicene creed was formulated, dividing the Godhead into three separate persons, which brought about the destruction of true belief in the Lord and the inability to understand the Scriptures. The Scriptures throughout are a parable, and unless the true principle of interpretation is known, they can be used to support various and even conflicting ideas. In His Second Coming the Lord has revealed this principle, and a new and deeper understanding of the Word has become possible, and we are entering upon a new Christian era.
The new Christian faith is a deeper faith than that which preceded it, because it gives a deeper understanding of the Word in which God has revealed Himself to us. To understand the Trinity we need to know how and why God came into the world, why the Virgin birth was essential to His coming, and about the process by which the Lord made His human Divine and united it to Himself. When we understand these things, there is no confusion in our minds. We understand that the Trinity is a trinity not of persons but of attributes. The Father is the Divine love, the Son is the Divine wisdom or truth, by which the Divine love acts, and the Holy Spirit is the actual operation in the universe of the Divine love by means of the Divine truth. Jesus said, “I do nothing of myself” and “the Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works.” The same trinity that is in the Lord is of necessity in every created thing. By looking at ourselves we can see how these three essentials of being are distinct and yet united. Our affections, thoughts, and acts make one human being. So the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit make one Being. Because the Lord manifested Himself in the world as the Divine truth, the Word made flesh, Jesus called Himself the Son and says, “No man cometh unto the Father but by me.” So the Son is also the mediator; that is, it is by means of truth that we come to know the Divine love which is the Father. And the Holy Spirit is the operation of the Divine love in the world by means of the Divine truth.
This doctrine gives us a distinct object for the thoughts and affections to rest upon, the glorified and ascended Person of our Lord Jesus Christ. So we can think of our God not as merely a First Cause, invisible and unapproachable, but as Perfect Man, the embodiment of all Divine forces and perfections. There is only one to pray to, only one who can pardon, only one who can save, only one who can give eternal life, who has life in Himself, and that One is the Creator, Redeemer, and Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, the one supreme object of worship in whom dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily.