A Sermon by Rev. Grant H. Odhner Preached in Rochester, Michigan February 13, 1994 

“Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister …” (John I 1:5)

Only a few times in the Word is it recorded that Jesus loved specific people (see John 13:34; 15:12; Mark 10:21; Rev. 3:9,19). The disciple John is called a number of times “the disciple whom Jesus loved.” But the only other people that Jesus is said to have loved are Martha, Mary, and Lazarus.

There must have been special qualities in these people that warranted the Lord’s declared love. Of course the Lord loves everyone. But it appears that He loves some more than others, because some receive His love more than others (and therefore receive His blessing more). So in the Word the Lord is said to have “loved” these people, because they represent qualities that receive His love. Today we’re going to focus on two of these people: Martha and Mary.

“Jesus loved Martha …” Martha was obviously a sincere follower of the Lord. She must have been deeply affected by His power and His teaching. As she once declared: “Lord, I believe that You are the Christ, the Son of God, who has come into the world” (John 11:27).

But the quality that is most distinctive about Martha is her energy. She is a woman of action. We can imagine that not everyone had the confidence or initiative to reach out to that awesome Prophet and to welcome Him into their home. Some would say, “Who, me? Invite that great man into my home?! Cook dinner for Him?!” Others might have reservations about this controversial person who was gaining the suspicion and disfavor of their priests and lay leaders alike. But “Martha welcomed Him into her house.”

We see Martha’s energy again when her brother Lazarus has died. She leaves the mourners and goes out to meet the Lord as He comes to raise Lazarus from the dead. Mary sat in the house (see John 11:20). Martha, more than once, is described as serving the Lord at mealtime, preparing His dinner. Mary, more than once, sat (see Luke 10:39,40; John 12:2,3).

The Lord was literally speaking of people like Martha when he said: “Come, you blessed of My Father; inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in” (Matt. 25:34f).

Martha’s willingness to acknowledge the Lord, receive Him in her heart, and serve Him with her hands, was “food” which nourished the Lord’s greatest hope. He hungered and thirsted for people to receive Him and be saved. For as he said His food was to do the will of Him who sent Him, and to finish His work – which was the salvation of all people (see John 4:34).

Martha especially represents the life of useful activity, serving the Lord from love. She represents also the willingness and eagerness to serve others. This basic willingness to serve is what first welcomes the Lord into our life. While our merely thinking about others can bring the Lord’s presence to our minds to a degree, it does not bring His conjunction. The Lord actually enters in and “sups with us, and we with Him” only when we “open the door” by willing and doing (see TCR 719, AR 937).

We all know and appreciate people who are doers, who have the will and take the energy to reach out to help or to accomplish useful things that need doing. We all respect people who do more than just mean well and think well. And it is even apparent that such people are “loved by the Lord.” Their unselfish efforts carry their own delight and are their own reward.

So also, each one of us, according to our unique gifts, is able to serve others. We are all able to live a life of use. This life is the greatest potential source of heavenly delight to us. Our life of use is the “Martha” is us, which Jesus loves.

Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister.

Mary was a very different kind of person from Martha. She was obviously equally devoted to Jesus. But she was not active by nature. She didn’t rise up immediately and go out to meet Jesus like Martha, but came only when Martha brought the Lord’s request that she come. Mary was obviously a reflective person. She sat at the Lord’s feet and heard His Word, while Martha expressed her love for the Lord by practical work – making Him dinner. Mary, on one occasion, expressed it by a symbolic gesture, a gesture bred of thoughtful devotion: she anointed the Lord’s feet with costly ointment. The impractical nature of this act annoyed some of the disciples, who thought that the money spent for the ointment could have been put to better use. But her act was a thoughtful one and did not go unrewarded by the Lord.

Mary represents the affection for truth, the affection for learning and thinking and reflecting on what’s true. “Mary sat at the Lord’s feet and heard His word.”

Martha’s and Mary’s contrasting body language confirms what each one represents. Martha is always doing, on the move. Mary is described as sitting or doing something that implies minimal movement.

“Sitting” corresponds to a state of thought (see AC 2684, 2688) – not a distracted, quickly shifting kind of thought, but a quiet thought that is focused. “Sitting” is expressive of an attentive, receptive mind. When we enter a room to talk with someone, and the person remains working and bustling around, they may be nodding and saying “Uh-huh’ but the body language tells us that, for one reason or another, he or she is not really devoting thought and attention fully to us. On the other hand, when someone immediately drops what he is doing and sits down before us, we sense right away the willingness to listen. The gesture says a great deal about the mind-set. It is worth a thousand words!

It is obvious from this why. the Lord commanded the multitudes to sit down before He fed them (see Matt. 14:19, 15:35; see also the Mark, Luke, and John accounts). His feeding them signified His life-giving instruction and people’s willing reception of it. “Sitting down” involves quieting our own active life of thinking and doing, and giving attention. Mary’s “sitting before the Lord and hearing His word,” then, pictures a very beautiful quality: the quality of unselfish attention to the Lord’s Word and reflection on it.

Reading the Word and reflecting on it is not an end in itself. The end must always be life. A life devoted solely to meditation isn’t very productive.

On the other hand, often our problem is the opposite one. We simply don’t have the time, or take the time, to read the Word and reflect, or to worship. We are surrounded by “more pressing” needs. We are too busy working, fulfilling obligations, raising children, keeping our household in order, doing church business, re-connecting with our spouse, or doing something recreational.

Of course there is nothing wrong with any of these activities. They are all part of a useful life, and this is the goal: to live a fruitful life. But fruit is only as good as the underlying soil is rich. When the soil becomes depleted, the fruit becomes stunted, tasteless and insipid.

Our actions are only as good as the state of mind that’s within them. And our state of mind is according to our will and our reflection from principle. The love and thought that go into our actions are what make those actions spiritually meaningful. For example: having children and educating them is meaningful to the extent that we determine to do it from love and to the extent that we reflect on the importance of what we are doing, what it means to the Lord and to His kingdom. Again, spending time helping a neighbor with some project is spiritually worthwhile to the extent that we have reflected that it’s a useful thing to do, and are seeing it as a way to bring the Lord present.

Reflection is what makes us human, particularly reflection about what is loving and eternal. When the reflection within our acts dies or becomes obscure, our acts lose their spiritual life.

It is common for us to cease acting reflectively. Our life is continually changing. Yesterday’s insight loses its power to sustain us today. What is fresh with meaning for us eventually becomes habitual and perfunctory.

What’s more, sometimes we lose our sense of purpose even when we set out to do good. All of a sudden we find ourselves doing something for the wrong reason. For example, we might begin to think of the rewards that will come our way for doing what we’re doing, and we begin to work for them rather than for the sake of being useful. Or sometimes we start out with good intentions but a negative attitude sets in and we begin to be distracted by petty things – perhaps we become annoyed with people, or notice their faults, or feel resentments. Again, sometimes we let ourselves feel so busy that we get caught up in the mere mechanics of a task and then we’re just “going through the motions.” Or we get so wrapped up in what we’re doing that it becomes a persuasion, a “cause.’ We lose our objectivity, our ability to benefit from fresh perspectives. This is when we tend to feel that it’s all on our shoulders, and we lose our trust in Providence.

We can imagine a number of these things at work in Martha in the incident from Luke, where: “… Martha was distracted with much serving, and she approached [Jesus] and said,

‘Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Therefore tell her to help me.'”

Here we see the “Martha” in us gone wrong – our active life, beset with negative emotions, in need of reflective truth.

But even when this part of us is not so obviously negative, it can still put pressure on us to attend to active business. “Many jobs need doing,” our “Martha” argues persuasively. “It’s getting late. The food is not on the table. Jesus is waiting for His dinner. Sitting at the Lord’s feet at a time like this is irresponsible.” And we can feel pressure from other voices in us to spend our precious “oil” on more practical, pressing problems. Could not our devotion to the Lord be better expressed by helping “the poor”? When cast in this light, the “Mary” in us can seem to be a pretty narrow, and even self-indulgent, part of our life.

But Jesus loved Mary. And twice He defended her actions against those who would have her serve in a more active and practical way. The part that Mary had chosen was necessary, a good part, and would not be taken away from her. “The poor you have with you always …”. There is always some active service to be done. Many things cry for our attention. But if the Lord is not remembered, if our devotion to His eternal purposes is forgotten, what is the point? He is then no longer present in our efforts. He is no longer communicating love through us. Our acts have lost their spiritual motive and quality. So Jesus speaks to that spurious pressure that sometimes wells up in us: “Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things. But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her” (Luke 10:4042).

” Martha, Martha …” The attention-getting repetition says, “Hold on. Stop your activity for a moment. Let go of your intensely-focused feelings and attitude. Let another line of thinking enter and affect you. Think. Refocus. Let’s put this into perspective. “

“One thing is needed One thing can bring spiritual meaning to our life of usefulness, and that is quiet reflection. We need to take time in our busy lives – regularly if not frequently – to read and meditate on the Lord’s Word. We need to sit quietly at His feet and listen to Him. For as He said, “The words that I speak to you are spirit and they are life” (John 6:63). That is, His words alone bring spiritual life. So let us renew our resolve, together with the psalmist: “I will meditate on Your precepts, and contemplate Your ways. I will never forget Your precepts, for by them You have given me life” (Psalm 119:15,93). Amen.

Lessons: Luke 10:38-42; John 11:1-7,17-37; John 12:1-8; AC 9297:4

Arcana Coelestia 9297:4

There is a continual appearing and presence of the Lord in the truths of faith. How this is to be understood shall be briefly told.

The presence of the Lord with a person is in the good in him, because good makes his life, but not truth except so far as it springs from good. From this it is that the dwelling place of the Lord with a person is in the good of innocence. And therefore when someone has been regenerated, the Lord is present with him not only in good, but also in truths which are from good. For the truths then have life from good, and are that good in a form. By means of this form the quality of the good can be perceived … From this it is evident how it is to be understood that the Lord then appears and is present also in the truths of faith …

It is said in the church that faith is from the Lord. But it is to be known that the faith which is from charity is from the Lord, but not faith which is separate from charity … A person can know whether the faith in him is from the Lord or from himself: one who is affected by truths merely for the sake of a reputation for learning, in order that he may gain honors and wealth, and not for the sake of the good use of life, is in a persuasive faith, which is from himself and not from the Lord.

In the truth of faith there are theoretical matters and practical ones. That person is in faith from the Lord who regards the theoretical matters for the sake of the practical ones. He sees the theoretical ones in the practical, and in this way from both linked together looks to the good use of life. He is affected by both theoretical and practical aspects of faith for the sake of this end. The reason [why such a person is in faith from the Lord] is that the use of life with him is good, because it is his end. And all aspects [of a person’s mind] are formed according to the use of life …

That this is so is very manifest from those who are in the other life. All there, without exception, are reduced to the state of their good, or to the state of their evil, and thus to the use of their life. This had been their end, that is, what they had loved above all things, and what consequently had been the very delight of their life. All are reduced to this. The truths or falsities which had made a one with this use remain, and more besides are adopted which link themselves with the former and complete the use, and cause the use to appear in its own real form.

From this it is that spirits and angels are forms of their use … Moreover, a result of this is that the character of spirits is known the moment they are present. Their truths of faith are known from their faces and from the beauty of these in respect to their form. And the good itself, which is the use, is known from the fire of love in their faces which gives life to the beauty. It is also known from the sphere which surges from them.

From all this it is again evident what the Lord’s presence in the truths of faith is.


The DR. A. Torreyeity of Jesus Christ

doctrinal & practical writings
The Deity of Jesus Christ
by R. A. Torrey

“While the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them, Saying, What think ye of Christ? Whose son is he?…” Matt. 22:41-42.

The question that our Lord Jesus puts here to the Pharisees is the most fundamental question concerning Christian thought and faith that can be put to anybody in any age. Jesus Christ Himself is the center of Christianity, so the most fundamental questions of faith are those that concern the Person of Christ. If a man really holds to right views concerning the Person of Jesus Christ, he will sooner or later get right views on every other question. If he holds a wrong view concerning the Person of our Lord Jesus Christ, he is pretty sure to go wrong on everything else sooner or later. “What think ye of Christ?” That is the great central question; that is the vital question.

And the most fundamental question concerning the Person of Christ is — is Jesus Christ really God? Not merely, is He Divine, but, is He actually God? When I was a boy, to say you believed in the Divinity of Christ meant that you believed in the real Deity of Christ, that you believed that Jesus was actually a Divine Person, that He was God. It no longer means that. The Devil is wise, shrewd, and subtle, and he knows that the most effectual way to instill error into the minds of the inexpert and unwary is to use old and precious words and put a new meaning into them. So when his messengers masquerading as “ministers of righteousness” seek to lead, if possible, the elect astray, they use the old precious words, but with an entirely new and entirely different and entirely false meaning. They talk about the Divinity of Christ, but they do not mean at all what intelligent Christians in former days meant by it. Likewise, they talk of the atonement, but they do not mean at all the substitutionary death of Jesus Christ in our place by which eternal life is secured for us. And oftentimes when they talk about Christ, they do not mean at all our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, the actual historic Jesus of the four gospels; they mean an ideal Christ, or a Christ principle.

So our subject is not the Divinity of Christ, but the Deity of Christ; and our question is not, is Jesus Christ Divine, but rather, is Jesus Christ God? Was that Person Who was born in Bethlehem nineteen hundred and twenty-one years ago, and Who lived thirty-three or thirty-four years here upon earth as recorded in the four gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, Who was crucified on Calvary’s cross, Who rose from the dead the third day, and was exalted from earth to heaven to the right hand of the Father — was He God manifest in the flesh, was He God embodied in a human being? Was He, and is He, a Being worthy of our absolute faith and supreme love and our unhesitating obedience and our wholehearted worship, just as God the Father is worthy of our absolute faith and supreme love and unhesitating obedience and our wholehearted worship? Should all men honour Jesus Christ even as they honour God the Father (John 5:23). Not merely is He an example that we can wisely follow, or a Master whom we can wisely serve, but is He a God Whom we can rightly worship? I presume that most of us do believe that He was God manifest in the flesh and that He is God today at the right hand of the Father, but why do you believe so? Are you so intelligent in your faith, and therefore, so well-grounded in your faith that no glib talker or reasoner, no Unitarian or Russellite (JW) or Christian Scientist or Theosophist, or other errorist can confuse you and upset you and lead you astray?

It is important that we be thoroughly sound in our faith at this point and thoroughly well-informed, wherever else we may be in ignorance or error, for we are distinctly told in John 20:31 that “these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name.” It is evident from these words of the inspired apostle John that this question is not merely a matter of theoretical opinion, but that it is a matter that concerns our salvation. It is to confirm and instruct you in your blessed faith, your saving faith in Jesus Christ as a Divine Person.

When I studied the subject of the Divinity of Christ in the theological seminary, I got the impression that there were a few texts in the Bible that conclusively proved that He was Divine. Years later I found that there were not merely a few proof texts that proved this, but that the Bible in many ways and in countless passages clearly taught that Jesus Christ was God manifest in the flesh. Indeed, I found that the Doctrine of the Deity of Jesus Christ formed the very warp and woof of the Bible.

Divine Names

The first line of proof of the absolute Deity of our Lord Jesus is that many names and titles clearly implying Deity are used of Jesus Christ in the Bible, some of them over and over again, the total number of passages reaching far into the hundreds. Of course, I can only give you a few illustrations at this time. Turn with me first of all to Revelation 1:17, “And when I saw him, I fell at his feet as dead. And he laid his right hand upon me, saying unto me, Fear not; I am the first and the last.” The text shows clearly that our Lord Jesus was the speaker, and here our Lord Jesus distinctly calls Himself “The First and the Last.” Now this, beyond a question, is a Divine name, for in Isaiah 44:6 we read, “Thus saith the LORD the King of Israel, and his redeemer the LORD of hosts; I am the first, and I am the last; and beside me there is no God.” In Revelation 22:12,13, our Lord Jesus says that He is the Alpha and Omega. His words are, “And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last.” Now in this same book in the first chapter and the eighth verse the Lord God declared that He is the Alpha and the Omega. His words are, “I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty.” In I Corinthians 2:8, the apostle Paul speaks of our crucified Lord Jesus as “The Lord of glory.” His exact words are, “Which none of the princes of this world knew: for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.” There can be no question that “The Lord of glory” is Jehovah God, for we read in Psalm 24:8-10, “Who is this King of glory? The LORD strong and mighty, the LORD mighty in battle. Lift up your heads, O ye gates; even lift them up, ye everlasting doors; and the King of glory shall come in. Who is this King of glory? The LORD of hosts, he is the King of glory. Selah.” And we are told in the passage already referred to that our crucified Lord Jesus was the King of glory; therefore, He must be Jehovah.

In John 20:28 Thomas addressed the Lord Jesus as his Lord and his God: “And Thomas answered and said unto him, My Lord and my God.” Unitarians have endeavored to get around the force of this utterance made by Thomas by saying that Thomas was excited and that he was not addressing the Lord Jesus, but was saying “my Lord and my God” as an ejaculation of astonishment, just the way that profane people sometimes use these exclamations today. But this interpretation is impossible and shows to what desperate straits the Unitarians are driven, for Jesus Himself commended Thomas for seeing it and saying it. Our Lord Jesus’ words immediately following those of Thomas are, “Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed” (John 20:29).

In Titus 2:13 our Lord Jesus is spoken of as our “great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ.” In Romans 9:5 Paul tells us that “Christ came, who is over all, God blessed forever.” The Unitarians have made desperate efforts to overcome the force of these words, but the only fair translation and interpretation of these words are found in our Authorized Version. There can be no honest doubt to one who goes to the Bible to find out what it actually teaches, and not to read his own thought into it, that Jesus is spoken of by various names and titles that beyond a question imply deity, and that He in so many words is called God. In Hebrews 1:8 it is said in so many words, of the Son, “But unto the Son he saith, Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: a sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of thy kingdom.” If we should go no further it is evidently the clear and often repeated teaching of the Bible that Jesus is really God.

Divine Attributes

But there is a second line of proof that Jesus Christ is God, a proof equally convincing, and that is, all the five distinctively Divine attributes are ascribed to Jesus Christ, and “all the fulness of the Godhead” is said to dwell in Him. There are five distinctively Divine attributes, that is, five attributes that God alone possesses. These are Omnipotence, Omniscience, Omnipresence, Eternity and Immutability. Each one of these distinctively Divine attributes are ascribed to Jesus Christ.

First of all, omnipotence is ascribed to Jesus Christ. Not only are we taught that Jesus had power over diseases and death and winds and sea and demons, that they were all subject to His word, and that He is far above all principality and power and might and dominion and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in the world to come (Eph. 1:20-23), but in Hebrews 1:3 it is said in so many words that He “[upholdeth] all things by the word of his power.”

Omniscience is also ascribed to Him. We are taught in the Bible that Jesus knew men’s lives, even their secret history (John 4:16-19), that He knew the secret thoughts of men, knew all men, knew what was in man (Mark 2:8; Luke 5:22; John 2:24,25), which knowledge we are distinctly told in 2 Chronicles 6:30 and Jeremiah 17:9-10, that God alone possesses. We are told in so many words in John 16:30 that Jesus knew “all things,” and in Colossians 2:3 we find that in Him “are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.”

Omnipresence is also ascribed to Him. We are told in Matthew 18:20 that where two or three are gathered together in His Name, that He is in the midst of them, and in Matthew 28:20 that wherever His obedient disciples should go, He would be with them, even unto the end of the age, and in John 14:20 and 2 Corinthians 13:5 we are told that He dwells in each believer, in all the millions of believers scattered over the earth. In Ephesians 1:23 we are told that He “filleth all in all.”

Eternity is also ascribed to Him. We are told in John 1:1 that “in the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” In John 8:58 Jesus Himself said, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am.” Note that the Lord Jesus did not merely say that “before Abraham was I was,” but that “before Abraham was, I AM,” thus declaring Himself to be the eternal “I AM.” Even in the Old Testament we have a declaration of the eternity of the Christ who was to be born in Bethlehem. In Micah 5:2 we read, “But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting.” And in Isaiah 9:6 we are told of the child that is to be born, “For 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 in Hebrews 13:8 we are told, “Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever.”

His immutability is also taught in the passage just quoted from Hebrews, and in the first chapter of the same book, in verses eleven and twelve, we find that while even the heavens change, the Lord Jesus does not change. The exact words are, “They shall perish; but thou remainest; and they all shall wax old as cloth a garment; And as a vesture shalt thou fold them up, and they shall be changed: but thou art the same, and thy years shall not fail.”

Each one of the five distinctively Divine attributes were ascribed to our Lord Jesus Christ. And in Colossians 2:9 we are told in so many words, “For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily [in a bodily form].” Here again we might rest our case, for what has been said under this heading, even if taken alone, clearly proves the absolute Deity of our Lord Jesus Christ. It shows that He possesses every perfection of nature and character that God the Father possesses.

Divine Offices

But we do not need to rest the case here. There is a third unanswerable line of proof that Jesus Christ is God, namely, all the distinctively Divine offices are predicated of Jesus Christ. There are seven distinctively Divine offices. That is to say, there are seven things that God alone can do, and each one of these seven distinctively Divine offices is ascribed to Jesus Christ. The seven distinctively Divine offices are: Creation, Preservation, Forgiveness of Sin, the Raising of the Dead, the Transformation of Bodies, Judgment and the Bestowal of Eternal Life, and each of these is ascribed to Jesus Christ.

Creation is ascribed to Him. In Hebrews 1:10 these words are spoken of our Lord: “And, Thou, Lord, in the beginning hast laid the foundation of the earth; and the heavens are the works of thine hands.” The context clearly shows that the Lord addressed is the Lord Jesus. In John 1:3 we are told that “All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.” Preservation of the universe and of everything is also ascribed to Him in Hebrews 1:3 where it is said of the Lord Jesus, “Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person [God’s], and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high.”

The forgiveness of sin is ascribed to Him. He Himself says in Mark 2:5-10 when His power to forgive sins was questioned, because that was recognized as a Divine power, “But that ye may know that the Son of man hath power on earth to forgive sins.”

The future raising of the dead is distinctly ascribed to him in John 6:39,44, “And this is the Father’s will which hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day. No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day.”

The transformation of our bodies is ascribed to Him in Philippians 3:21. In 2 Timothy 4:1 judgment is ascribed to Him. We are told that He shall “judge the quick and the dead.” Jesus Himself declared that He would be the judge of all mankind and emphasized the fact of the Divine character of that office. In John 5:22,23 He said, “For the Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son: That all men should honour the Son, even as they honour the Father.” The bestowal of eternal life is ascribed to Him time and time again. In John 10:28 He Himself says, “And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand,” and in John 17:1,2, He says, “Father, the hour is come; glorify thy Son, that thy Son also may glorify thee: As thou hast given him power over all flesh, that he should give eternal life to as many as thou hast given him.” Here then, we have the seven distinctively Divine offices all predicated of Jesus Christ. This alone would prove that He is God, and we might rest the case here, but there are still other proofs of His absolute Deity.

Statements Which in the Old Testament Are Made Distinctly of Jehovah, God, Taken in the New Testament to Refer to the Lord Jesus Christ

The fourth line of proof of the absolute Deity of Jesus Christ is found in the fact that over and over again statements which in the Old Testament are made distinctly of Jehovah, God, are taken in the New Testament to refer to Jesus Christ. We have not time to illustrate this at length, but will give but one illustration where many might be given. In Jeremiah 11:20 the prophet says, “But, O LORD of hosts, that judgest righteously, that triest the reins and the heart, let me see thy vengeance on them: for unto thee have I revealed my cause.” Here the prophet distinctly says that it is Jehovah of Hosts Who judgest and triest the reins and the heart. And in the 17th chapter and the tenth verse Jeremiah represents Jehovah Himself as saying the same thing in these words, “I the LORD search the heart, I try the reins, even to give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings.” But in the New Testament in Revelation 2:23 the Lord Jesus says, “…I am he which searcheth the reins and hearts: and I will give unto every one of you according to your works.” We are distinctly told in the context that it is “The Son of God” who is speaking here. So Jesus claims for Himself in the New Testament what the Lord in the Old Testament says is true of Himself and of Himself alone. In very many other instances, statements which in the Old Testament are made distinctly of God the Father, are taken to refer to Jesus Christ. That is to say, in New Testament thought and doctrine, Jesus Christ occupies the place that God the Father occupies in Old Testament thought and doctrine.

The Way the Name of God the Father and Jesus Christ the Son Are Coupled Together

The fifth line of proof of the absolute Deity of our Lord is found in the way in which the name of Jesus Christ is coupled with that of God the Father. In numerous passages His name is coupled with the name of God the Father in a way in which it would be impossible to couple the name of any finite being with that of the Deity. We have time for but a few of the many illustrations that might be given. A striking instance is in the words of our Lord Himself in John 14:23 where we read, “Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him.” Here our Lord Jesus does not hesitate to couple Himself with the Father in such a way as to say “We,” that is, God the Father and I, will come and make our abode with him. In John 14:1 He said, ‘Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me.” If Jesus Christ was not God, this is shocking blasphemy. There is absolutely no middle ground between admitting the Deity of Jesus Christ and charging Christ with the most daring and appalling blasphemy of which any man was ever guilty.

Divine Worship to be Given to Jesus Christ

There is a sixth line of proof of the absolute Deity of our Lord Jesus. Those already given have been decisive, each one of the five have been decisive, but this, if possible, is the most decisive of them all, and that is that we are taught in so many words that Jesus Christ should be worshipped as God, both by angels and men. In numerous places in the gospels we see Jesus Christ accepting without hesitation a worship which good men and angels declined with fear and which He Himself taught should be rendered only to God (Matt. 28:9; Luke 24:52; Matt.14:33; Acts 10:25,26; Rev. 22:8,9; Matt. 4:9,10). A curious and very misleading comment is made in the margin of the American Standard Revision upon the meaning of the word translated “worship” in these passages, and that is that “the Greek word translated worship denotes an act of reverence, whether paid to a ‘creature’ or to the ‘Creator.”‘

Now this is true, but it is utterly misleading; for while this word is used to denote “an act of reverence paid to a creature” by idolaters, our Lord Jesus Himself distinctly says, using exactly the same Greek word, “thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve,” and on the other hand he says in John 5:23 that “all men should honour the Son, even as they honour the father.”

And in Revelation 5:8-13 the four living creatures and the four and twenty elders are represented as falling down before the Lamb and offering worship to Him just as worship is offered to Him that sitteth upon the throne, that is, God the Father. In Hebrews 1:6 we are told in so many words, “And again, when he bringeth in the firstbegotten into the world, he saith, And let all the angels of God worship him.”

One night in the inquiry room in Chicago I stepped up to an intelligent looking man at the back of the room and said to him, “Are you a Christian?” He replied, “I do not suppose you would consider me a Christian.” I said, “Why not?” He said, “I am a Unitarian.” I said, “What you mean then is that you do not think that Jesus Christ is a person that should be worshipped.” He replied, “‘That is exactly what I think,” and added, “the Bible nowhere says we ought to worship Him.” I said, “Who told you that?” He replied, “My pastor,” mentioning a prominent Unitarian minister in the city of Boston. I said, “Let me show you something,” and I opened my Bible to Hebrews 1:6 and read, “And again, when he bringeth in the firstbegotten into the world, he saith, And let all the angels of God worship him.” And he said, “Does it say that?” I handed him the Bible and said, “Read it for yourself,” and he read it and said, “I did not know that was in the Bible.” I said, “Well it is there, isn’t it?” “Yes it is there.” Language could not make it plainer. The Bible clearly teaches that Jesus, the Son of God, is to be worshipped as God by angels and men, even as God the Father is worshipped.

Incidental Proofs of the Deity of Jesus Christ

The six lines of proof of the Deity of Jesus Christ which I have given you leave no possibility of doubting that Jesus Christ is God, that Jesus of Nazareth is God manifest in a human person, that He is a being to be worshipped, even as God the Father is worshipped. But there are also incidental proofs of His absolute Deity which, if possible, are in some ways even more convincing than the direct assertions of His Deity.

1. Our Lord Jesus says in Matthew 11:28, “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” Now any one that makes a promise like that must either be God, or a lunatic, or an impostor. No one can give rest to all who labor and are heavy laden who come to him unless he is God, and yet Jesus Christ offers to do it. If He offers to do it and fails to do it when men come to Him, then He is either a lunatic or an impostor. If He actually does it, then beyond a question, He is God. And thousands can testify that He really does it. Thousands and tens of thousands who have labored and were heavy laden and crushed, and for whom there was no help in man, have come to Jesus Christ and He actually has given them rest. Surely then He is not merely a great man, but He is in fact God.

2. Again in John 14:1 Jesus Christ demands that we put the same faith in Him that we put in God the Father and promises that in such faith we will find a cure for all trouble and anxiety of heart. His words are, “Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me.” It is clear that He demands the same absolute faith to be put in Himself that is to be put in God Almighty. Now in Jeremiah 17:5, Scripture with which our Lord Jesus was perfectly familiar, we read “Thus saith the LORD; Cursed be the man that trusteth in man,” and yet with this clear curse pronounced upon all who trust in man, Jesus Christ demands that we put trust in Him just as we put trust in God. It is the strongest possible assertion of Deity on His part. No one but God has a right to make such a demand, and Jesus Christ, when He makes this demand, must either be God or an impostor; but thousands and tens of thousands have found that when they did believe in Him just as they believe in God, their hearts were delivered from trouble no matter what their bereavement or circumstances might be.

3. Again, the Lord Jesus demanded supreme and absolute love for Himself. It is clear as day that no one but God has a right to demand such a love, but there can be no question that Jesus did demand it. In Matthew 10:37 He said to His disciples, “He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me,” and in Luke 14:26,33, he says. “If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple. So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple.” There can be no question that this is a demand on Jesus’ part of supreme and absolute love to Himself, a love that puts even the dearest relations of life in an entirely secondary place. No one but God has a right to make any such demand, but our Lord Jesus made it, and therefore, He must be God.

4. In John 10:30 the Lord Jesus claimed absolute equality with the Father. He said, “I and my Father are one.”

5. In John 14:9 our Lord Jesus went so far as to say, “…he that hath seen me hath seen the Father.” He claims here to be so absolutely God that to see Him is to see the Father Who dwelleth in Him.

6. In John 17:3 He says, “And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.” In other words, He claims that the knowledge of Himself is as essential a part of eternal life as knowledge of God the Father.


There is no room left to doubt the absolute Deity of Jesus Christ. It is a glorious truth. The Saviour in Whom we believe is God, a Saviour for Whom nothing is too hard, a Saviour Who can save from the uttermost and save to the uttermost. Oh, how we should rejoice that we have no merely human Saviour, but a Saviour Who is absolutely God in all of His fulness and perfection.

On the other hand, how black is the guilt of rejecting such a Saviour as this! Whoever refuses to accept Jesus as his Divine Saviour and Lord is guilty of the enormous sin of rejecting a Saviour Who is God. Many a man thinks he is good because he never stole, or committed murder, or cheated. “Of what great sin am I guilty?” he complacently asks. Have you ever accepted Jesus Christ? “No.” Well, then, you are guilty of the awful and damning sin of rejecting a Saviour Who is God.

“But,” you answer, “‘I do not believe that He is God.” That does not change the fact nor lessen your guilt before God. Questioning a fact or denying a fact never changes it, regardless of what Mary Baker Eddy may say to the contrary.

Suppose a man had a wife who was one of the noblest, purest, truest women that ever lived, would her husband’s questioning her purity and nobility change the fact? It would not. It would simply make that husband guilty of awful slander; it would simply prove that man to be an outrageous scoundrel.

So, denying the Deity of Jesus Christ does not make His Deity any less a fact, but it does make the denier of His Deity guilty of awful, incredible blasphemous slander against the Lord God of Heaven. It also proves that you who deny His Deity to be ________________ . I leave your own conscience to finish the sentence thus begun.
Copied by Stephen Ross for WholesomeWords.org from The Fundamental Doctrines of the Christian Faith by R. A. Torrey. New York: George H. Doran, ©1918.
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A Sermon by Rev. Grant H. OdhnerPreached in Rochester, Michigan October 31, 1993

What is it that makes us remember a friend and pick up the phone to call the person? What stirs us to overcome our inertia and find the words to support someone, or set him or her at ease, or lift his burden? As we go about our daily jobs, what makes us responsive to the real uses at hand, the real human needs of the people we serve, the real needs of the people with whom we work? What is it that gets us to notice that our thinking has become self-serving or unfair or indulgent, and to resist?

It’s remarkable how we can go through the motions of our lives, interacting with people, doing our tasks, accomplishing things, and yet not be spiritually awake. We can have a set of principles that we hold that is quite developed. We can be very knowledgable and able to talk about faith issues. We can show dedication to our church by our attendance and involvement in a church group. And yet at the same time we can be amazingly unmoved by real love and charity. So all of a sudden, sitting in church, we may reflect that we can’t remember the last time we thought about anyone else with any feeling of caring; or we can’t remember the last time we did something unselfishly, apart from our habitual routine of courtesies and social responsibilities. We have all experienced this, haven’t we?

There are spiritual forces that set in at times, that have this effect on us, that deaden our faith, even while leaving it outwardly intact. The Philistines, the enemies featured in our story from Samuel today, stand for this kind of spiritual force.

In the stories of the Old Testament the Israelites’ enemies represent our spiritual enemies. The symbolism here is not arbitrary. The nations around Canaan were all different. Their spiritual meaning rests in their various characteristics as people, in the physical characteristics of their lands, and in the roles that they played in the drama of Israel’s history.

The Philistines were the nation that lived in the lowlands, along the coast of the Mediterranean Sea (the Great Sea, as it was then called). They enjoyed the “abundance of the sea.” It offered them fish, and the flat land along it gave them some easily cultivated farmland. And trade brought not just material goods but also knowledge, technology, and culture to their land.

The Philistines picture a part of our minds that is spiritually “cultivated” and “wealthy” rich in know-how, skill, opportunity. They represent a developed faith, a developed understanding of what’s true, a knowledge of what the Lord requires, a knowledge of how one should live in the world. Obviously this kind of faith is a good thing. That’s why the Philistines’ territory was given by Yehowah to Abraham and his descendants: it was regarded as part of the promised land (which represents a state of heaven).

But the Philistines as enemies of the Israelites represent a developed faith that is empty, soulless, deprived of its essence, which is love and charity. They represent a state of mind in which we continue to go through the motions of a good life, but are not living for others but for ourself and for worldly things. We may find religion convenient, even a source of pride, comfort and delight. We may enjoy certain rituals or the intellectual challenge of discussing and reflecting on religious issues. But we are not really responsive to religion. Religion seems alive and well, but in reality it has become oppressed and powerless in us. True religion has been driven up into the hills of our minds and kept there. We draw wealth from it (as the Philistines drew taxes from the Israelites), but our religion is not in charge of us, not directing our life; it merely serves.

One of the characteristics of the kind of faith that the Philistines respresent is that it’s “barbless”; it has no “sharp edge” to it. The Philistines during this period controlled the blacksmiths in Canaan and made sure that the Israelites’ iron tools couldn’t be forged and sharpened into weapons (see I Sam 13:19ff). This pictures a mental state in which religious truths are in our minds, but we don’t allow them to have any impact on our life. We don’t allow them to chasten us. We don’t allow them to stop us from indulging our selfish pleasures. This is why the Philistines were often called “the uncircumcised.” Circumcision stands for the willingness to let truth remove from us the selfish element in our pleasures, in our lives (a process that can be painful!).

In our story the force that is opposing the Philisitines is led by David. David, the newly anointed warrior king, represents spiritual truth that is empowered by unselfish love (olive oil, used to anoint, stands for heavenly love). This kind of truth is living and responsive to the Lord. It seeks to have an impact on us; it seeks to extend its influence into every corner of our life, just as David’s efforts eventually widened Israel’s sphere of influence to include all the territory promised by Yehowah to Abraham.

The dead faith represented by the Philistines finds quite a contrast in David. David is so full of zeal and idealism, so full of eagerness, so careful to consult the Lord! Shortly before today’s episode, David returned to his home town to find that the Amalekites had raided it and carried away captive all his wives, children and worldly belongings. David stopped to ask the Lord, “Shall I pursue?” (I Sam. 30:8) After Saul died, he asked the Lord, “Shall I go up to any of the cities of Judah? … Where shall I go up?” (II Sam 2:1) And as we read today, when the Philistines came up to fight, he asked, “Shall I go up against the Philistines? Will You deliver them into my hand?” (II Sam 5:19)

David’s repeated inquiring of the Lord through the ephod pictures a responsiveness to the Lord. It pictures an attitude of prayerful turning to the Lord through His Word, since the Word is especially where we can find Him. (The ephod stands for the Word.)

Our lives are continually changing. We learn and grow every minute. Our circumstances change. Our needs change. We come under new mental influences. We can’t just store up knowledge from the Word and expect it to help us in time of need. We need “bread” daily. And no amount of food stocked in the pantry can do away with our need to actively seek out and choose this or that item and prepare it to satisfy our needs. Going to the Word and prayer are the best ways to “access” spiritual food, to gain spiritual energy and inspiration to meet our changing needs.

I have noticed that when I just rely on my memory of what’s true, that truth can sometimes seem lifeless, inadequate, powerless. But when I see it fresh in the Lord’s Word, when I approach that truth in a prayerful way, it comes to life, it seems different, it answers me differently. In our story this morning the Philistines came up to the valley of Rephaim twice to wipe out David. The circumstances seemed the same, but each time David inquired of the Lord. It was a good thing he did, because the Lord told him he needed to do something different the second time. Part of our responsiveness to the Lord needs to be going to Him in His Word to be fed and led, each “day.”

But our responsiveness must be more than this. We can’t be consulting our Bibles every other moment to get the light we need in our daily lives. We must rely on our conscience. Conscience is the Lord speaking to us from within through our feelings and perceptions, joined with a remembrance of truth. Our conscience is kept alive and healthy by our going to the Word, but it is “accessed” on a daily basis by prayer, or (more generally) by an attitude of openness to the Lord’s input and leading. In our story the Lord’s working through conscience is pictured in the wind passing through the upper leaves of the Bechaim trees. David had to listen for that sound. And when he heard it, he was to gird himself and act. The Lord told David, “When you hear the sound of marching in the tops of the Bechaim trees, then you shall stir yourself. For then the Lord will go out before you … ” (II Sam. 5:24).

Human beings are often compared with trees in the Word (” … for he shall be like a tree, planted by the waters … “). The different parts of a tree mirror the different aspects of the human mind. For example, the seed from which a tree grows is like the love of a person’s life that strives to make something of itself. From this primitive urge, love gathers to itself knowledge and experience. Like a growing tree it strives to develop all the means that are necessary to its bearing fruit: branches, twigs, buds, leaves, flowers, fruit.

From this we can see what the “tops of the Bechaim trees” refer to. This is where the Lord’s sign would appear. At the top or crown of a tree we find the smaller branches, the tender, flexible, growing ends. This is the part of the tree where we see seasonal changes most dramatically. Here buds form, and shoots and flowers blossom. Here fresh new leaves appear, and later the fruits become noticeable. Here also insect and bird life flourish.

This dynamic part of the tree refers, symbolically, to our natural mind: the center of all our conscious mental activity while we are in this world, which is at the same time surrounded by spiritual influences of all kinds. Here we are constantly sensing, learning, growing. Here is where we bring what we know to bear on the tasks before us. Here we consider, plan, become aware of our intentions, and begin to carry them out. Especially, this is where the principles of the Word can come to light, and where we can experience insight, hope, new possibilities, inspiration, renewal of purpose.

We actually entertain many levels of thinking here: some noble, some base, some lively and beautiful (like some birds), and some noxious and dangerous (like others). Our higher thoughts all appear to us in our conscious natural mind. But we don’t notice the higher thoughts and feelings unless we are sensitive to them.

David was told to wait and listen for the sound of a going (or marching) in the tops of the trees.

The Lord’s working in our lives is often depicted as wind or spirit (the same word in ancient languages). This working is called the Holy Spirit. This “wind” is a subtle thing. It does not intrude on us very noticeably even though it is present and working. The Lord loves our freedom. And this freedom consists in the fact that we appear to live from ourselves and think from ourselves. And we choose among the spiritual influences that surround us.

In a way, choice is the only thing that we have that is our own. The Lord is the force within our choice, but He cannot choose for us. He cannot make us listen for His presence or respond to His presence with us. He can teach us ideas, but He cannot reach us through knowledge alone. Knowing does not make us responsive; it cannot deliver us from our spiritual enemies; it cannot make us spiritual people. We must choose to watch and to listen and to act on what we hear, to hearken to what the Spirit says to us each day. In this way only do we allow the Lord to enter our life more fully. In this way only can He fight our battles, and free us, and bless us with His Divine life.

“Let it be, when you hear the sound of marching in the tops of the Bechaim trees, then you shall stir yourself. For then the Lord will go out before you … ” (II Samuel 5:24). Amen.

Lessons: II Samuel 5:17-25; Luke 12:35-48; AC 6466-6467, 6469

Arcana Caelestia 6466-6467, 6469

At the end of the preceding chapters it was shown that each life with a human being, namely, the life of his thought and the life of his will, flows in from heaven, and this through the angels and spirits who are with him. But by flowing in from heaven is meant that it flows in by means of heaven from the Lord, for the all of life with the angels is from the Lord, which they themselves unanimously confess, being also in the perception that it is so. And since the all of life with the angels is from the Lord, the all of life with man is also from the Lord. For man is directed by means of angels and spirits in particular, and by means of heaven in general by the Lord.

From this it is evident that no person has life from himself, and therefore neither can he think and will from himself, for the life of a person consists in thinking and willing. For there is one only life, namely, that of the Lord, which flows into all, but is variously received, and this according to the quality which a person has induced on his soul by his life in the world. Hence with the evil, goods and truths are turned into evils and falsities; but with the good, goods are received as goods, and truths as truths. This may be compared to the light which flows into objects from the sun, which is diversely modified and variegated in the objects in accordance with the form of their parts, and hence is turned into colors either sorrowful or gladsome, thus in accordance with the quality. In a similar way, while a human being lives in this world he induces on the purest substances that belong to his interior person a quality, according to which the Lord’s life is received. Be it known that the life from the Lord is the life of love toward the universal human race.

It has also been given me to perceive by influx the sweetness which the angels perceive from the fact that they do not think and will from themselves but from the Lord. From this they have tranquillity, peace, and happiness. And when angels have inflowed so that I perceived it, the presence of the Lord has been plainly observed, a sign that they are in the Lord’s life. This it has been given to know from much experience. Once also when I was thinking of the influx of life from the Lord, and was revolving some doubts, it flowed in from heaven that no attention should be paid to thousands of objections and reasonings from fallacies.