We have been talking about the great mystery of the Trinity. We have seen that according to the Bible there is but one God but that that one God is in three persons, the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost. There are some places in the New Testament where all three persons of the Godhead are mentioned in the same verse. But much the more important or extensive part of the Biblical proof of the doctrine of the Trinity is found in those passages where parts of the great doctrine are so mentioned as that when they are put together the completed doctrine inevitably appears. I want to begin to talk to you today about one great central part of the doctrine. I want to talk to you about the deity of our Lord Jesus Christ.
But before I can say a single word to you about the deity of Christ, I must tell you what that term “the deity of Christ” means, or rather I must make perfectly clear to you what it does not mean. I must make perfectly clear to you the fact that the term “deity of Christ” and the assertion “Jesus is God” are often so employed today as to mean something quite contrary to the Bible and to the Christian faith.
Do you not see, my friends, that when a man says he believes in the deity of Christ, or when he says he believes that Jesus is God, the significance of such assertions depends altogether upon the question what the man who makes them means by the term “deity” or the term “God.”
If a man has a low view of deity, then, when he says that he believes in the deity of Christ, that means that he has a low view of Christ; and if he has a low view of God; then, when he says that he believes that Jesus is God, that means that he has a low view of Jesus.
But here is where the confusion comes in. A Christian man, hearing some unbeliever say that he believes in the deity of Christ or believes that Jesus is God, attributes to that unbeliever the Christian definition of the term “deity” or the term “God.” He simply assumes that the term “deity” or the term “God” means what Christians have always taken those terms as meaning. That is, he assumes that those terms refer to a personal God, Creator and Ruler of the world, separate by a mighty gulf from all finite things. The consequence is that he is very much impressed when those terms are used about Jesus by a man who otherwise seemed to be very far from the Christian faith. “Did you not hear that man say,” he exclaims, “that he believes in the deity of Christ; did you not hear him call Jesus ‘God’? Well, if he believes in the deity of Christ, if he is willing to call Jesus ‘God,’ he cannot be so very wrong. He may be unorthodox in some particulars, but surely the root of the matter must be in him.”
When I hear Christian people talking in that fashion about one of the noted unbelievers of the day, I have the sad feeling that those Christian people are, if I may use plain language, being deceived.