John 1:1 & the Love of God

The burning question in my mind since the first time I opened my door to a friendly team of Jehovah’s Witnesses when I was about 20 years old is this: Why do they work SO hard to minimize Jesus? Why are they so offended at the idea that God would become man? What is their motive?

Consider these passages:

John 1:1 • …In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

John 20:28 • Thomas answered and said to Him, “My Lord and my God!” Jesus said to him, “Because you have seen Me, have you believed?

Romans 9:5 • …and from whom is the Christ according to the flesh, who is over all, God blessed forever. Amen.

Colossians 2:9 • …For in Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form,

Titus 2:13–14 • looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus, who gave Himself for us to redeem us

2 Peter 1:1 •  …by the righteousness of our God and Savior, Jesus Christ

The above verses are clear declarations that Jesus is God. But in every case, the passage in the NWT (the Jehovah’s Witnesses bible) has been altered to mean the opposite. Or else, they have a complicated explanation of why it is mistranslated in our Bible. There are many, many more such passages in the New Testament, but these are a good sample.

I’m not a Greek scholar, but I’ve read the Greek resources and looked at the proofs. The overwhelming truth I see throughout the New Testament is that Jesus is God. He is not a separate God, a created God, or a lesser God. Jesus IS the One God who created all. I’m fully convinced.

But the cult members are just as fully convinced of the opposite, despite the authority of Greek experts and the many, many English translations that declare the same. They have their own Greek scholars who ardently support a completely contrary interpretation in each case. They are well–trained in quoting verses out of context, mangling the meanings, and turning the untrained Christian on his or her head.

My question, again, is this: Why is the “Deity of Christ” such an offensive concept to these folks?

The simplest answer is: Because old heresies never die—they just get repackaged and rebranded and sold to new generations of complacent Christians who don’t do their homework. Some folks just can’t wrap their head around the idea of the infinite, Holy God becoming part of His finite and broken creation. So, the old Gnostic heresy is happily recycled.

But, I want to dig deeper than this simple answer. What is really going on here? I mean, Jesus was so incredibly awesome and heroic in what He did for us on the Cross—why take Him down at all? The New Testament exalts Jesus to the highest place, especially in Philippians 2. What is wrong with Jesus being God–in–Flesh? Why do the cults work so hard to separate Jesus from God?

I have an idea about this. Now, my answer won’t explain the motive in the mind of the Mormon or JW at your door. They truly think they are teaching truth that has been twisted by historical, mainstream Christianity. They think they are restoring the right truth about Jesus.

But I think I have an idea about why Satan has introduced this heresy. I think I might know what is going on in spiritual terms. (The obvious spiritual reason is that satan is stealing salvation—that twisting the identity of Jesus will cost people their souls. That is the clear reason. But there is something more!)

Follow my logic:

• Jesus taught that the greatest love anyone could show is laying down one’s life for a friend.

• Jesus also went a step further—the Bible declares that Jesus even died for us when we were still enemies!

• So, what does it say if the cults teach that God did NOT become the Man Jesus Christ? It would say that God doesn’t really love you—because He wouldn’t lay down His life for you.

• The book of 1 John declares that God IS love. He is the epitome of love. The best single word to describe God’s heart toward us is love. How could this be if God didn’t meet Jesus’ definition of ultimate love?

You see, denying the deity of Jesus means you are denying that God Himself would die to save people. He doesn’t have the “greatest love” toward you!

 

Now for the Big Idea: If you minimize the identity of Jesus, you are saying that God’s love is incomplete! You are saying that God wouldn’t take the step of becoming flesh to die in your place Himself.

And what do the cults struggle with the most? Answer: A works–based salvation. Cults famously have their people out working hard to earn salvation. They are knocking on doors. They are following a list of righteous rules to prove they are worthy to go to their temple. They teach that salvation comes by being a faithful member of the organization. They are dressing a certain way. They are eating a certain way. And all the while, they are wondering: Will I make it? Will God accept me? Is my faith and testimony strong enough? All this while the cult organization is constantly dropping the veiled threats of disfellowshipping and separation from one’s beloved family if one wanders from their fold.

Christians, on the other hand, have this phenomenal truth to live by: God loved me so much that He Himself took on human flesh in order to die in my place.His grace is proven. I never have to doubt His mercy. I am truly saved by faith in Him alone—because my work could never measure up to His infinite love. So, I simply cling to Him in love as my Beloved Daddy who rescued me.

Jesus is God. And God gave His very own life for you. He loves you that much. You can believe His grace. You can receive His mercy. You can trust His love—because He proved it in the most convincing way.

Acts 20:28 • …to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood.