Part 1 Preview: While Yeshua (Jesus) was here on earth during His ministry, He was also Elohim (God) at that very same time. He was not merely a human being during that time. Is this concept a bewildering ethereal enigma, or might there be a simple explanation as to how this could be so. What is it that makes Elohim “Elohim”? Frank Nelte’s modest explanation demystifies one of the great mysteries of Christian theology in a way that causes you to wonder why there was ever a question!
Following on my recent article about “The Nature of Jesus Christ”, there are further questions and further Scriptures that should also be addressed. That is what I would like to do in this current article.
Let’s start with the question:
While Jesus Christ was here on earth during His ministry—was He also GOD at that very same time? Or was He only a human being during His earthly ministry?
While the answer to this question is very clear (yes, Jesus Christ certainly was God while He was here on earth!) and while we will later examine the evidence for this answer, it may be helpful to try to understand certain things that are rather speculative, such as the nature of God.
God wants us to try to understand Him and His ways. In this endeavour to understand I obviously cannot prove that what I am saying is fully correct, but it may still be helpful to consider these questions about the nature of God. So I present the following thoughts for your contemplation and evaluation. See if they help you to have a clearer picture of what it means to be God.
Let’s start off by asking a question.
WHAT IS IT THAT MAKES GOD “GOD”? We human beings are physical beings, and monkeys and whales are also physical beings. So what is it that separates us human beings from monkeys and all other physical beings?
1) Like all other physical beings, we have a physical body.
2) But unlike any other physical creature, we human beings also have A MIND. That mind is imparted to us through what the Bible calls “the spirit of man which is in him. (1 Cor 2:11)
Now while the features and the details of the human body distinguish us humans to some degree from all other physical creatures, it is THE MIND we have that is the really great distinction between us and other creatures. It is really the mind that makes us “human”. We can lose a limb and we will still be human; but if we were to lose the spirit in man, then we would cease to be human.
When God wanted to teach the arrogant Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar an important lesson, God reduced Nebuchadnezzar from a human being to being nothing more than a wild animal. God did this by taking the spirit in man away from Nebuchadnezzar for seven years. As God told Nebuchadnezzar in a dream:
LET HIS HEART BE CHANGED FROM MAN’S, AND LET A BEAST’S HEART BE GIVEN UNTO HIM; and let seven times pass over him.” (Daniel 4:16 AV)
Old Testament Hebrew did not have a specific word for “mind”, and so one of the words commonly used to refer to what we in English mean by “mind” is the Hebrew word for “heart”. God was telling Nebuchadnezzar that HIS MIND would be lowered from the human level to the level of a wild animal—in other words: God would remove the human mind from Nebuchadnezzar for a full seven years.
God achieved this by taking the spirit in man away from Nebuchadnezzar. It follows that during those seven years Nebuchadnezzar was NOT A HUMAN BEING, even though he outwardly still looked like a human being. Without “the spirit in man” you cannot have a human being, irrespective of what the outward looks and appearance may be. And for seven years Nebuchadnezzar was not a human being.
I realize that this sounds somewhat extreme, but when God said “let a beast’s heart be given unto him”, God was in effect saying “reduce Nebuchadnezzar to being nothing more than an animal”, and an animal is not a human being. So without the spirit in man Nebuchadnezzar was not a human being.
Now this case with Nebuchadnezzar was very clearly A UNIQUE EXCEPTION, which God made to illustrate a point. In all other cases human beings have the spirit in man from birth onwards and, irrespective of how our minds may deteriorate over time, that spirit in man stays with us UNTIL WE DIE! As Solomon pointed out:
THEN shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and THE SPIRIT SHALL RETURN UNTO GOD WHO GAVE IT. (Ec 12:7 AV)
The “then” in Ecclesiastes 12:7 refers to “at the time of death”. So the point is: IF AT THE TIME OF DEATH THERE IS NO SPIRIT IN MAN WITHIN “A LIVING CREATURE” WHICH SPIRIT CAN RETURN TO GOD, THEN THAT “LIVING CREATURE” WAS NOT A HUMAN BEING!
There must be a spirit in man that has the potential of returning to God at the time of death in order for that being to be a human being. The spirit in man is the primary identification for a human being. Animals, irrespective of their outward features do not have such a spirit. As Solomon also stated:
Who knoweth the spirit of man that goeth upward, and the spirit of the beast that goeth downward to the earth? (Ec 3:21 AV)
The Hebrew word here translated as “spirit” (i.e. ruwach) means “breath”. The point is that with an animal THERE IS NOTHING TO GO “UPWARDS TO GOD”! At death an animal simply ceases to breathe, with no further potential. But a human being is different from ALL animals in this regard that at death there is a spirit that goes UPWARDS TO GOD, who had “GIVEN” that spirit at birth (or earlier?).
What identifies us as human beings is NOT primarily the form and the shape we have. Those are only secondary identifying features. What really first and foremost identifies us as human beings is THE HUMAN MIND we all possess! Put another way, it is THE SPIRIT IN MAN that identifies us as human beings rather than our outward physical features.
Now let’s ask the next question: what is it that separates God from other spirit beings?
From what we understand God has a spirit body. And angels also have spirit bodies. Since we human beings were created in the image and likeness of God, it means that to those beings that can see other spirit beings (i.e. angels) God’s spirit body has “the human form”. [Comment: It is actually the other way around—we humans really have “the God-form”. -Lon] But from various people in Old Testament times, who at various times actually saw angels, we know that angels typically ALSO manifested in “the human form”.
So what makes God different from the angels, if angels also have a spirit body that resembles the human form?
If both, God and the angels, have what we know as “the human form and shape”, then it is also not primarily the form and shape of God’s spirit body that distinguishes God from angels, though the brilliance and power and glory and splendor embodied in the person of God (like the sun in its full strength, e.g. Revelation 1:16) undoubtedly sets God apart from all the created spirit beings.
But it is surely THE MIND within that brilliant spirit body that especially sets God apart from all the angels. The created angels also have minds, but their minds must be on a lower level than God’s mind.
It is first and foremost THE MIND God has which identifies God as God!
Now without that brilliant spirit body (e.g. if God were to manifest looking like an ordinary human being) God would still be God. Thus, when three “MEN” appeared unto Abraham without any brilliant bodies, one of whom was the God of the Old Testament, then God was still God. But without THAT MIND God would no longer be God!
Can you understand that it is THE MIND that defines God’s identity, even as your MIND identifies YOUR IDENTITY? In the case of identical twins it is easy for other people to mistake the identity when looking at nothing more than the bodies of the two individuals. It is the minds that distinguish and give individual identities to these two people—with the mind the elder identical twin will always know that he is not the younger one, even if other people looking at him may not know this.
So understand this:
NO MATTER HOW GOD MAY CHOOSE TO MANIFEST, IT IS ALWAYS FIRST AND FOREMOST THE MIND WITHIN ANY SUCH “MANIFESTATION” THAT IDENTIFIES GOD AS GOD!
In identifying God we cannot rely on the appearance. Recall that Satan tries to imitate THE APPEARANCE of a righteous spirit being—he tries his utmost to present the appearance of “an angel of light” (see 2 Cor 11:14), even though he is still Satan. It is the mind within that “angel of light” that unequivocally identifies Satan. And likewise it is the mind that identifies God as God.
When the Apostle Peter presented to Jesus Christ a suggestion that Satan had palmed off on Peter’s mind, Jesus Christ responded to Peter with the words: “get you behind me, SATAN” (see Matthew 16:23), because those words Peter had spoken identified THE MIND OF SATAN! The words identified Satan, even when those words had come out of Peter’s mouth.
It is God’s MIND which identifies God as God. And as long as God has that same mind, no matter how He may choose to appear or to manifest, He will still be God. It is THE MIND which controls every and all powers at God’s disposal. It is with that mind that God creates all things.
When we human beings want to accomplish something then we actually have to DO something physical—otherwise we are engaging in nothing more than “wishful thinking”. We do NOT have the power to accomplish things simply by thinking. We have the minds that enable us to think, but it is only through doing something, through acting on those thoughts, that those thoughts can be turned into reality.
But God is different from us. His mind is on an infinitely higher level than are our minds. God can and does accomplish BY THINKING, by using the mind He has. Thus we see God SPEAKING HIS THOUGHTS in Genesis chapter 1, and creation comes about. When we see that God can create by simply speaking, then we are seeing a glimpse of what it is that makes God “God”—it is a mind that can achieve things by simply THINKING!
So God can bring about things by thinking specific thoughts. God has given us human beings minds that can think specific thoughts, but with the limitation that it will require physical actions on our part to turn those thoughts into reality. That is one great chasm between God and us.
This is the kind of thing people will portray in movies—that someone has magical powers, with the ability to bring things to pass simply by using his mind. But that is nothing more than man trying to play God! In movies people can pretend that someone has such powers, but with God that type of power is not make-believe. God has that type of power.
The angels are somewhere in-between God and us human beings—they can achieve SOME things (apparently) simply by thinking, but this power and ability must be limited in some ways. For God there are no limits for what God can achieve by doing nothing more than using His mind, but the angels have certain limitations in this regard.
This brings us to the next point.
We human beings are in the process of being groomed and trained to become spirit-born sons and daughters of God. And the way we use OUR MINDS has the greatest impact on this process.
God will never change any human being into a spirit-born son or daughter of God, if that person has in their lifetime done nothing more than to learn how to control his or her ACTIONS!
This is absolutely vital for us to understand.
Controlling our conduct and our actions (e.g. keeping the Sabbath and the Holy Days, not killing or stealing or committing adultery, etc.) is important only in as far as it reflects the inner workings of our minds. However, it is also a fact that the identical outward conduct and actions can be achieved by minds thinking in vastly different ways! It follows that when those “correct outward actions” are achieved by a mind that is working in the wrong way, THEN it has no more value before God than “killing a dog” or “offering swine’s blood” or “blessing an idol” it has no value at all! That’s the point God is making in Isaiah 66:3. Notice:
He that killeth an ox is as if he slew a man; he that sacrificeth a lamb, as if he cut off a dog’s neck; he that offereth an oblation, as if he offered swine’s blood; he that burneth incense, as if he blessed an idol. Yea, they have chosen their own ways, and their soul delighteth in their abominations. (Isa 66:3 AV)
Keep in mind that “sacrificing a lamb” and “offering an oblation” and “burning incense” are things that people would have done with the thoughts that these things are pleasing to God. Yet God in this verse shows outright contempt for these actions that are supposed to be pleasing to Him. The point is that when the right actions are produced by a wrong mind, then those right actions have no value before God. But do you understand WHY in such cases the right actions are valueless to God?
God is in the process of training us human beings for an existence with Him in His presence, in which we will be able to achieve and to accomplish things simply by correctly using our minds. That represents incredible power! And that ability will identify us as God’s spirit-born sons and daughters.
The real purpose of all obedience to all of God’s laws, which obedience requires physical actions on our part, is TO TRAIN OUR MINDS! The physical obedience is nothing more than the vehicle to achieve this training of the mind. Of and by itself this “vehicle” has no value—its only value lies in the training effects it has on human minds. It is OUR MINDS which God desires and requires us to willingly submit to His way of thinking. God is in the process of creating MINDS that will operate and function on an even higher level than the minds of the righteous angels of God—that will function EXACTLY like God’s own mind functions.
Let’s now examine another question.
When God created the angels as spirit beings, He gave them very powerful minds. But irrespective of how powerful those minds are, they are on a lower level than God’s own mind. Whether all the angels started out with minds that were equal, or whether some angels and other created spirit beings started out with minds that were more powerful than the minds God gave to other angels is unclear. What is clear is that NOW the minds of all the created spirit beings are NOT EQUAL! NOW there are very distinctly some angels that have a better and greater understanding of God’s mind than all the other angels.
A) Those angels that followed Satan in his rebellion against God, and in the process became demons, have the poorest grasp of all regarding what the mind of God is really like, how God thinks and what is important to God, etc.
B) Satan himself now also only has a very poor understanding of the mind of God. He does not really understand how God thinks, etc.. As we are told in Ezekiel 28, he CORRUPTED his wisdom. Notice:
Thine heart was lifted up because of thy beauty, THOU HAST CORRUPTED THY WISDOM by reason of thy brightness: I will cast thee to the ground, I will lay thee before kings, that they may behold thee. (Eze 28:17 AV)
Now “the wisdom” that Satan had possessed before his rebellion was that he had had a better understanding of God’s mind than most other angels and created spirit beings. In rebelling he lost this wisdom. While Satan obviously knows that he now has access to far less POWER than he had access to before his rebellion, it is unlikely that he grasps that he also has far less WISDOM than he previously possessed. But Satan no longer correctly understands how God’s mind functions and works, something he had apparently understood very clearly before his rebellion.
C) Amongst the righteous angels of God, there also are different levels or degrees of understanding God’s mind, with some angels having a better grasp of God’s mind than other angels. It follows that those angels who have THE GREATEST UNDERSTANDING of God’s mind, of how God thinks and of what God will approve of and what it is that God desires to accomplish with certain instructions He has given, those are the angels God will entrust with the greatest responsibilities amongst the angels.
We see this referred to by the angel Gabriel when he talked to Daniel. Notice what Gabriel said:
But I will shew thee that which is noted in the scripture of truth: and THERE IS NONE THAT HOLDETH WITH ME IN THESE THINGS, BUT MICHAEL YOUR PRINCE. (Dan 10:21 AV)
Do you grasp what Gabriel was here saying to Daniel? The “scripture of truth” reflects God’s thinking, God’s mind. And Gabriel was here saying:
There is nobody (implied is in the angelic realm) who understands God’s mind as well as I do, except for the archangel Michael.
So there are TWO angels (Michael and Gabriel) who understand God’s mind and God’s thinking to a greater degree than any of the other righteous angels. And so we see that God has entrusted these two angels with key responsibilities—Michael is the captain or general over the whole angelic host or army, and Gabriel is the one who has been entrusted by God with the most important messages that needed to be conveyed to human beings—Gabriel gave prophetic information to Daniel and Gabriel also appeared to people leading up to the birth of Jesus Christ.
So not all angels are “equal” when it comes to how well they understand God’s mind and God’s thinking.
God is in the process of building a Family, the Family of God. Put another way:
God is in the process of reproducing Himself (actually “Themselves”, in reference to God the Father and to Jesus Christ). Now God could instantaneously create physical beings and also spirit beings. What God could NOT create instantaneously is HIS OWN MIND! The process by which some of the created angels became “righteous” while others became “unrighteous” (those who rebelled with Satan) apparently came fairly close to that goal for the righteous angels, but without actually FULLY achieving that goal of reproducing God’s mind. To FULLY achieve that goal of reproducing the mind of God in another living entity is reserved for the training process we human beings are going through.
Understand that at the end of the training program for those who will be in the first resurrection, that goal of reproducing the mind of God will have been achieved to an even greater degree than has been the case in the creation of the righteous angels of God—the minds of every person who will be in the first resurrection will end up having a greater and better grasp of God’s mind and His thinking and planning and His motivations, etc. than the minds of any of the righteous angels of God.
Furthermore, the minds of all those in the first resurrection will also have a better understanding of God’s mind and God’s thinking than any of those who become a part of the Family of God after that time (i.e. those from the millennium and from the Great White Throne Judgment period.
[Lon’s note: Frank believes the old WCG teaching that the White Throne Judgment is a period of time, following the one thousand year period, wherein non Believers are given a second physical life with an opportunity to learn about God before being judged. My commentary on non Believers and Judgment is found in Are the Unsaved Lost?]
So the key to identifying God in any manifestation is always THE MIND in that particular manifestation.
Let’s see if we can make the importance of the mind somewhat clearer.
Let’s look again at Daniel 10:21 in a bit more detail.
But I will shew thee that which is noted in the scripture of truth: and there is none that holdeth with me in these things, but Michael your prince. (Dan 10:21 AV)
The Rotherham translation of this verse reads:
Howbeit I will tell thee that which is inscribed in the writing of truth, but THERE IS NO ONE WHO HOLDETH STRONGLY WITH ME CONCERNING THESE THINGS, save Michael your ruler. (Dan 10:21 Rotherham)
The expression “the scripture of truth” refers not just to the books of the Old Testament that had already been written by the time of Daniel. Gabriel is really referring to the writing or THE RECORD of the truth in the presence of God. It refers to understanding God’s will, God’s intentions and God’s instructions—the things God had already done and the things God still plans to do.
Most translators did not really understand exactly what Gabriel was here trying to tell Daniel, and so their translations are somewhat cumbersome and off target. The Hebrew verb here translated as “that holds with me in these things” is “chazaq” and it is here used with the hithpael stem, which is the way of expressing a reflexive action. It is often conveyed into English by using the reflexive pronouns “myself, himself”, etc.. Here in Daniel 10:21 this form is conveyed by the words “WITH ME”.
The verb “chazaq” means to “TO BE STRONG”. The subject Gabriel is speaking about is “the scripture of truth” or “the record of the truth in God’s presence”. And Gabriel is saying:
WHEN IT COMES TO UNDERSTANDING GOD’S MIND AND GOD’S THINKING, THERE IS NO ONE WHO UNDERSTANDS GOD AS WELL AS I DO, EXCEPT FOR MICHAEL.
Now let’s ask a question:
WHY is it that some angels don’t understand God’s thinking as clearly as do Michael and Gabriel?
Is it that God is somehow not a good communicator? Has God not made Himself clear to all the angels? WHY is it that all the angels don’t understand God’s thinking equally clearly?
IS THIS PERHAPS SOMETHING THAT GOD ACTUALLY PLANNED?
Before we answer this question, let’s come to the human level. God has given us His written Word, the Bible. And so we human beings read the Bible and we then come to hundreds of different conclusions regarding what God means and what it is that God is trying to convey to us, from the conclusions that some other people reach when they read exactly the same Scriptures. Could God not have spelled everything out MORE PLAINLY so that all this confusion of interpretations could be avoided?
OR IS THIS PERHAPS SOMETHING THAT GOD ACTUALLY PLANNED?
As already discussed, physical literal obedience to all of God’s laws is certainly important. But such obedience is ONLY of value when it is produced by a mind that is working the correct way, the way that God desires a human mind to work.
We have already looked at Isaiah 66:3. In the past in most cases we stopped after reading verse 2:
For all those things hath mine hand made, and all those things have been, saith the LORD: but TO THIS MAN WILL I LOOK, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at my word. (Isa 66:2 AV)
This verse shows that it is THE WORKING OF THE MIND that God looks to. And so the next verse then shows THE CONTRAST of physical obedience coming from a mind that is NOT right before God.
He that killeth an ox is as if he slew a man; he that sacrificeth a lamb, as if he cut off a dog’s neck; he that offereth an oblation, as if he offered swine’s blood; he that burneth incense, as if he blessed an idol. Yea, THEY HAVE CHOSEN THEIR OWN WAYS, and their soul delighteth in their abominations. (Isa 66:3 AV)
When people do not submit their minds fully to God, then their literal obedience is as contemptible to God as “offering swine’s blood” and as “blessing an idol”—God despises such “obedience”!
But the people bringing such obedience to God would not perceive that their compliance with God’s laws and requirements is in fact contemptible to God. They are likely to be thinking that they are “okay with God”. They are the ones who are likely to be SPEECHLESS when God points out to them that they don’t actually have “a wedding garment” (see Matthew 22:11-12).
So the point is this:
GOD INSPIRED HIS WORD, THE BIBLE, TO BE WRITTEN IN SUCH A WAY THAT WE ARE CONSTANTLY FORCED TO USE OUR MINDS TO MAKE DECISIONS! AND DEPENDING ON WHAT DECISIONS WE MAKE, IT SHOWS GOD WHETHER OR NOT OUR MINDS ARE RIGHT BEFORE HIM!
God designed the entire human life experience to be a testing ground for exposing to Him the inner workings of human minds. So God gave Ten Commandments, and we ourselves are forced to decide how to apply those commandments in an endless variety of situations. As we make those decisions day after day, the inner workings of our minds become very apparent. And God will very quickly detect such things as: reluctant obedience, fearful obedience, half-hearted obedience, ignorant obedience, accidental obedience, rebellious obedience, deceitful obedience, pressured obedience, selfish obedience, etc.. The only kind of obedience that is of value before God is THE ISAIAH 66:2 OBEDIENCE.
[Lon’s note: Romans 2:12-16 is a Bible passage that seemingly no one factors into Judgment Day concerning non Believers: “Anyone who sins without the Torah will also die without the Torah. When anyone knowingly wanders from the Torah of Yehovah; their judgment will be determined by the Torah. 13 It’s not those who hear the Torah, who Yehovah deems righteous; but those who obey the Torah who will be declared righteous. 14 When other ethnicities who don’t have the Torah instinctively do the things established within the Torah; they, while not upholding the Torah, are essentially their own Torah! 15 These others demonstrate the behaviors associated with the Torah, because it is written in their ‘hearts’ —their conscience indicates the truth. The decisions of their conscience are either a legal accusation or a legal defense excusing them 16 on Judgment Day, when Yehovah judges the secrets of humanity, as My Good News declares, thru Yeshua the Messiah.”—The Gabriel Bible (GB)]
To bring inner thoughts and motivations out into the open (think of Hebrews 4:12) God has given us principles, and we have to apply them. Now IF Jesus Christ had not explained this, would you and I have on our own accord come to realize that when God says: “don’t kill”, then He really wants us to not even hate someone;—“don’t commit adultery”, then He wants us to not even entertain the wrong thoughts; etc.? Would we ourselves readily detect THE MOTIVATION AND THE INTENT behind every instruction that God has given, or do we need God to spell everything out to us in the last detail?
Or would we be like the man who sang the song titled “Watching All the Girls Go By”, who said: “brother, you can’t go to jail for what you’re thinking”? He wasn’t about to control his thoughts, was he?
When God tells us to keep His Sabbaths holy, HOW do we apply that in a thousand different situations and circumstances? YOU AND I are the ones who have to make decisions, and God planned it that way! Compliance to a list of do’s and donts does not really reveal how a mind works; but requiring a mind to constantly make decisions based on principles that have been stated does reveal the workings of a mind.
Will the mind say:
- “God nowhere says that I can’t do this, so therefore it must be okay for me to do”?
- “I know it is the Sabbath, but under these specific circumstances I am confident that God would allow or even expect me to do such and such”?
- “Since God nowhere says that I CAN do this, I would like further confirmation from various principles BEFORE I engage in this activity or conduct”? etc.
Questions like these will show God how our minds work.
God gave the angels TWO commandments and He gave us human beings TEN Commandments. All other laws and instructions fall within the bounds and the parameters of those commandments. Depending on how we apply the principles of those commandments to every circumstance in our lives, it shows God whether our minds are selflessly or selfishly motivated, whether our motivations are pure and sincere or whether they are insincere and hypocritical; whether our minds are self-sufficient or whether we are constantly seeking to understand His thinking more fully; whether or not we are prepared to compromise our consciences; etc.
And depending on how we use our minds and the decisions we reach and act on, so our understanding of God’s ways and God’s thinking either grows or diminishes. For example, King David had an excellent understanding of God’s thinking when he realized that under his circumstances of duress God would clearly approve of him eating “the showbread”. If I had eaten the showbread under those circumstances, I would have had an extremely guilty conscience because I would have been convinced that God would see my action as being presumptuous. David clearly back then had a better understanding of God’s thinking than I would have had (if I did not have the benefit of the biblical record of this event to look to).
How our minds work is exposed especially clearly when we act boldly and confidently in the things we do. David was bold and confident when he confronted Goliath, and are we bold and confident when we reach a decision regarding a specific course of action we believe we should take? At times there can be a very fine line between being bold in a godly way and being presumptuous—and God will always see which of these applies to us. That is why He has forced us to constantly make decisions, which reveal to Him how our minds think and reason.
IT IS THE WORKING OF THE MIND THAT IS OF THE UTMOST IMPORTANCE TO GOD!
So God forced the angels to use their minds, in order to expose their thinking to Him. And God forces us to use our minds in order to expose our thinking to God. And so we are told:
To him that knows to do good, and does it not, to him it is sin” (James 4:17)
Whatsoever is not of faith is sin” (Romans 14:23).
These verses (James 4:17 and Romans 14:23) show that how our minds work is FAR MORE IMPORTANT than the actual physical obedience that may be involved. A mind that is willing to compromise is never acceptable to God, even when that mind complies literally with specific instructions and laws.
Let’s get back to looking at Jesus Christ.
When Jesus Christ was born to Mary, He was a human baby that had been supernaturally conceived. He was already the Son of God. But at that point He only had the mind of an infant. As He grew, so His mind expanded with an ever- growing vocabulary and understanding. And as His mind expanded, so it gained access to THE MEMORY of His past existence with God the Father. By age 12 years it had already advanced to such a degree that He realized that He was the Son of God and that He had come to this earth for a very specific purpose—to do the will of God His Father. As He worded it at that time, “I must be about my Father’s business” (Luke 2:49).
From that age onwards, if not already from earlier, He was fully aware of His real identity. By the time He started His ministry, He had TOTAL RECALL of His past existence. He also had THE IDENTICAL MIND to the one He had possessed before He became a human being. This is also evidenced by His interaction with Satan after Christ had fasted for 40 days—He identified Satan correctly and without the slightest hesitation, because He recognized Satan from His past dealings with him. And He instantly recognized Satan’s mind and how it works. We, on the other hand, frequently struggle to correctly identify Satan at the very start when he first tries to influence us—we typically only recognize Satan after he has already managed to lead us astray to some degree or other. That is because Satan mostly disguises his INITIAL approaches to us with what looks harmless or perhaps even noble; he only reveals his real motivations and intentions after we have swallowed his initial “good and noble” appeals. By then we are often already hooked and we will only be able to extricate ourselves with a certain amount of pain and suffering and repentance.
But Christ recognized Satan instantly, because He knew Satan’s mind from His previous contacts with Satan.
[Comment: Recognizing Satan correctly is not the same as resisting temptations. Simply because we correctly recognize that we are being tempted to sin, that does not in any way make it easier to resist that temptation. We STILL have to exercise character and to act on what we know to be right and to resist doing what we know to be wrong. I say this because simply correctly recognizing Satan did not make it any easier for Jesus Christ to resist the temptations that Satan confronted Him with—Christ still had to exercise His own free will to do what is right and to resist doing what is wrong. But it is also a fact that the closer we draw to God through prayer, study, meditation and fasting, the more readily we will recognize Satan’s presence in any potential situation that may confront us.]
So understand this:
It is NOT THE BODY (i.e. a spirit-composed body as opposed to a physical body) that identifies God. Whether Christ was in a physical body or whether He was in a spirit body is not the criterion as to whether or not He was God. The real criterion for establishing whether or not Jesus Christ was God during His earthly ministry is to establish THE MIND that was within that body during His ministry. The body which housed that mind is only of secondary importance.
Let me give you a speculation, which may not be correct at all. Here it is:
Jesus Christ appeared to Abraham in the form of a physical man. Joshua also saw Jesus Christ in the form of a physical man in Joshua 5:13-15. I would speculate that the features Abraham and Joshua saw were the same ones Jesus Christ had when He started His ministry at age 30 years, so that if Abraham and Joshua had been there when Christ started His ministry, they would have recognized Him immediately from their past contact with Him. Or perhaps Christ appeared with different physical features? But the point to bear in mind is this:
Abraham saw A MAN; Joshua saw A MAN; and during His ministry the people who had contact with Him saw A MAN! I don’t believe that it is the form and shape of that “man” which determined whether or not the individual was GOD! It is THE MIND within the man that Abraham saw, and THE MIND within the man that Joshua saw, and THE MIND within the man people during Christ’s ministry saw that is the deciding factor that in each of those cases that individual was indeed GOD!
I guess what I am asking you to do is to change your concept of what it is that makes God “God”. You are probably used to thinking that the difference between God and man is that God is an immortal spirit being whereas a man is a mortal physical being. And that is certainly correct. But because God has the ability to manifest in a physical human body, THEREFORE this difference in bodies cannot be the primary distinction between God and man. The PRIMARY distinction has to be THE MIND which inhabits and controls that body.
[Comment: In the above paragraph I do not mean to imply that you don’t realize that God is the Creator, the Lawgiver and Sustainer of life, etc.. You obviously do realize these things. In the above statements I am merely trying to bring things down to what we would generally perceive as the most basic differences.]
Recall that “THE MAN” Jesus Christ said:
Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, BEFORE ABRAHAM WAS, I AM. (Joh 8:58 AV)
It wasn’t the physical body that was present there that preceded the birth of Abraham. It was THE MIND within that physical body that was the same one that had existed before Abraham was ever born, but back then obviously in a different body, a spirit body.
And according to Christ’s own words here in John 8:58 the mind Christ had during His ministry predated the time of Abraham. This proves that Christ during His ministry had THE IDENTICAL MIND that He had possessed when He was the God of the Old Testament. This leaves no other possibility but to conclude that during His ministry Jesus Christ was indeed and without question GOD!
Let me spell this out very plainly:
The implications, effect and consequences of Jesus Christ’s statement “before Abraham was I am” are EXACTLY THE SAME as if Jesus Christ had said:
“I can recall when I went out to meet Abraham, and I can recall when I created Adam and Eve, and I can recall when I appeared to Moses in the burning bush and when I led Israel out of Egypt, I can recall when I—etc., etc.”
All of the above statements amount to exactly the same thing as Christ saying “before Abraham was I am”.
An individual is made up of a body plus a mind. With the body Jesus Christ was HUMAN during His ministry, but with the mind He possessed He was at the same time GOD! The only way in which Christ was “more than human” is in the fact that He possessed a mind that infinitely transcends the normal human mind. His body was subject to all the forces and pressures our bodies are subject to (susceptibility to hunger, pain, tiredness, etc.) and He was forced to constantly make decisions as to how to respond to those forces. The only way in which Christ during His ministry was “less than God” is the fact that the mind of God (i.e. Christ’s mind) was bound up in a physical mortal body and subject to all temptations instead of being housed in an immortal spirit body.
If you can get away from the idea that THE TYPE OF BODY (i.e. composed of spirit or composed of physical matter) identifies whether an individual is God or whether the individual is only human, if you can grasp that THE MIND WITHIN A SPECIFIC BODY determines the identity of that individual—then it should be totally clear to you that Jesus Christ was indeed GOD during His earthly ministry. THE MIND Jesus Christ possessed during His ministry, the mind that knew that it predated the time of Abraham, is clear proof that Jesus Christ was indeed God. There is no other possibility! Christ’s mind was identical in every respect to the mind within the person who met Abraham before the destruction of Sodom; Christ’s mind was identical in every respect to the mind that had dealt with Moses and which led Israel out of Egypt. And that was THE MIND OF GOD!
And with the mind Jesus Christ had during His ministry He performed miracles, which are acts of God (like giving sight to a man born blind, walking on water, endlessly multiplying food for over 5000 people, etc.), yet always being fully subject to the will of God the Father over all of His actions.
THE ONLY POSSIBLE WAY for Jesus Christ to have been both, God and man, at the same time was to house the mind of God within the physical mortal body of a man. There had to be one component that identified Him as God and another component that identified Him as man—the Son of God and the Son of man at the same time. The only other alternative (i.e. to have housed the mind of a man within the body of God) is clearly unfeasible. So this is the only way for Christ to have been God and man at the same time. The supernatural begettal of Jesus Christ within the womb of Mary imparted THE MIND OF GOD to that human baby—that was God’s contribution to the birth of Christ, to impart THE MIND of the Father to the Son, rather than imparting the physical features of the Father to the Son.
Let’s now look at another question.
Now for Part 2