by A.E. Knoch

THE DEITY OF GOD is the basic truth of His revelation. The permanent apostasy consists in the fact that mankind, knowing God in nature, does not glorify and thank Him as God. Sad to say, many of us who have tasted of His grace and know Him by revelation, do not glorify Him as God, but have become vain in our reasonings, and our hearts are darkened, not because we turn to images and idols like the world, but we put ourselves in His place, and usurp the glory that is His alone. His deity is denied, either in the past, the present, or the future, by the great majority of His own elect. They claim some of His attributes for themselves, and lower Him to the level of a mortal man in other respects, because they follow their fallacious reason instead of His flawless revelation.

The flesh of mankind is infirm, unable to carry on the service of God, unless reinforced by a special portion of His spirit. Only so can they serve acceptably in His work, and please Him in carrying out His will. If men were perfect and all-powerful as the Deity, there would be no need of anointing anyone. It is because of their weakness and lack of ability to do as He desires that He imparts to His representatives the necessary power and authority which anointing brings, to enable them to perform their functions as mediators between Him and the balance of His creatures. The mere fact of being anointed shows that the one so honored is intrinsically lacking in the power to fulfill his office. His ability is not his own. It is derived from God, through His spirit.

Anointing is always connected with service. The spirit of God makes its home in us for fellowship with Him, but, if we wish to serve men or God, we should be anointed. It is the vital badge of office under God. This is clearly exhibited in the three official classes who were anointed in Israel, the prophets, priests and kings. Although God is spirit, and imparts His spirit to these, His officials, He Himself never takes this subordinate place. He is not the spokesman for Himself. He need not act as a priest to Himself. He does not delegate rule to Himself. The power for all these originates in Him, but it is only as a portion is imparted to those who mediate between Him and mankind, that anointing is necessary. He is the great and only Anointer, Who never needs to be anointed. In Him the spirit is immanent, not imparted. Who can present Him with spirit? He is spirit.

There is no reason to believe that Aaron was more holy in himself than others, so that he and his sons should be chosen to be priests in Israel. In fact, when Moses was in the mount with God, Aaron was persuaded by the people to make the golden calf and lead them in its worship (Ex.32). Yet, once they were anointed (Ex.28:41), Aaron and his sons occupied a very special place in Israel. Korah, Dathan and Abiram claimed that all the congregation were holy, that Aaron had no right to lift himself above them. Yet these rebels were swallowed up by the earth for their sin (Num.16). And so throughout the history of Israel. The Aaronic line alone could officiate as priests. Even Uzziah, the king, who was anointed for his royal office, and did what was right in the sight of Jehovah, trespassed grievously when he sought to offer incense on the golden altar. He was stricken with leprosy (2 Chron.26). Aaron's anointing was only typical. The reality is found alone in Christ Jesus.

Saul certainly was not such a one as God would choose to be king over Israel. He was the peoples' choice. Nevertheless God had him anointed, in order to show that the flesh, even with the outward symbol of the spirit's power, cannot please Him (1 Sam.9:16). David, God's choice, recognized this official position and refused to stretch forth his hand against Saul, because he was Jehovah's anointed (1 Sam.26:9). In the Septuagint, the Greek version of the Hebrew, David calls Saul the christ christoo of Jehovah.

It was with David that Jehovah made a covenant that he and his house, or dynasty, were to have the office of king in Israel, so long as the kingdom was to last. Even Messiah Himself was to come from the line of David, just as the priesthood remained in the house of Aaron until the Anointed Himself had come. This is a key to Israel's kingdom history. Loyalty to the house of David meant faithfulness to Jehovah, for this dynasty was of divine appointment, and had the symbol of God's spirit in its anointing. The fact is that no one in Israel, after the flesh, was equipped to reign over the chosen people. Only in the power of Jehovah's spirit could anyone rule them for Him.

David, however, foreshadowed the coming Messiah. Samuel, the prophet, anointed him even while Saul was still reigning. Then we are told the notable fact that the spirit of Jehovah prospered David from that day and onward, while it withdrew from Saul, and an evil spirit from Jehovah frightened him (1 Sam.16:13,14). This is the key to David's remarkable career. Without the power of Jehovah's spirit David would not have been the David we know. It was God's spirit, as signified by his anointing, which made him the ideal king and the type of Him Who was to come.

There could be no prophet apart from God's anointing by His spirit. Elijah anointed Elisha to be prophet in his stead. Elisha asked for a mouth of two of him, in spirit (2 Kings 2:9), and received it, for he did twice as much as his master in the long period of his prophetic activity in Israel. This should show conclusively that it is the anointing, the imparted spirit, not the man, which actually accomplishes the deeds.


But we must by no means reason from these shadows that the Reality had all their disabilities, or needed the anointing as they did. Christ was anointed by God, with the oil of exultation beyond His partners (Heb.1:9). He had no human father. Even before His anointing He was generated by the holy spirit of God, the power of the Most High. Therefore He was called the Son of God (Luke 1:35). I would be inclined to reason from this that He needed no anointing, for His very conception was due to God's spirit. Moreover, as He grew up, He was staunch in spirit, and filled with wisdom, and the grace of God was on Him (Luke 2:40). Even then He was among the things of His Father (Luke 2:49). Nevertheless, He did not enter upon His public ministry until after His baptism by John, when the holy spirit descended upon Him as if a dove, and God acknowledged Him as His Beloved Son (Luke 3:22).

At His first public utterance, in the synagogue at Nazareth, He declared that the spirit of the Lord was on Him, on account of which He was anointed to bring the evangel (Luke 4:18). From this it is evident that His generation by God's spirit made Him God's Son, but it did not fully prepare and equip Him for His office. For that He waited until He was about thirty years of age, and until the spirit which had generated Him came upon Him and thus anointed Him for His marvelous ministry. He did not assume the office of Messiah, in this case of Prophet, during the years before He was anointed. The same thought is clearly stated by Peter to Cornelius, when he said, After the baptism which John heralded came Jesus from Nazareth, and God anointed Him with holy spirit and power (Acts 10:37,38). As His was the real, the genuine anointing, no literal oil was used. It was replaced by the empowering spirit. His Christhood was not due to His divine conception but to His spiritual anointing. Does God need to be empowered?

When we come to consider our Lord, the great Antitype to Whom all other anointed men pointed, we are apt to overlook this truth, and ascribe His mighty miracles and marvelous deeds to His own innate power, due to His generation by God's holy spirit, rather than to His anointing. Personally, I would not accept any testimony to the contrary, except it come from His own lips. But I cannot make Him a liar. He insisted that both His words and His works were not His, but His Father's. He Himself said, "...the word which you are hearing is not Mine, but the Father's, Who sends Me" (John 14:24). Again, "...The declarations which I am speaking to you I am not speaking from Myself. Now the Father remaining in Me, He is doing His works" (John 14:10). There is much more evidence to this effect, for He did not come to reveal Himself, but the Father Who had sent Him.

As John's account of our Lord's life is usually supposed to set Him forth as God's Son, and to contain the most convincing proof of His absolute deity, let us run through it briefly and see what He Himself has to say there as to His relationship to His God and Father. When the Jews sought to kill Him because He said that His own Father is God and they reasoned that by this He made Himself equal to God, He said, among other things: "...the Son cannot be doing anything of Himself" (5:19). "I cannot do anything of Myself" (5:30). "No one can come to Me if ever the Father Who sends Me should not be drawing Him" (6:44). " one can be coming to Me if it should not be given Him of the Father" (6:65). "My teaching is not Mine, but His Who sends Me" (7:16). "I have not come from Myself, but He Who sends Me" (7:28). "...from Myself I am doing nothing, but, according as My Father teaches Me, these things I am speaking" (8:28). "I came out and am arriving out of God. For neither have I come of Myself, but He commissions Me" (8:42). "If I should ever be glorifying Myself, My glory is nothing" (8:54). "...the Father Who sends Me, He has given Me the precept, what I may be saying and what I should be speaking" (12:49).

The greatest glory of Christ lies in His utter subordination to His Father, not in establishing Himself as a rival deity. His life is the ideal for man, not God. If we follow His lead we will submerge our wills and our ways in that of the Deity. Even after all the wonderful works and powerful deeds of His career, He does not claim a place beside the Deity, but places Himself beneath Him. His conquest, over all the powers of evil should, according to the human standpoint, entitle Him to eternal supremacy in the realm of priesthood and kingship. Instead, He is so successful that no priest is present in the new creation and no ruler is needed at the consummation. Therefore He turns all these glories back to God, His Father, He finishes the work which He undertakes, so that God becomes all in everyone of His creatures.

Although God's deity is rejected by orthodox Christianity, it seeks to inject the "deity of Christ" into the Bible, though the phrase is nowhere to be found and is a contradiction in terms. "Christ" means Anointed. God cannot be anointed by another. He anoints others. The place and power and prestige which anointing gives are His intrinsically. Christ receives these from His God and Father. It is imparted to kings and priests in order to prepare them to fulfill the functions of their off ice. God needs no preparation or empowering, for He is the single source of everything. Who is able to anoint Him? Christ would need no anointing if He were the Supreme.

His anointing (literally, His christing), which makes Him the Christ or the Messiah, equips Him to be a priest, a mediator between Man and God. He offered Himself to God. God did not offer Himself to Himself. The Offering was for us, to bring us to God. He did not offer Himself to bring us to Himself. We cannot approach God apart from Him and His sacrifice. Shall we reduce this to vain words and say that we cannot approach God except through a different God? When He suffered for us He was forsaken by God. Did one of the Gods forsake another God?

Anointing, or "christing" is also needed to make Him King. Only a Christ, or Messiah, can be King in Israel. Yet God had already filled this office. Before Saul, He had ruled the nation through His anointed prophets, yet they rejected Him. But God had never been anointed! It is preposterous to demand that the Deity be anointed in order to reign. All political power is His inherently, and any impartation of spirit or authority by anointing would be absurd. The kingdom of Christ is a temporary delegation of political power by God to His Anointed, Jesus, and is limited to the eonian times. When Christ has subjected all to God, then the Son Himself also shall be subject to Him Who has subjected all to Him, that God may be All in all (1 Cor.15:28). Then he gives up the kingdom to God, even the Father, Who will need no anointing to prepare Him for His inherent honor. Christ will not be All. He will be subject.

It is a fatal fault in our language that we use "christ" for the noun of the verb anoint. He is not the only one who is anointed, or christed. Besides prophets and priests and kings in Israel, all who receive the spirit of God (not the "third Person" of the "Trinity," a heathen invention) - all who have God's spirit are christs. Paul told the Corinthians, "He Who...anoints us is God" (2 Cor.1:21). They were christed, as well as those to whom John wrote when he said, "you have an anointing" (or christing, not "unction" AV, 1 John 2:20). The possession of the anointing by no means involves Deity, but rather the opposite. No one who had any intelligent idea of the scriptural function of anointing would ever accept the absurd thought that it was compatible with Deity. A christ, or anointed one, cannot literally be God, although, as God's Image, the term may be figuratively applied to His Son.

The phrase "the deity of Christ" is a clumsy concoction due to ignorance of God's Word, and profane arrogance that does not hesitate to add to God's revelation a phrase of man's invention, and palms it off as if it were inspired, in order to uphold a heresy, which is often denounced in the pages of Holy Writ. Israel had only one God, Jehovah. The nations had many gods, and Christendom still has three or four, among whom they dissipate the deity of the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. First, there is the "devil," who seems to have the most power, since he seems to win the great majority. Then there is God's spirit, the "third Person" (God never said that!) of the Trinity. To these they add Christ, the Son, as we have already shown. Four gods, unequal in power and glory, they palm off for the only wise God, to Whom be glory for the eons and beyond!

We have been repeatedly assured that Christianity does not worship three gods, but three "Persons" in one "Godhead." But if we isolate this from the hocus-pocus of theological legerdemain and apply it elsewhere, who would believe it for a moment? Three persons with one head! What a monstrosity! We could easily make an idol of this shape, but what shall we use to make the true God? He has revealed Himself without using either of these terms. Man has concealed Him by insisting on words and thoughts entirely foreign to His vocabulary. And, like the idol-worshipers, orthodoxy demands that we bow down to this unnatural monster or pay the penalty of ostracism and dire defamation. Christ has glories far greater and grander than orthodoxy ever dreamed, yet they are due to His subjection to the will of His God and Father, not to competition with the Deity for the place supreme.

Having been an honest and conscientious, but unintelligent, defender of the "fundamental" doctrine of the deity of Christ for many years myself, I can understand and sympathize with those who think it is taught in the Scriptures, and is absolutely essential to salvation. We imagined that the only alternative was to degrade Christ to a mere man, like ourselves. We reasoned that He must be Deity, or He could not do all that He did and will do. Therefore He must be equal to His Father . That our reasoning was illogical did not disturb us. But we did not believe His own words concerning Himself! We were so determined to honor Him that we denied the Scriptures which define His place as God's Anointed, the Mediator between God and man.

Had we been as logical as a child, we would never have fought for more than one God, or sought to coerce our minds by blurring the distinct idea of the Deity into a "Godhead with three Persons," a specious form of sophistry which is utterly unscriptural. God's spirit and His Anointed are closely associated with Him, and their relationship to each other is simple and clear in His revelation. The change to "Godhead" is not of faith. It is a philosophical absurdity, and the injection of "Persons" is an impudent and ignorant mystification, designed to bludgeon the credulous saint to forsake faith in God's Word for the false philosophies of human religion. It is a pious fraud masquerading as the highest form of truth.

All of this evidence and reasoning should be unnecessary, since the apostle Paul has clearly and conclusively defined the relation between God and Christ. We need never descend to such futilities, for we believe that "there is one God, the Father, out of Whom all is,...and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through Whom all is" (1 Cor.8:6). Corresponding to this we believe "there is one God, and one Mediator of God and mankind, a Man, Christ Jesus" (1 Tim.2:5). Paul emphasizes this, by adding, "(I am telling the truth, I am not lying), a teacher of the nations in knowledge and truth." But Christendom, in effect, gives him the lie. Who is worthy of our trust? The inspired apostle Paul, or the popes of the protestant apostasy?

Honest men and honorable are mesmerized at the mention of these human incantations. They fear to deny "the deity of Christ," but brazenly reject God's Word to the contrary. They tremble at the "Trinity" and the "Persons of the Godhead," but have no compunction about openly flouting the plain scriptures on the subject, or distorting them to conform to human speculations. They gladly burn those who believe God at the stake of popular opinion, convinced that they are doing God a good service. May God be gracious to those of His saints who persecute and revile the few who seek to call them back to His Word and His ways and His worship!

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