In modern society, it is very popular to mold a “create-your-own” version of Jesus. Like modeling clay, people often create Christ to be the way they desire while leaving out parts they do not specifically want.
Many people view Him as a great moral teacher, who emphasized love and peace. Others hail Him as a great prophet who was too advanced for His time. In cult groups, they perceive Jesus to be their founder and leader, but not their God.
While many people may believe following Jesus’ teachings about love and self-sacrifice is enough, there are many implications to ignoring who Jesus is as a Person.
Jesus never claimed to only be a moral teacher, prophet, or ethicist, but rather declared Himself to be God. Denying or ignoring Jesus’ identity comes at great risk since it impacts a person’s salvation.
Wrong Views of Jesus
From the start of the growth of the early church, there have been false views about Jesus. Early Christians had to deal with the teachings of Gnosticism, which denied His physical humanity since Gnostics believed the physical world is evil.
Later, the teachings of Arius crept into the church in what is known as Arianism. According to Arius, Jesus is similar, but not equal to God.
Although Arianism was declared to be heresy at the Council of Nicaea in AD 325, its teachings persisted in the church for quite a while, propagating the lie that Jesus was a created being and not the eternal God.
Today, similar false teachings are spread about Jesus. Many cults espouse forms of Gnosticism or Arianism. For instance, Jehovah’s Witnesses teach a form of Arianism by stating that Jesus is not God and is a created being. Some of their teachings, however, are not purely Arian, but there are similarities.
In addition, Jehovah’s Witnesses also hold to Gnostic-like beliefs in teaching that Jesus’ resurrection was not bodily, but that He only appeared to have risen from the dead. Hence, they not only deny Jesus’ deity, but also His bodily resurrection.
Likewise, Mormons, or members of the Church of the Latter-Day Saints, also deny that Jesus is God. Using deceptive and “Christian” language, their doctrine seems to teach that Jesus is God, but they actually hold to a form of polytheism.
Mormons teach that there are multiple “gods,” of which Jesus is one of them and that humans will also one day achieve godhood if they follow the teachings of Joseph Smith.
Like the Jehovah’s Witnesses, Mormons deny that Jesus is eternal. Instead, they teach that He was the first spirit-child of the “Heavenly Father,” who was once a man.
Finally, there are also other modern false views about Jesus outside of the cults. In Islam, Jesus is taught to be a great prophet. Muslims deny that Jesus is God, which they view as blasphemy, but claim to highly respect Jesus (or Isa).
Another view of Jesus is that He is a great moral teacher, who people should emulate. While Jesus did teach great values and was a prophet, both teachings fall short of what the Bible teaches and what Christ claimed of Himself.
The Dangers of Denying the Deity of Christ
While there are many errors within the false cults and religions like Jehovah’s Witnesses, Mormonism, Islam, and Secularism, the defining factor of all these views is an ardent denial of Jesus’ divinity.
In dealing with those in cults or other religions, the true heart of the matter or debate centers around the identity of Jesus Christ.
Such people usually do not deny that Jesus was a historic person or even that He was a human with a body, as the Gnostics denied during the early church period. Rather, Christians are usually attacked or criticized for their belief that Jesus is God.
Although Christians face opposition from critics, the person in real danger is the one who denies Jesus’ divinity. First, if a person denies that Jesus is God then they are left with a mere man who was a terrible liar.
Jesus made many declarations of being God. In John’s gospel, Jesus is recorded as claiming, “‘Very truly I tell you,’ Jesus answered, ‘before Abraham was born, I am!’” (John 8:58, NIV).
Also, Jesus used the title “Son of Man” for Himself numerous times, which was a reference to His deity based on Daniel’s vision of the divine “Son of Man” who was worshiped as God (Daniel 7:13-14).
Furthermore, Jesus specifically said He was the Son of God in his trial by the High Priest, which they correctly recognized as a claim to deity (Matthew 26:64-66).
Hence, the Jews charged Jesus with blasphemy numerous times, including at the trial, since “you [Jesus], a mere man, claim to be God” (John 10:33, NIV).
Being left with a lying Jesus is not a good option, but the main danger of denying Jesus’ deity is that people are left with a Savior who cannot save anyone.
In his article about the importance of both Jesus’ divinity and humanity, writer Erik Raymond stated, “There is no way any mere human could bear and fully satisfy God’s wrath. By nature, this wrath is infinite in quality.
In order to bear the weight of wrath, it is essential that the Savior be divine” (“Why Must Jesus Be both Human and Divine?” The Gospel Coalition). A mere man cannot die to save anyone because he could not bear the wrath of God and the sins of all people.
Even if such a man were bestowed with sinlessness, like Adam in his original state, he would still be incapable of saving anyone because he would not have the power or ability to accomplish such a feat. Only Jesus, fully God and perfectly man, can save.
Salvation and Jesus’ Divinity
Many groups of cults or secularists claim that the Bible was corrupted over time by adding in teachings on Jesus’ divinity or that the early Christians deified Him in their writings.
However, the consistent teaching of the Bible is that Jesus is the Lord God and believing this is essential for salvation. From the earliest times, as recorded by Scripture, Christians worshiped Jesus and declared the gospel message in His Name.
Jesus, whose name means “God Saves” in Greek, is truly the One and only Savior (Matthew 1:21). To save humanity from sin, guilt, and death, Jesus died on the cross in place of mankind and rose from the dead, displaying His victory over the powers of darkness (Colossians 1:13). There is no other way or name by which people can be saved, apart from Jesus Christ (John 14:6; Acts 4:12).
Scripture explains that to receive this gracious gift of salvation one must believe in Jesus and His saving act:
If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved (Romans 10:9-10, NIV).
In the Old Testament passage of Joel, the Bible states that “everyone who calls on the name of the LORD will be saved,” specifically in reference to Yahweh (Joel 2:32, NIV).
Therefore, in Romans 10, declaring Jesus to be “Lord” is equal to declaring Him to be God, which is required for salvation.
The Importance of Jesus’ Divinity
As has been shown, the divinity of Christ is of central importance to the gospel message of Christianity. Ignoring or denying the identity of Jesus is not only foolish but also extremely dangerous.
When people seek to mold Jesus into their own creation, whether that be a moral religious teacher or a good man who did God’s will, they are left with a lying and weak person who is unable to save.
Unlike modern popular teachings about Jesus, the Bible declares Christ to be the everlasting God who came to save His creation (Colossians 2:9,13-14).
He is exactly who He claimed to be and is fully able to save mankind because of His deity and humanity. Without believing in His deity, a person cannot be saved. Eternity hinges on the identity and personhood of Jesus Christ.
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Sophia Bricker is a freelance writer who enjoys researching and writing articles on biblical and theological topics. In addition to contributing articles about biblical questions as a contract writer, she has also written for Unlocked devotional. Holding a Bachelor of Arts in Ministry and currently pursuing a Master of Arts in Ministry, she is passionate about the Bible and her faith in Jesus. When she isn’t busy studying or writing, Sophia enjoys spending time with family, reading, drawing, and gardening.