By Lucas Hagen, Crosswalk.com
Arianism is one of the classic heresies in church history, and it is still alive and dangerous today. Arianists hold that Jesus is not fully God, that he is not eternal like the Father. Arianism claims that Jesus is a created being, not of the same essence as God the Father.
This heresy threatens to destroy the very foundation of belief in Jesus Christ.
Fortunately, the Bible is clear about this topic. A simple flip through the pages of Scripture can assure those tempted by the ideas of Arianism that it is surely heresy and toxic to the church.
Here are five Scripture passages that stop Arianism in its tracks and prove that Jesus is truly God:
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1. God Became Flesh and Dwelt Among Us
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God...And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth – John 1:1, John 1:14 ESV
John does not mince words here. In speaking of Jesus (the Word), he explicitly opens his Gospel saying that “the Word was God.” Jesus is God. In his very first sentence, John makes clear that the subject of this book is not just a great prophet and teacher, but He is God in the flesh. John clarifies a few sentences later, as he explains that Jesus is God incarnate dwelling on earth.
Arianists are hesitant to believe that Jesus could be God because they want to protect the idea of God’s transcendence, God’s other-ness. Arianists believe that God is so great and majestic and holy that He would never come to earth. He is too great for that.
However, by trying to protect God’s transcendence, they undermine God’s very nature. The Arianists have it backwards. Yes, God is great, majestic, and holy. He is truly other from all of creation.
Yet He is love, and He was compelled to take on flesh to save His dead and dying creation. God is not afraid of getting his hands dirty with His creation. Arianism believes that God would never come to earth. A plain reading of John 1 renders this heresy impossible.
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2. The Fullness of God in Human Form
He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn of the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross – Colossians 1:15-20 ESV
Arianism believes that Jesus is not God, that he was created by God. This passage is one of the key reasons for why this heresy started in the first place. Paul says that Jesus is “the firstborn of all creation.” This commonly leads people to believe that Jesus is a part of the creation, being the first of God’s creation. This is not what Paul is speaking of.
Paul is explaining that Jesus was given the rights of the firstborn son over the creation, as the monarch who would inherit sovereign rule over creation. A simple misunderstanding of this phrase leads to a devastating heresy that undermines any hope of salvation in Christ.
Furthermore, Arianism believes that Jesus was created. Therefore, he had a beginning, following a time when He did not exist. However, Paul clearly states in this passage that Jesus “is the beginning, the firstborn of the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent.” Paul is appealing to Jesus’ eternality, evidence of Jesus’ divinity.
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3. Jesus Is the Son of Man
I saw in the night visions, and behold, with the clouds of heaven there came one like a son of man, and he came to the Ancient of Days and was presented before him. And to him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve him; his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom one that shall not be destroyed. – Daniel 7:13-14 ESV
Here we have one of the most important pieces of evidence for Jesus’ divinity, yet also one of the most overlooked. Many understandably think that Jesus calling Himself the “Son of Man” is Him referring to his humanness—establishing common ground between Himself and the humans he taught.
However, the opposite is true. By Jesus calling Himself the Son of Man, he was making a direct claim to be the Messiah, to be God.
In Daniel 7, the Son of Man is the one who inherits dominion over God’s kingdom and who sovereignly reigns for all eternity. For Jesus to call Himself the Son of Man is to claim that He is the appointed One who will reign over God’s Kingdom, and who will be served and worshipped by all peoples, nations, and languages.
When Jesus called Himself Son of Man, he was making an intentional, bold claim of divinity that all in his audience would have been shocked by.
It is in response to claims such as this that Jesus was crucified for blasphemy. He did claim to be God, and for anyone else, that would be an absurd and offensive claim. However, Jesus proved it to be true through His resurrection from the dead.
Unfortunately, for nearly 2,000 years, Arianism has attempted to persuade people that Jesus is not a divine being. However, if Jesus is the Son of Man as He says He is, then Arianism is tragically mistaken.
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4. Jesus Is I AM
Jesus said to them, Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am – John 8:58 ESV
This is one of seven times in the Gospel of John that Jesus made an “I AM” statement. The importance of these statements cannot be overstated. Jesus is not just telling people about who He is and what He is like, He is making a direct claim to be God.
In the book of Exodus, God appears to Moses in a burning bush, and Moses boldly asks God what his name is. God responds saying, “Say this to the people of Israel: ‘I AM has sent me to you’” (Exodus 3:14 ESV).
In Hebrew, I AM is pronounced Yahweh, the personal name of God, the name so holy that Jews would not dare speak it out loud or even write it out in entirety. For Jesus to make that statement, to say “I AM,” is Jesus using the personal name of God the Father for Himself, claiming to be one with God.
There is no more blasphemous claim that Jesus could have made in the midst of the Jewish people. Jesus left no doubt in the minds of his audience—he claimed to be God. Not someone who is like God. Not someone chosen by God. Not just a prophet. Not just a great teacher. Jesus claimed to be God.
Jesus left people with two options. First, believe that He is exactly who He says He is, or, second, to call Him a liar, and support the claims of those who crucified Him on blasphemy charges. Arianism falls in the latter category.
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5. The Unity of Father and Son
I and the Father are one – John 10:40 ESV
This verse is very straightforward. There is no cultural background to explain. There are no metaphors or confusing language. Jesus straight-up claims to be God in plain language. Jesus does not mince words in John 10:40. He claims to be one with the Father, and leaves it up to his listeners to decide if He is telling the truth or not.
Jesus insists on this point a few chapters later when he says, “whoever has seen me has seen the Father” (John 14:9 ESV).
Again, Jesus does not leave room for wondering. Jesus says that all who have seen Him have seen God the Father. Jesus and God the Father are one being, and experiencing one is experiencing the other.
You may be thinking, just because Jesus says that He is divine does not mean that it is necessarily true. That is circular reasoning! The objection is understandable, and these Bible verses may seem a bit fishy at first glance. However, Jesus anticipated this critique as well.
He continues in John 14, saying, “Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own authority, but the Father who dwells in me does his works. Believe me that I am in the Father is in me, or else believe on account of the works themselves” (John 14:10-11 ESV).
Jesus responds to this objection saying, if you do not believe who you say I am, let me show you who I am. We are not just left with accounts of Jesus’ words, but his works also. Each of the four Gospels records in great detail one world-shaking event. An event that, if true, validates each of Jesus’ bold claims and demonstrates that He is indeed God.
This event is not the crucifixion. If Jesus’ death was the end of the story, it would not be a very happy story. It would simply be the story of a martyr who died as an influential teacher and healer. However, Jesus’ death is not the end of the story! It is what happened the following Sunday morning that took the world by storm in the first century AD...
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Jesus Resurrected Himself from the Dead
When Jesus says to believe in him on account of his works, I do not believe that He was referring to all of the healings and miracles that He had performed prior to saying this. Jesus was never the only person who would perform healings and miracles. I believe that Jesus calls us to believe based on a work that was yet to come, a work that no one else has ever or will ever replicate.
We are to believe that Jesus is God, that He is the Son of Man as described in Daniel 7, that He is truly one with the Father, because Jesus defeated death by rising out of his grave and walking again.
Not only did he rise again, but he saw people, talked with people, walked with people, and ate with people. There are records in the New Testament of over 500 people who saw Jesus in the flesh after he was resurrected. This was no mass hallucination. This was no trick. Jesus rose again because He is exactly who He claims to be: God in the flesh.
Arianism is a dangerous heresy because it contends that Jesus is not who He says He is. Arianism claims that Jesus is not God. If Jesus is not God, then He cannot save you, or anyone...let alone save Himself from death. Arianism threatens to undermine the very foundation of the Christian faith, and there is no place for it in the church.
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