Why does God sometimes refer to Himself as “Us”?

In Genesis 1 the Bible quotes God as saying, “Let us make man in our own image.” The next verse says, “So God created man in His own image.” Why does God speak of Himself in the plural but other places in the Bible refer to Him in the singular? This is seen in other places in Genesis. In Genesis 3 God said, “ Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil.” In Genesis 11 God says, “Let us go down, and there confound their language.” Why does God sometimes refer to Himself in the plural when the Bible says there is only one God?

Two answers can be suggested for this question. First, God is using the “royal we.” Kings and Queens sometimes referred to themselves in the plural. Wikipedia gives an example of this, “Now, we, Edward, by the grace of God, King of the United Kingdom of Great Britain. . .” Queen Elizabeth once proclaimed, “Know you that it is Our will and pleasure . . .” The royal we also shows up in literature. In the book Prince Caspian King Peter proclaims, “It is our pleasure to adventure our royal person. . .” This formal way of speaking could be the reason God is referred to in the plural, but it does not seem likely.

The Bible contains few plural references to God, though it contains many direct quotes from God in which He refers to Himself in the singular “I”. If God was using the royal we in Genesis, readers would expect to find it appear in later Scriptures and more frequently throughout the Bible. The small number of plural references to God suggests another reason for God saying “we” and “us” in Genesis.

The other suggested answer to this question is that God is both singular and plural. Which is what the Bible teaches. God is One God who is Three. He is One God in Three persons. This is known as the doctrine of the Trinity. The Bible teaches that God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit are each fully God and each are three separate persons, distinct from one another in their being, work and intellect. The Bible does not teach that God is three Gods, or a three part God. The Bible teaches that God is One, who is made up of three persons. This is a incredibly difficult concept to understand, but the Bible’s teachings are clear. There is One God, who is Three.

The Bible teaches that God is One God. “Hear O Israel: the Lord our God is one Lord.” (Deuteronomy 6:34) “There is one God, and there is none other but He.” “I am God, and there is none else; I am God and there is none like me.” (Isaiah 46:9) “There is one God; and there is none other but He.” (Mark 12:32) “For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men.” (1 Timothy 2:5)

The Bible also clearly teaches that the Father is God. “There is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things.” (1 Corinthians 8:6) The Bible teaches that Jesus is God. “I and My Father are one.” (John 10:30) “In the Beginning was the Word (Jesus), and the Word was with God and the Word was God.” The Bible also declares the Holy Spirit is God. “But Peter said, Ananias, why hath Satan filled thine heart to lie to the Holy Ghost . . . thou hast not lied unto men, but unto God.” (Acts 5:3-4) Scripture says there is One God and there are Three who are God. This is not a contradiction, but a declaration that God is a Trinity- One who is Three.

The God who created the universe is God the Father, God the Son and God the Spirit. Genesis records that the Spirit of God hovered over the waters, creating the land and all that is on it. Colossians, John and Hebrews declare that Jesus, God the Son, created all things. Isaiah, Psalms and Jeremiah proclaim that the Father created all things. When God said, “Let us make man in our own image” He was speaking to Himself. These plural pronouns for God in Genesis are not proof of the Trinity, but when read in light of the Biblical doctrine of the Trinity it becomes apparent that God’s plurality and singularity is reflected in the pronouns in Genesis. God refers to Himself as “us” because He is One God in Three Persons.


Repost: In what way is Jesus begotten of God?

“For God so loved that He gave His only begotten son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”

At Christmas we remember the birth of Jesus. His birth is of paramount importance because He is God who set aside His Divine prerogatives, clothed Himself in humanity and suffered the punishment of man’s sin so men could be saved. John 3:16 famously describes Jesus as the “only begotten Son.” That Jesus is begotten of God may seem to be at odds with the Biblical doctrine that Jesus is the eternal God. If Jesus is the eternally existent God in what way is He begotten of God?

Psalm 2:7 presents a powerful promise of the coming Messiah. God comforted His servant David with the promises He would establish His own Son as King of Jerusalem. The Son of God would reign from Jerusalem over all the earth. God’s promise to send a King was certified by the Divine decree, “Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten Thee.” In the New Testament Paul declares that Jesus is the Son who was promised by God in Psalm 2. The begottenness of Jesus is the eternal decree of God to establish God the Son as the Messiah of Israel who would reign as King over the entire earth.

John 1:14 connects the incarnation- God the Son’s taking upon Himself humanity- with His being begotten. Jesus was begotten of God in His birth into the world. Jesus was not conceived by natural means but by the power of God uniquely working to generate a child. Jesus’ begottenness is the working of God to miraculously create a body for the Son within Mary’s womb. Jesus is begotten of the Father thorugh the work of God to send make the Son of God the seed of the woman and the Savior of man.

God the Son is the eternally existent God who created all things. He is fully God and equal with the Father in existence, eternality, infinity, majesty, power and glory. The begottenness of Jesus does not imply any inferiority of person or existence. The begottenness of Jesus does not imply a point in eternity in which the Father existed alone without the Son or the Spirit. Jesus is begotten because of the Divine decree that the Son would take upon Himself humanity. Through His humanity Jesus became the Savior of those who trust Him. He is the conquering King who will one day rule all the earth. Jesus is begotten in His human personage and in His Messianic work.

God the Son did not spring into existence on Christmas day (or nine months before His birth). God the Son has no source nor origination. Jesus is the Son of God. He is fully God, the second person of the Trinity, who shares entirely in the identical, eternal essence and existence of the Triune Godhead.

Repost: What’s so important about the virgin Mary?

Every Christmas, we are confronted with images of a manger, a little baby, loving parents, a few vague men in the background, an angel or two and a collection of miscellaneous farm animals. Otherwise known as the nativity scene. Of course, the baby in the manger is the central character, but one other person gets nearly as much attention. The virgin Mary gets nearly as much attention as the baby Jesus.

In our day of sexual freedom, being a virgin is not generally considered a praiseworthy thing. To identify someone as “the virgin Charlene” would most likely be viewed as an slur. So why do we call Mary “the virgin”?

The answer to this question is found in Biblical prophecy, in the angelic pronouncement and in the character of Jesus. Over 700 years before Jesus was born, the prophet Isaiah wrote, “Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.” (Isaiah 7:14) The prophecy of a virgin birth is one of many prophecies in the book of Isaiah that describe the coming Messiah. God promised through Isaiah that the sign of the Messiah will be a son born of a woman who had never entered into sexual relations with a man.

About nine months before Jesus birth angels visited the loving parents from the nativity, Mary and Joseph. Luke 1 describes the angelic visit to Mary. The angel declared to her that she was going to give birth to a son. Mary responded with a pertinent question, “How shall this be, seeing I know not a man?” “Know not” means “never had sexual intercourse.” Since Mary understood the process by which children are conceived, her question is very logical. Mary, being a virgin, knew she could not have a baby. The angel goes on to explain that God’s power would cause Mary to miraculously conceive a child without any human father.

Matthew 1 tells of the angelic visit to Joseph. When Joseph discovered Mary was pregnant he intended intent to call off their impending wedding. Before he could act on his intention the angel declared that Mary was not pregnant through on immoral action, but “that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost.” The angels declared that Jesus was conceived in the womb of a virgin.

Mary’s virginity is not important for Mary’s sake, but to show the character of Jesus. Mary later conceived other children through natural means. Mary did not remain a perpetual virgin. Her virginity at the birth of Jesus is of importance because of what it says about Jesus. Jesus is God who became human, but He became man without taking on Himself the sin nature. Romans 5 teaches that sin has passed to all men from Adam. The implication is that the sin nature is passed from one generation to the next by the father. For Jesus to be born without sion, he must have been born without a human father.

Through Mary God kept His Word to give His people an unmistakeable sign of the coming of His Messiah. Mary is important because her lack of sexual contact makes plain that the child born of her was not Joseph’s or any other man’s. Mary’s viriginity leaves no room for the baby Jesus to be anything but the Son of God.

Do I Have to Believe Jesus is God to be Saved?

Jesus claimed to be God. The New Testament claims Jesus is God. The early church believed Jesus is God. Jesus is God. The Deity of Jesus is one of several most important truths in all of Christianity. As important as the deity of Jesus is, does a person have to believe Jesus is God before he can be saved? Is the Deity of Jesus something the Christian can grow to believe after salvation?

The gospel message includes a series of significant facts which must be believed for salvation. These facts include the death of Jesus on the cross for sin, the guilt of the individual, the resurrection of Jesus and the willingness of God to give salvation to those who trust Him. The Bible also teaches a person must believe Jesus is God to be saved.

Romans 10:9 connects the confession of Jesus as God with salvation. “If thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.” Whenever the New Testament always uses the title Lord to refer to Jesus it is always a declaration of His Deity. The title hearkens back Jehovah, the name of God given in the Old Testament. To call Jesus Lord is to declare that He is God. Romans 10 promises you will be saved if you confess the Lord Jesus. Believing the Deity of Jesus is clearly a condition of salvation.

1 John 5 says that those who are born of God are those who believe Jesus is the Son of God. 1 John 4:15 says salvation is given to those who confess the Deity of Jesus. “Whosoever shall confess that Jesus is the Son of God, God dwelleth in him, and he in God.” John 20:31 says eternal life comes through believing Jesus is God the Son. “But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name.” These verses plainly declare that believing the Deity of Jesus is essential for salvation. No one can be saved without first acknowledging that Jesus is God.

Likewise, any one who denies the Deity of Jesus is not saved. First John is equally plain on this point. “Who is a liar but he that denieth that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist, that denieth the Father and the Son. Whosoever denieth the Son, the same hath not the Father.” Denying the Deity of Jesus is proof a person is not saved, and those who deny Jesus make themselves His enemies. They are antichrist.

The Bible claims Jesus is God. The New Testament gives an abundance of evidence that Jesus is God. If you believe He is God who died for your sin and rose to life again you can be saved.

Was Jesus Rude to His Family

Early in Jesus’ ministry as He was teaching in the region of Galilee He was confronted and opposed by the Pharisees. They charged Him with violating the Sabbath day laws and then they accused Him of being in league with Satan. Then while Jesus taught from a house in Capernaum his mother and brothers stood outside. They sent a messenger inside calling him to come outside to them. Jesus’ response to their request is shocking to us.

Jesus answered the messenger with, “Who is my mother, or my brethren? And he looked round about on them which sat about him, and said, Behold my mother and my brethren! For whosoever shall do the will of God, the same is my brother, and my sister, and mother.” (Mark 3:33-35) This seems surprisingly callous. How can the perfect Son of God disregard his mother and insult his brothers?

The events leading up to that moment are important. Matthew 12 presents a series of confrontations with the religious leaders. Every interaction in that chapter reveals the attempts of skeptics to shut Jesus down. The call of Jesus’ family to interrupt His teaching and come outside takes place after multiple attempts by the Pharisees to discredit Jesus.

Jesus replied in the way He did because the call of his family is interfering with His ministry. Their actions, whether intended or accidental, were in opposition to the will of God. This was not an interruption to the personal ambitions of Jesus. He was not being petty and peevish because they were inconveniencing His own plans. They were asking Jesus to stop doing the will of the Father. Jesus would not be deterred from the task given to Him by God the Father.

His commitment to the will of God was evident early in Jesus’ life. At the age of 12 Jesus stayed in Jerusalem after His parents began the journey back to Nazareth. His parents finally found him after three days of searching. When they found Jesus He was in the temple discussing the Word of God with the teachers of the law. His mother rebuked him because she and Joseph had searched for him with sorrow. Jesus’ response was, “Did you not know that I must be about my Father’s business?” Jesus’ commitment to doing the will of God was unchanged twenty years later. Nothing was going stop Him from being preaching the message of repentance.

Earlier in Jesus’ ministry He taught His disciples, “He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.” (Matthew 10:37) Jesus’ taught that serving the Lord must be most important, even more important than family. Everything must take second place to God. Jesus modeled that attitude when confronted by His family. He made clear that the work of the Lord was most important to Him.

Jesus’ response seems a bit harsh. When seen in its proper light it is understood as a faithful response to a distraction from the work of preaching the message of His kingdom it. Jesus was not being unkind. He was refusing to be turned aside from the most important task. He was showing that nothing is more important than the message of salvation. Even family.

Did Jesus have a sense of humor?

A light hearted question has been bouncing around the church for the last several weeks. Did Jesus have a sense of humor? Did He clown around and crack jokes with the disciples? This intriguing question is made more interesting by the absence of any direct Biblical statement on the subject. Care must be taken to avoid carelessness or irreverence in attempting to answer this question. However, from this seemingly silly question can be drawn some reasonable conclusions about the character of Jesus.

Laughter is not evil. “A merry heart doeth good like a medicine.” (Provers 17:22) Ecclesiastes 3 says there is a time to laugh. In Luke 6 Jesus promises those who weep now will laugh in days to come. Jesus was fully human, but without sin. Laughter and humor are not sinful things. One can reasonably assume Jesus found humor in life.

Some important disclaimers must be made about what Jesus’ humor may have been like. Jesus never said anything that was trivial or pointless. Everyone will give an account of every idle word spoken. (Matthew 12:36) Jesus never said anything that was idle or would bring Him into disfavor with God. Jesus never found sin amusing. He did not joke about immorality or idolatry. He did not find amusement in any wickedness. (Ephesians 5:3-4) He did not make fun of others or find amusement at their expense. (Ephesians 4:31-32) Jesus’ humor was always a holy humor. (Hebrews 4:15)

Many of Jesus’ parables present situations which are ridiculous, ironic, absurd or unexpected. These shocking statements may have been humorous to some of his hearers. The statement, “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle” is a ridiculous statement. It’s absurdity is humorous- and pointed. The parable of the men who were invited to a feast but offered a bunch of lame excuses has an element of humor because of the ridiculousness of the situation. People that swallow camels whole but struggle to choke down gnats are a humorous example of great folly. The ludicrousness of lighting a candle and hiding it under a basket is evident and may have caused some of Jesus’ hearers to smile at its obvious absurdity.

Care must be taken to not confuse humorous situations or ridiculous comparisons with comic joviality. Jesus was not a humorist. His teachings and works were earnest and serious. Nor should we read anything as if Jesus said something merely to be funny. Every parable and contrast taught eternally important truths.

Despite all that has been said about the possibility of Jesus having a sense of humor, the Bible never describes Jesus as laughing, telling a joke, or pulling a prank. A person can safely assume Jesus had a sense of humor but the Bible is completely silent about it. We have the definite statement, “Jesus wept,” but nothing comes close to stating, “Jesus laughed.” Why the silence on Jesus’ humor? The Bible doesn’t tell us that either. The best answer seems to be found in the statement that Jesus was “A man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief.” A jesting Jesus has little place in the New Testament record of His tragically serious work to redeem men through His death on the cross.