To learn about God, we must go right to the source, the Bible, which is His revelation to humanity. It is His Word, His message, to mankind.
Source: Photo illustration by Shaun Venish/Corbis Digital Stock
Many people don't grasp exactly who Jesus Christ was and is. It is fundamentally important for us to understand!
We truly want to help you learn all you can about God the Father and Jesus Christ, plus we want to help you go beyond that. We want you to come to personally and intimately know Them as your Heavenly Father and Elder Brother. This will happen if you develop the habit of studying the Bible and praying every day, and putting the Bible into practice in your everyday life.
This study focuses on key scriptures in the Bible where God reveals highly significant things about His nature and actions.
The following is a condensed popular story by the late Paul Harvey:
There was a nonreligious, skeptical man who just couldn't swallow the "Jesus story" about an incarnation, about God coming to earth as a man. But one snowy evening he noticed a flock of birds huddled miserably, not having any shelter. Well, he couldn't let the poor creatures lie there and freeze, and he thought about his barn. That would provide a warm shelter—if he could direct the birds to it.
Quickly he went to the barn, opened the doors wide and turned on a light, but the birds did not come in. He figured food would entice them in. So he hurried back to the house, found some bread crumbs that he sprinkled on the snow, making a trail to the doorway of the barn.
But to his dismay, the birds ignored the bread crumbs, and continued to flap around helplessly in the snow. He tried catching them. He tried shooing them into the barn by walking around them waving his arms. Instead, they scattered in every direction, except into the warm, lighted barn.
And then, he realized that they were afraid of him. To them, he reasoned, I am a strange and terrifying creature. If only I could think of some way to let them know that they can trust me—that I am not trying to hurt them, but to help them. But how? Because any move he made tended to frighten them, they just would not follow. They would not be led or shooed because they feared him.
"If only I could be a bird," he thought to himself, "and mingle with them and speak their language. Then I could tell them not to be afraid. Then I could show them the way to the safe, warm barn. But I would have to be one of them so they could see, and hear and understand."
That thought became an epiphany. Stunned, he remembered the fundamental message: "And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us" (John:1:14). Suddenly the gospel he had heard made complete sense! He dropped to his knees in the snow.
What does the Bible tell us about the Father and the Son—the God family?
Many people are confused about this subject. There is only one God, but God is a family, comprising God the Father and God the Word, who became the Son of God, Jesus Christ (John:1:1, John:1:14). They are also "one" in the sense that the Father and Son are identical in character.
Notice the plural pronouns in Genesis:1:26: "Then God said, 'Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness'" (emphasis added throughout).
The Bible clearly identifies two Beings who exist together as the one God. But what about the Holy Spirit? The Bible doesn't describe the Holy Spirit as a distinct divine Person, as many believe. It is revealed as the Spirit of God the Father and Jesus Christ—the power that emanates from Them that They use for many different purposes.
The idea of God being a "Trinity" became popular centuries after Jesus Christ's time. It is not taught by the Bible. That idea originated in ancient paganism. The Bible is full of many proofs that God is not a Trinity. (To learn more, read the free Bible study aid Is God a Trinity? ) However, the Trinity is not the subject of this lesson.
One widespread misconception is that there was a big difference in the character of the God of the Old Testament (primarily strict and harsh) and Jesus Christ in the New Testament (merciful and loving). This lesson will show the surprising biblical truth.
First, can we prove that Jesus existed prior to His human birth?
"And now, O Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world was" (John:17:5).
"Father . . . you loved me before the world was created" (John:17:24, Contemporary English Version).
"And He [Jesus] said to them, 'I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven'" (Luke:10:18).
In Luke 10, Jesus refers to the fall of Satan that occurred before the creation of Adam and Eve. Many other scriptures could be quoted to prove that Jesus existed prior to His human birth. For example, Luke:10:22 shows that Jesus, and only Jesus, had firsthand, intimate knowledge of God the Father. The next section further proves Jesus' preexistence.
Was Jesus Christ also God before and after His incarnation?
"Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel, which is translated, 'God with us'" (Matthew:1:23; quoting Isaiah:7:14).
"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God . . . And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth" (John:1:1-2, John:1:14).
"I [Jesus] and My Father are one" (John:10:30).
In John 1, we learn that "in the beginning" there were two Beings who were both God. The rest of the chapter clearly shows that the One called the Word was the One who became Jesus Christ. He was incarnated—"became flesh"—at His human birth, but He existed forever prior to that.
The New Testament is full of proof that Jesus was God. Jesus did what only God could do—forgive sins. Paul refers to Jesus in Titus:1:3 and Titus:2:10 as "God our Savior." And since Jesus was and is God, that means He has existed for all eternity!
What passage most clearly shows that Jesus was the God of the Old Testament?
"Moreover, brethren, I do not want you to be unaware that all our fathers were under the cloud, all passed through the sea, all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea, all ate the same spiritual food, and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed [ or accompanied ] them, and that Rock was Christ" (1 Corinthians:10:1-4).
Plainly, the God who was leading the Israelites out of Egypt, through the Red Sea and into the Promised Land was the One who later became Jesus Christ! He provided manna to eat (Exodus:16:4, Exodus:16:31, Exodus:16:35) and water to drink, sometimes from solid rock (Exodus:17:6). Calling the food and drink "spiritual" has a dual meaning: It was supernaturally provided, plus it also represented the spiritual sustenance He was providing as the bread of life and the water of life (John:4:14; John:6:30-35).
What do the New Testament and Jesus Himself say about God the Father that proves the Father was not the God of the Old Testament?
"No one has seen God at any time. The only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him" (John:1:18).
"And the Father Himself, who sent Me [Jesus], has testified of Me. You have neither heard His voice at any time, nor seen His form" (John:5:37).
"Not that anyone has seen the Father, except He [Jesus] who is from God; He has seen the Father" (John:6:46).
The God of the Old Testament many times visibly appeared to people and audibly spoke to people—which, when we compare this to these verses from John's Gospel, proves He was not God the Father.
Who was the actual Creator of the universe, the earth and all things?
"For by Him [ Jesus Christ ] all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him. And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist" (Colossians:1:16-17).
". . . God who created all things through Jesus Christ" (Ephesians:3:9).
"All things were made through Him [the Word], and without Him nothing was made that was made" (John:1:3; see also Hebrews:1:1-2).
God the Father authorized the creation, but the Word, the One who became Jesus Christ, actually did the creating. John:1:3 is clearly referring to Jesus Christ, as the rest of the chapter shows. Colossians:1:17 verifies that He had to exist "before all things," since He created all things.
Who originally made the Sabbath a holy day?
"And on the seventh day God ended His work which He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done. Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it He rested from all His work which God had created and made" (Genesis:2:2-3).
"And He [Jesus] said to them, 'The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath. Therefore the Son of Man is also Lord of the Sabbath'" (Mark:2:27-28).
The word sanctify means to set something apart as sacred or holy. The Creator God rested on the seventh day, making it holy—and the verses that present Jesus as the Creator on behalf of the Father make it clear that Jesus is also the One who rested. Furthermore, Jesus' lordship over the Sabbath in Mark:2:28 implies that He is the One who made it holy.
How does the name "I AM" help prove that Jesus was the God of the Old Testament?
"Then Moses said to God, 'Indeed, when I come to the children of Israel and say to them, "The God of your fathers has sent me to you," and they say to me, "What is His name?" what shall I say to them?' And God said to Moses, 'I AM WHO I AM.' And He said, 'Thus you shall say to the children of Israel, "I AM has sent me to you"'" (Exodus:3:13-14).
"Jesus said to them, 'Most assuredly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM.' Then they took up stones to throw at Him; but Jesus hid Himself and went out of the temple, going through the midst of them, and so passed by" (John:8:58-59).
For what reason did Jesus' Jewish adversaries try to stone Him here? Because He referred to Himself with one of the names of God, the name by which God revealed Himself to Moses. It would have angered the Jews if Jesus had only said, "Before Abraham, I was" or "Before Abraham, I existed." But when Jesus referred to Himself as "I AM," they were utterly incensed because He was clearly and pointedly identifying Himself as God.
Some other places where Jesus referred to Himself as "I AM" are John:8:24, John:8:28; John:13:19; John:18:5, John:18:8. Notice in John:18:6 that when Jesus identified Himself as "I AM" to the arresting party, they were miraculously knocked to the ground.
Notice how "I am" is included when Jesus identifies Himself as "the bread of life" (John:6:48), "the light of the world" (John:8:12), "the door" (John:10:9), "the good shepherd" (John:10:11), "the resurrection and the life" (John:11:25), "the way, the truth, and the life" (John:14:6) and "the true vine" (John:15:1). These are often referred to as the seven great "I AMs." Significantly, in the Old Testament, God identifies Himself in some of the same ways, such as being our shepherd, our light and our life.
What can we learn from studying the subject of Melchizedek?
"Then Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine; he was the priest of God Most High" (Genesis:14:18).
"[Melchizedek, who was] without father, without mother, without genealogy, having neither beginning of days nor end of life, but made like the Son of God, remains a priest continually" (Hebrews:7:3).
"And having been perfected, He [Jesus] became the author of eternal salvation to all who obey Him, called by God as High Priest 'according to the order of Melchizedek'" (Hebrews:5:9-10).
Melchizedek appeared to Abraham as both a king and priest. In fact, He was "king of righteousness" and "king of peace" (Hebrews:7:1-2). Hebrews:7:3 reveals that he was an eternal divine being, having "neither beginning of days nor end of life" and an unending priesthood. A careful reading of Hebrews 7 proves that Melchizedek was the Word, the One who became Jesus Christ.
Was there a big change in divine character from Old to New Testament times?
"For I am the Lord, I do not change; therefore you are not consumed, O sons of Jacob" (Malachi:3:6).
"Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever" (Hebrews:13:8).
The same Being is described in both verses. He was merciful in His dealings with ancient Israel—though ultimately bringing judgment. And He remains merciful today, having died for our sins. But He will come in judgment yet. Still, His mercy prevails (James:2:13). Indeed, it is the same mercy the Father has (2 John:1:3).
Knowing that the God of the Old Testament was the One who became Jesus Christ shows how totally false the idea is that there was a difference in the character of the God of the Old Testament and Jesus Christ in the New Testament! They are one and the same. Knowing this also supports the fact that there is perfect continuity and harmony between the Old and New Testaments. The Old Testament serves as the foundation for the further revelations in the New Testament.
As we've seen, Jesus Christ came to reveal the Father. So, contrary to popular belief, the Old Testament reveals the Word who became Jesus Christ, and the New Testament reveals the Father!
If previous to this lesson you thought that the God who spoke and appeared in the Old Testament was God the Father, you may now have quite a challenge in changing your perspective! To get you started, jot down three or more main things you remember about God from the Old Testament, and then substitute "the Word" where you previously thought of "the Father."
Next, jot down three or more main things you remember about Jesus Christ from the New Testament, and focus on how that same Jesus Christ was also the divine Being who spoke to and interacted with human beings throughout the Old Testament. Once you get used to this perspective, the whole Bible will make more sense to you!
Also, be sure to read the Bible study aid Jesus Christ: The Real Story . People have many questions and misconceptions about who Jesus was and is, and this booklet will help you understand right from the pages of your Bible. To really understand the One who is your Savior and coming King, you need to read this eye-opening Bible study aid booklet!