From Glory to Glory, to Bring Glory to Man

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From Glory to Glory, to Bring Glory to Man

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“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16 John 3:16For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
American King James Version×
).

This central passage of Scripture speaks about both the One who came to die for the sins of the world and the One who sent Him, as well as the underlying purpose—God’s plan to give everlasting life to mortal man. God so loved the world of mankind, the pinnacle of His creation, that He gave His Son to die to pay the penalty for mankind’s sins. It is a statement about a grand purpose as well as the huge price paid to achieve it.

So who was this Son who came, and who is the God who sent Him? How is it possible? Why would God intervene so personally for the world, and why does it matter for you and me?

To understand, we must rely on the authoritative words of Scripture. “The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life,” Jesus Christ told His followers (John 6:63 John 6:63It is the spirit that vivifies; the flesh profits nothing: the words that I speak to you, they are spirit, and they are life.
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). “Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth,” He prayed to God the Father on the night before His crucifixion (John 17:17 John 17:17Sanctify them through your truth: your word is truth.
American King James Version×
). “I am the way, the truth, and the life,” Jesus told Thomas when he asked Him where He was going (John 14:6 John 14:6Jesus said to him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man comes to the Father, but by me.
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).

When we explore the question of the nature of the One who came and of the One who sent Him, we need look no further than the authoritative words and work of God the Father and Jesus Christ.

Beginning at the beginning

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God,” declares the apostle John in the opening sentence of his Gospel (John 1:1 John 1:1In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
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). He states for the record the truth revealed to him by Jesus Christ so that others can believe with confidence and clarity.

John’s inspired clarity must be the foundation for our understanding of the nature of God, rather than convoluted human reasoning.

The Word left His glorious, all-powerful, eternal spirit state of existence so that human beings might ultimately be glorified as eternal spirit children of God.

The apostle Paul succinctly tells us why: “The world through wisdom did not know God” (1 Corinthians 1:21 1 Corinthians 1:21For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.
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, emphasis added throughout). He highlights the inadequacy of philosophical wisdom with a series of questions: “Where is the wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the disputer [debater] of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of this world?” (1 Corinthians 1:20-21 1 Corinthians 1:20-21 20 Where is the wise? where is the scribe? where is the disputer of this world? has not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? 21 For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.
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).

How was this philosophical wisdom made foolish? One principal way was through what John’s Gospel records. John deconstructs humanly devised ideas about what God can do, or be, with one pivotal claim: “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father” (John 1:14 John 1:14And the Word was made flesh, and dwelled among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.
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).

God becoming flesh

“God becoming flesh” is the central thesis of the book of John—the rest of the book supporting and illustrating this truth. 

The claim is audacious, but understanding it is not difficult: “In the beginning,” John states, two divine Beings existed—one referred to as “God” and the other as “the Word” who also “was God.” One of these, John reveals, “became flesh and dwelt among us.”

Understanding what John said is not difficult. Believing the audacity of the claim was the challenge then, as it is now. God becoming flesh as the only begotten of the Father flies in the face of everything people of the time believed. To the Jews it was a blasphemous “stumbling block” (1 Corinthians 1:23 1 Corinthians 1:23But we preach Christ crucified, to the Jews a stumbling block, and to the Greeks foolishness;
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), being inconsistent with their incomplete view of God. And to the Greeks it was “foolishness,” because for centuries their philosophers had denied the possibility of a god actually becoming human.

The Word becoming flesh wiped away centuries of “wisdom” and brought “to nothing” philosophical constructs about God that limited His interaction with His own creation —constructs that declared the physical creation evil and the spiritual realm mystical and unknowable.

It all comes down to one word—“became,” which by definition means “came to be.” John is clear here. The Word who from the beginning was with God and was God “came to be” flesh. This does not mean He was no longer God, as His identity did not change. It means that, having become flesh, He was no longer a spirit being as He was before.

When the Word became flesh on earth, the Word no longer existed in heaven. The Word becoming flesh does not subtract from the deity of Christ, it confirms the deity of Christ.

The “Word becoming flesh” is pivotal because it clarifies in one concise statement what theologians have failed to explain with volumes of convoluted human reasoning. Still it is only one step in a process that took the Word from glory and then back to glory.

The Word’s transition from glory to flesh and back to glory can be summarized this way: When “the Word became flesh” He ceased being spirit and “dwelt among us” as “the only begotten of the Father” until His death by crucifixion. When God the Father raised Him from the dead and “seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places,” He ceased being flesh and “became a life-giving spirit,” endowed once again with the glory He had with God before the world was (John 1:14 John 1:14And the Word was made flesh, and dwelled among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.
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; John 3:6 John 3:6That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.
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; Ephesians 1:20 Ephesians 1:20Which he worked in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places,
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; 1 Corinthians 15:45 1 Corinthians 15:45And so it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening spirit.
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; John 17:5 John 17:5And now, O Father, glorify you me with your own self with the glory which I had with you before the world was.
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).

The journey from glory to glory to bring glory

Let’s go back to the beginning described by John and follow the Word’s journey from glory to flesh and back to glory for the purpose of, as is later stated, bringing many sons and daughters to glory (see Hebrews 2:10 Hebrews 2:10For it became him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings.
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).

As we’ve already seen, John opens His Gospel with these words: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” Again, two divine Beings existed, whom John calls “God” and “the Word.” The Word was both with God and was God—these two eternal Beings existing together as God prior to the creation in  Genesis 1.

John 1 goes on to say of the Word that “all things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made” (John 1:3 John 1:3All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.
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; see also Ephesians 3:9 Ephesians 3:9And to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world has been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ:
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).

“All things” are further defined by the apostle Paul as things that “are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers” (Colossians 1:16 Colossians 1:16 For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him:
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). Paul often uses the terms “dominions,” “principalities” and “powers” in referring to different categories or ranks of beings and authority in the invisible spirit world (see Romans 8:38 Romans 8:38For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come,
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; Ephesians 1:21 Ephesians 1:21Far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come:
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; Ephesians 3:10 Ephesians 3:10To the intent that now to the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God,
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; Ephesians 6:12 Ephesians 6:12For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.
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; Colossians 2:10 Colossians 2:10 And you are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power:
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, 15).

Thus, God created all things, whether spirit or physical, through the Word—the Word doing the actual work of creation as the agent of the One who would later be referred to as God the Father.

The book of Hebrews confirms this truth: “God … has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds” (Hebrew 1:1-2).

This is consistent with the record of physical creation we see in Genesis 1:1 Genesis 1:1In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.
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: “In the beginning God [ Elohim ] created the heavens and the earth.” The Hebrew word Elohim, here translated “God,” is a plural word—meaning that more than one divine spirit Being, sharing enormous divine power, participated in creating the physical universe out of nothing.

This culminated in the capstone of creation: “Then God said, ‘Let Us [plural] make man in Our image according to Our likeness’” (Genesis 1:26 Genesis 1:26And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.
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; see also Hebrews 11:3 Hebrews 11:3Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear.
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).

The entirety of this physical creation God declared to be good (Genesis 1:31 Genesis 1:31And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good. And the evening and the morning were the sixth day.
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). Then “the Lord God,” here the One creating on behalf of the other, as stated in John, planted a garden eastward in Eden” and commanded man to “tend and keep it” (Genesis 2:8 Genesis 2:8And the LORD God planted a garden eastward in Eden; and there he put the man whom he had formed.
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, 15).

At this time the Lord God actually walked and talked in it, even after Adam and Eve sinned: “And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day … Then the Lord God called to Adam and said to him, ‘Where are you?’” (Genesis 3:8-9 Genesis 3:8-9 8 And they heard the voice of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden. 9 And the LORD God called to Adam, and said to him, Where are you?
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). Not only did He walk and talk in the midst of creation, but the Being who would later become Jesus Christ sought out fallen man, for whom He would later sacrifice Himself.

The Lord God here is directly, personally and tangibly involved in His creation. He planted a garden in Eden. He created man from the dust of the ground. He partnered with Noah to perpetuate life through the Flood. He called the patriarchs to build a nation. He defeated Pharaoh and delivered Israel. He spoke to the prophets of old.

Finally, God the Father sent the Word to become flesh: “When the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman” (Galatians 4:4 Galatians 4:4But when the fullness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law,
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).

Born of a woman! “Immanuel,” or “God with us”! (Matthew 1:22-23 Matthew 1:22-23 22 Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, 23 Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.
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). “God … manifested in the flesh”! (1 Timothy 3:16 1 Timothy 3:16And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached to the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory.
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). The impact of this can hardly be overestimated. The angel Gabriel delivered the news flash to Mary: “And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest” (Luke 1:31-32 Luke 1:31-32 31 And, behold, you shall conceive in your womb, and bring forth a son, and shall call his name JESUS. 32 He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give to him the throne of his father David:
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).

Mary asked the obvious question, “How can this be, since I do not know a man?” (verse 34). How can a virgin conceive and bring forth the Son of God—God in the flesh?

Gabriel’s answer describes the process that made what philosophers said was impossible possible and the unthinkable true: “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God” (Luke 1:35 Luke 1:35And the angel answered and said to her, The Holy Ghost shall come on you, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow you: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of you shall be called the Son of God.
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).

God becomes flesh in Mary’s womb

Not only had God united with the race of mortals, He had done so in a most intimate way with the conception of Jesus Christ in the womb of Mary. Note that this did not create the One who became Christ. The impregnation of Mary by a miracle from the Father through the Holy Spirit is the act that caused the preexistent Word to be made flesh. The Word had eternally existed with the Father before this event. Now the Word would no longer be spirit, but “became flesh and dwelt among us” as Jesus Christ (John 1:14 John 1:14And the Word was made flesh, and dwelled among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.
American King James Version×
).

Did He empty Himself of the glory He had with the Father before the world was? Yes, to take on the “glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth” (Philippians 2:7 Philippians 2:7But made himself of no reputation, and took on him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men:
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; John 1:14 John 1:14And the Word was made flesh, and dwelled among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.
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; 17:5). Did the immortal Word become mortal man? Yes! (John 1:14 John 1:14And the Word was made flesh, and dwelled among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.
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). Did spirit become flesh? Yes! Did God become Man? Yes! (Matthew 1:22-23 Matthew 1:22-23 22 Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, 23 Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.
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).

Did He cease to be God the Word? No, because the Word had become flesh, retaining the identity He had before.

When the Word became flesh, the unknowable God became knowable. The invisible God became visible. The high and lofty God became personal.

The Word left glory to bring glory to the sons of man. He left His glorious, all-powerful, eternal spirit state of existence so that human beings might ultimately be glorified as eternal spirit children of God.

Jesus did not work according to this purpose independently of God the Father. He epitomized humility and submission. The Bible records that He submitted to the will of His earthly adoptive father Joseph (Luke 2:51 Luke 2:51And he went down with them, and came to Nazareth, and was subject to them: but his mother kept all these sayings in her heart.
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) and that He submitted Himself to His Heavenly Father till the day He died (Matthew 26:39 Matthew 26:39And he went a little farther, and fell on his face, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as you will.
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). Other statements from Jesus show His complete submission to God the Father:

“Most assuredly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He sees the Father do; for whatever He does, the Son also does in like manner” (John 5:19 John 5:19Then answered Jesus and said to them, Truly, truly, I say to you, The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he sees the Father do: for what things soever he does, these also does the Son likewise.
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).

“I can of Myself do nothing. As I hear, I judge; and My judgment is righteous, because I do not seek My own will but the will of the Father who sent Me” (John 5:30 John 5:30I can of my own self do nothing: as I hear, I judge: and my judgment is just; because I seek not my own will, but the will of the Father which has sent me.
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).

Jesus further said, “If God were your Father, you would love Me, for I proceeded forth and came from God, nor have I come of Myself, but He sent Me” (John 8:42 John 8:42Jesus said to them, If God were your Father, you would love me: for I proceeded forth and came from God; neither came I of myself, but he sent me.
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).

Did God the Son actually die?

Some theologians argue that the “God part” of Jesus Christ did not die when He was crucified, only the man part. This is an argument with consequences. If only Jesus the man died, then the payment for sin through his death could only cover the sins of one other man. The notion that the divine Word continued to inhabit eternity in the spirit realm while somehow linked to or possessing the human being Jesus ignores the clear message of John’s pivotal claim: “The Word became flesh.” The Word changed from spirit into flesh. So there was no divine spirit part remaining alive when Jesus died.

This is precisely what the apostle John is combating in his Gospel and later letters. Notice his quote from Jesus revealing the Father and Himself as the Son as two distinct and separate Beings: “For as the Father has life in Himself, so He has granted the Son to have life in Himself” (John 5:26 John 5:26For as the Father has life in himself; so has he given to the Son to have life in himself;
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).

When the Word became flesh, the Father, as a distinct and separate Being, continued to exist in heaven. And when the Word who became flesh died, the Father still reigned supreme in heaven and was able to act independently and apart from God the Son while He was dead.

This stands in opposition to the Trinity doctrine, which presents the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit as three persons in one being. It further teaches that all three participate fully in the being and actions of one another. This creates the obvious problem that if God the Son died, then the Father and the Holy Spirit would die as well. The reality is that the doctrine is just not true. (We don’t have space to cover these and other similar issues in this article. Interested readers can learn much more in our free study guide Is God a Trinity? )

Much more than a mere man died

When the apostle Peter addressed the crowd in Jerusalem on the day of Pentecost when the New Testament Church began, he proclaimed that Someone much more than a man had been crucified at their hands: “You denied the Holy One and the Just, and asked for a murderer to be granted to you, and killed the Prince of life, whom God raised from the dead, of which we are witnesses” (Acts 3:13-15 Acts 3:13-15 13 The God of Abraham, and of Isaac, and of Jacob, the God of our fathers, has glorified his Son Jesus; whom you delivered up, and denied him in the presence of Pilate, when he was determined to let him go. 14 But you denied the Holy One and the Just, and desired a murderer to be granted to you; 15 And killed the Prince of life, whom God has raised from the dead; whereof we are witnesses.
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).

Moreover, Paul makes the matter even plainer. Notice what he said in Philippians 2:5-8 Philippians 2:5-8 5 Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: 6 Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: 7 But made himself of no reputation, and took on him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: 8 And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient to death, even the death of the cross.
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in the New Living Translation: “Though he was God, he did not think of equality with God as something to cling to. Instead, he gave up his divine privileges [or emptied himself]; he took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being. When he appeared in human form, he humbled himself in obedience to God and died a criminal’s death on a cross.”

Who died? Not just a man who was joined to God, but the very One who had been God on the same level of existence as the Father—again, the Word who became flesh.

Finally, a clear, emphatic confirmation that God did die on the cross comes from the glorified Christ Himself: “Do not be afraid,” Christ said as the apostle John lay prostrate at His feet, “I am the First and the Last. I am He who lives, and was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore. Amen” (Revelation 1:17-18 Revelation 1:17-18 17 And when I saw him, I fell at his feet as dead. And he laid his right hand on me, saying to me, Fear not; I am the first and the last: 18 I am he that lives, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for ever more, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death.
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).

Jesus Christ in His glorified state lays claim to His divinity by saying He is the First and the Last (compare Isaiah 44:6 Isaiah 44:6Thus said the LORD the King of Israel, and his redeemer the LORD of hosts; I am the first, and I am the last; and beside me there is no God.
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), and categorically states that He Himself “was dead”—adding the word “Amen” for emphasis. To deny that Christ as God died is to deny His own clear statement.

When Jesus Christ—the Word made flesh—was crucified, God the Son by Christ’s own testimony “was dead.” He no longer lived. He was dead. For three days and three nights, only God the Father was alive as God.

The resurrection back to glory

Then came another pivotal part of the journey planned from the foundation of the world (see 1 Peter 1:19-20 1 Peter 1:19-20 19 But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot: 20 Who truly was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you,
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; Revelation 13:8 Revelation 13:8And all that dwell on the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.
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). God the Father, reigning supreme from heaven, did what He had said He would do for the Lamb of God slain from the foundation of the world— He raised Him from the dead.

That God the Father was the One who raised Jesus Christ the Son from the dead is the overwhelming testimony of Scripture repeated many times (Acts 2:24 Acts 2:24Whom God has raised up, having loosed the pains of death: because it was not possible that he should be held of it.
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; Acts 2:32 Acts 2:32This Jesus has God raised up, whereof we all are witnesses.
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; Acts 3:15 Acts 3:15And killed the Prince of life, whom God has raised from the dead; whereof we are witnesses.
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, Acts 3:26 Acts 3:26To you first God, having raised up his Son Jesus, sent him to bless you, in turning away every one of you from his iniquities.
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; Acts 4:10 Acts 4:10Be it known to you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead, even by him does this man stand here before you whole.
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; Acts 5:30 Acts 5:30The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom you slew and hanged on a tree.
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; Acts 10:40 Acts 10:40Him God raised up the third day, and showed him openly;
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; Acts 13:30-37 Acts 13:30-37 30 But God raised him from the dead: 31 And he was seen many days of them which came up with him from Galilee to Jerusalem, who are his witnesses to the people. 32 And we declare to you glad tidings, how that the promise which was made to the fathers, 33 God has fulfilled the same to us their children, in that he has raised up Jesus again; as it is also written in the second psalm, You are my Son, this day have I begotten you. 34 And as concerning that he raised him up from the dead, now no more to return to corruption, he said on this wise, I will give you the sure mercies of David. 35 Why he said also in another psalm, You shall not suffer your Holy One to see corruption. 36 For David, after he had served his own generation by the will of God, fell on sleep, and was laid to his fathers, and saw corruption: 37 But he, whom God raised again, saw no corruption.
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; Romans 4:24 Romans 4:24But for us also, to whom it shall be imputed, if we believe on him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead;
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; Romans 6:4 Romans 6:4Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.
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; Romans 8:11 Romans 8:11But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwells in you.
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; Romans 10:9 Romans 10:9That if you shall confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus, and shall believe in your heart that God has raised him from the dead, you shall be saved.
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1 Corinthians 6:14 1 Corinthians 6:14And God has both raised up the Lord, and will also raise up us by his own power.
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; 1 Corinthians 15:15 1 Corinthians 15:15Yes, and we are found false witnesses of God; because we have testified of God that he raised up Christ: whom he raised not up, if so be that the dead rise not.
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Galatians 1:1 Galatians 1:1Paul, an apostle, (not of men, neither by man, but by Jesus Christ, and God the Father, who raised him from the dead;)
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; Ephesians 1:17-20 Ephesians 1:17-20 17 That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him: 18 The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that you may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints, 19 And what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power, 20 Which he worked in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places,
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Colossians 2:12 Colossians 2:12 Buried with him in baptism, wherein also you are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who has raised him from the dead.
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).

Through this resurrection Jesus became a life-giving spirit (1 Corinthians 15:45 1 Corinthians 15:45And so it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening spirit.
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; 1 Corinthians 15:50 1 Corinthians 15:50Now this I say, brothers, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither does corruption inherit incorruption.
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) and sat down at the right hand of God (Mark 16:19 Mark 16:19So then after the Lord had spoken to them, he was received up into heaven, and sat on the right hand of God.
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; Romans 8:34 Romans 8:34Who is he that comdemns? It is Christ that died, yes rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us.
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; Hebrews 10:12 Hebrews 10:12But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God;
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). This is the most magnificent event in the journey from glory to glory. The Word returned to the glory He had shared with the Father before the universe came into existence (John 17:5 John 17:5And now, O Father, glorify you me with your own self with the glory which I had with you before the world was.
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). He returned as the fully realized Lamb of God who was foreordained to be slain from the foundation of the world.

This return to glory leads the way for the glorification of all the children of God and the expansion of the family of God. John describes it this way: “Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as he is” (1 John 3:2 1 John 3:2Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it does not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.
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).

And what is Jesus Christ like now in His glorified state, having been resurrected by the Father back to the state of His previous existence?

Read the description of Jesus as John saw Him in vision in Revelation 1:12-18 Revelation 1:12-18 12 And I turned to see the voice that spoke with me. And being turned, I saw seven golden candlesticks; 13 And in the middle of the seven candlesticks one like to the Son of man, clothed with a garment down to the foot, and girt about the breasts with a golden girdle. 14 His head and his hairs were white like wool, as white as snow; and his eyes were as a flame of fire; 15 And his feet like to fine brass, as if they burned in a furnace; and his voice as the sound of many waters. 16 And he had in his right hand seven stars: and out of his mouth went a sharp two edged sword: and his countenance was as the sun shines in his strength. 17 And when I saw him, I fell at his feet as dead. And he laid his right hand on me, saying to me, Fear not; I am the first and the last: 18 I am he that lives, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for ever more, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death.
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(NLT): “When I turned to see who was speaking to me, I saw seven gold lampstands. And standing in the middle of the lampstands was the Son of Man. He was wearing a long robe with a gold sash across his chest. His head and his hair were white like wool, as white as snow. And his eyes were bright like flames of fire.

“His feet were as bright as bronze refined in a furnace, and his voice thundered like mighty ocean waves. He held seven stars in his right hand, and a sharp two-edged sword came from his mouth [this part of the vision evidently figurative of His speaking the Word of God—Hebrews 4:12 Hebrews 4:12For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.
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]. And his face was as bright as the sun in all its brilliance. When I saw him, I fell at his feet as dead. But he laid his right hand on me and said, ‘Don’t be afraid! I am the First and the Last. I am the living one who died. Look, I am alive forever and ever!’”

The glory we can share in

This is the same kind of glorified immortal spirit existence God promises to His children in the resurrection of the dead at Jesus Christ’s return! (1 Corinthians 15:50-54 1 Corinthians 15:50-54 50 Now this I say, brothers, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither does corruption inherit incorruption. 51 Behold, I show you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, 52 In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. 53 For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. 54 So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory.
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). Christ’s journey began in glory and ends in glory for the ultimate purpose of the glorification of human beings—so Jesus can be “the firstborn among many brethren,” these to be raised to glory (Romans 8:29 Romans 8:29For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.
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; Hebrews 2:10 Hebrews 2:10For it became him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings.
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).

We go back to the question we asked at the beginning: Does it matter who came to die for our sins and who sent Him? The answer is an emphatic yes! If God the Son did not die for us while another divine Being, God the Father, remained alive with the power to resurrect Him, then, as Paul said, we of all men are most pitiable and have no hope of eternal life (1 Corinthians 15:14-19 1 Corinthians 15:14-19 14 And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain. 15 Yes, and we are found false witnesses of God; because we have testified of God that he raised up Christ: whom he raised not up, if so be that the dead rise not. 16 For if the dead rise not, then is not Christ raised: 17 And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; you are yet in your sins. 18 Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished. 19 If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable.
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).

Thankfully, God did so love the world that He gave His only begotten Son, and the Son willingly gave up His glory and became a man to die for us, so that we might have everlasting life and share in God’s glory forever.

The truth is not too difficult to understand. God became man so that man could become immortal members of the family of God—a journey that began and ends in glory!

 


 

Who and What Was Jesus Christ Before His Human Birth?

As the accompanying article shows, the One who became Jesus Christ was clearly God, along with God the Father, before His human birth. But a careful study of Scripture shows that He was more than just another divine being who was previously unknown. 

Scripture repeatedly tells us that no one has seen God the Father at any time. For example, the apostle John makes this quite clear in John 1:18 John 1:18No man has seen God at any time, the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he has declared him.
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: “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 had just explained in this chapter that he was a personal eyewitness of “the Word” who became flesh as Jesus Christ, so this cannot refer to Him. The “God” whom no one has ever seen at any time thus has to be referring to the Father.

John repeats this exact same statement in 1 John 4:12 1 John 4:12No man has seen God at any time. If we love one another, God dwells in us, and his love is perfected in us.
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: “No one has seen God at any time.”

We also see two such explicit statements from Jesus Christ Himself. Notice John 5:37 John 5:37And the Father himself, which has sent me, has borne witness of me. You have neither heard his voice at any time, nor seen his shape.
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: “And the Father Himself, who sent Me, has testified of Me. You have neither heard His voice at any time, nor seen His form” (emphasis added throughout).

And just to be clear, Jesus again says that no one has ever seen the Father in John 6:46 John 6:46Not that any man has seen the Father, save he which is of God, he has seen the Father.
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 : “No one has seen the Father except the one who is from God; only he has seen the Father” (New International Version).

Here Jesus plainly says that no one has seen the Father except the One who is from God—this referring to Himself. He alone has seen the Father. No human being has ever seen the Father.

Yet in the books of the Old Testament period we’re told that a number of people did see God. They include Abraham (Genesis 12:7 Genesis 12:7And the LORD appeared to Abram, and said, To your seed will I give this land: and there built he an altar to the LORD, who appeared to him.
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; Genesis 15:1 Genesis 15:1After these things the word of the LORD came to Abram in a vision, saying, Fear not, Abram: I am your shield, and your exceeding great reward.
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; Genesis 18:1 Genesis 18:1And the LORD appeared to him in the plains of Mamre: and he sat in the tent door in the heat of the day;
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), Isaac (Genesis 26:2 Genesis 26:2And the LORD appeared to him, and said, Go not down into Egypt; dwell in the land which I shall tell you of:
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; Genesis 26:24 Genesis 26:24And the LORD appeared to him the same night, and said, I am the God of Abraham your father: fear not, for I am with you, and will bless you, and multiply your seed for my servant Abraham’s sake.
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), Jacob (Genesis 28:13 Genesis 28:13And, behold, the LORD stood above it, and said, I am the LORD God of Abraham your father, and the God of Isaac: the land where on you lie, to you will I give it, and to your seed;
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; Genesis 32:30 Genesis 32:30And Jacob called the name of the place Peniel: for I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved.
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; Genesis 35:9-10 Genesis 35:9-10 9 And God appeared to Jacob again, when he came out of Padanaram, and blessed him. 10 And God said to him, Your name is Jacob: your name shall not be called any more Jacob, but Israel shall be your name: and he called his name Israel.
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), Moses (Exodus 3:6 Exodus 3:6Moreover he said, I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. And Moses hid his face; for he was afraid to look on God.
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; Exodus 33:11 Exodus 33:11And the LORD spoke to Moses face to face, as a man speaks to his friend. And he turned again into the camp: but his servant Joshua, the son of Nun, a young man, departed not out of the tabernacle.
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; Exodus 33:21-23 Exodus 33:21-23 21 And the LORD said, Behold, there is a place by me, and you shall stand on a rock: 22 And it shall come to pass, while my glory passes by, that I will put you in a cleft of the rock, and will cover you with my hand while I pass by: 23 And I will take away my hand, and you shall see my back parts: but my face shall not be seen.
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), Aaron and the 70 elders of Israel (Exodus 24:9-11 Exodus 24:9-11 9 Then went up Moses, and Aaron, Nadab, and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel: 10 And they saw the God of Israel: and there was under his feet as it were a paved work of a sapphire stone, and as it were the body of heaven in his clearness. 11 And on the nobles of the children of Israel he laid not his hand: also they saw God, and did eat and drink.
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), Joshua (Joshua 6:2 Joshua 6:2And the LORD said to Joshua, See, I have given into your hand Jericho, and the king thereof, and the mighty men of valor.
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) and Gideon (Judges 6:14 Judges 6:14And the LORD looked on him, and said, Go in this your might, and you shall save Israel from the hand of the Midianites: have not I sent you?
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).

Nearly all of these are described as face-to-face encounters. Two involved eating a meal with God, and Jacob literally wrestled with God.

So whom did these individuals see when they saw God? The only way we can make sense of this is to understand that no man had seen God the Father at any time.

What they saw as recorded in these many passages, and at other times when God appeared to individuals, was the Word who was God (John 1:1 John 1:1In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
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), the One who was born in the flesh as Jesus of Nazareth. With this understanding there is no contradiction. The Bible doesn’t contradict itself, as “Scripture cannot be broken” (John 10:35 John 10:35If he called them gods, to whom the word of God came, and the scripture cannot be broken;
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).

What Scripture reveals is that Jesus was the One who interacted with the patriarchs and prophets and the people of Israel as the Lord or God on behalf of the Father. They never saw the Father, but only the Word or Spokesman of God, who came to reveal the Father (John 1:18 John 1:18No man has seen God at any time, the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he has declared him.
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).

The One who appeared and spoke to people as God was the One who became Jesus Christ. Jesus Himself clearly said this, and the people who heard Him knew that was exactly what He meant. Notice this in John 8:57-58 John 8:57-58 57 Then said the Jews to him, You are not yet fifty years old, and have you seen Abraham? 58 Jesus said to them, Truly, truly, I say to you, Before Abraham was, I am.
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, where Jesus was in a heated debate with some of the Jews who opposed Him, and He said that Abraham rejoiced to see His day.

“Then the Jews said to Him, ‘You are not yet fifty years old, and have You seen Abraham?’ Jesus said to them, ‘Most assuredly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM.’”

Here Jesus specifically told them of His divine identity—that He existed before Abraham, and then that He was the God who had interacted with people during the Old Testament period. Whom did He specifically claim to be?

We find the answer in Exodus 3:13-14 Exodus 3:13-14 13 And Moses said to God, Behold, when I come to the children of Israel, and shall say to them, The God of your fathers has sent me to you; and they shall say to me, What is his name? what shall I say to them? 14 And God said to Moses, I AM THAT I AM: and he said, Thus shall you say to the children of Israel, I AM has sent me to you.
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, where God appeared to Moses at the burning bush and told Moses that He would deliver the Israelites from their enslavement in Egypt.

“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.”’”

And 15 centuries later, what did Jesus say about who He was? Going back to what we just read in John 8:58 John 8:58Jesus said to them, Truly, truly, I say to you, Before Abraham was, I am.
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, “Jesus said to them, ‘Most assuredly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM.’”

And notice what happened immediately after Jesus said these words: “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 8:59 John 8:59Then took they up stones to cast at him: but Jesus hid himself, and went out of the temple, going through the middle of them, and so passed by.
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).

The Jews who heard Jesus say these words knew exactly what He meant—that He was claiming to be the “I AM” who had interacted with Moses. And how did they react? They immediately took up stones to stone Him to death for claiming to be God!

The New Testament writers understood who and what Jesus Christ was and applied prophecies of “the Lord”—Israel’s God—to Jesus Christ.

For example, the apostle Peter writes in 1 Peter 2:7-8 1 Peter 2:7-8 7 To you therefore which believe he is precious: but to them which be disobedient, the stone which the builders disallowed, the same is made the head of the corner, 8 And a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offense, even to them which stumble at the word, being disobedient: whereunto also they were appointed.
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: “To you who believe, He [Jesus Christ] is precious; but to those who are disobedient, [He is] … ‘ a stone of stumbling and a rock of offense.’” He is quoting Isaiah 8:13-14 Isaiah 8:13-14 13 Sanctify the LORD of hosts himself; and let him be your fear, and let him be your dread. 14 And he shall be for a sanctuary; but for a stone of stumbling and for a rock of offense to both the houses of Israel, for a gin and for a snare to the inhabitants of Jerusalem.
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, which foretold that “the Lord of hosts” would be a stone of stumbling and a rock of offense.

The apostle Paul applies several Old Testament passages about the Lord to Jesus Christ. For example, Joel 2:32 Joel 2:32And it shall come to pass, that whoever shall call on the name of the LORD shall be delivered: for in mount Zion and in Jerusalem shall be deliverance, as the LORD has said, and in the remnant whom the LORD shall call.
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says, “And it shall come to pass that whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.” In Romans 10:9-13 Romans 10:9-13 9 That if you shall confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus, and shall believe in your heart that God has raised him from the dead, you shall be saved. 10 For with the heart man believes to righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made to salvation. 11 For the scripture said, Whoever believes on him shall not be ashamed. 12 For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich to all that call on him. 13 For whoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved.
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Paul applies this prophecy to Jesus Christ.

And in a prophecy that is so obvious that we tend to read right over it, Isaiah 40:3 Isaiah 40:3The voice of him that cries in the wilderness, Prepare you the way of the LORD, make straight in the desert a highway for our God.
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foretold the coming of “the voice of one crying in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord; make straight in the desert a highway for our God.’”

This is a prophecy of John the Baptist. But for whom was he to prepare the way? It tells us plainly that John was to prepare the way for “the Lord.” How was this prophecy fulfilled? Read Matthew 3:3 Matthew 3:3For this is he that was spoken of by the prophet Esaias, saying, The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare you the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.
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: “For this is he who was spoken of by the prophet Isaiah, saying: ‘The voice of one crying in the wilderness: “Prepare the way of the Lord …”’” (see also Mark 1:2-3 Mark 1:2-3 2 As it is written in the prophets, Behold, I send my messenger before your face, which shall prepare your way before you. 3 The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare you the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.
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and Luke 3:3-4 Luke 3:3-4 3 And he came into all the country about Jordan, preaching the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins; 4 As it is written in the book of the words of Esaias the prophet, saying, The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare you the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.
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).

John was to prepare the way for the coming of whom? The coming of the Lord. And who was the Lord John prepared the way for? Jesus Christ.

Although there are a number of such examples, we’ll note one more that specifically identifies Jesus Christ as “the Rock” who accompanied Israel at the time of the Exodus from Egypt. Notice 1 Corinthians 10:1-4 1 Corinthians 10:1-4 1 Moreover, brothers, I would not that you should be ignorant, how that all our fathers were under the cloud, and all passed through the sea; 2 And were all baptized to Moses in the cloud and in the sea; 3 And did all eat the same spiritual meat; 4 And did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ.
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: “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” (see also 1 Corinthians 10:9 1 Corinthians 10:9Neither let us tempt Christ, as some of them also tempted, and were destroyed of serpents.
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).

These are not all the scriptures pertinent to this subject, but they are enough to clearly demonstrate that the One who interacted with human beings in the Old Testament period as God on behalf of the Father was the One we know today as Jesus Christ.

— Scott Ashley