So many Christians get this wrong. They are taught that the Bible is primarily Christ-centered and that a person’s faith should be judged accordingly. I say “judged” because this issue is actually treated by the institutional church as a life and death matter, that is, eternal life.
Ever since the so-called First Ecumenical Council–conducted by the Catholic Church and hosted by Roman Emperor Constantine in the year 325 at his palace in Nicaea, near Constantinople–the institutional church has said that Jesus is just as much God as the Father is God so that the Father is not superior in any way to Jesus. That means the Bible must be just as much Christ-centered as it is God-centered.
I believe that is quite wrong. The Bible is primarily God-centered, with God being the one whom Jesus called “the/my Father. [For more about this subject, in the menu at my Kermit Zarley Blog click on “Christology.” Better yet, read my book, The Restitution of Jesus Christ.] Salvation is through Christ, but it is God who saves. My favorite Bible verse reflects this: “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son [Jesus], so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life” (John 3.16). So, God sent Jesus, not Jesus sent God. The next verse says, “God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him” (v. 17). So, it is God who sends and saves, and he does it through Jesus who is the Christ, who died on the cross for our sins. Our part is to merely believe it this with all sincerity, letting Jesus make a difference in our lives by making him Lord through following his teachings. And he said of them, “I speak these things as the Father instructed me” (John 8.28), showing his subordination to God the Father.
Here are a few Old Testament texts (from the New Revised Standard Version=NRSV) that support what I’m saying about God-centeredness, with the ultimate authority being God:
- “God,” not Jesus, “created the heavens and the earth” (Genesis 1.1)
- Man was made “in the image of God” (Gen 1.26-27), not in the image of Jesus.
- God, not Jesus, chose Israel and made a covenant with that nation.
- YHWH said of Jesus, not vice versa, “Here is my servant,… my chosen” (Isa 42.1).
- God, not Jesus, gave the Ten Commandments to Moses.
- YHWH (name translated “LORD” in Bibles), not Jesus, is God (Exodus 3.14-17).
- YHWH, not Jesus, said to Moses, “I am the God of your father,… Abraham”(v. 6).
- “The LORD [=YHWH],” not Jesus, “is our God, the LORD alone” (Deut 6.4).
- God gives the kingdom to Jesus, not vice versa (Daniel 7.13-14).
In the New Testament gospels, Jesus presents himself as being primarily God-centered, not self-centered thus Christ-centered. Jesus is very clear about this, that to come to God one must go through Jesus. Thus, for Jesus, God is the ultimate destiny, the ultimate authority, the source of all things, the main one with whom we must have to do, and God has made Jesus the conduit through whom we approach God. Here are some New Testament texts showing God’s sovereignty, making him alone “The Almighty” (=pantokrator, said eight times in the Greek NT of God and never of Jesus):
- God sent Jesus, and the one who sends is greater than the one who is sent.
- God said of Jesus at his baptism, “This is my Son, the Beloved, with whom I am well pleased” (Matthew 3.17).
- Jesus did not teach his disciples to pray to himself but to God, whom he called “Father,” saying, “Our Father in heaven” (Matthew 6.9; cf. Luke 11.2).
- Jesus quoted scripture to the devil, not telling him to worship Jesus but applying it to himself, saying, “Worship the Lord your God, and serve only him” (Matthew 3.10), so that that God was the God of Jesus. So, Jesus had a God, but God didn’t.
- Jesus said God the Father “has given all judgment to the Son [Jesus], not vice versa (John 5.22).
- Jesus said God the Father “has given him [Jesus] authority to execute judgment,” not vice versa (John 5.27).
- Jesus: “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14.6).
- Jesus: “I am going to the Father because the Father is greater than I” (John 14.28).
- Peter: “deeds of power, wonders, and signs that God did through him,” Jesus (Acts 2.22). Thus, God was the source of these attributes Jesus had.
- Peter did not preach to repent toward Jesus that he might forgive, but, “Repent therefore, and turn to God so that your sins may be wiped out” (Acts 3.19).
- Peter did not preach that Jesus empowered himself but that “God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power” (Acts 10.38).
- Paul wrote, “Christ belongs to God,” not vice versa (1 Corinthians 3.23).
- Paul wrote, “God is the head of Christ,” not vice versa (1 Corinthians 11.3).