Friday, August 5, 2016

The Deity of Christ in Romans 10:13

by Hiram R. Diaz III

Romans 10:13; Ergo, Jesus is God
In Romans 10:13, Paul the apostle explains that God’s gracious gift of salvation is received through faith in Christ Jesus alone. This small verse concisely and powerfully declares the deity of Jesus Christ in numerous ways. Thus, the following article will give a detailed exposition of this one verse’s repeated affirmations of the deity of Jesus Christ. The purpose of this is multifold. Firstly, the identity of Jesus is central to the salvation of one’s soul. If one calls upon the name of another “Lord” whom they also call “Jesus Christ” but who is not Yahweh Incarnate, the Second Person of the Eternal Trinity, then they will not be saved. Secondly, the identity of the Lord Jesus is central to affirming Christian orthodoxy over and against heretical groups claiming the name of Christ (e.g. Oneness Pentecostals, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Christadelphians, and so on). Lastly, the believing Christian will be strengthened in his faith concerning (a.)the identity of his Lord and Master, (b.)the salvation of his own soul, and (c.)his decision to not fellowship with heretical groups which deny the deity of Jesus the Eternal King.
1. ...the name of the Lord…
Romans 10:13 quotes from Joel 2:32, and implies that “the LORD” of Joel 2:32 is “the Lord” Jesus Christ. Paul’s own exposition of the Old Testament in Rom 9 & 11 demonstrates that those who call upon the name of the Lord are those whom the Lord calls from among Israel and the rest of the world.[1] Yahweh calls, and those whom he calls, in turn, call upon him. Peter’s sermon, also quoting from Joel 2, makes the same point more explicitly. The apostle Peter first explains that whoever calls upon the name of Christ the Lord will be saved, and then closes his sermon with these words:
“...the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.”[2]
The One upon whom men are to call for salvation is the same One who is calling men to salvation, viz. the Lord our God. Yet Peter identifies the Lord our God as Jesus Christ, the only “name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved” just two chapters later.[3]

Thus, the name of the Lord, as viewed by the apostles, is not a mere title applied to a non-divine creature named Jesus Christ, nor is it a mere title applied to a mere man named Jesus. The apostles clearly identify Christ as the Lord, Yahweh, our God, the One who calls men to salvation, and the One upon whom men must call if they are to be saved.[4] And this identification of Jesus as Yahweh God is further strengthened as we consider the details of this verse.
2. “Everyone”
It may be argued by a persistent unbeliever that the identification of Jesus Christ as Yahweh does not mean that Jesus is God.[5] Assuming for the sake of argument that the above interpretation of “the name of the Lord” is incorrect, for the sake of argument, it would still be the case that Paul is identifying Christ as being able to save everyone calls upon his name. Universal in its scope, the word everyone excludes no person at any time in history or from any place on earth. The word “everyone,” therefore, implies that Christ is omnipresent and eternal. For if Christ is merely a man or an exalted creature, he cannot save everyone that calls on his name, seeing as only God is omnipresent and eternal.

What is more, those who deny the deity of Christ imply that Paul’s application of Joel 2:32 to Jesus Christ is incorrect, which further implies that the Scriptures are fallible, unreliable, and not the Word of God. Either Christ can save everyone who calls upon his name, or he cannot. Scripture says that Christ can and will do this. Therefore, Jesus Christ is omnipresent and eternal, saving men from any continent at any time, and even simultaneously saving multitudes of persons from opposite ends of the earth. Jesus Christ is Yahweh.
3. “Calls
Additionally, the word calls implies that Christ Jesus is also omniscient. If anyone from any place can call upon Christ, this implies that even those who are without the capacity to speak are able to call upon him for salvation. The mute man or woman, in other words, must be heard by Christ in order for him to save them; there must be a “calling” upon the name of the Lord that includes those who are mute. This call would be purely internal, i.e. mental. For the denier of Christ’s deity, this is an insurmountable problem, for as the Scriptures rhetorically ask: “Who knows a person's thoughts except the spirit of that person, which is in him?”[6] A man’s thoughts, unarticulated thoughts that is to say, are known only to God and himself. Scripture teaches that God alone knows the unarticulated thoughts of men.[7] Consider the following passages:
...the Lord searches all hearts and understands every plan and thought.[8]
“I the Lord search the heart
    and test the mind,
to give every man according to his ways,
    according to the fruit of his deeds.”[9]
O Lord, you have searched me and known me![10]
Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts![11]
“At that time I will search Jerusalem with lamps,
    and I will punish the men
who are complacent,
    those who say in their hearts,
‘The Lord will not do good,
    nor will he do ill.’...”[12]
If Christ is a mere man or exalted creature, how can he know the thoughts of another man, let alone all of God’s elect who have and will call upon him for salvation? If Christ is to be the Savior of the speaking man as well as the mute, therefore, he must be omniscient, knowing the hearts and minds of men.[13]

It follows from this, therefore, that in addition to knowing hearts and minds of all men, including the unarticulated thoughts of men, Christ knows all languages. And if he knows all languages, then he must know them perfectly, for Jesus will save those who call upon him. He cannot misunderstand or misinterpret the internal/mental call of those whom he will save. Christ’s perfect knowledge of all languages must encompass not only the general classes of natural languages and the denotative meanings of their words, but also the connotative meanings of those same words. It also must encompass his understanding of other complex features of language which modify meaning - e.g. changes in inflection (to name one such feature). He must also have perfect knowledge encompassing the regional dialects of every natural language. If Christ fails to have perfect knowledge of all languages, regional dialects, forms of slang, forms of jargon, denotative meanings, connotative meanings, and every possible variation in inflection or pronunciation conducive to expressing one’s meaning, then Christ cannot save everyone who calls upon him.

Only God knows the hearts of all men. Only God knows all languages, and knows them perfectly. Only God perfectly understands each individual’s use of language. Therefore, if Jesus Christ is the Savior of everyone who calls upon his name, he is by implication omniscient. And if he is omniscient, then he is God.
4. “Will Be Saved”
These words are profound in what they imply. We have seen thus far that if Christ is to be the Savior of everyone who calls upon his name, then he must be omnipresent and omniscient. Here we further learn that if Jesus Christ is to be the Savior, then he cannot ever be hindered by some force stronger than himself as he saves his people from their sins. Yet only God is completely unhindered by any other power, for only he is omnipotent. If the Lord Christ is only an exalted creature or a mere man, then Paul is mistaken, seeing there would at least be the possibility of Christ not being able to save some of those who call upon him for salvation.

Paul’s words are absolutely certain: He will save whoever calls upon his name. Therefore, if Jesus Christ is the Savior of sinners he must be omnipotent, for there can be no force greater than him, no hindering power keeping him from fulfilling his role as Savior.
Paul’s words in Romans 10:13 are neither false nor hyperbolic. Therefore, Jesus Christ is God Almighty, Yahweh the Creator of all things. It is only by assuming that Jesus Christ is omnipresent and eternal that Paul can say Jesus will save everyone calls upon him. It is only by assuming that Jesus Christ is omniscient that Paul can say Jesus will save whoever calls upon him. It is only by assuming that Jesus Christ is omnipotent that Paul can say Jesus will save whoever calls upon his name.

Thus, either Paul is incorrect in the assumptions he makes about Christ, or the one who denies the deity of Christ is wrong. If Paul is wrong, then the Scriptures are wrong. And if the Scriptures are wrong, then they are not the Word of God. But the Scriptures are the Word of God. Therefore, Paul is not wrong. Therefore, Paul’s assumptions are not wrong. Therefore, Christ Jesus, if he will save all who call upon his name, is Yahweh Incarnate, the Almighty, Everlasting King of kings.

[1] cf. Joel 2:32b & Rom 11:1-10.
[2] Acts 2:39.
[3] Acts 4:12b.
[4] Incidentally, this refutes the so-called “Sacred Name Movement” which claims that “Yahweh” is the proper name of God the Father only.
[5] Some contemporary scholars will affirm that Christ is identified as Yahweh by the NT writers. However, this identification, they claim, is merely titular/agentive. Christ stands in the place of Yahweh, but he is not co-equal and co-eternal with the Father, whom they incorrectly identify as true bearer of the divine tetragrammaton. This view is refuted by the exposition of Rom 10:13, a text which is unintelligible if Christ is not omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent, co-equal with the Father, i.e. Yahweh the Second Person of the Trinity.
[6] 1st Cor 2:11.
[7] Incidentally, Rom 8:27 attributes omniscience of this kind to the Holy Spirit as well, thereby establishing that the three persons - Father and Son and Spirit - equally have the attribute of omniscience.
[8] 1st Chron 28:9.
[9] Jer 17:10.
[10] Ps 139:1.
[11] Ps 139:23.
[12] Zeph 1:12.
[13] cf. Mark 2:6-8, John 2:23-25 & Rev 2:23.