Baptist History Homepage

THE DEITY OF CHRIST

The Deity of Christ Essential to Our Calling on His Name and Trusting in Him for Salvation
By Andrew Fuller

THERE are some doctrines of greater importance than others, and which may properly be termed fundamental truths. Whatever difficulty may attend the specification of those doctrines, it will not be found more difficult than a distinct enumeration of those Christian graces which are essential to true religion. The precise degree of holiness necessary to salvation is not more easily to be defined than the degree of truth to be believed; yet no one can doubt that a certain degree of truth and holiness is essential to Christianity.

The importance of a principle must be determined by the relation it bears to other principles and duties of religion. Truth is a system, though it is
[p. 696]
not taught in the Scriptures in a systematic form. The gospel is not a mass of discordant sentiments, but possesses a lovely proportion, a beautiful analogy, Romans xii. 6. The oracles of God contain their "first principles," (Hebrews v. 12,) which suppose a scheme or system of principles. To show the importance of the doctrine of the resurrection, the apostle proceeds to prove that it involves in it the resurrection of Christ, and that this involves in it the truth of Christianity, 1 Corinthians xv. 13-15. There is no part of the works of God but what bears a relation to the great system. The infinitely wise God does nothing in a loose, unconnected, or inharmonious form; connexion and consistency run through all his works. And it would be strange if redemption, the greatest of all his works, were accomplished without a plan, or without a system. But if the work itself form a complete system, just conceptions of it will be the same; otherwise our conceptions must be at variance with truth.

It is from this consideration that a denial of one Divine truth generally leads on to the denial of many others. It is by the gospel as it is by the moral law, "to offend in one point is to be guilty of all." You cannot break any command, without violating the authority of the Lawgiver; and this being once violated, there are no bounds where to stop. "He that said, Do not commit adultery, said also, Do not kill. And if thou commit no adultery, yet if thou kill, thou art a transgressor of the law." The same principle which leads thee to despise the Divine authority in one instance would lead thee to do the same in all, as occasion might offer. It is much the same in reference to evangelical truth; we cannot reject one part of it, especially if that part be amongst its fundamental principles, without either rejecting or becoming less attached to the rest.

At present there are two things which offer themselves to our consideration, in reference to the Deity of Christ; each of which, while it tends to confirm the truth of the doctrine, exhibits its importance. The one is, Calling on the name of the Lord Jesus; the other is, Trusting in him for salvation. These are of importance, or there is nothing in Christianity which is so; but a denial of the Deity of Christ would render them both improper, if not impracticable.

Calling on the name of the Lord Jesus is considered, in the New Testament, as of equal importance with believing in him, having the same promise of salvation annexed to it. "Whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved." And seeing it is asked, "How shall they call on him in whom they have not believed?" (Romans x. 13, 14,) it is strongly intimated that all who truly believe in Christ do call upon him. This is one of the distinguishing characteristics of the primitive Christians. Paul's Epistle to the Corinthians was addressed to them, in connexion with "all who in every place call upon the name of Jesus Christ our Lord," 1 Corinthians i. 2. Now as a rejection of the Divinity of Christ renders it idolatry to worship him, or call upon his name; so it must involve a rejection of that by which primitive Christians were distinguished, and which has the promise of salvation. And where these things are rejected, there is no longer any possibility of Christian union; for how can those who consider Christ to be a mere man join in the worship of such as are employed in calling upon his name, and ascribing "blessing, and honour, and glory, and power, unto the Lamb for ever?" Revelation v. 13. If there were no objection on the part of Trinitarians, there ought to be on the part of Arians and Socinians, to render their conduct consistent.* If we be guilty of idolatry, they ought to come out from
-------------------------------
* A certain Socinian is known to have declined taking any part in the family worship of a Trinitarian, and gave this reason for it: That he could not unite with those who call upon the name of Christ.
[p. 697]
amongst us, and be separate, as the Scriptures command Christians to do with respect to idolaters, 2 Corinthians vi. 16, 17. But if they be so indifferent about the importance of religious principle as not to scruple such matters, there is no reason that we should he the same; and we have no warrant to acknowledge those as fellow Christians who come not under the description given of such in the New Testament; that is, who call not upon the name of Jesus Christ our Lord.

Trusting in Christ for salvation is represented in the gospel as equivalent, and of equal importance, with believing in him. "In his name shall the Gentiles trust." "I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day," Matthew xii. 21; 2 Timothy i. 12. But trusting in Christ must be intimately connected with a belief in his proper Deity. Without this, all committing of ourselves to him, and trusting in his ability to keep that which we have committed to him, would be placing confidence in an arm of flesh; and would bring down the curse upon us, instead of the blessing. God has expressly appropriated trust to himself alone, and prohibited our placing it in a mere creature. "Thus saith the Lord, Cursed be the man that trusteth in man, and maketh flesh his arm, and whose heart departeth from the Lord." "Blessed is the man that trusteth in the Lord, and whose hope the Lord is," Jeremiah xvii. 5, 7.

Every creature is entirely dependent on the Creator, and is totally incompetent to answer the character of a saviour, especially with respect to that salvation which mankind need. That there may exist a proper foundation for trust, the character of a saviour must unite omnipresent and omnipotent power, to control every intelligent creature, and every particle of matter in the universe, and render every thing subservient to the great purposes of salvation. Omniscient understanding to know perfectly, and at all times, their hearts, their dangers, and their wants. Infinite wisdom, to select unerringly, from an infinite number of supposable schemes, for the accomplishment of the great object, that which is best, both with respect to the end, and the infinitude of antecedent means. Absolute immutability, to prosecute invariably the same designs; and infinite love, to rise above millions of provocations, and embrace perpetually the same good.

That scheme, therefore, which denies Christ to be possessed of these Divine prerogatives, and considers him as a mere dependent creature, leaves no ground for its abettors to trust unreservedly and ultimately in him for salvation; for, according to their principles, Christ cannot be an adequate object of trust.

Those who deny the Divinity of Christ may plead that they confide in the truth of his declarations; but they might also confide in the declarations of Peter or Paul, seeing that their testimony is equally true. But to commit our souls into their hands would be unwarrantable and presumptuous; and it would be equally so to commit them into the hands of Christ, if he were a mere creature like them. To deny his proper Divinity, therefore, is to destroy the foundation of a sinner's hope, and to make void the distinctive evidence of primitive Christianity: Calling upon the name of the Lord Jesus, and committing our souls into his hands for salvation.

===============

[From Joseph Belcher, The Complete Works of the Rev. Andrew Fuller, Volume III, 1845; rpt. 1988, pp. 695-697. Document provided by David Oldfield, Post Falls, ID. jrd]



Andrew Fuller Index
British Baptist Index
Baptist History Homepage