On one side of the argument are those who proclaim Jesus to be the very Almighty God who pre-existed as Yahweh. Scriptures like John 20:28 are used to support this view – “And Thomas answered and said unto [Jesus], My Lord and my God”, or John 14:8-9 which says, “Philip saith unto him, Lord, show us the Father, and it sufficeth us. Jesus saith unto him, Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Philip? he that hath seen me hath seen the Father.”
On the other side of the argument are those who believe that Jesus must only be referred to as “Son of God”, not “God”. Again there are verses used to support this view such as Ephesians 3:14 which makes a distinction between the Father and Jesus – “For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ”, and Colossians 1:2 which distinctly identifies the Father to be God – “Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.”
One time at a convention of believers I was sitting with different ministers around a table when someone asked a question: “Brother Andrew, is Jesus ‘God’ or ‘Son of God’?” I knew that the question did not rise out of a desire to learn but to raise an argument. As though thirsty and in need of a drink I asked for some water to be poured in a glass which was on the table. Someone filled it quickly. I lifted the glass in my hands and asked, “What am I holding in my hands?” The person answered, “Water”. To that I responded, “Will I be in order to correct you by saying, ‘Wrong! It’s a glass I am holding and not water.’ Is it not true that for the convenience of language you have called the glass by the new identity of the substance which has possessed it”?
To understand the Godhead one needs more than letters, words or semantics. Theologians look into Scripture and theorize three persons into the Godhead. They call the persons God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. But this is a stark contradiction of the command given to the Hebrews, “Hear,O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD” (Deu.6:4). And contrary to the idea that God the Father is with the Son and the Holy Spirit besides him, Yahweh declares “I am the LORD, and there is none else, there is no God beside me” (Isa.45:5). But so confident are Trinitarians that they refer to Jesus, or the Holy Spirit, or the Father as a member, a portion,or a third of the Godhead. This again contradicts the Word which says, “In Him [Jesus] dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily” (Col.2:9).
Those with eyes to see should perceive that there is and has always been ONE Almighty Spirit who is everywhere and has neither beginning nor end. However, note that before anything was created He could not be called God. God is something that is worshipped but there were no angels or man to worship Him. But even if angels or human beings were created, how would they ever relate with, or comprehend, such an eternal being which was not confined to Space and Time?
The almighty invisible Spirit had to manifest in form in order to relate in Space and Time. That was the first thing to proceed from the Almighty Spirit and thus was the beginning of Time, the Alpha (Isa.44:6). The Alpha was not ‘another God’ but a visible ‘mask’ of the invisible Spirit through which He would create and relate with everything. In the future, Time will wind up and end in Him as the Omega. Thus, whenever God in Scripture is referred to as the Alpha and Omega, it is a description of His being in Time, not in Eternity.
The visible mask became “the angel of His [invisible] presence” (Isa.63:9). It was that mask, the first thing to be created by God, which began to speak, “LET THERE BE…!”and things began to come into existence (Joh.1:1-3, Rev.3:14, Pro.8:22-24). It was through that mask that angels and human beings could look at God. So, although “no man has seen God at any time” (Joh.1:18), it was that mask – which sometimes appeared like an angel, like a human being, like a fire, like a cloud, like alight – that the prophets of old looked at, and for the limitation or convenience of language and communication, declared that they had seen God: “Then went up Moses, and Aaron, Nadab and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel and they saw the God of Israel, and there was under His feet as it were a paved work of a sapphire stone” (Exo.24:9-10).
When God manifested in a light or cloud, the light or cloud was not God, but for the convenience of language and communication, a person could say, “I have seen God”! Even when God took on the form of dust and appeared like a human being to Abraham, that visible form of dust was not God. It was only a form through which the invisible God had manifested. But in language we will still say, God “appeared” to Abraham (Gen.18:1). Likewise, when we come into the New Testament the same thing happened. However, God no longer appeared in temporal manifestations of light, cloud, or angelic form. In the New Testament Yahweh “prepared” a human body through which He would manifest (Heb.10:5). When that body was 30 years old it was ready to be filled by God’s Spirit and be used as the image of the invisible God. Yes, that was Jesus “the image of the invisible God” (Col.1:15, Heb.1:1-3).
So, it should be clear now that when we refer to Jesus as God, the way Thomas did in John 20:28, we are referring to Him as the manifestation of God in flesh. Like in the words of Paul to Timothy, “great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory” (1 Tim.3:16). And we are “looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our saviour Jesus Christ” (Tit.2:13, Isa.43:11).