“For David is not ascended into the heavens: but he saith himself, The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, Until I make thy foes thy footstool.” (Acts 2:34–35, AV)
One Sunday while I was teaching a group of single adults, two elders from the “Latter Day Saints (LDS)” wandered into the class. At first, I was a bit startled by this but apparently it is a practice of this group to see what Christian churches are teaching. It happened that I was teaching from Acts 2:29-35. It is interesting since those of the LDS deny the doctrine of the Trinity and view Jesus as a god rather than the God. Here in this section, we see a thread that will point to the full deity of Jesus.
One of the most important doctrines of our faith and one that we must communicate when we witness is the deity of Christ. Peter in speaking of the risen and ascended Christ, quotes Psalm 110:1. This is an interesting choice of Scripture in that it implies the divinity of Jesus. Jesus Himself, used this particular verse of the Psalms to speak of His Messianic claim of deity with the Pharisees (Matthew 22:43-45).
The culture to which Peter spoke would have known this Psalm and recognized it as a Psalm of David speaking of the coming Messiah. The verse in Acts uses the word Lord, kurios, which can refer to a human lord or the Lord God. However, in Psalm 110:1 we fine two Hebrew words used for Lord, Jehovah and Adonai. It would read this way, “The Jehovah said to my Adonai.” Jehovah is the proper name for God and Adonai is the word for lord or master, often referring to the Lord God.
Peter’s Jewish audience would have clearly understood “my Lord,” the Hebrew Adonai, as referring to the Messiah. David lived in a culture that honored ancestors and yet, in this Psalm, he the ancestor, calls his descendant Lord. The only way the ancestor would speak this way of the descendant would be if the descendant were more than human. David’s words imply that the Messiah is not of natural descent but of divine origin. This is exactly how Jesus used this Psalm in His argument with the Pharisees.
“If David then call him Lord, how is he his son?” (Matthew 22:45, AV)
Peter joins the same thought in presenting Jesus, God the Son, as exalted to the position of power and authority at the right hand of the Father. Jesus is “both Lord and Christ (Messiah).”
Why is the deity of Christ so critical to the presentation of the gospel? It is because no mortal man could ever do what Jesus has done. Only Jesus, the incarnate God, could live a sinless life. Thus, only Jesus, the incarnate God, fully God and fully man, could pay the penalty of another’s sin. Only Jesus, the incarnate God, could defeat death and be seated in the position of authority and power in heaven.
Probably few church people today would understand the implications of Psalm 110:1, but they still need to understand that apart from Christ being God incarnate, we would have no hope. For a mere man could only pay the penalty of his own sin. A mere man could never pay the penalty of another’s sin. Christ alone, the incarnate God, lived a sinless life and made perfect atonement for the sin of others. Consider some of these verses regarding the deity of Jesus in your evangelistic effort (John 1:1, 14; John 20:28; Titus 2:13; 2 Peter 1:1).