What do Christians believe? Lesson IV: Christ the God-Man

Photo by Magda Ehlers from Pexels.

At the invitation of my pastor, I have begun a ten-week Bible study at my church on the Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed. The title of the series is “The Nicene Creed: What do Christians Believe?” My intention is to present meditations and commentary on the Creed, line by line, illustrating how it is a succinct and comprehensive summary of the basic message of the teaching of Jesus Christ and His apostles. My goal is to provide a detailed but accessible introduction into the basic ideas of Christian faith by way of the Creed.

The fourth lesson is titled “Christ the God-Man.” In it, I address the very most important and central theological question there is, which motivated the very formulation of the Creed in the first place: the relation between Jesus Christ the Son and God the Father.

It is available in audio format on the Christ is for everyone! podcast, which can be found online and on Spotify and Apple podcasts. Here is the video of the lecture:

How do we know that God exists?

The Bible teaches that God exists, and this is the one of the central commitments of the teaching of Jesus Christ. But many people these days do not believe in God, or at the very last they find it hard to believe. Why does Christianity teach that God is real? How do we know this?

Many people have confused ideas about God. They think that God is some particular thing “out there” in the universe somewhere. There is a story about the Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin, the first person to go to outer space. Some people allege that when he went out into space, he commented: “I don’t see any God up here.” It’s not obvious whether the story is true or not, but in any case it is a rather silly comment to make. Christians do not believe that God is some celestial being hiding out somewhere in outer space! Indeed, they do not think that God is merely one more thing among all the things that exist and that can be encountered in experience. The Christian idea of God is very different.

There are two ways we can come to know the existence of God. They have different starting points, but they end up in the same place. In a word, God is that from which everything else gets its existence and life. God is the source of everything. As we say when we recite the Nicene Creed, God the Father almighty is the maker of heaven and earth and of all things visible and invisible. But how do we know that there is a God? It is actually not hard at all to show this.

It is important to start with a distinction. All the things we encounter in our experiences have various qualities that they define them. For example, I have two noteworthy qualities: first, I possess the capacity to learn language; second, I possess actual knowledge of the English language. These are two qualities that I have. At the same, I do not possess these qualities in exactly the same way. My capacity for learning language is a property that I possess in a normal and natural way simply in virtue of being a human being. That’s what it means to be a human, assuming that nothing else is wrong with me: I am capable of learning language. It may be easier or harder for me than for other people, but any normal human being possesses the capacity to learn language. At the same time, I do not possess knowledge of the English language in this same way. I wasn’t born with it, after all! There was a time when I didn’t know English, namely when I was a baby. Furthermore, there are plenty of other human beings who do not know English. This means that being a human is not sufficient for possessing knowledge of English. If any one is going to possess knowledge of the English language, they will have to receive it somehow from outside of themselves, namely from someone who already knows the language.

Thus, we can make a distinction between two ways things possess their qualities. A thing possesses a quality in an original way if it has that quality just in virtue of what kind of a thing it is, and it possesses a quality in a derivative way if it has it in virtue of something else outside of it. I possess the capacity to learn language in an original way, since I have this quality in virtue of being what I am, namely a human being. But I possess knowledge of the English language in a derivative way, since I have this quality in virtue of things outside of me, such as my parents and my teachers at school.

Now, it is obvious that nothing can possess a quality in a derivative way unless something else possesses that quality (or some related quality) in an original way. For example, I could never learn English if no one else on Earth knew English! There must be someone who already knows the language and can teach me it if I am to know it myself in a derivative way. Consider also the following example. The moon at night is illuminated. But the moon is not originally luminous! It does not produce light on its own. Rather, it receives its light from the sun, which is originally luminous. And if there were nothing originally luminous, if there were nothing luminous simply in virtue of what it is, then the moon itself could never be luminous in its own derivative way.

In this way, we can see why God must exist. What is God? God is that which exists in an original way, simply in virtue of what He is. It is obvious that nothing we find in the world exists in an original way. None of us have always existed, for example, but rather we began to exist at a certain point in time. The planet Earth, too, did not always exist, but rather began to exist at some point in time. Furthermore, for any of the things we encounter in the world, we could easily imagine that it does not exist. There is no contradiction in saying that I might not exist, or that cats do not exist, or that there be no solar system, no stars, no planets, and so on. All these things exist in a derivative way. They exist, but they do not exist simply in virtue of what they are. But, as I said earlier, nothing can possess a quality in a derivative way unless there is something that exists in an original way. This means that there must be something which exists originally, simply in virtue of what it is and not in virtue of anything else. This is what Christians refer to when they speak about “God” — that which exists originally, that in virtue of which everything else exists, the source of all existence.

Some people might think, “Maybe there is no God. Maybe the whole history of the universe is just one thing causing another thing to exist and then going out of existence itself. Maybe there is no original existing thing, just an infinite chain of derivatively existing things.” But this scenario is in fact impossible. There could be as many moons as you like. Without a sun, they will never be luminous. Consider also the following example. Suppose you are cooking beans in a pot while camping. The beans are not originally hot; they did not come out of the ground hot. They have to be made hot by something else. What makes them to be hot? Obviously the pot. But the pot is not originally, either! The pot wasn’t hot when you bought it at the store! This means that there must be something else making the pot to be hot, so that it can heat up the beans. But clearly this problem will not be solved by merely adding more pots! Even if you had an infinity of pots, each one within a bigger one, you would never be able to heat up the beans. What you need is something that is hot in an original and not derivative way. What you need is not more pots, but rather fire. And if there were no fire, if there were nothing originally hot, then the pot and the beans could not be made hot in a derivative way. So also, we cannot say that all the things that exist derivatively are merely caused by other derivatively existing things. There must be an original existing thing, something that exists simply in virtue of what it is — and that is what we mean when we talk about God.

Considered in this way, God is like the “foundation” of reality. Consider the analogy of a building. Can you have a second floor of a building without a foundation? Clearly not! It is impossible to build a second floor unless you have a foundation on which to place a first floor. In the same way, God is the foundation of reality. Everything else that exists — you, me, cats, dogs, horses, the planet Earth, and everything within the universe — can only exist in a derivative way on the foundation that is God.

This is one way to understand how it is that God exists. This way started from “outside” ourselves. We noticed a distinction between the ways things outside us can possess their various qualities, and we quickly saw that there must be something which exists in an original way. But it is also possible to discover the existence of God by looking “within” us.

You are alive right now. What does it mean to be alive? It means to experience yourself. You feel yourself to be alive in various ways: you feel happy or sad, you are aware that you are thinking of this or that, you notice that you see or taste or smell things, and so on. You are constantly experiencing yourself, and that is what it means to be alive. But did you do anything to be alive? Is the fact that you are alive right now a result of anything you’ve chosen to do? Obviously not! You simply are alive, even though your being alive is not a result of anything you’ve done. On the other hand, neither is there anything you can do to ensure that you stay alive for even one more second! After all, you have to first be alive in order to do anything! So you are alive, and this life that you possess is the condition of everything you experience or do, but your being alive is not your own accomplishment, nor can you do anything to secure even a moment’s more life for yourself. You are alive, but you are not alive in an original way. This Life that you feel within yourself, over which you have no control, which makes you to be alive even apart from your wanting it — that Life is God! God is that Life you feel on which you depend every moment of your life.

The Bible calls God “the living God” (Ps. 42:2). It says that “in Him we live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:28). This Life on which we all depend at every moment, which makes us to be alive, is God. This means that God is not far from us at all. He is as close to us as can be! We are constantly experiencing God as that Life which makes us to be alive and makes it possible to enjoy the good things of this world. This God also creates the entire world and sustains in it existence. We are surrounded by God on all sides, both outside us and within us! He is all around us!

Christianity is about friendship

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People have all kinds of ideas as to what Christianity is about. Some have better developed ideas than others. Sometimes people do not have a very nuanced understanding of Christianity at all. Some people think that Christianity is a religion. Others say that it is a relationship. Some think it is about serving God. Others think it is about being servile and weak. Some think it is about the person of Jesus. Others think it is about being a good person.

Christianity is the teaching of Jesus Christ. Because Jesus teaches about a lot of different things, perhaps there is no one single thing that Christianity is about. But there are certain themes and ideas which are more prominent than others. Thinking about Christianity from the point of view one idea in particular can, I think, prove helpful for Christians and non-Christians to understand better what the teachings of Jesus mean to suggest to us.

Many times, you will hear Christians talk about “fellowship” or “communion.” For example, we might speak about the “fellowship” or “communion of the Holy Spirit” (2 Cor. 13:13). Most Christians may have some idea of what these terms mean, but they are not very commonly used in ordinary language. Some non-Christians might have a hard time grasping exactly what these religious, “Christianese” words mean. I think the same idea can be communicated in a more easily understood way by the word friendship. My suggestion here is that Christianity is about friendship.

But what does that mean? In what sense is Christianity about friendship? Aren’t there plenty of people who love friendship and who are not Christians? On the other hand, aren’t Christians always fighting with each other about apparently unimportant things? Isn’t friendship just an ordinary human phenomenon? What is so Christian about it?

Christianity is about friendship in the following ways. In the first place, God created human beings in order that they live in friendship with Him. Thus, we see in Genesis the following image: God did not keep a far distance from Adam and Eve but rather walked about in the garden of Eden with them and was concerned for what they were doing and how they were faring (Gen. 3:8). It is also said that God spoke with Moses “face to face, as one speaks to a friend” (Exod. 33:11). So also, God calls Abraham “my friend” through the prophet Isaiah (Isa. 41:8; cf. Jas 2:23). And of course there is an entire psalm that is dedicated to the goodness and beauty of friendship (Ps. 133). The New Revised Standard Version of the Bible picks up on this theme, translating many more neutral words such as “man” or “beloved” by “friend.” Thus, Jesus tells the paralytic man who sought healing from Him: “Friend, your sins are forgiven you” (Luke 5:20). He also teaches His disciples: “You are my friends if you do what I command you” (John 15:14). The disciples themselves, after the ascension of the Lord into heaven, refer to each other as brothers and beloved — in other words, as friends (Acts 6:3). They even refer to strangers whom they are evangelizing as friends (Acts 14:15).

Paul also says in His letter to the Ephesians that “the mystery of God’s will,” which was hidden in previous times but revealed in Christ, is precisely “to gather up all things in [Christ], things in heaven and things on earth” (Eph. 1:9-10). And he says that Christ brings reconciliation of all things (Col. 1:20). Thus, it is open to us to understand that the goal of God is to establish a universal friendship which includes all people, indeed all spheres of reality. Traditional theologians might speak about this in terms of “communion” or “fellowship,” but the word “friendship” is also perfectly appropriate. What God wishes to accomplish is the friendship: not just among people, but among the entire created order. If we can speak philosophically for a moment, God wishes to accomplish a friendship that encompasses all of being. This is why Jesus teaches His followers to forgive those who sin against them and to seek reconciliation with others (Matt. 5:25-26, 43-48, 6:14-15). This is also why the Epistle to the Hebrews calls its audience to “pursue peace with everyone” (Heb. 12:14). Christians are to forgive and to seek reconciliation because the goal of God for the entire cosmos is a universal friendship and living in peace.

Friendship is also a useful lens for understanding various Christian practices. For example, why do Christians gather together every Sunday, if not more often? The Bible reminds us to be aware, “not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another” (Heb. 10:25). The Bible encourages the gathering of believers. In this sense, going to church on Sundays is also an expression of Christian friendship. What kind of friends are those who never meet together, even though they have the opportunity? Spending time together with each other is an essential part of all friendships. In the same way, Christians gather together every Sunday (and perhaps other days as well) because we are learning how to be friends with one another and with God and His Son Jesus Christ, just as the apostles were (cf. 1 John 1:3).

Friendship can also help us understand the Christian practice of commemorating the Lord’s Supper (also called the Eucharist). The Bible teaches that when Christians gather together, they are to share in a meal of bread and wine. In doing this, they are remembering the death of Christ on their behalf, as well as looking forward to His return (1 Cor. 11:26). Why do they do this? Because it is through the death of Christ that the prospect of friendship with God was made possible — or, as Paul says, God reconciled us to Himself through Christ (2 Cor. 5:18). The Lord’s Supper is an act whereby Christians turn to the death of Christ as that which made their friendship with God and with each other to be possible. This same act also strengthens their friendship with one another. God sends Christ into the world in order to destroy all separating walls and to establish a friendship among all human beings on the basis of Christ’s love for them (cf. Eph. 2:13-14).

Christianity is therefore a religion of friendship. It is about friendship with God and friendship among all human beings. It calls us to live in friendship with one another and with our Creator. And if we think about things in these terms, I think Christianity will seem much more attractive. Too many think that Christianity is about the threat of hell. They think and speak as if the only reason to be a Christian is to avoid suffering punishment for sins. But Christ offers something much more positive than that. His teachings are not about avoiding Hell or escaping from the flames. They are about something that all of us recognize as good and desirable in itself. Who doesn’t enjoy friendship? Is there anything more wonderful than having friends? And this is exactly what Christ offers us, indeed it is what He offers all people: friendship with Him, with God His Father, and with each other.

Welcome to “Christ is for everyone”!

Welcome to Christ is for everyone! My name is Dr. Steven Nemes and I have created this website in order to share the life-bringing teachings of Jesus Christ with everyone who will listen, whether Christian or not, religious or skeptic, atheist or unsure. You can read more about me here. You can contact me here. Let me briefly introduce what I am trying to do with this website.

Christ is for everyone! is about celebrating the goodness of life in the love of Christ. The teachings of Jesus Christ help us to understand ourselves, the world, and God so that we can see life as the most wonderful gift of all.


Jesus said that He came into the world so that His people might have “life in abundance” (John 10:10). He brings a joy that no one can take away (John 16:22) and a peace that the world cannot offer (John 14:27). He says that we are made free by knowing the truth (John 8:32). And yet so many people are without life, joy, peace, and freedom — even Christians who believe in Christ! Something has clearly gone wrong here. This raises the all-important question: How can we have this life, joy, peace, and freedom that Christ brings?

My conviction is this: If we are going to receive abundant life, permanent joy, incomparable peace, and liberating knowledge from Jesus, we have to change our ways of thinking about things. And this is in fact what Jesus Himself says. When He began His ministry, after being baptized by John in the Jordan River, He went around preaching the following message: “The times are fulfilled and the Kingdom of God has come near; repent, and believe in the Good News!” (Mark 1:15) When Christ says “repent,” He does not merely mean that we have to set aside our sins and bad habits. He means that, but not only that. What He means in the fullest sense is this: Change your way of thinking! This is the sense of the Greek term (metanoeite) that Mark the Evangelist used in translating Christ’s preaching.

Thus, what Christ says is quite profound. If we are going to believe the Good News that He comes to bring, — if we are going to receive the life, joy, peace, and freedom that only this Good News can bring us, — then we are going to have to learn how to think differently about things. Indeed, I think we have to learn to think differently about everything: about ourselves, about the world, about God, and about Christ. Or, as the Apostle Paul wrote, we have to be “transformed by the renewing of our minds” (Rom. 12:2).


I have four goals with this webpage:

  • The exegetical goal: to teach people how to interpret the Bible in such a way that they can understand the Good News it brings.
  • The apologetic goal: to defend the teaching of Christ from the objections its critics bring against it.
  • The philosophical goal: to provide positive arguments and reasons for believing the teachings of Christ.
  • The spiritual goal: to cultivate a genuinely abundant, joyful, and peaceful Christian life in the world.

Everything I post will fit into at least one of these four categories. Maybe you want some help understanding what the Bible teaches and how it can be Good News. Or maybe you have encountered some arguments and criticisms against Christianity, and you want to know how to respond to them. Or maybe you are more interested in seeing whether a positive case can be made for what Christianity teaches. Or maybe you just want to cultivate a Christian life and find spiritual nourishment somewhere. Whatever your purpose may be, my goal is to provide you with what you are looking for.

Some of the posts will be for more advanced audiences, for people who are well-read in theology and philosophy. Others will be accessible to everyone, even those without a lot of specific education. In this way, I want to provide resources so that everyone can find abundant life, permanent joy, incomparable peace, and liberating knowledge in the teachings of Jesus Christ.

The most important goal of this project is the fourth one. By writing and sharing my thoughts and reflections with other people, I don’t mean to give the impression that I exist in a state of perfect life, joy, peace, and freedom. Far from it! By my writing and thinking, I am trying to achieve these things for myself and for others at the same time. In that sense, you can consider this website and its ministry as an invitation to accompany me on a journey into the teachings of Christ.

Most of the posts found on this website will also be available for listening on the Christ is for everyone! podcast.


What is the meaning of the name, “Christ is for everyone”? In fact, there are two meanings. First, what I mean to communicate is that Christ and His teachings are positive and life-bringing. Just as a good husband is “for” and not against his wife, just as good parents are “for” and not against their children, so also Christ is “for” everyone! He loves all people and wishes to bring them life, joy, and peace. Second, what I mean to communicate is that the message and Good News of Jesus Christ is relevant and accessible for absolutely everybody. No one is excluded, no one is left out, no one is disregarded by the loving teachings of Christ. And these two meanings are clearly related: the reason why no one is excluded is that Christ loves all people and wants life, joy, and peace for them all.


Because my goal with Christ is for everyone! is precisely to serve others, I have also added a “contact” form so that you can get in touch with me by email. Feel free to send me an email if:

  • you have a question you would like me to address on the blog;
  • you would like recommendations about resources for further study;
  • you have any other inquiry whatsoever!

If you find anything of value in what I write, please do share it with others! I am greatly looking forward to pursuing this work. May our Lord Jesus Christ grant all of us His abundant life, permanent joy, incomparable peace, and liberating knowledge in this life and the next.