Calvary Road Baptist Church

“THOU ART MY SON” Part 2

Psalm 2.7

 

As Christmas rapidly comes upon us, unless we are among those who have been completely secularized by our culture, we find ourselves contemplating one of the most significant events of history, the birth of the Son of God. Do they celebrate the birth of Buddha in Buddhist countries? Do they celebrate the birth of Mohammed in Muslim countries? There is only one person whose birth is celebrated in the fashion that we celebrate the birth of Christ, and that is the Lord Jesus Christ, Himself. Thus, He is unique in human history in that respect. However, the Lord Jesus Christ is unique in human history for many other reasons than the celebration of His birth in Bethlehem 2,000 years ago. He is also unique in human history with respect to who He is and what He has done.

It is this matter of who He is that concerns me this morning, in light of the troubling issue that I brought to your attention last week concerning the eternal sonship of Jesus Christ. If you recall, and to bring you up to speed if you were not here last week, an issue that was dealt with early on in Christian history was whether or not Jesus Christ is the eternal Son of God or if He became the Son of God somewhere along the line.

It was properly a matter of great concern to the early church, being an issue that was dealt with by the Council of Nicaea and which was spoke to by the historic Nicene Creed. By an absolutely overwhelming majority, the scholars gathered in Nicaea to study and discuss the matter of Christ’s nature and relationship to God the Father agreed that the Second Person of the godhead was eternally God’s Son, that He had never become the Son of God, but had always been the Son of God, and that His sonship was not a matter of His office but was a matter of His nature.[1]

All those matters may have been discussed a long time ago, but they still have relevance to us today. I say that for two reasons: First, because there are religious cults in existence today who challenge the authenticity of historic Christianity precisely because they disagree with what the Council of Nicaea said was taught in the Bible. The Jehovah’s Witnesses are such a cult. Second, because there are some within our own ranks, well-known men of good reputation in 21st century American Christianity, who call into question the identity of the One whose birth we will celebrate in fifteen days.

Last week’s message focused on two things, the doctrine of the eternal sonship of Jesus Christ as it was understood in the early church, specifically, the Council of Nicaea, and the doctrine of the eternal sonship of Jesus Christ as it has been understood in our modern era, by extremely well-known pastors and commentators who not only represent mainstream Christian thought, but who reflect what the Bible clearly teaches.

Today’s sermon might seem to diverge a bit from the topic of Christ’s eternal sonship, but I promise you that I am only laying a proper foundation of Biblical truth to enable a better understanding of the issues involved, as well as a better grasp of this doctrine’s importance and relevance in our day.

Turn in your Bible to the second Psalm:

 

1      Why do the heathen rage, and the people imagine a vain thing?

2      The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the LORD, and against his anointed, saying,

3      Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us.

4      He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh: the Lord shall have them in derision.

5      Then shall he speak unto them in his wrath, and vex them in his sore displeasure.

6      Yet have I set my king upon my holy hill of Zion.

7      I will declare the decree: the LORD hath said unto me, Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten thee.

8      Ask of me, and I shall give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession.

9      Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron; thou shalt dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel.

10     Be wise now therefore, O ye kings: be instructed, ye judges of the earth.

11     Serve the LORD with fear, and rejoice with trembling.

12     Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and ye perish from the way, when his wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are all they that put their trust in him.

 

The portion of this Messianic Psalm of particular interest to us today is found in verse 7: “the LORD hath said unto me, Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten thee.” Consider three doctrines that are vitally connected to Christ’s eternal sonship:

 

First, THE DEITY OF GOD’S SON

 

Of course, the word “deity” has to do with God, since the word is derived from the Latin deus.[2] I do not hesitate to claim that I could easily preach Bible sermons on the deity of Jesus Christ each Sunday morning for the rest of my life without exhausting the multitude of scripture passages bearing directly on the topic, but allow me to briefly rehearse the Biblical evidences showing that Jesus Christ is God.

 

First, there are the direct declarations found in the Bible showing that Jesus is God.

·         In Titus 2.13, He is “the great God.”

·         In Isaiah 9.6, He is “the mighty God.”

·         In First John 5.20, He is “the true God.”

·         In John 1.1, we read this about Jesus, there identified as the Word: “The Word was God.”

·         Although my Lord Jesus Christ was a Jew according to the flesh, the Apostle Paul declares this about Him in Romans 9.5: He is the One “who is over all, God blessed for ever.”[3]

 

Next, there are these less direct but still compelling acknowledgments of Christ’s deity.

·         To know Jesus Christ is to know God, according to John 14.8-9.

·         To see Jesus Christ is to see God: “He that hath seen me hath seen the Father,” John 14.9.

·         Christ is the “image of the invisible God,” Colossians 1.15.

·         Hebrews 1.3 refers to “the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person.”

·         In Colossians 2.9, Paul writes, “In him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily.”

·         Jesus, Himself, said, “All men should honour the Son, even as they honour the Father,” John 5.23. We honor the Father as God, and we must honor the Son in the same way. The Son of God is not honored when His deity is denied.

 

Then there are these compelling witnesses to Christ’s deity:

·         Peter referred to Jesus Christ as God, in Second Peter 1.1.[4]

·         The Apostle Paul declared Christ’s deity in several places: Titus 2.13; Philippians 2.6; Romans 9.5.

·         Isaiah identified the Messiah as God, in Isaiah 7.14 and 9.6.

·         Worshiping the risen Lord, Thomas said, “My Lord and my God,” in John 20.28, which resulted in no rebuke from Jesus for this. What Thomas said was true.

 

Because Jesus Christ is God, He is all that God is. The Lord Jesus fully possesses all the attributes of deity.

·         He is holy, Luke 1.35.

·         He is righteous, First John 2.1.

·         He is eternal, Micah 5.2.

·         He is unchangeable, Hebrews 13.8.

·         He is omnipotent (Revelation 1.8; 22.12-13), omnipresent (Matthew 28.20), and omniscient (John 2.24-25; 6.64; 16.30).

·         Every attribute that belongs to the Father belongs to the Son. Jesus claimed that “All things that the Father hath are mine,” John 16.15.

 

Because Jesus Christ is God, He can perform works that only God can do.

·         Only God is the Creator, yet the Bible declares that by the Son all things were created, John 1.3 and Colossians 1.16.

·         Only God can forgive sins, yet Jesus Christ forgave sins, Mark 2.5-7.

·         Only God answers prayer, yet the Lord Jesus said, “If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it,” John 14.14.

·         Only God will sit on the final throne of judgment, yet scriptures identifies Jesus Christ as the final judge of all men, John 5.22 and 27.

“Cultists and liberals commonly deny the full deity of Jesus Christ, while unbelieving hearts refuse to face up to who He really is.”[5]

 

What about the name of Jesus? I am, once again, indebted to the book Zeller and Showers wrote, The Eternal Sonship Of Christ. I read from chapter 1:

 

The term God (the Hebrew Elohim) may be applied to the true God (Genesis 1:1) and also to false gods (Exodus 20:3). However, the sacred name Jehovah (written in capital letters as LORD or GOD in the Old Testament) is applicable to none but deity. It is derived from the verb to be and communicates that Jehovah is the One who was, who is, and who ever shall be (Revelation 1:8). The Lord Himself jealously guards this name and all that it stands for, as seen in the following two passages: Psalm 83:18, “That men may know that thou, whose name alone is JEHOVAH, art the most high over all the earth”; and Isaiah 42:8, “I am the LORD: that is my name: and my glory will I not give to another.” Thus no greater proof of deity could be presented concerning Christ than that He should rightfully be called Jehovah.

Consider the following evidence that the Lord Jesus Christ is rightfully called Jehovah:

1. In Zechariah 12 Jehovah is speaking (see verses 1 and 4). In verse 10 Jehovah says, “They shall look upon me whom they have pierced.” This can refer to no one but Christ (John 19:37 and Revelation 1:7).

2. Jehovah of the Old Testament declares Himself to be the first and the last (Isaiah 44:6). In the New Testament Jesus Christ is said to be the first and the last (Revelation 1:8,11,17-18; 22:13).

3. In Isaiah 6:5 the prophet said, “Mine eyes have seen the King, the LORD [Jehovah] of hosts.” Isaiah saw Jehovah! The apostle John referred to this event in John 12:41 and made it clear that the person whom Isaiah saw was actually Jesus Christ: “These things said Esaias [Isaiah] when he saw his [Christ’s] glory, and spake of him.”

4. In Psalm 23:1 David declared that Jehovah is the great Shepherd of the sheep. The New Testament identifies Jesus Christ as the great Shepherd of the sheep (Hebrews 13:20; John 10:11, 14).

5. The Old Testament repeatedly refers to Jehovah as Israel’s Rock (Deuteronomy 32:3-4,18; Psalm 18:2; 62:1-2). The New Testament clearly identifies this Rock as Christ (1 Corinthians 10:4).

6. Jehovah declares Himself to be the only Savior (Isaiah 43:10-11; 45:21). There is no Savior apart from Him! In the New Testament Peter declared that Jesus is the only Savior (Acts 4:12). In Isaiah 45:22 Jehovah says, “Look unto me, and be ye saved. . . there is none else.” In John 3:14-16 we are told to look unto the crucified One to be saved.

7. In Isaiah 45:23 Jehovah says, “That unto me every knee shall bow, every tongue shall swear.” This passage is applied to Christ in Philippians 2:9-11. He is the One before whom all will someday bow. Every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.[6]

8. In Isaiah 24:23 and Zephaniah 3:15-17 we learn that Jehovah Himself will reign in Jerusalem during the coming kingdom age and He will be in the midst of His people. The New Testament clearly identifies this future, millennial King as Jesus Christ (Revelation 19:11-16; 20:4,6).

9. In Isaiah 40:3 we read that the forerunner was to prepare the way for the coming of Jehovah. The same passage is applied to Christ in Mark 1:1-3. John the Baptist prepared the way for Christ.

10. Isaiah 8:13-14 prophetically states that “the LORD” (Jehovah) will be “for a stone of stumbling and for a rock of offence.” These verses are applied to Jesus Christ in I Peter 2:7-8.

11. In Psalm 34:8 we are invited to taste and see that Jehovah is good. This passage is clearly alluded to in I Peter 2:3. Referring to the goodness and graciousness of Jesus Christ, Peter wrote, “If so be ye have tasted that the Lord is gracious.”

12. The Old Testament promises salvation and deliverance to those who call on the name of Jehovah (Joel 2:32). In the New Testament this passage is used to present a promise of salvation to all those who call on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ (Romans 10:13; Acts 2:21; also see Acts 2:36).

The above evidence shows beyond doubt that the name Jehovah may rightfully be applied to Jesus Christ.[7] Since this term is applicable only to deity and can rightfully be applied to Jesus Christ, we must conclude that the Lord Jesus is Jehovah God. He is the Son of God (Matthew 16:16) and He is God the Son (1 John 5:20; Hebrews 1:8). To Him be glory and honor, both now and forevermore!

 

Next, THE INCARNATION OF GOD’S SON

 

What is meant by the word “incarnation”? A popular dictionary of theological terms has this to say:

 

incarnation. Fundamentally, incarnation is a theological assertion that in Jesus the eternal Word of God appeared in human form (Jn 1). Many theologians picture the incarnation as the voluntary and humble act of the second person of the Trinity, God the Son, in taking upon himself full humanity and living a truly human life. The orthodox doctrine of the incarnation asserts that in taking humanity upon himself, Christ did not experience a loss of his divine nature in any way but continued to be fully God.[8]

 

To state the matter succinctly, incarnation refers to God becoming a man, deity taking upon Himself human flesh. “Impossible,” you say? That is what the cultists and the liberals say, as well. But in Luke 1.37, the angel Gabriel said, “For with God nothing shall be impossible.” And in Luke 18.27, Jesus said, “The things which are impossible with men are possible with God.” So, get out of your mind that it is impossible for God to clothe Himself in human flesh. Listen to what the Bible says.

Though there are many passages which show the Lord Jesus Christ to be God, with the implication necessarily being that God therefore became a man (which is the very definition of incarnation), consider one of several definitive passages that sets forth the incarnation of God’s Son, John chapter 1.

In John 1.1, we read of the eternity of the Word, Who not only was with God, but was, in eternity, God: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”

In the next verse we see that the Word is once again clearly shown to be eternally with God: “The same was in the beginning with God.”

John 1.3 shows this Word to be the One Who created everything: “All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.”

But Who is this Word we are reading of in the opening verses of John’s gospel? Whoever He is, He is the proper object of saving faith, according to John 1.12: “But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name.”

In verse 14, we read that “the Word was made flesh,” that He lived with John and the others, and that there was a time when John and several others actually saw His glory: “And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.”

Thus, John’s undeniable declaration is that the Word, which is God, took upon Himself flesh. But what is this person’s name who is termed “the Word”? Verse 17: “For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.”

Declared in John 1.18 to be God’s Son, this first chapter in John’s gospel clearly sets forth the incarnation of God’s Son, God becoming a man.

 

Finally, THE MEANING OF THE TERM “SON OF GOD”

 

I suspect that one of the reasons some Bible commentators are confused about the eternal sonship of Jesus Christ, one of the reasons why they think Jesus became the Son of God at the time of His incarnation, is their fundamental misunderstanding of what “Son of God” means in the Bible.

Three points to clear up this misunderstanding to the satisfaction of everyone with an open mind:

 

First, understand that a son is separate from his father. We see this clearly in Genesis 2.24, where God’s intent for a father’s son is clearly set forth: “Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.” We understand, therefore, that human sons are separate from their human fathers. But what about the Lord Jesus Christ? Is He a separate person from His heavenly Father? Turn to John 5.19-22 and read with me:

 

19     Then answered Jesus and said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do: for what things soever he doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise.

20     For the Father loveth the Son, and sheweth him all things that himself doeth: and he will shew him greater works than these, that ye may marvel.

21     For as the Father raiseth up the dead, and quickeneth them; even so the Son quickeneth whom he will.

22     For the Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son.

 

Now turn to John 6.38-39:

38     For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me.

39     And this is the Father’s will which hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day.

 

These two passages only make sense if the Son of God is somehow separate from His heavenly Father. But Matthew 27.46 is the clincher: “And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? that is to say, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” Unless Jesus Christ and the Father are separate the One could not have forsaken the Other when He became sin for us.

 

Next, a son is the heir, not the servant, of his father. I know Galatians 4.1 will immediately come to the minds of some of you, where the Apostle Paul writes, “Now I say, That the heir, as long as he is a child, differeth nothing from a servant, though he be lord of all.” Keep in mind, however, that Paul’s comment applies only to the natural offspring of men because of immaturity. It is not a universal principal that describes the relationship of a son to his father. The contrast between a son’s relationship to his father and a servant’s relationship to his lord can be seen in four ways: In Matthew 21.33-39, the Lord Jesus Christ taught a parable involving a householder who had servants and a son. From the parable, we clearly see that in the mind of the householder a clear distinction existed between his son and his servants, though among the wicked husbandmen who refused to pay the householder his share of the harvest no such distinction was seen, since they killed both the housholder’s servants and the householder’s son to avoid payment. In the parable of the prodigal son, in Luke 15.11-32, the Lord Jesus Christ once again contrasted a father’s son with that same man’s servants. Though the son was willing to be treated as a servant when he repented and returned to his father, the father directed his servants to tend to the needs of his son. Clearly, in that parable the son was shown to not be a servant. In Galatians 4.7, the Apostle Paul contrasted between servants and sons when he wrote, “Wherefore thou art no more a servant, but a son; and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ.” Finally, in Hebrews chapter 1, Christ is presented as being superior to the angels, where He is set forth as Son, and as heir, whereas the angels are clearly identified as servants.

Third, a son has the same nature as his father. I could establish this in many ways, but time limitations restrict me to only two: This is clearly seen in the reaction of the Jews to the words of the Lord Jesus Christ, in John 5.17-18:

 

17     But Jesus answered them, My Father worketh hitherto, and I work.

18     Therefore the Jews sought the more to kill him, because he not only had broken the sabbath, but said also that God was his Father, making himself equal with God.

 

Clearly, to them, identifying God as His Father was tantamount to claiming He had God’s nature. Now turn to Hebrews chapter 1. Two verses to quickly examine, verses 2 and 8:

 

2      Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds;

 

8      But unto the Son he saith, Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: a sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of thy kingdom.

 

Verse 2 shows Jesus to be the creator, and only God is the creator. However, in verse 8, we see God addressing His Son as . . . God. Thus, the Son of God has the same nature as His Father, being creator and being addressed as God by God.

 

I have dealt with a wide variety of topics in a single sermon this morning. Each of my three main points could very easily have been not only a sermon in themselves, but a series of sermons. However, my thrust over these few weeks is confined to the eternal sonship of Jesus Christ, which requires that I spend today laying a doctrinal foundation to build upon rather than stretching this out over too many weeks.

For my first point I established that Jesus Christ is God. Why is that important? Two reasons: First, because He is God. Second, because God, being perfect, does not change His nature. Malachi 3.6: “I am the LORD, I change not.”

For my second point I established that Jesus Christ is God incarnate. That is, the incarnation has to do with God becoming a man. Jesus took upon Himself human nature (of course, without sin), all the while not affecting His divine nature in any way. Thus, the Second Person of the Trinity became the God-Man at the incarnation, He did not alter His divine nature in any way or lose anything when He became a man.

Finally, I showed that the term “Son of God” does not mean Jesus is in any way inferior to God the Father. He is separate from His Father, He is His Father’s heir, and He has His Father’s nature. Thus, being the Son of God has to do with His nature, and since His divine nature has never changed He must have always been the Son of God.

Is this important? This is important. As Paul wrote, “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,” Second Timothy 1.12.



[1] William Cunningham, Historical Theology, Vol 1, (Carlisle, Pennsylvania: Banner of Truth Trust, 1994), pages 293-305.

[2] Webster’s New Universal Unabridged Dictionary, (New York: Barnes & Noble Books, 1996), page 479.

[3] Unbelieving scholarship often employs an ingenious repunctuation scheme in an effort to rob Romans 9:5 of its clear testimony to the deity of Christ. This has been answered in an article entitled “A Suggested Method for Evaluating Bible Translations—An Examination of Romans 9:5” by George Zeller, which appeared in The Voice, a publication of the Independent Fundamental Churches of America (July/August 1979): 3,5-6.

[4] The Greek construction of 2 Peter 1:1 (the Granville Sharp rule) demands that we understand the term God to be referring not to God the Father but to “our Savior Jesus Christ.” This same construction is found in Titus 2:13, where “the great God” is none other than Jesus Christ.

[5] George W. Zeller and Renald E. Showers, The Eternal Sonship Of Christ, (Neptune, New Jersey: Loizeaux Brothers, 1993), page 18.

[6] The word Lord in Philippians 2:11 is the Greek word kurios, which is consistently used in the Septuagint (ancient Greek version of the Old Testament) in translating the Hebrew word Jehovah.

[7] Jehovah’s Witnesses deny the deity of Christ and teach that Jesus is a mighty angelic creature who was created by Jehovah God. They strongly maintain that the divine name Jehovah is never used of Christ.

[8] Stanley J. Grenz, David Guretzki & Cherith Fee Nordling, Pocket Dictionary of Theological Terms, (Downers Grove, Illinois: InterVarsity Press, 1999), page 65.

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pastor@calvaryroadbaptist.org