Calvary Road Baptist Church

“THOU ART MY SON” Part 3

Psalm 2.7

 

Turn in your Bible to the second Psalm. When you find that portion of God’s Word, stand, and read along silently while I read aloud:

 

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.

 

Notice that in verse 7, the LORD (Jehovah) is said by the speaker in the verse to have said to Him, “Thou art my Son.” Thus, the God of Israel has a Son! And whom was the LORD speaking to here? His Son!

That is a truth Islam vehemently denies. That is a truth Unitarianism, and all others who reject the doctrine of the Trinity, deny. Of course, that is also a truth modernists, with their complete denial of all things supernatural, deny.

However, I believe the Bible. I accept that “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness,” Second Timothy 3.16.

Furthermore, I agree with David, the sweet psalmist of Israel, when he declared to God, “for thou hast magnified thy word above all thy name,” Psalm 138.2.

Therefore, I hope you will excuse me for having little regard for the opinions of heretics on this matter, and for passing right on by the comments and positions of muslims and modernists. I will turn to God’s holy and infallible Word to discover the doctrine of God’s Son. Please close your Bible and listen carefully.

It is when we turn to God’s Word that we see that the assertion that God has a Son is insufficient. You see, orthodox Christianity has always held that God’s Son has always been His Son, that there has never been a time when God’s Son was not His Son, and that the Sonship of Jesus Christ is, therefore, eternal.

Four points this morning: The doctrine of Christ’s eternal Sonship asserted, the doctrine denied, the doctrine defended, and the doctrine’s importance.

 

First, THE DOCTRINE OF CHRIST’S ETERNAL SONSHIP ASSERTED

 

Three questions can be asked and answered in asserting Christ’s eternal Sonship:

 

First, has a father and son relationship always existed between the First and Second persons of the triune godhead?

Work backwards with me. I begin with Romans 1.4, where Jesus was “. . . declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead.” Thus, Jesus, clearly, did not become the Son of God at the time of His resurrection. Rather, He was already the Son of God at His resurrection, and that glorious event powerfully declared His Sonship. Now consider Matthew 3.17, which reads, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” The Father said this when John the Baptist baptized Jesus, showing that at that time Jesus was clearly revealed to be God’s Son. I go back in time to Luke 1.35: “And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.” Thus, at the time of His birth the Lord Jesus Christ was revealed by the angel Gabriel to Mary to be the Son of God. Back again, this time 1,000 years back, to Proverbs 30.4, where a question is asked that should be of interest to us. The last two phrases of the verse read, “. . . and what is his son’s name, if thou canst tell?” The writer of Proverbs was asking the name of the Creator’s son.

So, Jesus was seen to be God’s Son at His resurrection, at His baptism, at His birth, and before His birth. However, it is in Colossians 1.13-16 that we see that God’s Son is actually the Creator!

 

13     Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son:

14     In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins:

15     Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature:

16     For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him

 

The “him” in verse 16, who created all things, is “his dear Son” in verse 13. Therefore, in eternity past, at the time of creation, Jesus Christ was God’s Son! Moreover, this perfectly agrees with Hebrews 1.2, where the writer to the Hebrews declares that God’s Son is the one “by whom . . . he made the worlds.”

Therefore, the answer is “Yes.” The father and son relationship has always existed between the First and Second person of the godhead. The Son of God has always been God’s Son.

Question #2: Is Sonship a title or role that Jesus fulfills, or is He eternally, essentially, God’s Son? We have actually answered this question already, using the verses I have just referred to, since we have established that Jesus is the eternal Son of God. Thus, the Sonship of Christ is not a position or function that Jesus took on as an expedient step to accomplish our redemption or to glorify God in some way. Since He has been God’s Son from eternity, the Son of God is what the second person is rather than merely what He does. He is in essence the eternal Son of the living God.

Question #3: For how long has Jesus been God’s Son? From John 17, where the Lord Jesus Christ’s high priestly intercessory prayer to the Father was delivered the night before His crucifixion, I read verses 5 and 24:

 

5      And now, O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self with the glory which I had with thee before the world was.

 

24     Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory, which thou hast given me: for thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world.

 

The way in which the Lord Jesus Christ addresses God, as His Father, clearly shows that “before the world was,” verse 5, and “before the foundation of the world,” verse 24, God was His Father.

How long has Jesus been God’s Son? Forever. From eternity past. Before creation. Thus, we see that the doctrine of the eternal Sonship of Jesus Christ is clearly asserted in scripture.

 

BUT THE DOCTRINE OF CHRIST’S ETERNAL SONSHIP IS DENIED BY SOME

 

Though there are variations of this serious error, it boils down to the belief that Jesus Christ became the Son of God, rather than always being the Son of God. Whether before His birth, at the time of His birth, or at the time of His resurrection, the errorists insist that Jesus somehow became the Son of God.

In our day, there are four notable sources that espouse the view that Jesus Christ is not the eternal Son of the living God, but that He at some point became the Son of God:

First, there is televangelist Jimmy Swaggart. According to Dr. Robert Sumner, writing in his periodical The Biblical Evangelist, November 1, 1987 issue, Swaggart “teaches that the doctrine of eternal Sonship is erroneous and contrary to Scripture. He says that God’s Son did have a beginning when Mary gave birth to Jesus. Also see the August 1980 issue of Swaggart’s magazine The Evangelist for further documentation.”[1]

Next, there is the late Walter Martin, famous for his writings on cults. Zeller and Showers, their book The Eternal Sonship Of Christ, quote Martin:

 

The Scripture nowhere calls Jesus Christ the eternal Son of God, and He is never called Son at all prior to the incarnation, except in prophetic passages in the Old Testament. The term “Son” itself is a functional term, as is the term “Father” and has no meaning apart from time. . . . Many heresies have seized upon the confusion created by the illogical “eternal Sonship” or “eternal generation” theory of Roman Catholic theology, unfortunately carried over to some aspects of Protestant theology. Finally; there cannot be any such thing as eternal Sonship. . . . the word “Son” definitely suggests inferiority.[2]

 

Third, there is Dake’s Annotated Reference Bible. I read the comment under Acts 13.33:

 

As God, the person we now know of as Jesus Christ had no beginning, was not begotten, was not a Son, and did not come into being. . . . but as man and as God’s Son He was not eternal, He did have a beginning, He was begotten, this being the same time Mary had a Son. Therefore, the doctrine of eternal sonship of Jesus Christ is irreconcilable to reason, is unscriptural, and is contradictory to itself.[3]

 

Fourth, and most importantly, there is the well known Bible teacher, John MacArthur. Jimmy Swaggart is an out and out Pentecostal. Walter Martin was a Charismatic collaborator while he was alive. The Dake’s Annotated Reference Bible has a distinctively Pentecostal perspective, being an astonishingly heretical study Bible produced by Finis Jennings Dake (1902-87) and used by the likes of Benny Hinn and Kenneth Copeland.[4] Why, then, does John MacArthur abandon the mainstream of historical Christian orthodoxy to align himself with such as these on this important doctrine? I must admit that I am baffled.

Listen to what MacArthur wrote in a commentary on Paul’s letter to the Romans:

 

Over the years, theologians have debated about whether Christ is the Son of God in eternity. Christ is and always has been the second member of the Trinity but only became a Son in His incarnation. When you think of the word son you probably think of the submission, obedience, and honor shown to one’s father. That is the sense in which Jesus is the Son. Nowhere in Scripture does it say that Jesus has eternally been the Son. . . . From eternity He has been the second Person of the Trinity. He assumed the role of a Son in His incarnation.[5]

 

I take issue with MacArthur when he says “Over the years, theologians have debated about whether Christ is the Son of God in eternity.” That misleading remark leaves those unfamiliar with this issue thinking this is a hotly debated topic with scholars who are equally divided and with no really clear position established in scripture, which simply is not true.

Have theologians appeared on the scene from time to time who have departed from the long-established position staked out by the Nicene Council’s correct understanding of the doctrine taught in the Bible? Yes. But to leave people with the idea that orthodoxy is not almost unanimous concerning this issue of the eternal Sonship of Jesus Christ is not honest.

 

Third, THE DOCTRINE OF THE ETERNAL SONSHIP OF JESUS CHRIST IS DEFENSIBLE AND NEEDS TO BE DEFENDED

 

Listen to these statements, each of which is a starting point for your own study of God’s Word on this important matter:

First, by the Son all things were created. Colossians 1.13-20:

 

13     Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son:

14     In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins:

15     Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature:

16     For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him:

17     And he is before all things, and by him all things consist.

18     And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence.

19     For it pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell;

20     And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven.

 

One comment from W. J. Hocking on this passage should suffice. Listen carefully:

 

We note that all the 15 pronouns in verses 15 to 20 inclusive are in apposition with the noun, Son (v. 13). Each dependent sentence, therefore, declares some fresh glory of the Son, to Whom they all relate, and in Whom they all combine with a transcendent harmony.[6]

 

Hocking’s keen observations show that Paul attributes to the Son creation of all things (verse 16), not some unnamed second person of the trinity who later became the Son.

Next, the Son of God is the only begotten of the Father. John 1.14 and 18:

 

14     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.

 

18     No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him.

 

Was there a time when the Father had no bosom? That must be true if the Son is not the Father’s eternal Son, since the construction of verse 18 in Greek demands that the Son always be in the bosom of the Father.[7]

Third, God the Father gave His Son. The most famous verse in the Bible is John 3.16: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” Thus, Christ was God’s Son before He was given. W. E. Vine, who authored the Vine’s Expository Dictionary Of New Testament Words wrote, “The value and greatness of the gift lay in the Sonship of Him who was given. His Sonship was not the effect of His being given.”[8]

Fourth, Christ had a relationship with the Father prior to the incarnation. In John 16.28, Jesus declared, “I came forth from the Father.” Notice that Jesus did not say that He came forth from the One Who became His Father. First John 1.1-2 is one of the most powerful passages in the Bible that attests to the eternal Sonship of Jesus Christ:

1      That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word of life;

2      (For the life was manifested, and we have seen it, and bear witness, and shew unto you that eternal life, which was with the Father, and was manifested unto us;)

 

The Word is declared to be “from the beginning,” in verse 1. That speaks to the issue of eternity. However, in verse 2, the Word is shown to have been “with the Father” in eternity past. But there is no eternal Father without an eternal Son.

There are other avenues of study that will yield a wealth of supporting evidence. The Son of God became the Son of David. The Sonship of Christ had no beginning, but it did have a manifestation. Melchizedek was a type of the eternal Son of God. And the parable of the vineyard owner in Mark 12.1-12 portrays the Lord Jesus Christ as the eternal Son of God. If only there was more time.

 

Finally, THE IMPORTANCE OF THE DOCTRINE OF CHRIST’S ETERNAL SONSHIP

 

In February 1553, a friend of the great Reformer of Geneva, John Calvin, denounced a man named Michael Servetus as a heretic. In April of that same year, Servetus was arrested by Roman Catholic authorities, and imprisoned in France. He escaped from prison but was convicted of heresy two months later by the French inquisition. Intending to flee to Italy, Servetus stopped in at Geneva, where Calvin and his Reformers had previously denounced him. On August 13, he foolishly attended a sermon preached by Calvin in Geneva, where he was immediately recognized and arrested after the service, and was again imprisoned.

At his trial, Servetus was condemned on two counts, for speaking against the Trinity and for speaking against infant baptism. Servetus taught that the Son of God was not eternal, denying that Christ was the “eternal Son of God”, and insisting that Jesus was simply “the Son of the eternal God”.[9]

Therefore, you see, both Roman Catholics and early Reformers were zealous in their efforts to stamp out heresy. They were not above putting anyone to death who strayed from Trinitarian orthodoxy, and they certainly believed that denying the eternal Sonship of Jesus Christ was a deviation from orthodoxy. Therefore, Servetus was executed.

Am I in favor of putting those who deny the eternal Sonship of Jesus Christ to death? God forbid. I am a Baptist, and am therefore absolutely committed to the liberty of any individual to be completely wrong about anything without threat of violence. However, I do believe certain warnings are in order in connection with the eternal Sonship of Jesus Christ:

First, anyone who denies the eternal Sonship of Jesus Christ is denying what the Bible clearly teaches. The eternal Sonship of Jesus Christ is important, since He did ask His disciples, “Whom do men say that I the Son of man am?”[10] Peter’s response, you will remember, was, “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.”[11] “And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven. And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.”[12] My friends, Christ’s church is built upon the doctrinal foundation that Jesus is the Son of the living God. I would add that a right understanding of what it means to be the Son of God must include Christ’s eternal Sonship.

Next, those who deny Christ’s eternal Sonship are guilty of wresting scriptures, which is exactly what Peter warned against in Second Peter 3.16. Such passages as John 1.18, John 3.16-17, John 16.28, John 17.24, Colossians 1.13 and 16, and First John 1.1-2, cannot rightly be understood except in light of the scriptural doctrine of the eternal Sonship of Jesus Christ.

Third, those who deny the eternal Sonship of Jesus Christ deny that our Lord’s Sonship has a direct bearing on His essential nature.

Fourth, by denying His eternal Sonship, errorists insult Jesus by making His Sonship merely a role, a title, an office, some kind of function, or just some name that He assumed at some point.

Fifth, they also deny the basic significance of the expression “Son of God,” thinking its primary significance is that of subservience, and possibly even inferiority. In actuality, “Son of God” denotes equality, showing that Jesus Christ is of the same nature and essence as the Father.

Sixth, consider also that those who deny Christ’s eternal Sonship reject, at the same time, the eternal fatherhood of the First Person. There can be no father where there is no son.

Seventh, those who deny the doctrine of Christ’s eternal Sonship imply that in eternity past there was a nameless Trinity. If the Son was not the Son in eternity past, Who was He? And Who was the Father?

Eighth, those who deny the eternal Sonship of Jesus Christ fail to explain the nature of the relationship that existed in eternity past if the Father was once not the Father and the Son was once not the Son.

I submit that denying the eternal Sonship of Jesus Christ is a very slippery slope, and that it leads to the absurd notion that the persons of the Trinity could have been interchangeable in their respective roles. Thus, maybe Jesus Christ is not the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world. Perhaps the Father might have been instead, or the Holy Spirit.

What is just as horrible in my opinion, those who deny the eternal Sonship of Jesus Christ are paving the way for the teaching that suggests that our Lord Jesus Christ was once less than God. Of course, that is nothing short of Mormon doctrine.

Finally, if it be imagined that Jesus has not always been God’s Son in the past, perhaps it might someday be imagined by some idle speculators that He might not always be God’s Son in the future.

 

Jesus Christ, the eternal Son of the living God. Asserted in the Bible, it is a doctrine that is denied by some, so be warned. It is a doctrine that is easily defended using God’s Word, as well as being a doctrine that needs to be defended. Throughout history, Christ has called upon His people to tenaciously cling to the truth, and for His church to be the pillar and ground of the truth. What better enterprise is there, I ask you, than to stand for the One Who stood for you, to defend the One Who died for you, and to fight any foe, oppose any enemy, resist any attempt to besmirch the reputation and to tarnish the glory of God’s eternally begotten Son?

In eight days, the entire western world will celebrate the birth of someone. They all say they are celebrating the birth of God’s Son, though some of them are celebrating the birth of someone who became God’s Son.

I know whose birthday I will be celebrating, do you? He is God’s only begotten Son, the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world. That is settled. What is not settled is your own relationship with Him. My friend, I urge you to come to Jesus. Come to this Savior Who has always been God’s Son.



[1] See note 6 in George W. Zeller and Renald E. Showers, The Eternal Sonship Of Christ, (Neptune, New Jersey: Loizeaux Brothers, 1993), pages 120-121.

[2]George W. Zeller and Renald E. Showers, The Eternal Sonship Of Christ, (Neptune, NJ: Loizeaux Brothers, 1993), page 32.

[3] Ibid., pages 31-32.

[5] Quoted in Zeller and Showers, page 34.

[6] Quoted by Zeller and Showers, page 37.

[7] Charles Hodge, Systematic Theology Vol 1, (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Eerdmans, 1979 reprint), page 473.

[8] Quoted by Zeller and Showers, page 43.

[10] Matthew 16.13

[11] Matthew 16.16

[12] Matthew 16.17-18

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