Calvary Road Baptist Church

“GOD’S ONLY BEGOTTEN SON”

John 3.16

 

On this first day of 2017, I stand before you strongly tempted to becoming severely agitated by pressing issues I am deeply concerned about. I am a man of passion, and I feel very deeply about matters that seem to me to be important.

I am profoundly troubled that the city of Chicago is among the most dangerous places on earth for young Black men, with approaching 2,000 slain since 2012 by mostly other Black men, their lives cut short by violence for what amount to no good reasons at all. Life is sacred and such loss is heartbreaking.[1]

I am profoundly troubled that the United States abandoned the State of Israel in the United Nations, betraying the stance taken by both Democrat and Republican administrations on behalf of the only democracy in the Middle East for decades by withholding the veto vote that sided with those who call for a Palestinian state and death to all Jews. Who can do that? Who can side with those who strap bombs to their 7 and nine-year-old daughters, kiss them good-bye, and then send them to bomb a police station?[2] Even the editorial board of the left-wing Bloomberg News labeled the move a betrayal of Israel.[3]

I am profoundly troubled that less than three weeks before a new president is sworn in people are now excited about Russian computer hackers. For four years Mitt Romney has been mocked and ridiculed by the president, the vice president, the former secretary of State, the current Secretary of State, and Democrat talking heads Chris Matthews and Rachel Maddow when he warned of Russian attempts to hack our computers.[4] However, now it is to be taken seriously? The fact of the matter is that Russians always try to hack our computers, just as do the Chinese, and just as our government attempts to hack their computers. It is just the world we live in. That it is now an issue is a smokescreen to distract the American public from the fact that the success the Russians had was due to Hillary Clinton using unsecured e-mail servers in her home and pervert Anthony Weiner having thousands of Hillary’s classified emails on his laptop.

Additionally, I am profoundly bothered by what is called a massive distributed denial of service attack, or DDoS, against a web site known as the Drudge Report just as an article that headlined “MOSCOW MOCKS OBAMA ‘LAME DUCK’” was released.[5] Ask yourself, would the Chinese government do that? Would the Russian government do that? Why would they do that? In fact, they would not do that. They would much more likely engage in a distributed denial of service attack against a pro-Obama news article or an anti-Putin news article. Matt Drudge and others are convinced the United States government did that.

Finally, I am profoundly troubled that effective today, “police officers in the state [of California] will be banned from arresting any person under the age of 18 for soliciting or loitering with intent, according to Senate Bill 1322. [Democrat] California Gov. Jerry Brown signed the bill on Sept. 26, and it will go into effect Sunday. . . State Sen. Holly J. Mitchell, D-Los Angeles, who introduced the bill, said, ‘The law is supposed to protect vulnerable children from adult abuse, yet we brand kids enmeshed in sex-for-pay with a scarlet ‘P’ and leave them subject to shame and prosecution. This is our opportunity to do what we say is right in cases of sex trafficking: stop the exploiters and help the exploited.’ But Travis Allen, a Republican lawmaker representing the 72nd Assembly District in the California Legislature, warned of the fallout from what he called a ‘terribly destructive legislation [that] was written and passed by the progressive Democrats who control California’s state government.’ ‘[T]eenage girls (and boys) in California will soon be free to have sex in exchange for money without fear of arrest or prosecution,’ Allen wrote in a column published by the Washington Examiner. ‘The unintended but predictable consequence of how the real villains — pimps and other traffickers in human misery — will respond to this new law isn’t difficult to foresee. Pimping and pandering will still be against the law whether it involves running adult women or young girls. But legalizing child prostitution will only incentivize the increased exploitation of underage girls. Immunity from arrest means law enforcement can’t interfere with minors engaging in prostitution — which translates into bigger and better cash flow for the pimps. Simply put, more time on the street and less time in jail means more money for pimps, and more victims for them to exploit.’ Other experts agreed with Allen’s assessment.”[6]

I am sure the pedophiles in the entertainment industry and San Francisco are quite pleased with these new developments in California state law. Is any more proof needed that the Democrats in California have completely lost their minds? If I wasn’t a child of God, these things could get me down. But then I turn to God’s Word and realize that in the first century during the ministries of the apostles of Jesus Christ, such cities as Rome and Corinth and Ephesus were just like this, with the murder of the unborn and the newly born as well as the exploitation of slaves both young and old. Corruption was rampant, and anti-Semitism was everywhere. Against the backdrop of such spiritual darkness, there is the bright and gleaming jewel of God’s precious grace, both then and now.

Turn in your Bible to John 3.16, where we will focus our attention on one of the core truths that comprises this most famous, and perhaps most important, verse in the Bible. I invite you to stand with me as I read aloud and you read along silently: 

“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.” 

When we read John 3.16, we frequently slide quickly over certain words, forgetting that every word of the Bible is Spirit-inspired and therefore important. However, at this time I want you to set your eyes on the first word in the English translation of the verse, the word “for.” The Greek word is  and is what is called a marker of clarification, used in the Greek language to show that what follows explains what comes before. So John 3.16 clarifies John 3.15: 

“That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life.” 

Why is it that whosoever believes in Jesus Christ will not perish, but will instead have eternal life? Why is faith in Him so particularly important, as opposed to faith in Moses or faith in Buddha or faith in Mohammed? John 3.16 explains why, and part of that explanation is the description of the believer’s Object of faith found in John 3.16. The word “him” in John 3.15 and the word “him” in John 3.16 are pronouns that refer to the words “only begotten Son.”

There are many things in this world that terribly bother me, and that might seriously distract me if it were not for the fact that what I have been called to concern myself with as a Christian is a far more important matter than the myriad of issues that merely bother me. Not that I should ignore the problems that bother me, but I should relegate those matters to a very secondary place in my list of personal priorities, so I can devote myself, as the late Zig Ziglar used to say, to keeping the main thing the main thing. And central to the main thing being kept as the main thing is this Person Who is so important, Who is so central to God’s plan of salvation for sinful men, and Who is so key a feature in God’s demonstration of love for the whole world, that He and only He is the One Who is believed in to secure the salvation of one’s eternal and undying soul. Not Moses. Not the Buddha. Not Mohammed. Rather, the only begotten Son of God.

Who is He? John has been telling us all along as his Gospel account unfolds. As he opens his Gospel account, John introduces us to the Word, who was with God, who was God, who was in the beginning with God, who made everything, in whom was life, who was the true Light, who was in the world that was made by Him, and the world knew Him not, whose own received Him not, but those that did receive Him became the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name, which was born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. In John 1.14 we read, 

“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.” 

This is the first time the Apostle John makes mention of “the only begotten of the Father.” He writes “the only begotten Son” in John 1.18. In John 3.16 we see “only begotten Son.” In John 3.18 we see “only begotten Son.” And then in First John 4.9 the apostle uses the term for the last time: 

“In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him.” 

What is meant by this term that is translated “only begotten”? The Greek word is monogenes, and it means “unique, only one of its kind.”[7] In Hebrews 11.17 this word is used to refer to Isaac as the monogenes of Abraham. The dead man raised up in Luke 7.12 is the monogenes of his mother. The daughter of Jairus is the monogenes of her father, in Luke 8.42. And the demon possessed boy in Luke 8.42 is the monogenes of his father.[8] Only in the writings of the Apostle John, however, is the word monogenes used to describe the relationship of the Lord Jesus Christ to God as His “only begotten” Son, in the four verses in the Gospel and the one verse in First John that I have already pointed out to you.

With this background information set before you, I want to establish for you why the Lord Jesus Christ is described in John 3.16 as that one Person you must believe in so that you will not perish, but have everlasting life. It has to do with Him being the “only begotten” Son of God.

Three things to keep in mind about God’s sons: 

First, THE BIBLE MAKES REFERENCE TO GOD’S SONS BY CREATION 

In one sense God has sons as the result of creation, those sons being both spirit beings and human beings:

Angelic beings are incorporeal; spirit creatures brought into existence by the creative power of God before He created the time-space-matter continuum we know as the universe and all that in it is. Let me read five verses in what I think was the actual chronology of the events recorded that reveal two things about angels, identified in these verses as “sons of God” because God directly created them; first, that they already existed when God created the universe, and, second, that even after they had sinned against God they were identified as the sons of God because even though now sinful they were still originally directly created by God: 

Job 38.7:  “When the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy?” 

I am persuaded this verse speaks of the angelic host, identified as “the sons of God,” being witness to God’s creation of the physical universe. 

Genesis 6.2:  “That the sons of God saw the daughters of men that they were fair; and they took them wives of all which they chose.” 

Genesis 6.4:  “There were giants in the earth in those days; and also after that, when the sons of God came in unto the daughters of men, and they bare children to them, the same became mighty men which were of old, men of renown.” 

These two verses record the activities of now sinful angels who are seeking to undermine God’s redemptive plan for mankind, which led to the Flood in which only Noah and his family were delivered. 

Job 1.6: “Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan came also among them. 

Job 2.1: “Again there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan came also among them to present himself before the LORD.” 

These two verses show that every angel is a son of God accountable to God, even the chief adversary Satan.

If one is the son of God by being directly created by God, as was each and every angel, then in that sense so were Adam and Eve sons of God because each was the direct physical creation of God. Such seems to be stated about Adam in Luke 3.38, where we read, 

“Which was the son of Enos, which was the son of Seth, which was the son of Adam, which was the son of God.” 

And such would be reasonably implied concerning Eve’s creation, though it is nowhere stated in God’s Word.

That leaves an open question about such passages as John 1.12, Romans 8.14 and 19, Philippians 2.15, and First John 3.1-2. How are they to be explained? First, let me read them to you: 

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.” 

Romans 8.14 and 19:  

14 For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. 

19 For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God. 

Philippians 2.15: “That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world.” 

1 John 3.1:

1 Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not.

2 Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is. 

It is very clear that in these six verses, three written by the Apostle John and three written by the Apostle Paul, believers in Jesus Christ are identified as “sons of God.” But in what sense are Christians the “sons of God” when only Adam and Eve were the direct physical creations of God. Individual Christians are “sons of God” in the sense that we are the direct creations of God, though not the direct physical creations of God. Ephesians 2.10 explains it perfectly by declaring that believers in Jesus Christ, those who have experienced what our Lord Jesus Christ referred to as the new birth, being born again, are “created in Christ Jesus.” Thus, while we are not the direct physical creations of God, when we come to faith in Christ we very much are the direct spiritual creations of God, and, therefore, the “sons of God.” Thus, while angels are purely spiritual beings and as such are “sons of God,” and while Adam and Eve were physically created by God and as such were “sons of God,” believers in Jesus Christ are born of the Spirit and are, thereby, spiritual “sons of God” with both a physical nature and a spiritual nature created. God creates that using regeneration. 

Next, THE BIBLE MAKES REFERENCE TO GOD’S SONS BY ADOPTION 

Though it is a bit more complex an issue than I want to delve into at this time, adoption is also what happens when a sinner comes to faith in Christ. Consider three verses; Romans 8.15, Galatians 4.5, and Ephesians 1.5: 

Romans 8.15: “For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.” 

Galatians 4.5: “To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons.” 

Ephesians 1.5: “Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will.” 

The fact of the matter is that those sinners who come to faith in Christ and are created in Christ Jesus, becoming the “sons of God” using the new birth are also adopted into the family of God and become God’s sons by adoption. Thus, we are in a sense the sons of God because of two spiritual realities, the new birth and the adoption of sons. 

Finally, THE BIBLE MAKES REFERENCE TO GOD’S ONLY BEGOTTEN SON 

The term “only begotten” can be a bit confusing to people, and requires some explanation:

First, explaining the English term “only begotten.” 

“The English ‘only begotten’ arose from Jerome’s use of unigenitus to replace the Old Latin translation unicus in an effort to deny Arian claims that Jesus was not begotten by God.”[9] 

Allow me to explain that comment. In ancient times a Roman Catholic scholar named Jerome was dispatched to the Holy Land, in part, to create a new translation of the Bible to replace the Old Latin version. Jerome’s translation would come to be known as the Vulgate, referring to the vulgar tongue of the people, or the common language of Latin speaking people.

Next, let me explain the Greek term, monogenes. The translation Jerome used for the Greek word monogenes, which he chose to steer clear of a heresy of his day, was in turn translated centuries later into English as “only begotten.” What has sometimes been lost in the translation of the translation is the simplicity of the Greek word originally used. Monogenes quite simply refers to the only one of its kind within a specific relationship, the only one of its class, unique.[10] Thus, while there are beings in existence that are identified as “sons of God,” with some of them being angels who observed God’s creation of the physical universe, two of them being the human beings created by God and placed in the Garden of Eden, and also those of us who are believers in Christ and have been born again and adopted into the family of God, the Lord Jesus Christ is the Son of God in a completely unique and different way.

In what ways is the Lord Jesus Christ unique, different from all other sons of God? In some ways, of which I will mention but a few: The Lord Jesus Christ is eternal. His goings forth have been from everlasting, Micah 5.2. He is the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, Revelation 1.11. The Lord Jesus Christ is all-powerful, omnipotent. He created everything that has been created, John 1.3 and Colossians 1.16. The Lord Jesus Christ sustains all that exists in this universe, Colossians 1.17. The Lord Jesus Christ is God, John 1.1-2; 5.18; 10.33; 20.28; Colossians 1.15. The Lord Jesus Christ is the King of kings and the Lord of lords, Revelation 19.16. And at His name every knee shall bend, every head shall bow, and every tongue shall confess that He is Lord to the glory of God the Father in a demonstration and confession of submissive homage and worship, Isaiah 45.23; Romans 14.11; Philippians 2.10-11. 

So you see, there is a reason why salvation from sins and eternal life comes through faith in Christ and not through faith in Moses, faith in the Buddha, faith in Mohammed, or faith in any of the sons of God who are the direct creations of God as angels or believers in Christ. Jesus Christ is the Son of God Who is unique, different from all others in that He is uncreated, in that He is eternal, in that He is omnipotent, and most importantly in that He is the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world, Revelation 13.8.

Thus, it has always been in the mind of God that the Second Person of the Triune Godhead, the Eternal Son of the living God, would be born of a virgin, would live a sinless life, would die a sinless and sacrificial death on the cross as our Divine Substitute, and would be our God-appointed Object of saving faith so that by God’s glorious grace we could be saved. That is how Jesus Christ is the Son of God but is quite different than anyone else, unique and distinct from all others, uncreated and unmatched; He is the King of glory. Praise His holy name.

__________

[1] https://www.dnainfo.com/chicago/2016-chicago-murders 12/30/16

[2] http://us.blastingnews.com/world/2016/12/jihadi-parents-kiss-daughters-7-and-9-goodbye-before-sending-them-on-suicide-bombing-001345921.html

[3] https://www.bloomberg.com/view/articles/2016-12-27/obama-s-betrayal-of-israel-at-the-un-must-not-stand

[4] http://thefederalist.com/2016/07/25/5-times-liberals-mocked-mitt-romney-for-warning-about-russia/

[5] http://www.ibtimes.com/us-government-attacks-drudge-report-conservative-website-down-because-distributed-2467391

[6] http://www.wnd.com/2016/12/california-democrats-legalize-child-prostitution-2/

[7] Fritz Rienecker & Cleon Rogers, Linguistic Key To The Greek New Testament, (Grand Rapids, MI: Regency Reference Library, 1980), page 224.

[8] Gerhard Kittel, Editor, Theological Dictionary Of The New Testament, Vol IV, (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1967), page 739.

[9] See footnote in I. Howard Marshall, The Epistles Of John - NICNT, (William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company: Grand Rapids, Michigan 1978), page 214.

[10] Bauer, Danker, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and other Early Christian Literature, (Chicago, IL: The University of Chicago Press, 2000), page 658.

Would you like to contact Dr. Waldrip about this sermon? Please contact him by clicking on the link below. Please do not change the subject within your email message. Thank you.

pastor@calvaryroadbaptist.org