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The Son of God

A Borland

It should be noted that New Testament writers obviously never doubted that the person known among His contemporaries as Jesus of Nazareth, the carpenter, whose brothers and sisters were known by name (Mk 6.3), was none other than the Lord from heaven. They had seen His miracles. They had heard His words. They had witnessed the incomparable beauty of His life, and they were convinced of the testimony which heaven bore to their inner consciousness of the transcendent truth that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God (Mt 16.16-17; Jn 2.11; 6.68-69; 20.31). Not only did they record sayings of their Master in which He claimed a unique relationship with God, whom He persistently and unostentatiously called "My Father" in spite of the malicious opposition such a claim provoked among Jewish religious leaders, but they also employed words by which they endeavoured to convey something of the profound mystery they encountered in the person of the man Christ Jesus.

Take a few examples of this method of bringing into closest juxtaposition the two great truths of the deity and manhood of our Lord, and observe that to the writers the facts were so obviously generally acknowledged in the Christian communities to which they wrote that they do not pause to make even the slightest explanation.

The testimony of John

His Christian friends in Ephesus, living as they did in a city permeated with the doctrine of Philo about the Logos, would read, "In the beginning was the Word (Logos), and the Word was with God, and the Word was God…and the Word was made (became) flesh…and we beheld his glory (Jn 1.1-14). Moreover, he warned them in words of sternest import, "Every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come (1 Jn 4.3).

In his letter to an "elect lady and her children" he used language of the extremest severity against those who deny that truth for which he was contending. "Many deceivers are entered into the world, who confess not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh. This is a deceiver and an antichirst…Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son. If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed" (2 Jn vv.7-10)

Written nineteen hundred years ago these words have a most realistic modern note about them. Into many a community have come of late years numbers of propagandists huxtering false doctrine which denies the deity of our Lord. John’s warning has not been outmoded. A T Robertson comments: "In an latitudinarian age these words may sound harsh or unfeeling, but a little knowledge of the situation will clear it up…These propagandists of error were carrying on regular campaigns to destroy loyalty to Christ as Lord and Saviour. People were called on to take sides for or against Christ. Hospitality to such leaders would inevitably involve endorsement of their teaching and lives. John puts the matter sharply, but not more pointedly than the situation demanded". John was safeguarding the dual truth of the deity and manhood of our Lord and insisting that He who was known as Jesus Christ was unquestionably the Son of God.

The testimony of Paul

Writing to a different group in a city, Philippi, which was a Roman colony, and where pride of race and power was fostered, the apostle Paul used language which they could well appreciate. He wrote about Christ Jesus, that although He subsisted in the form of God, He "took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men…being found in fashion as a man" (Phil 2.7-8). Dr D M McIntyre’s comment on these words is worth quoting: "The word [form] appears to mean the essential form of anything, that without which the thing described would cease to be what it is. He retained inalienably the divine form of being, but in His grace and pity He gave up all that Godhead could resign. He was moved by love to the uttermost. He was originally and is now sharer in the Divine Essence". In the mind of the great apostle there was not the least doubt that He whom he called "the man Christ Jesus" was none other than "God manifest in flesh".

The testimony of the writer to the Hebrews

To a completely different class of Christians went the anonymous epistle to the Hebrews. The language used is such as would be understood by readers acquainted with the language and conceptions of the Old Testament. The words of that Book had originated with God who had communicated them to chosen prophets. But that age was now past. Yet God had spoken again, but this time in One who is the Son - "the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person" (Heb 1.3). He who would deny the deity or the humanity of our Lord must excise such words as those just quoted from the text of the Bible. The reality of His manhood is implied in the fact that He "made by himself the purification of sins" (Heb 1.3, JND) by means of "being put to death in the flesh" (1 Pet 3.18).

Dr Machen states, on the doctrine of the incarnation, thus: "He was from everlasting, but He became a man at a definite moment in the world’s history, and in order that fallen man might be saved. That He became man was not at all necessary to the unfolding of His own being. He was infinite, eternal and unchangeable God when He became man. But He would have been infinite, eternal and unchangeable God even if He had never become man. His being man was a free act of His love…He became man in order that He might die on the cross to redeem sinners from the guilt and power of sin.



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