Throughout Latin America, Africa, Europe and North America the person of Christ and the doctrine of the Trinity are continually being attacked. Today, more than at any other time, an important question to ask when we encounter an unknown Christian group or a proselytizing stranger is this: “What do you believe concerning the person of Christ, the eternal Son of God?” The Son, Co-equal With The Father The first part of this question might be, “Do you believe that Jesus is the unique Son of God, co-equal with the Father, and that He is God the Son, the Creator of the universe?” Four powerful New Testament chapters testify to the full, creatorial deity of Christ as God’s Son: John 1, Colossians 1, Hebrews 1 and Revelation 1. These chapters refer to Christ as the “Word” who was God and who created all things (Jn. 1:1-3; Col. 1:16; Heb. 1:2). Besides these four chapters, many other Scriptures give unique testimonies to Him. In John 10:30, Jesus Himself declared, “I and the Father are one.” Paul refers to “the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ” (Ti. 2:13 NASB). What does the Old Testament say about the deity of Christ? Isaiah 9:6 declares that the Lord Jesus is the mighty God: “For a child will be born to us, a Son will be given to us ... and His Name will be called ... Mighty God.” This Mighty God is referred to in Deuteronomy 10:17 as “LORD of Lords ... the mighty, and the awesome God.” Jeremiah 32:18 further states that this Mighty God’s name is Jehovah: “O great and mighty God. The LORD (Jehovah) of Hosts is His Name.” Joshua 22:22 does so as well.
Strangely enough, there are some who will agree that Jesus was Jehovah of the Old Testament and also the Mighty God, but they then say that “the Mighty God” is not the same as “the Almighty God.” In other words, they say that Jesus is a mighty God but not the Almighty God. Many Scriptures answer this argument by clearly stating that the name of the Almighty God is Jehovah. For example Genesis 17:1 says, “The LORD (Jehovah) appeared to Abram and said to him, ‘I am God Almighty; walk before Me, and be blameless.’” When the Lord later appeared to Moses, He said, “I appeared to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, God Almighty, but by My name LORD (Jehovah) I did not make Myself known to them.” The psalmist links together the various names of God when he states, “He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say to the LORD, ‘my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.’” The truth is that all these Old Testament names refer to one God – the Mighty, the Almighty, the I Am, Jehovah, and God – and that Jesus is this God (Ps. 45:6; Isa. 9:6; Rev. 1:10-18). He is the Almighty Creator God, God the Son, co-equal with the Father and the Holy Spirit in the mystery of the Godhead.
We aren’t expected to understand this mystery, but it is necessary that we accept it by faith in God’s Word.
God’s Son From All Eternity
Another important part of our question is this: “Is the relationship between the Father and Son eternal, or did it begin at Bethlehem, as Hebrews 1:5 seems to imply when it says, “Thou art My Son, today I have begotten Thee”? First notice John 1:14: “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.” The divine glory which the Lord Jesus manifested in the flesh was the glory He had with the Father from eternity. Again in John 17:24 the Son says to the Father, “Thou didst love Me before the foundation of the world.” He was talking about an eternal love between the Father and the Son.
All true love has its starting point here – with this eternal reference point: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son” (Jn. 3:16). The love God had for the world is measured by His giving His only Son – the One who was the Son before being sent into the world.
The fourth reference is in the parable of the vineyard: “He had one more to send, a beloved son: he sent him last of all to them, saying, ‘They will respect my son’” (Mk. 12:6). In this parable the owner of the vineyard is a picture of God the Father. When the owner sends his only son to the vineyard, it is like the Father sending His only Son into the world. Clearly, the Lord Jesus enjoyed the relationship of Son with a Father before coming into the world.
In summary, the Lord Jesus was the Son: before He came into the world; before the foundation of the world; before the creation of the universe (Heb. 1:3); from all eternity – dwelling in the bosom of the Father (Jn. 1:18). He who denies this detracts from the force of the gospel, attacks the eternal reference point of true love, and clouds the glory of the Son of God.
The Son As Man And Messiah
But what about the verse, Hebrews 1:5, referred to earlier: “Thou art My Son, today I have begotten Thee”? Notice first that this Old Testament quotation appears also in two other places in the New Testament, Hebrews 5:5 and Acts 13:33. Although it is applied to the Lord’s birth in Hebrews 1:5, it is applied to His resurrection in Acts 13:33, and to His glorification in Hebrews 5:5. Did Jesus not become Son until He was resurrected or glorified? Of course not.
What is the true meaning then of these verses? Psalm 2:7, where this statement is first found, applies it to the Messiah. The Messiah would take on this special relationship of Son to Jehovah when He was born as a man. Already existing as the eternal Son in His divine nature, the Lord Jesus entered into this special Messianic relationship as a man at His birth. His resurrection and glorification further confirmed that He was indeed the Messiah, God’s Son.
As perfect man on earth, the Lord Jesus was subject to His Father. As a man He recognized that His Father was greater than He, greater in priority and authority. So He spoke in John 14:28, “The Father is greater than I.” And again, in John 10:29, He said, “My Father, who has given them to Me is greater than all.” As the perfect man, Jesus was submissive to His Father and acknowledged His supremacy. In becoming man, He took the position of a servant and was obedient unto death, even the death of the cross, for our sakes (Phil. 2:6-8). Yet He never ceased for one moment to be the eternal Son, the Creator of the universe. When the waters on the Sea of Galilee got rough, He stilled them with “Hush, be still” (Mk. 4:39). Such is the mystery of the Incarnation.
Suffering And Tempted, Yet Without Sin
Although never ceasing to be God, Jesus became man in every way, except for sin (Heb. 4:15). Hungry, He needed food; thirsty, He asked for water; tired, He fell asleep; tempted, He suffered. His sufferings were very real: “He suffered being tempted” (Heb. 2:18) more than we can ever know. Could He have sinned? No! In the unity of His Person – perfect God and perfect man – He could not sin. Yet He suffered in resisting temptation (Mt. 4:1-11; Lk. 4:1-13).
An example is sometimes given of a precious metal, such as gold, which when subjected to a test – such as an extremely high temperature – passes it, thus proving that it really is such a metal. Likewise, testing proved who Jesus was. But unlike the metal, the Lord had human feelings. He felt every test and trial and suffered in resisting them. As Hebrews 5:7 says, “In the days of His flesh … He offered up both prayers and supplications with loud crying and tears to Him who was able to save Him from death, and was heard because of His piety.”
His sufferings were real. Nevertheless, He could not fail. The sufferings only showed His holy nature. At His birth, the angel said to Mary that her “holy offspring shall be called Son of God” (Lk. 1:35). Unlike us, or even Adam who was created innocent, Jesus was holy from the moment of conception. “In Him there is no sin,” wrote John (1 Jn. 3:5). Peter said He was the One “who committed no sin” (1 Pet. 2:22). And Paul’s testimony was that He was the One “who knew no sin” (2 Cor. 5:21).
Call To Worship
When we see Jesus as the eternal Son – willing to lay aside His Godhead glory to become a man, and go to the cross for our sakes to suffer there under the load of our sin – we bow our heads and worship. This truth as to the person of Christ is at the heart of the gospel – eternal Son, Creator, God in the flesh, perfect sinless One, suffering and tempted High Priest. Who can understand all this? None of us. But who can refuse to worship Him with adoring hearts?
By Doug Hayhoe
With permission to publish by: Sam Hadley, Grace & Truth, 210 Chestnut St., Danville, IL., USA. Website: www.gtpress.org