Category: Jesus, Word: SON OF GOD
October 30, 2015 | by: Kendell Easley, prepared by Dave Maniquis | 0 Comments
Posted in: 52 Words
National magazines still put Jesus on their covers, often around Christmas and Easter. Television networks feature popular specials on the search for the real Jesus. A movie star releases a film about the suffering and death of Jesus that attracts millions of viewers and becomes one of the greatest money-making movies of all time. Clearly Jesus is still a person of interest for our increasingly secularized culture.
Which Jesus shall we follow? Several versions of Jesus are out there. For some, He was a humble Jewish rabbi whose gentle teachings were hijacked by people like Paul and turned into a Savior that He never meant to be. He’s been called a magician as well as a great psychologist. In the twentieth century, persons perceiving themselves to be powerless and trampled on my majority culture championed Him as the great Liberator. A feminist Christ, a Latin American Christ, and a Christ for homosexuals are among several that emerged. In traditional forms of Christianity, He’s an object of mystical devotion. Crucifixes and sacramental ceremonies aid such Christ-mystics, some of whom report visions of Him.
How does all this square with the Jesus of the four Gospels? How did Christians of the early centuries come to understand Him? They were deeply concerned to get this right. The longest sections in both the Apostles’ Creed and the Nicene Creed describe His person and work. The classic understanding of Jesus has consistently identified with these confessions. As we will see in the following seven studies, such truths were already clearly laid out in the Scriptures.
27. SON OF GOD
Jesus performed many other signs in the presence of His disciples that are not written in this book. But these are written so that you may believe Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and by believing you may have life in His name. (John 20:30-31)
DEFINITION: “Son of God” means more than that Jesus was divine or a special messenger sent from God to the world. “Son of God” means that Jesus is fully God Himself, equal in power and glory to God the Father and God the Spirit.
During the earliest centuries, biblical scholars debated the interpretation of the New Testament statements about Jesus. How could Jesus the human being also be God’s Son? Many opposing views brought great Christian minds together to discuss this. These issues were mainly resolved at the Council of Nicea (AD 325) and the Council of Chalcedon (AD 451).
Two special terms have been used by Christian thinkers to describe the identity of Jesus in relationship to God. First is “hypostatic union.” This means that, after He was born of Mary, Jesus Christ has been one Person but with two natures: humanity and deity. These natures are mysteriously united so that the humanity is not lost in the deity nor the deity lost in the humanity. The two natures are not mixed together but each retains its own character.
The second term is “Trinity.” [See Word 7 on the Trinity.] This includes belief that Jesus alone, the Son of God, is God the Son. The three Persons of the Godhead are one God. This belief has been rejected by sects that consider Jesus to be the divine savior by less than fully God. The orthodox Christian confessions condemned such views, insisting that He has been eternally begotten of the Father, begotten, not created.
Most Christians are content simply to affirm that Jesus is both fully God and fully human without following the technical debates. Yet we should be grateful for those who were concerned to use precise language to spell out this central matter of the Christian faith. Following are the most important biblical phrases that served as essential data for Christian beliefs about the hypostatic union and the Trinity.
- “Baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of The Holy Spirit” (Matt. 28:19).
- “The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God” (Mk 1:1).
- “The angel replied to her: … ‘The holy One to be born will be called the Son of God’” (Lk. 1:35).
- “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” (Jn 1:1).
- “The Word became flesh and took up residence among us” (Jn 1:14).
- “Established as the powerful Son of God by the resurrection from the dead” (Rom. 1:4).
- “From them by physical descent, came the Messiah, who is God over all” (Rom. 9:5).
- “For God was pleased to have all His fullness dwell in Him [Christ]” (Col. 1:19).
- “For in Him the entire fullness of God’s nature dwells bodily” (Col. 2:9).
- “We wait for the blessed hope and … our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ” (Titus 2:13).
- “[Christ] is the radiance of His [God’s] glory, the exact expression of His nature” (Heb. 1:3)
REFLECTION: Why do some people make a distinction between Jesus as “Son of God” and as “God the Son?” How important was it for Christians to insist that these mean the same thing?
PRAYER: Holy Lord Jesus, I confess with the Christians of old that You are the unique “Son of God, eternally begotten of the Father, God from God Light from Light, true God from true God, begotten, not made, of one Being with the Father.” Amen (citation from the Nicene Creed).
Dave Maniquis is a Teaching Elder at Restoration Church. He holds a BA in History from Rutgers University and an MA in Biblical Studies from Reformed Theological Seminary. He enjoyed a 23-year career in the U.S. Government, working and traveling extensively in Western and Eastern Europe. He has been a Christian for most of his adult life and has been involved in church planting, overseas as well as here in Port Orange, teaching the Bible and speaking into others’ lives with the Gospel. He is married to Maureen and they have two wonderful sons, Dylan and Evan.