(from a tract by Rev. M. McGeown, missionary pastor in Limerick Reformed Fellowship, Ireland)
JESUS IS THE SON OF GOD
First, Jesus is the eternal Son of God.
This means that the Son of God always was. Jesus not only pre-existed the creation, but He is eternal. Moreover, He is eternally the Son. He did not become a Son. He always was the Son. And the Father was always the Father. This is not easy to understand because in our experience sons are younger than their fathers and come after them. Remember what the Creeds of the early church say: “begotten of the Father before all worlds” (Nicene Creed).
Second, Jesus is the uncreated Son of God.
This means that God did not say: “Let the Son come into being,” and the Son came into being. It was by such a word that God brought the creatures into existence: “And God said, Let there be light: and there was light” (Gen. 1:3). A creature is something in distinction from God who is Creator. A creature exists in dependence upon God, because God willed it to exist and spoke it into existence. The Bible teaches that the Triune God (Father, Son and Holy Spirit) is the Creator. There are not three Creators working independently of one another. The three Persons together created the universe. About the Son we read in Hebrews 1:2-3 that “by [Him] also [God] made the worlds; who being the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person.” The Son of God is not a creature but He is the Originator of the creation: “without Him [Jesus] was not anything made that was made” (John 1:3).
Third, Jesus is the only begotten or natural Son of God.
That Jesus is the only begotten Son of God describes the relationship that the Son has to the Father within the being of God. The being of God is one but within the one being of God are three distinct persons, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. This is the doctrine of the Trinity. Let me illustrate. A person might be a son in different senses. A person might be his father’s son biologically. A person might be his father’s son legally because of adoption. By such an act a man could bestow the rights and privileges of a son upon a person who is not related biologically to him. The Bible uses the word begotten (only begotten) to describe the relationship between the Father and the Son. But we must be careful not to think carnally about this. The Father is not a physical being (John 4:24). Therefore, the Father does not beget a physical Son.
JESUS IS THE INCARNATE SON OF GOD
First, in the Incarnation, the Son was made flesh. Neither the Father nor the Spirit were made flesh. It therefore is not the case that while Jesus was on earth, God was “missing from heaven.” Indeed, the Son of God (as God) is omnipresent. The divine nature is not limited. In the Incarnation, moreover, the Son did not cease to be God. The Son of God became man (that is, He took to Himself the human nature) while remaining God.
Second, the Person Jesus Christ has two natures after the Incarnation. He has human flesh (subject to suffering & death) and He has a human soul (with a human psychology [soul, mind, emotions, will]). Therefore, it is not correct to say that God became hungry & ate food; or that God became weary; or that God sweated; or that God bled and died. That is not how Christians understand the relationship between the human and divine in Jesus Christ. The Christian position is that one who is both God & man in one Person in two distinct natures hungered, thirsted, sweated, bled, died, etc.
Third, the Incarnation was a free, voluntary act by the Son, an act determined by the Triune God for the salvation of men and women. The Son became a man and even suffered and died as a man so that He could save His people from their sins. Jesus’ death, exactly because He is the Son of God in human flesh, is of infinite value to redeem sinners from sin and death.
JESUS IS THE CRUCIFIED AND RISEN LORD
The Person who suffered and died was the Son of God, who suffered and died in the human nature. His real human body and soul were separated at death and His real human blood was shed when He died. Therefore, it is not true to say that Christians believe that God died, as if when Jesus died God was dead for three days and nobody was ruling the universe. Nor is it true to say that God was praying to Himself in the Garden. The Son of God in the flesh prayed to His Father in heaven.
The Son of God experienced in the real human nature the wrath of God against the sins of His people, those whom He represented before the Father. The death of Christ was unique. He died as a substitute to endure the punishment that His people deserved. And He did it willingly, because He loved His people.
Sin is so serious that only the death of the Son of God in our flesh could deliver us from it. Only Christ could voluntarily give up His life, and then have power to take it up again in the resurrection. Only Christ could live a perfect life of obedience and then give up that life to death, satisfying by His obedience the demands of God’s law. Only Christ, because He is God in the flesh, has the power to send His almighty Spirit into our hearts, and to bring us to faith in this Gospel, to uphold us by His grace, and to preserve us even unto the end. This is the Gospel, or the good news of salvation, which God commands you to believe.
Rev. Martyn McGeown (Larisa)
Pastorates: Missionary-pastor in Limerick, Ireland for the Covenant Protestant Reformed Church of Northern Ireland - 2010; Providence PRC (Hudsonville, MI), Sept. 2021Website: www.prca.org/current/news/churches/usa-canada/providence-prc-hudsonville-mi
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