February 16, 2015

Christian Manifesto VIII: Jesus Christ, Only Begotten Son of God

Declaration VIII: Jesus Christ Is The Only Begotten Son of God

I believe in Jesus Christ who is the only begotten Son of God. Yes, I know, I could write a 100 pages on this declaration alone but for the sake of clarity and brevity I made this mercifully short. Because it is short it is concise for impact. So don't get too wee-wee'd up that I didn't write a dissertation of Christology and complete a theological discourse on Jesus' divine nature. Okay?

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John 5:19 ~ “Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of His own accord, but only what He sees the Father doing.”

The Apostles’ Creed is centered on Jesus. It places Jesus Christ at the center between two shorter sections on God the Father and God the Spirit.  The Bible is clear that we could not know about the Father except through Jesus the Son, nor would we have the Holy Spirit unless Jesus sent Him to us when He departed.

John 14:6 ~ “Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

John 16:7 ~ “But very truly I tell you, it is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Advocate will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you.”

The Apostles’ Creed was created in the anti-Nicene age when Christ-centered conflicts were a central issue in the Church. Two great creeds were developed in order to define what we believe about the Trinity and in particular, Jesus Christ. They would be the Apostle’s Creed in conjunction with the Nicene Creed.

The statements about Jesus is very concise, very clearly articulated, and very reasoned. “Jesus” His human name leads to his functional position under the Father as the Son of God. He is only begotten, not created and is of the same essence of the Father. Jesus is therefore fully human and fully divine.

“And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God, begotten of the Father before all worlds; God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God; begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father, by whom all things were made.” ~ Nicene Creed

The name/title Christ also points to His divine role as the Savior of God’s people. He is the Messiah (Χριστός/Christos in Greek: the anointed one). His relationship is generated out of the Father’s will; He is therefore “begotten”… “not made”. Jesus Christ is therefore the ὁ μονογενὴς υἱός or only begotten Son. When I say only begotten Son I mean μονογενής/monogenes in the original Greek. This literally means "one of a kind". Mono meaning only or one and genes meaning kind, class or type. In other words, Jesus is God's offspring in the sense that God is eternal and He belongs to God as Son. He exists from all eternity. It is characteristic of men, because of the imperfections of their nature, to beget in time; but God's offspring is eternal, His nature being always perfect. Same essence, different functions.

Essentially by saying μονογενής/monogenes of God I am implying divinity and metaphysical implications to Jesus. The new view of μονογενής/monogenes even in some Reformed and very conservative circles are insisting that μονογενής/monogenes merely means the only Son meaning a single child, nothing more. This understanding of μονογενής/monogenes robs Jesus of His divine essence in relation to the Father. To me this is abhorrent and unacceptable from a theological standpoint.

In the both the Apostle’s and Nicene Creed the statements about Jesus Christ sets forth Jesus’ unique relationship with God the Father. He is equal with God in His person and nature, but functionally subordinate to God in His will and work. People often use the comparative adjective equal when discussing the characteristics of the Son and the Father but what many totally forget or overlook is how Jesus Himself considered the relationship between he and the Father. The finesse and repose with which Jesus deals with this issue is genius.

John 5:19-23  ~ “Jesus gave them this answer: “Very truly I tell you, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does. For the Father loves the Son and shows him all he does. Yes, and he will show him even greater works than these, so that you will be amazed. For just as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, even so the Son gives life to whom he is pleased to give it. Moreover, the Father judges no one, but has entrusted all judgment to the Son, that all may honor the Son just as they honor the Father. Whoever does not honor the Son does not honor the Father, who sent him.

Jesus never says he is equal to the Father as he is accused of by the agitated Pharisees (John 5:16-18). No, Jesus is much more tactful than to do something so rash. Instead Jesus shows the unity between Himself and the Father. From a flawed human standpoint it is easy to see this as an issue of equality but Jesus having been in direct face-to-face relationship with the Father since eternity past would view it more as it had been and still was…He viewed relationally. Equality speaks of different levels, unity speaks of Oneness of being with a plurality of persona. It speaks of Trinity. 

When we see what “equality” has wrought in our society today we see that it encourages independence. This is not what the relationship between the Father and Son is about. Those who are equal are usually independent and do not need to depend on one another in a functional manner. Unity on the other hand says something else to us totally. Unity of purpose speaks of a dependence on others to fulfil functions. Independence speaks of the promises of the serpent in the Garden. Unity speaks of the Kingdom promised by Jesus in the Prayer for the Disciples and all believers in John 17…

John 17:20-23 ~ “My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one—I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.”

Jesus who was the Son of God is equal with God in nature and one with His word. As such, they are in complete unity with God. As the Bible passages clarify, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are interdependent. Jesus depends on the Father’s will and love, and the Father is dependent on the Son’s obedience both passive and active.

This unspoken unity between the persons of the Trinity is the exact same dynamic that holds the Church in permanency. The unity of persona and purpose is the same thing that tightly binds the individual members of the Church in unity through the Holy Spirit. All are held together both God and believer through the Spirit.

I believe if we would focus more on our unity in Christ in our families, our churches and society and worry less about our equality…we would actually get along a lot better and our morality would improve. Disunity with our fellow man and disunity with God can only lead to more unraveling and chaos.

…and we all know who the ruler of chaos is.

So when I say I believe in Jesus Christ and that he is the Only Begotten Son of God...now you know what I mean. Is that clear enough for everyone?

Supporting Scripture:

John 1:14 ~ 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.

John 1:18 ~ No man hath seen God at any time, the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him.

John 3:16 ~ 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.

John 3:18 ~ He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of

1 John 4:9 ~ 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.

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