"Trinity #2- God the Son" by Rod Bayley, 1 August 2010

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Danny

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Aug 5, 2010, 6:58:20 AM8/5/10
to Sermons from Wollongong Baptist Church
In John 10:22-24, the Jews gathered around Jesus in the temple area in
Jerusalem and said to him: “How long will you keep us in suspense? If
you are the Christ, tell us plainly.” Jesus commences his reply in
verse 25 by stating, “I did tell you, but you do not believe”, and
finishes by saying in verse 30, “I and the Father are one.” The
response of those Jews gathered that winter day is recorded in John
10, verses 31 to 33: “Again the Jews picked up stones to stone him,
32but Jesus said to them, ‘I have shown you many great miracles from
the Father. For which of these do you stone me?’ 33'We are not stoning
you for any of these,’ replied the Jews, ‘but for blasphemy, because
you, a mere man, claim to be God.”

This marks the commencement of twenty centuries of debate over the
divinity of Jesus the Christ. They had heard Jesus correctly - they
had understood that he claimed to be God, and they could not accept
the idea. This debate would rage in the first four centuries of the
church, and it is from those battles that we have the various creeds,
which sought to state clearly the divinity of the Son, and then the
Holy Spirit. Fast forward over twenty centuries from Christ’s life,
and the debate still continues today. There are the Jews and Muslims
who cannot accept the divinity of Jesus, with their monotheistic
beliefs which cannot accommodate the God of the whole bible who is
three in One. There has also been the rise of many and varied
‘Christian’ cults or sects who also cannot stomach the belief that
Jesus is fully God, as well as fully man. And so Mormons believe that
the only difference between Jesus and us is that Christ was the first-
born of God’s children. Similarly, the Jehovah’s Witnesses insist that
Jesus was just an angel prior to his incarnation, and that he is not
equal to the Father as he was created. And then there are the
Christadelphians, and many other minor groups. The problem with each
group’s assessment of
the Son, is essentially the same as Jesus said about the Jews in John
10 - they do not believe God’s revelation.

Unbelief is the heart of the problem, and if you reject what God
reveals about himself, than you are left with your own human
reasoning. How can the Son be equal to the Father? How can God be
three Persons and yet One - it doesn’t make sense, so the bible is
rejected or modified. Well, as we come to this battleground which has
existed since Christ’s first coming, let’s look at what the bible says
about the Son’s divinity, and his involvement in Creation and
Salvation.

Notice again what is stated in John 1:1 and also verses 14 and 18 of
John 1. The apostle John leaves no room for doubt about the Son’s
status: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and
the Word was God ... 14The Word became flesh and made his dwelling
among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who
came from the Father, full of grace and truth ... 18No one has ever
seen God, but God the One and Only, who is at the Father’s side, has
made him known.”

In verse 1 the Word, who is the Son, is God. It is clear that the Word
is the Son in verse 14, as he took on flesh and lived among us. He is
sent from the Father, but is referred to as the ‘One and Only’ and
shares in the glory of the Father. Furthermore, in verse 18 this is
made explicit by the Son being referred to as ‘God the One and Only’
who is clearly distinct from the Father, as he is by His side. This
understanding that the Son is also God is not peculiar to the apostle
John - the apostle Paul says the same in Colossians 2:9 and Colossians
1:19: “For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily
form”, and “19For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in
him.”

Here again, the incarnation, Jesus taking on flesh, is clearly
referred to. Here is the personal revelation of the Father in the Son.
The key word “fulness” (ðëçñùìá) refers to the totality of God with
all his powers and attributes. Jesus is the one, all-sufficient
intermediary between God and humanity (cf. 1 Tim.2:5). And so Jesus is
fully God and fully man - the eternal Word made flesh. It is this
tension that many have stumbled over, but it is a necessary mystery.
If the Son did not take on flesh, than he could not act to save us and
fulfil the Father’s plan. Notice what the writer to the Hebrews states
in Hebrews 2:14-17: “Since the children have flesh and blood, he too
shared in their humanity so that by his death he might destroy him who
holds the power of death - that is, the devil - 15and free those who
all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death. 16For
surely it is not angels he helps, but Abraham’s descendants. 17For
this reason he had to be made like his brothers in every way, in order
that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to
God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people.”

The children in verse 14 are us - men and women, creatures of flesh
and blood. If Christ’s solidarity with us it to be real, he also had
to become a true human being. And so he took on flesh, was born so
that he might die - but he would conquer death, and the devil and so
free us from the consequence of our sin. Only by becoming a human
being could the Son conquer the enemy of humanity and free us from
death having the last word. And so in verse 17, any high priest who
will be a mediator between God and man, and deal with sin, must be
human. Jesus can neither save us nor represent us, unless he is both
fully God and fully man. Because he was perfect, he could atone for,
or pay for, our sin, and enter the Father’s presence on our behalf. As
Bishop Moule said, ‘A saviour who is not quite God is like a bridge
broken at the other end.’

Let me offer two applications from all this, with regard to those who
reject the divinity of Jesus the Son. Firstly, cults struggle with the
divinity of the Son, and therefore the Trinity, but their arguments
from Scripture don’t hold water, and so they depend on secondary
sources or the re-writing of Scritpure, and after that human reason.
For example, the Jehovah’s Witnesses will try to use Colossians 1:15,
and note that Paul says that Jesus is “the firstborn over all
creation.” They’ll argue that if he is ‘firstborn’ he was obviously a
creature made by God the Father, understanding the term in purely
physical terms. Of course we often use that term to refer to the
prominence of the eldest child, not birth. So does the bible. Psalm
89:27-29 says: “I will also appoint him my firstborn, the most exalted
of the kings of the earth. 28I will maintain my love to him forever,
and my covenant with him will never fail. 29I will establish his line
forever, his throne as long as the heavens endure.” Here is a
reference to the Davidic king, which looks forward to the great son of
David, Jesus, who will fulfil the eternal nature of the line. But of
course David was not the firstborn in his family, he was at least the
eighth, and he wasn’t the first king over Israel either. This one who
will have the prominence, who will be exalted above all, finds it’s
fulfilment in the Son Jesus. Then they might offer you their New World
Translation of John 1:1 which alters the English translation to “In
the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word
was a God.” Of course they will back this all up with other
authoritative revelation, their Watchtower tracts, which really govern
how they read the bible, including re-translating some verses like
John 1:1. Likewise, Mormons will appeal to the Book of Mormon as their
other authority, while trying to make out they are just like you and
use the bible.

If you have had discussions with a Mormon or a JW, you will find they
eventually move away from any Scriptures and just appeal to human
logic. They will try to use human reasoning and say it just doesn’t
make sense for the Son to be equal to the Father. I remember an older
JW asking me if I had a son, to which I answered yes, and his eyes lit
up and he said, ‘Well you don’t think he is greater or equal to you -
he’s just a child?’ To which I replied, ‘Well, he’s not as tall as me,
but he is of equal worth. We don’t have to be the same to have equal
worth.’ If you have made some ground, you’ll know, because they will
return with an elder higher up the chain.

The frustration of all this is that the JWs only commenced in the U.S.
in 1884, and will speak as if they have discovered the truth that the
church has misunderstood. However, as I said to a JW who had a long
chat with me at Chatswood one time, they are just re-hashing a very
old heresy first put by the Arians. No that’s not the German Aryan
race of superiority with its blue eyes and blonde hair, but the
followers of Arius, who lived in the third and fourth century. They
also taught that the Son had a beginning because he was begotten, and
therefore was a creature made by God. The church rejected the Arian
position at the Council of Nicea in 325AD.

Secondly, with regards to the Jews who simply reject Christ’s claim to
be divine, they should have known from the O.T. that the coming
Messiah was divine. This was not a fanciful creation of the N.T. which
they reject. For example, in Psalm 110:1, which Jesus himself quoted
to stun the Pharisees (Matt.22:41-46), David writes: “The Lord says to
my Lord: Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool
for your feet.” As Jesus asked the Pharisees, ‘If then David calls him
‘Lord’, how can he be his son?” (22:45). He’s obviously greater than
David, and is divine, for he is called Lord and is seated at the right
hand of the Father. Or then there is Isaiah 9:6, which states: “For to
us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be
on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty
God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” Not only is this promised
Son someone who will rule, he’s not just another Davidic king, but
‘Mighty God, Everlasting Father.’ The Messiah would be divine, and
Jesus was that One, who performed many miracles before his people.

That brings us to point two on your outline: The Son’s work as
Creator, Sustainer and Ruler. Notice again what Colossians 1:16-17
state: “For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on
earth, visible and invisible,
whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were
created by him and for him. 17He is before all things, and in him all
things hold together.” Having established that the bible affirms that
Jesus is God the Son, is divine, it is no surprise that he is also
Creator and Sustainer with the Father. The apostle Paul notes that he
not only created all things, but they are for him, and he sustains all
things - in him all things hold together. They
were created through or by him infers that the Father creates through
the Son. The apostle Paul is not alone in stating that the Son is
creator and sustainer. We have seen the apostle John’s statement in
John 1 already, and the writer to the Hebrews says in chapter one,
verses 2 to 3: “2but in these last days he has spoken to us by his
Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom he made
the universe. 3The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact
representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful
word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the
right hand of the Majesty in heaven.”

In verse 2 the Father made the universe through the Son, and in verse
3 Jesus sustains all things by his powerful word. The whole created
universe of space and time is meant, and he continues to sustain it or
‘uphold it’ through his powerful or ‘enabling’ word. And like the
Father, not only is the Son creator and sustainer, but he is the ruler
and judge. In Romans 15:12, the apostle Paul quotes Isaiah 11:10,
showing that Jesus is the promised Messiah: “The root of Jesse will
spring up, one who will arise to rule over the nations, the Gentiles
will hope in him.” Jesus was the long-awaited Davidic king who would
rule, and the fulfilment of the O.T. promises (2 Sam.7:14) were noted
at his birth (Matt.2:6). And with ruling comes the authority to judge,
and this theme is also found in the N.T. For example, 2 Corinthians
5:10 states: “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of
Christ, that each one may receive what is due him for the things done
while in the body, whether good or bad.”

The application for us today of Christ’s role as Creator, sustainer,
ruler and judge, is that he rules us, his people, by his word. The
Son’s authority as God is not simply a detached theological truth, it
has daily relevance, it should shape our lives moment by moment. Jesus
said to his disciples, his followers in John 14, verse 15 and
following: “If you love me, you will obey what I command ... 21Whoever
has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me. He who
loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love him and show
myself to him.” Our non-Christian family and friends may not be able
to accept that Jesus created and sustains all things by His word, but
they should be able to see his rule in the way we live our lives.

This brings us to the third and final point on your outline: ‘The
Son’s work in salvation.’ We saw last week that the Father is also our
Saviour, so let’s consider the Son’s role and the interaction between
the Father and Son. Notice what Jesus states in John 3:16-17: “For God
so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever
believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17For God did
not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the
world through him.”

Here we see that the Son is sent by the Father. As we noted last week,
the Father is the planner, the orchestrator, and the sender, while the
Son is the fulfiller of the Father’s will. Jesus is obedient to the
Father’s plan, which involves leaving the glories of heaven to be born
as a man. The apostle Paul says in Philippians 2:8: “And being found
in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to
death - even death on a Cross.”

And this brings us to the second point we need to make about the Son’s
role in our salvation: he is the means by which the Father can forgive
us. It is the Son’s substitutionary death on the Cross that pays for
our sin, and saves us from the final consequence of our sin, which is
spending eternity separated from God. In Romans 5:6, Paul states: “You
see, as just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died
for the ungodly.” He is our substitute - he swaps places with the
sinner, the ungodly, and dies the death that we deserve, as punishment
for our sin - he makes the payment that we cannot make. As Peter
states in 1 Peter 3:18: “For Christ died for sins once for all, the
righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God.” This shows us the
goal of his incarnation and his substitutionary death - it was to
reconcile us to the Father, to bring us to God the Father. The Son
restores us to the Father. The need for reconciliation is because of
the Father’s wrath against our sin, which will remain on us unless we
are made right with Him (Jn3:36), through the son’s atoning death on
our behalf. We can only be forgiven, if the holiness and the justice
of the Father are satisfied, if His wrath against our sin is exhausted
by our substitute. Romans 3:25-26 make this abundantly clear: “God
presented him as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in his blood.
He did this to demonstrate his justice, because in his forbearance he
had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished - 26he did it to
demonstrate his justice at the present time, so as to be just and the
one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus.” The Father is
righteously angry at our rejection of Him who made us, and he must
receive full payment through the shedding of His Son’s blood, or we
cannot be forgiven and have life. Charles Spurgeon once said, “Stand
at the foot of the Cross, and count the purple drops by which you have
been cleansed. See the thorn-crown; mark His scourged shoulders still
gushing with encrimsoned rills ... and if you do not lie prostrate on
the ground before that cross, you have never seen it.”

The Cross sees God the Father solving our predicament Himself, by
sending the Son. More than that, he sends the Son in conformity with
His salvation plan, which existed before the creation of the world.
The English writer and pastor John Stott once stated: “only one act of
pure love, unsullied by any taint of ulterior motive, has ever been
performed in the history of the world, namely the self-giving of God
in Christ on the cross for undeserving sinners.” This is the final
application - that the Son fulfils the Father’s plan and will in
obedience and love, and the Father exalts the Son. Paul writes in
Philippians 2:9-11: “Therefore God exalted Jesus to the highest place
and gave him the name that is above every name, 10that at the name of
Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the
earth, 11and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the
glory of God the Father.” Here again is the dynamic relationship of
Father and Son on show - the Father exalts the obedient Son, who in
turn brings glory to the Father. Jesus Christ is God too, but his role
or function is to submit to the Father’s headship. As the famous
German reformer Martin Luther once said in affirming the divinity of
Jesus: ‘No other God have I but Thee, born in a manger, died on a
tree.’
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