The Son of God
Ray Dawes, Hillingdon
Christ is the sum and substance of Christianity. In this respect, Christianity differs from all the world’s religions, for none offers such a glorious person as the Lord Jesus Christ. Deity is His; thus He transcends all others. This great fact is so fundamental, yet some men, professing to believe their Bibles, deny its truth. Such denials of the deity of Christ are increasing, so it behoves us all to be ready to assert the truth from the Scriptures. To furnish the mind with truths as to His Person is a mark of love, and deepens the soul’s appreciation of Christ which is essential for the enjoyment of salvation, discipleship, communion and worship, as well as for routing the adversary.
We recall the bride’s answer in the Song of Solomon when challenged critically, “What is thy beloved more than another beloved?”. Her reply is very detailed, glad of the opportunity to describe the One who ravished her heart, “My beloved is white and ruddy, the chiefest among ten thousand . . .”, and she proceeds to relate His beauties from head to foot, 5. 9-16. Could we describe our beloved Lord in such detail? When the Lord asked “whom say ye that I am?”, Matt. 16. 15, how satisfying to Him was Peter’s answer. How we should ponder His glories in detail and then delightedly add “This is my beloved, and this is my friend”. No wonder the bride’s hearers were attracted to Him and eagerly desired to “seek him with” her, Song 6. 1. May our testimony have a similar appeal.
It is necessary to have right and elevated thoughts of Christ to preserve us from carnality, worldliness and evil. The evils that arose in the early assemblies were combated by a suitable presentation of Christ to the believers. To the party-spirited Corinthians who gloried in men, Christ is presented as Lord, the power and wisdom of God in whom alone they should glory; to the legal Galatians, Christ in His cross-work is described; to the Philippians amongst whom Christian relations were strained, the mind of Christ in sacrificial surrender is unfolded; to the Colossians, troubled by teaching that cast a cloud over the person of Christ, His many glories are stressed that give Him pre-eminence in all things; to dissembling Hebrews in danger of lapsing into Judaism, the surpassing excellence of Christ is insisted upon. John tells us in his Epistles that the doctrine of Christ as to His humanity and deity is the criterion of all teaching, for all that darkens this doctrine is of the evil one, 1 John 4. 2. To the assemblies in Revelation 2-3 is granted a vision of the living Lord amidst the lampstands, and then special aspects of His character appropriately applied to the condition of each church.
We shall now dwell upon Him in relation to doctrine, salvation, walk, worship and testimony.
The Gospels provide ample proofs that Christ was God manifest in the flesh. The fact that the Lord assumed (He needed not to claim it) deity incited the Jews intensely. They did not misunderstand the Saviour’s words, for in John 5. 18 they sought to kill Him because He made Himself equal with God; in John 10. 33 they sought to stone Him saying, “thou, being a man, makest thyself God”. Indeed, this charge of blasphemy against the Lord Jesus was their reason for the crucifixion, and the Lord did not deny this when openly challenged, Mark 14. 61-62. It is plain then that deity was attributed to Christ who never once denied it. Moreover, He exercised the divine prerogative of forgiveness, Mark 2. 5; Luke 7. 48. Well might the Jews say, “who can forgive sins but God only?”. Worship was accepted by Him, a tacit acknowledgement of deity, for this One who said to Satan, “Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve”, did not protest at worship offered to Himself as others rightly did, Acts 10. 26. His works, too, attest His divine power, particularly the seven recorded signs in John’s Gospel, the selection of which shows the triumph of His divine glory when human resources were utterly empty and powerless. Indeed the very purpose of this Gospel was to prove the deity of Christ, 20. 31.
The truth of Christ’s deity forms an integral part of the Epistles. He is everywhere associated with the Father as the source of grace, mercy, peace, power and authority for doctrine and service. There is often such an easy transition of thought from the Father to the Son and vice versa, especially in 1 John as plainly to imply equality. God displays His beloved One with delight in such passages as Colossians 1. 13-18 and Hebrews 1 - reverent meditation of these portions will acknowledge the deity of our Lord.
Furthermore, observe seven irrefutable New Testament declarations of the deity of Christ:
- “God with us”, Matt. 1. 23.
- The “Word was God”, John 1. 1.
- “My Lord and my God”, John 20. 28.
- “Christ came . . . God blessed for ever”, Rom. 9. 5.
- The appearing of “our great God and Saviour Jesus Christ”, Titus 2. 13 R.V.
- “Thy throne, O God, is for ever”, Heb. 1. 8.
- “This is the true God and . . .”, 1 John 5. 20.
The fact that Christ is God should not merely be a doctrine to us, but a truth to stir our hearts and affect our wills. First it will impart the assurance of salvation to our souls. Some doubt their salvation, and others live in fear of losing it through failure, but to own the deity of Christ necessarily involves believing in the perfect character of His work on the cross. We have a perfect and eternal Saviour, hence a perfect and eternal salvation. Observe that His work on our behalf is prominent in many of the scriptures already referred to. The eternal Word in John 1. 1 becomes the Lamb of God who bears away the sin of the world, 1. 29; the Son in Hebrews 1. 3 “by himself purged our sins”, and in the Son of His love “we have redemption through his blood”, Col. 1. 13-14. As one has said, “a Saviour not quite God, is like a bridge broken at the far end”. Praise God, our Saviour is divine!
He is not only our Saviour but also our Lord. Thus Colossians 1. 10 says “That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing”, and then proceeds to reveal His divine character. A worthy walk is therefore involved in the appreciation of the deity of Christ, suggesting that this truth will give character to the life. The world in all the variety of its evil and temptation can only be overcome by one whose faith is firmly fixed in the Son of God, 1 John 5. 4-5. Christ can only be expressed in the life of one whose soul appreciates that it was none other than the “Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me”, Gal. 2. 20. The expression “Son of God”, applied to the Lord Jesus, is a title of deity as John 5. 17-29 indicates, “Son” being a term of dignity, relationship and character unrelated to time or suggestive of inferiority.
Moreover, “he is thy Lord; and worship thou him”, Ps. 45. 11. His deity surely inspires worship. To Mary the truth of His deity was first made known, “that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God”, after which her soul and spirit united in praise, Luke 1. 35, 46-47. As did the wise men, let us behold the Lord incarnate and fall down and worship Him, Matt. 2. 11. See Him riding the boisterous waves, stilling the storm, bringing the peace and power of His presence to the disciples, then let us like them worship Him and say, “Of a truth thou art the Son of God”, Matt. 14. 33. Look again into the blessed face of the One who has brought light to our blinded eyes, as He did to the blind man in John 9, and let those same words challenge our hearts too, “Dost thou believe on the Son of God?”. Search His glorious countenance enquiringly “Who is he. Lord, that I might believe on him?”. Allow the truth to sink into the soul as His quick answer sounds, “Thou hast both seen him, and it is he that talketh with thee”. Our response must be the same, “Lord, I believe”, followed by worshipping Him, John 9. 38.
The divine glory of the Lord Jesus Christ is the special doctrine committed to a local assembly, 1 Tim. 3. 15-16. This great truth should be manifested in our behaviour in the house of God, that each may contribute to its maintenance and service. Teaching that detracts from this “doctrine of Christ” is to be resolutely resisted, refuted and rejected, 2 John 9, 10. Let us not deny His name, but make the burden of our witness like that of Paul, that Christ is the Son of God, Acts 9. 20. Only thus will the assembly testimony be effective, will sound doctrine be preserved, Christlikeness be developed, communion and worship become enriched.