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The Trinity: Prosopologically Speaking (Response to Some Comments)

by Tom Nettles

(This post follows up on The Trinity: Reflections without Recrimination by Tom Nettles.)

Are there necessary and fitting connections between God’s opera ad intra and his opera ad extra? I believe there are. Do the Father and the Son and the Spirit operate precisely in the same spheres and in the same ways in the opera ad extra? No. Is this because, as they exist eternally and necessarily as three persons in one God, these eternal personal distinctions operate ad extra in a way consistent with their existence ad intra? I would say, “yes,” and would see this as an expression of the divine simplicity, not a Unitarian simplicity, but a Trinitarian simplicity.

How does this differ from Liam Goligher’s explanation in a June 14 post? He writes:

“Better to see the matter in the economy where undoubtedly Christ, in the covenant of redemption (meaning, in eternity of course), and in the decree encompassing creation, election and redemption undertook to take into Himself our humanity and take into Himself the form of a servant.”

Did the Son, already anticipating his role as Christ according to Goligher’s use of language….

 

 

 

Read the entire article here.

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The Trinity: Reflections without Recrimination

by Tom Nettles

If a biblical expositor/theologian arrives at a conclusion, on the basis of exegesis, that the Bible teaches there is only one God who is infinite, eternal, and unchangeable in his being, wisdom, power, holiness, justice, goodness, and truth, and who alone is self-existent having created all things and presently sustaining all things that are not him, I would conclude that such an exegete, in all of those assertions, has arrived at a notable body of biblical truths about God. If he further concludes through a synthesis of biblical texts, using the analogy of faith, that this God exists eternally in three persons without division of essence or disruption of divine simplicity with each person fully participating in and manifesting the infinite excellence of essential deity in perfect unison with each other person, I would conclude that such an exegete is biblically sound and in full accord with the historic witness of the church. Further, if this person arrives at the conclusion that the persons of the Triune God are denominated as, and exist in eternal relation as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit with identifiable aspects of distinct personhood operating immanently and internally that give immutable standing to this tri-fold denomination within this one God, I would embrace such syntheses as truthful and biblical. I would conclude that such a person….

 

 

 

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Christ was not of the world in nature

November 17, 2014 1 comment

SpurgeonThis is the distinguishing mark — being different from the world in those respects in which Christ was different. Not making ourselves singular in unimportant points, as those poor creatures do, but being different from the world in those respects in which the Son of God and the Son of man, Jesus Christ, our glorious Examplar, was distinguished from the rest of mankind. And I think this will burst out in great clearness and beauty to us, if we consider that Christ was not of the world in nature; that he was not of the world again, in office; and above all, that he was not of the world in his character.

1. First, Christ was not of the world in nature. What was there about Christ that was worldly? In one point of view his nature was divine; and as divine, it was perfect, pure, unsullied, spotless, he could not descend to things of earthliness and sin; in another sense he was human; and his human nature, which was born of the Virgin Mary, was begotten of the Holy Ghost, and therefore was so pure that in it rested nothing that was worldly. He was not like ordinary men. We are all born with worldliness in our hearts. Solomon well says, “Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child.” It is not only there, but it is bound up in it, it is tied up in his heart, and is difficult to remove. And so with each of us: when we were children, earthliness and carnality were bound up in our nature. But Christ was not so. His nature was not a worldly one; it was essentially different from that of every one else, although he sat down and talked with them. Mark the difference! He stood side by side with a Pharisee; but every one could see he was not of the Pharisee’s world. He sat by a Samaritan woman and though he conversed with her very freely, who is it that fails to see that he was not of that Samaritan woman’s world — not a sinner like her? He mingled with the Publicans, nay, he sat down at the Publican’s feast, and eat with Publicans and sinners; but you could see by the holy actions and the peculiar gestures he there carried with him, that he was not of the Publicans’ world, though he mixed with them. There was something so different in his nature that you could not have found an individual in all the world whom you could have set beside him and said, “There! he is of that man’s world.” Nay, not even John, though he leaned on his bosom and partook very much of his Lord’s spirit, was exactly of that world to which Jesus belonged; for even he once in his Boanergean spirit, said words to this effect, “Let us call down fire from heaven on the heads of those who oppose thee,” — a thing that Christ could not endure for a moment, and thereby proved that he was something even beyond John’s world.

Well, beloved, in some sense, the Christian man is not of the world even in his nature I do not mean in his corrupt and fallen nature, but in his new nature. There is something in a Christian that is utterly and entirely distinct from that of anybody else. Many persons think that the difference between a Christian and a worldling consists in this: one goes to chapel twice on a Sabbath-day, another does not go but once, or perhaps not at all; one of them takes the sacrament, the other does not; one pays attention to holy things, the other pays very little attention to them. But, ah, beloved, that does not make a Christian. The distinction between a Christian and a worldling is not merely external, but internal. The difference is one of nature, and not of act.

A Christian is as essentially different from a worldling as a dove is from a raven, or a lamb from a lion. He is not of the world even in his nature. You could not make him a worldling. You might do what you liked; you might cause him to fall into some temporary sin; but you could not make him a worldling. You might cause him to backslide; but you could not make him a sinner, as he used to be He is not of the world by his nature. He is a twice-born man; in his veins run the blood of the royal family of the universe. He is a nobleman; he is a heaven-born child. His freedom is not merely a bought one, but he hath his liberty by his new-born nature. He is begotten again unto a lively hope. He is not of the world by his nature; he is essentially and entirely different from the world. There are persons in this chapel now who are more totally distinct from one another than you can even conceive. I have some here who are intelligent, and some who are ignorant; some who are rich, and some who are poor; but I do not allude to those distinctions: they all melt away into nothing in that great distinction — dead or alive, spiritual or carnal, Christian or worldling: And oh I if ye are God’s people, then ye are not of the world in your nature; for ye are “not of the world, even as Christ was not of the world.”

Charles H. Spurgeon-The Character of Christ’s People-Delivered on Sabbath Morning, November 22, 1855

The Wednesday Word: More, More about Jesus!

Hebrews 4:14: Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession.

We so very often miss the “little big” phrases of Scripture. We’ve just read one of them. It said, “We have.” Did you notice it? “Seeing then that we have a great high priest.” I’m glad that it didn’t merely say, “There is a great high priest!” It says, instead, that we have a great high priest. He is already ours!
Our High Priest is none other than the Lord Jesus Christ!

He is the One who is superior to all the high priests of the Old Testament.

He is the One who replaced all the high priests of the Old Testament.

He is the One who is now seated on the throne of grace.

He is the One who is filled with love and sympathy for His purchased people.

He is the One who ever lives to apply the benefits of His atonement to his people.

He is the One who brings us into the welcoming presence of God.
In the Old Testament, the high priests of Israel were but; “faint types and shadows of Christ.” However, they carried the names of the tribes of Israel upon their breastplate. This pointed towards Christ’s love for His people. These same names were also upon the high priest’s shoulders. This pointed towards the power of Christ in carrying His people (see Exodus 28:6-14; Exodus 28:15-29). Likewise, at this very moment, our great high priest, the Lord Jesus saves us with both love and strength. What an amazing salvation! What an amazing Saviour!
“Before the Throne of God above

I have a sure and perfect plea;

A great High Priest whose name is love,

Who ever lives and pleads for me,

My name is graven on His hands,

My name is written on His heart;

I know that while in Heaven He stands

No tongue can bid me thence depart.”

 

Once each year, under the Law, the Jewish high priest went behind the veil and into the holiest of all to sprinkle the blood on the mercy seat (Leviticus 16). But our high priest, the Lord Jesus, has, once for all, passed through the heavens and entered the heavenly sanctuary, with His own blood, where He, at this moment, gloriously represents us (Hebrews 9:24).

Let me ask you, do you know what it is to have a high priest or is this a mere theory? Are you living in this knowledge or is your life characterized by regret? Are you constantly thinking, “If only I had not made that stupid mistake…or if only I hadn’t done this or that”? Is your past robbing you of today’s joy? Then it’s time to put your past behind you! Your great high priest has finished His work—-it is over. His blood has cleansed every wicked thing that you have ever done or thought (John 19:30).

You might say, “But you do not know what I have done in the past!”

I don’t need to know. The blood of Jesus cleanses all sin (I John 1:7). Consider Paul; watch him and see how in a murderous frenzy he wasted the early church. I’m sure that was hard for him to forget. But he knew about the shed blood of the Lord Jesus. He knew that his Lord was his great high priest and intercessor. He knew that his sins had been taken away and, as a result, he was able to forget those things that lay behind.

Like Paul, we can forget our past for we have a great high priest. Our past is past. It has been wiped out. It is gone!

Jesus our High priest sympathizes with us in our temptations. He supplies us with strength. He is everything we need!

And that’s the Gospel Truth

Miles McKee
Minister of the Gospel

The Grace Centre

6 Quay Street, New Ross,

County Wexford, Ireland.

www.milesmckee.com  

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A Brief Catechism of Bible Doctrine-7-The Trinity

December 5, 2013 1 comment

The Trinity

 

1. Does not the title “Son of God” indicate to us that Jesus in not the only person that is God?

Yes; it suggests to us the Father.

2. What other person is also called God?

The Holy Spirit

3. Does this imply that there is more than one God?

No, the Bible teaches that the Father is God, that the Son is God, and that the Spirit is God, and yet that there is but one God.

4. Can we understand the nature of God as thus revealed to us?

We cannot; but we can believe and know that it is such as God teaches us.

5. Why can we not understand the nature of God?

Because our minds are limited in power, and the glorious mystery of the nature of God is boundless.

6. Is it in His nature only that God is beyond our knowledge?

No, He is mysterious also in all His works and ways.

7. What should we learn from this?

To trust Him, both in what He does and what He teaches.

James P. Boyce-A Brief Catechism of Bible Doctrine

A Brief Catechism of Bible Doctrine-6-Jesus Christ-God

November 28, 2013 2 comments

Jesus Christ—God

 

1. Was Christ merely a man?

No; He was God also.

2. By what name is He called as such?

The only Begotten Son of God.

3. How is He described in Hebrews?

As the brightness of the Father’s glory and the express image of His person.

4. What language does God use to the Son?

Unto the Son He says, “Thy throne, O God, is forever and ever.”

5. Is Jesus Christ called God in any other place in the Bible?

Yes; in the first Epistle of John, speaking of Him, it says, “This is the true God.”

6. Did He ever allow himself to be addressed as God?

Yes; Thomas said to Him, “My Lord and My God.”

7. In what other ways does the Bible teach the Divinity of Christ?

It ascribes to Him the possession of every perfection ascribed to God.

8. Mention some of these.

Omniscience, omnipresence and eternity of existence.

9. Is the work of creation ever ascribed to Him?

Yes; the Bible says all things were made by Him.

James P. Boyce-A Brief Catechism of Bible Doctrine

Question 20-Puritan Catechism

SpurgeonQ. Who is the Redeemer of God’s elect?

A. The only Redeemer of God’s elect is the Lord Jesus Christ, (1 Timothy 2:5) who being the eternal Son of God, became man, (John 1:14) and so was and continues to be God and man, in two distinct natures and one person for ever. (1 Timothy 3:16; Colossians 2:9)

Charles Haddon Spurgeon-A Puritan Catechism