NR3-24 WFM-37 XAS-03
JIMS-3 JESUS IS MY SALVATION MESSAGE SERIES
“JESUS IS THE SON OF GOD”
This morning our Jesus Christ we are studying in the Gospel by John is 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.
The greatest struggle of the early church occurred in the 4th Century when most of the church was under the false teaching of one of the ablest speakers and thinkers of the day – Arias. For a few years it seemed that his false doctrine would pollute the entire church. It was called arianism and held that Jesus was merely a created being and not God. In our times the JW’s hold Araianism as their doctrine. Out of that dark hour when 93% of all the bishops (pastors of major churches) agreed with Arianism’s false doctrine, one man stood up all alone. His name Athanasius. His statement “Athanasius contra mundum” or Athanasius against the whole world! He led the church council at Nicea (modern Istanbul) in a Bible Study in the year 325 AD that ended with them turning away from the Arian false teaching and affirming the Nicene Creed.
The Nicene Creed
(#717 in Hymn Book)
I believe in one God, the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible.
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.
Who, for us men for our salvation, came down from heaven, and was incarnate by the Holy Spirit of the virgin Mary, and was made man; and was crucified also for us under Pontius Pilate; He suffered and was buried; and the third day He rose again, according to the Scriptures; and ascended into heaven, and sits on the right hand of the Father; and He shall come again, with glory, to judge the quick and the dead; whose kingdom shall have no end.
Listen to the events. According to the great historian, Gibbon (Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire), the early church was struggling against the heresy taught by Arius; Arius denied the deity of Jesus Christ. The Arian party became very strong, and at times even had the ear of the emperor, Constantine. The emperor called the Council of Nicea, hoping to settle this division of the Church. When Arianism dominated the church, Trinitarians were persecuted by the state, and the Nicene Creed officially repudiated. Athanasius stood firm against this heresy, literally against the world (contra mundum), vigorously contending for the faith, though he suffered slander and endured five exiles. Above all Athanasius was a biblical, not a speculative thinker.
When the Council began, those who held to the Biblical doctrine of Christ found an unlikely champion in Athanasius, the young servant of the Bishop of Alexandria. Strong in the Scriptures, this scholar held tenaciously to the Truth, and confounded the stratagems of the Arians. At times, the whole Council seemed about to concede on this important doctrine, and at one point an Arian spokesman called derisively, “Athanasius, don’t you know that the whole world is against you?” Athanasius calmly replied, “If the whole world is against Athanasius, then it’s Athanasius against the World!” His meaning, of course, was that it didn’t matter what people thought, the truth was still the truth. The Council eventually affirmed the Biblical doctrine of Christ’s personality, that He was both Man and God in one Person. That affirmation is known today as the Nicene Creed. Athanasius eventually succeeded his bishop, Alexander, to himself become the Bishop of Alexandria. The politically powerful Arians managed to regain the favor of the emperor, and persuaded him to appoint an Arian as the bishop instead of Athanasius.
While almost the whole world went chasing after the Arian heresy, Athanasius stood like a rock for the truth of Scripture and Nicene orthodoxy. For his troubles he was banished no less than five times. Of the 46 years of his ministry as bishop of Alexandria, he spent 20 years in exile. In 346 he was recalled from his 2nd exile, but again his labors in his congregation were interrupted. After ten years, a new emperor attempted to accommodate the Arians, and the enemies of Athanasius saw another opportunity to get rid of their opponent. In 356, while Athanasius was conducting a service with his congregation, 5,000 armed soldiers stormed the church building. Calmly, he began reading Psalm 136 and asked his congregation to respond. It was a moving moment. When he read: “O give thanks unto the Lord; for he is good,” his congregation responded: “For his mercy endureth forever.” This time he went into the desert to spend time with the monks who had retired from the church to find God in their own peculiar ways. The time in the desert was spent in writing, and the content of his writings was the defense of the great truth that Christ is fully God and that the Arians were idolaters who worshiped strange gods, no different from the heathen.
Again he was recalled to his flock (362), but was almost immediately driven away by those who were stung by his attacks against them. As he left his weeping congregation, he comforted them with the words: “Be of good cheer; it is only a cloud, which will soon pass on.” He escaped hired assassins on an imperial ship on the Nile and found refuge once again in the desert.
Once more he was able to return. Once more he was driven from his flock, this last time to find refuge for four months in the tomb of his father. By this time he was an aged man and longed to spend the last years of his life with his beloved sheep. The Lord granted this prayer, and he was able to return and spend the few remaining years of his pilgrimage with those whom he had so long and faithfully served.
John explains jesus by the seven titles in chapter one
- In a gospel written to the whole world, John presents us with the Divine Jesus. He is the Son of God — his Divinity — the Divine nature of God is very clearly seen. We have already seen John’s incredible introduction of Jesus as the Word, the Dwelling Presence and the Glory of God. John reveals Jesus as God’s unique (“only begotten,” KJV) Son, and refers to God as His Father more than any other book of the Bible. The Old Testament refers to God as Father only 12 times, John 120 times! But there is one major theme that runs throughout John’s Gospel: Jesus Christ is the Son of God, and if you commit yourself to Him, He will give you eternal life (John 20:31). In this first chapter, John recorded seven names and titles of Jesus that identify Him as eternal God.
- Jesus is The Word (John 1:1–3, 14): Much as our words reveal to others our hearts and minds, so Jesus Christ is God’s “Word” to reveal His heart and mind to us.
- Jesus is the eternal Word (vv. 1–2). He existed in the beginning, not because He had a beginning as a creature, but because He is eternal. He is God and He was with God. “Before Abraham was, I am” (John 8:58).
- Jesus is the incarnate Word (v. 14). He was not a phantom or a spirit when He ministered on earth, nor was His body a mere illusion.
- Jesus is the Revealing Word: “He that hath seen Me hath seen the Father” (John 14:9). “The Word of God” is one of the familiar names of our Lord in Scripture (John 1:1–14). Just as we reveal our minds and hearts to others by our words, so the Father reveals Himself to us through His Son, the incarnate Word (Rev. 14:7–11).
- Jesus is the completing word: A word is composed of letters, and Jesus Christ is “Alpha and Omega” (Rev. 1:11), the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet. A word is made up of letters, and Jesus Christ is “Alpha and Omega” (Rev. 21:6; 22:13). He is the “divine alphabet” of God’s revelation to us.
- Jesus is the final word: According to Hebrews 1:1–3, Jesus Christ is God’s last Word to mankind, for He is the climax of divine revelation. John affirmed Jesus as the “Word” which existed with and as God from eternity. Jesus is the One through whom God expressed Himself. As the Word, Jesus is the creative power that brought the universe into existence, and the prophetic power that reveals and controls the future. Through faith we can have fellowship with the eternal Word of God. See John 1:1–14; 1 John 1:1–2.
John takes up this figure and proceeds to tell us seven things about the divine Word.
- “In the beginning was the Word” (1:1). Christ is the ETERNAL Word. The Word’s eternity. He had no beginning of his own; when other things began, he—was.
- “And the Word was with God” (1:1). Christ is the PERSONAL Word. Here is the Word’s personality. The power that fulfills God’s purposes is the power of a distinct personal being, one who stands in an eternal relation to God of active fellowship (this is what the phrase means).
- “And the Word was God” (1:1). Christ is the DIVINE Word. Here is the Word’s deity. Though personally distinct from the Father, he is not a creature; he is divine in himself, as the Father is. The mystery with which this verse confronts us is thus the mystery of personal distinctions within the unity of the Godhead.
- “Through him all things were made” (1:3). Christ is the UNIVERSE CreatING Word. Here is the Word creating. He was the Father’s agent in every act of making that the Father has ever performed. All that was made was made through him. (Here, incidentally, is further proof that he, the Maker, does not belong to the class of things made, any more than the Father does.)
- “In him was life” (1:4). Christ is the LIFE GIVING WORD. Here is the Word animating. There is no physical life in the realm of created things except in and through him. Here is the Bible answer to the problem of the origin and continuance of life, in all its forms: life is given and maintained by the Word. Created things do not have life in themselves, but life in the Word, the second person of the Godhead.
- “And that life was the light of men” (1:4). Christ is the LIGHT GIVING Word. Here is the Word revealing. In giving life, he gives light too; that is to say, all people receive intimations of God from the very fact of being alive in God’s world, and this, no less than the fact that they are alive, is due to the work of the Word.
- “The Word became flesh” (1:14). Christ is the INCARNATING Word. Here is the Word incarnate. The baby in the manger at Bethlehem was none other than the eternal Word of God.
- Jesus is The Light (John 1:4–13): Life is a key theme in John’s Gospel; it is used thirty-six times. What are the essentials for human life? There are at least four:
- light (if the sun went out, everything would die), air, water, and food.
- Jesus is all of these!
(i) He is the Light of life and the Light of the world (John 8:12). He is the “Sun of righteousness” (Mal. 4:2).
(ii) By His Holy Spirit, He gives us the “breath of life” (John 3:8; 20:22), as well as
(iii) the Water of life (John 4:10, 13–14; 7:37–39).
(iv) Finally, Jesus is the Living Bread of Life that came down from heaven (John 6:35ff). He not only has life and gives life, but He is life (John 14:6).
John is inspired to use the word “light” in the Gospel no fewer than twenty-one times. He records that Jesus is the light of men; the function of John the Baptist was to point men to that light which was in Christ. Twice Jesus calls himself the light of the world (8:12; 9:5). This light can be in men (11:10), so that they can become children of the light (12:36), “I have come,” said Jesus, “as light into the world” (12:46). Let us see if we can understand something of this idea of the light which Jesus brings into the world. Three things stand out.
(1) Christ is our light that brings peace. The light Jesus brings is the lightwhich puts chaos to flight. In the creation story God moved upon the dark, formless world and said: “Let there be light” (Genesis 1:3). The new-created light of God routed the empty chaos into which it came. So Jesus is the light which shines in the darkness (1:5). He is the one person who can save life from becoming a chaos. Left to ourselves we are at the mercy of our passions and our fears. When Jesus dawns upon life, light comes. One of the oldest fears in the world is the fear of the dark. With Jesus the night is light about us as the day.
(2) Christ is our light that reveals. The light which Jesus brings is a revealing light. It is the condemnation of men that they loved the darkness rather than the light; and they did so because their deeds were evil; and they hated the light lest their deeds should be exposed (3:19, 20). The light which Jesus brings is something which shows things as they are. It strips away the disguises and the concealments; it shows things in all their nakedness; it shows them in their true character and their true values. We never see ourselves until we see ourselves through the eyes of Jesus. We never see what our lives are like until we see them in the light of Jesus. Jesus often drives us to God by revealing us to ourselves.
(3) Christ is our Light that guides. The light which Jesus brings is a guiding light. If a man does not possess that light he walks in darkness and does not know where he is going (12:36). When a man receives that light and believes in it, he walks no more in darkness (12:46). One of the features of the gospel stories which no one can miss is the number of people who came running to Jesus asking: “What am I to do?” When Jesus comes into life the time of guessing and of groping is ended, the time of doubt and uncertainty and vacillation is gone. The path that was dark becomes light; the decision that was wrapped in a night of uncertainty is illumined. Without Jesus we are like men groping on an unknown road in a black-out. With him the way is clear.
(4) Christ’s light overcomes the darkness. John 1:5 And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not put it out. Here we meet another of John’s key-words—darkness (skotos, skotia). This word occurs seven times in the gospel. To John there was a darkness in the world that was as real as the light. The darkness is hostile to the light. The light shines in the darkness, but, however hard the darkness tries, it cannot extinguish it. Sinning man loves the darkness and hates the light, because the light shows up too many things. So John is saying: “Into this world there comes Jesus, the light of the world; there is a darkness which would seek to eliminate him, to banish him from life, to extinguish him. But there is a power in Jesus that is undefeatable. The darkness can hate him, but it can never get rid of him.” As has been truly said: “Not all the darkness in the world can extinguish the littlest flame.” The unconquerable light will in the end defeat the hostile dark. John is saying: “Choose your side in the eternal conflict and choose aright.”
(5) Christ’s light reveals those who hate his truth. The darkness stands for the natural sphere of all those who hate the good. It is men whose deeds are evil who fear the light (3:19, 20). The man who has something to hide loves the dark; but it is impossible to hide anything from God. His searchlight sweeps the shadows and illuminates the skulking evils of the world. There are certain passages where the darkness seems to stand for ignorance, especially for that wilful ignorance which refuses the light of Jesus Christ. Jesus says: “I am the light of the world; he who follows me will not walk in darkness” (8:12). He says to his disciples that the light will be with them only for so short a time; let them walk in it; if they do not, the darkness comes and a man who walks in darkness does not know where he is going (12:35). He says that he came with his light that men should not abide in darkness (12:46). Without Jesus Christ a man cannot find or see the way. He is like a blindfolded man or even a blind man. Without Jesus Christ life goes lost. It was Goethe who cried out for: “Light, more light!” It was one of the old Scots leaders who said to his friends towards the end: “Light the candle that I may see to die.” Jesus is the light which shows a man the road, and which lights the road at every step of the way.
(6) Christ’s light is rejected by those who are apart from him. John uses this word darkness symbolically. He uses it at times to mean more than merely the dark of an earthly night. He tells of Jesus walking on the water. He tells how the disciples had embarked on their boat and were crossing the lake without Jesus; and then he says, “And it was now dark, and Jesus had not yet come to them” (6:17). Without the presence of Jesus there was nothing but the threatening dark. He tells the story of the Last Supper. He tells how Judas received the sop and then went out to do his terrible work and arrange for the betrayal of Jesus; and he says with a kind of terrible symbolism: “So, after receiving the morsel, he immediately went out; and it was night” (13:30). Judas was going out into the night of a life which had betrayed Christ. To John the Christless life was life in the dark. The darkness stands for life without Christ, and especially for that which has turned its back on Christ.
- Jesus is the Son of God (John 1:15–28, 49): At least nine times in John’s Gospel, Jesus is called “the Son of God” (John 1:34, 49; 3:18; 5:25; 10:36; 11:4, 27; 19:7; 20:31). You will recall that John had as his purpose in writing to convince us that Jesus is the Son of God (John 20:31). Here in verse 15 we meet John the Baptist, who is one of the most important persons in the New Testament. He is mentioned at least eighty-nine times. John had the special privilege of introducing Jesus to the nation of Israel. He also had the difficult task of preparing the nation to receive their Messiah. He called them to repent of their sins and to prove that repentance by being baptized and then living changed lives. John summarized what John the Baptist had to say about Jesus Christ (John 1:15–18).
- Jesus Christ is eternal (John 1:15). John the Baptist was actually born six months before Jesus (Luke 1:36); so in this statement he is referring to our Lord’s preexistence, not His birth date. Jesus existed before John the Baptist was ever conceived.
- Jesus Christ is the fullness of grace and truth (John 1:16–17).
- Jesus Christ reveals God to us (John 1:18). The word Son is used for the first time in John’s Gospel as a title for Jesus Christ (John 1:18). The phrase “only-begotten” means “unique, the only one of its kind.” It does not suggest that there was a time when the Son was not, and then the Father brought Him into being. Jesus Christ is eternal God; He has always existed.
- Jesus Christ is God
- John the Baptist is one of seven persons named in the Gospel of John who gave witness that Jesus is God. The others are
- Nathanael (John 1:49),
- Peter (John 6:69),
- the blind man who was healed (John 9:35–38),
- Martha (John 11:27),
- Thomas (John 20:28), and
- Our Lord Himself (John 5:25; 10:36). These were seven clear witnesses.
When Jesus claimed to be the Son of God He was claiming equality with God. Jesus clearly claimed to be the Son of God (John 10:36), and as such He has the prerogatives of deity:
- He is equal with the Father (John 5:18);
- He has life within Himself (John 5:26);
- He has the power to raise the dead (John 5:25);
- He gives life (John 5:21);
- He sets men free from slavery to sin (John 8:36);
- He receives honor equal with the Father (John 5:23);
- He is the object of faith (John 6:40);
- He is the object of prayer (John 14:13,14);
- He has the power to answer prayer (John 14:13).
- Jesus indicated that His relationship to the Father was entirely unique. He always referred to God as “My Father,” never “our Father” (cf. John 20:17).
- Jesus is the Lamb of God (John 1:29–34) John the Baptist called Jesus “the Lamb of God,” a title he would repeat the next day (John 1:35–36). This morning as we celebrate the Lord’s Supper, the message of the Bible can be summed up in this title.
In the Old Testament the question was, “Where is the lamb?” (Gen. 22:7)
In the four Gospels, the emphasis is “Behold the Lamb of God!” Here He is!
In Heaven all who come to Jesus sing with the heavenly choir, “Worthy is the Lamb!” (Rev. 5:12)
The people of Israel were familiar with lambs for the sacrifices. At Passover, each family had to have a lamb; and during the year, two lambs a day were sacrificed at the temple altar, plus all the other lambs brought for personal sacrifices.
- Those lambs were brought by men to men, but here is God’s Lamb, given by God to men!
- Those lambs could not take away sin, but the Lamb of God can take away sin. Those lambs were for Israel alone, but this Lamb would shed His blood for the whole world!
The Lamb is one of the great characteristic ideas of the Revelation in which Jesus Christ is so called no fewer than twenty-nine times.
The word he uses for Lamb is not used of Jesus Christ anywhere else in the New Testament.
- John the Baptist pointed to him as the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world (John 1:29, 36).
- Peter speaks of the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot (1 Peter 1:19).
- In Isaiah 53:7, in the chapter so dear to Jesus and to the early Church, we read of the lamb brought to the slaughter.
But in all these cases the word is amnos, whereas the word that the Revelation uses is arnion. This is the word that Jeremiah uses, when he says: “I was like a gentle lamb that is led to the slaughter” (Jeremiah 11:19). By using arnion and using it so often, John wishes us to see that this is a new conception which he is bringing to men.
- Jesus is the sacrificial Lamb: The Lamb still bears the marks of having been slain. There we have the picture of the sacrifice of Christ, still visible in the heavenly places. Even in the heavenly places Jesus Christ is the one who loved us and gave himself for us.
- Jesus is the victorious lamb: There is another side to this. This same Lamb, with the marks of sacrifice still on it, is the Lamb with the seven horns and the seven eyes.
- the seven horns stand for omnipotence. In the Old Testament the horn stands for two things.
- First, it stands for sheer power. In the blessing of Moses the horns of Joseph are like the horns of a wild ox and with them he will push the people together to the ends of the earth (Deuteronomy 33:17). Zedekiah, the prophet, made iron horns as a sign of promised triumph over the Syrians (1 Kings 22:11). The wicked is warned not to lift up his horn (Psalm 75:4). Zechariah sees the vision of the four horns which stand for the nations who have scattered Israel (Zechariah 1:18).
- Second, it stands for honour. It is the confidence of the Psalmist that in the favour of God our horn shall be exalted (Psalm 89:17). The good man’s horn shall be exalted with honour (Psalm 112:9). God exalts the horn of his people (Psalm 148:14). Here is the great paradox; the Lamb bears the sacrificial wounds upon it; but at the same time it is clothed with the very might of God which can now shatter its enemies. The Lamb has seven horns; the number seven stands for perfection; the power of the Lamb is perfect, beyond withstanding.
- The Lamb has seven eyes, and the eyes are the Spirits which are despatched into all the earth. The picture comes from Zechariah. There the prophet sees the seven lamps which are “the eyes of the Lord, which range through the whole earth” (Zechariah 4:10). It is an eerie picture; but quite clearly it stands for the omniscience of God. In an almost crude way it says that there is no place on earth which is not under the eye of God.
Here is a tremendous picture of Christ. He is the fulfilment of all the hopes and dreams of Israel, for he is the Lion of Judah and the Root of David. He is the one whose sacrifice availed for men, and who still bears the marks of it in the heavenly places. But the tragedy has turned to triumph and the shame to glory; and he is the one whose all-conquering might none can withstand and whose all-seeing eye none can escape.
Few passages of Scripture show at one and the same time what Swete called “the majesty and the meekness” of Jesus Christ and in the one picture combine the humiliation of his death and the glory of his risen life.
- The Messiah (John 1:35–42): “We have found the Messiah!” was the witness Andrew gave to Simon. Messiah is a Hebrew word that means “anointed,” and the Greek equivalent is “Christ.” To the Jews, it was the same as “Son of God” (see Matt. 26:63–64; Mark 14:61–62; Luke 22:67–70). In the Old Testament, prophets, priests, and kings were anointed and thereby set apart for special service. Kings were especially called “God’s anointed” (1 Sam. 26:11; Ps. 89:20); so, when the Jews spoke about their Messiah, they were thinking of the king who would come to deliver them and establish the kingdom. There was some confusion among the Jewish teachers as to what the Messiah would do. Some saw Him as a suffering sacrifice (as in Isa. 53), while others saw a splendid king (as in Isa. 9 and 11). Jesus had to explain even to His own followers that the cross had to come before the crown, that He must suffer before He could enter into His glory (Luke 24:13–35). Whether or not Jesus was indeed the Messiah was a crucial problem that challenged the Jews in that day (John 7:26, 40–44; 9:22; 10:24).
- The King of Israel (John 1:43–49): “King of Israel” would be a title similar to “Messiah, anointed One,” for the kings were always God’s anointed (see Ps. 2, especially vv. 2, 6–7). At one point in His ministry, the crowds wanted to make Jesus King, but He refused them (John 6:15ff). He did present Himself as King (John 12:10ff), and He affirmed to Pilate that He was born a King (John 18:33–37).
- The Son of Man (John 1:50–51): “Son of man” was one of our Lord’s favorite titles for Himself; it is used eighty-three times in the Gospels and at least thirteen times in John. The title speaks of both the deity and humanity of Jesus. The vision in Daniel 7:13 presents the “Son of man” in a definite messianic setting; and Jesus used the title in the same way (Matt. 26:64). As Son of man, Jesus is the “living link” between heaven and earth. Christ is God’s “ladder” between heaven and earth. “No man cometh to the Father, but by Me” (John 14:6). Often in this Gospel, you will find Jesus reminding people that He came down from heaven. The Jewish people knew that “Son of man” was a name for their Messiah (John 12:34). God is here!
Son of Man. Jesus commonly used the title “Son of Man” to refer to His mission (John 1:51; 3:13–14; 5:27; 6:27, 53, 62; 8:28; 9:35; 12:23, 34; 13:31). The origin of the term is undoubtedly Daniel 7:13 and reference to the heavenly being who receives the kingdoms of this world. The term is a complex one that seems to involve several ideas: the deity of the Son (note the equation of Son of Man with Son of God in John 5:25, 27); the royalty of the Son in that He receives dominion, glory, and a kingdom (Dan. 7:13); the humanity of the Son in that He suffers (John 3:14; 12:23, 34); the heavenly glory of the Son since He came down from heaven (John 1:51; 3:13; 6:32); and the salvation the Son came to bring (John 6:27, 53; 9:35). “The term, ‘the Son of Man’, then points us to Christ’s conception of Himself as of heavenly origin and as the possessor of heavenly glory. At one and the same time it points us to His lowliness and His sufferings for men. The two are the same.”