Knowing Whom We Believe: The Only Begotten Son and Lord

December 12, 2004 / No. 3232

Dear Radio Friends,

     We know and believe that the Babe in Bethlehem is the only begotten Son of God, our Lord.  The One who was in the manger, born of a virgin, is God of gods in our human flesh and our Lord.  He is Lord of the church and its only true Master.

     That is a marvel.  He is God!  He did not cease to be God when He became a child.  But now God is united with human flesh, born of a virgin.  Perhaps no passage in the Bible expresses the glory of this as does Hebrews 1:2, 3.   There we read that God has spoken to us in these last days by His Son, whom He hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also He made the worlds; who (that is, God’s Son) being the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by His power.  Very plainly, the Bible is telling us that God’s Son is mighty God.  But now, He, God’s Son, is held by Mary.  He is a little Babe.  And she opens, as every mother, His little hand.  Yet, at the same time, He is the One who held Mary and the whole world in His hands.

     It must be so.  God’s eternal Son did not join Himself to flesh, born as a babe, simply to prove that He could do it.  He did it because only then can there be salvation for us; only then can He redeem us with His precious blood; only then can He lift the boulder (the ton) of our sin, the mountain of our guilt; only then can He make dead sinners and dust creatures God’s sons and daughters.

     This is why the wise men fell down and worshiped Him.  We read that the wise men came to worship the baby Jesus.  If Jesus were not God of gods, that act would have been sin.  If Jesus were only a man, howbeit, the best man; if He were a man who possessed the Spirit of God as no one else; if He were a god-like man — then the act of falling down to worship that babe would have been idolatry.  But Jesus was very God in the flesh.

     Twice the apostle John, in the book of Revelation, wanted to worship an angel who had shown to him great and mysterious things.  And the angel rebuked him, “See thou do it not!  Worship the Lord thy God!”  But the wise men worshiped Jesus, the Baby.  That was not idolatry.  That was not doing something they should not have done.  No, their faith was very strong.  They knew that Jesus, the Babe, was God’s only begotten Son, their Lord and their Master.  Do you know that?  Do you believe that, by God’s grace, with all your heart today?

     There are many who do not.  There are many who do not believe that Jesus is God’s Son.  If you were to say to those who are of the faith of Islam:  “Jesus is not simply a great prophet, but He is God,” then they would condemn you and hate you for that.  This was the issue in Jesus’ day.  When did the Jews take up stones to kill Jesus?  It was when Jesus, they said, made Himself equal to God (John 5:17ff.).

     Today many will say Jesus is the good man of Galilee, He gave the supreme example of how we should live, but He is not God!  How many in the malls during this Christmas season with all of the shopping, how many in America, understand that Jesus is God to whom they must give an answer?  This is very serious.  We read in John 3:18, “He that believeth on him (that is, on the only Begotten Son of God) is not condemned:  but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.”  We must believe this!

     With the disciple Thomas on the evening of Jesus’ resurrection from the dead, we must confess with all of its joy and all of its awe:  “My Lord and my God” (John 20:28 a).  And to do that, to say that Jesus is my God, the only Begotten Son, and my Lord means that, by grace, we have been adopted of God, that God’s grace has made us His son and daughter whereby we know that Jesus, our elder Brother, is God in the flesh and the Lord of our life.

     Thomas said that Jesus was “My God and my Lord.”  Those words were full of meaning.  I pray that the Holy Spirit may give us to repeat them in our souls.  You will remember that when Thomas said that, he was expressing his faith.  He had said a week before, “I will not believe that Jesus is risen from the dead except I see the nail prints and put my finger through those nail prints and my hand into His pierced side.”  If you think about it, he did not really believe that Jesus was the Son of God in the flesh.  But now the Holy Spirit, giving him to see the risen Lord and His wounds, declared to Thomas that Jesus was not simply a real man (He was that), but He was very really eternal, almighty God, who was to be worshiped and Thomas did so.  He worshiped Him as his God and as his Lord.  That is what the Scriptures proclaim to us.  The Scriptures proclaim that Jesus is the Son of God.  He is eternal God in the flesh.

     If you do not believe that, you do not have true, saving faith.  You cannot be saved, then, in Jesus Christ.  True and saving faith, a gift of God, is that Jesus Christ is very God.  This is denied by the cults:  the Mormons, and Jehovah’s Witnesses, and Islam, and religious modernism.  But this is non-negotiable.  The rock of our Christian, saving faith is that Jesus is true and eternal God, the only Begotten Son of God.  He is, in the words of II Timothy 3:16, God manifest in the flesh.  Or, as we read in the first verse of the gospel of John, which was written for the very purpose of showing the deity of Christ:  “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”  Then in verse 14, “And the Word was made flesh … (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.”  See also I John 5:20:   “And we know that the Son of God is come, and hath given us an understanding, that we may know him that is true, and we are in him that is true, even in his Son Jesus Christ.  This is the true God, and eternal life.”  I John 4:15:   “Whosoever shall confess that Jesus is the Son of God, God dwelleth in him, and he in God.”   Let us do that.  Let us confess, with all of its awe and wonder, that Jesus Christ is the only begotten Son of God.

     Let us do that knowing why it is so crucial to believe it.  We must know who He is.  We must not believe in a false Jesus.  We must have the true Jesus.  And we must understand that His death on the cross has infinite power only because He is the eternal Son of God.  The cross was God’s bearing God’s wrath.  On the cross was not only a man, but very God in human nature, so that He could bear what no man could bear and do what no man could do.  He could bring the full and eternal payment for our sin.  If He was only a man, if He was the best man, if He was a god-like man, if He was the highest humanity, if He was but a creature, He could not have borne the wrath of God.  It would crush him.  But Jesus was not crushed on the cross, for He is the Son of God, mighty to save, now in our flesh.  Let us confess it.  Galatians 2:20:   “I am crucified with Christ:  nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me:  and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.”  The Son of God gave Himself for me.

     But now, what exactly does that mean — that He is the only begotten Son of God?  We read that six times in the Bible, each time in the writings of the apostle John.  Well, it does not mean that Jesus is God’s one and only Son.  That statement is not a true statement.  I grieve over that statement in that in some Bibles those verses “only begotten Son” are translated that way — that Jesus is God’s one and only Son.  John 3:16 then would read, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his one and only Son.”  That’s not true.  That is not what it means that Jesus is the only begotten Son of God.  Jesus is not God’s one and only Son.  We are, by grace, sons of God through adoption.

     No, Jesus is God’s only begotten Son.  That word “begotten” is also non-negotiable.  We are not going to parley over that word.  We cannot.  The word “begotten” means to partake of the being of another, to come out of another’s being.  It means, very plainly, that Jesus is God’s natural Son, that His being is God’s being.  So He could say in John 10:30, “I and my Father are one.  We are one in being.”  Not simply one in purpose; one in being.  And the Jews understood that that was what He meant, so they picked up stones to kill Him.

     Eternally the second person, God the Son who is God of gods — He is the begotten of the Father.  He was not created to be a Son, but He is the Son, the mystery of the Trinity.  Jesus is the second person of the Trinity, God of God, very God, the natural Son of God in our flesh.

     But it means more.  It means that He is God’s eternal Son.  He was always with the Father.  For instance, we read in Galatians 4:4 that “when the fullness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son (pay attention to the Scripture!), God sent forth his Son.”  Jesus did not become God’s Son when He was born of the virgin Mary.  No, the Scriptures say God sent Him forth.  He was God’s Son before that.  He came in the flesh to be born in the flesh.  But He did not become God’s Son when He was born in the stable of Bethlehem.  He was eternally God’s Son.  According to His divine being, Jesus always was and ever shall be God of God.  That is what it means to call Him only begotten Son of God.  It means that God became a man and dwelt among us to be our Savior.

     Therefore He is Lord.  Thomas said, “My Lord and my God.”  Of course He is Lord, then.  He is sovereign.  He is master.  He is ruler of all by virtue of being God’s Son.  He is the heir of all things.

     The One whom we know and whom we believe is the Son of God in flesh and our Lord — King of kings, Lord of lords.  And He is Lord of lords not only because He has conquered our sins and ascended up on high and is now at God’s right hand and, therefore, the blessed Lord; but He is Lord, first of all, because He is the Son of the living God.  He is God.  That means that children, men, and women ought to have worshiped Him in Bethlehem.  That little baby in Mary’s arms was the Master and the Sovereign of all.  This is the condemnation, that God’s Son came into the world and the world received Him not.  And the word that I now bring to you, based upon the Bible, which is the truth, is that Jesus is the Lord of glory, God’s eternal and glorious Son before whom you must bow and worship in awe and wonder.  And how awful it would be not to do that.

     He is Lord, also by virtue of His salvation, by virtue of the fact that He has purchased us with His precious blood from all of our sins.  We read in I Peter 1:18, 19, “Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold” (silver and gold tarnish, you know.  They are corruptible things.  All of those things at the Christmas season, at Kohl’s and JC Penny and all the rest, they are all corruptible things.  They all fade away).  But, you see, we were not redeemed, says Peter, with a corruptible, fading-away, perishing thing.  We are not redeemed from our vain conversation which we had received, he said, from our fathers, with those corruptible things.  But now listen to these words, “But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.”  It was precious blood that Jesus shed for us because it was the blood of the Son of God in the flesh.  The Son of God, says Paul in Galatians 2:20, gave Himself for me.

     Now, as we try to look into that, we get dizzy.  We cannot see to the depth of the love of God.  The Son of God in the flesh, the divine nature of Christ never separated from the human — it is too much.  The Son of God gave Himself for me.  It was precious blood.  What joyful astonishment must have filled Thomas when he said, “My Lord and my God.”  He did not say that with a deadpan face and with a monotone voice, but “My Lord, and my God!”  That is who Jesus is.  That is the wonder of God’s love shining upon our hearts so that we know whom we have believed!

     Is that the way you confess this truth?  Your Savior is the only begotten Son of God and our Lord!  Have you sat through the darkness of the night and been troubled by the pressing of the Holy Spirit to see the black hole of your sin down in your soul?  And have you, then, heard the glorious gospel, that the Son of God loved me and gave Himself for me and is my Lord?  Oh, how glorious!  Have you been bound long in prison?  Are you under the bars of discouragement?  Are you behind the locked doors of hopelessness?  Does it seem that your circumstances of life shut out all reality of any hope ever again?  Then hear the music of the gospel — the Son of God loved me!  How Thomas must have said it.  He must have said it with profound humility, perhaps almost as a moan.  Look at what he had said.  He had said, “I will not believe.”  He seems to say now, “How could I have ever doubted Thee, Lord?  How could I have done that?”  But he must have spoken in joyful astonishment, “Oh, wonder of wonders.  The risen Lord, the living One, is my Lord and my God!”

     Let us say that.  Let us say that by faith, through grace.  This is the One in whom we believe.  He is the only begotten Son, our Lord.

     Remember, then, that by grace you have been adopted in the beloved Son.  Through the Son of God, who is the natural Son, we have been given the right of spiritual adoption so that we are called the sons and daughters of God adopted in Him.  And we are adopted because Christ, the Son of God, earned for us this right.  What a wonderful truth.  What a truth that gives us peace and joy in our hearts.

     Shall we, then, sit down in despair?  Shall we persist in debasing ourselves in a sinful way?  Shall we wallow in self-pity because of the difficult pathway of our life?  Shall we say, concerning ourselves, “I’m too short.  I’m too tall.  I’m too round.  I’m too narrow.  I’m too big.  I’m too small.  I’m too broad.  I’m too skinny.  My hair isn’t the right color.”  Shall we go on and on with all of this, this discontentment?  Shall we have a boiling anger in us against the way that the Lord calls, a deep resentment:  “I’m not going to submit to those parents.  It’s not fair!”  Is this the way we live our life?

     Listen.  The Son of God loved me and gave Himself for me.  I am a child of the King.

     No, do not pity yourself.  Never pity yourself.  This is the most comforting of all things.  We belong to the very Son of God who is now our Lord.  He delivers us, for He is the mighty Son of God.  He delivers us by giving us repentance.

     Maybe you say, “This sin in my life is just too much.  I’m caught.  I can’t stop.  The claws of this sin are sunk so deep into me and it’s robbed me now of so much in my life.”  Listen.  He is the Son of God.  He is our Lord.  Look to Him.  Do not say, “My sin is almighty.”  Do not say, “My sin is lord.”  But say, “My Jesus is both Lord and God.”

     Humbled in sorrow under our sin, looking to Him, we shall be lifted by Him who is able to deliver us and place us in the freedom of repentance.  You see how personal this must be?  He is my Lord and He is my God — the only begotten Son, our Lord.  Therefore, by grace, I am His son and his servant.

     It means, then, that we shall be devoted to serve and to worship Him, body and soul.  To the wicked world He is not Lord and He is not God.  It takes grace to bring this confession to our lips.  But when grace brings this confession to our lips, then we shall not fear.  For then we shall say, “Who shall separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord?”  The One who has all power in heaven and on earth is my Lord, to whom I belong.  Then I will not fear what man can do to me.  Then we shall worship God the Son.  We shall be awed by His eternal love — that He gave Himself for me and purchased me out of my sin.  And I shall ask, “How, how can I ever show my thanks?”  Let my tongue, let my actions, let my heart be as a continual offering of worship to Him.  Let us bow and let us worship before the manger.  This is the only begotten Son, our Lord.

     Father, bless Thy Word to our hearts as we now pray in Jesus’ name, Amen.