One of the most important questions you will ever ask and answer in your life is: “Who is Jesus?” Do you question whether Jesus is, in fact, God, the second person of the Holy Trinity and the savior of the world? And did his death on the cross actually pay for the sins of all people for all time? Why is it so important that we get the deity of Christ correct? Why is it so important that we understand who Jesus is? Because Jesus said
John 8:24(HCSB)24 Therefore I told you that you will die in your sins. For if you do not believe that I am He, you will die in your sins.
If we get the deity of Christ wrong everything else is null and void.
The Son of God
The New Testament recounts few instances when God was heard speaking from heaven. When He did, it was normally to announce something startling. God was zealous to announce that Jesus Christ was His Son. At Jesus’ baptism, the heavens opened and God’s voice was heard, saying,
Matthew 3:17(HCSB)17 And there came a voice from heaven: This is My beloved Son. I take delight in Him! Elsewhere, the Father declared from heaven, Mark 9:7(HCSB)7 A cloud appeared, overshadowing them, and a voice came from the cloud: This is My beloved Son; listen to Him! Thus, the title conferred from on high to Jesus is Son of God.”
Jesus is not God’s Son in the sense of a human father and a son. God did not get married and have a son. God did not mate with Mary and, together with her, produce a son. But what exactly does “Son of God” mean? We know it cannot be literal, for that would mean that the “Father” procreated him by a woman or a goddess (as the pagan religions, which had such human activities among the gods). These ideas are foreign to the true faith of the Bible. There is no heavenly consort; God has no wife; there is no goddess. Jesus is God’s Son in the sense that He is God made manifest in human form John 1:1-2(HCSB)In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was with God in the beginning.
John 1:14(HCSB) The Word became flesh and took up residence among us. Jesus is God’s Son in that He was conceived in Mary by the Holy Spirit. Luke 1:35 (HCSB)declares, “The angel answered, ‘The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God.’”
In reference to Jesus, the term, “Son of God,” does not mean that Jesus is the literal offspring of God as if God had some form of sexual relations with Mary to produce Jesus. God is spirit John 4:24(HCSB)24 God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.” and spirit does not have flesh and bones Luke 24:37-43(HCSB)37 But they were startled and terrified and thought they were seeing a ghost. 38 “Why are you troubled?” He asked them. “And why do doubts arise in your hearts? 39 Look at My hands and My feet, that it is I Myself! Touch Me and see, because a ghost does not have flesh and bones as you can see I have.” 40 Having said this, He showed them His hands and feet. 41 But while they still were amazed and unbelieving because of their joy, He asked them, “Do you have anything here to eat?” 42 So they gave Him a piece of a broiled fish, 43 and He took it and ate in their presence., so God the Father is not the literal father of Jesus as in terms of how a man and a woman have children. Is that would indicate that Jesus was not the second person of the trinity but a created being.
During His trial before the Jewish leaders, the High Priest demanded of Jesus, Matthew 26:63-66(HCSB)63 But Jesus kept silent. Then the high priest said to Him, “By the living God I place You under oath: tell us if You are the Messiah, the Son of God!”64 “You have said it,” Jesus told him. “But I tell you, in the future you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of the Power and coming on the clouds of heaven.” 65 Then the high priest tore his robes and said, “He has blasphemed! Why do we still need witnesses? Look, now you’ve heard the blasphemy! 66 What is your decision?” They answered, “He deserves death!”
The Jewish leaders responded by accusing Jesus of blasphemy. Later, before Pontius Pilate, John 19:7(HCSB)7 “We have a law,” the Jews replied to him, “and according to that law He must die, because He made Himself the Son of God.”
Why would His claiming to be the Son of God be considered blasphemy and be worthy of a death sentence? The Jewish leaders understood exactly what Jesus meant by the phrase “Son of God.” To be the Son of God is to be of the same nature as God. The Son of God is “of God.” The claim to be of the same nature as God—to in fact be God—was blasphemy to the Jewish leaders; therefore, they demanded Jesus’ death, in keeping with Leviticus 24:16(HCSB)16 Whoever blasphemes the name of Yahweh is to be put to death; It is expressed very clearly, Hebrews 1:3 (ESV)“The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of His being.”
Another example can be found in where Judas is described as the “son of destruction.” John 17:12(HCSB)While I was with them, I was protecting them by Your name that You have given Me. I guarded them and not one of them is lost, except the son of destruction, so that the Scripture may be fulfilled. John 6:71(HCSB)71 He was referring to Judas, Simon Iscariot’s son,one of the Twelve, because he was going to betray Him. This tells us that Judas was the son of Simon. What does John 17:12 mean by describing Judas as the “son of destruction”? The greek word apoleia means “destruction, ruin, waste.” Judas was not the literal son of “ruin, destruction, and waste,” but those things were the identity of Judas’ life. Judas was a manifestation of apoleia. In this same way, Jesus is the Son of God. The Son of God is God.
In some translations Jesus is referred to as the “Only begotten son of God” False teachers have latched onto this phrase to try to prove their false teaching that Jesus Christ isn’t God; i.e., that Jesus isn’t equal in essence to God as the Second Person of the Trinity. They see the word “begotten” and say that Jesus is a created being because only someone who had a beginning in time can be “begotten.” What this fails to note is that “begotten” is an English translation of a Greek word. As such, we have to look at the original meaning of the Greek word, not transfer English meanings into the text.
The Greek term translated “only begotten” is monogenes, a word used nine times in the New Testament that can mean one of a kind or unique. For example, Luke uses the term three times to refer to an only child (Luke 7:12; 8:42; 9:38). The writer of Hebrews uses the term to refer to Isaac, the only son of Abraham and Sarah, the son of the promise Hebrews 11:17(HCSB)17 By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac. He received the promises and he was offering his unique son,. Modern translations generally translate monogenes in John 3:16 as “one and only Son” or “only Son” to reflect this definition. John 3:16(HCSB)16 “For God loved the world in this way: He gave His One and Only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life.
But does this mean Jesus was somehow born or created by God the Father? It does not. Instead, the emphasis is on Jesus as one in unique relationship with the Father. The Bible often uses Father and Son with God and Jesus to explain their relationship in terms we can better understand as humans, but this does not mean Jesus was created by God the Father. The bottom line is that terms such as “Father” and “Son,” descriptive of God and Jesus, are human terms that help us understand the relationship between the different Persons of the Trinity. If you can understand the relationship between a human father and a human son, then you can understand, in part, the relationship between the First and Second Persons of the Trinity. The analogy breaks down if you try to take it too far and teach, as some Christian cults (such as the Jehovah’s Witnesses), that Jesus was literally “begotten” as in “produced” or “created” by God the Father.
Other passages in the Bible make this very clear. For example, John 1:1-3(HCSB) states, In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was with God in the beginning. 3 All things were created through Him, and apart from Him not one thing was created that has been created.
The use of monogenes in John 3:16 is similar to what is seen in other passages of Scripture to refer to Jesus as unique. For example, John 1:14(HCSB) shares, The Word became flesh and took up residence among us. We observed His glory, the glory as the One and Only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. John 1:18(HCSB) includes, No one has ever seen God. The One and Only Son— the One who is at the Father’s side— He has revealed Him. John 3:18(HCSB) adds, 18 Anyone who believes in Him is not condemned, but anyone who does not believe is already condemned, because he has not believed in the name of the One and Only Son of God.
1John 4:9 notes, 9 God’s love was revealed among us in this way: God sent His One and Only Son into the world so that we might live through Him.
The understanding that Jesus is completely unique, yet not a created being, was so important in the early church that it was emphasized in one of the earliest creeds, the Nicene Creed: “I believe…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.” This statement sought to make clear that Jesus is both eternal and is the one and only Son of God sent to offer salvation to the world.
Jesus is the Son of God in that He is the manifestation of God in flesh John 1:1(HCSB)In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
John 1:14(HCSB)4 The Word became flesh and took up residence among us. We observed His glory, the glory as the One and Only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. Jesus was as much human as you or I, but He was also a completely different type of human, because unlike us, He was without sin. Like other humans, He was born of a woman, but His conception was completely different, having been conceived in the virgin Mary (Luke 1:35(HCSB)35 The angel replied to her: “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. Therefore, the holy One to be born will be called the Son of God. by the Holy Spirit that He should not ‘inherit’ the imputation of Adam’s sin.
As the Son of God, Jesus was the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of His being, but His glory was veiled by His humanity Hebrews 1:3(HCSB)3 The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact expression of His nature, sustaining all things by His powerful word. After making purification for sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high. One day all of mankind will see the Son of God coming in power and glory and every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus, the Son of God, is Lord Philippians 2:10-11(HCSB)so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow— of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth—11 and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
If Jesus is not the divine, eternal Son of God, of one substance with the Father, then all Christian worship of him is idolatrous. But if he is the true and living Lord, then all worship must be in Christ Jesus, for no one comes to the Father except by the Son