I’m going out of the way to share this weekend’s radio program with you, as its subject matter is one of pertinence. In recent years, through influence from some nefarious characters, Christians in every denomination are being led into destructive heresies as it relates to the Godhead. From a denial of Trinitarianism, to a belief in multiple gods, to a denial of Christ’s eternal Sonship, errors once dismissed as unorthodox and absurd are now spreading among Christians. By the way, Primitive Baptists haven’t been immune to this either.
What causes this? Well, there’s no one answer. I suspect a combination of lack of discipleship, Biblical ignorance, attraction to alternate takes on reality and conspiracy theories, as well as a disdain for old creeds and the study of history is largely to blame. Regardless, we’ve got to get this right and this week’s radio program is my attempt to help you be informed. I’ve also included my show notes as a study help. Please listen and share!
The Eternal Sonship of Christ | Radio broadcast for February 5, 2023
The most important question in history is “who is Jesus Christ?” Simply put, Jesus’ identity as the messiah, the Christ, the incarnate Word, and God’s only Son is the basis for our hope for salvation from sin and everlasting life. In light of this fact, a branch of theology we call “Christology” is something we want to get right.
In today’s broadcast, our focus is the Eternal Sonship of Christ. While this is a nonnegotiable doctrine to Christians from the time of Christ onward, some in recent years have erred, rejected this notion. In this edition of Words of Grace, Pastor Winslett speaks to the history of this debate as well as the scriptural soundness of this doctrine.
The Eternal Sonship of Christ, Show Notes
- Well as you can imagine, our broadcast today is going to be devoted to a very crucial doctrine to Christians, the eternal sonship of our Lord Jesus Christ. As we begin, we acknowledge that this is a subject about which many books have been written and we have but a 29 minute window to explore this doctrine with you. Just suffice it to say, much more could be said than what we’ll have time to get to today.
- What our intention is, is to open with the history of this debate, before looking to the scriptures and then some tried and true language we find in older writings, and then ending with why we want to get this right.
- The Identity of Jesus is the most important issue in human history. In Matthew 16, Jesus asked His disciples “who do you say I am?” If His identity is the most important issue in history, then this question is the most important QUESTION in history.
- Peter’s answer – the Christ, which is the Son of the Living God.
- This question is one that would be at the core of many of the early church disputes and all out wars.
- First, you had the gnostics. They were antichrists (John’s word) who rejected that the Lord had a flesh and blood body and also rejected His divinity. Interesting they reject both natures of Christ in what we call the hypostatic union.
- Then you had the Arians, who denied that Jesus was eternally God. As such, they also rejected the Trinity.
- The orthodox won out and the Trinity as well as the Eternal Sonship and Deity of Christ have been the majority view, and are required not only for fellowship with the church, but to be a church to start with. This battle played itself out at Nicea, and was reiterated at the councils of Constantinople and Chancedon, and it is articulated in the Athanasian Creed. More from those resources later…
- Regardless of what theologians, councils, and creeds say, the Bible is the rule for faith and practice. But this is an area that the councils got absolutely right and it’s not really possible to improve upon the language they used.
- As far as Jesus’ Divinity, we have passages like John 1, the Word was God.
- We also have awesome statements like Hebrews 1:8, “Son, thy throne O God…”
- The very title Lord Jesus Christ is Divine, as Jews would say Lord rather than the name of God, the tetragrammaton.
- But Christ’s SONSHIP is one of the primary scriptural references from which we know and articulate His Deity!
- As articulated at Nicea, Christ is of the same substance as the father. The word they used was homoousious, or pronounced in Greek as ομοουσιοσ. The heritics added an iota making the word ομοιούσιος , meaning similar. (Hence, not one iota as an idiom).
- One constant title of Jesus was The Son of God. We saw that in Matthew. Let’s do a little bit of reasoning.
- I am a son. As a son I am of the same substance of my father, flesh. I am of the same essence and nature as my father, which in Adam is sin. Everything we are we get from our parents.
- What is God communicating to us by this language we find both in the Old and New Testament? Remember Psalm 2, kiss the son. Remember the likeness of the Son of God in the fiery furnace. Remember all the references in the NT.
- Christ is the Son of God. As such, He is of the same substance as His Father, which is Divine. He is of the same essence and nature of His father, which is Divine. So what are the implications of this?
- Jesus is co-eternal with the Father. Same substance, and God is from Everlasting to Everlasting, Psalm 90:2.
- Jesus is co-equal with the Father, because there is none greater than God, Heb 6:13.
- This is why Jesus said to see Him was to see the Father.
- Take away Eternal Sonship and you attack this crucial doctrine.
- And so, Jesus is properly described as being the Eternal Son of God, eternally begotten by the Father, and we call this doctrine eternal generation. He’s eternally God’s Son.
- So the Son of God has always been the Son of God. Think of how silly it would be contrarywise. You’d have a mutable God, rather than an immutable God. You’d have a change in the unchanging Three-In-One God. God the Father would not have been such for eternity past. And God the Son would not have been such for eternity past. How bizarre of a view is that. They would have God the Father becoming God the Father at the conception of Christ. So denial of this even challenges the immutability of God. But we know He changes not! Mal 3.
- Now if you’ll notice, rather than Jesus becoming God’s son at incarnation, the Bible says God sent His Son, not God sent something that became His Son.
- Gal 4:4, 1 John 4:9 and 4:10. John 3:16.
Why We Want To Get This Right?
- Why is this so important? Simply put, to dismiss the eternal sonship of Christ is to reject the God of Christianity, the Christ of Christianity, to reject the very arguments used to defend the Divinity of Jesus Christ, and to dismantle even the very teaching of the Trinity. It aligns oneself with the most nefarious of heretics through Christian history and alienates ones’ self from the most godly and pious lovers of Christ since His incarnation 2000 years ago.
Nicene Creed of 325,
“And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, begotten of the Father [the only-begotten; that is, of the essence of the Father, God of God,] Light of Light, very God of very God, begotten, not made, consubstantial with the Father;”
Council at Constantinople 381,
“And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God, begotten of the Father before all worlds (æons), Light of Light, very God of very God, begotten, not made, consubstantial with the Father;”
Council at Chalcedon 451,
We, then, following the holy Fathers, all with one consent, teach people to confess one and the same Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, the same perfect in Godhead and also perfect in manhood; truly God and truly man, of a reasonable soul and body; consubstantial with the Father according to the Godhead, and consubstantial with us according to the Manhood;
That we worship one God in trinity and the trinity in unity,
neither blending their persons
nor dividing their essence.
For the person of the Father is a distinct person,
the person of the Son is another,
and that of the Holy Spirit still another.
But the divinity of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit is one,
their glory equal, their majesty coeternal.
What quality the Father has, the Son has, and the Holy Spirit has.
The Father is uncreated,
the Son is uncreated,
the Holy Spirit is uncreated.
The Father is immeasurable,
the Son is immeasurable,
the Holy Spirit is immeasurable.
The Father is eternal,
the Son is eternal,
the Holy Spirit is eternal.
And yet there are not three eternal beings;
there is but one eternal being.
So too there are not three uncreated or immeasurable beings;
there is but one uncreated and immeasurable being.
Similarly, the Father is almighty,
the Son is almighty,
the Holy Spirit is almighty.
Yet there are not three almighty beings;
there is but one almighty being.
Thus the Father is God,
the Son is God,
the Holy Spirit is God.
Yet there are not three gods;
there is but one God.
Thus the Father is Lord,
the Son is Lord,
the Holy Spirit is Lord.
Yet there are not three lords;
there is but one Lord.
Just as Christian truth compels us
to confess each person individually
as both God and Lord,
so catholic religion forbids us
to say that there are three gods or lords.
The Father was neither made nor created nor begotten from anyone.
The Son was neither made nor created;
he was begotten from the Father alone.
The Holy Spirit was neither made nor created nor begotten;
he proceeds from the Father and the Son.
Accordingly there is one Father, not three fathers;
there is one Son, not three sons;
there is one Holy Spirit, not three holy spirits.
Nothing in this trinity is before or after,
nothing is greater or smaller;
in their entirety the three persons
are coeternal and coequal with each other.
So in everything, as was said earlier,
we must worship their trinity in their unity
and their unity in their trinity.