Topic: IV. God the Son
Lesson: A. Attributes of the Son
"The Son is the radiance of God's glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word."(Hebrews 1:3) This verse describes some characteristics of God the Son. Since the Son is God, all of the words which we use to describe God can also be used to describe the Son. This is what is meant by the Son being God (not just 'a' god or a godly person having some characteristics of God).
Objective: To understand the divine essence and character of God and to be able to describe the Son as God
1. God the Son is Personal
God the Son is a living person, he thinks, acts, and communicates. He has a will, and plans. He is a living being, not a thing or a force. He is a unity, and is not made up of parts. He is personal, alive, having a will, and is an entity.
We do not have much of a problem thinking of Jesus as a living person, because he was a person during his Earthly ministry. But in the early church, many people had problems of really seeing the person of Jesus as a divine person with an individual will apart from the Father.
"That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched-- this we proclaim concerning the Word of life. The life appeared; we have seen it and testify to it, and we proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and has appeared to us."(1st John 1:1-2)
John the apostle emphasizes that his testimony was based upon what he himself heard, saw, examined and felt, and that this was not just a normal person but the very Word of life, once with the Father, but appearing to John and the disciples as the person Jesus Christ.
2. God the Son is Eternal
God the Son has always existed and always will. He existed before creation, and before he was born of the Virgin Mary. He does not depend on the universe or any created thing for his existence. He has always existed and always will. He is unchanging, although he does act. He is eternal, self-existent, transcendent, free, and immutable (unchanging).
"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning."(John 1:1-2) The Word is described in John 1 as being God and being with God, later in the chapter it is made clear that Jesus is the Word. Certainly the human Jesus did not exist before creation, but the diviine nature existed, the Word existed as a person before becoming flesh and taking on human nature.
"Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever."(Hebrews 13:8) As God the Father does not change, the Son does not change. This verse must be taken to mean that Jesus' attributes and character (both human and divine) do not change. Certainly there were some changes in that there was a time when Jesus Christ did not have a human body (before the Virgin Birth), and the human body changed from being a normal human body (subject to aging) into a resurrection body which is immortal (just as our bodies will change at the rapture of our Lord). Jesus was always all-powerful, all-knowing, good, holy, and all the other words we are using in this lesson.
3. God the Son is Spirit
Although God the Son has a resurrection body, his divine essence is spirit, invisible. We cannot physically see or sense Him as he is present in the world today, no laboratory instrument can detect Him. Jesus is present in his divine and human natures in a resurrection body in heaven, wherever that is located in space. But Jesus in His divine nature is also an all present spirit. Just as we cannot measure the presence of God (our spirit-o-meter doesn't work), we cannot measure the presence of Jesus.
"So it is written: 'The first man Adam became a living being'; the last Adam, a life-giving spirit."(1st Corinthians 15:45) Paul says that as Adam became a living being, the last Adam (Jesus) became a life-giving spirit. This section of Scripture is a comparison of how Adam sinned and all mankind suffers death as a result, but Jesus Christ lived sinlessly and died one death for all, so that whoever believes in Him receives eternal life. The point here is simply that Jesus is called a 'life-giving spirit'.
4. God the Son is All-Present
God the Son, in His divine nature, exists throughout the entire universe, yet he is present at each particular place. He is immense and infinite (in all his qualities), yet he is not 'spread thin' through the universe. All of God the Son's being is present here and now. God the Son is all-present (immanent), immense, and infinite.
Perhaps an extension of the idea of the Son as a spirit is the idea of the Son being everywhere (as a spirit). Just as God the Father is everywhere, Jesus is everywhere, but not 'spread thin' like butter on bread. He fills the universe (in his divine nature).
"For where two or three come together in my name, there I am with them."(Matthew 18:20) As Christians gather together, this verse assures us that Jesus is with us (because two or three are gathered in His name). Of course, I also believe that in the Assembly church down the street, and in the Baptist church down the road, Jesus is present (even though we have some differences with those churches). Wherever two or three are gathered in His name, and that presumably includes 40 or so other Bible Fellowship churches (our denomination) plus thousands of other believing churches all over the world, Jesus is there. He is at all of them at the same time.
Perhaps some might interpret Jesus as saying, "There I am with them in the person of the Holy Spirit", but that is not what it says. It says "There am I with them." We also have the promise of Jesus, "Lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age." Again, I read this as Jesus' own presence, not the presence of the Holy Spirit.
5. God the Son is All-Knowing
God the Son knows all things and all things that are possible. He knows the past, present and future. This includes knowledge of all facts and knowledge of what is best (wisdom). He is true and the standard of truth. He is always true to his character and word. Jesus is all-knowing, faithful, and true to his promises and character, and always knows what is best.
The resurrected Jesus spoke to the Apostle John in a vision saying, "... then all the churches will know that I am he who searches hearts and minds, and I will repay each of you according to your deeds."(Revelation 2:23) Jesus knows what I am thinking and He knows why I do what I do. He knows our motives. Certainly this was displayed during His earthly ministry - several times He knew what his critics were thinking.
Question from the class: "How do you reconcile this with Jesus saying that only the Father knows the time of Jesus' return (the second coming)?"
Answer: There will be more on this in the next lesson. But ... we must realize that Jesus had two natures, divine and human, and I believe that in his human nature Jesus was not all-knowing, and did not know the time of His return. I might go beyond Scripture (and you may disagree) and say that I think that in his Divine nature Jesus knew all things including the time of his return. We will speak of the differences of the two natures and their relationships next week.
"Jesus answered, 'I am the way and the truth adn the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.'"(John 16:6) This verse clearly show that Jesus is not only true, he is the standard of truth.
6. God the Son is All-Powerful
The Son has infinite power. He is supreme in power and position, sovereigh of all things. He is fully capable of carrying out His holy will."He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, 'Quiet! Be still!" Then the wind died down and it was completely calm. They were terrified and asked each other, 'Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!'"(Mark 4:39,41)
This is the main section to consider during Jesus' earthly ministry. He was asleep in the boat (human nature was tired) when the storm arose. The experienced fishermen feared for their lives, and woke Jesus up. Jesus rebuked the wind and talked to the waves and the wind stopped and the sea became calm. The disciples said, "Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!" While we must consider that sometimes Jesus prayed and the Father answered, and other times Jesus worked miracles by the power of the Holy Spirit, yet here Jesus directly commanded creation and it obeyed. The disciple's clearly observed this, and Jesus did not correct them. This showed the power of Jesus, the Son of God, over creation.
7. God the Son is Holy
The Son is holy, consistent with the purposes of the Father. He is a God of peace and order. He is righteous and just in all his thoughts and actions. But he is full of zeal (jealous) for His Father's glory, and his justice includes wrath upon sin and disobedience. While the Son is wholy, without sin, peaceful and orderly, always doing the right thing, we must nor forget in our concept of holiness the wrath upon sin and disobedience.
"You disowned the Holy and Righteous One and asked that a murderer be released to you."(Acts 3:14) Peter addressed the Jews as a people, reminding them of the trial of Jesus before Pilate. Peter said they disowned 'the Holy and Righteous One', we know that they disowned Jesus (the murderer was Barabas). Jesus was righteous and holy in his divine nature as God, and also in his human nature - having fulfilled all the requirements of the law during his earthly life.
How about the wrath of God? We read "... he made a whip out of cords and drove all from the temple area ..."(John 2:15) Near the beginning of his ministry, he was filled with zeal for the holiness of God's temple and make a whip and drove money changers out of the temple. This would be an outer court of the temple. Jesus apparently did this near the beginning of his ministry and again at the end of his ministry. Jesus was angry, and expressed that anger, turning over tables and even, apparently, using his whip on people. And yet we know that Jesus did not sin, ever. Jesus righteous anger was an expression of divine wrath. We also know that someday Jesus will judge the world, and perhaps this incident is good to keep in mind. The concept of Jesus' holiness must include his judgment and wrath upon sin.
8. God the Son is Loving
God the Son constantly and eternally gives of himself to others. He came to earth and died on the cross as a means of taking away sin, showing love, mercy and grace to sinful people. He is patient, and rewards those who seek Him. Even while thinking of the wrathful aspect of holiness, we realize that Jesus was and is infinitely loving, forgiving, merciful, graceful, patient, and a rewarder of those who do good. The fullest expression of His love was dying on the cross for us, to take away our sin, even when we were unlovable sinners.
"Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her."(Ephesians 5:25) Paul gives Jesus' love as an example, that husbands should love their wives. Jesus' love was literally self-sacrificing.
"For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father's glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what he has done."(Matthew 16:27) Jesus will reward each person for what he has done. If we seek Jesus, he will reward us now (with being able to know and fellowship with him) and ultimately at his return to earth (second coming).
9. God the Son is Good
The Son is infinitely good in all that he is and does. His glory is exceedingly magnificent, his beauty unimaginable. He is blessed and the source of all blessings. Every action of Jesus during his earthly life, and his eternal life from before creation to the unending future, is good. We cannot fully comprehend the full beauth and glory of the Son.
Jesus called himself 'the good shepherd', and he is."I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep."(John 10:11) The measure of Jesus' love way dying for his sheep.
The goodness of Jesus the Son includes the glory of God. The Apostle John testified that the Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.(John 1:14) The ideas of goodness in this verse are glory, grace and truth. He was full of grace and truty. Perhaps John was thinking of the transfiguration, when Jesus shone as a bright light, a revelation of the Glory of God.
God the son is personal, eternal, spirit, all-present, all-knowing, all-powerful, holy, loving, and good.
No written assignment for this lesson.
Ryrie: Chapters 42 and 43
"I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." (John 14:6)
"I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep." (John 10:11)
"Fairest Lord Jesus! Ruler of all nature!
O Thou of God and man the Son!
Thee will I cherish, Thee will I honor,
Thou my soul's glory, joy and crown!"
(Fairest Lord Jesus )