ARTICLES

Did God Have a Son to Give?

By David Clayton

One of the most popular avenues taken by those who deny that Jesus is the true literal son of God, is to claim that Jesus was not the Son of God until he was conceived by the Holy Spirit in the womb of Mary, or until He was resurrected after His crucifixion (Rom. 1:4).

Does this claim bear the test of close investigation? Is this conclusion a reasonable one in light of all the facts? Jesus, as well as the entire New Testament reveals that God's love was supremely manifested when He gave His "only begotten Son" for men. (John 3: 16; 1 John 4: 10). Let us pause to think about this. God wants men to appreciate how much He loves them. His whole purpose from the beginning of the world has been to reveal the degree of His love for mankind. When He finally unveiled the fullness of His love in all its splendor for the universe to see, it was in the act of sending someone to earth to die for men. In this action of sending this person, God revealed His love in a way that it had never been seen before and would never again be equaled in all eternity.



TWO VITAL QUESTIONS

There are two vital questions which we need to ask ourselves. the first one is, who was this person that God sent? This question is critical because if the sending of this person is the key factor in the revelation of God's love, then it must be clear that the key question is, "What was the relationship between this person and God?"

Let me illustrate my point. If John 3:16 had read, "God so loved the world that He gave an angel whom He created…." or, "God so loved the world that He gave His friend…." Would the action really have impressed us with the fact that God's love for us is very great? Men would have understood if God had claimed to have given an angel. We would have comprehended it if God had claimed to have given His friend. But would this really have revealed God's love for man? The plain fact is, God's consistent testimony is that He gave His SON. In the very words of that Son, "His only begotten Son." How great is God's love for us? The answer to that question pivots around the issue of who Jesus really was. Only as we can discern the true identity of Christ can we appreciate the enormity of the sacrifice which God made for man, and therefore the magnitude of His love for us.

A relevant question is, "why does the Bible call Jesus the "Son of God." Is this term one that was coined by the gospel writers, was it a figurative term, was it a title like the term "prophet (as some have suggested)?" The plain fact of the matter is that God Himself in the presence of a multitude of people proclaimed, "This is my beloved Son (Matt. 3:17)." Again, Jesus Himself over and over declared that He was the SON of God, and more than that, the "only begotten Son of God." (John 3:16) The testimony of these two Beings none dare contradict, or ascribe to tradition or custom or misunderstanding. Surely, God knew the identity of Jesus and Jesus Himself must have known His own identity. Let us then make note of the fact that in seeking to convey to human minds the relationship between God and Jesus, both Jesus and God have used the word "Son" and "Father". Any human being therefore is guilty of the greatest presumption if he concludes that Jesus is anyone other than the Son of God.

Did God merely use human terminology when He referred to Jesus as His "beloved Son," so that we could understand how He feels about Jesus? Was this an attempt on the part of God to mislead us, or to enlighten us? Does God want us to believe something is so, even though it isn't? If God wanted us to think of Jesus as His Son, why should we think of Him as being God Himself? Are we wiser than God? When God says, "this is my beloved Son," how can we be so presumptuous as to say, "He was not really God's Son. He was God Himself!!" Let us be certain of this: God has given us the information which we need and what He tells us is what He expects us to believe and to receive. Furthermore, the only safety in this world lies in believing and receiving that word.

The second vital question which we must ask is, when did Jesus become the Son of God? This question is a critical one because God's love for us is revealed in the gift of His Son. Yet, God could not have loved Christ as a Son until He became His Son. Does this sound logical? God's love for His Son must be measured from the time when He had a Son. If Jesus had existed before He became God's Son, then God may have loved Him as a brother, as a friend, may even have been said to love Himself, if as some say, Jesus was God Himself. However, He could not have loved Him as His Son until He became His Son.

When did Jesus become the Son of God? Strenuous efforts have been made to prove that God never had a Son before Jesus came to earth. Such efforts have come from all quarters, but all of them fail in the light of the plain simple word of God. Was there a

time when God said, "Son, you may go?" 1 John 4:9 says that God sent His only begotten Son into the world. When did this happen? Was it before Jesus came into the world or was it after He came into the world? Did God first send Jesus into the world and then after His arrival here, say, "Son, you may go into the world?" These questions may seem ridiculous but they need to be asked in order that it may become clear how unreasonable is the position that Jesus never became God's Son until after He had come into the world. Basic logic should tell us that if God sent His Son into the world (John 3:17; 1 John 4:9) then He must have had a Son to send (Mark 12:6). He did not send Himself to become His Son, He did not send His friend to become His Son, He did not send a part of Himself to become His Son. At the moment when Jesus was sent, He was already the Son of God.

To believe that Jesus was not God's Son until He was conceived in Mary's womb would present the ridiculous idea that Jesus arrived before He was sent. Or that God sent His Son before He had a Son.

It is painful to see Christian men and women twisting the word of God in an attempt to obscure and destroy this simple truth which is so plainly taught in the Bible. it is particularly distressing to find people who love to quote the writings of Ellen White when it suits them, totally ignoring and outrightly contradicting the plainest statements of E.G. White when it comes to this issue. There are several issues on which Ellen white's statements seem to be ambiguous and on which it may be difficult to arrive at a settled understanding of what exactly was her position. However, on the question of Jesus' identity before He came to earth, there is no mistaking the teachings of Ellen White.

"Before the foundations of the world were laid, Christ, the Only Begotten of God, pledged Himself to become the Redeemer of the human race, should Adam sin. ...

" In His incarnation He gained in a new sense the title of the Son of God. Said the angel to Mary, "The power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God" (Luke 1:35). While the Son of a human being, He became the Son of God in a new sense. Thus He stood in our world—the Son of God, yet allied by birth to the human race." (1SM, PG- 226, 227)

"The Eternal Father, the unchangeable one, gave his only begotten Son, tore from his bosom Him who was made in the express image of his person, and sent him down to earth to reveal how greatly he loved mankind. (Advent Review and Sabbath Herald - 07-09-95)

A complete offering has been made; for "God so loved the world, that he gave his only-begotten Son,"— not a son by creation, as were the angels, nor a son by adoption, as is the forgiven sinner, but a Son begotten in the express image of the Father's person, and in all the brightness of his majesty and glory, one equal with God in authority, dignity, and divine perfection. In him dwelt all the fullness of the Godhead bodily. (The Signs of the Times - 05-30-95)


TESTIMONY OF THE OLD TESTAMENT

Though the testimony of the Old Testament is not as clear as that of the New, there are several verses in the Old Testament which clearly reveal the truth that God had a Son long before Jesus ever came to the earth.

"Who hath ascended up into heaven, or descended? who hath gathered the wind in his fists? who hath bound the waters in a garment? who hath established all the ends of the earth? what is his name, and what is his son's name, if thou canst tell?" (Prov 30:4)

Which two beings was this verse speaking of? One of them is clearly the Creator of all things the one who "bound the waters in a garment" and "established all the ends of the earth." However, there is another person mentioned. Here long before Christ was born in Bethlehem the question is asked, "what is His Son's name?" If God did not have a Son at that time what is the meaning of the question?

Again when we look at Proverbs 8:22-31 it is difficult for us to misunderstand the meaning of the passage. Of whom is this passage speaking? The first few verses of the chapter indicate that it is speaking of "wisdom." However, as often happens with Old Testament prophetic or poetic passages the subject changes from a general application to specific application to someone in particular. It is clear that these verses must be speaking of a person rather than the abstract quality of wisdom because it states that "I was brought forth" (v 24, 25). If we were to conclude that this refers to the quality of wisdom, then we would also have to conclude that there was a time, before God brought forth wisdom when wisdom did not exist and that therefore at one point, God was not wise. This person mentioned in verses 22-31 has some very particular specifications which could apply to only one Being in the universe. Let us look at some of these specifications:

1. The person was "brought forth" (born, begotten. v 24, 25) The term "brought forth" is translated as "given birth" in the NIV and also in the BBE (Bible in basic English). In the NLT and the NJB as "I was born." Nearly every other version translates it as "brought forth."

2. the person was "set up"(born) before anything was created. A period referred to as "everlasting" (v 23)

3. The person was present during all the creative acts of God (v 27-29)

4. The companionship of this person with God was constant and brought "delight" to God (v 30)

Who is it that the Bible says was "begotten" by God (John 3:16) from the days of "everlasting" (Micah 5:2) Who was present and active during the creation of the entire universe (Eph 3:9; Gen 1:26). And who brought delight to the heart of God (Matt 3:17)? Only one Being in the entire universe fits the description. This passage is clearly referring to Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who, according to 1 Cor 1:24 is the wisdom of God. For those who believe that Ellen White was God's messenger, it is significant to note that Ellen White several times stated that this passage refers specifically to the Son of God.

"…the Son of God declares concerning Himself: "The Lord possessed Me in the beginning of His way, before His works of old. I was set up from everlasting. . . . When He appointed the foundations of the earth: then I was by Him, as one brought up with Him: and I was daily His delight, rejoicing always before Him." Proverbs 8:22-30. (PP 34)

Those who deny that Jesus is truly the Son of God have two problems with this passage. Firstly, they see clearly that it speaks of a starting point for Christ. A time when He was "brought forth." Regardless of the fact that this time is so far back in eternity as to be referred to as "everlasting," they have a problem because they feel that Jesus is God Himself and as such could not have had a beginning. Secondly, they feel that the term "brought forth" implies creation and of course, if Jesus was created then He could not have been a divine being and it would not have been possible for Him to have paid the price for man's redemption.

BORN OR CREATED?

Yet, the Scriptures are greater than the opinions, the fears, the misconceptions and the biases of men. Accepting what the Scriptures say as they simply read would bring understanding and would clear up the difficulties. Let us examine the second objection first. Are we suggesting that Jesus was CREATED if we accept that He was BORN of God? Let us be reasonable. Is there anywhere in the Bible where "born" means "created" or vice versa? This matter is very simple. Creation has to do with forming, or bringing something into existence using materials which are not a part of myself or without the use of pre-existing materials. Begetting or the birth process is entirely different. In birth, the new entity was once a part of the original and is composed of the same substance and possesses the same qualities as the original. The new entity may even be said to have existed before he was born in the sense that his life was already present in his parent's life (Heb 7:9,10). The Biblical testimony everywhere concerning Christ is that He was born of God, not created by God.

The other objection has to do with the question, could Christ truly be God if He had a beginning? Well, first of all Jesus could never be God (Himself). There is only one Being in the Bible who bears the title "God" and this is the Father (John 17:3; 1 Cor 8:6; Rev 21:22). However, the relevant question is, could Jesus be a divine being, could He possess the qualities of God if He had a beginning?

When a child is born, what qualities is he born with? Apart from the fact that his development is not complete, does he come short of his parents in any way? Obviously, if Jesus was BORN, BEGOTTEN, BROUGHT FORTH by God, then He must possess ALL the qualities of God! It is evident that He is not inferior to God in any way but possesses in His nature every attribute which by nature belongs to God. How does the fact that He had a beginning trillions of years ago negate His divinity? This is like saying that because a human son is not as old his father, he is not as human as his father! The key question, is whether Jesus was BORN or CREATED. Jehovah's Witnesses claim that He was created. Trinitarians say He was neither born nor created. The Bible however, teaches that He was begotten of God way back in the days of "everlasting". This is the only conclusion which fits all the facts of Scripture.

ENLIGHTENED OR CONFUSED?

Many and varied are the ways in which the enemy of all truth has sought to obliterate this truth. Another group of Christians, zealous for the traditions of past centuries have speculated (and pushed these speculations on others) that Jesus, who was God Himself, decided billions of years ago to act in the role of a son, while God Himself (another one) would act in the role of a Father. At the same time God Himself (still another one!) would act in the role of Holy Spirit. This decision was taken by God Himself who was not three Gods, but one God acting in three roles!! When theories such as these have been imbedded into the minds of simple people it is no wonder that when they are asked simple questions such as "who is God?" Or "was Jesus the true Son of God?" All they can do is stammer and stutter and give a blank stare. Is this what God was trying to tell us when His son made the following simple, straightforward, but sublime statement?

(John 3:16-17) For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. {17} For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.

UNPOPULAR TRUTH

Why is the devil so fiercely opposed to the truth that Jesus is the true Son of God? It is not difficult to find the answer to this question. The Bible declares that God's love is revealed in the fact that God gave His Son to die for mankind (John 3:16; 1 John 4:9,10). How can we understand and appreciate the wonder of that love if we fail to discern the identity of the One who was sent? If we fail to grasp the value of the gift that was given and what it cost God to give it? It is only as we understand Christ's identity that we shall love God as we should (1 John 4:19). Therefore our love for God and our victory over sin are linked to the truth that Jesus is the Son of God. "Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God (1 John 5:5)?" No wonder the devil hates this truth!

What is difficult to understand is why Christians should so determinedly oppose the plainest statements of the word of God. Why should persons who claim to love God and to desire His glory so stubbornly oppose the one truth which reveals the love of God more fully than anything else in the universe? This truly is a mystery almost as great as the so-called Trinity!

Hundreds of years ago during the fourth century AD the spirit of compromise, the desire for worldly popularity combined with the influence of paganism, brought the doctrine of the trinity into the Christian faith. Since that time it has become so deeply ingrained into the traditions of Christendom that it has become the foundation doctrine of most Christian denominations and it is considered blasphemy to

speak against it. But why do Christian men and women cling so tenaciously to the error? Why, in the light of the plain statements of Scripture, do they continue to embrace a Trinitarian God? The answer is popularity. No church will be accepted today (this has been true for the past 1500 years) unless it professes belief in the trinity. A denial of the trinity will result in a church instantly receiving the label of CULT. Therefore, this doctrine which is entirely founded upon the traditions of men rather than the word of God has risen to such universal prominence that when one simply expresses the biblical truth that Jesus is the Son of God, he is accused of heresy.

A friend of mine sat in Sabbath school one day during a discussion on the trinity. Curious, she asked the question, "was Jesus the Son of God?" The immediate response was, "yes, He was." But then she continued by saying, "what I mean is, was He truly the actual Son of God?" There was a moment of hesitation and then the answer came, "no, He was not." My friend was stunned. Here, in her own church she was hearing the plain truth of God's word blatantly denied. Not surprisingly it was just a matter of a few weeks before she stopped attending that church.

The popular churches of today can never accept that Jesus was the true Son of God. Neither can those independent ministries which are seeking acceptance. In order to be even given a hearing, to be even considered respectable one must first embrace the idol trinity. Therefore many groups professedly seeking reformation will not accept the truth of the Father and the Son because to do so would result in the loss of what meager influence they have with the established churches. In the pitiful hope that they will someday be recognized and gain a big name for themselves, they walk the well-trammeled road of tradition, in the name of reformation.

Let us be certain of one thing however, apostasy will never be reformed by apostasy. To take the first step in compromise is to begin to play by Satan's rules. He will win the battle eventually. All truth is safe and nothing else is safe. "Thy word is truth." Only by faithfully teaching its principles can we ever hope to make headway against the growing tide of apostasy sweeping over the entire world.

THE APOSTLE'S TESTIMONY

Did the apostles believe in a trinity? Apart from the books of Luke and Acts the entire New Testament was written by men who had been personally taught by the Lord Jesus. Even the apostle Paul, though he never knew Jesus personally while He was on earth testifies that he was taught personally by Christ (Galatians 1:11,12). Did Jesus reveal a Trinitarian God to these apostles? Did He teach them this doctrine which was so radically different from the Old Testament concept of God? If He did, why didn't they proclaim it as forcefully and as clearly as they proclaimed that Jesus was the Son of God? Why is it that this doctrine "is not explicitly taught in the New Testament (Encarta Britannica)" but is rather "inferred" from certain passages? Is this the way that God reveals important truths? Merely giving hints and leaving us to formulate our conclusions? Why is it that the statements of the New Testament consistently declare that there is only ONE GOD and that this one God is the Father (1 Cor. 8:4-6; John 17:3; Eph. 4:6)? Didn't these apostles know the truth about God? How can we conclude that their writings suggest that God is a Trinity when they themselves proclaimed Him to be an individual? Do we have the contradictory situation where Christ's appointed depositories of His truth hinted that God was a Trinity, but declared that He was a single Person? Why would they do this? Is it that they were suggesting something which they weren't sure of and which they left to later generations of "theologians" to properly work out?

Do you see how clearly this fits into the teachings and principles of Roman Catholicism? The Roman Church teaches that the revelations of the Scriptures are not a complete revelation, sufficient to reveal the way of salvation. They claim that the traditions and teachings of the "church" are a continuing source of revelation and therefore, they take the position that the teachings of the church are above the Bible. For them, it does not pose a problem that the Trinity is not taught in the Bible. It is enough that the Church accepted the doctrine and that for many centuries it has been a teaching of the Church. This for a Roman Catholic is enough to make the doctrine truth.

Protestants, however, insist that the Bible contains all the truth which is necessary for salvation, hence the protestant principle of "sola Scriptura," (The Bible only). When Protestants take the position that a doctrine which is not explicitly taught in the Scriptures, but was developed gradually during the years subsequent to the time of Christ and the apostles, is to be accepted as truth, this is a dangerous precedent. In taking this position they have stepped onto the ground of Roman Catholicism and have thereby opened the door to the acceptance of all the other unscriptural and even anti-scriptural teachings of Rome

Restoration Ministries

Restoration Ministries is dedicated to the promotion of the truths contained in the word of God. In particular to the restoration of those truths which have been cast down to the ground and trampled underfoot by the papacy, and adopted by her daughters.

Our purpose is to motivate men and women to commit themselves wholly to the task of personal preparation for the coming of the Lord, and to the taking of the final warning message to every nation, kindred, tongue and people.

Website: www.restorationministry.com

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