The Need to Know God
Since the creation of this world, God has sought to have fellowship with mankind. He daily communed with Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. Unfortunately, the richness of this communion was spoiled when Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit, yet God continued to seek them. God has not ceased desiring fellowship with the creatures who were made in His own image. He loves us very much and wants to have continual fellowship with us. He sent His only begotten Son to die for our sins so that we could be reconciled to Him and restored to the closeness of the fellowship He had with mankind before they fell.
To restore fellowship with Himself, God has revealed His character and attributes in His word, the Bible, so that mankind can know and love Him. A knowledge of God is the most important knowledge we can have. God said, “Thus saith the Lord, Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, neither let the mighty man glory in his might, let not the rich man glory in his riches: But let him that glorieth glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth me, that I am the Lord which exercise lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness, in the earth: for in these things I delight, saith the Lord” (Jeremiah 9:23, 24).
The one thing we have a right to glory in is that we understand and know God, and specifically His character of love. Surely we cannot understand and know everything about God, yet we should understand and know what He has revealed about Himself in the Bible. This knowledge is the most important information that can be acquired.
Can you rightly say that you understand and know God if you think He is a pantheon of gods like the Hindus believe? Certainly not! In India there are shrines on nearly every corner dedicated to Hindu gods. They worship monkeys, cows, elephants, peacocks, three-headed and six-armed statues, etc. They are confused about who God really is, and this confusion keeps them from having close fellowship with Him.
To understand and know God, you must first have a basic understanding of who God is. You must understand something about His identity and characteristics before you can take the next step of actually knowing Him on a personal level and building a relationship with Him.
Having a basic knowledge of God’s identity and character is not enough if you do not take the next step and establish a relationship with God. Even the devils have a basic knowledge about God, but they refuse to submit to God’s control. James wrote to His Jewish brethren, “Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble” (James 2:19). Having a basic knowledge of God is good, but you cannot end there. A knowledge of God, regardless of how correct it is, will not make you any better than the devils if you do not invite Him to live in your heart and submit your life to be molded and shaped by His pure character.
The Person of God
Is God a person? Is He a thing or a committee? Who is God? These are important questions to answer and should be easily answered by anyone who understands and knows God. This is basic knowledge about God. Surprisingly, many Christians are stumped by these questions because they have been taught that God is a ghostly, mysterious vapor that pervades all nature.
Daniel was given a vision that helps us understand God. He wrote, “I beheld till the thrones were cast down [literally: ‘set up’], and the Ancient of days did sit, whose garment was white as snow, and the hair of his head like the pure wool: his throne was like the fiery flame, and his wheels as burning fire” (Daniel 7:9).
Someone called “the Ancient of days,” who wears a white garment and has white hair, takes a seat on a throne. Shortly thereafter the “Son of man” (verse 13) comes before Him. The Ancient of days must be God, the Father. According to the Bible our heavenly Father is a real Person.
John was given a vision of this same event and states, “And I saw in the right hand of him that sat on the throne a book written within and on the backside, sealed with seven seals” (Revelation 5:1). Shortly after John saw this, Jesus Christ approaches the throne and takes the book out of His Father’s hand. Again, we find that God is a real Person who sits on a throne and has a book in His right hand.
God must be a real Person, for Jesus said, “Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God” (Matthew 5:8). In another place Jesus gave a warning, “Take heed that ye despise not one of these little ones; for I say unto you, That in heaven their angels do always behold the face of my Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 18:10).
We should expect that God is a real Person, for we were created in His image and likeness (Genesis 1:26). When we get to heaven, we will find that we resemble God. We will not find a three-headed monster with six arms or any other strange thing like that. God’s outward form is very much like our own. This is the biblical description of what God is like. He is truly a Person.
The writer of Hebrews states, “God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds; Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high” (Hebrews 1:1-3).
Here we learn that Jesus Christ is the express image of God’s Person. Therefore God must be a person, and Jesus Christ is a real Person as well.
Paul confirmed this when He wrote, “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God” (Philippians 2:5-6). The Greek word that was translated “form” means, “the form by which a person or thing strikes the vision, external appearance” (Thayer’s Greek Lexicon). God has an external appearance, and His Son, Jesus Christ, has the same type of appearance.
In His closing prayer to His Father, after the last supper, Jesus said, “And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent” (John 17:3). Jesus revealed that life eternal depends upon knowing both the only true God and Jesus Christ His Son.
What does it mean to know the Father and the Son? Does Satan know God and His Son in the way Jesus was describing? Certainly not! If he did, then he would have eternal life too, but we know that Satan will come to an end. The Bible says that he will be burned up and turned into ashes (Ezekiel 28:13-19). Knowing God is more than knowing about God. We must know Him on a personal level. To know God is to love God (1 John 4:7, 8). And this begins with knowing His love for us (1 John 4:19).
In the most well-known verse of the Bible, Jesus said, “God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16). When Jesus said God “so loved the world,” He was saying this is how much God loves you, He loves you so much that He did something for you—He demonstrated His love for you by giving up His most precious possession, His only begotten Son.
If God had loved the world so much that He gave a goat, you and I would seriously question God’s love for us because a goat would be an almost meaningless gift for God to give up, since it is something He created. If God had loved the world so much that He gave a human, what would we think then? That is a little better than a goat, but it is still a small gift because humans were also created. What if God had loved the world so much that He gave an angel? That is a better gift than a human, but it still falls far short of demonstrating how much God loves us. You see, our understanding of God’s love depends upon the value of the gift He gave up for us. The more valuable the gift He gave, the more we can see His love for us.
God gave His only begotten Son. He has others who are called “sons,” but He only has one begotten Son. We can be “sons of God” by adoption (Romans 8:14), angels are “sons of God” by creation (Job 1:6; 2:1), but Jesus Christ is the only begotten Son of God. What sets Jesus Christ apart from everyone else in the universe, and by which we know God’s love for us, is the fact that He was begotten. This puts Him in the closest possible relationship with God.
God knows, from firsthand experience, the most valuable possession a person can have. He knows that nothing is more valuable to a person than a child whom they love. This is precisely where God tested Abraham’s love and loyalty when He asked him to offer his beloved son, Isaac, for a sacrifice (Genesis 22:1-12). Abraham’s willingness to obey God’s command proved that he loved God with all his heart. It proved that he would be willing to give up every possession he had for God.
The same thing is true with God. When He gave up His only begotten Son, it proved that He is willing to give up every possession, suffer any amount of pain, and endure any hardship in order to save those whom He loves. This is what Paul meant when he said, “He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things” (Romans 8:32).
John wrote, “Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God?” (1 John 5:5). John stressed the importance of believing that Jesus is the Son of God. Without this belief, we cannot overcome the world. Why is it so important to believe that Jesus is the Son of God? What if we believe that Jesus is the friend of God, isn’t that good enough? What if we think Jesus is the cousin of God, or His uncle? Would it make a difference in our ability to overcome the world?
Suppose I said to you, “I love you so much, I am going to send my friend, Frank, to die for you.” What would you think? You would probably wonder, If you love me so much, why didn’t you come and die for me yourself instead of sending a friend to do it? But if I said, “I love you so much, I am going to send my beloved son to die for you,” you would know that my love is real.
My friends, God really means what He says. He says that He gave His only begotten Son. If Jesus Christ was not the begotten Son of God before God sent Him into the world, then what did the Father give up? Many sincere Christians believe that Jesus Christ is an exactly equal, same-aged companion of the Father. If this were true, then all the Father gave up was a friend, a companion! If this were true, then the One who loves us the most is Christ, because He is the One who willingly died for us.
It is true that Jesus Christ loves us very much, and we praise and thank Him for that love. However, the Bible teaches that God, the Father, suffered tremendously when His Son was suffering under the weight of our sins. (Compare Psalm 18:4-11 with Matthew 27:45-51.) In Abraham and Isaac’s story, it was obviously the father, Abraham, who suffered more than Isaac when he gave up his beloved son. Jesus said, “the Father himself loveth you” (John 16:27). John wrote, “Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us” (1 John 3:1). We cannot behold the love of the Father if we do not know what He gave up for us. John wrote, “In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him” (1 John 4:9). God has an only begotten Son whom He willingly gave up so that you could be forgiven of your sins and live for eternity. Praise God for such wonderful love!
Our love for God is directly related to how much we see His love for us. This is why John emphasized that we must believe Jesus is the Son of God to overcome the world. If you believe Jesus is God’s friend, cousin, uncle, or anyone other than the Son of God, your perception of God’s love is decreased. In proportion to how much your perception of God’s love is reduced, your ability to love God in return is reduced.
Believing that Jesus is the begotten Son of God enables us to overcome the world by elevating our perception of God’s love and enabling us to love Him with all our hearts. John explained: “We love him, because he first loved us” (1 John 4:19).
The Foundation of the Church
The fact that Jesus is the Son of God is so important that Jesus said He would build His church upon this truth.
One day Jesus asked His disciples, “Whom do men say that I the Son of man am? And they said, Some say that thou art John the Baptist: some, Elias; and others, Jeremias, or one of the prophets. He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am? And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God. And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven. And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it” (Matthew 16:13-18).
Notice that the subject of this conversation was the identity of Jesus. When Jesus said “upon this rock I will build my church,” He wasn’t referring to Peter as the rock, but to the truth that Jesus is the Son of God. Upon this truth, Jesus said, “I will build my church.” This is obviously a very important truth, the truth upon which God’s church is built.
The fact that Jesus Christ is the Son of God is so important that, at the close of his gospel, John wrote, “And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book: But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name” (John 20:30).
The apostle Peter, who lived with Jesus and heard His messages firsthand, including the many things He said that are not recorded, exclaimed, “We believe and are sure that thou art that Christ, the Son of the living God” (John 6:69). Christ’s disciples also exclaimed, “We believe that thou camest forth from God” (John 16:30).
Right after Paul learned the gospel directly from Christ Himself, “straightway he preached Christ in the synagogues, that he is the Son of God” (Acts 9:20).
Right after Phillip preached the gospel to the eunuch, “Philip said, If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest [be baptized]. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God” (Acts 8:37).
Martha, a close friend of Jesus, who heard many of His teachings, said to Him, “I believe that thou art the Christ, the Son of God, which should come into the world” (John 11:27).
Nathaniel, of whom Christ said in him “is no guile,” said to Jesus, “Rabbi, thou art the Son of God; thou art the King of Israel” (John 1:47, 49).
Christ said, “Among those that are born of women there is not a greater prophet than John the Baptist” (Luke 7:28). John the Baptist testified, “And I saw, and bare record that this is the Son of God” (John 1:34).
Of all the witnesses, the greatest is God the Father Himself. Two times He spoke from heaven saying, “This is my beloved Son” (Matthew 3:17; 17:5). And we know that God “cannot lie” (Titus 1:2).
I am persuaded to take my stand with the faithful witnesses in the Bible who proclaimed that Jesus Christ is truly the Son of God. This is a vital truth we must believe before we can truly know the depths of God’s love (Ephesians 3:16-19).
The Divinity of Christ
One unique quality of deity is that divine beings are worthy of worship. It is dangerous and sinful to worship anyone but God. There are a few examples of people ignorantly attempting to worship God’s servants. Notice the response given whenever this happened: “And as Peter was coming in, Cornelius met him, and fell down at his feet, and worshipped him. But Peter took him up, saying, Stand up; I myself also am a man” (Acts 10:25, 26). This is the proper response for God’s people.
John attempted to worship an angel on two occasions. He wrote, “And I John saw these things, and heard them. And when I had heard and seen, I fell down to worship before the feet of the angel which shewed me these things. Then saith he unto me, See thou do it not: for I am thy fellowservant, and of thy brethren the prophets, and of them which keep the sayings of this book: worship God” (Revelation 22:8, 9). We see from these examples that God’s faithful servants, whether human or angelic, refuse to receive worship from anyone.
There is an account of someone who received worship in Joshua chapter 5. It says, “And it came to pass, when Joshua was by Jericho, that he lifted up his eyes and looked, and, behold, there stood a man over against him with his sword drawn in his hand: and Joshua went unto him, and said unto him, Art thou for us, or for our adversaries? And he said, Nay; but as captain of the host of the Lord am I now come. And Joshua fell on his face to the earth, and did worship, and said unto him, What saith my lord unto his servant? And the captain of the Lord’s host said unto Joshua, Loose thy shoe from off thy foot; for the place whereon thou standest is holy. And Joshua did so” (Joshua 5:13-15).
Joshua met someone who identified Himself as “the captain of the host of the Lord.” This person was not the Lord Himself, but rather His chief Captain. And when Joshua bowed to worship Him, this Captain not only allowed Himself to be worshiped, but commanded Joshua to take off his shoes for he was standing on holy ground. Joshua was told that he was not worshiping sufficiently, but needed to show more respect. The only other time in the Bible when anyone was asked to take their shoes off because they were on holy ground was when Moses was before the burning bush.
So who was this magnificent being who appeared to Joshua? He was not God, the Father, for “No man hath seen God at any time” (John 1:18). He identified Himself as the captain of the Lord’s host rather than the Lord Himself. The fact that this being allowed worship, and even demanded more worship, proves that He could not be an angelic being, nor a mere human. Moreover this person is said to be the captain of the Lord’s angels. Jesus is commander of the angels (Matthew 13:41). The only person this could be is Jesus Christ, the Son of God. He is worthy of worship, and even God, the Father commanded His angels to worship His Son. “When he bringeth in the firstbegotten into the world, he saith, And let all the angels of God worship him” (Hebrews 1:6). Jesus said, “For the Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son: That all men should honour the Son, even as they honour the Father. He that honoureth not the Son honoureth not the Father which hath sent him” (John 5:22, 23). We are commanded to honour and worship the Son.
Problems in Worship
Jesus gave an important principle about worship when He told a Samaritan woman, “true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him” (John 4:23). It is important that we worship God correctly.
One important aspect of worship is praise. Throughout the Bible there are many examples of people worshiping God accompanied by praise and exaltation through spoken words. For example John recorded how worship is conducted in heaven: “And I beheld, and I heard the voice of many angels round about the throne and the beasts and the elders: and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands; Saying with a loud voice, Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing. And every creature which is in heaven, and on the earth, and under the earth, and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, heard I saying, Blessing, and honour, and glory, and power, be unto him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb for ever and ever” (Revelation 5:11-13).
Here the true worshippers in heaven extol the Lamb by saying that He was slain to receive power, riches, wisdom, etc. Notice the clarity of distinction these worshippers make between the Father and the Son. They do not extol praises to the One who sits on the throne by saying that He was slain or died. Nor do they say that the One sitting on the throne received riches. This type of worship would not be true worship, for it would not be “in truth.” Yet, to Christ, the Lamb, they ascribe praise for His death, and state that He is worthy to receive riches, something the Father could not receive, for He already owns everything. The Father said that He “appointed” His Son to be “heir of all things.” An heir receives things from someone else. Jesus testified, “I received of my Father” (Revelation 2:27). It would be improper and untruthful to claim the Father received riches from someone else.
In a desire to show honour and respect to Jesus, many have gone to the extreme of worshiping Him at the expense of the Father. Their songs and praises are filled with confusing terminology, such as “We thank you most high God for coming down to die for us,” or “the immortal God died for our sins,” or similar statements that blur the distinction between the Father and His Son. We are to worship the Son as the Son of God, not as “the most high God.” Notice how the disciples worshipped Jesus: “Then they that were in the ship came and worshipped him, saying, Of a truth thou art the Son of God” (Matthew 14:33). His disciples were not confused about His identity, nor did their worship include confusing and contradictory statements about His identity. They stated plainly that Jesus is the Son of God.
There are a significant number of hymns that contain untruthful statements about the Father and Son. Sometimes we mindlessly repeat these sayings without realizing that we are not speaking the truth. There have been several times that I have been engaged in singing hymns when I must stop myself from speaking the words, for I know they are not true. We should guard against worshipping God or Christ in an untruthful manner.
The Begotten Son of God
Jesus proclaimed, “I said, I am the Son of God?” (John 10:36). He said that He is “the only begotten Son of God” (John 3:18). The word begotten literally means born. Jesus said, “For as the Father hath life in himself; so hath he given to the Son to have life in himself” (John 5:26). According to His own testimony, Jesus really is the only begotten Son of God and literally received life from His Father.
Paul explained of Christ, “Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature” (Colossians 1:15). Barnes New Testament Notes says, “the word firstborn — pro-tot-ok’-os — properly means the firstborn child of a father or mother.” Jamieson, Fausset, Brown Commentary says, “Begotten (literally, ‘born’) before every creature.” Thayer’s Greek Lexicon says, “Christ is called, firstborn of all creation, who came into being through God prior to the entire universe of created things.”
Jesus Christ is called the “the image of God,” “the image of the invisible God,” and “the express image of his person” (2 Corinthians 4:4; Colossians 1:15; Hebrews 1:3). An image is never the original, but always a likeness or duplication of the original. Christ is the Son of God and, therefore, the express image of His Father. It would be incorrect to say that the Father is the image of His Son because the Father is the original. In like manner it would be incorrect to refer to Christ as the true, or original, God, since He is the image of the true God.
Micah wrote of Jesus, “But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth [origin] have been from of old, from everlasting [Margin: ‘the days of eternity’]” (Micah 5:2). The Revised Standard Version translates it, “Whose origin is from of old, from ancient days.” The origin of the Son of God was in the days of eternity. He was begotten before anything was created, even before time as we know it, in the days of eternity.
In the first verse of Proverbs eight, it says that wisdom is speaking. Who is wisdom? Verse 8 tells us that He has a mouth and speaks, and verse 17 says that He loves. Paul wrote, “But unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God” (1 Corinthians 1:24). “But of Him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption” (1 Corinthians 1:30). Christ is Wisdom, and is speaking in Proverbs chapter eight.
He says, “When there were no depths, I was brought forth; when there were no fountains abounding with water. Before the mountains were settled, before the hills was I brought forth” (Proverbs 8:24, 25). The 1965 Bible in Basic English says, “When there was no deep I was given birth, when there were no fountains flowing with water. Before the mountains were put in their places, before the hills was my birth.”
The Hebrew word חול, which was translated “I was brought forth,” is a verb. Hebrew verbs can be found in many different forms. In the Old Testament, this particular verb was used in six different forms. They are Qal, Polel, Pulal, Hophal, Hithpolel, and Hithpalpel. Depending upon what form is used for this verb, the meaning of the word can be completely changed. For example, when this Hebrew verb חול is used in the Qal form, it means “to dance, to twist, to writhe, to whirl, to whirl about” (Brown-Driver-Brigg’s Hebrew Lexicon). It is obvious from the context that this definition would not apply in Proverbs 8:24, 25, and it could not apply because the Hebrew word חול is used, in these verses in the Pulal form. The definition for the Pulal form is the only definition that can apply here. This definition is as follows: “to be born, to be brought forth” (Gesenius’ Hebrew-Chaldee Lexicon), “to be made to writhe, be made to bear, to be brought forth” (Brown-Driver-Brigg’s Hebrew Lexicon). This verb in this form is only used three places in the Bible, and here are the other two places where it is used: “Art thou the first man that was born? or wast thou made [Hebrew: חול in the Pulal form] before the hills?” (Job 15:7). “Behold, I was shapen [Hebrew: חול in the Pulal form] in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me” (Psalm 51:5). As we can plainly see, the term “brought forth” in Proverbs 8:24, 25 can mean nothing other than being begotten, or born.
Let us continue with the rest of the verses in Proverbs chapter eight and learn more about the characteristics of Wisdom.
“While as yet he had not made the earth, nor the fields, nor the highest part of the dust of the world. When he prepared the heavens, I was there: when he set a compass upon the face of the depth: When he established the clouds above: when he strengthened the fountains of the deep: When he gave to the sea his decree, that the waters should not pass his commandment: 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; Rejoicing in the habitable part of his earth; and my delights were with the sons of men. Now therefore hearken unto me, O ye children: for blessed are they that keep my ways. Hear instruction, and be wise, and refuse it not. Blessed is the man that heareth me, watching daily at my gates, waiting at the posts of my doors. For whoso findeth me findeth life, and shall obtain favour of the Lord. But he that sinneth against me wrongeth his own soul: all they that hate me love death” (Proverbs 8:26-36).
The speaker here says that He was brought up with the Lord and was daily His delight, and rejoiced always before Him. This is a real Person. He then says, “For whoso findeth me findeth life.” John wrote, “He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life” (1 John 5:12). Jesus Christ is the one speaking about Himself in Proverbs chapter eight. He is truly the Son of God, just as John wrote, “the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of the Father, in truth and love” (2 John 1:3).
The terms Father and Son, by definition, indicate the existence of one before the other. This was the understanding of the Israelites. In the book of Proverbs we read: “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?” (Proverbs 30:4).
Some people have mistakenly concluded that God used the terms “Father” and “Son” to get across to our feeble minds a divine relationship (not Father and Son) that they could not possibly explain in our language. To come to this conclusion you would have to assume that God just happened upon this strange type of beings who have a strange language and manner of reproduction, and then was left struggling to explain Himself to these strange creatures. You would have to forget that God created our language and designed our manner of reproduction, after He already had a Son. God designed us with the ability to have a son, and then He exclaimed of Jesus, “This is my beloved Son…” (Matthew 3:17; 17:5). God means what He says even regarding our human relationships of father and son that He designed in His own image.
According to the Bible, Jesus Christ was begotten, which literally means born, before anything was created—long before God sent Him into the world. (See Hebrews 1:1-9; Colossians 1:15; John 3:16, 17; 18:37; and 1 John 4:9.) How He was begotten is not for us to know, but God wants us to realize that He and His Son have a close, genuine, father-son relationship that is not just a role, or an act.
Truly the Son of God
To deny that Jesus is truly the Son of God is antichristian because it denies the very cornerstone of the gospel. The good news that God loves us enough to send His Son to die for us is meaningless if we deny that Jesus is the Son of God.
Jesus said, “I and my Father are one” (John 10:30). This has caused many to be confused into thinking that Jesus is the Father, or is somehow joined to Him in a way that makes the Father and Son a compound being. Yet, this faulty conclusion need not be reached. It is helpful to read the context. Jesus said, “I and my Father are one. Then the Jews took up stones again to stone him. Jesus answered them, Many good works have I shewed you from my Father; for which of those works do ye stone me? The Jews answered him, saying, For a good work we stone thee not; but for blasphemy; and because that thou, being a man, makest thyself God. Jesus answered them, Is it not written in your law, I said, Ye are gods? If he called them gods, unto whom the word of God came, and the scripture cannot be broken; Say ye of him, whom the Father hath sanctified, and sent into the world, Thou blasphemest; because I said, I am the Son of God?” (John 10:30-36). Jesus denied the charge of claiming to be God, pointing out that His claim was merely to be the Son of God.
The Jews evidently understood His words, because when He was finally charged for blasphemy and condemned to death, the accusation was that He claimed to be the Son of God.
When brought before Caiaphas, the Bible says, “Jesus held his peace. And the high priest answered and said unto him, I adjure thee by the living God, that thou tell us whether thou be the Christ, the Son of God” (Matthew 26:63). Luke’s account says, “Then said they all, Art thou then the Son of God? And he said unto them, Ye say that I am. And they said, What need we any further witness? for we ourselves have heard of his own mouth” (Luke 22:70, 71). After this Jesus was brought before Pilate, and when Pilate said he could find no fault in Him, “The Jews answered him, We have a law, and by our law he ought to die, because he made himself the Son of God” (John 19:7).
The jeering crowd at Christ’s crucifixion said, “He trusted in God; let him deliver him now, if he will have him: for he said, I am the Son of God” (Matthew 27:43). Naturally, the strongest accusations about Christ would come from those who condemned Him to death. They all said that His claim was that He is the Son of God. This is exactly who Jesus said He is (Matthew 26:63, 64; Luke 22:70, 71).
Some people think that God is beyond the possibility of having a Son, but Jesus said, “with God all things are possible” (Mark 10:27).
The Bible refers to Christ as God’s Son at least 120 times. The Bible does this by using the phrase “Son of God” forty-seven times. Regarding the genuineness of Christ’s Sonship, He is called “the only begotten” five times, “the firstborn” three times, “the firstbegotten” once, and God’s “holy child” twice. Four verses say He was “begotten” prior to His incarnation. Four verses say that He “proceeded forth from,” “came out from” or “camest forth from” the Father. The evidence on this subject is overwhelming. Christ truly is the literal begotten Son of God, brought forth from the Father before all creation. If God expected us to believe anything different, He did a poor job of presenting it in the Bible. In fact, if God had wanted us to believe differently, He purposely confused us by making so many clear statements indicating that Christ is literally the begotten Son of God, without the slightest clarification to indicate that we should not take His words in their common meaning. Yet, “God is not the author of confusion, but of peace” (1 Corinthians 14:33).
Any writer or public speaker knows that when they use a word or a phrase that could be easily misunderstood, clarifications need to be made to prevent people from coming to the wrong conclusions. Yet, throughout the New Testament, where Christ is said to be the begotten Son of God, there is never any type of correction or clarification so that these words would not be taken in their natural sense. Jesus said that He is “the only begotten Son of God” (John 3:18). Concerning another subject, but the principle can be applied with equal force here, He said, “If it were not so, I would have told you” (John 14:2).
You might be thinking, “I have always believed Jesus is the Son of God.” Great! You might also be questioning, “Don’t all Christians believe that Jesus is the Son of God?” The sad reality is that most who profess to be Christians actually do not believe Jesus to be the real Son of God if they subscribe to their denominations’ statements of belief.
Almost all Christians will affirm, “Jesus is the Son of God,” but there are very different meanings attached to these words. For example, the Jehovah’s Witnesses say that Jesus is the Son of God, but when asked to describe what that means, they will tell you that Jesus was the first angel that God created, and was no different than Lucifer or any of the other angels. Catholics will tell you that Jesus is the Son of God, but when asked to explain, will say that He is part of the same substance of God, connected to His being as thoroughly as a Siamese twin, and is the same age as His Father. Have you ever seen a Son like this? Others will explain that Jesus is a co-eternal companion of God whom God declared to be His Son even though He is not really His Son. Others will say that Jesus became the Son of God when He was born in Bethlehem by the virgin Mary, and was not the Son of God in any other sense.
Each of these theories denies that Jesus is the Son of God in one way or another. The Bible says, “Who is a liar but he that denieth that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist, that denieth the Father and the Son. Whosoever denieth the Son, the same hath not the Father: (but) he that acknowledgeth the Son hath the Father also” (1 John 2:22, 23). We must be careful not to deny the Son of God just so that we can uphold a church creed that is not taught in the Bible. A denial of the Son of God will result in our inability to overcome the world and will inhibit our relationship with God.
Many people have a false concept of God that denies the true sonship of Christ. No matter how hard a person tries to love a god like this, they will never be able to love him with all their heart, soul, strength and mind. This is true because God’s love is misrepresented by all false theories about Him, and we can only love Him by first seeing His love for us, as John said, “We love him, because he first loved us” (1 John 4:19).
The Bible says, “We all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord” (2 Corinthians 3:18). If we are beholding a god that only loves us enough to put on an act, to pretend to be someone he is not, then we will love him only enough to put on an act, to pretend to be Christians, when we are not.
Remember that no lie is safe, no matter how innocently it is believed. Paul wrote that those who “believe a lie” will be “damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness” (2 Thessalonians 2:11, 12). Also, keep in mind that the majority are seldom right in religious matters. Jesus said, “broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it” (Matthew 7:13, 14). The councils of men, and the man-made creeds that are so often esteemed by Christians, are not the standards by which we can determine truth. There is only one standard, and one alone, that we can trust as an infallible guide to truth, and that is the Word of God. We must not trust man to lead us into truth, for God said, “the leaders of this people cause them to err; and they that are led of them are destroyed” (Isaiah 9:16).
I pray that you will only accept a plain, “Thus saith the Lord” as a reason for all of your beliefs about the Son of God and that you will truly accept Jesus for who He has declared Himself to be, “the only begotten Son of God” (John 3:18). I pray that this truth will open the doors for unrestricted fellowship with the great God of heaven who yielded His Son to die for your sins. Now, “Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God” (1 John 3:1).