On the meaning of words

V. W. J. H. Lawrence.

In reference to
The Divine and Eternal Sonship of our Lord Jesus Christ.

As regards the truth of the Person of Christ all men will own that the Scriptures constitute our only guide and authority; and as regards the actual language by means of which that truth is revealed all true believers are unanimous concerning its interpretation. I will refer, therefore, briefly to the language in which the essentially Divine glory of Jesus is disclosed to us.

"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God" John 1:1. In this Scripture the true Godhead of our Lord and Saviour is simply and unequivocably affirmed; and all true Christians accept this word as decisive in any and every question relative to His Person. That Jesus is God, in the most full and perfect sense, is the faith of the Church. But that involves the interpretation of the word "Theos." So, that we arrive at this conclusion: Throughout the history of the Church no doubt can be entertained that in this and in other Scriptures, the word "Theos" in its reference to our Lord has been accepted in an interpretation which gives it the most absolute sense and meaning. It may be quite true that the words El, Elohim, Theos, are used in Scripture in references other than to God Himself, the Infinite, Eternal, Self-existent Being; but as Christians we reject any such reference in John 1:1. We receive the word Theos in its reference to the Lord Jesus in the same full and perfect sense and meaning as in its reference to the Father; for did not He Himself say "I and the Father are one," John 10:30? This, then, was the crux of the question before the Nicene Council. Arius would permit the word Theos in its reference to Christ, provided a lower and merely characteristic sense be affixed to it. This the Church rightly, rejected.

But if Jesus is God—that is, He is Divine in His Nature—He is also the Son of God—Matt. 16:16; John 1:18, 3:16, 5:18; Romans 8:32, etc. Has, then, the language of Scripture a dual interpretation in regard to the Divine glory of Jesus, and, moreover, an interpretation which is at the mercy of every man? Away with such a thought! The same principle of interpretation which maintains the lofty and absolute sense of the word "God” in reference to Jesus, operates and governs to maintain also the same lofty and absolute sense of the expression "Son of God" in reference to that blessed One.

Further: believers are now sons of God by adoption; is not then their relationship to God true and real? Most certainly! How much more so His relationship who is The Son of God, Son in a sense in which none else could be. His Sonship is the most intense reality. For we are not Divine sons of God: Jesus is the Divine Son. Thus those very principles, which we dare not relinquish for a moment in the interpretation of Scripture affirming His absolute Godhead, maintain also by the constancy and perfection of their operation His absolute Sonship, that His relation to God the Father is essentially Divine and necessarily Eternal. To deny the real Divine Sonship of Jesus whilst nominally owning His Godhead, is to claim the right to apply a definite principle of interpretation to certain Scriptures affirming His Divine glory and to cast it aside in regard to others. Need I say that such a course is as untenable as it is unjust? Hence, to deny the literal Divine Sonship of Jesus, and to be consistent, is to deny His literal Godhead.

Yet, in face of all this, no exercise of despotic power—however cruel, no sophistry—however spiritually degraded, no deceit—however unscrupulously practised; no effort, in fact, has been spared in order to darken the minds of "brethren" to the truth of God, and to hide the real facts of the case relating to the history of that miserable heresy—the denial of the Divine and Eternal Sonship of our Lord Jesus Christ.

God's Witness Concerning His Son.

All Scripture is in perfect harmony in its witness to the Son of God. That witness demonstrates a glory and a greatness transcending the creature's loftiest thoughts, and declares a relation unique in every character that belongs to it. Yet there exists a tendency to isolate Scriptures and thus to weaken their Divine meaning; and that tendency marks rationalism and infidelity. How saddening, then, it is to discover that this same character of activity has been utilised in order to deny the Divine and Eternal Sonship of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Having regard, therefore, for this harmony, I ask my reader to refer to two Scriptures, John 5:18, and Romans 8:32: "Therefore the Jews sought the more to kill Him, because He not only had broken the Sabbath, but said that God was His own (idios) Father, making Himself equal with God"; and "He that spared not His own (idios) Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?" In the presence of these Scriptures, comment is needless, explanations superfluous. The Divine Word always brings to the soul its Divine meaning in the power of the Holy Spirit. The relation here presented to us belongs to the very Being and Nature of God and the very Being and Nature of the Son. It declares the transcendent glory of the Son, though in humiliation here; it reveals the transcendent love of God in that one great gift of His Son. Thus, indeed, are we made conscious of being in the presence of infinite love and glory.

"But God commends His own (eautos) love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." And, "For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God, sending His own (eautos) Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh." Romans 5:8, and 8:3. Is the love of God something that has only become such through the coming and death of Christ? Surely not! The love of God is what He is in Himself, His OWN love, the very essence of His Eternal Nature. Then how much more would the Apostle, writing by the Spirit, convey the same meaning in using the same language in regard to the Son of God? He is the very Son of God: He is Son in the proper Divine essence, the Son of the Father's love, yea, Son in the very Godhead of His own eternal Person; for He is God's Own Son.

No Surrender and No Compromise.

Revelation 3:11; 1 John 2:24; 2 John 9-11; Jude 3; Galatians 1:6-9; Hebrews 2:1; Acts 20:30-32. There can be no such thing as surrender of any truth concerning the Person of the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God. What the soul is assured of, because of faith in the Divine Word, and through the grace of the Holy Spirit, in the matter of Divine revelation, that the soul must cleave to, must hold fast at all costs, being prepared by the help of God to suffer, to endure loss, shame and calumny, rather than surrender or sacrifice at the demands of men, whosoever they may be, one jot or tittle of the truth of God regarding His Only-begotten Son. The Divine and Eternal Sonship of our Lord has been denied, and His Holy Person thereby dishonoured; God has been robbed of His essential and living glory as the only true, Divine and Eternal Father; the Eternal Word has been denied; whilst these supreme realities have been attributed to the speculations of men. Can the true believer in the Son of God, he who confesses that Name of imperishable glory, surrender these truths? Dare he surrender what constitutes the very essence of a living faith in God and in His Son? He dare not, he will not, either to threats or to enticements, surrender the faith of his soul.

The saint of God is in the position of a "watchman"; he is a guardian of the Divine mysteries. Will he meet on common ground the perverse man who has intruded his lawless mind into those mysteries, denying their infinite and eternal blessedness, the love and glory of the Father and the Son in a past eternity? Will he sanction a compromise? Never! There can be no compromise where the truth of the Father and the Son is concerned. Let a man confess the Father and the Son in Their own Divine and Eternal conditions; let him acknowledge the Eternal Word; bowing before the presence of these holy mysteries; and he will be owned in true Christian fellowship. But there can be no fellowship with those who reject and deny the glory of God's own Son, The Only-Begotten.

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