"For as the Father has life in Himself; so has He given to the Son to have life in Himself."
“LIFE in Himself” stands for life inherent, uncaused, unsustained by any external power, from eternity to eternity. It is the affirmation of Deity. Only God can possess this life. In the nature of things it cannot be shared with another outside the Godhead.
"The Father has life in Himself." "The Son" has "life in Himself." In both cases this must be as in the Godhead, or else we should have two Gods, separate and distinct from each other, an utter impossibility. There is only one God. Our Lord says, "I and My Father are One" (John 10:30).
"The Father has life in Himself." The Father, then, possesses this inherent, uncaused, Self-sustained life. The Father, therefore, is from everlasting to everlasting, the ETERNAL Father. Such are the plain words of the Son that "the Father has life in Himself."
Note carefully the Lord said, "THE FATHER has life in Himself." He certainly did not mean that one of the Three unnamed, undefined Persons of the Godhead, as some teach, became the Father as the result of the incarnation of the Lord. In that case the Father could not have "life in Himself," and this is what our Lord states the Father has, for "life in Himself" can never have a beginning.
To affirm that the Father became the Father through the incarnation of the Lord is to put the one, who makes this assertion, in the serious position of denying the very words of the Lord, of explaining them away in a fantastic fashion in order to suit a theory. It is to create an impossible dilemma from which there is no escape, as we shall see.
The verse goes on to say, "The Father . . . has given to the Son to have life in Himself." We have already seen that "life in Himself" means life inherent, uncaused, Self-sustained, from everlasting to everlasting, the possession of Deity alone.
Here we are told that the Son possesses this life as the gift of the Father. It is life that can never have a beginning and can never have an end. That is to say the Son is the ETERNAL Son, as the Father is the ETERNAL Father, and the Spirit is the ETERNAL Spirit (Hebrews 9:14)—one God.
Take One Person out of the Godhead and you destroy the Godhead. There cannot be the Father without the Son and the Spirit in the nature of the Godhead, as revealed to us in Scripture.
The Lord thus declares with His own lips that the Father has a life, which can be only known in the Godhead; and that He the Son possesses this same life as the gift of the Father. This can in the very nature of things only be in the Godhead, and therefore from everlasting to everlasting, without beginning or end.
The Lord thus simply and most profoundly proclaims His ETERNAL Sonship.
It is worthy of particular note that it is never recorded that our Lord ever referred to His miraculous birth in affirming that He was the Son of God. He always took the ground of being the Son in the Godhead, as the Father is the Father in the Godhead, and the Spirit is the Spirit in the Godhead, yet one God.
The Jews plainly understood the claims Christ made for Himself. The virgin birth was never the subject of testimony to the Jews. They evidently were unacquainted with this great fact. This is proved when they said, "Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know?" (John 6:42); and again, "Is not this the carpenter's son?" (Matthew 13:55).
When the Lord asked the Jews for which good work they stoned Him, they replied, "For a good work we stone Thee not; but for blasphemy; and because that Thou, being a man, makest Thyself God" (John 10:33). The Jews thought our Lord was only a man. This they emphasised when they said, "Thou, being A MAN."
When our Lord claimed to be the Son of God, they said truly that He claimed Deity. In this they were right, and the Lord neither denied nor disputed their conclusion.
If the claim were false, it were blasphemy of the most heinous kind. If true, to deny it is serious beyond words.
The Jews understood what was at issue. They understood that the claim to be the Son of God was the claim to be in the Godhead. This the teachers of "the new light" have failed to grasp.
Further it is worthy of careful note that not once in the Epistles is the virgin birth referred to. It is said that He was born of a woman, but no reference is made to the Lord's miraculous birth. Yet in the Epistles He is repeatedly called the Son of God, the Son of the Father, the Son to whom is ascribed the creation of the worlds. All through in this way His eternal Sonship is stressed.
If it is asserted that the Father gave the Son to have "life in Himself" IN INCARNATION, that would mean there was a time when He did not possess that life. If He did not already possess that life, He was not God. In that case He would be a man, and a man only upon whom Deity was conferred, a very serious position to take up. So that, if it were possible for the Father to give to the Son "life in Himself" IN INCARNATION, that would mean the creation of a second God. This would be an utter impossibility. This position is utterly untenable.
On the other hand, if it is asserted that the Lord became the Son IN INCARNATION, that One of the unknown, undefined Persons of the Godhead became flesh, and therefore He was a Divine Person, with life inherent, uncaused, Self-sustained, from everlasting to everlasting, then we are faced with an impossible conclusion, that the Father gave to the Son a life which He already possessed from all eternity. That, too, is utterly untenable.
Indeed in whichever way we contemplate this evil teaching of the Lord becoming the Son IN INCARNATION, we see how utterly impossible, and illogical and unscriptural such a position is.
What then is the meaning of the Son having "life in Himself" as the gift of the Father? If "life in Himself" is life that never had a beginning, then the giving is clearly from all eternity. It means that there never was a moment when in the Godhead the Father was not bestowing, and the Son was not receiving "life in Himself." So that at any point it could be said, "For as the Father has life in Himself; so has He given to the Son to have life in Himself." It is life flowing from all eternity from the One to the Other in the essence of the Godhead. How true are the words of the old divine, "The Father from all eternity gives it, the Son from all eternity receives it." "Eternal generation" is a true idea, though we must be careful not to argue from the natural to the Divine. This is the great mistake that has been made. The manner of the Divine is beyond our understanding.
The why and wherefore of these things the mind of man can never grasp. They are beyond our comprehension, but not beyond our adoring belief. The conclusion of the whole matter is that John v. 26, plainly states the truth in the Lord's own words that the Father has "life in Himself," life inherent, uncaused, from everlasting to everlasting, therefore He is the Father ETERNALLY; that the Son has "life in Himself" as the gift of the Father, life inherent, uncaused, Self-sustained, from everlasting to everlasting, therefore He is the Son ETERNALLY.
Not to believe this is to disbelieve the words of the Lord Jesus. It is in reality, to deny His true Person, however little the teachers of "the new light" may realise it. It is the refusal of His very GODHEAD, for it is as THE SON He is, ever was, and ever will be, God, for our verse affirms that the Son has "life in Himself."
F. E. Raven wrote in his paper, "The Person of the Christ,":—"The fourth gospel is given to us to afford full light as to His Person, that is, 'the Son;' and in this respect He is seen in three positions, namely as ETERNALLY with the Father, as come into the world, and as going back to the Father, the same Person unchanged and unchangeable." With this we are in perfect accord. No wonder Mr. Raven wrote in a private letter, dated 29th, December 1894, "In answer to your question, I should say, that if a man intended to deny the eternal Sonship of Christ I certainly should not care to remain in fellowship with him, for the Son is the name that conveys to me the idea of the distinct Personality of Christ. (John 5:19-20; 14:14)."
J. N. Darby in Notes and Comments Vol. VII, Page 7, writing of the denial of Eternal Sonship says strongly, "I hate the heresy, and would guard against the fibre of its roots."
May God give all His dear people to stand firmly against the revival of this ancient heresy, to make no compromise with it, and above all to do so in a right spirit. We mourn over our beloved brethren, who have fallen into this snare of the devil, who affirm this teaching to be a truth specially revealed in these last days. It were sad indeed were the Holy Spirit, who was given to guide us into ALL truth, to allow saints all down the ages to be ignorant of such a vital truth as they affirm this teaching to be. We cannot put such grave dishonour upon the Holy Spirit as to believe this possible. May God give His people grace and courage to clear themselves in this matter.
"Partakers of the Divine Nature."
A recent pamphlet entitled, "The Divine Sonship of the Lord Jesus Christ," has been severely criticised by a teacher of "the new light." The writer of this pamphlet, so this teacher informs us, uses the expression, The Divine Nature, "(in several forms) something like 120 times applied to the divine Persons as in absolute Deity." Because 2 Peter 1:4, says, "Whereby are given to us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of THE DIVINE NATURE," this teacher says that the use of the expression "DIVINE NATURE" as applied to Divine Persons is wrong. He argues, if believers are made "partakers of the Divine Nature," that would make them partakers of Deity.
We would ask this teacher, What is the "Divine Nature," if it is not the nature of God? Nature describes the character of a being. We speak of the Divine Nature, and that means God.
The word for "DIVINE" in the Greek is theios, which is the adjective derived from the noun, Theos, (GOD). God has a Nature. It is not human, but Divine.
In 2 Peter 1:3, we read, "According as His DIVINE power has given unto us all things." There the word for "DIVINE" is just the same Greek adjective (theios) as in the next verse where the believers are said to be "partakers of the DIVINE nature." Surely in the one verse it is the power of God, in the other the nature of GOD.
Acts 17:29, says, "We ought not to think that the Godhead (theios) is like unto gold or silver or stone, graven by art and man's device." Here the adjective, theios, is used to describe the Godhead itself. The adjective, theios, only occurs in 2 Peter 1:3-4; and Acts 17:29.
It is very clear that the believer cannot be a partaker of the Divine Nature in the sense of partaking of Deity. He cannot share in the attributes of God. He cannot have "life in Himself," for that Would lift him into Godhead. He cannot have the attributes of Godhead,—omnipotence, omniscience, omnipresence. As creatures believers must ever be dependent on God for the life they have, either as connected with the old creation, or the new creation.
But believers can and do share in the moral qualities of God. The believer is begotten of God, hence it is no surprise that he shares in the moral qualities of the One who begets. Such qualities as love, righteousness, holiness, truth, joy, peace, goodness may be enumerated. In this way we are made "partakers of the Divine nature."
The use of the expression, Divine Nature, as applied to Divine Persons, and therefore to the Son, is perfectly justified by the teaching of Scripture. The teacher of "the new light" recognised, doubtless, that, if that expression stood, it implied ETERNAL SONSHIP. Therefore as it would contradict teaching that the Lord only became the Son IN INCARNATION, this expression, "DIVINE NATURE," must not apply to God. It must be explained away. This the teacher of "the new light" referred to weakly attempts to do in his recent paper, "The Sonship of Christ." But if "the Divine Nature" does not apply to God to whom can it apply?
Because we read that the Lord is "The true God, and Eternal Life" (1 John 5:20), we might as logically argue that believers cannot have eternal life, or else they would partake of Deity. It is true that the blessed Lord is "that Eternal Life which was with the Father" (1 John 1:2). It is likewise true that the believer has "eternal life, and this life is in His Son" (1 John 5:11).
We read in 1 John 4:7, "Every one that loves is born of God." It would be just as logical to argue that the believer cannot be born of God, or else he would be a partaker of Deity.
The sad part of this "new light" teaching is the way Scripture is twisted to bolster up a false, theory.
Thank God, believers are "partakers of the Divine nature;" they are "born of God," they have eternal life. This Scripture asserts.
May God give His people a holy jealousy in these matters of vital importance. May there be no compromise with this evil teaching. A. J. Pollock.
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