As revealed by Himself in the Gospel by John.
A Paper written in Times of Difficulty for Saints in Perplexity.
J. Lindsay, Ormswood, Dundela Avenue, Belfast.
What I have before me is to set down what witness is borne in the Gospel by John to our Lord's Eternal Sonship as voiced by Himself, and contrast it with recent denials of that truth at Barnet, and in several publications since.
I shall first give fairly full extracts from the book known as "The Divine Standard of Service" Readings and Addresses at Barnet, June, 1929, by J. T.
In a Reading on 2 Cor. 2, Mr. James Taylor revealed a secret which he had first thought of twenty-five years previously, but now revealed as "new light" on the Sonship of Christ, believing that the time had come for the light to be shed forth, and that there was the suitable audience to whom he should mention it.
"I do not know that there is such a term in Scripture as Eternal Sonship.” Son of God' is a question of a Person. The Son of God is announced in Scripture after the Lord Jesus was here. . . . Jesus asserts His relation as Son at the age of twelve in saying, My Father's business,' but the Father's voice announcing it is at His baptism."
S. J. B. C. You believe He was the Son in eternity?
J. T. What the Scriptures say is, "In the beginning was the Word." It does not say "The Son" (John 1:1was quoted), that is to say, HIS ETERNAL PERSONAL EXISTENCE IS STATED. He was there personally in the beginning. To go so far as to give Him a personal name or designation then, is going beyond Scripture, it seems to me, but that the PERSON WAS THERE is the great point. To give Him a Name is another matter, but the Person was there. It is the foundation of Scripture that He was a divine Person and so was there in the beginning. Now Luke says that He "shall be called the Son of God," and He says Himself at the age of twelve years, "Did ye not know that I ought to be occupied in my Father's business?" There is a plain intimation of His relation with God. There is the assertion of His relation with His Father as Son at the age of twelve years, and then God Himself calls Him Son as He was thirty years old: "Thou art my beloved Son, in Thee I have found my delight." That is what He was here. Luke presents Him in that way: and John speaks of His Sonship only AFTER He is said to have become flesh. . . ."
"I am sure we should be most careful as to applying to Christ as "in the form of God" designations given to Him as in man's form."
G. J. E. When the Son of God is mentioned in Scripture is it not always in Manhood?
J. T. I know of no other way in which He is spoken of in Scripture than in Manhood, but that in no way detracts from the fact that He was a divine Person and was there in the beginning. I believe that many assume that the REVELATION of God and the FORM of God are equivalent, but this is to ignore that it is expressly stated that no one has seen God at any time, that He dwells in unapproachable light, whom no man has seen, nor is able to see. This was written AFTER God is said to have been declared by the only-begotten Son. . . .
S. J. B. C. I thought that in incarnation He took up in new conditions a relationship that had ever existed in eternity, and that as the Son of God it was the relationship in a new condition.
J. T. I think you are asserting too much in saying the relationship "had ever existed." It does speak of the glory He had with the Father, but to give the thing a name is, I believe, going beyond Scripture. That the PERSON was there and that He WAS GOD is the point. I believe many have in their minds a fixed conception of the FORM of God. That is, they think they can bring the infinite and unknowable within their finite comprehension. But we have the declaration of God, of His nature and attributes, and that is in "the only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father "; God is now working in that connection in His own Son.
M. W. B. Is your point that it had to wait for revelation before the title "Son" could be disclosed?
J. T. That is how Scripture presents it to us. He is called Son in Manhood. So Paul was not moving in Corinth on the low level of man's mind, but on the high level of what God was doing. God is operating in His Son, His OWN Son, and that is what was preached.
Rem. I was wondering if Scripture would bear out that He is the Son in Deity, and the same Person Son of God in time and humanity.
J. T. But you will run across difficulties if you begin to analyse things like that, because the Son, without any modification, is said NOT to know certain things. (Mark 13:32.) You have to bear in mind that Scripture is dealing with a mediatorial system of things. Christ has come within the range of men to speak to men, but to attempt to give Him a name before He became man is going beyond Scripture, it seems to me. Taking up a mediatorial position as Son we can understand the references to subjection, obedience, etc.
W. R. P. You would not carry the title "Word" into what He was in Deity.
J. T. No. He had acquired that name among the saints. So in Hebrews i. you get a variety of the glories of Christ mentioned, but they are all taken from the statement of saints, that is, they are all taken from the Psalms, as if God loves to bring in the saints to establish the great truth of the Person of the Lord Jesus Christ. But like “Son," "the Word" implies His Deity, for only a Divine Person could reveal—it is a question of speaking the MIND of God.
F. S. M. Does the preaching of the Son of God involve the presentation of a Divine Person, the perfect representation of God as He is, and the establishment of all the promises?
J.T. That is what I thought. You apprehend God in a mediatorial way, but in One who is none less than God Himself, that is, He is the Son, but the Son come in in subjection. No evangelist is more pronounced on subjection than John, and it is set forth in One who was absolutely at the divine bidding. . . .
M. W. B. What do you understand by the expression in Matt. 11? "No one knows the Son but the Father."
J. T. That is His Person as to His eternal relation; that is inscrutable.
M. W. B. That has not been revealed.
J. T. No. You cannot give names to, or define relations between, divine Persons before incarnation. You have to go by Scripture. . . .
A. H. W. Would you say a word on why it says, "If then ye see the Son of Man ascending up where He was before?" Why the Son of Man in that connection?
J. T. That alludes to the grace of heaven taking that form and coming down—all that heaven could devise, as one has said, taking that form. John 6 is what He was as coming down to be within our range, but it is the same Person who goes up. The "HE" is the Person. So in manhood He is the same Person, unchanged and unchangeable. . . .
P. W. Is not the Son of Man really the Son of God become man, and because He has become man He brings in all the blessing of the Son of man? Is it not all bound up with the fact that the Son of God was the One found here as man—in whom God FOUND His delight?
J. T. The Son of God is what He is on God's side, and the Son of Man what He is on our side.
Question.—Is it the Son of God in Hebrews 1, that Person in manhood, who is addressed as God Himself?
J. T. Yes. He is such in John. "Before Abraham was, I am." That is His Godhead. In Psalm 102 He is addressed in manhood as "the same," the existing One, who does not change. . . .
H. H. It is really Paul's first impression of Christ. He preached Christ as the Son of God at the outset.
J. T. He says: "God . . . was pleased to reveal His Son in me, that I may announce Him as glad tidings." (Gal. 1:16.) So he is the first to announce Him as Son of God.
Question.—Scripture says: "We have seen, and testify, that the Father has sent the Son as Saviour of the world. (1 John 4:14.) Was He the Son as He was sent, or did He become the Son?
J. T. It is the PERSON, I think, that is in view. "Lo, I come to do Thy will." "A body hast Thou prepared Me." It is the Person come into manhood. But I do not see that we should make “sent" allude to His birth simply; morally it was there before and so entered into incarnation, but the bearing of it is toward His actual entrance into service. The Father had sanctified Him and sent Him into the world. I do not apprehend this to mean that He was sent before He became man, but sent as in manhood. The same may be said of "Jesus Christ whom Thou hast sent." (John 17:3.) He did not bear the name "Jesus Christ" before incarnation. Being sent into the world does not necessarily mean that it is from another place literally, but that the FATHER does it. Hence the Lord says, "As Thou hast sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world." It is a question of being sent by a Person; the disciples as not of or in the world MORALLY, were sent into it for testimony. We may thus see that while it is said the Father sent the Son, we cannot fairly deduce from this that He was actually in that relation with God as "in the form of God."
From "Remarks" by C. A. C.
Mr. C. A. Coates writes a reply to a pamphlet by A. J. Pollock, entitled "The Eternal Son," called "Remarks." He early states the subject of enquiry thus, "Does Scripture apply the title 'SON' to Him as in the form of God in the past eternity? Will the reader please note carefully that this is the subject of consideration."
No objection is taken to the question being thus clearly stated.
P. 6. He says, "The glory of the Lord's eternal Person appears in a wonderful way in John's Gospel, perhaps more fully than anywhere else. Our spirits are impressed as we read that Gospel by many statements which bring out the Personal greatness and glory of the sent One. He who comes from above is above all. . . . He who comes out of heaven is above all' (3:31). My Father works hitherto and I work ' (v. 17). Before Abraham was I AM ' (8:58). I and the Father are one' (10:30). All things that the Father hath are Mine' (16 11). Equality with God was really involved in such statements as the Jews rightly felt . . ."
P. 8. "In the past eternity the glory of Divine Persons was equal, Their majesty co-eternal. To think of our Lord as in Deity in the past eternity being, in a place of subjection is derogatory to Him. It is assigning to Him an inferior or subordinate place in Deity, and this is not only contrary to Scripture, but it is inconceivable to any one who believes in His true and full Deity. He was in absolute equality with the Other Persons of the Godhead. But as the sent One He was under authority; He was in a subordinate relation to the One who sent Him."
P. 11.. . . "Before He was given and sent He was eternally God, but it is AS THE SON OF GOD IN MANHOOD that He is said to be given and sent. These words refer to Him in His blessed mediatorial character and position. Scripture uniformly presents the truth in this way. . . ."
P. 12 "I would beg every reader to weigh carefully the statements of Scripture, as Scripture speaks. This is no question of one or two isolated texts, it concerns the whole scope and bearing of the truth. If we have been accustomed to think otherwise, we shall gain spiritually by discarding our own thoughts, and the thoughts of even pious persons, and learning to think and speak as Scripture speaks . . ."
P. 13 "One shrinks from going a hairsbreadth beyond what Scripture says. That the Holy Speaker in John xvii. was addressing the Father as the Son in Manhood is beyond doubt. But to say that His glory in the past eternity was the glory of Sonship is more than the Scripture says. . . ."
The Glory of Sonship Exceeded.
P. 16. "Now He is with the Father as Man invested with the glory which was His originally as a Divine Person. This is more than the glory of Sonship, for He was glorified as the Son of God while He was here both by the Father's voice and by the resurrection of Lazarus. (John 11:54.)
P. 17. "His GOD'S NAME is how He is pleased to be known by men, and it has always been in keeping with what faith needed for its support at any particular time. We know Him now as the Father, but it would be misleading for us to say that He was always the Father. . . ."
P. 31. "On page 22 (of A. J. P.'s pamphlet) we are told that we have seen already that this ("only begotten Son") is a title belonging to the Lord Jesus from all eternity.' But this is just what we have not yet seen to be established from Scripture."
Wisdom Personified as a Female.
P. 45. "I do not think that Proverbs 8 can be understood consistently with the whole truth, except by seeing that it is the voice of wisdom abstractly viewed, but personified as a female who can speak, love, bestow favours and have delights. It has pleased God to so present it, and it is for us to seek understanding as to it. It must be admitted by all that the thought of Son is simply not to be found there, Wisdom being personified as a woman. Proverbs 8 does not call her a Divine Person, and some of the language used precludes this thought of her."
An Obvious Conclusion?
P. 48. "It is obvious that some of Mr. P.'s 'proof texts' have no possible connection with the present subject of enquiry. He has not been able to bring forward any Scripture that applies the title 'Son' or 'Son of God' to our Lord Jesus Christ as in 'Deity' in the past eternity. Scripture teaches unquestionably that His PERSON is eternal, but it invariably attaches these TITLES to Him, whether prophetically or actually, as in Manhood. This is, I believe, indisputable."
We shall now consider the teaching of Scripture on the subject, confining our examination to the Gospel of John, with one exception: first quoting from an informative article on the subject.
The Son and the Son of God.
From a valuable article appearing in Scripture Truth, 1912, by H. D. R., on John 1:14, 18.
Speaking of "the Son" and "The Son of God," he says:—
"In verses 14-18 it is the 'Son' who comes before us, not exactly the 'Son of God,' but 'The Son.' The Son is a title standing in relation to eternity, and though applied to Himself by His own lips on many occasions when here in humiliation—for He was ever the same glorious Person in time as He was in eternity past—yet in itself it is a title distinguishing Him as in the Godhead; a title WITHIN the Godhead. The title Son of God' is different in that it distinctly presents Him in relation to the Godhead. The difference is of the greatest importance if thoughts derogatory to the essential glory of the eternal Son are to be met and answered.
"'The Son' is never spoken of as begotten in the sense of the word as we use it to-day. He never began to be—He is from everlasting to everlasting. He stands within the Godhead in eternal relation to the Father as Son. But as Son of God ' He IS IN CERTAIN CONNECTIONS spoken of as Begotten.' It is a title given to Him as born in time, of a virgin and by the overshadowing of the Highest, and therefore ' He should be called Son of the Highest ' ' Son of God ' (Luke 1:32-35). It was the fulfilment of Psalm 2, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten Thee,' THIS DAY, i.e., in time. Psalm 2, besides being quoted in Hebrews 1, is quoted in Acts 13, as fulfilment of the promises to the fathers, a fulfilment in that God raised up Jesus.'
"In John He is presented as Son of God ' in a rather different way . . . but to return to the name the Son,' it is true that we read, the only-begotten Son which is in the bosom of the Father,' yet this is not begotten in the sense of generation. It COULD NOT BE, for we have seen that the Word is eternal in the distinction of His Being, and that His glory (the glory of that eternal One) is that of Sonship, an only one with a Father,' and hence that His Sonship is eternal, without beginning. But what does only-begotten mean? "
The Meaning of "Only-Begotten."
"Westcott, commenting on this word MONO-GENES, says: The thought in the original is centred in the present Being of the Son and not in His generation.”
"It occurs in Hebrews 11:17 of Isaac. Isaac was not in the sense of the English word the only-begotten of Abraham, who had other sons, but his place in his father's affections was unique, it was a place all by itself, he was to Abraham as an only one.' But the Septuagint version of the Psalms makes clear what was an understood use of the word in the Greek language—it denotes what was UNIQUE, what was THE OBJECT OF INTENSE SOLICITUDE. So in Psalms xxii. 20, xxxv. 17, where our Lord is prophetically referred to as calling on God to deliver His SOUL from the power of the dog,' the word in our version darling,' or, as in the margin, only one,' is rendered in the Septuagint 'MONOGENES,' which literally means only-begotten,' but its use here, clearly shows that it was commonly used where no thought of generation could possibly enter. The sense then of MONO-GENES ' in the expression ' the only-begotten Son ' is rather the only ' Son, the One unique in the affections of the Father."
The Jews' Care of the Scriptures.
The Gospel of John contains the revelation of the FATHER as first given to the Jews orally by the SON the LIVING WORD, and afterwards to us in the Written Word through the SPIRIT. The evangelist tells us that "The WORD was made flesh and dwelt among us full of grace and truth," and further that the ONLY-BEGOTTEN SON which is in the bosom of the FATHER, hath declared Him.
The Jews had the Scriptures and guarded the sacred records with jealous care, even to the extent of Bibliolatry-worship of the Book apart from that of the LIVING GOD. So, when the LIVING WORD appeared they had no eyes or ears for Him. There were, however, some notable exceptions. Beside the Virgin Mary, there were Zacharias and Elizabeth, aged Simeon and Anna. They were feeding on the WORD OF GOD, and waiting for the consolation of Israel.
The Poor in Spirit Hear His Voice.
And when our LORD JESUS came, those to whom the Scripture was a living WORD, although they may have been comparatively ignorant, understood His voice. It was the same voice again, "Blessed are the poor in Spirit, blessed are they that mourn, blessed are the meek."
Why was it that those first disciples when they saw JESUS said, "We have found the Messiah of whom Moses and the prophets did write? "The WORD was in them through the Scriptures, and the WORD which was before them appealed unto their minds. . . . JESUS gave understanding to the simple. To Him belonged the "key of David," and He opened unto them the Scriptures.
The Son of God Baptized and Acclaimed.
John the Baptist tells of the SPIRIT descending like a dove upon Jesus. And he "saw and bare record that this is the SON OF GOD."
Nathaniel, questioning if any good thing could come out of Nazareth, yields to Philip's "Come and see," hears and sees the FOUND ONE, and exclaims, "Rabbi, Thou are the SON OF GOD; Thou are the King of Israel."
God works, and a guileless Israelite worships. New birth is insisted upon to a Pharisee, a ruler of the Jews, withal an honest seeker, and the road to it, the lifting up of the SON OF MAN, life can come only out of death. One poor, solitary, self-exposed, lost sinner, whom He went to Sychar's well to find and deliver, believed His word, drank of the living water and went forth as an evangelist to those who knew her and her past. But her theme was not herself, but the MAN who had told her all things that ever she did, and her plea was like Philip's, "Come and see."
Grace and truth personified in the WORD was drawing souls who were simple and subject.
Thus HE wrought then. Thus HE works to-day.
The Jews' Knowledge and Ours Compared.
It may be well at this point to say something of the difference between the position of the Jews who rejected Christ when hearing the words of the Son of God, and the position of Christians in this day of grace who have the written Word of God. In the 5th Chapter of John Christ proclaims His Sonship; His communion with and equality to, the Father; His co-quickening with the Father as He would; that all judgment was committed to Him as the Son; what is in view being that all may honour the Son, even as they honour the Father, who having life in Himself, has given to the Son to have life in Himself.
In the passages quoted, it will be observed that it is the Son who is presented by Himself and the witness which He bears is the witness of John (who testifies at His baptism that He is the Son of God), the witness of his Father, and of the works which the Father had given Him to do.
What was involved in this claim that God was His Father, was rightly understood by the Jews to mean that He was making Himself equal with God, and they sought the more to kill Him for that reason. Now let us enquire what they knew or thought they knew, and what they were ignorant of.
Certain facts should be borne in mind:—
(1) They thought that Jesus was the Son of Joseph and Mary. Luke tells us about the commencement of Christ's ministry, when about thirty years old, that He was supposed to be the Son of Joseph.
(2) There had been NO REVELATION of the virgin birth, and there is nothing in Scripture to indicate that any others knew of it besides Joseph and Mary, Zacharias and Elizabeth, or that they or any of them revealed the secret while Christ was about His Father's business.
(3) It is not probable that any of the apostles knew of it till after Christ died, and it is probable that John was the first to learn it, when the care of Mary as His mother, having been entrusted to him, from the cross, he would learn it of her in the privacy of their home life.
(4) There was no publication of the virgin birth till Matthew's Gospel (believed to be the earliest Gospel written) appeared, and that is believed to be over thirty years after the crucifixion.
Consideration of these facts makes one pause and meditate. All was in God's plan, linked up with the Divine counsels of the past eternity. In the volume of the Book, the Son says, "Lo, I come," and must it not be that the Father's plan is that the glory brought to Him by the Son of His bosom, ever His delight, should have an answering glory, with the Son as its object, which would include the sole proclamation for at least a generation of the Son of God, the theme of John's Gospel, the reason it was written (John 20:31), before the announcement was made by Matthew of the fulfilment of the prophecy of the second Psalm?
Romans 10:17, "Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God," was proved true by those who according to John's 1st Chapter received the Sent One they listened to the Living Word. It is proved true to-day by those who believe on him, through the apostles and the written Word, interpreted by the Holy Spirit. And it must not be forgotten that the part of the written Word which we find in John's Gospel, is largely a rehearsal of the truth of the Fatherhood of God, and the Sonship of Jesus, the Christ, the Son of the Living God, as proclaimed by the voice of the Living Word to many who had not ears to hear, God's plan including this, that that proclamation should reach OUR EARS in this day of grace. May we see to it that our ears are attuned to hear the voice of the Son of God continuously, and thus believe on His name. The warning is that many false prophets have gone out into the world, and we are to try the spirits whether they be of God.
It follows from what has been said that what we have in John's Gospel of what our Lord announced to the Jews about Himself, it was their responsibility to accept, and if so, it is equally our responsibility to believe it without cavil or question. The Jews did not know that our Lord knew more about Himself than He revealed; WE DO KNOW THAT, but it is what He revealed that we have to believe if our faith is to be centred on the revelation of the Son of God.
Our Lord knew when He was challenging the Jews that He was the Son of the Virgin Mary through the intervention of the Holy Ghost, but to reveal that was not any of the words He had got from His Father to speak, so He was silent. And it is surely significant that the way the Sonship of Christ is revealed to Christians for faith to-day; the way the Spirit takes of the things of Christ and reveals them unto us to-day, is the carrying out of the Lord's engagement to His disciples, "The Holy Ghost shall bring all to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you." (John 14:26.) So when the proper time came, some 20 or 30 years after the Synoptic Gospels had been written, John writes for us what the Spirit had brought to his remembrance—the revelation of our Lord's Sonship which he had heard when his Master was dealing with those who refused Him.
What we know now from Matthew and Luke's Gospels as to the becoming flesh of the Word — The Son, is precious truth which calls forth our praise and adoration, but that knowledge in no way minimises the fact that in John's Gospel we have enough for faith to rest upon, if we would know that "Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing, we should have life through His name."
It may be noted that the penman who wrote this Gospel is remarkable for his self-effacement. Never mentioning his own name, he expresses no judgment about his Master, but simply records what He says and does, and what the Spirit gives him to say about Him in the beginning of the first chapter. So we have no testimony from him as to the Sonship of his Master in that respect, as all through the Gospel, he is like John the Baptist—a voice. But he does not lay down his pen without testifying to his faith, "This is the disciple which testifieth of these things, and wrote these things, and we know that his testimony is true." Would that the faith of all of us was as well founded and simple.
Matthew's Account of the Revelation.
It will not be thought surprising that the words of John 20:31 should recall Matthew 16:16. It may be well to see if we cannot learn something from that Scripture. The circumstances are well known but may be recalled with profit. Our Lord puts a question to His disciples about Himself, and the various answers of men are told Him, then He asks them, "But whom say ye that I am," and the answer of Simon Peter is, "Thou are the Christ the Son of the Living God." Have you ever thought—what did Peter through his natural understanding know about his Master, or what he could have said apart from the revelation given to him. He knew nothing of the virgin birth; his knowledge did not go beyond common report—that Christ was the Son of Joseph and Mary. Yet our Lord asks the question knowing that His Father would not fail Him as to the answer. That answer is "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."
We know what follows as to the assembly being built on this rock, Peter's confession, and that the gates of hell should not prevail against it. The testimony is from the Father, and is our Lord's testimony to Himself repeated through the mouth of a disciple who does not understand it. Does some one object and say that could have been said by one who knew of the birth of Christ in the womb of the Virgin Mary, and you cannot know that Peter did not know of that? Very well, we shall take his knowledge for granted. Then Peter knew that it was through the Holy Ghost's power that Christ was born and that thus He was the Son of God. Then why did he not say so of himself? He did not, for Christ's says, "Flesh and blood hath not revealed it into thee"—if Mary had told him that would not have been true, and at that time, apart from the Lord Himself, it is extremely unlikely that any one knew of the secret except Mary. Zacharias and Elizabeth would be dead many years, and it is probable that Joseph was dead, otherwise our Lord would hardly have committed the care of His mother to John soon afterwards. No, the revelation must come from His Father, just as His revelation to men must be in the words that His Father gave Him to speak, and all was consistent with the plan of God that His Son should first be made known encircled by the halo of His Father's eternal affection and delight. His suitability to man as the Second Man, fitted to be the sinner's Substitute would be revealed in good time, but God must come first. As has been said, "God loves Himself supremely, and all that He has done is to gratify Himself."
The Gospel Summarised.
But we must turn to the Gospel to run through it briefly. In the 5th Chapter, we have our Lord's fellowship with the Father, oneness in purpose and work, and His Father's love in exercise. When did it begin—did it ever begin?
In the 6th Chapter, He is the Bread of God, the Bread of Life who has come down from heaven to do the will of Him that sent Him. Everlasting life came through believing in Him, and resurrection life also. The Jews murmur because He claims to have come down from heaven, and they speak of knowing His father and mother. They do not know how ignorant they are. He claims to be the only way to the Father.
In the 7th Chapter, He calls the thirsty to come to Him and drink, and promises the Spirit to those who believe on Him.
In the 8th Chapter His condemnation of the Jews is emphatic. They understand not that He spake to them of the Father, and Jesus said to them, "When ye have lifted up the Son of Man, then shall ye know that I AM, and that I do nothing of myself." He then tells them that they were of their father the devil, and that they did the works of their father, and in the 54th verse says, "If I honour myself, my honour is nothing, it is my Father that honours me, of whom ye say that He is your God," and in the 58th verse He says, "Verily, verily, I say unto you, before Abraham was, I AM." His relationship with the Father from the beginning is averred.
In the 9th Chapter He gives a blind man his sight, and when He hears that the Jews had cast him out of he synagogue, He finds him and reveals Himself to him as the SON OF GOD.
In the 10th Chapter He makes Himself known as he Shepherd of the sheep and reiterates His Sonship to the Jews; how He gives His sheep eternal life, says they shall never perish, and that none shall be able to pluck them out of His hand or out of His Father's hand, and in the 30th verse makes the emphatic statement as to relationship, "I AND MY FATHER ARE ONE."
The anger of the Jews is seen in this that they took up stones again to stone Him.
In the 11th Chapter He proves Himself the Resurrection and the Life, manifesting continuous communion with the Father. The hatred of the Jews culminates in the deliverance of Caiaphas the high priest that He should die for that nation, and from that day forth they took counsel together that they might put Him to death.
In the 12th Chapter, Mary, whose attitude is always recorded as at the feet of Jesus, in faith anticipates His burial, and anoints the feet of Jesus, filling the house with the odour of the ointment; and on the next day much people took branches of palm trees and met Him riding on an ass's colt, crying, "Hosanna, blessed is the King of Israel that comes in the name of the Lord." Jesus answers the Greeks—"the hour is come that the Son of Man should be glorified," and His soul is troubled and He says, "Father, save me from this hour, but for this cause came I unto this hour. Father glorify Thy name," and the answer came from heaven, "I have both glorified it and will glorify it again."
In the 13th Chapter He washes the disciples' feet, and we are introduced to the Holy of Holies which we do not leave till the 17th Chapter ends. He tells His own n the 14th Chapter, "Believe Me that I am in the Father, and the Father in Me." In the 15th Chapter "As the Father has loved Me, so have I loved you, continue ye in my love. . . . He that hates Me hates my Father also."
In the 16th Chapter—"I came forth from the Father and am come into the world; again I leave the world and go to the Father."
In the 17th Chapter in that wonderful outpouring to His Father which we are permitted to hear, He says "And now, O Father, glorify Thou Me, with Thine Own Self, with the glory which I had with Thee before the world was," and prays for His own, "that they all may be one as Thou, Father, art in Me and I in Thee that they also may be one in us, that the world may believe that Thou hast sent Me."
Then in the 18th and 19th Chapters we have the betrayal, the arrest, the crucifixion and burial of our Lord, and we find that the ground of the Jews' accusation against Him, His conviction and sentence is, that "HE MADE HIMSELF THE SON OF GOD."
In the 20th Chapter we have the wonderful announcement to Mary by the risen Lord which brings His brethren into the same relationship with His Father and His God as He enjoys. We are told of the full-hearted, if belated, testimony of Thomas—"My Lord and my God," and then we have the Holy Spirit's summing up of all that has preceded (an imperfect summary of which I have set down) which it is fitting should be repeated here—"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."
I add no comments on this wondrous revelation of the Father and the Son. Scripture needs no support, it speaks for itself.
John's Great Point.
"There is a complete declaration of God in the Son. There is no limitation to that; that declaration is absolute and complete; and it is in the light of that declaration flat we stand as Christians.
"It is a wonderful thing to be in the light as God is in the light—to be in the full, absolute, complete declaration of God in the only begotten Son 'who is in the bosom of the Father.' We stand in that light. That is one side. On the other side, every divine thought known by One who was in the intimacy of Sonship is unfolded; there is nothing to be added. God had spoken in divers ways by the prophets, and 'hath in these last days spoken unto us by the Son'; that is to say, every divine thought has been expressed in the Son; there was in Him complete unfolding of the divine thoughts. Now it is in the light of all that, that we stand; and in connection with that, the Lord has brought in a system of things into which every divine thought fits.
"I do not enlarge upon that; but I think it is of great interest to us to see that there was a place in the divine system for every divine thought. The unfolding of the divine mind in the Son necessitated a system of things in connection with which every thought should be set forth.
"Well, now, the Son has done all that, and I believe it may be accepted as a principle that what He does is unalterable—it is permanent. . . .
"I have said that the saints should be fully established in the light of the Lord's Person. I believe the Spirit of God would ever keep that before us; that we should be in the full sense, believers in the Son. One often questions one's own soul as to what one really does believe, and it is a very wholesome thing to do so. I think that John's great point in his Gospel is to establish the saints in the light of the Son. At the close of his Gospel he adds, '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.' I need not point out to you, that John's Gospel was not written to unbelievers; it was clearly written for the saints."
It will be seen from the quotation marks that this clear and forcible presentation of the truth which I have endeavoured to set forth, is not mine. I could not do the subject such justice or present it so attractively. It is possible some of my Belfast readers may remember hearing the address which was delivered in Belfast about 14 years ago by Mr. James Taylor, and the above extract is to be found on pages 36-38 of the book, entitled, "The Spirit of the New Covenant."
Saul of Tarsus.
It has often been pointed out that Saul of Tarsus after he was converted, went beyond Peter in that he preached that Christ was the Son of God. But he was also unlike Peter in that he did not know the Lord after the flesh, but had a revelation of Him from the glory, which prostrated him to the earth. He tells the Galatians that his Gospel was not received of men but by the revelation of Jesus Christ, and that when "it pleased God to reveal His Son in Him, that he might preach Him among the heathen, immediately he conferred not with flesh and blood." It might be said, he knew no other Gospel to preach—he was shut up to the Lord from whom he got his marching orders, and his subject was the Son of God, who had been specially revealed to him, as He had been revealed by Himself when on earth. Paul the apostle was not likely to have heard of the virgin birth when he answered the call of his Lord to apostleship, but he did not lack subject or success because he knew only the self-existing Son of God.
Scripture does not contradict itself, and if Christ is recognised in some of the Psalms as the Chief Musician, we may well accord Him the place of the Chief Speaker, especially when His subject is Himself. And we may note that He never uses the word "eternal" about Himself or His Sonship. Does the description lack anything in clearness because He does not? I put that question to any of His redeemed who believe on Him through faith in the Word of God. Did you ever doubt that He is the Son of the Father, not because He is time-born, but as co-existent with the Father? Might I ask you to sit down quietly and consider if the fact that He is never said to be the "Eternal Son" or that the words "Eternal Sonship" are not found in Scripture, furnishes any reason for uneasiness or doubt as to the truth you have always believed and rejoiced in? The darkening counsels of words without knowledge through reversing the words of certain sentences and labouring to prove that the simple word "sent" does not mean sent but something very different, is a poor compliment to your common sense, to put it on the lowest ground. No, the Scriptures assert the Eternal Sonship of Christ without using those words, and no one knows that better than he who was a murderer from the beginning, who was recognised by our Lord as the real opposition when the Jews refused His testimony. That testimony given personally by God's Son when on earth is corroborated by the Spirit's testimony through inspired penmen in Hebrews, Colossians, Chap. 1, and other Scriptures, which it is not within my purview to deal with.
I had thought of setting down in parallel columns some of the erroneous statements quoted in the earlier part of this paper, alongside the truth from the lips of our Lord, but space does not permit, nor do I think it necessary.
Some Barnet Remarks.
But I would remark that the exhortations to be "careful as to applying to Christ as in the form of God ' designations given to Him as 'in man's form'"; sounds strangely in the presence of the Lord's presentation of Himself as the Son in eternity. I also quote from a reply of J. T.'s to a brother who referred to a relationship that had ever existed in eternity:—
"I think you are asserting too much in saying the relationship had 'ever existed.' It does speak of the glory He had with the Father, but to give the thing a name, is, I believe, going beyond Scripture."
And I give below an extract from "The Spirit of the New Covenant," by J. T.
"Now as to believing in the Son, you have come to that which is permanent and immutable; but then it is also needful for us to see, and to be very clear about the fact that the SON became man. . . . Leaving out for the moment the eternal relationship that ever existed between the Father and the Son, think of what it was for God to see here a Man, in the Midst of men (where evil was continually), nothing but what was suitable to God."
Both these extracts are not true. One is false, the other is true. I think one who is subject to Scripture will agree that in the sphere of divine truth the revelation of God to man is complete, so that whatever is true is not new, and whatever is new is not true. If so, there will be no difficulty in recognising which is false.
There is one other answer of J. T.'s that I must notice. He is replying to the question, "Is it the Son of God in Hebrews i., that Person in Manhood, who is addressed as God Himself?"
Answer.—"Yes, He is such in John, 'Before Abraham was, I AM,' that is His Godhead."
Now, the quotation from John's Gospel has already been given, Christ is bearing witness to His Sonship, and claims co-existence with God, His Father, as Son. THAT is, must be, the truth. What is that which was asserted by J. T.?
SOME OF C. A. C.'s STATEMENTS. Mr. Coates has been quoted as saying:—
"The glory of the Lord's Person appears in a wonderful way in John's Gospel."
This is a very subtle remark, partaking of a character of falsehood which is most dangerous. He tells what is true to hide the truth. If instead of Person he had said Sonship, the statement would have been honest and true, without any suspicion of deceit.
There is just one other of the quotations from his book I would refer to, that referring to Proverbs 8, and the personification of Wisdom. He says:—
"It must be admitted by all, that the thought of Son is not to be found there, Wisdom being personified as a woman."
And J. T. Contra.
An opposite view is found in a book, "RESURRECTION AND LEVITICAL PRIVILEGE," containing NOTES OF READINGS AND ADDRESSES AT INDIANOPOLIS, U.S.A., 1911.
The subject of the address is, "CONFORMED TO THE IMAGE OF GOD'S SON" (Romans 8:29). The speaker is J. T.
"Proverbs 8 speaks of Wisdom, personifying it, as being there before things were formed, and it was there as they were formed. That is, God's idea was present with Him before He began to do anything, before His operations, and then His ideal was present with Him as His operations began and were carried out. The expression 'Brought up with Him,' 'daily His delight,' that was not Adam, that was THE SON."
J. T., 1912.
I will permit myself another quotation from J. T., copied from "NOTES OF READINGS AND ADDRESSES AT INDIANOPOLIS, JANY., 1912," "THE HEAVENLY SYSTEM AND THE GLORY OF THE SON OF GOD" (READING Ephesians 4:1-16).
A. A. T. Would you distinguish between "the Son" and "The Son of God"?
J. T. I think the term "The Son" refers to the Lord personally, not to His relationship with us, "No man knoweth the Son but the Father." That is, the Son is unknowable save to the Father; but as "the Son of God" He is connected with revelation and the purpose of God. In Him, the relation in which God intended man to be with Himself is set forth.
J. T. of 1912, when he desired to present what he found in the Scriptures may be appealed to, to answer J. T. of 1929. That which was new, propagated in Barnet, is, from its nature, old darkness, not new light.
Two Barnet Addresses
This paper is much longer than I desired, but I cannot conclude without calling attention to two of the addresses which were delivered at Barnet.
H. F. N. contributed an address on "THE LORD'S DESIRE TO ADD TO HIS PEOPLE," and referred to the precious ministry they were receiving:—
"When we think of the ministry of the present moment that the Lord is giving in the house of God, there is one feature which must come home to each of us, and that is, the bountiful measure that has marked the divine giving. And as we think of ourselves at the close of the Church's history, just on the eve of her translation to be with the Lord Jesus Christ, one feels that every heart must he divinely impressed with the wealth of blessing that the Lord is pouring into the souls of His people. If an appeal were made to those of us who have been privileged to be together to-day, I am sure that each one must have been impressed by the way the Lord has opened His hand and ministered to us. We feel there is a wealth of ministry in the house of God to-day. I suppose there never was a day in which there was such a 'plenteous rain' in the way of ministry, and the Lord would challenge our hearts as to whether we have the circumcised ear."
The last address in the book is entitled, "I JESUS," by A. E. M.
In the address "Jesus" is mentioned 40 times Lord "twice, "Christ" 4. times, "Lord Jesus Christ", once, which is very much after the style of Modernist preachers and writers. He says:—
"It is as 'Jesus' that He has come into our hearts, as 'Jesus' that He has made Himself indispensable and precious to every one of us."
Again, referring to the Revelation, he says:—
"To those who read, He is that same Person, to hearts that adoringly would follow Him through the great movements recorded in the Book, He is still 'Jesus.'"
"As we contemplate the great events of one's life, possibly going into death, our comfort is, that Jesus died. He went that way and we could not go that way without being overwhelmed had He not gone, and did He not take us by the hand as we go."
The climax is reached here:—
"It stands for the way that blessed divine Person has taken that He might recover possession of our hearts. I will give you an illustration of how it works in the conversation of Saul of Tarsus. You will recall that as he was journeying to Damascus, a light shone out of heaven and a voice was heard saying, 'Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou Me,' and Saul said, 'Who art Thou, Lord.' Lord is a title of authority, it represents what is official and great, but the answer that came back was, 'I am Jesus.' He would not overwhelm that man, lying with his face on the ground, by speaking of titles of dignity and glory, though every title of eminence belongs to Him, but, oh, the comfort poured into that wounded heart by that name Jesus, 'I am Jesus.'"
Such a comment is saddening. Could denseness further go? And what Scripture says is NOT given. Our Lord's answer was not "I am Jesus."
An Extraordinary Pronouncement.
There is another extract I must give, and I was amazed when I read it. I think there is not a more extraordinary pronouncement in the book. It was said by J. T. in the final reading on 2 Cor. 12, pp. 257, 258:
"It is the common habit of opposers of the truth pretending to represent God in some new feature, to put themselves forward as 'angels of light,' but there ought to be some proof of it, and so the apostle challenges them here. He says, 'If indeed he that comes preaches another Jesus whom we have not preached, or ye get a different Spirit which ye have not got, or a different glad tidings which ye have not received, ye might well bear with it.' They could not, there was not anything to be brought from God than what Paul presented,and so their professing to be angels of light was fictitious; they were liars, they were false apostles. Paul has come to the real crux of the matter now at Corinth, and he is exposing those men who were darkening and blinding the brethren."
One shrinks from commenting on that deliverance and wonders if the speaker was quite blind to its boomerang character. In the face of such darkness, his own and his confederates, in flatly denying the plain statements of Scripture, under guise of new light the Lord had shed through the Spirit as to His Sonship, one cannot resist the conclusion that the enemy has blinded their eyes, that they are deceivers, because they have been deceived by him who was a liar from the beginning.
We are not without warnings as to how men will be deceived in the last days. Satan is to present himself as an angel of light. Christ foretold the arising of false Christs and false prophets, insomuch that if it were possible they would deceive the very elect.
Precious Ministry Recalled.
In any case the praise of the wonderful ministry received, ministry which was so destructive of the truth revealed by our Lord, where it was not negative, strikes one as Laodicean in character—rich and increased in goods and in need of nothing. And as one thinks of the days when "A PREACHER OF THE OLD SCHOOL" was read and re-read with pleasure, also "A WARNING AND AN APPEAL," with the clear Scriptural presentation of much-needed truth, the thought presents itself, if some one gifted as a seer had been able to foretell to C. A. C. his present activity, would he not have echoed Hazael's protest, "WHAT IS THY SERVANT A DOG THAT HE SHOULD DO THIS THING?"
I write as one very much interested in the present crisis, though separated from many of my brethren locally by the unrighteous division of 1908 of which "Glanton's" action was the occasion, not the cause.
I can sympathise with those who are suffering from unrighteous cutting-off now because of their refusal to silence their conscience or acquiese in accepting a judgment which they cannot reconcile with Scripture. And I appeal to my brethren to face faith's facts and refuse to follow leaders who have turned aside from following their Lord.
Let them remember that He gives understanding to the simple, and to them that have no might, He greatly increases strength.
I had finished this paper ready for the printer, and this morning reading the 12th chapter of John, the warning in the 35th and 36th verses impressed me strongly, and I felt I should repeat it here:
"Then Jesus said unto them, Yet a little while is the light with you, walk while ye have the light, lest darkness come upon you; for he that walks in darkness knows not whither he goes. While ye have the light believe in the light, that ye may be the children of the light. These things spake Jesus AND DEPARTED AND DID HIDE HIMSELF FROM THEM."
I conclude with an illustration which I think appropriate. It is well known how the governing powers in Russia are persecuting Christians, and trying to stamp out religion of every kind. In their schools, which all children beyond a certain tender age must attend, they teach and insist that there is no God—such a Being does not exist, and they must not believe that there is a God, no matter what others may say. God's existence must not be taught in any homes. Christian parents are strictly forbidden to mention His name under threats of dire punishment.
In a Christian home the father spoke of a Being who was good and loving, by a certain name. His son, compelled to attend school, asked his father if the Being that was called so-and-so was God, and eventually his father said, "Yes." "I thought so," answered the boy, "they tell us at school that there is no God, that we must not believe that there is, no matter what anybody may say. I don't believe them, because if there was no God, nobody would think of saying so. If I did not live, nobody would say anything about me, they would not say there was no such boy as me."
And if there was no Eternal Son the fact would never be mentioned, for then there had been no promise of the seed of the woman; no blood-besprinkled doors, no Son born of a virgin, no Calvary sacrifice, no joy in heaven, no peace on earth, no salvation for sinners.
But thank God, it is a lie of the devil—"This is the record that God has given to us eternal life, and this life is in his son."
Made and printed in Scotland by Ayro Press, Ayre.