“That all men should honour the Son, even as they honour the Father. He that honours not the Son honours not the Father which has sent Him” (John 5:23).
In gatherings where a deep sense of God’s presence has been realized, one has often experienced the grace and power with which those present have sung,
“All the Father’s counsels claiming
Equal honours to the Son,
All the Son’s effulgence beaming,
Makes the Father’s glory known.”
It is a cause for thanksgiving and rejoicing that this true note of praise, together with the truth concerning the Son’s glory according to Scripture, is still sustained by the Holy Spirit. All the more so because it is being questioned, undermined, attacked or openly abandoned on all hands. The verse quoted from at the head of this paper shows that those who honour the Son honour the Father also. How precious, therefore, it must be to the Father, who loves the Son, to see Him honoured, and what joy it gives to the loyal believer.
We are speaking of our Lord Jesus Christ as “the Son,” and not of His distinctive glories as “the Son of David,” “the Son of Man” and “the Son of God,” nor even of Him as “the Son of the Father,” but rather of His deity as God the Son. The Father is God, the Son is God, and the Holy Spirit is God; yet there are not three Gods, but one God, “God is one” (Gal. 3:20; 1 Tim. 2:5, N.Tr.). Baptism is to the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,” we are told in Matthew 28:19. This indicates for us the trinity of Persons in the Godhead, all of whom share in that supreme glory.
Only in one other place does Matthew speak of Christ as “the Son” (11:27), and there we are told that One alone fully knows Him. In the impenetrable depths of His holy Person none but God could perfectly comprehend Him. In one passage only does Luke so name our Lord Jesus Christ (10:22), and there it is said also, “No one knows who the Son is but the Father.” Nor does it say that the Father thus reveals Him, although He reveals the Father to whom He pleases. In all His counsels, in all His love, in all His glory, and in His own home the Son knows the Father, and it is His Divine pleasure to reveal Him to others. True freedom before the Father and the Son in the power of the Spirit may be enjoyed even now. To know “the truth” secures for us freedom from things that hold the soul in bondage, and that is a great matter; but it is the Son Himself who brings the soul into real freedom in the presence of the Father, therefore it is said, “If therefore the Son shall set you free ye shall be really free” (John 8:32, 36). What light, liberty, life, love and exalted blessedness this involves; and what wealth of praise, song and worship would flow where this is known experimentally in spite of the ecclesiastical failure and apostasy in Christendom! But how can this be where the Son is not honoured?
In the second Psalm (the only place in the Old Testament where the Son is so spoken of) the dignitaries of the earth are exhorted to show fealty to Him—to do homage—to “kiss the Son”! The apostasy is described first in that Psalm, and then, at such a time, kings and judges are commanded to be wise and own the greatest Dignitary of all, lest they perish from the way when His wrath is kindled but a little! Hebrews 1:8 shows us that Psalm 45:6 also speaks of the Son without naming Him thus. To Him it is said, “Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever.” The deity of Christ is thus plainly stated, just as it is in John 1:1 and Romans 9:5 and elsewhere. Christendom abounds with teachers who profess to uphold the divinity of Christ, speaking of Him as a Divine Person, hiding at the same time the fact that they do not own the deity of our Lord and Saviour.
I had presented to me some time ago a copy of Dr. Moffatt’s well-known translation of the New Testament, and, knowing the tendency of the scholarship of today, I at once turned to the three verses mentioned above, as well as to others, and found flagrant alterations made, dishonouring to Christ, without any justification in the original text whatever, showing the determination of the human mind to undermine the deity of the Son. The first Scripture is changed to “God is Thy throne”! the second is altered from “The Word was God” to “The Logos was divine”! and the third is made laudatory and parenthetic, detaching God there spoken of from Christ altogether! I only mention these three instances to show what deceptive labours against God the Son are common in the schools of today. To have a Saviour who is simply divine would not be sufficient, for even believers are said to partake of the “divine nature”; but to have a Saviour who is God as well as Man settles satisfactorily every question, and gives rest to the heart and mind also. It was the Son who said, “I WILL GIVE YOU REST.” Who else could do so?
It is significant to observe what is said in the Scripture which last mentions Christ as the Son in the Bible, for it has the apostasy in view like the second Psalm which first mentions Him thus. THIRTY-THREE times is the Son so named in the inspired volume! The number itself is full of meaning. 2 John 9 is the last. A loud voice as of thunder warns the “modernist” by it, for thus it speaks of the “advanced” thinker, “Whosoever goes forward and abides not in the doctrine of the Christ has not God” (N.Tr.); but it continues with words of divine assurance to the true believer, breathing peace like the calm which follows the angry storm, “He that abides in the doctrine, he has both the Father and the Son.” In John 5 the Son is named more often than in any other chapter, and there, at the very centre of the thirty-three mentions, we are told that all judgment is given to 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 has sent Him” (v. 23). This should speak eloquently to every heart.
It is to be observed that the Son is the Person in the Godhead who became Man, and knew the sorrows and grief of this world. The One, too, who was despised and rejected of man: reviled, defamed, outcast and treated by the creature as worthless! Spat upon, smitten, scorned and scarred by human beings, divine counsels determine that all must honour Him. How just! how becoming! how cheering to the believer! and what glory to God the Father! The Gospel of Mark—which shows the Son who had become the Servant of the divine pleasure—but once mentions Him as the Son, and that in perfect consistency with his wonderful Subject, for he tells us that the day or hour of the coming of the Son of Man with great power and glory is known only to the Father (13:32). The angels of God, who are told to worship the Son of God, know not that time, neither the Son, who, in becoming Man, took the place of the Servant of God in divine perfection and marvellous grace. Well may the redeemed sing to Him with melody in their hearts, as they await His coming again—
“Though in the very form of God
With heavenly glory crowned,
Thou didst a Servant’s form assume,
Beset with sorrow round.”
In having the Son they have the Father (1 John 2:33), and in seeing the Son they see the Father (John 14:9). It is never put the reverse way by the Spirit of God in Scripture. We are shut up to the Son of God for the full revelation of God, and the Father is made known and glorified in the Son; moreover, He said Himself, “I am the Way, and the Truth, and the Life. No one comes to the Father unless by Me.” The redeemed, who know His grace and love, have found in Him not only the way to heaven, but the way to the Father. He is also the truth which has made the Father known to their glad hearts, and they have Him as the life in which His presence is realized and enjoyed. To those who believe on the Son, and consequently have eternal life, all this is plain enough, for the Spirit teaches them. They felt their need, they turned to God in faith and repentance, they received the Gospel of His grace, they trusted in Christ and were sealed by the Spirit, the Son of the living God was revealed to them by the Father, and they have believed on the Son in whom the Father is made known.
It is their joy, therefore, to see the Son honoured, and the Spirit is here to glorify Him. “The Father loves the Son” we are told by the Spirit, and has given all things into His hand” (John 3:35); yea, a stronger term of affection still is used in John 5:20, where it is said, “The Father dearly loves the Son.” How precious it is to read of the Son, who loved the Father with a perfect love, once saying, “I love the Father,” and that just as He was going to supply the Father with a fresh motive to love Him by laying down His life as He had received commandment (John 14:31). He glorified the Father on the earth in the Place of subjection which He willingly took, and now the Father has glorified Him with the glory which He had along with the Father before the world was. He has given to Him also authority over all flesh, and the Son gives eternal life to all those who are given to Him of the Father, and the Spirit is here to bring the Father and the Son before our hearts.
How beautiful it is to behold the glorious harmony of counsel, service and power blended in the wonderful operations of the Persons of the Godhead! What will it be when all is brought to eternal fruition according to eternal purpose, when God is all in all? when God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit shall rest and rejoice in eternal blessedness? Then, indeed, all shall honour the Son even as they honour the Father.
“By the Spirit all pervading,
Hosts unnumbered round the Lamb,
Crowned with light and joy unfading,
Hail Him as the great ‘I AM.’”