20. N.T. Testimony


Heb 1:1-3 In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom he made the universe. The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven.

The writer to the Hebrews in the New Testament is quite specific; in fact unusually so.  In his first chapter he seeks to show how Jesus was so much greater than an angel. He writes to the Jewish population explaining how Jesus is the fulfilment of the Law, how he is so much greater that a mere heavenly messenger.  What is interesting is that he starts by countering a claim that Jesus, although greater than a man, was in fact  an angelic messenger.  Already there were strange cults suggesting strange things. There are glimmerings throughout the New Testament of the writers having to counter the heretical ramblings of some of the cults that were trying to take over Christianity, yet it would be several hundred years before the battle got really heated and the Church would have to try to lay down creeds of agreed doctrine to counter the heresies that the various cults were trying to impose.

We have made reference a number of times to the apostle John, and his letters show equal commitment to the Gospel as his Gospel does. His first letter in particular is littered with references to the Son of God and no where does he equate him with a mere man, a mere prophet or a mere teacher. For John he is the unique Son of God.

When we come to the letters of the apostle Peter we find that he too is utterly committed to the concept of Jesus Christ being the unique Son of God. In fact he confirms what we have already seen in the Gospels: “We did not follow cleverly invented stories when we told you about the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. For he received honor and glory from God the Father when the voice came to him from the Majestic Glory, saying, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.” We ourselves heard this voice that came from heaven when we were with him on the sacred mountain.” (2 Pet 1:16,17). His language gives only the foolhardy the grounds to suppose that Jesus is anything but the unique Son of God and that is his point in referring to that occasion on the mount of transfiguration.

Probably the most prolific writer outside the Gospels is the apostle Paul. Often in his writings there are almost side comments, for example: “They tell how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead–Jesus, who rescues us from the coming wrath.” (1 Thess 1:9,10). His comments about who Jesus is are not the main points he was speaking about at that point in his letter to the church at Thessalonica, but almost without thinking he elevates Jesus who he identifies as God’s Son and who is in heaven awaiting a time when he will return in glory, a subject which occurs elsewhere in his writings. The so-called ‘Second Coming’ of Jesus Christ is a clearly taught doctrine in the New Testament, but it is not the coming of a mere man a second time but of a conquering king who will be seen by every eye on the earth at the same time. This doctrine in itself elevates Jesus Christ above every other human being who has ever and will ever exist. He is revealed as The glorious one. There is no other like him! He is unique.

But Paul doesn’t only make oblique references to Jesus as God’s Son.  Perhaps one of the clearest descriptions of Jesus as described by Paul is the following: “He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.” (Col 1:15-20)

The early writers, who were accepted into the canon of Scripture after exhaustive considerations, were quite clear in their own minds that Jesus Christ was the unique Son of God.  It was only as cults rose up declaring heresies, things contrary to the teaching of the apostles of Jesus, that that church had to work on detailing this.  It is worth repeating what we said in an earlier meditation.

In later years the early church would struggle over what this really meant. Was Jesus just a son in the sense of being a very holy man given over to God or was he God in the flesh?   It was such a big issue that they struggled with it, even though Scripture was quite clear. It was to challenge those who denied his deity that the early church formulated what we call the Creeds.

The Apostles Creed, one of the earliest of creeds simply referred to “Christ Jesus, his only Son.” For them he was unique. Later the Nicene Creed declared, “We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ, the only Son of God, eternally begotten of the Father, God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God, begotten, not made, of one Being with the Father,” which was full of the language of oneness in deity. If you look up the Athanasian Creed, an even later creed, you find this spelled out in even greater detail.

The early Church Fathers were sure in their minds that Scripture spoke of a divine Son of God, and in this they bear out the testimony of the apostles. It is only the ignorant, or those who have another agenda to follow, who refuse to see what any intelligent, open-minded person will see, that all the evidence is piled up revealing Jesus Christ as the unique Son of God, who came from heaven, was killed, was raised from the dead, and has returned to heaven, to await a glorious return.  All this was to express God’s love for us and to open up a way for us to come into a relationship with Him that is not built on fear but on love. That is the wonder of the Gospel or Good News of Jesus Christ, the unique Son of God who came to earth for us.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s