Was It Really God’s Son Who Died On Calvary?
As a Christian you may think that the title of this article asks a foolish question, or at any rate, one which is easy to answer. Every Christian, of course, would answer a hearty, “yes”, to such a question. Perhaps this may be so. The vast majority of Christians (perhaps every single one in the world) would state positively: “Yes, I do believe that God’s Son really did die on Calvary for me.” No doubt then, it will come as something of a shock to you to discover that most Christians, perhaps even you, do not actually believe that statement. Let me demonstrate what I mean:
How would you respond to the following ideas?
1. Jesus was not really the actual Son of God. He was not really His offspring.
2. Jesus was not actually the begotten Son of God. He was not really born from God.
3. God cannot die. Jesus was God so He could not actually have died on Calvary
Perhaps you are beginning to see the point I am making. However, let me make it a little clearer. “Orthodox” Christian doctrine, today teaches that although Jesus is called the “Son of God”, over and over in the Bible, we are not to understand the word “Son” to mean the same thing as it means elsewhere in the Scriptures. When referring to Jesus, the word has some unique, mystical meaning which is left to the “theologians” to interpret for us.
The same applies to the word, “begotten”. Five times in the Scriptures, Jesus is called the “Only begotten Son of God” (John 1:14, 18 ; John 3:16,18; 1 John 4;9). This term, only begotten is very simple and easy to understand. Any child could readily tell you its meaning. In plain English, it means that He was the only one BORN FROM . That He came out of God.Those who embrace the trinitarian teaching that God is made up of three persons who are co-equal and co-eternal, one in three and three in one, have problems with the Scriptures which refer to Jesus as the “only begotten Son of God.” However, there need be no problem if we accept what the Scriptures say, and allow ourselves to be taught by God’s word, rather than try to read into the Scriptures something which is not there.
WHO WAS IT THAT GAVE HIS SON?
One of the best known texts in the Bible is John 3:16. Most of us learned this verse almost while we were still in infancy, and have gotten used to the idea that it is the verse in the Bible which most completely, in a single verse, expresses the essence of the whole gospel. The Bible Society, Gideons International, have shown high regard for this verse by placing it at the beginning of their published copy of the New Testament, in twenty-six different languages, and furnishing us with the information that it has been translated into more than eleven hundred different languages. The essential focus, the primary message of all Scripture is captured in this one verse:
“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16)
It is a sobering thing, then, to reflect on the fact that the vast majority of Christians in the world do not believe the truth expressed in this verse. This is not an exaggeration, as I will demonstrate to you in a moment. Millions of persons who quote this text freely, proclaim their belief in the gospel, declare their appreciation of the truth expressed in it, yet do not accept fully, the facts of truth proclaimed by Jesus Christ in this verse.Several vital points are made here. However, let us just focus on three of the principal truths:
1. God’s love for the world.
2. The degree, or measure of that love.
3. The value of the gift which He gave.
It was Jesus Himself who spoke these words, and the first great point which He wanted to make clear, was God’s love for the world. He wanted to bring home to our minds, the reality of the genuineness, and the greatness of God’s love for us. “God SO loved,” He said, and the word “so,” is used to show us the degree, the extent of that love Which our heavenly Father, God, has for us. What is the measure of that love? It is that He gave His son, and not only His son, but His only begotten Son! This is how great God’s love for us is. It is easier for a good father to die himself than to give his child to die. When God gave His Son to die for us, it cost Him great suffering. Jesus was the only Being in all the universe who was a part of God in the truest sense. He actually came out of God, was born; begotten (we need not ask how. See Proverbs 8:22,23). He was close to the Father in a way that no other being could be. Yet God gave Him, to be separated from Himself for thirty-three years; to suffer the scorn, persecution, hate, rejection of a diseased world; to suffer the pain and indignity of the cross; to know the agony and uncertainty of unexpected separation from His Father for three fearsome days and nights. God gave His only begotten Son to suffer all this, because of the greatness of His love for us.
But consider this: If Jesus was not actually God’s Son, then what sacrifice did the Father make? Whom did He give? Another God? A friend? A colleague? This does not demonstrate love on the Father’s part, but rather selfishness, in sending another, rather than coming Himself! Yet the whole point of John 3:16 is the love of God (the Father).”God so loved the world …” If we embrace the idea of three Gods in one, or one God in three (the trinity), then which one are we talking about here? All three? Or only the Father?”God so loved … that He gave His … Son…” Did the Father give His Son? Did the Holy Spirit give His Son? Did the Son give His Son? These questions are ridiculous, and yet, they need to be asked in order that we may clearly see what the text is saying. God is the Father. It is He who gave His Son. It is He who had a Son to give. The Son is not the God who gave His Son, neither is the Holy Spirit that God. The focus of this text is the love of God; but we must understand that this refers specifically to the Father. It is His love which is being emphasized here. It is He who is God. (1 Cor. 8:6)
CAN GOD DIE?
The doctrine of the Trinity presents another dilemma if we believe that God is a person of honesty and truth. The Scriptures teach that God is immortal. (1Tim.6:16) This means that He cannot die. This immortality of God, is not a quality which He can put on and take off. It is an essential aspect of His being. His immortality is not like that of unfallen angels, a conditional thing. In referring to the immortality of God we are speaking of an absolute thing. He absolutely cannot, under any circumstances, die.”Who ONLY hath immortality …” (1 Tim.6:16) Other beings are immortal, but He alone has immortality in the absolute sense. He can never ever be mortal, or be made to die.Yet the Scriptures teach that Jesus died for us! (Romans 5:6-8). Here is a dilemma indeed. God cannot die, yet Jesus did die. The Scriptures clearly teach both things. Let us look at the alternatives open to us in viewing this seeming contradiction. Either:
1. Jesus did not really die.Or:
2. Jesus is not the true God (the one who only hath immortality).
Those who say that Jesus is God (the God), have no alternative but to say that Jesus did not really die. In other words, what happened at Calvary was only a play; just an acted drama (what blasphemy!). Others seek to find some compromise in saying that the “divine part” of Christ did not die, but only the human part. However, this presents us with an even greater abomination, because what we are left with is nothing but a human sacrifice! Something which could never atone for the sins of the world.
Jesus was not a human being before He came to this earth. But when He came here, He became fully a human being in every sense. All that He retained of His God-nature, was His character of infinite love and compassion. His power, His knowledge, He laid aside completely and lived in total dependence on His Father. However, the trinitarians say that He only took a HUMAN SIDE when He came to earth. In other words, He had two personalities. One, His personality as God and the other, His personality as a human being. Many claim that when Jesus died, His human side died, but that He still continued to live as God even though He was supposed to be dead. This of course would have to be true if Jesus is truly the supreme God, for the supreme God is immortal, and cannot die.
Yet, if this is true; if all that died on Calvary was the “human side” of Jesus, then we must ask the question, what did God really sacrifice at Calvary? According to this doctrine, the “human side” of Jesus was really something created when He was conceived in Mary’s womb. Something which came into being two thousand years ago. The divine side of Jesus, the immortal God-part did not really die. What we have then, is a situation in which God did not really make a sacrifice at Calvary, but rather created a being who paid the price on His behalf. A most abominable and glaringly false idea.
The truth is that Jesus, the Son of God, did truly die. Did pass into the unconscious, senseless, unknowing sleep of death. He did feel the darkness of death, black and unfathomable stealing upon His soul when He prayed that the cup might pass from Him. He did experience, truly, the agony and uncertainty of genuine separation from God. He died, because He could die. He was mortal. He could die, because He is not the one and only God who “hath immortality”. This immortal one, “no man hath seen, not can see,” He dwelleth “in the light which no man can approach unto.” (1 Tim.6:16).Jesus is a divine Being. There is no question of that. It is obvious that every Son takes the nature of His Father, so if the nature of the father is divine (having the qualities of God) then it is evident that the Son also is divine. This is why John 1:1 says:”In the beginning was the word, and the word was with God (the God. gr.) and the word was God (divine).”
Yet, the word “God” also carries with it the idea of the one absolute, supreme Being in the universe. In this sense, there is only One who is God. Not three. This one God is the Father. The One who gave His Son to die. This is the testimony of the Scriptures over and over again (1 Cor. 8:6; 1 Cor. 11:3; 1 Tim. 2:5; 1 Cor. 15:24-28).
All the authority and power which belong to God have been given to His Son (Col.2:9; Matt. 28:18). Yet, these do not belong to Jesus inherently. They have been given to Him by God, (1 John 5:26; Col.1:19) and the day will come when the controversy is finally over and then the Son will be subject to the Father, that God may be all in all (1 Cor. 15:28).
In closing, I would like to ask the question again: “Did God’s Son really die for me?” How do you answer this question? This is the central point of the whole gospel. Undoubtedly, this point, above all others, is the focus of Satan’s attack. When we see how these truths have been subtly, but effectively nullified over the ages, it becomes clear that Satan’s efforts have been highly successful.
Is Jesus God's Son?
Most Christians would answer yes to this question, but do they really mean what they say? This tract reveals that the majority of the Christian world do not really believe that Jesus is actually the Son of God!
1. This question goes beyond the mere usage of words. There is Son and there is son. Son by title (or mere designation) is not the same as son by adoption; neither of which are the same as son by creation; and none of the above are the same as Son - only begotten.
2. This question goes to the heart of all that is professed as Christianity. The Christian gospel declares that God so loved... that He gave His only begotten Son (John 3:16). The measure of God’s love for humanity is manifested in the gift of His only begotten Son (1John 4:9). If, therefore, Jesus Christ is not, truly, the only begotten Son of God, then God did not sacrifice as much as is presented to us; and if He did not sacrifice as much, then , He did not so love after all.
3. So critical is this issue that it determines who is antichrist. "He is antichrist, that denieth the Father and the Son." 1 John 2:22.
4. The Scriptures are absolutely clear that Jesus Christ is the only begotten Son of God. Jesus declared "I proceeded forth and came from God." John 8: 42. Of Christ, "the wisdom of God" (1 Cor. 1:24) it is also declared: "The Lord possessed me in the beginning of his way.... When there were no depths, I was brought forth.... Then I was by him, as one brought up with him: and I was daily his delight, rejoicing always before him. Prov. 8:22-24, 30.
5. The vast majority of professed Christians deny that Jesus Christ was truly begotten of God before He came into the world as a babe. By the belief that God is a Trinity, persons deny that Jesus Christ is the begotten Son of God and that JEHOVAH is the Father of Jesus Christ.
6. Prophets of the Bible have referred to the Father as "the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ" (1 Pet. 1:3; 2 Cor. 11:31).
7. The Trinity declares that there is one God, a single Being who is simultaneously Father, Son and Holy Spirit. This idea immediately creates confusion as to who is the God that gave His Son and who was the Son that was given. Indeed, it raises a question as to whether it was really a Son that was given. This is nothing else but "denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ" (Jude 4) against which we have been warned.
8. Furthermore, if God is a Trinity and Jesus Christ is, therefore, himself the Supreme Being or he is co-equal with the Supreme Being, then it implies that Jesus did not truly die. The Supreme Being is described as the one "Who only hath immortality, dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto; whom no man hath seen, nor can see." 1Tim. 6:15,16. If such applied to Jesus then he did not truly die, but was very much alive while foisting a delusion on humanity, thus making all our professions about the death and resurrection of Christ mere vanity and illusion.
9. The Bible is clear as to who is the One God. "But to us there is but one God, the Father" (1 Cor. 8:6).
10. The Bible is clear as to who is the only begotten Son of the One God; "and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ" (1 John 1:3).
11. The Bible is clear that the Spirit of God, the Holy Spirit, is related to God in the same way that the spirit of man is related to man; "For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? Even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God" (1 Cor. 2:11). The Holy Spirit is therefore not an inanimate force; neither is the Holy Spirit a distinct and separate consciousness from JEHOVAH Himself. Rather, the Holy Spirit is an integral aspect of JEHOVAH’S own being. Hence, when one grieves the Holy Spirit, it is JEHOVAH Himself that is grieved and not someone else.
12. The Bible is clear as to who are the only two Beings in the universe to whom worship is due; "And I saw no temple therein: for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple of it." Rev. 21:22. It is clear that the Lord God Almighty is not the same Being as the Lamb, even though the Lamb is worshipped alongside the Lord God Almighty. The reason for this is that the Lamb is the only begotten Son of the Lord God Almighty and it is the will of the Father that His Son should likewise be worshipped; John 5:22, 23.
13. JEHOVAH is divine. His only begotten Son could not be other than divine also. "……the great mistake of Trinitarians, in arguing this subject is this: they make no distinction between a denial of a Trinity and a denial of the divinity of Christ. They see only the two extremes, between which the truth lies; and take every expression referring to the pre-existence of Christ as evidence of a Trinity. The Scriptures abundantly teach the pre-existence of Christ and his divinity; but they are entirely silent in regard to a trinity" -J.H. Waggoner, Review and Herald. Nov.10, 1863.
14. God has used what is undoubtedly one of the closest and most endearing of human relationships - that of parent and offspring - to define the relationship between Himself and His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ. But human beings have presumptuously undertaken to speculate in relation to God, describing the relationship as a Trinity and promulgating such human philosophy as giving a more accurate description than that which God himself has chosen to give. In the process the gospel of salvation is distorted and made obscure.
15. It is only a degraded concept of JEHOVAH that leads individuals to think that it is somehow demeaning to Jesus Christ to be the literal Son of the Supreme Being.
16. The Bible is clear that even after an end is put to sin "then shall the Son also himself be subject unto him that put all things under him, that God may be all in all." 1Cor. 15:28.
17. Must the selflessness and benevolence of the Great JEHOVAH in exalting His Son to full equality with Himself, giving Him a place on His own throne (Rev. 3:21), giving Him all authority and power (Matt. 28:18) and giving Him JEHOVAH’S own name (Ex. 23:20, 21; Phil. 2:9; Heb.1:4) ) be used as a means of detracting from JEHOVAH in declaring that Jesus Christ is too exalted to be JEHOVAH’S own Son? God forbid! Such is the highest evidence that God is love (1 John 4:8), because it is out of love for His own Son that He has done all this. Yet He has spared not His own Son, but has delivered Him up for us all (Rom. 8:32), because of His great love for us also, that we might be adopted as sons and daughters of His, to be joint heirs with His only begotten Son (Rom. 8:17). Marvel 0 heavens!
18. Jesus Christ is indeed worthy of adoration and honour because, while he could have perverted His powers and endowments as Lucifer did, He did not. He has humbled Himself and submitted to His Father without reserve, being drawn to love His Father even more. Jesus Christ is truly great, and His greatness is most evident in His submission to His Father. Only a true Son would so single-heartedly love, adore and submit to His Father in the face of His Father so unselfishly and unreservedly exalting Him.
19. Jesus is truly the Son of God. Upon this rock the Church is built and the gates of hell will not prevail against it. Matt. 16:16-18. "Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God?" 1 John 5:5.
20. Be not deceived. Our assurance that God loves us is that God gave His only begotten Son whom He loves, in order to save us. "He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?" Rom. 8:32. God has even offered to make us partakers of the divine nature (2 Pet. 1:4) by offering us His Holy Spirit, an integral aspect of JEHOVAH’S own Being. What marvellous love ! As the songwriter says "Love so amazing, so divine, demands my life, my soul, my all"
The Son of God:
Jesus knew exactly what His relationship was with God.
When He heard that the Jews had cast out from the temple the man whose sight He had earlier restored, He found him again and said to him
“Dost thou believe on the Son of God? John 9:35
The man answered Jesus by asking “Who is he, Lord, that I might believe on him? John 9:36
The Scriptures record
“And Jesus said unto him, Thou hast both seen him, and it is he that talketh with thee.” John 9:37
Do we wish to argue with Jesus Himself? He very clearly said that He is the Son of God. This was no figurative claim. It was very real and it was literal. The blind man was told that the one that had healed him was the Son of God. Quite obviously this man who had been blind would only have understood this in a literal sense. In more ways than one, his eyes were now open.
There is another experience of Jesus where He claimed to be the divine Son of God. This was when He heard that His friend Lazarus was sick.
Jesus said to His disciples regarding that sickness
“This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God might be glorified thereby.” John 11:4
Again Jesus refers to Himself as the Son of God. He was clearly not using this title to simply denote the intimacy of relationship that He had with His Father.
Throughout His life on earth, Jesus claimed to be the Son of God. This is why the Jews said He was a blasphemer.
Perhaps the best known time is when He said to Nicodemus
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.” John 3:16-18
Challenged by Satan
Jesus obviously had no problems with His own identity (who He was) but it did concern Satan.
When he came to Jesus, tempting Him to doubt His true identity, he said, “If thou be the Son of God” (see Matthew 4:6).
It was on the point of Sonship that the devil challenged Jesus. Prove who you are he said, prove that you really are the Son of God. This was at the very beginning of the ministry of Jesus. Satan knew that Jesus regarded Himself as the Son of God.
Notice here that Satan said “If thou be the Son of God.
Satan was obviously challenging Jesus to display His powers of divinity. This, according to him, would have proved that He was the Son of God. He was in fact attempting to make Jesus doubt His Father’s testimony. This testimony was that He was the Son of God (Matthew 3:17).
Here can be seen the entire point of Satan’s challenge. He was urging Christ to prove His Sonship, meaning to prove His divinity. If we miss this point we miss everything about the temptation. Obviously the devil never meant these words to be metaphorical (representative of the loving relationship that Jesus had with the Father). This would not make any sense at all.
The testimony of demons
Satan’s fellow angels also knew the identity of Jesus. With their leader they too had heard of the testimony of God the Father (Matthew 3:17).
They said to Jesus
“What have we to do with thee, Jesus, thou Son of God? art thou come hither to torment us before the time?” Matthew 8:29
In His pre-existence, these demons had known Jesus as the divine Son of God. They were the fallen angels. Christ had once been their beloved commander, at least up until the time they had been deceived by Lucifer. Now they were encountering Him in His incarnate state.
The Scriptures also tell us
“And unclean spirits, when they saw him, fell down before him, and cried, saying, Thou art the Son of God.” Mark 3:11
This same type of unclean spirit said to Christ
“What have I to do with thee, Jesus, thou Son of the most high God? I adjure thee by God, that thou torment me not.” Mark 5:7
They also said of Jesus
“Thou art Christ the Son of God.” Luke 4:41
Even in His incarnation, these demons had no problems identifying Jesus. They realised His true identity. Just like all the others we have noted, they did not use this term “Son of God” in any figurative sense. Certainly they were not using this term simply as an expression of God’s love for the Son or the intimacy of relationship that the Father had with the Son. This would be a totally ridiculous conclusion to draw.
This in turn begs a question. If the demons know and confess that Christ is truly the Son of God, then why do not many Christians know and confess it today?
John the Baptist
John the Baptist had said when in discussion with his own followers (here he was making reference to the baptism of Jesus)
“I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and it abode upon him. And I knew him not: but he that sent me to baptize with water, the same said unto me, Upon whom thou shalt see the Spirit descending, and remaining on him, the same is he which baptizeth with the Holy Ghost. And I saw, and bare record that this is the Son of God.” John 1:32-33
The one whom God raised up (the voice crying in the wilderness) was to pave the way and herald the first advent of Christ. John claimed that Jesus is the Son of God. There is no reason not to believe that all those who heard John’s claims would only have understood this in a literal sense. John himself had heard the Father’s testimony (Matthew 3:17).
The personal testimony of the Father
The words that Jesus heard His Father speak at His baptism were very precious to Him. This was when the Saviour heard it said in an audible voice from Heaven
“This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” Mathew 3:17
What greater testimony could there be than this one? Will we believe it though? Will we take God at His word and believe that Christ really is His Son? We need to remember here that it was a disbelief in God’s word that brought about the first sin in the Garden of Eden.
Not only at the baptism of Jesus was the voice of the Father heard but also at the transfiguration.
The Scriptures record
“While he [Peter] yet spake, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them: and behold a voice out of the cloud, which said, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him.” Matthew 17:5
Christ has always been the Son of God. This therefore was not a position to which He eventually achieved (either at the incarnation or at the resurrection or at some other time during His earthly ministry). It was one that He had held from the beginning with God His Father. This is why John began his gospel with the words
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” John 1:1
In summary, it must never be said that Christ is the Son of God only in a metaphorical (figurative) sense. The evidence is totally overwhelming that His pre-existent Sonship should be taken literally.
(Source: Restoration Ministry, and various other sources)