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Thursday: Today I Have Begotten You — 15 Comments

  1. I am not really sure how extensive Arianism (the belief that Jesus is a created being) is among modern Christians. Among the modern Christian churches, the Jehovah's Witnesses and Mormans are probably the most well-known groups that differ from mainstream Christianity about the nature and existence of Jesus. It is also fairly well known that some of the early thought-leaders of the Seventh-day Adventist Church had an Arian background, although this had largely died out during the first generation of the church. (it would make quite an interesting historical study if it has not already been done)

    There are several passages of scripture that appear to embody the notion that Christ was created. Hebrews 1: 1-4 and Col 1:15 both feature quite strongly in "Christ the created being" arguments.

    No doubt others will take up the argument to show how these passages should be treated hermeneutically as does the author of today's lesson. However, I want to think about the argument in a slightly different light. Some of these arguments have gone on for centuries. Arianism was first used to describe the followers of Arius (256-336AD) so it has been around for a long time. There is no one super convincing argument where the bell rings and lights flash, saying, "Hey, you have got it right!" Chances are there will be a lot of saved people who had an Arian view of Christ. Does that mean we can believe what we like?

    I submit that it does matter and that one of the consequences is how we treat others who believe differently. It would be a very sad thing if we believed all the right things about Jesus but were not saved.

    Is "Getting the doctrines right and defending them to the hilt" another form of salvation by works?

    • I agree wholeheartedly with the point you are hilighting (again) today, Maurice. And I support that you keep drawing attention to it.

      Whether we are aware of it or not, doctrines (what we believe to be true) shape the picture of God that we see/hold. And the picture of God we see/hold, in turn, shapes how we are because we inevitibly become like that which we behold (2 Corinthians 3:18). And how we are, in turn, shapes how we treat others. So you are correct, 'the proof is in the pudding'. What picture of God am I reflecting to others by the way I treat them? Or put another way, how I treat others is where 'the rubber (of my doctrines) hits the road'.

      What kind of mark upon others am I (and my doctrines) leaving behind (John 13:35)?

    • "Is "getting the doctrines right, and then defending them to the hilt" another form of righteousness by works?""

      Would it not be that getting all the doctrines right and still being saved, the way to go? Still being saved, not by our merits but through Christ merits, of which we have been gifted by Christ, because of our surrender to Christ.(You are not able, of yourself, to bring your purposes and desires and inclinations into submission to the will of God; but if you are "willing to be made willing," God will accomplish the work for you, even "casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ."  2 Corinthians 10:5.  Thoughts From the Mount of Blessing 142.1)

      I do believe Christ is the Son of the God Head, thus always was, and forever is.   God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit always was, and forever is. Of Christ it is said He is forever our intercessor if we turn to Him.   Hebrews 7:25.  Many concepts we cannot wrap our minds around.  We will spend eternity studying God's ways and works.

      I do see your point Maurice, but it does not have to be that way.  Are you saying we should surrender our belief, so as not to affend people?  Or maybe you are thinking it would be better to get a big smile on our face and say, yes but the Bible says Christ was always, and forever is, and leave it at that, unless the believer of another faith asks you for an explaination.  Of course be ready for an answer.  John 1:1-5.  Hebrews 7:3.  Hebrews 13:8.  I could be as bold to say,  Hebrews is an extension of the Gospel of John.

      I do believe Christ defended Himself, and our Father. 
      However He did it like Phil said:  "What picture of God am I presenting by the way I treat them?"

      I am sure all would agree in our dealing with others that it would be best if we would be like Jesus.

      Jesus did not suppress one word of truth, but He uttered it always in love. He exercised the greatest tact and thoughtful, kind attention in His relationships with the people. He was never rude, never needlessly spoke a severe word, never gave needless pain to a sensitive soul. He did not censure human weakness. He spoke the truth, but always in love. He denounced hypocrisy, unbelief, and iniquity; but tears were in His voice as He uttered His scathing rebukes. He wept over Jerusalem, the city He loved, which refused to receive Him, the way, the truth, and the life. They had rejected Him, the Saviour, but He regarded them with pitying tenderness. His life was one of self-denial and thoughtful care for others. Every soul was precious in His eyes. While He ever bore Himself with divine dignity, He bowed with the tenderest regard to every member of the family of God. In all men He saw fallen souls whom it was His mission to save. (Steps to Christ,  p. 12.1)

  2. In Hebrews 7:3 Paul here is not saying specifically that Jesus did not have beginning of days or end of life. Paul here is very specifically applying this fact to King Melchizedek. And yes, this fact also applies to Jesus and therefore to me, this makes King Melchizedek to be Jesus Himself in human form as being King Melchizedek too. Paul discusses the High Priestliness of King Melchizedek in three chapters of the book of Hebrews (chapters 5, 6, and 7) about "one fourth" of the entire book of Hebrews. And why not? Did not Jesus appear in "human form" at the fiery furnace in Babylon among the three friends of Daniel? And did not Jesus appear in human form to Abraham as being one of the three that came to him to announce the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah? And to me, King Melchizedek, (Jesus in human form) then became the conceived Jesus as a baby in the Virgin Mary's Womb etc. and etc.

    • Bro Pete, while there are many parallels between Melchizedek and Jesus, we do know from the plain reading of the text that the two are different persons. Melchizedek was the king of Salem, and the Son of God was not that king. We need not invent new theology to satisfy false doctrine. We read from 1SM 409.3 below (emphasis mine).

      "It was Christ that spoke through Melchizedek, the priest of the most high God. MELCHIZEDEK WAS NOT CHRIST, but he was the voice of God in the world, the representative of the Father. And all through the generations of the past, Christ has spoken; Christ has led His people, and has been the light of the world."

      Let us not depart from the faith of our fathers, brethren.

      Again, Paul did not contradict EGW who says in PP34.1 that Jesus had His beginning as He says in His Word in Proverbs 8:22-31.

  3. Yes, I agree that "It is also fairly well known that some of the early thought-leaders of the Seventh-day Adventist Church had an Arian background, although this had largely died out during the first generation of the church." Sister White made mentioned in Early Writings of those well-thought leaders that left the church to pursue their own doctrine. And today again we encounter many in church that still have the same attitude of those who left early by criticizing the SDA leaders. In fact, the Jehovah's Witness is derived from SDA.

    • Yes, Ernst ST Louis, but the Jehovah's Witnesses do not believe that Jesus is God. The first four verses of the Book of Hebrews clearly indicates that Jesus is equal to the Father in Divine creatorship etc. There it is very clear that Jesus created the universe along with God the Father etc.

    • Bro Ernst, how do we know what Arians actually believed? What is labelled "Arian background" in SDA is the belief that Christ is the literal, actual, real Son of God just as the Bible says. To make Him any less is to be worse than what is now called Arianism, because without a real Son of God as now taught by some, we have no real salvation, no real sacrifice at Calvary, and no real victory over sin. Indeed, if we were to label the pioneers of SDA as "of Arian background" then EG White cannot be said to "make mention of them to have left to pursue their own doctrine" because she also spoke of Christ as the real Son of God. She was one of the pioneers who believed Christ is the true and real Son of God, not as now taught. She was a pioneer of the SDA church herself, not separate from them. See PP Chapter 13 (The Test of Faith) and PP 34.1 which quotes Proverbs 8:22-31. Christ is the the Son of God, not anything less. May this truth help us find real salvation and real victory over sin.

  4. Personally, I do not see how any of what you claim here, Brigitte Humphery, could not apply to King Melchizedek. Why would the book of Hebrews dedicate about 1/4 of that book to that King and go on to say that He had no "Beginning of days or end of life, etc?" There had to be a King who was also a priest in the Old Testament to represent what Jesus finally came to fulfill. None of the priests from the tribe of Levi or Aaronic priests could be kings at all. Abraham was not a Jew even though he was a Hebrew. But he was considered a Hebrew because of an ancestor of his with the name of Heber. And here again, Heber was not a Jew either. Abraham was a Gentile man of God who knew not the 10 commandments the way God handed them to Moses at Mt. Sinai. To me there was only "one" King that was a priest in the O.T., King Melchizedek, and one King now who is also a priest and that is Jesus. Personally, I believe that if the spiritual leadership of Jesus' day had accepted Him, there would have been no Roman cross for Jesus, He would have been crowned King at His triumphal entry and then 6 months later, He would have taken the place of "The Lord's Goat" at the Day of atonement and bled for sin at the altar of sacrifice at the then standing temple and then three days later, He would have taken back His Life and started His earthly reign then as King of Kings and Lord of Lords.

  5. Arians were labeled such because of the priest Arius who actually taught that Jesus was the actual Son of God and that the trinitarian belief espoused Athanasius and others that the names father son and holy spirit are just title given to each divine being who were playing a role was wrong. Arius was basically a non trinitarian(trinitarians actually believed that Jesus is not the actual son of God)

    • I believe that it is possible to be trinitarian (in the sense of believing in the Holy Trinity) and at the same time to believe that Jesus is the actual Son of the Father. It is a mystery that we can seek to understand, and will spend eternity looking into.

      Jesus was the co-equal Son of the Father from all eternity as a declared relationship, which became actualized at the incarnation...when the Father gave the Son to the human race.

      "Before the entrance of evil there was peace and joy throughout the universe. All was in perfect harmony with the Creator's will. Love for God was supreme, love for one another impartial. Christ the Word, the Only Begotten of God, was one with the eternal Father,—one in nature, in character, and in purpose,—the only being in all the universe that could enter into all the counsels and purposes of God. By Christ the Father wrought in the creation of all heavenly beings. “By Him were all things created, that are in heaven, ... whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers” (Colossians 1:16); and to Christ, equally with the Father, all heaven gave allegiance." GC491

      “God so loved the world, that He gave His only-begotten Son.” He gave Him not only to live among men, to bear their sins, and die their sacrifice. He gave Him to the fallen race. Christ was to identify Himself with the interests and needs of humanity. He who was one with God has linked Himself with the children of men by ties that are never to be broken. Jesus is “not ashamed to call them brethren” (Hebrews 2:11); He is our Sacrifice, our Advocate, our Brother, bearing our human form before the Father's throne, and through eternal ages one with the race He has redeemed—the Son of man. And all this that man might be uplifted from the ruin and degradation of sin that he might reflect the love of God and share the joy of holiness. SC14

  6. Begotten, especially only begotten as in Jn 3:16 has been an interesting word in the New Testament. Many have suggested that at that time it was an idiomatic expression that wasn't to be taken literally, but understood as "one of a kind". Others have pointed out that the word in Greek actually never had the meaning of only begotten, but rather of uniqueness.

    There are several passages in scripture that use this term (and yet several others that clearly preclude the "begottenness" of Jesus. It was this that drove the founder of Jehovahs Witnesses out of the Christian denomination he had previously been it.

    I like to actually take a different perspective, though. The New Testament is quite clear in several places that Jesus was Yahweh of the Old Testament and creator of this world (and the universe). Christ's statement "before Abraham was I am" included this concept (among others). Yet the second person of the Godhead was never called Jesus before the incarnation. The name was applied to the new role he assumed at that time. A role that required him to become one of us, like us in all ways. This he did by being BORN (begotten) into the human race.

    So, while he existed from all eternity, at the same time he was, at a point in time begotten--not as a beginning the way you or I were, but in order to enter the human race as our savior.

    • Just wanted to let you know that I appreciated what you have taken the time to outline, Wilton. I believe you have accurately reflected the issue and dimensions of Jesus 'begottonness'.

      As I was reflecting on your comment and this topic, I considered more deeply than I have to-date the similarities and differences between the first Adam being created whereas the second Adam was begotten/born/incarnated. I note that incarnate means (in this context) to 'em-body' - to take something that already is and manifest it in bodily form. With the first Adam, God began with forming a body and then breathing 'life-force' into that sculpted body resulting in that body becoming a living being. But the second Adam is the Creator Himself now personally entering the form of a body in order to undertake a role within humanity on behalf of humanity by becoming one with humanity (as per what you have mentioned).

      This all ties back to Paul's central point of Hebrews - a passionate and intimate encouragement (Hebrews 13:22 'parakleseos') that we have a High Priest who is sovereign God Himself (Hebrews 8:1) - yet the God-High Priest who on the basis of first-hand experience* at being human, is intimately acquainted with our struggles, sufferings and weaknesses and therefore passionately and intimately interested in, motivated to and abundantly qualified and able to extend every opportunity to us to equip/enable us to be 'saved' (ie, healed and restored) back to our original designed state of life and living (Hebrews 4:15-16).

      * I suspect that an omniscient God already perfectly knows fully what our experience as fallen humans is like. Therefore, I suspect that Paul's outlining of first-hand experience is more about helping us having greater confidence that God/Jesus actually knows our experience.

  7. The Lord has shown me that Satan was once an honored angel in heaven, next to Jesus Christ. His countenance was mild, expressive of happiness like the other angels. His forehead was high and broad, and showed great intelligence. His form was perfect. He had a noble, majestic bearing. And I saw that when God said to his Son, Let us make man in our image, Satan was jealous of Jesus. He wished to be consulted concerning the formation of man. Spiritual Gifts Vol 1 Chapt 1


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