Is Jesus God or the Son of God?

Question:  Was Jesus God or the Son of God–did God beget him or was he always around–and did he (Jesus) create the world?

Answer:  Yes.

All of that is true.  Mark 1:1 says Jesus is the Son of God.  John 1:1 says Jesus is God.  John 1:3 it says nothing was made without Jesus.  Colossians 1:15,16 says Jesus is the firstborn of all creation and that in him all things were made.  John 1:18 says Jesus is either “the only [begotten] God” or  “the only [begotten] Son” depending on what the correct text is.  And I put the word “begotten” in brackets because there is a question as to the meaning of the Greek word used here, monogenes.

The word monogenes could mean “only begotten” or it could mean “one and only” or it could mean “unique.”  It is used of Jesus in John 3:16.  But it is also used of Isaac in Hebrews 11:17.  Was Isaac Abraham’s only begotten son?  No, he had sired Ishmael earlier.  But Isaac was his special son by Sarah, the one to whom he was giving his inheritance.  Is Jesus begotten by the Father, or does this term monogenes simply designate him as the unique Son of God as opposed to all created beings who might be designated sons of God?

I lean toward the view that monogenes, when applied to Jesus, means “unique” Son of God.  However, Scripture also says in 1 John 5:18 of Jesus that he is “born of God.”  There is a doctrine that has developed from this called the eternal generation of the Son, which it says is “an eternal personal act of the Father, wherein, by necessity of nature, not by choice of will, He generates the person (not the essence) of the Son, by communicating to Him the whole indivisible substance of the Godhead, without division, alienation, or change, so that the Son is the express image of His Father’s person, and eternally continues, not from the Father, but in the Father, and the Father in the Son.” (See Theopedia)

What this means is that from all eternity God the Father has been in a relationship with the Son by which He has generated the personality of the Son (and He and the Son have “generated” the personality of the Spirit) so that they share the same essence (deity, divine nature).  This makes them entirely equal in every sense of the word so that each is rightly called God, and yet Jesus can also rightly be called the Son of God.  This doctrine makes a lot of sense of the data of Scripture concerning Jesus absolute deity (John 1:1) and yet his submission to the Father in all things.  This makes it reasonable for him to be the one who takes on human nature (the Father and the Spirit did not do this) and to rule God’s kingdom until it can be handed over to the Father (1 Corinthians 15:24).  Jesus is thus “the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being” (Hebrews 1:3), which seems to speak of some kind of derivation from the Father, and yet at the same time exact equality.

This is a difficult concept to wrap our heads around, but then God is the most amazing and unique being of all, infinite and beyond our ultimate ability to comprehend, yet able to correctly reveal Himself to us in true ways that enable us to know Him.

So the answer to all your questions is, “Yes.”

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Is It Wrong In Every Case to Cuss?

Question:  A lot of people quote Ephesians 4:29 when they tell me cussing is a sin, but it doesn’t say cussing its talking about corrupt speech.  I always thought that means verbally going off on someone to make them feel like crud. I didn’t think it was referring to cussing, and the individual who told me this really laid it on thick.  I haven’t even said I dreamed a dream to my mom in a long time cuz it has the word h**l in it, but does the bible really tell us not to cuss?

Now don’t get me wrong I try not to use foul language especially with people but I mean like for those who sing or act, if it is in the lyrics or script would it then be acceptable since you’re not going off on someone? I guess for this one I just wonder what is scriptural and what is just going overboard.  I know a lot of Christian actors or singers who have a hard time choosing if it would be okay in that instance or not.

Answer:  What is the purpose of using cuss words? To shock, to shut someone up, to inflict pain? Does that comport with Paul’s instructions in Ephesians 4:29 to only let words that build others up to come from your mouth? Now an actor, portraying someone who cusses might be a different issue since the role is seeking to communicate a message about how people interact or whatever. But some uses of cuss words are completely gratuitous and unnecessary and it is questionable whether believers should put themselves in such movies. This too is not an open and shut case.

Question:  But I don’t know if I’m just dumb or what but the whole Ephesians 4:29 still feels wrong.  I mean I was raised to see words as just words unless you put your intent behind them.  For instance if I cuss someone out and make them feel like crud then yes it goes against that scripture, but what about if I cuss in a joke to make a friend feel better or sometimes a motivational speech had a cuss word in it.  Now I don’t know if I’m alone in this but a cuss word is meant to portray a stronger emotion either good or bad. I have never thought that cuss words were inherently bad. Am I wrong?

Plus, what is and is not a bad word is cultural also, so I mean take the word bloody for instance to me it means nothing, but if I go to England is basically like saying d**n or the F bomb.

I honestly don’t mean to be argumentative but I just don’t understand how we can take this scripture and apply it to certain sets of words that our society has decided are bad over time, I mean am I wrong in thinking that Ephesians is referring to how you use words? Cuz like I pointed out even a supposedly bad word can be very edifying if used properly.

Answer:  You are not wrong, there is nothing inherently wrong in most of the words we have designated cuss words. I can see the situation you are talking about when a cuss word might actually cheer a friend. It is all about intent and purpose. Perhaps the only reason a cuss word would cheer a friend is because our culture has chosen to express emotion that way. This might suggest that we are bad at communicating emotion or that there are just certain emotions that demand a harsh word. Words that denote a sexual act may fall into a different category in that we are treating something precious as crude. Maybe it is better that we overcome our derogatory views of sexuality than submit to a cultural usage in that case.

You are being discerning and I think that is the mark of a Christian. We don’t conform to the world if the world is portraying a wrong perspective, but there are still beautiful and valuable aspects to our world’s cultures that we can endorse. It is God’s common grace to all (Matt 5:45-48) that enables human beings to do good despite ourselves.

Is There No Forgiveness For Intentional Sin?

Question:  Hebrews 10:26 says that if we sin willfully knowing better there is no more sacrifice for our sins.
Well I have been taught that if you keep sinning over again knowing you’re going to do it, like premeditated sinning I guess you could call it, that’s what the scripture is talking about.  Others say that its talking about rejecting Christ as savior after knowing the truth.   So which is it?

Answer:  Let me let you decide.  Here is the full passage:

Hebrews 10:26, If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, 27 but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God. 28 Anyone who rejected the law of Moses died without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. 29 How much more severely do you think someone deserves to be punished who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, who has treated as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant that sanctified them, and who has insulted the Spirit of grace?

Does it seem clear to you that the deliberate sinning being talked about here is equivalent to having “trampled the Son of God underfoot”?  And if you view the letter as a whole it is written to a church with many Jewish believers who are considering returning to Judaism.  Context clearly answers your question.

But the other question here is one of choosing to deliberately keep sinning.  How does that affect you?  I think the answer is it hardens your heart and your conscience to sin.  It makes it harder and harder to really come to a place of repentance.  You are damaging your soul and certainly hurting the heart of God.  A true believer cannot lose his or her salvation.  But God will certainly, out of love for you, discipline you until you come to a place of righteousness (Hebrews 12:4-11).  That is not an enviable place to be.

See also:

Do I Have to Hate My Family to Follow Jesus?

Heart of Jesus

Heart of Jesus (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Question:  “If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even their own life—such a person cannot be my disciple.” (Luke 14:26).  Can you help me with the “hate” part of this?

Answer:  We know that Jesus wants us to love our family.  Jesus loved his mother enough to entrust her to his disciple John (John 19:25-27).  His apostles have taught us to love our families (for example, Ephesians 5:25).  So Jesus must be speaking in a purposely exaggerated way to make a point.  He said it another way on another occasion:

Anyone who loves their father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves their son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. (Matthew 10:37)

Jesus wants his disciples to understand that living for God and His kingdom is more important than anything, including any relationships.  Now living for God and His kingdom, as we saw above, includes loving your family.  But there are people who have chosen to reject God because their family members didn’t want them to become believers (think of conversion to Christianity among Muslims).  And there are times when we mistakenly think that focusing on our family instead of God will actually help our family when just the opposite is true (think of those who won’t take their kids to church just because they say, “I don’t want to go.”).

To be sure people can abuse this principal in the opposite way.  A pastor can think that he must spend all his time at the church helping parishioners and yet neglects his family.  But Jesus is not addressing that issue here.  He is addressing the issue of how much commitment is required to follow him.  In the very next sentence in the Luke 14 passage he says, “And whoever does not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.”

We have to love him more than our own lives, as well.  Knowing God is the most important thing in our lives.  Nothing can eclipse it without endangering our souls.  No other reality can make us the persons we need to be in order to love our families and make a positive difference in the world.  This one commitment must trump all others or we will fail to be the people God created us to be.

Did Jesus Lie?

Question:  Jesus lied. But he never sinned. So sometimes lying isn’t a sin?  I’m referring to John 7:8-10, where Jesus said, “You go to the festival. I am not going up to this festival, because my time has not yet fully come.  After he had said this, he stayed in Galilee.  However, after his brothers had left for the festival, he went also, not publicly, but in secret.”

Answer:  It does seem that lying is not always a sin.  When Rahab lied to protect the Israelite spies in Jericho she was rewarded with safe passage when the attack came.  The Israelite midwives lied to Pharaoh about Israelite women giving birth before the midwives got there so that they could not kill the babies as Pharaoh commanded, and they were honored for this by God.  When God told Samuel to anoint a son of Jesse as king and he complained that if Saul found out why he was going to Bethlehem Saul would kill him, God told Samuel to say that he was going to offer a sacrifice (not the whole truth, but true).  When David realized that the Philistine leader he was seeking sanctuary from as he fled from Saul was against him and would kill him, he feigned madness and was sent away and he wrote a Psalm about how God delivered him (Ps 34).

In each of these situations the lives of good human beings were at stake.  It seems that when we lie to protect innocent human life it is okay.  For example, if a gunman came to your door and your family was hidden away in the house, and he asked you if you were alone, would you be obligated by God to tell him the truth?  Some situations and some people do not deserve the truth.  We may suppose that though lying is prohibited generally in Scripture, yet when a higher absolute (the protection of a human life) comes into play, that absolute takes precedence over the absolute against lying (similar to the absolute of obeying human governments takes a backseat to the absolute of obeying God, Acts 5:27-29).

It doesn’t seem, however, that this is the same kind of situation in Jesus’ life where he would need to lie to save someone or save himself.  Though going up publicly to the festival was dangerous, he didn’t need to go.  So it makes more sense that at the moment his time had not come, as he said, but then later the Spirit directed him to go in the manner he went.  He did face a dangerous situation then, but God protected him.

I love the fact that Gospel of John presents Jesus this way because it is another confirmation that the Gospels are factual accounts of Jesus’ life.  If the Gospel writers were only trying to present Jesus in some trumped up positive light they would not have presented him this way and left him open to a charge of lying.  But this is how it really happened and so they told it like it was.