************ Sermon on Belgic Confession Article 10 ************
By: Rev. Adrian Dieleman
This sermon was preached on October 27, 2019
Belgic Confession Article 10
"Jesus is True and Eternal God"
A month ago already. A month ago already I started to see Christmas stuff in stores. It made me disgusted and even a little mad that stores were getting ready for Christmas in September. One of the most important events in the religious calendar has been turned into a sales gimmick. That is one way to look at Christmas. There is a positive way to look at this too. Namely, people and stores and advertisers are admitting that a man named Jesus was born. That is a historical fact that very few would bother denying. Jesus was born. He was a man. He died. He was buried.
When we consider Jesus' sufferings that led up to His death, we must always affirm that Jesus is fully man. Think of His suffering in Gethsemane, His trial before the Sanhedrin, the whipping, the crown of thorns, the mocking, the crucifixion. All of this attests to His true and full humanity. In His humanity He suffered as one who is sinless and pure. In His humanity He suffered under the weight and burden of God's wrath. This is of great comfort for His people.
At the same time, the Lord Jesus is also truly and completely God. This is where many people have problems with Him. Problems and controversy and disagreements arise on the question of what was Jesus before He was born? Did Bethlehem mark the start of His existence or did He exist before this? No one has problems admitting His humanity. Lots of people have problems admitting His deity; instead, they believe He is less than God and more than man. I am saddened when I think of people and stores and advertisers who celebrate Christmas without an awareness that the eternal Son of God took to Himself a truly human nature. That baby in the manger wasn't just a man. That baby in the manger was true and eternal God.
That's our theme today. Jesus is true and eternal God. This is the truth revealed by Scripture. This is the truth believed by the church. This is the truth denied by the JWs, Mormons, unitarians, and others.
I Revealed by Scripture
A There have always been those who deny the deity of Christ. When Jesus lived on this earth, many did not believe His claim to be the Son of God. They thought He was mad, that He lost His mind. They laughed at Him, mocked Him, and finally killed Him. They did not and could not understand the concept of a God-man, and therefore they did not believe it. How can someone with a body -- a body that can only be in one place at one time, a body that needs to eat and drink -- be the eternal Son of God?
We do realize that Jesus hid or shrouded His glory, that He did not consider equality with God something to be grasped (Phil 2:6). And, yet, there were continual glimpses of His glory, His eternal glory, as the eternal Son of God. It started already with the visits of the angels to Zechariah, Mary, and the shepherds. We think of all the miracles He performed -- healing the sick, making the blind see and the lame walk, cleansing lepers, walking on water, turning water into wine, multiplying the fish and the loaves; He even brought people back from the dead!
Despite these many signs, many persisted in their unbelief. Although there was sufficient proof of His deity, they were not convinced. They were willing to admit He must be John the Baptist or Elijah or some other special person. But that's all He was; He was at best a good man. They would not and could not believe He was God, even though Jesus told them and showed them.
Here is the truth of Scripture: Jesus always was, always is, and always will be God; while He became a true man, He is God from eternity to eternity.
Throughout history, as I said, there have been people who refused to believe Jesus is the eternal Son of God. Maybe you have met such people and tried to tell them about the Lord Jesus. But they dismiss this as nonsense. I told you before of the survey results of seminary students:
-56 percent reject the virgin birth of Jesus ChristI can assure you none of this is true for students at Westminster Seminary, CA or Mid America Reformed Seminary or Puritan Reformed Seminary. Yet, in the mainstream churches there are pastors who refuse to believe Jesus is God; they speak of Him only as a kind or good man, but not as God. In this way, the devil tries to rob us of our only Savior. For if we take away the divinity of Christ, He is unable to sve us. Furthermore, if Jesus were not the eternal Son of God, we would be guilty of gross idolatry since God has made it clear we are to worship God alone.
-71 percent reject that there is life after death
-54 percent reject the bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ
-98 percent reject that there will be a personal return of Jesus Christ to this earth
B Article 10 shows us from the Bible that all these attacks are false and that the Lord Jesus is the Son of God from eternity to eternity. Says the Confession:
He is the Son of GodAs proof of this, the article points us to Genesis 1 and our Bible reading from John 1. A comparison of the two passages tells us Jesus was present when all things were created. In fact, He created all things. The conclusion, the only conclusion from this: Jesus Christ is true and eternal God.
not only from the time he assumed our nature
but from all eternity ...
The Confession could have pointed to other passages in Scripture too. I think of the words of the angel to Mary: "So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God" (Lk 1:35). Or, think of the witness of the Father when Jesus was baptized: "You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased" (Lk 3:22). On the Mount of Transfiguration, the same voice sounded from heaven: "This is my Son, whom I have chosen; listen to him" (Lk 9:35).
The Lord Jesus Himself gives further evidence of His divinity when He addresses God as "Father." Critics point out that many of the Jews did this as well, such as the Pharisees who prayed on street corners. Even Christians pray to "Our Father." But Jesus' prayer is different. When He prays He says, "My Father," and then claims "I and the Father are one" (Jn 10:30). This is unique to Jesus. This claim speaks of the close relationship that exists between Himself and the Father, of the oneness of mind, unity of spirit, common goals, and shared work. When Christ met Mary Magdalene after His resurrection, He did not say, "I am returning to our Father," but rather, "I am returning to my Father and your Father ..." (Jn 20:17). This lets us know that His relationship with the Father is different than her relationship with the Father.
Let's say we had to choose only one text to demonstrate Jesus is God. Which verse would you pick. I am torn between four different verses:
(Jn 1:1) In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
(Jn 1:14) The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.
(Titus 2:13) while we wait for the blessed hope--the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ,
(1 Jn 5:20) Jesus Christ ... is the true God and eternal life.
C Do you know why the Sanhedrin put Jesus to death? They put Him to death because He claimed to be the eternal Son of God. According to them, this was blasphemy. They would have been right except for one thing: Jesus was and is and always be God. That was the conflict from the very beginning of His ministry. When He healed the paralytic who was let down through the roof, what was the issue? Jewish leaders were upset that Jesus forgave the man because only God can forgive sins (Mt 9:1-8). In John 5 we read that the Jews wanted to kill Jesus because He healed someone on the Sabbath, thus infringing on God's territory. They thought they were defending God but in their blind folly and sightless legalism they did not see that God was walking their streets right before their eyes. The Jews were more than aware of Jesus' claims to be the eternal Son of God; that is why they condemned Him and killed Him.
D Now, Jesus could have dramatically proved His enemies to be wrong. For instance, He only had to speak one word and ten thousand avenging angels would have swooped down and they would all be dead (Mt 26:53). But He did not. At the foot of the cross were those who said, "Save yourself! Come down from the cross, if you are the Son of God" (Mt 27:40). Jesus could have done that. But He did not. Jesus' enemies claimed, "He mocked God by claiming to be the Son of God, and now He must die." But Jesus kept quiet. Like a sheep before its shearers He kept silent. He could have defended Himself. But He did not.
Do you know why Jesus didn't take such measures? For our sake, He set aside His glory and bore the agony of death, the humiliating death of a criminal, a liar, a blasphemer. He had to do it this way or we could not be saved. He had to do it this way so you and I might live.
He bore the punishment for our sin. For our salvation, He allowed Himself to be mocked and called a liar. This was terrible, but even more terrible is that people do not believe He is the eternal Son of God. At stake is salvation. For we cannot be saved if we do not believe Jesus is both God and man, completely God and completely human.
II Believed by the Church
A The church has echoed this testimony about Jesus throughout the centuries. Peter confessed, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God" (Mt 16:16). Peter's confession, says Jesus, is the rock on which the church of the Lord Jesus Christ is built. It is this confession that separates us from JWs, Mormons, Unitarians and others who all deny Jesus is true and eternal God. They all dare to call themselves "church" but they aren't.
My cycling friend Rod said it best on yesterday's bike ride. He said, "Christians worship Christ." In other words, you aren't a Christian -- and you aren't a church -- if you don't worship Christ.The foundation of the church and Christian is that Jesus is God and thus ought to be worshiped and glorified. Even the Roman Catholic Church -- despite its many errors and abuses -- still deserves the name "church" for it yet holds to the confession that Jesus is God.
B The church confesses more. The Confession uses the phrase "begotten, not made."
We believe that Jesus Christ,"Begotten, not made." The church has always used this language for Jesus. We hear it already in the Nicene and Athanasian Creeds. The language is necessary because of heresies, both ancient and modern, that say we are all equally sons of God. It is true that the Bible calls angels and men the sons of God. As for Israel, it is called God's firstborn son (Ex 4:22).
according to his divine nature,
is the only Son of God--
not made nor created,
for then he would be a creature.
Jesus is the begotten, not made, Son of God. He is the natural Son of God. He is the eternal Son of God. There is no other son like Him. Jesus was not made or created.
He is one in essence with the Father;
the exact image of the person of the Father
and the "reflection of his glory,"
being in all things like him.
C "We believe ..." That is what the Confession says about this. We believe Jesus is true and eternal God. We believe Jesus is begotten, not made. We believe by faith. Does this mean we understand everything? Certainly not! In fact, we do not need to understand this mystery. All we need do is believe it.
Of course, to believe it also means we maintain the truth of Scripture in opposition to those who try to destroy the truth. In fact, that is one of our present callings. It is well known that there is nothing new under the sun, that ancient heresies keep washing up on the shores of the church. In the third century, Arius taught that Christ was the highest, most noble, and first begotten of all creation but He wasn't God. Today, the JWs are peddling the exact same heresy. This is why it is so important for the church to hold on to her Creeds & Confessions. We need to preserve the old truths against the old lies.
Jesus is true and eternal God. Remember what happened when Thomas finally realized this? He said, "My Lord and my God!" (Jn 20:28). Have you reached this point? After hearing and reading so much about Jesus, after hearing sermon after sermon, have your eyes been opened through the work of the Holy Spirit? Do you see His glory and His beauty? Do you exclaim, "My Lord and my God!"?
That's the whole point of Article 10 and the texts it is based upon. It isn't just cold doctrine. It isn't just a bunch of proof texts. Rather, it is a warm, living expression of the deepest stirrings of the heart. We have seen our God face to face in the pages of the Bible; we have experienced His power in our lives. He is our Lord and our God! That's why the Confession ends Article 10 in adoration and worship:
he is the true eternal God,
whom we invoke,
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