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Understanding Scripture in Light of a Jewish Timeline

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Son of God - Part of Trinity
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Sometimes I feel Christianity has created more confusion than clarity around the role of the Godhead. I think the term Son of God has been so used and misused that we tend to forget the original meaning of the term. One can argue that the term is widely used in the Gospels so why the concern? The concern is not the term but the definition of the term. Over time, the way mankind thinks of terms changes and can get distorted from its original intent. We often think of "son" and "father" as not being equal and so I think we have fostered the idea that the Son of God is not really equal to God himself and thereby people start to think that they are actually two different entities. Some have tried to counter this by saying, "God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit" but I think people often feel that three entities are being described. It is only a matter of subtlety you say? Perhaps; but even in his earthly ministry, Christ made subtlety important.

One day the Sadducees were asking Jesus about the validity of the resurrection (Mt 22:23-28). How did Jesus respond? He stated that they did not know the scriptures (Mt 22:29). They were incensed. Jesus told them that God stated, "I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob" (Mt 22:32; Ex 3:6). Therefore, God was not their God; but is their God. Tense was very important. Yahweh was their God when on the earth and continued to be their God. As Jesus stated, "[God] is not the God of the dead but of the living" (Mt 22:32). Therefore, Jesus implied that life continues after death and therefore supportive of a resurrection. Hmmm, implication of scripture is just as important as direct statement in scripture.

So let's see if there are implications about God in the Old Testament. Many say that the idea of God as Trinity is not stated in the Old Testament and so is only a concept developed by Christians. Well, let's see if that is true. We don't have to go far to find a subtle clue. Genesis 1:1 states, "In the beginning, God created...." So let's see what is being stated here. God, or in Hebrew, Elohim, created. This is a plural noun but used with a singular verb. How clever. Subtle? Yes. Important? Yes.

If that was the only place we find such a clue then we might question the intentionality of this verse. However, there is another critical juncture in scripture that also speaks to God being Trinity.

When God led the Israelites out of Egypt, He met them at Mt. Sinai. The first encounter was quite ominous. They saw huge billows of smoke and fire coming from the north and descending on the top of the mountain (Ex 19:16-19). God even spoke to them and it sounded like thunder, the earth shook, and the people were very frightened. So much so that they asked God to speak only to Moses and then he relay God's message to them (Ex 20:19). There was no one that day that wanted to stand up and say, "I have a few issues with you God. Let me get them off my chest." No, they knew their place and it was not one of righteousness. Who can argue that this encounter was with the first person of the Godhead, who we today term, God the Father?

However, a few chapters later, we have a very unusual occurrence. Moses, Aaron and his sons (the priests of their day), and 70 leaders of the people met with God and ate with Him (Ex 24:9-11). This is a stark contrast to their previous encounter as described above. God suspended his original requirement that they could not approach him—because this was on his terms, not theirs. This showed a more personable side of God. This was the second component of the Godhead - the one who later came to earth in human flesh—the one who had walked and talked with Adam and Eve—the one of the Godhead who has always reached out to mankind. The one we today term, God the Son.

Then not too far later, we see the third component of the Godhead. Scripture states that God's spirit indwelled the 70 leaders who Moses had chosen so they could understand what God wanted them to do to help administrate God's will to the people (Nu 11:24-25). It is not too hard to see that this is the one we today term, God the Holy Spirit.

Therefore, although not stated specifically, even the Old Testament is in agreement with God as Trinity. Why is this important? Who else can be Trinity? No one. Who else could be omnipotent, omnipresent, and omniscient yet still become human? No one. Therefore, God is unique and there is no other entity who can be his equal. Being Trinity allows him to be the most efficient relationship builder—ever!

This is what the Gospel writers were trying to portray about Christ—his uniqueness. He was born to a human woman but through the Holy Spirit—not through a human man (Mt 1:18). Because he was born, hence the term "son." Not a normal son, but the Son of God, meaning he originated from God but not separate from God. God's uniqueness is personified, not decreased. Who else could do that? No one. All of God put into a human form. He was brought low (Pp 2:7-8) in the sense he agreed to abide by some human limitations but not be limited by them. He still performed all the responsibilities as part of the Godhead. Again showing his uniqueness.

Therefore, next time you hear the term Son of God, think how the Gospel writers thought: uniqueness personified. It will bring a whole new level to your understanding of God, and a way for us to understand and show our humbleness toward Him.

Son of God
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We are getting close to the Christmas season, so I thought we would look at items associated with the Christmas story. “Son of God” is one such term. I’m sure you’ve heard this term many times. What does it mean to you? Is that what it really means?

First, let’s look at some terms similar to this: sons of God, children of God, Son of Man.

Sons of God: this term refers to angels (Gn 6:2, 4).

Children of God: believe it or not, the Bible does not claim that we are all children of God. Even though we are all subject to God, he states that only those who accept him by faith are considered his children (Ro 8:14). This term is used 13 times in the NIV New Testament and not in the Old Testament. In each case, it refers to those who are Christians, or followers of Christ, whether Jew or Gentile.

Son of Man: this term is used in both the NIV Old Testament and NIV New Testament 178 times and can refer to men in general with 93 times referring to the prophet Ezekiel and 2 times to other men. Then, it refers to Christ 83 times in both the Old and New Testaments. Christ used this term many times to refer to himself. He likely did this because this term is referring to the miracle of his birth. He was both 100% God and 100% human. His humanity was the miracle. His body was pure human – no divine DNA. Otherwise, he would not be the sin of atonement needed. The other miracle was that while he was human, he was also sinless.

Some have suggested that Christ was like Adam since Adam was created with perfect human DNA without father or mother. It is likely the Holy Spirit did the same here, but as an embryo within Mary. This may also be why Paul compared Christ to the first Adam (1Co 15). While their human components were similar, their spirits were different. While Adam’s spirit gave him life, Christ’s spirit not only gave his human frame life, it has given eternal life to everyone who trusts in him (1Co 15:45). Christ is unique and has always been unique. He is equal with God since he is part of the Trinity, as the second part of the Godhead.

We know that the term Son of God means something different that the normal definition of son: a male descendant; a male offspring; a male heir. After all, Christ existed before his earthly birth (Jn 1:1; 8:58), and even before creation (Hb 1:2). He is therefore superior to all beings created (Hb 1:4).

We also know that before Christ was born as an infant, he existed as a spirit (Jn 4:24). However, all three parts of the Godhead can show themselves in visible forms. God the Father showed himself in smoke, fire, and lightning at Sinai (Ex 19:18), Christ revealed himself in human form to Adam and Eve (Gn 3:8), to Moses (Ex 24:9-10), Joshua (Js 5:13-14), Manoah (Jd 13:21-22), and others. The Holy Spirit revealed himself as a dove at Christ’s baptism (Mt 3:16).

Once born, Christ’s body was totally human in every way (Jn 1:14, Pp 2:7-8, Hb 2:17). Although human, he was also perfect: sinless and unblemished having perfect DNA. He was indeed the only human who could be the perfect sacrifice for all mankind to pay the justice which God required.

Christ’s body, though, was different after his resurrection. How do we know this? Christ is described as the firstfruit of the resurrection (1Co 15:20). How is he the firstfruit when others had been resurrected before he had been (Lk 7:11-15, Jn 11:43-44) and were resurrected when he was resurrected (Mt 27:51-53)? Of all of these, only Christ was the one resurrected in a glorified body. These others were resurrected human; Christ’s body was now different. It is likely his body and spirit were fused forever together. Every cell of his body was both physical and spiritual. Therefore, he was unique. One day we will also have glorified bodies similar to his (1Jn 3:2).

Our spirits are within us and is what makes us alive and eternal beings (Jn 6:63, 2Co 1:22). Without our spirit, our bodies would not be alive (Ja 2:26). Our physical bodies are the shells for our spirit.

It seems that our physical bodies and spiritual bodies are fused together as one. These scriptures seem to suggest that our physical bodies are necessary to achieve our glorified bodies (1Th 4:16, 1Co 15:50-51). Otherwise, why would our physical bodies be needed to rise from the dead? It seems our spirits need to fuse to our physical bodies to make them glorified.

Christ was still a man after his resurrection (1Tm 2:5). He did not go back to his original state to be spirit. While still a man, his body is now glorified and fused within his Spirit—something unique. Even scars given to his physical body are still present (Zc 12:10). Yet, this does not mean we will keep our scars and blemishes. When the curse is lifted, the Refreshing (Ac 3:19), all will be made perfect again—including us. Christ keeping his scars was his decision to forever remind us of his love for us and what he did for us.

In his glorified body, Christ could be seen, but act as a spirit (Lk 24:31, Jn 20:19, 26). He appeared and disappeared at will. While Christ was able to teleport himself and others before being glorified (Jn 6:21), it seems this was stressed more after receiving his glorified body to show us what we can expect once we become like him.

This likely also explains the ominous verse about Tartarus (2Pt 2:4). This is a very strange verse without much explanation. However, the verse implies these angels did something very heinous. They had already rebelled, so it is not referring to that. Not all demons are in Tartarus, but only a select group. Why?

Back in Genesis is a potential clue (Gn 6:1-4). These angels, devoted to Satan, intermarried with human women. Their children became men of renown, likely large in stature and similar to the Greek gods we read about in literature. People revered them and maybe even worshipped them. Sound like a myth? Yes, but myths have a start in truth even though they gets distorted over time.

Some theologians, like Renald Showers in his book, What on Earth is God Doing?, state this was an attempt by Satan to thwart God’s plan of redemption by introducing angel DNA into the human genome. But, did Satan go even further?

Could this have been Satan’s attempt to make humans glorified for his purpose? He was making mankind different by infusing angel DNA into every cell of their body. This is somewhat similar to what we were talking about with God having our spirit infused into every cell of our body. Again, Satan is trying to counterfeit being God.

Christ’s physical body was completely human. It was not divine. It has to be completely human for him to identify with us; yet, he had to be without sin in order to pay the penalty God’s justice demanded. Only he could fulfill this. His spirit was divine; his body was human, but perfect: 100% God, 100% human. His glorified body was a fusion of some sort with his physical body so he can continue to identify with us for eternity. We will have a physical body, but it will perform like a spiritual body—the best of both worlds.

Why is this important? This shows the uniqueness of God. No one else could have accomplish this. It shows the love of God. Christ was willing to change himself forever to identify with us forever. It shows the mercy of God. Only Christ offers us a chance to be like him and with him. It shows his jealousy for us and he being willing to do anything for us to one day dwell with him forever. He did it all for us at his own sacrifice and his own willingness to change his relationship within the Trinity forever. It demonstrates he was both Son of God and Son of man: totally God, totally man, totally awesome!