The Father and the Son
An Eternal Relationship
Leslie M. Grant
The virgin Mary was given a most marvellous message by the angel Gabriel, "The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee; therefore also that holy thing which shall be born. shall be called the Son of God" (Luke 1:35). How wonderful beyond all human thought it is that the Son of God has come into Manhood! He is not called the child of God, but "the Son of God." He was indeed in His humanity the child of Mary, for "child" involves birth, but as Son birth is not involved at all. Christ was not "born of God" as believers are. And when He came into relationship with humans He was called "the Son of God" because He had from eternity past enjoyed the relationship of Son with the Father.
"The Father sent the Son to be the Saviour of the world" (1 John 4:14). Was He the Son before He was sent? Certainly He was. Some have denied this, and have claimed that Christ became the Son only in incarnation. Then was God not the Father before He sent His Son? If God was Father, then it follows absolutely that Christ was the Son. Did God only become the Father when Christ came into the world? No indeed! The Lord Jesus answers this plainly and unquestionably in John 16:28, "I came forth from the Father, and am come into the world." He makes His coming forth from the Father distinct from His coming into the world.
John 3:16 is plain on this subject also, "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son." Only foolish unbelief would change this to say, "He gave the One who became His Son." The expression "only begotten" occurs only in John's writings in referring to the Lord Jesus, though used of Abraham's son Isaac in Hebrews 11:17. The word does not refer to birth, but:
"the glory was that of a unique relationship and the word 'begotten' does not imply a beginning of His Sonship. It suggests relationship indeed, but must be distinguished from generation as applied to man" (Expository Dictionary - W. E. Vine).
The great mistake some make is that they consider that since in human relationships a son comes after his father, then Christ as Son of God must have become Son. But the word "Son" does not imply derivation at all. The Lord Jesus was Son of the Father from eternity past, implying His place of dignity and unity and fellowship with the Father, and His being the Son is the background for sonship in human relationships, not the reverse. "All men should honour the Son, even as they honour the Father" (John 5:23). We honour the Father as One who is infinite, omniscient, omnipresent, omnipotent, eternal. Therefore the Son is to be honoured precisely in those things. He is by nature the Son of God. Believers become sons of God by adoption (Gal. 4:1-7). They become children of God by new birth, which was never the case with the Lord Jesus, for He is not the child of God, and He is Son by nature, certainly not by adoption.
The words of the Lord Jesus above may seem a contradiction to His words in John 14:28, "My Father is greater than I." But there He is not speaking of the Father being personally greater than He, but rather that He had taken a place in manhood on earth lower than the Father, and He speaks there of His returning to the Father.
John deals much with who Christ is in the glory of His deity. This is beautifully seen in John 1:18, "No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, He hath declared Him." Was He in the bosom of the Father before He came into the world? Certainly it was always His very nature to be in the bosom of the Father. Having so intimate a relationship with the Father in all the past eternity, He was fully qualified to declare Him.
John speaks of Christ as "the Word" before He speaks of Him as "the Son." "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God" (John 1:1-2). Just as some have dared to deny that Christ was the Son of God before coming into the world, so there are those who boldly assert that Christ became the Word. This is a flagrant insult to Scripture, and to the Lord Himself. Actually the Word had no beginning. He was "In the beginning." As far back as we can imagine, He was there. In other words, He is an eternal person. He was "with God," that is, He is a distinct person. "And the Word was God." He is a divine person. More than that, "He was in the beginning with God." He is an eternally distinct person. As "the Word" Christ is the perfect expression of all the thoughts of God. As "the Son" He is in the bosom of the Father; the One in whom the heart of the Father is perfectly manifested.
The Testimony of the Old Testament
Though Agur speaks of himself as being more stupid than any man (Prov. 30:2), he asks questions that should have profoundly stirred the intelligence of any Israelite who read them: "Who hath ascended up into heaven, or descended? who hath gathered the wind in His fists? who hath bound the waters in a garment? who hath established all the ends of the earth? what is His name, and what is His Son's name, if thou canst tell?" (Prov. 30:4). But let us remember that this is Scripture, and therefore God is asking us these questions. We are faced with the great glory of the Creator, then we are asked, "what is His name, and what is His Son's name, if thou canst tell?" He does not ask, "what will be the name of one who becomes God's Son in the future," but "what is His name, and what is His Son's name?" Was Christ the Son of God at the time Agur wrote? Absolutely! There is no escape from this certainty.
Psalm 2, which has the judgment of the nations in view, prophesies of the words of the Lord Jesus, "I will declare the decree: the LORD hath said unto Me, Thou art My Son; this day have I begotten Thee" (v. 7). The words, "Thou art My Son," stand absolutely alone in solitary grandeur. He is God's Son because He is God. This refers to His personal glory true from eternity past. However, "this day have I begotten Thee," is prophetic, referring to the wonder of His incarnation. Some have objected to this, saying that Christ was begotten as Son through incarnation. But Scripture does not say, "I have begotten Thee to become My Son." If such a thing was to be implied, then the begetting would be first mentioned, but it is not so. The greatness of His person is first mentioned, then the fact of His being begotten, which of course is in Manhood.
The same Psalm 2 adds another valuable lesson for us in verses 10-12, "Be wise now, therefore, O ye kings; be instructed, ye judges of the earth. Serve the LORD with fear, and rejoice with trembling. Kiss the Son, lest He be angry, and ye perish from the way, when His wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are all they that put their trust in Him." Though the psalm is prophetic of judgment in the last days, yet these verses are an admonition to kings and judges now (v. 10), at the time of the writing of the psalm. At that time they were told to, "Kiss the Son," which was long before He was "begotten" in Manhood. It is added also, "Blessed are all they that put their trust in Him" (v. 12). The psalmist surely wrote this to encourage people at the time to put their trust in the Son, which would be the way in which to "Kiss the Son."
But another most beautiful testimony to the relationship of the Father and the Son is found in Proverbs 8:22-36, which begins, "The LORD possessed Me in the beginning of His way, before His works of old. I was set up from everlasting, from the beginning, or ever the earth was." Then in verses 30 and 31, "Then I was by Him, as one brought up with Him; and I was daily His delight, rejoicing always before Him; Rejoicing in the habitable part of His earth; and My delights were with the sons of men." Wisdom is here seen to be clearly personified, and the person can be none other than the Lord Jesus, the Son of the Father, as 1 Corinthians 1:24 bears witness, "Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God." How much we would miss if we did not recognise that the Son was in past ages always "His (the Father's) delight, rejoicing always before Him." This relationship between the Father and the Son is one that should deeply delight our own hearts, and encourage our own present joy in fellowship with the Father and His Son Jesus Christ (1 John 1:3). Notice too that even in past ages the Son's delight was with the sons of men, for there was never a time when the Father and the Son did not have in mind the eternal blessing of believers. Again, some have protested that Proverbs 8 cannot refer to the Son of God, but only to wisdom as a principle, for wisdom is spoken of as "she" in chapter 8:1-3 and chapter 9:1-6. However, it is not so in chapter 8:22-36, but wisdom speaks as a person there. When spoken of as "she" the emphasis is on the subjective working of wisdom in people, but in chapter 8:22-36 the subject is not that of our assimilation of wisdom, but wisdom objectively in one person, apart from how we are affected by it. That person can only be the Son of God. He is not even seen as the example of wisdom in this case, for we could never follow such an example, but rather He is put before us as the Object of our devoted affection and worship. May such a Scripture therefore deepen our adoration of the Father and the Son.
Finally, we may well delight in the truth declared in the prayer of the Lord Jesus to His Father in John 17:24, "Father, I will that they also, whom Thou hast given Me, be with Me where I am; that they may behold My glory, which Thou hast given Me: for Thou lovedst Me before the foundation of the world." The Son speaks to God as His Father, and as the Father He loved His Son before the foundation of the world. How perfectly this agrees with the various Scriptures we have considered in this short article.
The beauty of the eternal relationship of love between the Father and the Son is surely intended to move us in worship and adoration before His face.