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A Case for the Pre-Existence of the Son of God

A Case for the Pre-Existence of the Son of God

Defining Who is the Son of God and Proving His Eternal Existence

INTRODUCTION

            Over two-thousand years ago in the small village of Bethlehem, made famous as the boyhood home of King David (1 Sam 16:1, 17:12, Luke 2:4), a baby was born. Only a few miles from Jerusalem, the epicenter of the Jewish religious culture of the time, this baby would grow up amidst swirling controversy regarding who he was. Who is this child? He would be called many things, however, one title condemned him for blasphemy by the High Priest Caiaphas and the Council of scribes and elders who arrested and tried him and led to his execution (Mt 26:37, Mt 26:62-66, Jn 19:7). The question came from Caiaphas, “I adjure you by the living God, tell us if you are the Christ, the Son of God.” Jesus answered directly, “You have said so.”You have stated the truth. Caiaphas tore his clothes[1] – a forbidden act by the High Priest – as a display of extreme grief for blasphemy.[2] Jesus claimed to be the Son of God and he was executed for it.

            We have the advantage on this side of the cross, two-thousand years later, with the aid of Holy Scripture to see that Jesus was in fact the Son of God (Jn 1:1-14) and was wrongly executed by the council in a purely legal point of view. However, Jesus is God and his mission was to come to earth and be executed as a sacrifice for the sins of the children of God (Ephesians 1-2, Phil 2:5-8, Col 1:11-22, 1 Pet 1:2). Although we now have great hope in Christ, the Son of God, controversy still swirls around who he is. Several religions that claim the name of Jesus do not consider him to be God, such as the LDS and Jehovah Witnesses, but they consider Him to be a created being. Within the orthodox Christian circles Jesus is known to be God, but there is disagreement on whether or not he has been God for all eternity. Did the Son of God exist eternally, outside time and space, as the Son before he was born in the form of man before born as the baby Jesus, born of Mary? Or was it at the incarnation that Jesus came into being by becoming man generated by the Father?

            I propose that the evidence proving the Son of God’s pre-existence before the incarnation is overwhelming and inarguable for not only LDS and Jehovah Witnesses[3], but also for all within the Christian faith. Before proposing the evidence supporting the pre-existence of the Son of God, a brief description of the opposition is in order.

 

OPPOSITION TO THE PRE-EXISTENCE OF THE SON OF GOD

            The opposition to who Jesus is and what it means for Him to be the Son of God has been argued since Jesus was born in Bethlehem. Many false doctrines were found in the early church, towards which Jesus’ beloved disciple John wrote his entire Gospel and epistles to refute (John 20:31), the Apostle Paul worked diligently to correct through his many epistles and missionary journeys (Rom 8:1-4, Col 1:15-20), as well as Peter and the writer of Hebrews (1 Peter 1:20, 2 Peter 1:16-21, Heb 1:1-3). The eternality of the Son, as the second person of the Trinity was so hotly contested a few hundred years after the incarnation that the Nicene Council developed the Nicene Creed to establish a proper view on the Son and to distance themselves from the modalistic theology of Sabellianism[4] and the argument by the Arians[5] of the day that insisted that the Son of God was a created being.

            Centuries later new religions arose which claimed the name of Jesus Christ, yet they did not attribute deity or pre-existence to him. In the early 1800’s, Joseph Smith founded the Church of Jesus Christ and the Latter Day Saints, claiming that the Son of God was merely a created being and Lucifer’s brother.[6] In the 1870’s Jehovah Witnesses arose who teach Jesus is no more than the archangel Michael[7], another created being. The LDS and the Jehovah Witness religions are rightly consider by professing Christians to be cultic and not a denomination within the protestant faith.

Another high profile stream of incorrect teaching regarding the Son of God has invaded the charismatic denominations. In particular, the televangelist T.D. Jakes with his “oneness” Pentecostal faith, author of over 30 books many of which have been on the NY Times Bestseller List, has had a worldwide stage for many years and teaches that Jesus is the Father, Jesus is the Son, and Jesus is the Holy Spirit and that the doctrine of the Trinity is in fact a polytheistic heresy[8]. Although no credible theologian would give Jakes theology thirty seconds of consideration, the average Christian is easily fooled by the TV shows, bestselling books, and charismatic personality. These fallacies are as important to refute as what the Fathers of the Nicene Creed were fighting against 1700 years ago.

            More interesting even yet, and much closer to home, is the change that John MacArthur has transitioned through only a decade ago. MacArthur, one of America’s greatest teachers and preachers, released an article in 2001 stating:

“…I want to state publicly that I have abandoned the doctrine of ‘incarnational sonship.’ Careful study and reflection have brought me to understand that Scripture does indeed present the relationship between God the Father and Christ the Son as an eternal Father-Son Relationship. I know longer regard Christ’s sonship as a role He assumed in His incarnation.”[9]

MacArthur’s abandonment of this doctrine through careful study of the Scriptures signals to us that there is a vital need for careful study and reflection on the Scriptures by every believer, even for every respected teacher, preacher, and theologian. Let us now turn to carefully considering what the Bible says about the relationship between God the Father and God the Son.

EVIDENCE OF THE PRE-EXISTENCE OF THE SON OF GOD

            Ten proofs regarding the pre-existence of Jesus Christ as the Son of God and second person in the Trinity need careful consideration.

Proof (1): I Am. The most basic proof of Jesus Christ’s pre-existence as the Son of God, and an assumption that must be made at the outset, is his divinity. Jesus being fully God implies his eternality. We see from the “I am” (egō eimi) statements found in Jesus’ own words, that He is claiming to be equal to God, the Father. In chapter 8 of John’s gospel, Jesus provides a direct claim to deity and pre-existence through the most notable “I am” statement.  Jesus tells the Jews, “If anyone who keeps my word, he will never taste death,” (Jn 8:52, ESV). The Jews fire back at Jesus by asking if he is greater than Abraham. After all, Abraham died and so did all the other prophets of God. So how can this man claim to have power over death? How can he speak with authority regarding Abraham as if he knows him? Jesus, they argue isn’t even fifty years old, how can he have seen Abraham?[10] Jesus then makes the claim to deity and pre-existence: “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am,” (Jn 8:58, ESV).

Jesus’ use of “I am” harkens the Jewish hearer back to the scene of Moses and the flame of fire that appears from the bush in Exodus 3. God chooses this title, “I Am,” to reveal to Moses who he is. “I am” is a name of revelation and Jesus uses it here to reveal who he is to the Jews. Thomas Schreiner expertly points out in his New Testament Theology, “I am” is reserved for Yahweh.[11] Christ is revealing to his hearers, in the same way the Father did with Moses, that he is God and he existed before Abraham.[12] This claim of deity was blasphemous to the Jews and they picked up stones to throw at him.

Let us take the “I am” statement further through a very simple analysis of the grammar and the distinctive order of the words. The use of “was” in reference to Abraham is a simple past tense meaning he had a beginning; he became or came to be. This is contrasted with Jesus’ use of “I am” (egō eimi), which is present tense in the form of “I myself am.”[13] Before Abraham came into being, Jesus eternally existed as God.

            Proof (2): The Alpha and the Omega. Robert Culver, makes a powerful impact within his discussion of the person and work of Jesus Christ. In the book of Revelation, the Apostle John reveals two inseparable facts regarding the person Jesus Christ, that come from the mouth of Jesus Christ when he appears before John. In Revelation, Christ is “the one who ‘was dead’, and ‘pierced’, yet also the Alpha and Omega, beginning and ending, who is, was, and is yet to come, ‘the Pantorkrator’” (the almighty) (Rev 1:8, 18).[14] Christ, the God-man, was pierced and died. This was his mission. However, our sacrificial lamb is also the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and end. He is without beginning and he is without end. He is the eternal and pre-existent Son of God. As Guthrie simply puts it, “it conceives of the whole span of history in terms of God’s activity. There are no blank periods. This concept ties in closely with the concept of God as Creator.”[15]

            Proof (3): Voluntary Humiliation. The apostle Paul, in his inspired writing to the believers in Philippi, explains how the preexistent Christ actually stripped off his robes of majesty and glory to become humble; to become nothing. The Son of God voluntarily humbled himself, becoming like man, in order to fulfill his mission. To leave the thrones of heaven and the worship of angels[16] and condescend requires infinite humility. The Son of God’s voluntary humiliation logically requires pre-existence.

[5] Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, [6] who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, [7] but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. [8] And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.(Philippians 2:5-8 ESV)

Some, like Cullman, argue that the Son being in the form of God means that he wasn’t actually God, but had the appearance of God and was the God-man before the incarnation[17], however, this opinion loses its foundation in verse 7, where Paul explains that the Son of God actually empties himself in order to take the form of a servant in the likeness of man. Emptying himself requires three major truths:

1) He had something in the first place to be emptied,

2) He had consciousness,

3) He had existence before the incarnation.

The Son was not in the form of God-man before the incarnation, he was God – majestic and divine. In order to empty himself, the Son doesn’t not leave his deity behind, but instead the act of emptying was the act of putting on the form of a servant, the likeness of man.[18]

The other foundational argument for the pre-existence of the Son of God in this passage is from the word (harpgmos) translated as “grasped” or in the KJV, “robbery”. The word is defined as seizing, taking, or robbery. Paul is assuming that Jesus was equal with God and that he didn’t need to try to seize or steal equality with God, he is equal with God. He did not “take advantage of or exploit what he already possessed.”[19] The pre-existent Son of God possessed equality with God and humbled himself at the incarnation by putting on the form of man.

Proof (4): He Was Sent. The incarnation of Jesus, as the Son of God, can be argued as an act of creation if we only look at the physical creation and birth of the baby Jesus. However, even shallow study of the scriptures will show that the Son of God was sent to Earth through the incarnation. Sending someone implies logically that this someone existed before they were sent. The same basic argument holds for the Son of God. Jesus, in his prayer to the Father in John 17[20], explicitly claims existing in heaven before the incarnation:

4 I glorified you on earth, having accomplished the work that you gave me to do. 5 And now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed. (Jn 17:4, 5, ESV)

“The glory that I had with you before the world existed.” This claim goes far beyond the incarnation and beyond creation of the world to the place of the beginning of beginnings – the Son was with the Father before everything our minds can imagine. Verse 4 of chapter 17 also classifies the Son’s work as that which he was sent to do by the Father along with:

a) John 3:34 – He who was sent utters the words of the Father,

b) John 5:36-38 – The works that the Father has given me testify to the Father sending me, and the Father who sent me bears witness of me,

c) John 7:29 – He, the Father, sent me,

d) John 11:42 – I said this for those standing around that they might believe that you sent me.

The Apostle John had crystal clear revelation from the Holy Spirit that the Son of God was sent by the Father to Earth for his work and purposes in the God-man for of Jesus.  The always encouraging Geerhardus Vos argues strongly with regard to the Trinity and the Angel of the Lord (both discussed in proofs below) that “we must assume that behind the twofold representation there lies a real manifoldness in the inner life of the Deity. If the Angel sent were Himself partaker of Godhead, then He could refer to God as his sender, and at the same time speak as God, and in both cases there would be reality behind it.”[21] The only conclusion available is that the Father sends the eternally pre-existent Son for his work in the midst of man.

            Proof 5: The Trinity, Roles and Functions. The purpose of this paper is not to outline the doctrine of the Trinity. The reality of the Trinity, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit is assumed. Within the doctrine of the Trinity we see the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit as one God, in three persons, with three roles and functions. A major part of these roles and functions is the nature of the Son’s subordination to the Father. In the previous proof, we see the Son’s voluntarily submission to the purpose, will, and mission of the Father. Now, however we need to examine the subordination structure of the Trinity. This has been and issue that has spanned the centuries and was address well by Samuel Waldron in his book, Modern Exposition of the 1689 Baptist Confession of Faith. The topic was important enough in the 1680’s to include it in the Confession, and it is important enough still in our generation for further exposition. Waldron cautions the reader to distinguish carefully between three different kinds of subornation:

1)      Subordination in the modes of operation,

2)      Subordination in the modes of subsistence,

3)      Subordination in essence.[22]

Subordination in the modes of operation is the concept that the “God-man”, the incarnate Son, Jesus, is subordinate to the Father in the grand scheme of creation and his redemptive plan for mankind. The Father sends the Son, and the Son does the will of the Father (Jn 3:34, 7:29, 4:34, 14:31).

Secondly, the subordination in the area of subsistence relates to the distinction between the three persons of the Trinity, known as hypostasis. The Father is not the Son or the Holy Spirit, the Son and the Holy Spirit are unique and not the Father. The Son is begotten of the Father and the Spirit proceeds from both.[23] Distinction between the hypostasis is a vital doctrine and strongly proves the pre-existence of Christ as the Son distinct from the Father.

Finally, the third form of subordination Waldron outlined claims that the Father and the Son are different in essence, in their level of Godhood. If the Son and Spirit are subordinate in essence, they are less God than the Father. This form of subordination is not Biblical and should be exposed as a cultic false doctrine reducing the deity of the Son.

            Proof 6: The Only Begotten. Much controversy surrounds the passages claiming the Son of God is the only begotten son of God the Father. Begotten can mean born of or created from and when a shallow look is taken it confuses the issue of the Son’s pre-existence. We must eliminate the implication that the Son was created or generated at the incarnation by the Father by examining the confusing passages. For the sake of this paper, only two will be examined but not exhausted. The two passages are: Psalm 2:7 and John 3:16.[24] The Psalmist writes of Adonai, the Lord, sitting in the heavens laughing at those who have set themselves against Him tells of what the LORD – Jehovah, God the Father – has decreed. In verse 7, Jehovah, using father and son language, sets forth his eternal decree: “You are my Son; today I have begotten you.” We see contextually that Jehovah is speaking of the Messiah, the Son of God. On the surface this temporal language, would challenge the pre-existence of the Son. Here, I turn again to John MacArthur where in his article reexamining his position explains that the decree of the Father is eternal and it is reasonable to assume that this passage should be understood as figurative language and not a wooden literal statement.[25]

            Moving from the Hebrew figurative language in Psalm 2:7 to the Greek in John 3:16, we see a very similar English translation in many Bibles; however, the intended meaning is different in the original language. The “begotten” terminology occurs several times from the beloved disciple’s pen.[26] The Gospel of John, according to the author, has the intended purpose that the reader would believe Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing we would have life (John 20:31).  The tradition of the KJV’s “…and gave his only begotten Son,” is arguably the most famous passage in scripture but the translation muddies the water if we only look at the KJV. The NASB and many others also translate the Greek word “monogenes” the same way: “only begotten Son.”  This is not a clear translation.  We can see a better rendering in ESV, which translates “monogenes” as “…gave His only Son.” This subtle distinction does portray the Greek language meaning of the single, unique, one of a kind nature of the Son as intended by the Apostle John. The only, unique, one of a kind Son stands in great contrast to the muddy language of begotten carrying the meaning of procreation or creation. It is highly unlikely, as Dr Guthrie argues, that “monogenes” contains the idea of birth.[27] As related to Christ, the word isn’t pointing to birth, but rather to the idea of uniqueness.

            MacArthur adds another interesting piece to the pre-existence puzzle worth noting in regard to begetting with this statement:

“And indeed, there is another, more vital, significance to the idea of “begetting” than merely the origin of one’s offspring. In the design of God, each creature begets offspring “after his kind” (Gen. 1:11-12; 21-25). The offspring bear the exact likeness of the parent. The fact that a son is generated by the father guarantees that the son shares the same essence as the father.”[28]

The Son is not a created being, but he is inseparable from the Father through the Trinity and is of the same essence. In light of MacArthur’s argument: as a dog begets a dog, God the Father would beget God the Son, which is to say that the dog’s begotten is of the same essence and the Father’s begotten is of the same essence.

            Proof 7: The Demons Knew Who He Was. When our Lord encountered the demon possessed men in Matthew 8:28-34 and 9:27 and in Luke 4:40-41, we see a common theme. The demons knew who Jesus was and they were afraid of him. They called him the Son of God and the Son of David, both not only messianic titles, but evidence that they knew the Son before in the incarnation. Demons are spiritual beings outside of time and space as we know it and they had no confusion over who Jesus is. Satan, the devil himself, also knew Jesus as the Son of God and did not need to be informed of his true nature like man did. The pre-existence of the Son is the only logical reason why the demons and devil were so familiar with him after the incarnation. In addition, Matthew 1:23 builds structure around the Son’s incarnation: “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son and they shall call his name Immanuel, which means God with us.” As a reference to the prophecy of Isaiah, the man Jesus was God in human flesh to fulfill the prophecy. The demons knew Jesus to be Immanuel. If Jesus was the Son and the Son was Immanuel meaning, “God with us”, then the Son is God and we know that God is eternal and pre-existent.

            Proof 8: The Angel of the Lord. The story of Samson’s parents in Judges 13 is a fascinating testimony to the pre-existence of the second person in the Trinity, the Son. There are other similar passages in the Old Testament referencing the Angel of the Lord[29] with illusions to the Son of God; however Judges 13 is the most interesting example to examine. Samson’s mother and wife to Manoah was a barren woman. Her plight is not unique in the Bible as God uses barrenness numerous times throughout redemptive history for his purposes.[30] Manoah’s wife was visited by a man of God whose appearance was like that of an Angel of Jehovah. He appeared very awesome she told Manoah later. This Angel’s conversation with Manoah’s wife was very similar to conversations that the Archangel Gabriel had with John the Baptist’s father, Zechariah, and the virgin Mary in Luke chapter 1. It would be a common error to read through Judges 13, see the wording for Angel and never see the subtly that proves the pre-incarnate existence and activity of the Son of God. These subtleties occur in four specific verses and they are as follows:  When Manoah asks the Angel if he is the man who spoke to his wife in Judges13:11, the Angel replies with, “I”. In the ESV translation and others the Hebrew word (’ă·nî) is translated as “I am”. The “I am” in Judges 13 is different than the “I AM that I AM” in Exodus 3:14 in that it is a different word; however, the response points to the deity of the one standing before them rather than referring to himself as a messenger of the Lord. This response is not enough on its own, so we must build the case further.

            Later in the story from Judges 13, in verse 18, Manoah asks the Angel what his name is and the Angel gives a curious answer. In Luke 1, the angel clearly gives his name as Gabriel and tells how he stands in the presence of God. The Angel in Judges 13, however, asks in reply, “why do you ask my name, seeing it is wonderful?” Again we see a response by the Angel pointing to his deity and his uniqueness. This is no mere angel, but someone special. In the famous passage in Isaiah 9:6 the prophet tells of a child who will be born, a son who will be given and his name is called “Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” This Angel is referring to himself as the one described by Isaiah later. Manoah sees the truth of who he is and has a response similar to Isaiah’s response when he faces the Lord on His throne in Isaiah 6. In verse 20, Manoah and his wife fall on their faces in worship and fear and in verse 22 Manoah says, “We shall surely die, for we have seen God.” This phenomenal statement emphasizes the point that this Angel is in fact God. They came face to face with God. However, making the leap from this Angel being Jehovah and the Angel being the pre-incarnate Son of God is more difficult. Scripture makes it easy for us though due to two additional passages to finalize this proof.

            The Apostle John lays out the undeniable truth of Jesus’ deity and eternal existence in the first chapter of his Gospel. In defining Jesus as the Word of God, and that the Word was God and was with God, he shows how Jesus was the incarnate form of God and the separate but equal Word of God who tabernacles with His creation. To further explain that the Son is a unique person sent by Jehovah in the form of a man, he tells us in 1:18, “No one has ever seen God, The only God, who is at the Father’s side, He has made Him known.” No one has ever seen God, the only God, except the one He made known, who is the Son. No one has ever seen God. This means Manoah and his wife did not see Jehovah, but they clearly saw God as described above. Thus they saw Him whom God made known, the one who was at His side, the Son of God. This logic is further enforced by Judges 13:16: The Angel of the Lord is speaking to Manoah and tells him, “I will not eat your food. But if you prepare a burn offering, then offer it to the LORD.” Manoah confesses that he saw God in verse 22, yet the Angel tells him to offer it to Jehovah. Therefore, since we understand the Angel of the Lord in Judges 13 to be God per the testimony of Manoah and his wife, and God is telling Manoah to prepare his offering to Jehovah, we must assume that the Angel of the Lord here is the Son of God actively working well before the incarnation. Geerhardus Vos provides a succinct summary of the Old Testament references to the Angel of the Lord as pre-incarnate form of the Son and how to deal with the Angel and Jehovah both as God, but also as separate and unique in these passages:

“The problem is how to do justice to both. There is but one way in which this can be done: we must assume that behind the twofold representation there lies a real manifoldness in the inner life of the Deity. If the Angel sent were Himself partaker of Godhead, then He could refer to God as his sender, and at the same time speak as God, and in other cases there would be reality behind it.”[31]

Proof 9: The Agent of Creation. Not only was the Son of God not a created being or a new manifestation at the incarnation, but the complete opposite is true. The Son of God was the agent of creation of the entire universe – whether physical or spiritual. Scripture makes this point clear. Paul lays out in Colossians 1:16 that all things were created by the Son, all things were created through the Son, and all things were created for the Son. There is little room to argue against the pre-existence of the Son when we learn that He was the agent of creation. Logically, all of creation could be set aside for a yet to be created being, however, that yet to be created being would not be able to do the creating or be the conduit of the creation as Paul teaches in verse 16. To continue to emphasize this point John 1 and Hebrews 1 shall be examined.

In the awe inspiring introduction to John’s Gospel, we again learn in John 1:2, as mentioned above, the Word was with God and the Word was God and in verse 3 of the ESV, “all things were made through Him, and without Him was not anything made that was made.” All things were made through the Word, which is the Son, and not anything was made that wasn’t made without the Word, which is the Son of God. This passage may not make the inner workings of the Father-Son relationship of the Trinity any more comprehensible, but it does continue to enforce the Son’s pre-existence before the incarnation as He was with the Father before time began and was the one through which the entire physical universe and spiritual realm was made.

Finally, the author of Hebrews opens his sermon with the same Son exalting language. Hebrews 1:2 tells of how God the Father has chosen in these last days to speak through His Son and in order to not confuse this Son with any created being he defines the Son with, “…whom He appointed the heir of all things, through whom also He created the world. The Son of God the Father whom is the heir of all things – echoing Colossians 1 that all things were created for the Son – is also the one through whom he created the aion (world) representing eternity and the universe. The Holy Spirit inspired these created authors to pen these words exalting the Son as the pre-existent Son of God who is God and has existed before time began.

            Proof 10: The Son on the Throne. The last proof of Biblical evidence in the case of the Son of God’s eternality, pre-existence, and eternal generation is found in a passage that makes our heart worship in praise and makes our body tremble in reverent fear of the eternal Son of God. This is found in Isaiah’s vision of the Lord on the throne.

[1] In the year that King Uzziah died I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up; and the train of his robe filled the temple. [2] Above him stood the seraphim. Each had six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. [3] And one called to another and said: “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory!” [4] And the foundations of the thresholds shook at the voice of him who called, and the house was filled with smoke. [5] And I said: “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts!” (Isaiah 6:1-5 ESV)

The prophet Isaiah comes face-to-face with the Son of God, the Lord (Adonai), on the throne. The majestic Lord sits on the throne and the seraphim around Him sing his praises. “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts!” Holy is Jehovah. Isaiah states in verse 5 that he has seen the King, the LORD (Jehovah) of hosts, and his sin is atoned for by the coal taken from the throne and touched to his lips by the seraphim. Isaiah is at the point of despair and undone in the face of the Lord. However, when the Lord asks, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” Isaiah immediately responds, “Here I am! Send me.” The Lord sends him to speak on His behalf regarding the child to be born, the heir to the throne of David, and the one through whom we will be healed by His stripes. The Lord sends Isaiah to proclaim the Christ, the Son is coming.

            Logically, this could very well just be God the Father sending Isaiah out to speak of the Son whom is coming at the incarnation and therefore we must look at John 12:36-43 to see the rest of the story. John tells of how the people still did not believe in Jesus in verse 37, which was so that the word of the Prophet Isaiah would come to pass. In verse 41 of chapter 12 John explains Isaiah 6: “Isaiah said these things because he saw His glory and spoke of Him.” We know whom Isaiah spoke of, the Son of God. We also learn here in John 12:41 that the Lord that sent Isaiah was in fact the Son of God sitting on the throne, pre-incarnate and very real.

CONCLUSION

            The Biblical evidence is overwhelming in the case of the eternality and pre-existence of the Son of God. The most wondrous and awe inspiring aspect of the Son’s eternality is the permanence of his Sonship. By looking back into the distant eternal past, we cannot argue against the evidence that He has always existed as the second person in the Trinity and if we look forward into the eternal future we see again that the Son will always be the Son. Right this very minute and until He returns, the Son intercedes on our behalf as an advocate with the Father as a propitiation for our sins, having reconciled us with our creator by His sacrifice.[32] We now and forever have the hope of eternal glory as brothers of the Son as adopted children because He died and rose again and we now eagerly await the resurrection of our bodies, the changing from corrupted to incorruptible in the twinkling of an eye where we will live in glory for the rest of eternity with the eternal Son of God.[33] This is our great hope.

FOOTNOTES:


[1] Matthew 26:63-64, ESV

[2] John MacArthur importantly notes that tearing one’s clothes in the Jewish culture was a display of deep grief. However, the High Priest was forbidden to tear his clothes, except in the case of blasphemy allowed by the Talmud. MacArthur also points out that Caiaphas’ grief is as phony as the charge of blasphemy is. See John MacArthur, The MacArthur New Testament Commentary, (Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2007), 90, 26:65.

[3] See Hank Hanegraaff, Christianity in Crisis (Harvest House Publishers, 1997), 44 & 320.

[4] See Robert Reymond, A New Systematic Theology of the Christian Faith (Thomas Nelson, 1998), 324

[5] See Robert L. Dabney, Systematic Theology (Banner of Truth, 1985), Trinity Chapter, no page number.

[6] If the Son of God, was the brother of Lucifer, he would be a created being and although existing longer than the earth and humans, he would still be created and not divine and not eternal as this paper argues. Mixing Jesus’ divinity and his eternality disallows any argument that Jesus is an angel. See Hank Hanegraaff, Christianity in Crisis (Harvest House Publishers, 1997), 44 & 320.

[7] See footnote 6 in regard to Jesus being considered an angel. This argument has no foundation in Biblical study as proved in this paper. See Hank Hanegraaff, Christianity in Crisis (Harvest House Publishers, 1997), 44.

[8] See Hank Hanegraaf, The Bible Answer Book Volume 2 (J Countryman, 2006), 136-139.

[9] See John MacArthur, Reexamining the Eternal Sonship of Christ”. (Journal of Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, Volume 6, no. 1, 2001)

[10] John 8:52-59

[11] See Thomas Schreiner, “New Testament Theology (Baker Academic, 2008), 248-249.

[12] See Thomas Schreiner, “New Testament Theology (Baker Academic, 2008), 253.

[13] Per Robert Culver’s analysis of the grammar, “’Was’ renders genestahi, second aorist of ginomai (simple past, here), and means he became, he came to be…This phrase marks a timeless existence. If Jesus would have used ‘Before Abraham was, I was,’ it would only express simple priority” and not deity. See Robert Culver, Systematic Theology: Biblical and Historical (Mentor Christian Focus Publishers, 2005), 496.

[14] See Robert Culver, Systematic Theology: Biblical and Historical (Mentor Christian Focus Publishers, 2005), 496.

[15] See Donald Guthrie, New Testament Theology (Inter-varsity Press, 1961), 89.

[16] See Isaiah 6:1-5, Revelation 5.

[17] Schreiner’s discussion of the word “morphe” translated as “form” is very helpful in understanding what form the Son of God was in before the incarnation. See text and footnotes from Thomas Schreiner, “New Testament Theology” (Baker Academic, 2008), 324-325.

[18] Schreiner makes major progress in the argument of the pre-existence of Christ in his analysis of this passage. See Thomas Schreiner, “New Testament Theology” (Baker Academic, 2008), 325.

[19] See Thomas Schreiner, “New Testament Theology” (Baker Academic, 2008), 325.

[20] See Donald Guthrie, “New Testament Theology” (Inter-Varsity Press, 1981), 314.

[21] See Geerhardus Vos’ discussion regarding the Angel of the Lord as evidence of the preexistence of Christ. Geerhardus Vos, “Biblical Theology” (Banner of Truth Trust, 1975), 74-75.

[22] Dr. Waldron correctly argues that subordination in operation and subsistence should not be classified as “Suborninationism”, which is a false doctrine that creates doubt, squeamishness, and avoidance by evangelical teachers today. Waldron suggests that we should not shy away from this important doctrine of the Trinity.  See Samuel Waldron, “A Modern Exposition of the 1689 Baptist Confession of Faith” (Evangelical Press, 1989), 57.

[23] See Samuel Waldron, “A Modern Exposition of the 1689 Baptist Confession of Faith” (Evangelical Press, 1989), 57.

[24] The KJV, NASB, and many others translate “monogenes” in the other New Testament passages, John 1:14, 18, 3:18, and 1 John 4:9 as “begotten” as well.

[25] See John MacArthur, Reexamining the Eternal Sonship of Christ”. (Journal of Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, Volume 6, no. 1, 2001).

[26] See footnote 24.

[27] See Donald Guthrie, “New Testament Theology” (Inter-Varsity Press, 1981), 313.

[28] See John MacArthur, Reexamining the Eternal Sonship of Christ”. (Journal of Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, Volume 6, no. 1, 2001).

[29] Other examples of the Angel of the Lord worth considering are: the story of Gideon in Judges 6, Hagar in Genesis 16, 22, 24, 31, possibly Numbers 20 as well due to verses 32, 35, and 38.

[30] Other barren women in the Bible are Abraham’s wife Sarah (Gen 16), Isaac’s wife Rebekah (Gen 25), Jacob’s wife Rachel (Gen 30), Samuel’s mother Hannah (1 Sam 1), David’s wife Michal (2 Sam 6), and John the Baptists mother Elizabeth (Luke 1).

[31] See Geerhardus Vos’ discussion regarding the Angel of the Lord as evidence of the preexistence of Christ. Geerhardus Vos, “Biblical Theology” (Banner of Truth Trust, 1975), 73.

[32] See Romans 8:34, Hebrews 7:25,  1 John 2:1, 2 Corinthians 5:16-21

[33] See 1 Corinthians 15:12-58 Romans 8:14-25, Galatians 4:4-7.

About abidingthroughgrace

Married with kids, work as CEO of Engineering Firm, I am Reformed in faith and Baptistic in flavor, I hold to the 5 Solas, TULIP, and currently studying Systematic and Practical Theology at Reformed Baptist Seminary.

24 comments on “A Case for the Pre-Existence of the Son of God

  1. An excellent, well-written thesis on the eternal sonship of Jesus Christ. Thank you for sharing this with our readers. Every blessing as you continue your seminary studies.

  2. Wonderful article ATG! Logically and biblically presented as always, thank you for sharing this with us!

  3. Thank you, gentleman.

  4. excellent article.. I do have a question tho, is the view that Christ “began” at His birth in Bethlehem the usual view? I’ve always assumed they (being most who believe He was created) thought he was created before the creation of the world.. or am I wrong? again great article.

  5. Call me a simplistic moron, but isn’t that what John 1 has always clearly stated?
    Perhaps we should depend less on the traditions handed down to us from mortal men, and depend more on the Work of the Holy Spirit who too also always was, is and will be.
    Never the less thanks brother for your dilligent work!

  6. Excellent article clearly speaking from Scripture. In this day we must begin from the beginning and teach again and again the basics: who God is, who Christ is, who the Holy Spirit is, and who we are in Christ. Sadly, our “evangelical” churches have been content with baby food for decades, and the mainstream, liberal denominations long ago departed from teaching the historic faith as handed down to us by Jesus Himself and the apostles. So we are weak-minded, soft, and thoroughly bamboozled by the heresies that have hounded the Body of Christ since the first century.

    Unfortunately, Christ does not release us from responsibility. We who have access to the Truth must “go hard after Christ”, and refuse to bow the knee to those who take the convenient, modern, “gospels that are no gospels” and proclaim them. We answer only to Christ Jesus Himself, who is, was, and always will be Lord of All.

    May you be richly empowered to continue to declare the Truth. In the strength of His Spirit, we go out to “proclaim from the rooftops what” He “whispers in our ears.”

    A. Brother
    The Narrow Gate

  7. A. Brother, Thanks for the kind words!

    Tom, thanks for reading and thank you for your question. I think that the “typical” or “normal” view for a Christian would be that Christ existed as the Son as part of the Trinity/Godhead before time began. He was never created because He always existed as God…as the Son. Same as the Holy Spirit always existing before time began.

    I wrote this article mostly in regard to those like TD Jakes who believe in Modalism, which teaches that Jesus is the Father and is the Holy Spirit in different manifestations and no 2 exist at the same time. Jakes has actually taught the Trinity is a from of polytheism. I also wrote it in regard to other religions such as Mormonism or Jehovah Witness who claim the name of Jesus, but teach that he was not God. This of course is a huge dividing factor between us and them…between Christianity and cult.

    Finally, there is a section of the Christian faith that will teach that the Son was “generated” for the first time at the incarnation. This view is rare, but it occurs.

    In Christ’s Love,
    -atg

  8. Thanks again. I appreciate the response, and for clearing that up.

  9. great article and thoughts!
    so important today to know what you believe and to “tremble” regading His Word!
    Thanks

  10. May I add that Dr. Bruce Ware has an excellent book on the Trinity. He teaches Sunday school at the church that Dr. Tom Schreiner is the teaching pastor.
    ATG, your article and sources are really good!
    Thanks,
    pam

  11. Very well done!

    May I use this as an outline for a Sunday school lesson in a couple weeks (all credit to you of course!) ??

  12. Wayne Dawg,

    Thanks for the kind words. Yes, you can use this article for an outline. I’d be fine with that. If you want to discuss further or have my official info for reference can talk over email.

    In the Love of Christ,
    -atg

  13. Interesting article. I had been led to believe that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints were the only ones who believe in the pre-existence. I was therefore confused to see you list this church as one who does not believe in the pre-existence of Christ. We believe that in the pre-existence God, our Heavenly Father. begat all of his spirit children. Therefore, we are all brothers and sisters because we are all children of our Heavenly Father. The first and greatest offspring of our Heavenly Father was Jesus Christ. As spirit children of our Heavenly Father we are born to earthly parents where our spirits are joined together with our physical or mortal bodies, thus resulting in the soul. (The spirit and body joined together.) Christ was born of the mortal Mary, and
    God our Heavenly Father . Thus Jesus Christ was both mortal because of his mother and immortal and God because of his Father. Jesus Christ while on the earth taught the Gospel and established His church. He suffered through the Atonement wherein he took upon him the sins of the world. He died and was ressurected thus makining it possible for all of Heavenly Fathers children who are born to this earth to be forgiven of theri sins, be ressurected, and retrun and be allowed to live forever with God, our Heavenly Father.

    I know their are differences of belief between the Protestants, Catholics, and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, but the belief in the Atonement of Jesus Christ is one we all share. It is only in and through Jesus Christ that we may return to live with our Heavenly Father.

  14. John,

    The doctrine you hold to is NOT the same as what we believe. The LDS teach essentially that God the Father had sexual relations with one of his own daughters, Mary, in order to give physical birth to another one of God’s spirit children. This teaching also puts us and Satan in the same category as Jesus Christ, namely, that we are all on equal footing with Jesus Christ. This is heresy and damnable teaching.

    Jesus Christ is NOT a spirit child born out of incest. He IS the eternal Son of God. He has ALWAYS existed co-equal with God the Father and God the Holy Spirit. The ONLY way that a human being will ever be a true child of God is not through some mystical means whereby we were in a preexistent state that came through God the Father having celestial sex with one of His many wives.

    The ONLY way a person will be a true child of God is by grace through faith alone in the finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross at Calvary. We do NOT share the same belief in the atonement either, because the LDS teach that which is contrary to the Word of God. Your church sadly even teaches that in some cases the blood of Jesus Christ was NOT sufficient to atone for the sins of mankind. This is why the LDS have long held to a teaching known as blood atonement.

    Jesus Christ is GOD. He is not “a god.” He was NOT a spirit child born of incest. He is very God and very man. He is and always will be eternal. He and Satan are NOT spirit brothers.

    John, we do not hate LDS here any more than we hate Catholics, JW’s, Buddhists, or anybody else. The truth is that there is ONLY way to heaven, not many roads which eventually wind up in the same place. To think that the origin of Jesus Christ can be merely relegated to a sexual tryst is heresy of the greatest nature. Paul said in Galatians 1 that if any person, or even an angel (like Moroni) preach a different gospel, they are to be accursed. Our prayer is that Mormons, Catholics, Buddhists, Muslims, and yes, even Protestants will realize their need of a Saviour and understand that their total depravity has separated them from God.

    TJM

  15. To the jungle missionary:
    You are very hung up on sex and the sex acts of mortals. The precise details of how spirit children are created is not known or taught. We simply believe we are children of our Heavenly Father.

    The scriptures simply state that Mary was over shaddowed by the Holy Ghost and them was with child. No details are given. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day saints does not teach any further details than the account in the New Testament. Christ often taught about His Father, and always paid deference to Him.

    Christ taught, and we believe, that all sins will be forgiven with two exceptions. They being murder, wherein innocent blood is shed and denial of the Holy Ghost. The so called blood atonement is not part of our doctrine and is not taught. And yes, I know Brigham Young spoke on that subject. The point I believe you are missing is that simply because an individual, even the prophet comments on a subject does not make it doctrine. To be doctrine, a subject must be received and approved by the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. Unless that happens, it is just a persons opinion. Anything stated is measured against the standard of the scriptures.

    Throwing out inflamatory words like “incest” and “sexual tryst” are wrong, misleading, and unproductive. You will never hear those words in any LDS church setting in the context you presented. They are simply not part of the doctrine.

    There are differences in beliefs on the nature and origin of Jesus Christ, but there is no disagreement that he is the only way to achieve salvation through his Atonemement.

  16. John,

    My hang up is not on the sex of mortals, but was merely statements revealing the truth of what your prophets have declared to be church teachings. This has been done over and over, whether it is celestial sex, or the belittling of women by means of polygamy or the “joy” of being eternal baby producers on some nonexistent world. The words I used will NEVER be used in an LDS stake because such words reveal the reality of Joseph Smith dreamed. However, they are legitimate words and under any other circumstances would be described as such by any person with a strong sense of biblical morality. If a person standing on the street corner said that a father had a child by one of his own children, even the world describes this as incest. There is no doubt in one’s mind what is being referred to and certainly no doubt as to how that baby came into existence. Those words may not be used but sadly they are part of the historical records of your religion. A religion comes along that was founded based on the lies of one man who was totally obsessed with sex with many women, including underage girls, and women married to other men, and somehow these teachings can be smoothed over and accepted in a gentler context. Brigham Young himself in comments that have yet to be rejected by any president or prophet since stated that the “flesh and blood” Father God had relations with his wives just as humans do in this existence. Afraid you cannot get away from that. A thorn by any other name is still a thorn.

    As for the blood atonement, it has been taught as Mormon doctrine and upheld by many of your prophets and teachers. Your own history and the teachings of the prophets are very clear on this matter as well as on the doctrine of celestial marriage, baptism for the dead (even if the dead is not a Mormon and was a clear evil reprobate), and the denigration of the entire race of peoples who have been “cursed” with black skin for the evil they did in their preexistent lives. John, I am sorry that the LDS religion has been of such that one prophet can deny the works and words of another prophet. They can and have been and continue to be inconsistent in the teachings of doctrines which continue to change in what seems like a chance to be in tune with the world around them. For example, had there been no outcry over the teachings against people with black skin, I doubt that the “new ruling” in 1978 would have been forthcoming.

    I would kindly submit that each doctrine be submitted to the truth of God’s only infallible, inerrant writings known as the Holy Scriptures, the Bible, the Word of God. If it does not line up with Scripture, then it is to be condemned as heresy. For example, Jesus Christ NEVER taught that the sin of shedding innocent blood was an unforgiveable sin. Had it been an unforgiveable sin, then every single human would never have the opportunity to know the joy of eternal salvation because it was our sins that placed Jesus Christ on the cross. The LDS religion does not hold to the truth of Scripture when it comes to the atonement because your religion teaches that the atonement took place mainly in the Garden of Gethsemane and NOT upon the cross. This is also heresy for the Bible makes it clear that the atonement ONLY took place on the cross.

    May I recommend that you spend time to read through our blogsite and see the truth of Scripture. Again, our desire is not for people to think we hate them, but that we hate the religions of the world that damn the precious souls of men and women to a Christ-less eternity. This is true whether LDS, Catholic, Buddhist, Islam, or even a Protestantism that teaches contrary to Scripture.

    TJM

  17. John – the atonement that LDS believes in cannot be the same as biblical Christianity, simply because we do not worship the same Jesus. In LDS theology, Jesus is a finite, created being who attained godhood thru obedience to Mormon doctrine and his death and ressurection. This Jesus is not eternal, not perfect and could only ever have been responsible for his own sins. Yet Mormon theology teaches that by adherence to LDS teachings, as best as one is able, one can obtain forgiveness thru Jesus’ death, as it will cover what you cannot. This is NOT the same atonement.

    Christian theology, as described in the Bible, declares that Jesus is the eternal Son of God. He always existed, there was never a time He did not exist. He created all things. Without Him nothing that was made was made. He is perfect in all ways, never sinning once in thought, word or deed. He came to earth, already God, and took on human flesh, becoming fully God and fully man. He lived a life of complete, perfect adherence to the law of God, something none of us can do. He willingly suffered and died at the hands of men so that He could bear the wrath of His Father, the righteous judgment all of us deserve for sinning against the One who created us. In doing so, He made it possible for His righteousness to be freely given to us, and He willingly took on all of our sins. By turning from a lifestyle of sin and trusting in the completed work of Jesus alone (not my own pitiful works, but in His divine, perfect work) I can receive salvation from my sins.

    Therefore, our beliefs on the atonement are completely foreign to each other and are not the same.

  18. John:

    You said,

    “The scriptures simply state that Mary was over shaddowed by the Holy Ghost and them was with child. No details are given. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day saints does not teach any further details than the account in the New Testament.”

    I think you need to study your LDS history, as Mormonism has in fact taught on this very subject, even including providing this little illustration to help you better understand.

    Then there’s the actual teachings:

    “The man Joseph, the husband of Mary, did not, that we know of, have more than one wife, but Mary the wife of Joseph had another husband. On this account infidels have called the Savior a bastard. This is merely a human opinion upon one of the inscrutable doings of the Almighty. That very babe that was cradled in the manger, was begotten, not by Joseph, the husband of Mary, but by another Being. Do you inquire by whom? He was begotten by God our heavenly Father. This answer may suffice you—you need never inquire more upon that point.” (Journal of Discourses, vol. 11, p. 268)

    “The Father came down and begat him, the same as we do now…” (The Complete Discourses of Brigham Young, vol. 1, p. 321; February 16, 1849, Salt Lake City)

    “Christ was begotten by an immortal Father in the same way that mortal men are begotten by mortal fathers.” (Mormon Doctrine, 1966, p. 547)

    “I believe the Father came down from heaven, as the Apostles said he did, and begat the Saviour of the world; for he is the only-begotten of the Father, which could not be if the Father did not actually beget him in person.” (Journal of Discourses, vol. 1, p. 238)

    “The birth of the Saviour was as natural as are the births of our children; it was the result of natural action. He partook of flesh and blood – was begotten of his Father, as we were of our fathers.” (Journal of Discourses, vol. 8, p. 115)

    “In relation to the way in which I look upon the works of God and his creatures, I will say that I was naturally begotten; so was my father, and also my Saviour Jesus Christ. According to the Scriptures, he is the first begotten of his father in the flesh, and there was nothing unnatural about it.” (Journal of Discourses, 8:211)

    “As God the Father begat the fleshly body of Jesus, so He, before the world began, begat his spirit. As the body required an earthly Mother, so his spirit required a heavenly Mother. As God associated in the capacity of a husband with the earthly mother, so likewise he associated in the same capacity with the heavenly one; earthly things being in the likeness of heavenly things; and that which is temporal being in the likeness of that which is eternal; or, in other words, the laws of generation upon the earth are after the order of the laws of generation in heaven” (The Seer, pp. 158-9; cf. B. H. Roberts, Defense of the Faith and the Saints, vol 2, p. 270)


    I could go on, but I think that’s sufficient.

    Additionally, you said,

    “the belief in the Atonement of Jesus Christ is one we all share. “

    This, too, is also not a true statement. Mormonism can’t even get the location of the atonement correct; teaching that it took place in the Garden of Gethsemane and teaching that King David still had to pay for his sins in Hell.

    And finally, the current attempts at trying to downplay the LDS teaching of Blood Atonement is also dishonest as revealed by your own organization’s many teachings on the subject, not just Brigham Young’s teachings.

    Please, John, just be honest about the historical Mormon position on these issues.

  19. To thejunglemissionary, Chris Hohnhoz, and Pilgrim:

    Thank you for taking the time to respond to my comments concerning the pre-existence of Jesus Christ. I obviously don’t know any of you, but I hope your intentions were for my benefit, and not just to try to belittle my beliefs. All of you went well beyond the subject and brought up numerous other topics. I am not going to take the time to respond to each of these, as it is clear that this web site is not interested in having discussions on beliefs. In other words, it is your web site and your rules, and you can run it however you want. I will respect that. Or in still other words, it is your playground and you don’t want those with other beliefs playing here. Okay, I understand.

    However, there are two points I would like to respond to, and then I will stay out of your web site and not bother you further.

    First, thejunglemissionary implies, and Pilgrim states: “I think you need to study your LDS history…” I believe I have studied it more than any of you, though of course I have no way of knowing that for sure. I say this because nothing stated by any of you is new to me. I have seen and researched it all before, and simply do not concur with your conclusions. Your comments range from being absolutely true, to true but taken out of context, to totally false statements. I attribute that to a lack of understanding of the doctrine taught by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS), not to your conscientiously telling a falsehood. I believe you to be simply uninformed or misinformed about LDS doctrine, and the way doctrine is established in the LDS church. Though quite curious to me, the posting by Chris Hohnhoz, with a very few, though significant changes, could have been written by me or many other members of the LDS Church.

    The second and last topic I would like to address is the Atonement; specifically where or the venue of it. Pilgrim states: “Mormonism can’t even get the location of the atonement correct; teaching that it took place in the Garden of Gethsemane.” I, of course, cannot speak authoritatively for the LDS church, I am just an individual sharing beliefs, the same as the rest of you. That being said, I believe the statement quoted above by Pilgrim is not correct. I have never been taught, what Pilgrim stated, in six decades of attending services at the LDS church. I teach Sunday School in my local congregation, and last year our curriculum was the New Testament. (As an aside, in case you are not aware, the LDS Sunday School program has a four year curriculum cycle, which consists of one year on the Old Testament, one on the New Testament, one on the Book of Mormon, and one on the Doctrine and Covenants. The the cycle is then repeated.) In one of the lessons from the New Testament on the Atonement, we discussed the venues.

    What was taught in the lesson referenced above, and what I believe is the Atonement was a process that took place in three distinct venues or locations, with three distinct purposes. Collectively, they are the Atonement. Those locations being at the Garden of Gethsemane, on the cross at Golgotha, and at the tomb where the body of Jesus was lain.

    All four Gospels in the New Testament tell of Jesus going to the Garden of Gethsemane and there going through what He describes as being an agonizing experience; immediately before being arrested. The account in Luke I believe is the most descriptive, particularly Luke 22:44 which states: “And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly: and his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground.” It is in the Garden that I believe Christ performed the first of three critical elements of the Atonement. That being the place where he began the shedding of his own blood, and where he took upon Himself the sins of the world, thus causing Him great agony.

    The second location or venue was on the cross. This was necessary for Him to complete prophecy and to lay down His life. I believe it is important to recognize He laid down or gave up His life. It was not taken from Him, He voluntarily gave it up. As being both mortal and immortal, He had the power to both lay down his life, and take it up again (John 10:17).

    The third venue was at the tomb where he was resurrected. Through His resurrection he broke the bands of death, and made it possible for all to be resurrected (1 Corinthians 15:12-14).

    For the sake of discussion, let’s assume I am correct and the Atonement is as I described above, and was a process that took place over a relatively short period of time in three locations. Does that in any way diminish the greatest event that has happened for mankind? I don’t believe so, nor does it in any way make less His infinite and eternal sacrifice. Now let’s assume that I am not correct, and the Atonement only took place on the cross. If that were the case, then it does not change my appreciation for His infinite and eternal sacrifice for me personally and for all mankind.

    Regardless of the details of the Atonement. Whether I am correct, or you are correct, or neither interpretation is correct, I believe we should all be eternally grateful to our Lord and Saviour for his Atoning sacrifice for ourselves personally, and for all mankind.

    Well that is quite enough for one posting. I know I am not welcome, or at least not wanted on your web site, and I accept that as being fair. After all it is yours not mine. I won’t bother you with anymore postings. I do, however, wish there was a site where we could discuss the topics raised in your postings and our religious beliefs in general. A site where a single topic could be discussed to further mutual understanding, and then move on to another. There are many beliefs I have seen on yours and other web sites that I personally cannot reconcile with my reading of the Bible. Not that I am naive enough to believe that anyone would change their minds, but I would enjoy understanding the premise behind beliefs that I find confusing and conflicting. Perhaps I will one day find a site like that.

    And with that my friends I will bid you all a good day.

  20. John Wilson,

    Yes, you DO need to really study the history of the LDS and of Joseph Smith. I have studied the history since leaving the LDS in 1972, and I find it difficult to believe anyone can do a thorough study and still believe anything about the LDS religious beliefs to be factual. The fact that the Book of Mormon is easily proven to be the product of the imagination of Joseph Smith, and the fact that Smith is easily proven to be a false prophet should be enough in and of themselves for everyone to look at the LDS faith as fraudulent.

    You claim that this post has comments that are out of context and some that are totally false. I have seen neither. I do not have a lack of understanding of the LDS, having once been a member, and after leaving the church I made it my goal to reach as many Mormons with the truth as possible, and have studied just about every facet of the LDS for almost 40 years.

    The fact that even “part of the atonement” took place in the Garden makes Pilgrim’s statement correct, since biblically NO PART took place there. However, I will submit that this error in understanding the Atonement is insignificant in the overall problem of LDS doctrine. The fact that the LDS Christ is not the same identity as found in Scripture is a much greater problem, for the LDS Christ does not exist except in the minds of LDS members. He is a false god, an idol.

  21. Good job ATG. Thank you for the time and study you put into this weighty subject.

    Can you elucidate on one thing? Why the relationship of “Father” and “Son,” and why not another type of relationship? Not sure if you know, but I am curious.

    Thanks.

  22. Pilgrim,

    That is a great question and it has a couple of components:

    1) Adam was God’s son through creation who sinned and was a shadow of the real son to come
    2) Jesus came through the physical lineage of Adams line all the way to David, then all the way to Joseph/Mary…he was born of a woman, thus a son, but the lineage is all part of the types and shadows that are ultimately fulfilled in Christ. Essentially as the God-man he was a son to Mary and a son to God…then opening up the references of God as Father in the N.T. This is also part of the prophecy in Ps 2.
    3) In the nation of Israel’s cultural sonship was a key thing. Son’s were known as equal their fathers (John 5:18 reference & anger of the pharisees) and sons received the inheritance of the fathers seen through all the Jacob/Esau & lineage of the kings, etc. all again as types and shadows of what is ultimately fulfilled in Christ in the age to come.

    I think these are the main reasons. I hope this helps.

    In God’s eternal grace,
    -atg

  23. Good article on this subject that has been discussed recently in the ER2 Fiasco. I would like to ask a question though.. I did not know John MacArthur did not believe that the Son eternally existed before his before in Bethelham. I guess a couple of questions.

    1. Among James White and others this understanding is key towards a Christian’s view on Christ and their standing among salvation or knowing the true Christ. If I’m understanding James White’s view on this understanding of Christ correctly… was John MacArthur worshiping the true Christ prior to 2001?

    2. Did John MacArthur write any books on Christ’s nature prior to 2001? If he did, did he remove all the books regarding this subject and also the royalties from these, if he received any?

    3. How did this affect his sheperding after this, knowing that he taught an incorrect view on who Christ is and the affect on the congregation who may still be living and those who have passed?

    I listen to John MacArthur sometimes and his teaching is edifying on many occasions. Just wondering about this. If this was discussed during that time (2001) which I’m sure was…could you point me to any resources that possibly answered my questions above. Thanks.

  24. CPCIV,

    Thanks for reading. In response to your questions above:

    1. I would say that this view was not required for salvation. We see over 60 times in John and 1 John that we are to believe in the Son, the one sent, Jesus…and we’ll have eternal life. It doesn’t say we must be expert theologians. Our views will change as we grow and learn. So I would say MacArthur was worshiping the true Christ and was off on this and other points. The opposing view that he held is still held by other solid Christian theologians.

    2. Yes he did write them and I have no knowledge of removal or editing. I suspect he probably would edit them if necessary. But I don’t know any specifics in this.

    3. Also, I have no information in this regard, however I believe the article in which he repents of that position is very serious and heartfelt. Again I don’t believe this is a “salvation issue” in that it is very far into the weeds of Biblical interpretation and other positions can be articulated from the same passages. I would not assume that he taught this in a way that would have led his congregation to believe in a false Jesus.

    Continue to listen to John MacArthur. He is a wonderful teach and IS very very good on 90% of Christian doctrine. I hope that helps.

    In His Grace,
    -atg

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