ACID TEST OF TRUE FAITH
By Pastor Max Solbrekken, D.D.
"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. All things were made by Him and without Him was not anything made that was made. In Him was life and the life was the light of men.
“Which were born, not of blood, nor the will of the flesh, nor the will of man, but of God. And the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth." (John 1: 1- 4, 13, 14)
There is a serious MISUNDERSTANDING among many Bible scholars and preachers due to an incorrect translation of John 3: 13, which says, “Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, but of God.”
Most Bibles have us believing that this Scripture text is referring to those who receive Christ, because of the plural “which” when in fact, the original Greek uses the singular “He” which refers to Christ!
This passage must be taken in context with the rest of the Scripture text about Jesus the Word of God; not about believers. It is about JESUS OF NAZARETH – Not about us! The Bible states: “He (Christ) was in the world and the world was made by Him, and the world knew Him not. He came unto His own and His own received Him not.
This is the proper translation: “But as many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God, even unto them that believe on His name. He (Jesus) was born not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. And the WORD was made flesh and dwelt among us. And we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.” (John 3: 14)
TERTULLIAN SETS THE RECORD STRAIGHT!
Quintus Septimius Florens Tertullianus (160-220 A.D.) of Carthage Africa known as Tertullian, was an early Christian author who was martyred for his faith. He stated: “The blood of the martyrs has become the seed of the church.”
In his book, ‘The Incomparable Christ’ (1902) - which I have enjoyed for decades - J. Oswald Sanders brings out a truth that has eluded far too many theologians and preachers for hundreds of years!
He states: “Samuel Zwemer commenting on John 3:14, writes: ‘Here those who believe the Word are those ‘who were begotten, not of bloods, nor of the will of the flesh, nor the will of man, but of God’.
‘But according to the express testimony of TERTULLIAN there was an early second-century reading of this text which had the singular instead of plural. It would then read, ‘He (Christ) was begotten not of bloods, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.’
“In his de Carne Christi Tertullian wrote; ‘I shall make more use of this passage after I have confronted those who have tampered with it. They maintain it was written in the plural, as if designating those who before mentioned as believing on His name.
‘But how can this be when all who believe… are by virtue of the will of the flesh and of the will of man? - as indeed as Valentinus himself. The expression is in the singular, as referring to the Lord. He was born of God … As flesh, however, He is not of bloods, nor of the will of man, because it was by the will of God that the Word was made flesh.’
“In his Confessions, ST. AUGUSTINE quotes John 3:14 in the singular in reference to Christ’s Virgin Birth, as follows: ‘Also I found there that God the Word was born not of blood, nor of the will of a husband, nor of the will of the flesh, but of God.”
St. Paul wrote under the inspiration of the Blessed Holy Spirit thus: “But when the fullness of the time was come, God sent forth His Son, made of a woman, made under the law.” (Gal.4:4)
Commenting on this verse, J. Oswald Sanders writes: “In this chapter he uses the word “born” three times, but in speaking of Christ’s birth he uses a different word (made) from the implied when speaking of Ishmael and Isaac.” (Gal.4: 23, 29)
CULTS PREACH A DIMINISHED JESUS!
It is not surprising that Satan tried to diminish the stature of Jesus Christ early on by involving an old JW-New-Modernist tampering with the Holy Scriptures. What does surprise me is that for hundreds of years theologians have missed what is OBVIOUS, that Jesus of Nazareth was not born of human blood nor the will of either Joseph or Mary but of GOD and by HIS will alone!
Every one of us were born by the will of our fathers and mothers and carry our father’s blood in our veins. To force a Scripture text to mean something different than it was meant is totally wrong! Let me repeat, by using this Scripture text to prove that sinners are born again by the will of God and not of man may sound good to naïve Christians, but that is not what this Scripture says! This is a foundational doctrine which refers to Jesus of Nazareth alone!
THE ONLY BEGOTTEN SON OF GOD!
The Bible states: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only Begotten Son that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16)
Right from the very beginning, SATAN has had his loyal humanistic minions on board, to pervert the sacred Scriptures. They come in a variety of knowing and unknowing fellow travellers, but his main goal is to weaken the faith of believers and to give false cults the ammunition they desire in gaining converts, through tampering with the Scriptures!
Hundreds of false cults have arisen through that method of deception, among them the Jehovah’s Witnesses, Mormons and Christian Scientists. Their main deception is that Jesus of Nazareth was not truly God in the flesh, that He is a lesser god, an arch angel or something else.
According to Holy Scripture, those who REJECT the Deity of Jesus Christ cannot and will not be saved, unless they repent of that grievous SIN of unbelief and blasphemy:
“Hereby ye know the Spirit of God: Every Spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God: and every spirit that confesses not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is NOT of God: and this is that SPIRIT of ANTICHRIST, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world.” (1 John 4: 2, 3)
Presently, there are more than seven billion people alive and we have all come in the flesh, born naturally of a mother and father. Although childbirth is a miraculous phenomenon that happens every second around the world, Jesus of Nazareth was conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary. He was incarnated, God in human flesh!
IN THE BOSOM OF THE FATHER!
All those who reject Jesus Christ as God the Son Who came to this earth to save lost humanity by the Sacrifice of Himself and to meet the demands of Divine Justice, will not be saved. And all those who receive Him as the Christ the King, their Saviour and Lord will be saved!
When the Eternal Son of God was born of a human mother without the aid of a human father that is the miracle of INCARNATION, meaning ‘God in human flesh’.
Jesus Christ was True God and True Man while He walked this earthly sod! The Holy Bible states: “No man hath seen God at any time; the ONLY BEGOTTEN SON, which is in the BOSOM of the Father, He hath declared Him.” (John 1: 18) The Apostle John was a young man who had absolute faith in Jesus of Nazareth. He was the closest to our Lord and is called the “disciple whom Jesus loved.” (John 20: 2; 21:20)
"Now there was leaning on Jesus' BOSOM one of His disciples, whom Jesus loved." (John 13: 23). John understood the fact that Jesus had come from God and is always in the "Bosom of the Father."
What that term means is, that the relationship between Jesus of Nazareth and His Heavenly Father had NOT been broken when He was incarnated to die as God's Pascal Lamb for the sins of the world! He was still in His Father and the Father was still in Him through the Blessed Holy Spirit!
Dr. Henry Morris writes: “In that wonderful O.T. prophecy about His coming human birth in Bethlehem (Micah 5: 2) we are told that His ‘goings forth from the bosom of the Father.’ As noted in John 1: 18, He was still in the bosom of the Father” even while He was on earth manifesting the Father. These truths are beyond our full comprehension, of course, for they are all part of the great mystery of the Triune God.”
GOD THE SON FROM ETRNITY!
Concerning Micah 5: 2, the Pulpit Commentator states: “Whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting…The Fathers see in it a declaration of the eternal generation of the Son: He who was born in time at Bethlehem hath an eternal existence…
“To Christians, who believe in the mystery of the Holy Trinity, the plural would express the continual generation of the Son from the Father from everlasting and to everlasting, never beginning and never ending; as the Council of Lateran says, "Without beginning ever and without end, the Father begetting, the Son being born (nascens), and the Holy Ghost proceeding."
The bosom is where the heart is and from which Love is generated. The BOSOM is a place of rest and peace. The name of God, El Shaddai has the meaning, "the Breasted One". He is our sustenance and nourishment. He feeds, heals and keeps His mighty hand of protection and love upon us!
The union between God the Father and His Only Begotten Son during His earthly ministry is a Mystery. Some misguided theologians believe that Jesus emptied Himself completely during His incarnation, but that would have destroyed the UNITY of the Godhead.
That teaching is not biblical. It is spurious and utter nonsense! How could Jesus, Who was TRUE God from eternity and TRUE man by His Virgin Birth, suddenly no longer be God?
The Bible says that He created the worlds and keeps the solar system functioning perfectly by His WORD. If He abdicated the throne for three years, there would no longer be a cosmos or a liveable earth!
“God … hath in these last days spoken unto us by His Son, Whom He had appointed heir of all things, by also He made the worlds; Who being the brightness of His glory, and the express image of His Person, and upholding all things by the Word of His power, when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on High.” (Heb: 1-3)
JESUS WAS FULLY GOD & FULLY MAN!
Jesus Christ never stopped being God the Son! He was in the BOSOM of His Father from Eternity, during His INCARNATION (God in human flesh) and is now and forevermore! During His time on earth, He was Fully God and Fully Man!
St. Paul stated: “Jesus (Who) being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made Himself of no reputation, and took upon Him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: and being found in fashion of a man, He humbled Himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.” (Phil.2: 6-8)
Jesus CONCEALED His divinity even to His disciples for a time, so that He could finish His work before His sacrificial death for us all. His true identity was revealed to Peter, James and John on the Mount of transfiguration, when Almighty God stated: “This is My Beloved Son, in Whom I am well pleased. Hear ye Him.” (Matt.17:5)
The Bible records: “And (He) was transfigured before them: and His face did shine as the sun, and His raiment was white as the light... and when the disciples heard it, they fell on their face, and were sore afraid.
"And Jesus came and touched them, and said arise, Be not afraid....Jesus charged them, Tell the vision to no man, until the Son of man is risen again from the dead” (John 17: 2-9)
JESUS CONCEALED HIS DIVINITY!
JOHN CALVIN stated: “He continued to retain His divinity entire though it was concealed under the veil of flesh. There are good reasons why He enjoined His disciples to keep silence, til He be risen from the dead...And indeed, the disciples would not have believed it, if Christ had not given a more striking PROOF of His glory in the resurrection.
“But after that His divine power had been openly displayed that temporary exhibition of His glory began to be admitted so as to make it fully evident, that even during that time, that He emptied Himself.”
Jesus Christ never stopped being God the Son! He was in the BOSOM of His Father from Eternity, during His INCARNATION (God in human flesh) and is NOW and forevermore! During His time on earth, He was Fully God and Fully Man!
This same union exists between Jesus and “the sons of God” through the New Birth. He is in us and we are in Him. (1 John 3:1, 2; Rom.8:15-17). And in the Marriage Supper of the Lamb, between the Bride and the Bridegroom.
The Church is the Bride and Jesus is the Bridegroom. John the Baptist stated: “He that hath the bride is the bridegroom: but the friend of the bridegroom, which stands and heareth Him, rejoices greatly because of the Bridegroom’s voice: This my joy therefore is fulfilled.” (John 3:29)
JESUS is also pictured as the Good Shepherd. He said: “I am the Good Shepherd and know My sheep, and am known of Mine. As the Father knows Me, even so know I the Father: and I lay down My life for the sheep.” (John 10: 14, 15)
He told the parable of the sheep lost in the wilderness, which the shepherd searched for and found: “And when he had found it, he laid it upon his shoulders, rejoicing.” (Luke 15: 4-6)
The Bible states: “He shall feed His flock like a Shepherd: He shall gather the lambs with His arm, and carry them in His BOSOM, and shall gently lead those that are with young.” (Is.40:11)
Here is another Scripture that modernist theologians have used to diminish the truth of Jesus of Nazareth being fully God and fully man. And, unfortunately, many unknowing preachers have fallen for it!
"In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent His ONLY BEGOTTEN SON into the world, that we might live through Him." (I John 4:9). We have life though our Lord Jesus Christ, Whom God sent "to be the propitiation for our sins." (1 John 4: 10)
The word propitiation means satisfaction, covering and expiation. This means that the sacrificial all-atoning death of Jesus Christ, satisfied the Demands of Divine Justice to appease the wrath of God against the sins of a rebellious human race from the time of Adam.
THE ONLY BEGOTTEN SON OF GOD!
We find the unique phrase, "the only begotten Son", also in John 1: 14, 18; John 3:16 in the Authorized King James Version, New King James Version, Amplified and the New American Standard Bible. Unfortunately, most of the other versions have exchanged the original words to unique Son of God, only Son of God, One and only Son of God.
The Bible states: “"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. All things were made by Him; and without Him was not anything made that was made.” (John 1:1-3)
These verses inform us that Jesus Christ is the Creator of the worlds and all things therein! St. John states: “And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the ONLY BEGOTTEN OF THE FATHER, full of grace and truth.” (John 1:14)
Again St. John writes: “No man hath seen God at any time; the ONLY BEGOTTEN SON, which is in the bosom of the Father, He hath declared Him" (John 1:18)
DR. HENRY MORRIS states: “The Greek word for "only begotten" is monogenes, the very form of which clearly denotes "only generated." As monotheism connotes only one God and monosyllable means a word of only one syllable, so monogenes means only one genesis or only one generated--or, more simply, only begotten. It does not mean "one," or even "one and only." It is worth noting that, although Christ is called the Son, or Son of God, frequently in the New Testament, He is never (in the Greek original) called the "only" son of God.
The fact is, that to call Him the only Son of God would make the Bible contradict itself, for He is not the only Son of God, and certainly not the "one and only" Son of God. Angels are several times called the sons of God (e.g., Job 38:7) since they had no fathers, being directly created by God.
Likewise, Adam was called the son of God (Luke 3:38), because he was directly created. The same applies even to fallen angels (Genesis 6:2), and even to Satan (Job 1:6), because they also were created beings. The term is also used in a spiritual sense, of course, for those who have become "new creations" in Christ Jesus by faith (II Corinthians 5:17; Ephesians 2:10; etc.).
In this sense, we also are "sons of God" (e.g., I John 3:2) by special creation? not physically but spiritually. But it is never applied in this sense to Christ, for He is not a created son of God (as the Jehovah's Witnesses and other cultists teach), but a begotten Son of God -- in fact, the only begotten Son of God.
He never had a beginning, for He was there in the beginning (John 1:1). In His prayer to the Father in the upper room, He spoke of "the glory which I had with thee before the world was." (John 17:5).
BEHOLD, A VIRGIN SHALL CONCEIVE!
Nothing could be clearer than Dr. Henry Morris’ Commentary on the unique phrase “only begotten” which can used for Christ Jesus alone!
Seven hundred years before the incarnation of our Lord Jesus Christ, Isaiah prophesied His VIRGIN BIRTH: “Therefore the Lord Himself shall give you a sign; Behold a virgin shall conceive, and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel.” (Is. 7: 14)
St. Luke chronicles the glorious Christmas Story of Archangel Gabriel’s visit to a Jewish Virgin called Miriam (Mary) to inform her of God’s great plan of Redemption that would involve her.
He said: “Fear not, Mary: For thou hast found favour with God. And, behold thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a Son, and shalt call His name JESUS. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: And the Lord God shall give unto Him the throne of His Father David:
“And He shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of His Kingdom there shall be no end. Then said Mary unto the angel, How shall this be seeing I know not a man? And the angel answered and said unto her, 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 of thee shall be called the Son of God.” (Luke 1:28-35)
To confirm His Words to Mary, God sent His Angel to Joseph, her fiancé. Naturally. he was upset and confused at the news of Mary’s pregnancy.
JESUS CHRIST SAVIOUR SON OF GOD!
The Angel of God reassured him: “Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost. And she shall bring forth a Son, and thou shall call Him JESUS, for He shall save His people from their sins.
“Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying, Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a Son, and they shall call His name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.” (Matt.1:20-23)
John’s Gospel is about God the Son becoming a man through the INCARNATION (God in human flesh) which is the greatest miracle this world has ever witnessed. More than 700 years before His Virgin birth in Bethlehem, the prophet Isaiah made this prophetic utterance:
“Therefore the Lord Himself shall give you a sign, Behold a virgin shall conceive, and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel.” (Isaiah 7:14)
Leading Hebrew scholars state that “a virgin” is better read “the virgin”. The Hebrew definite article ha indicates that a specific woman is in view. The word virgin used here is the unique Hebrew term ‘almah.’ A comparison of the six other instances where it occurs (Gen.24:43; Ex. 2:8; Ps.68: 25; Prov. 30: 19. Song 1: 5, 8) shows that it is the most precise term the prophet could have chosen to indicate that the young woman in view was indeed a virgin. The more common word betulah is used twice to refer to a married woman (Deut.22: 19 and Joel 1: 8)
Thus the Septuagint Translation of ‘almah’ as Parthenos (virgin) is correct, as is Matthew 1:23. Shall conceive is a feminine adjective connected with an active participle (“bearing”) and should be translated “is pregnant”.
Thus the scene is present to the prophet’s view and he sees the pregnant virgin about to bear a Son. That this prophecy must refer to the virgin birth of Christ is obvious since the virgin is pregnant and is still a virgin. Immanuel is a symbolic name meaning God is with us. He is the incarnate Son of God Who is further pictured as the Christ-Prince in Isaiah 9:6. –Taken from Nelson Study Bible
NO-ONE ACCEPTED LUTHER’S CHALLENGE!
MARTIN LUTHER threw out this challenge: “If a Jew or a Christian or a Mohammedan can prove to me that in any other passage of Scripture ‘almah’ means a married woman, I will give him a hundred florins, although God only knows where I may find them.”
No-one took him up on his challenge!
Never in the history of mankind has a virgin given birth to a baby without a man’s seed through sexual intercourse or artificial insemination! Of such importance was the sign that God gave concerning the birth of His Son that the prophet emphasized: “The Lord Himself shall give you a sign.”
The Holy Scripture says: “Behold while he (Joseph) thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream saying, Joseph thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife; for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost.
“And she shall bring forth a Son, and thou shalt call His name JESUS: for He shall save His people from their sins. Now, all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the LORD by the prophet, saying, Behold a VIRGIN shall be with child, and shall bring forth a SON, and they shall call His name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, GOD WITH US.” (Matt.1: 20-25)
Jesus of Nazareth was born to die. He was born crucified! Facing the humiliation of the cross, He said: “Now is My soul troubled’ and what shall I say, save Me from this hour: but for this cause came I unto this hour.” (John 12: 27)
THE CRY OF THE SYNAGOGUE!
It was known as, 'The Cry of the Synagogue. Year after year, the Jewish Rabbi would stand outside the synagogue and cry out the words; ''Let one innocent come and make atonement for the guilty.'' What drove Jewish Rabbis to repeatedly cry out with such urgency for their long awaited Messiah to come? It was the ever present guilt of Sin!
Then one day, John the Baptist announced: ''Behold the Lamb of God which taketh away the sins of the world.'' (John 1:29). The 'Waiting' was over! The Innocent One had come!
Jesus of Nazareth was sinless in His conception, sinless in His birth, sinless in His life, sinless in His death, sinless in His resurrection, sinless in His ascension, sinless on His Father's Throne, and sinless for all eternity!
St. Paul wrote: “Wherefore He is able also to SAVE them to the uttermost that come unto God by Him, seeing He ever liveth to make intercession for them. For such an high priest became us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and made higher than the heavens.'' (Heb.7:25,26)
Were not their religious observance enough? They were not. Ever since the tragic fall of Adam and Eve and their expulsion from the Garden of Eden, every human being is born with a sin nature. We are sinners by birth, sinners by nature and sinners by choice!
St. Paul explains: “For Christ being come a high priest of good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this building. Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by His own BLOOD He entered in once into the Holy Place, having obtained eternal redemption for us.
“For if the blood of bulls and goats, and the ashes of a heifer sprinkling the unclean, sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh: How much MORE shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, PURGE your conscience from dead works to serve the Living God?'' (Heb.9:11-14)
“For I know that in me (that is my flesh) dwelleth no good thing:...it is no more I that do it, but SIN that dwelleth in me....O wretched man that I am! Who shall deliver me from the body of this death? I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.
''For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for SIN, condemned sin in the flesh: That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us who walk not after the flesh but after the Spirit.” ( Rom. 7: 18-25;8:1,2)
Through the vicarious death of Jesus Christ for us all on the CROSS and His glorious resurrection from the dead, we have been REDEEMED from the curse of the law and adopted by Jesus Christ our precious Lord and Saviour, as children of God! (Gal.3:13)
CHRIST HAS DIED! CHRIST IS RISEN! CHRIST WILL COME AGAIN!