The Glories of Christ
Gordon S. Beck, Belfast, N. Ireland [SEE PROFILE BELOW]
In this article we desire to bring before you the Saviour and some of the glories that are His who is, ‘far above all’, Eph. 4. 10, who, ‘filleth all in all’, Eph. 1. 23; and who is ‘all, and in all’, Col. 3. 11. For this purpose we must come to the inspired word of God for the Lord Jesus said of the scriptures, ‘they are they which testify of me,’ and must have the help of the Holy Spirit of God, for He alone can glorify Christ, taking of the things that are His and showing them unto us, see John 16. 14.
His deity declared in the eternity of His being
Firstly, let us consider Him who is from eternity; the One ‘whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting’, Micah 5. 2. Isaiah speaks of Him, not only as ‘the everlasting Father’, 9. 6, but as ‘the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity’, 57.15. In the first place, we have eternity dwelling in Christ; in the second, we have Him dwelling in eternity. The eternity of His being is most wonderfully revealed from Revelation chapter 1 verse 4. Here He says, ‘Grace be unto you, and peace, from Him which is, (present), and which was, (past), and which is to come, (future). Then He is ascribed as ‘Alpha and Omega’, the beginning and the ending, Rev. 1. 8.
In Hebrews chapter 13 verse 8 the Lord Jesus is presented as the eternal unchangeable Christ, ‘the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever’. The Saviour Himself declared His deity when He said, ‘Before Abraham was, I am’, John 8. 58. The study of the seven-fold occurrence of ‘I am’ in the Gospel by John is worthwhile, bringing before us, as it does, the deity of our blessed, adorable Lord again and again.
Another word which teaches us the eternity of His being is found in John chapter 16 verse 28, ‘I came forth from the Father, and am come into the world: again, I leave the world, and go to the Father’. The first part of this is prophesied by Isaiah when he said, ‘Unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given’. At the first He was ‘born as a child’; at the second it is as He ever was, ‘a Son given’. The One for whom there was no room in the inn at His birth, who found no place to lay His head in the days of His flesh, who was buried in the tomb of another at His death, is the same eternal One who created all things and for whose pleasure they were created, see Col. 1. 16; Rev. 4. 11.
His deity declared by Old Testament scripture
Again, we see His deity revealed in the Old Testament. Take Proverbs chapter 8 verses 22 to 31, where the voice of wisdom speaks, and the initiated will readily discern the spirit of Christ who on earth is revealed as the wisdom of God personified. Paul later puts it as, ‘Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God,’ 1 Cor. 1. 24. Someone might say that ‘wisdom’ in the book of Proverbs is in the feminine in the original Hebrew and so how can it speak of Christ? One of the most beautiful types of Christ in the Old Testament scriptures is found in the red heifer in Numbers 19. 2 and, of course, a heifer is feminine.
It was Isaiah who, by the Holy Spirit of God, foretold that the promised seed would be born into this world by a virgin; the true sign of Jehovah to His people, marking out the birth of Christ as supernatural. Isaiah says, ‘Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel’, Isa. 7. 14. The name, Immanuel means ‘God with us’, and He who was born in Bethlehem was ‘God manifest in the flesh’, 1. Tim. 3. 16. Mary, who was a virgin and remained so until her first natural conception, was the chosen vessel to bring into the world God’s Son. To her the message came by the heavenly messenger, ‘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. 35.
His deity is revealed as He speaks to His Father
Further testimony to His deity is found in that beautiful prayer to His Father and God as recorded in John chapter 17 verse 5, ‘And now, O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self with the glory which I had with Thee before the world was’. This should thrill our souls and fill our whole beings with worship and adoration as we think on the tremendous stoop which He, the eternal Son, took in order to be our Saviour. Unlike Satan, who aspired to exalt his throne above the stars of God, who was cut down and shall be brought down to hell, of our Lord Jesus Christ scripture says, ‘being in the form of God, thought it not robbery (margin: a thing to be grasped at) to be equal with God’. This equality with God was His by right, as the Son with the Father from the beginning, yet He came down, from the unparalleled splendours of eternal glory to the shameful death of the cross, see Phil. 2. 6-8. Dwelling in light unapproachable He came into this sin-benighted scene and was brought down into that untellable darkness of Calvary, when, as the sinbearer He was separated from His God. That we might be saved and live with Him in the splendours of heaven for ever, from the highest place in heaven, His dwelling place, He came in humiliation to die.
His deity demonstrated in His birth
We come now to the wonderful subject of His virgin birth; a profound truth that is being assailed on every hand today and even now disclaimed by the leaders of socalled Christendom. The birth of Christ was first foretold away back amidst the darkness of man’s fall and Satan’s seeming triumph. Then, along with the divine pronouncements of death and judgement as the awful consequence of sin, Satan is told of the deathblow that would be his by the seed of the woman. The message of hope is given to those who had sinned in the provision of skin coats, typifying the righteousness of God that is freely available to all who trust in the substitutional death of Christ who is the seed of the woman. It was ‘the man Christ Jesus’ who through death destroyed (marg: paralysed) him that had the power of death, that is, the devil; and deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage’, Heb. 2. 14-15. It was through the dying victim of Calvary Satan received his deathblow and by whom he will, for the duration of the millennium, be bound in the bottomless pit and ultimately, be cast into the ‘the lake of fire and brimstone’, Rev. 20. 10.
It is worth noting the term ‘holy’ as applied to the Son of God, Luke 1. 35. We have seen this holiness at His birth, Luke 1. 35, for although He came in a body of flesh and blood, ‘made like unto His brethren’, He was not born of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man; this is what set Him apart from all other men; and set apart, or separate, is the basic meaning of holiness, Ps. 4. 3. He was also holy in His life and service for God, according to the prophetic words, ‘Behold my servant, whom I uphold; mine elect, in whom my soul delighteth’, Isa. 42. 1. Finally, we see Him holy in His death, and as the anti-type of the sin offering of old twice over in the law of the sin-offering, God said to Israel, ‘the sin offering . . . is most holy’, Lev. 6. 25, 29. Only the holy, spotless Lamb of God could take away ‘the sin of the world’, John 1. 29, and we are lost in awed amazement that He who was most holy should be ‘made sin for us’, 2 Cor. 5. 21.
Now we see the hand of God in the birth of Christ. He who wrought on the clay and produced ‘the first man Adam’, likewise wrought on the virgin and produced ‘the last Adam’, ‘the Lord from heaven’, the Saviour of mankind. When Job asked the question, ‘Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean?’ the answer is ‘not one’, for we know that this is, naturally speaking, impossible. Yet, in the genealogy of the Lord Jesus we have three women who were naturally unclean, yet, in the matchless grace of God, are found in the royal line through whom came, according to the flesh, the holy, undefiled Son of God. Well might we exclaim, in the words of the hymn writer, ‘Hallelujah! What a Saviour!’
His deity seen in His life
Let us now for a moment look at the sinless life of the blessed Christ of God. At His birth He was the object of the worship of the wise men, who presented their gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. Gold speaks of His divine glory and His deity; frankincense speaks of the glory seen in His perfect life on earth, while myrrh speaks of His sufferings in death.
In His boyhood He baffled the doctors, yet was subject to His parents, and marked by growth. When He was baptized of John in Jordan, ‘to fulfil all righteousness’, see the wonderful attestation from heaven to God’s pleasure in His Son, Mark 1. 11-12. When ever did heaven, before or since, verbally attest to such pleasure in a man? This is only offered to Him who is the chiefest among the tens of thousands, and ‘far above all’, Eph. 1. 21. He is the One who ‘in all’ will ‘have the preeminence’, Col. 1. 18.
From His baptism we move to His temptation in the wilderness, and in discussing this we wish to do so simply and clearly, for many have been the speculations concerning this experience in the life of the Lord Jesus, and many of the near blasphemous statements made from time to time can be avoided if our teaching is based firmly on the word of God in no wise affected by the reasoning of men. Firstly, in His temptation, as in all other experiences in His life, He was, ‘God . . . manifest in the flesh’, 1 Tim. 3. 16. Let us never fall into the false premise of dividing the person of Christ and saying that He did one thing as God and other things as a man. He was, while here, one divine Person with two perfect natures, verily God, and verily man.
His deity demands His perfect sinlessness
The scriptures clearly teach the perfect sinlessness of Christ. We have already touched upon His holiness in birth, and now in His life, even the unclean spirit in the man in the synagogue confessed, ‘I know thee who thou art; the Holy One of God’, Luke 4. 34. Now, holiness belongs essentially to God and is imparted unto others only by divine grace. This attitude of God reveals Him as the One who is absolutely set apart, or separate, from all that is sinful and what God is essentially. All who are ‘born of God’ are so judicially, and can be practically in the measure in which they are subject to God, Rom. 6. 12. John says, by the Spirit, ‘Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God’. 1 John 3. 9. So, when we sin after we are saved, it is ‘the old man’ in us who sins, who was born ‘after the flesh’, not ‘the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness, lit. holiness of the truth’, Eph. 4. 24. The psalmist said, ‘Holiness becometh thine house, O Lord’, Ps. 93. 5, and those who are in testimony today in the churches of God should be manifesting the highest degree of holiness.
But the point we wish to suggest, relative to the temptation of Christ is that He, who ‘was God’, and as to His manifestation on earth, ‘born of God’, could not sin. We suggest that God allowed Satan so to tempt, or try, His Son, not to see if He would sin, God knew that was impossible, but to prove that He could not sin.
Let us look at two three-fold chords in the scriptures attesting the sinlessness of Christ . The doctrine Paul teaches us, He ‘knew no sin’, 2 Cor. 5. 21. The mystic John says ‘in Him is no sin’, 1 John 3. 5. Practical Peter declares, ‘Who did no sin’, 1 Pet. 2. 22. Note the thrice-recurring ‘no sin’; scriptures that ‘cannot be broken’. Again, Christ attests to His own sinlessness in His word to the Pharisees, ‘the Father hath not left me alone; for I do always those things that please him’, John 8. 29. God the Father reveals, twice over, His pleasure, or delight, in His Son; firstly, when He emerged from His baptism by John in Jordan and again, on the mount where He was transfigured. Not only did the Saviour declare that He was ‘without sin’ and heaven ratified this, the demons added their testimony, as we have already noted, confessing Him to be ‘the Holy One of God’.
What a beautiful testimony in life He had! When we view Him, in meekness and humiliation, yet in the manifestation of divine power, delivering those possessed with demons, healing all manner of disease and raising the dead, moving on thus in His life’s ministry, fulfilling the will of God, it should fill our hearts with holy rapture and worshipping adoration. He was manifestly, as prophesied by Isaiah, God’s Servant whom He upheld, His elect, or chosen One, in whom His soul did delight. He neither failed nor was discouraged, moving on in the will of God, despised and rejected, shamed and reproached, until that will was finally done in the laying down of His life at Calvary, see Isa. 42. 1. Beholding Him in all His perfection, purity and power; in all the fragrance, fullness and finality of that life lived to the glory of God, we yet again hear the Father say to us, ‘This is my beloved Son’.
AUTHOR PROFILE: Gordon S. Beck lived in Scotland and was associated with assemblies there before moving to N. Ireland some years ago. He is involved in education and fellowship in the assembly at Carrickfergus Gospel Hall.