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This book answers the big questions that theologians have debated for many centuries in regard to the origin and nature of Christ. We start with the foundational issue of the virgin birth of Christ and the incarnation of Christ and then move on to the idea of the image of God and Christ's pre-existence. All of this leads to the Father-Son relationship and the discussion about the Godhead.
Category - Long Book
The law of imputation, which Paul uses in Romans 4 in regard to calling us righteous ahead of time, is best summed up in Rom. 4:17. The NASB reads, “God… calls into being that which does not exist.” The KJV reads, “God… calleth those things which be not as though they were.”
Perhaps The Emphatic Diaglott says it best: “God… calls things not in being, as though existing.” In other words, when God says that something exists, it exists, even before it is manifested in the world. Existence is thus defined by the word of God, for God cannot lie, even if He refers to things that have not yet appeared.
Paul’s application of this law of imputation has to do with our righteousness, which we do not presently have in this body, and yet by law God considers it to be in existence already. The law is an expression of God’s character, and since God has the power and right to do anything consistent with His nature, He has the right to say that things exist even though they are not yet a present reality.
In fact, it cannot be that it does NOT exist, once He calls it into existence. The universe must obey His commands, for He is God and creation has no choice but to comply. We have difficulty conceiving of such power, for it is beyond our experience and transcends our earthly nature. Yet the key is to understand that things exist in spirit form before they manifest in the earth. Matter is just another form of existence, but existence does not hinge upon a material existence.
Not only people but all historical events first existed (or “occur”) in the heavens before they occurred on the earth. Predestination is rooted in the law of imputation. We ourselves pray and conduct spiritual warfare according to the same law, for it is only when conditions are changed in the second heavens that those changes are reflected afterward here on the earth. In other words, we call things into existence in the spiritual realm, which later manifest in the earth.
And so, in the laws of spiritual warfare that are found in Deut. 20, the priests’ duty was to inform the army that God was with them and that they had already been given the victory (Deut. 20:4). The responsibility of the priests was to “perform the service” (Num. 4:23) at the tabernacle. The Hebrew literally reads, “to war the warfare.” In other words, the priests were to engage in spiritual warfare and to secure victory in the heavens before the troops even began fighting.
In the big picture, the Kingdom of God as a whole pre-existed in heaven as decreed by God Himself, and we have been given the authority to bear witness to His will and bring heaven to earth. Of course, none of us would have such authority if it were not for the breakthrough that Jesus made at the cross, His resurrection, and His ascension to the throne. His work laid the foundations for our success. Our faith is subordinate to His faith. If He had been unable to complete His work, we ourselves would have no assurance of completing our own callings.
As I said earlier, every law is an expression of some aspect of the nature of God and is therefore a universal law. Every law has jurisdiction and power wherever God may be found. Moses was the first (in Scripture) to tell us that heaven and earth were two witnesses (Deut. 4:26; 30:19). The first witness calls things into existence; the second establishes it and makes it visible in the earth.
The entire purpose of God in Gen. 1:1 is rooted in this law of the double witness. Earth was created to bear witness to all that is in heaven. The first witness is God Himself, who has called all things into existence by His own word (logos), but nothing was seen on earth until the second Witness spoke what He heard His Father say.
Hence, the “one God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all” (Eph. 4:6) remained true to Himself by bringing forth “the Image of the invisible God, the Firstborn of all creation” (Col. 1:15). His purpose was to be the Creator’s double witness that would “establish” all things, speaking only what He heard His Father say, and doing only what He saw His Father do.
So Hebrews 1:5, 6 says,
5 For to which of the angels did He ever say, “Thou art My Son, today I have begotten Thee”? And again, “I will be a Father to Him, and He shall be a Son to Me”? 6 And when He again brings the First-born into the world, He says, “And let all the angels of God worship Him.”
The angels were not begotten, nor were they ever called “sons.” The angels were to worship the First-born Son as God, for Heb. 1:8, 9 continues, saying,
8 But of the Son He says, “Thy throne, O God, is forever and ever, and the righteous scepter is the scepter of His kingdom. 9 Thou hast loved righteousness and hated lawlessness; therefore God, Thy God, hath anointed Thee with the oil of gladness above Thy companions.”
The throne of the Son, then, along with His scepter, is above the angels, called “Thy companions.” Speaking of the Son Himself, we read, “God, Thy God, hath anointed Thee with the oil of gladness.” Here again, the Son Himself has a God who has the power to anoint Him, that is, to make Him the Messiah, the Christ, the Anointed One.
At the same time, Christ is called “God” in verse 8. Hence, it is proper to refer to Christ as “God,” though He is also recognized as having His Father-God above Him. In John 1:1 we see the distinction as well,
1 In the beginning was the word, and the word was with God [ton Theon, “The God”], and the word was God [Theos].
John makes a distinction between “the God” (Father) and “God” (Son). Thereafter, the apostle is consistent in presenting Father and Son as two Beings, with the Son subordinate to the Father.
To claim that Christ is “coeternal” and “coequal” with the Father is not a proper way of knowing Him. Hence, Jesus Himself spoke of His Father as being “the one and only God” (John 5:44). In spite of His own highly exalted position as “the only-begotten God” (John 1:18), He said “the Father is greater than I” (John 14:28).
In Rev. 3:14 Jesus gave a message to the Laodiceans, saying,
14 And to the angel of the church in Laodicea write: “The Amen, the faithful and true Witness, the Beginning of the creation of God, says this.”
Christ is the “Amen,” because He bore witness to His Father’s words and will at the time of creation. He was a “faithful” witness, because He fully believed what the Father said. He was a “true” witness, because He was an eyewitness and an earwitness to all that His Father was saying and doing. He was not simply repeating what other men had heard or seen, nor was it just His opinion. He was a fully-qualified witness, called and anointed for that very purpose.
Hence, when the Father spoke “Light!” the Son said Amen, or “let it be so.” Gen. 1:3 records it as “Let there be light.” We are not told specifically whose logos was being spoken here, but the implication is that the Son was speaking in order to “establish” light by His double witness. At each stage of creation, the Son spoke what He heard His Father say. This is again declared in John 1:3,
3 All things came into being by [dia, “through”] Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being.
Paul says too in 1 Corinthians 8:6,
6 yet for us there is but one God, the Father, from [eis] whom are all things, and we exist for Him; and one Lord, Jesus Christ, by [dia, “through”] whom are all things, and we exist through Him.
All things come FROM the Father but they come THROUGH Jesus Christ. The subtle distinction in the wording shows that both Father and Son were involved in the creation. The Father created all things, and the Son bore witness.
Scripture is careful to distinguish between the One who Created and the One through whom all things came into being. All things came “from” the Creator in that they were created from God’s own substance—God particles—but it required a second witness by the First-born of creation to bring it into being. Hence, all things came into being through Christ—that is, through the witness of the Amen.
Jesus was a witness in the beginning, when the Father created all things. He therefore pre-existed His birth in Bethlehem and was a necessary participant in creation.
The importance of this principle is seen in the fact that because of sin, there is also a new heaven and a new earth that is presently being created. It is a second creation, as it were, and once again, it is being created by God by means of the law of the double witness. Further, He is raising up an Amen people to be agents of Christ.
This time Christ is not the lone Witness, as it was in the first creation. Christ now has a body who are also called as witnesses. The Head has done His part at the cross, and since that time He has been calling and training a body to be an Amen people like Himself. These are the ones who, like their Head, speak what they hear their Father say and do what they see their Father do. They know His will and agree with it.
In other words, they have learned to pray. Most of their prayer time is spent in listening and discerning, for they are intent on knowing the will of their Father so that they may bear witness to His will. They are not interested in telling God what to do or in advising God so that He knows how best to recreate heaven and earth. It is always “not my will but Thine be done.” Such are the Amen people, who are privileged to participate in this re-creation and restoration of all things.
Though Christ has been highly exalted, He never usurped the position of His Father but does all things for His glory. In the end, He will present the restored creation to the Father and take a subordinate throne, so that “God may be all in all” (1 Cor. 15:28).
The same relationship is seen between Christ and His body. Christ is our Head, even as the Head of Christ is the Father-God (1 Cor. 11:3). Even as He does not consider Himself to be equal with His Head, neither do we consider ourselves to be equal with Christ. We are in agreement and unity without usurping Christ’s rightful position.
In Phil. 2:1-11 Paul discusses the mind of Christ insofar as it relates to His position of authority in relation to God and man. In Phil. 2:4-6 we read,
4 do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. 5 Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, 6 who, although He existed in the form [morphe, “shape, appearance”] of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped…
In other words, we are to put on the unselfish mind of Christ, looking out for the interests of others, rather than our own interests. Christ Himself is set forth as our Example in this, for He was interested in glorifying His Father, rather than doing His own will.
Verse 6 says that “He existed in the form of God.” The Greek word morphe is translated “form” here in the NASB. It comes from the root word meros, which means “a part, portion, one of the constituent parts of a whole.” So Gesenius’ Lexicon tells us that morphe means shape or form “through the idea of adjustment of parts.”
In other words, Christ was in the morphe of God, which is another way of saying that He was in the image of God. In that sense, He was a part or portion of God, but not the whole. Never did He attempt to grasp (or claim) equality with His Father, Paul says, even though the later church councils made that claim for Him.
Phil. 2:7, 8 continues,
7 but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.
In that Christ “emptied Himself,” it shows that He had something to leave behind. He left behind an exalted position and became a bond-servant. He left behind His position as God (second to His Father) and was “made in the likeness of men.” From a position of immortal Life, He became “obedient to the point of death.” Being willing to take all the sin of the world and its suffering upon Himself, He set forth the example of not looking out for His own personal interests “but also for the interests of others.”
For this reason, having proven Himself to be the absolute Image of the God of Love and being the perfect Amen of God, He showed by actual example that He was worthy to be given a name which is above every name and that every knee should bow to Him and every tongue confess (“profess”) that He is Lord to the glory of God the Father (Phil. 2:9-11).