Thursday, July 25, 2019

God the Son and Reconciler

1. God as Reconciler
Just as God the Father is Lord, so too Jesus Christ is Lord because he is the Father’s only-begotten Son. But Jesus Christ exercises his lordship in a way which differs from the way in which it is exercised by God the Father and Creator. The way Jesus exercises lordship reveals that God does not understand lordship as the power to control us like things. Instead, the activity of Jesus Christ reveals that God is with us and for us and wills that we be with and for him. This is a miraculous act on God’s part because he speaks to us, and expects us to respond freely to him, even though we are his enemies as sinners.

God’s turning toward us and speaking to us, in spite of our sin and his wrath, is the miraculous work of God’s Son or Word. We may call this work God’s revelation because it occurs both as a miracle and despite our sinfulness. Because this revelation means God’s restoration of our fellowship with him, or God’s treating of us—his enemies—as friends, we also may call it God’s reconciliation.

God the Father manifested his love in creating the world. This world as originally created by God is not our world of sin. The lordship of God over our fallen world, then, differs from the lordship of God over the world as created. This second lordship, which expresses itself as love for our lost world, is the lordship of God the Son. So we may speak of creation as the lordship of God’s first way of being God and reconciliation as the lordship of God’s second way of being God. Reconciliation is neither the same as creation nor a continuation of creation. It is an entirely new work. So too the Father is not the Son, nor is his work the Son’s work; instead, the work of reconciliation is the work of God the Son even if, through their mutual indwelling, the Father is in the Son as he works.

But Jesus Christ as the Son and Word of God cannot be separated from God the Father. Nor do we speak properly of his work of reconciliation apart from the Father’s work of creation. God’s way of being as Creator is distinct from his way of being as Reconciler. Furthermore, his way of being as Reconciler is subordinate to his way of being as Creator. Creations was God’s first act; reconciliation, his second. To this order corresponds that of Father then Son or Word. A son follows his father; a word, its speaker. So too Jesus Christ as Reconciler follows our Father in Heaven. Even so this implies no distinction of being. Both creation and reconciliation remain equally divine acts and therefore God the Father and God the Son are equally divine in nature; one God, two distinct ways of being God.

2. God the Son
Jesus Christ is the Son of God who reveals the Father to us and reconciles us to the Father. As the Word who does this work, Jesus does not simply make known to us a message. In this work Jesus makes himself known to us just as he knows himself in eternity. Just as God is Father in himself before he is Father in relation to us, so too Jesus is the Son of God in himself before he is the Son of God in relation to us.

To acknowledge that Jesus Christ is the one Son of God is to say, first, that Jesus Christ is Lord. This means he is the one in charge of us. In no way do we rule him. Nor is he one lord among many. His lordship is ultimate: he is our Lord because he is Lord in himself before he is Lord in relation to us.

To acknowledge that Jesus Christ is the one Son of God is to say that Jesus Christ alone is God’s revelation of himself and the one through whom we are reconciled with God himself. It is also to say that the Word of God is God himself in his second way of being God.

Third, we acknowledge that, as God’s second way of being God, the Son did not come into being in time as we do. His coming into being was not an event within the created world in which we exist. His birth as a human being certainly was an event in time and as such an event in the created world. But if he was the Word of God made flesh and dwelling among us at one time (John 1:14), he was so only because he was first “begotten of the Father before all time.”

Fourth, we rightly distinguish between the Father and the Son, the speaker and the word spoken. At the same time, we recognize that both ways are ways of the one God. We confess that Jesus Christ in himself is begotten of God and not created by him. Certainly the human nature of Christ is created by God. But we cannot say this of God the Son who assumes human nature. If Christ was only a creature, then reconciliation and revelation would only be events within this fallen creation of ours and therefore without saving significance.

In addition to the Son of the Father, we may use another biblical figure to understand Christ’s divinity: Jesus Christ as the Word of God. To say Son of God is to mean Word of God as well. Son of God as a term seems most fitting when speaking of God’s action in Christ as reconciliation. The Word of God seems most appropriate when speaking of God’s revelation. As we said of the Son, so also we say that the Word of God is truly God, spoken not made.

Fifth, we confess that Jesus Christ as the Son of God is of the same nature as God the Father. To say this is to reject understanding Jesus as the greatest human being but only a human being. It is to recognize that God is wholly God as the Father and again that God is wholly God as the Son; one God, two very different ways of being God.

Finally, we confess that all things were made through Jesus Christ. In this way, we acknowledge that God the Son participated in the work specific to God the Father and Creator. We also acknowledge that when Jesus Christ became flesh and dwelt among us, he came as no stranger but to his own (John 1:11). The Word of God coming to us in Jesus Christ, then, was not only the Word of our reconciliation but of our creation as well. This means that our existence as human beings is not a neutral experience in relation to Jesus Christ. We do not stand apart from Jesus Christ before we hear of him or decide for him because we only exist through him and therefore are already responsible to him.

Copyright © 2019 by Steven Farsaci.
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