Jesus, the Son of Man

In this brief clip from his teaching series Lessons from the Upper Room (from Ligonier Ministries), Dr. Sinclair Ferguson explains what Jesus meant when He referred to Himself as the “Son of Man.”


I remember as a youngster in Sunday school, perhaps this was true of you, that my Sunday School teachers taught me that Jesus was the Son of God and the “Son of Man.” That is to say, He was God’s Son, and He was also human. But when Jesus speaks about Himself as the “Son of Man,” He is not simply saying that He has a human nature as well as a divine nature. He is specifically drawing on a picture that He found in the seventh chapter of the book of Daniel, in which you may remember, Daniel has this vision in which he sees the “Son of Man” ascending to the throne of the Ancient of Days as a triumphant victor. And at the throne of the Ancient of Days, He is given the privilege of sharing His triumph with those who are called the “Saints of the Most High.”

So in Jesus’ mind, the picture of the “Son of Man” refers not just to his humanity, it refers also to His exultation at the right hand of the Father—His glory and then the expansion of his kingdom that will take place as He is exalted at the Father’s right hand. So when He says “The time has come for the Son of Man to be glorified,” He’s referring to that picture that we were given in the Book of Daniel—the way in which He is going to be exalted at the right hand of the Father. In other words, He is saying His death, His crucifixion is simply the way to His exaltation. We could put it this way, in terms of what we saw at the beginning of John chapter 13, that for Jesus, the way up to the throne of God is the way down to the humiliation of the Cross.

A Teaching Resource on the Cross

Mike Riccardi has served on staff at Grace Community Church since 2010. He currently serves as the Pastor of Local Outreach Ministries, which includes overseeing Fundamentals of the Faith classes, six foreign language outreach Bible studies, and evangelism in nearby jails, rehab centers, and in the local neighborhood. Mike earned his B.A. in Italian and his M.Ed. in Foreign Language from Rutgers University, and his M.Div. and Th.M. from The Master’s Seminary. He also has the privilege of serving alongside Phil Johnson as co-pastor of GraceLife, a Sunday morning adult fellowship group at Grace Church.

(1) What Really Happened on the Cross? Part 1 (mp3) here.

(2) What Really Happened on the Cross? Part 2 ((mp3) here.

(3) Invincible Atonement, mp3 teaching and includes a pdf resource file at this link.

Also, Pastor Mike taught a detailed study at this year’s Shepherd’s Conference on the theme of “He Emptied Himself: A Study of the Kenosis of Christ.” (found here)

The Extra Calvinisticum

visionKevin DeYoung: (original source but never fully contained within, the human nature.

The term was originally a pejorative label given by Lutheran theologians in their debates with Reformed divines over the real presence of Christ in the Lord’s Supper. Whereas Lutherans affirmed the physical presence of Christ’s body in, with, and under the elements, Reformed theologians spoke of a real spiritual presence. In order to maintain their position (later termed consubstantiation), Lutherans argued that the attribute of omnipresence should be predicated not just of Christ’s divine nature, but also of his human nature.

Reformed theologians, by contrast, held to a different understanding of the communicatio idiomatum (communion of properties), insisting that what can be said about either nature can be said about the Person of the Son, but cannot be automatically predicated to the other nature. Consequently, the divine Logos is omnipresent, but Christ’s human body is not. In other words, the Son, even in his incarnate state, is able to live a divine life outside (extra) his human nature. Or as the Heidelberg Catechism puts it: “Since divinity is not limited and is present everywhere, it is evident that Christ’s divinity is surely beyond the bounds of the humanity he has taken on, but at the same time his divinity is in and remains personally united to his humanity” (Q/A 48).

While the doctrine may seem like unnecessary and overly precise doctrinal wrangling, the extra Calvinisticum is crucial for protecting a classic understanding of the incarnation. In fact, some have preferred the term extra Catholicum because even though the doctrine is attributed to John Calvin, it was clearly the position of church fathers like Augustine, Cyril, and Athanasius, and was taught throughout the Middle Ages. The extra is an important doctrine in that it safeguards the transcendence of Christ’s divine nature (i.e., it cannot be contained) and the genuineness of the human nature (i.e., it does not possess attributes reserved for divinity).

The extra also reminds us that in the incarnation “the Son did not cease to be what he had always been” (Wellum, God the Son Incarnate, 332). He continued to sustain the universe (Col. 1:15-17; Heb. 1:1-3) and to exercise his divine attributes together with the Father and the Spirit. When Mary conceived a child by the power of the Holy Spirit, the divine nature did not undergo any essential change. Better to say the Person of the Son became incarnate than to say the divine nature took on human flesh (for the latter suggests the divine nature changed in its essential properties).

All this means–because the divine nature did not undergo essential change–that in coming to earth, the Son of God did not abdicate his rule, but extended it. It also means–because the human nature was not swallowed up by the divine–that the Son’s earthly obedience was free and voluntary. In short, the extra protects a Chalcedonian understanding of the incarnation that Christ’s divine and human natures were indissolubly joined, yet “without confusion” and “without change.”

One Who Is Son

Dr. Liam Goligher is Senior Minister of Tenth Church, Philadelphia, PA.

From the Church website:
In the 1970s and 1980, a major battle was underway, often referred to as the Inerrancy of Scripture. Dr. Boice was on the front lines of that battle. Before that, Dr. Barnhouse chose to stay within the Northern Presbyterian Church, as it was called informally. He battled valiantly for the Virgin Birth of Christ, the possibility of miracles, including the resurrection of Christ, and many other core Christian beliefs under attack by the Modernists or Liberals of his day.

Tenth has a long tradition of engaging in such battles and being at the forefront of many of them. It has been a clarion voice in defense of orthodox Christian beliefs as they emerged from the Reformation 500 years ago next year. Documents were drawn up, still cherished today, which define the great truths of the Bible in the terminology of the era in which they were written. So we have the Westminster Confession of Faith and our great catechisms. People died for the truths recorded in them.

Few of us today could explain how Dr. Boice and others drew the battle lines against ‘neo-orthodoxy’ and its watered down view of Scripture in the 1970s. We acknowledge that it was important, but if called upon today to refight that battle, we would have much brushing up to do. That was less than 50 years ago. The battle with the liberals was less than 100 years ago. Few indeed, outside the seminary, would remember the shape of that debate. However, the faith of millions rode on those two battles. And Tenth’s congregation supported their ministers through those fights.

Today, Tenth has again been called to take on a serious challenge to the faith we hold dear. It is our privilege to take up ‘arms’ for our King in a battle far more foundational than those two huge debates of the 20th Century – the Doctrine of God and the full deity of Jesus Christ.

Unfortunately, false teaching has already crept, almost silently, deep inside the very walls of evangelicalism. It was Dr. Goligher who, last June, flipped the switch of the floodlights, revealing these teachings for what they are. Today we would say it went viral.

Also unfortunately, we are being called to pick up a debate that has lain dormant, not for a mere 100 years, but for 1600 years. Obviously, no one at Tenth remembers those battles and the great issues involved. Even the names of those who fought, and sometimes died, for the truth have an unfamiliar ring. That debate seems shrouded in the mists of history. It seems couched in Trinitarian language too abstract for us to comprehend. It seems as if we could never get our heads around such complexity.

We should thank God from our deepest heart that the men who fought the battle in AD 200-400 were men schooled in a world where philosophy – which at that time still included theology – was deemed the supreme field of knowledge. They were up to the task. Today, theology takes a back seat to medicine, all the sciences, history, languages, the arts and even philosophy. But those men defined the debate. We only need to relearn its terms.

Beginning October 9, when starting a series on Hebrews, Dr. Goligher began training us for the battle, which is already raging nationwide. Those have been tough sermons to follow. On the subject of the Trinity, it might be difficult to see the relevance to our daily lives.

Few people would grasp half of what they need to know on the first pass. Listening to them several times, one still finds new angles, new insights into the shape of this debate, new implications for every aspect of our faith.

The trumpet call has sounded. In accordance with Ephesians 6:13-18, let’s polish our spiritual armor. In particular, we need the sword of the Holy Spirit, the word of God as ‘unpacked’ in these sermons. There will be tough times ahead for Bible-proclaiming churches across our country. As so often in the past, many will look to Tenth to lead the charge.

Those who care deeply for the gospel faith, for our Father God, and for our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ will spend time mulling over those sermons on the Trinity. As Dr. Goligher says in one of them:

“Everything is at stake! Everything is at stake!”

11/06/16 11AM Sermon “One Who Is Son” Tenth Presbyterian Church from Tenth Presbyterian Church on Vimeo.

EXTRACT: This word [Son] denotes having the very nature of God and the people of his own day, the Jews of his own day, understood this very clearly. In John 5:18, they complained, you see, “He was calling God his own Father, thus making himself equal with God.” They understood what was going on. And listen to Jesus’ reply. He doesn’t dissuade them. He doesn’t deny it; he doesn’t avoid the subject. In fact, he pursues the subject. He essentially says to them, “That is exactly… You are exactly right. ‘Son of God’ means God.”

VERSES: John 5:26, Psalm 2:7, Colossians 1:15-20, John 1:3, Mark 2:5-10, Luke 7:47-49, John 10:28, John 17:2, Philippians 3:3, Revelation 5:12-13, Matthew 2:2, John 20:28, John 9:38, Matthew 28:8, Hebrews 7:26, Isaiah 52:13, Isaiah 6:1, Philippians 2:9-10, Genesis 1, 1 Timothy 6:16, John 1:9, John 1:18, John 3:31-34, Isaiah 11:2, Colossians 2:2-3, Colossians 1:19, Luke 2:40, Luke 2:42-52, John 16:12-15, John 8:35-36, Hebrews 3:6, Proverbs 3:19, Proverbs 8:22-31, 1 Corinthians 1:30, Ephesians 1:17, John 5:18-26, John 6:46, John 8:38, John 14:7-11, John 4:24, Matthew 28:18, John 17:2, 1 John 4:8, 1 John 4:16, Romans 5:8, 2 Corinthians 5:19, John 17:3,


On the Deity of Christ

only to get bogged down arguing over John 1:1, John 10:30, and other passages in which Jesus is called “God”? “Oh,” the Witness responds, “we do believe Jesus is a god. Isaiah 9:6 calls him a mighty god. But he is not the Almighty God.” Then you hear that men are sometimes called “gods” (John 10:34) and God made Moses to be a “god” to Pharaoh (Exod. 7:1). When the encounter is over, you feel about as frustrated as the Buffalo Bills after the Super Bowl.

To avoid this problem we must learn to compellingly communicate the biblical truth of the deity of Christ and the Trinity to the mind trained in Watchtower theology. There is a way around the natural “walls” that Watchtower indoctrination places in the minds of Jehovah’s Witnesses. This is one way we can be instruments in the work of the Holy Spirit.

Jehovah Is God
Many Witnesses feel that no one outside of their own circles thinks anything about Jehovah1 God. They are surprised to encounter Christians who know the name Jehovah and use the name in hymns and songs. You can agree with the Witnesses that Jehovah is God. This statement opens the door to the Witness concerning the wonderful truth about Jesus Christ.

Witnesses argue that the term “god” can be used of men and angels, and so, when used of Jesus, it does not prove His deity. They cannot consistently use that tactic against the overwhelming evidence that in the New Testament Jesus Christ is identified as Jehovah God! The Witnesses must logically recognize that if Jesus is Jehovah, all their arguments about “lesser gods” are irrelevant. Jehovah is the only true God, and if the Bible says Jesus is Jehovah, the case is closed. We can engage the thinking process of the Witnesses to bring them to the realization of this truth. Once the identity of Jesus as Jehovah is established, then the passages that call Him “God” become meaningful and understandable to Witnesses.

Proving Your Case
I have often moved into this topic through a brief explanation of the Trinity. Most Witnesses do not have an accurate knowledge of the Trinity. (Sadly, neither do many Christians.) If I am asked why I believe in the Trinity, I normally respond,

I believe in the Trinity because the Bible teaches the doctrine. It does so not by using the specific word “Trinity,” but by teaching the three pillars that make up the doctrine. First, that there is only one true God, Jehovah, Creator of all things. Surely you agree with me there. Next, that there are three divine Persons, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. I realize you do not believe the Holy Spirit is a person, but you do agree that the Father and the Son are not the same person, correct? Finally, the third pillar, the point on which we are in direct disagreement, is the Bible’s teaching of the full equality of these divine persons. This would include the deity of Christ and the personality of the Holy Spirit.

It is important to short-circuit the natural tendency of Witnesses to misunderstand you. We are not asserting that there are three persons that are one person, nor that there are three beings that are one being. We are differentiating between the terms being and person.

The Bible teaches that all things have being, but only God, humans, and angels are personal. I as a human being am one person, James White. My being makes me human, my personality differentiates me from all other human beings. Since my being is finite and limited, only one person can properly subsist in it, namely, me. But since God’s being is infinite and unlimited, it can be, and is, shared by three persons, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

Once I have differentiated between being and person, I then ask if I can illustrate this from Scripture. Since Jehovah’s Witnesses believe the Trinity is a false doctrine derived from Greek philosophy, they often are willing to open the Bible, confident that you won’t be able to support your position. I say, “You and I both agree that the only true God is Jehovah. I believe the term ‘Jehovah’ refers to the very divine being, the eternal God, who created all things. You would agree with me that the Father is Jehovah, would you not? Where we disagree is this: I believe the Bible says that Jesus Christ is Jehovah, and the Spirit is also Jehovah. Each of the three persons shares the one divine name, Jehovah. May I show you one of the places where the Bible teaches us that Jesus is Jehovah?”

Most Witnesses have never encountered this kind of approach. Make sure your friend has understood your meaning — you may need to clarify your position a few times before proceeding.

There is no one verse with which you should always begin. I personally favor using Hebrews 1. In any case, make sure you are thoroughly familiar not just with the verses themselves, but with the surrounding contexts. You don’t want your demonstration short-circuited by your own lack of knowledge of the text.

Using the Witnesses’ own translation, the New World Translation (NWT), I note some of the important verses in passing, such as Hebrews 1:3, which speaks of Christ as the “exact representation of his nature.”2 I follow the context down through verse 8, which begins, “But with reference to the Son….” I ask, “Now, who is being discussed all through this passage?” The answer is plainly the Son. The citation that begins in verse 8 finishes in verse 9, following which the NWT says, “And: ‘You at [the] beginning, O Lord, laid the foundations of the earth itself, and the heavens are [the] works of your hands.’”

By its use of quotation marks in the text, the NWT clearly indicates that we are dealing here with a citation of the Old Testament. I finish reading through verse 12, and immediately ask, “Now, who is being described here?” The only possible answer is “the Son.” The Witness may say something about how Jesus, as the first creation of Jehovah, was the one through whom all the rest of creation was made. I allow the Witness to say whatever he or she wishes, as long as we agree on the fact that Hebrews 1:10-12 is still making reference to the Son.3 Then I ask if my friend knows what passage the writer to the Hebrews is quoting. The passage being cited, according to the cross references found in NWT reference editions, is Psalm 102:25-27. It is very important that you get to Psalm 102 quickly to provide the proper context.

Invite the Witness to begin at verse 1 of Psalm 102 and to identify the individual being addressed in the passage. The NWT begins, “O Jehovah, do hear my prayer.” Skip down to verse 12 and show that Jehovah remains the subject of the psalm. Point out that Jehovah continues to appear in verses 19 and 20 . This is important because once you get to verse 25 the significance of the words will be manifest. Jehovah is addressed in the very same words that the writer to the Hebrews uses of the Son, Jesus Christ!

It is vital that you make it clear that there is no reason to think that anyone other than Jehovah is being addressed by the psalmist in Psalm 102:25-27.4 You have shown the first of many passages in which the New Testament writers take an Old Testament passage originally about Jehovah Himself and apply it to the Lord Jesus Christ. This passage is exceptionally strong, for the psalmist is speaking of the immutability, eternal nature, and creative power of Jehovah God, yet the writer to the Hebrews is willing to predicate all these things of Jesus Christ.

The Advantage of This Method
Don’t expect Witnesses to give in the first time you show this passage. Most will beat a hasty retreat for the door and try to find someone who can answer all these questions. When you show a Witness a divine truth from the pages of his own NWT, that truth follows him wherever he goes. He’s not going to throw his Bible out, so whenever he opens it up and encounters these passages, the Spirit of God will remind him of what he cannot answer. Witnesses won’t take literature from you, so turn their Bibles into tracts that will go with them when they walk out your door.

1. The pronunciation “Jehovah,” while important to the Witnesses, is not the proper pronunciation. The Hebrew Tetragrammaton (YHWH) was probably pronounced “Yahweh.” A good Bible dictionary will furnish the meaning and background of the term, information that is both enriching and useful in witnessing.
2. Don’t get bogged down. Press toward demonstrating that Jesus is Jehovah. If you get into a discussion of NWT passages specifically designed to hide the deity of Christ (Hebrews 1:6 and 1:8), you will never get around to what you are trying to accomplish.
3. Should the Witness attempt to say otherwise, note that the NWT begins verse 8 in the same way it begins verse 10, with a colon followed by a quotation. Verse 8 is about the Son. Verse 10 continues the citation of passages about the Son from the Old Testament. Even the NWT gives no indication of any kind of break between verses 9 and 10.
4. The close reader will recognize an inconsistency in the NWT at this point. It inserts the name “Jehovah” in the New Testament 237 times, even though the term appears in no Greek New Testament manuscripts at all. The Greek translation of the Old Testament, the Septuagint or LXX, used the Greek term “Lord” (Kurios) for the Hebrew Tetragrammaton. The New Testament writers, when citing the Old Testament passages in which the name Jehovah appeared, likewise used the Greek term Kurios or “Lord.” The Watchtower reasons that when citing the Old Testament (and in many other instances) the name Jehovah should be retained. Hence, when they translate Hebrews 2:13, which contains a citation of Isaiah 8:18, they insert the name “Jehovah” in the translation. But they also often insert the name when there is no direct Old Testament reference at all, such as in Revelation 1:8. And most importantly for our use of Hebrews 1:10-12, in other passages they change the Greek Kurios to “Jehovah” in citations of the Old Testament that are about Jehovah, even if the name does not appear in the specifically cited text. Why didn’t the NWT translators remain consistent and render the Greek term Kurios as “Jehovah” in Hebrews 1:10? There is only one reason: it would make the passage teach a doctrine that is contrary to Watchtower theology. Hence their Bible translation is determined by their beliefs, not by the text.

What Child Is This? (Part 1)

Text: Isaiah 9:1-7

The uniqueness of this Child, born into our world marks the major division of all human history, at least according to the western calendar: B.C. to A.D. Why would this be? Who exactly is this One and what exactly would He do? The answers to these questions reveal so much because what He would do tells us a great deal about what we most need!

Sub-Ordinate Role But No Less Divine

and/or misunderstanding, that unbelievers frequently expresss about the Trinity. As a believer you should be aware of this. James White on occasion says:

Difference in function does not indicate inferiority of nature.

For many who deny the Trinity or the deity of Jesus, it is thought that since Jesus fulfilled a lesser (subordinate) role in his incarnation compared to that of the Father, Jesus must therefore possess a lesser nature.

Those who oppose the deity of Christ often point to Jesus’ submissive remarks about doing the will of his Father. For example, Jesus says, “the Father is greater than I am.” They infer from this that Jesus does not share the same nature with the Father. But this is confusing categories. It ignores the broader context that is talking about their relational roles, not their nature.

Jesus also calls the Father, “My God.” Yet those who oppose the deity of Christ ignore that this is a humble acknowledgment of the incarnate Jesus modeling for us humility and submissiveness (John 20:17). This exalting-affirmation is what we would expect from the Son of God.

Similarly, it is argued, since Jesus is the agent of the Father in many respects such as creation, Jesus cannot be fully God. Regarding the Spirit, they will make the similar false assumption. Since the Spirit is sent by the Father, the Spirit cannot have the same divine nature as the Father. They will look at these statements and make the fallacious leap that difference in function indicates inferiority of nature.

They also deny the freedom of the Divine persons to choose their roles. Or to put it another way: they assume that to be truly God, the Son and the Spirit must have the exact same roles as the Father in order to share in the same nature.

A simple, but effective, illustration will show that difference in function does not indicate inferiority of nature: A husband and wife—as well as children!—will possess different roles in a marriage. Wives are to take on the submissive role, yet this does not indicate that difference in function requires inferiority of nature. Does the wife have a lesser nature than that of the husband? Not according to Christian anthropology. They are both fully human.

Let’s praise God for the incarnation, which itself presupposes a submissive role that brought about our salvation. We do not worship a unipersonal-unitarian God, but worship instead a complementary-trinitarian God.