Fri Feb 13, Q. 45 & 46: The Unique Son
45. You would conclude, then, that the title of Christ includes three offices which God has given His Son, in order to communicate virtue and fruit to His faithful people?
That is so.
46. Why do you call Him the only Son of God, seeing that God calls us all His children?
We are children of God not by nature, but only by adoption and by grace, in that God wills to regard us as such (Eph. 1:5). But the Lord Jesus who was begotten of the substance of His Father, and is of one essence with Him, is rightly called the only Son of God (John 1:14; Heb. 1:2) for there is no other who is God’s Son by nature.
Through the three offices, Christ reveals true virtue to us.
By nature, we are children of wrath, sons of disobedience—people who are spiritually dead and under the sentence of eternal death (Eph. 2:1-4). Since the Fall, from our points of origin, each of us comes in the likeness of Adam the transgressor (Rom. 5:12-14, 17-18). We are born not with equal parts good and bad, or with more or less of each. We are born spiritually corrupted, totally but not ultimately. In order to become children of the Holy One, a new birth – a second birth – from above rather than from earth, must take place—one that will make us of his nature (Jn 3:1-16).
The one without birth, beginning or end is not like the rest of us. He shared the glory of God from the beginning, and obeyed him perfectly. His Sonship is different from ours as the only Son from God with the exact nature of God from within himself—and that from all eternity to all eternity. It is that nature to which we are being conformed through all things in this life (Rom. 8:28-30). Only one is rightly celebrated as Son. The rest of us are brothers-in-awe and sisters-in-awe who are glad simply to have been given a new life in him so that we might have the virtue to applaud him.
“The first particular glory that upholds all the rest is the mere eternal existence of Christ. If we will simply ponder this as we ought, a great ballast will come into the tipping ship of our soul. Sheer existence is, perhaps, the greatest mystery of all. Ponder the absoluteness of reality. There had to be something that never came into being. Back, back, back we peer into endless ages, yet there never was nothing. Someone has the honor of being there first and always. He never became or developed. He simply was. To whom belongs this singular, absolute glory? The answer is Christ, the person whom the world knows as Jesus of Nazareth” (John Piper, Seeing and Savoring Jesus Christ [Crossway, 2001]: 27.
Recommended resources for further study:
Andreas Kostenberger and Scott Swain, Father, Son, and Spirit: The Trinity and John’s Gospel. NSBT (InterVarsity, 2008).
Robert Letham, The Holy Trinity: In Scripture, History, Theology and Worship (P&R, 2005).