What Seventh-day Adventists Believe About Jesus as the Son of God
To help you understand these two key aspects of Jesus, we’ll cover:
- Jesus’ divinity
- What it means for Jesus to be God’s “only begotten son”
- Why His divinity matters
- Jesus’ humanity
- Why He came to earth
- Why His humanity and divinity are still relevant today
The full humanity and full divinity of Jesus are crucial to the Adventist understanding of who God is, how much He loves us, and how the plan of salvation works.
Here is the official statement on this belief as found on the church’s website:
God the eternal Son became incarnate in Jesus Christ.
Through Him all things were created, the character of God is revealed, the salvation of humanity is accomplished, and the world is judged.
Forever truly God, He became also truly human, Jesus the Christ. He was conceived of the Holy Spirit and born of the virgin Mary. He lived and experienced temptation as a human being, but perfectly exemplified the righteousness and love of God. By His miracles He manifested God’s power and was attested as God’s promised Messiah.
He suffered and died voluntarily on the cross for our sins and in our place, was raised from the dead, and ascended to heaven to minister in the heavenly sanctuary in our behalf. He will come again in glory for the final deliverance of His people and the restoration of all things.”
Let’s dive in for more detail.
Jesus Christ is fully divine
We find evidence for the divine nature of Christ even in the Old Testament.
In one of the most famous messianic prophecies (referring to Jesus as the Messiah), the prophet Isaiah wrote:
“Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel” (Isaiah 7:14, NKJV).
The name Immanuel means “God with us.” Here we find one of the first mentions of God being born into humanity.
Many centuries later, the New Testament refers right back to this Old Testament text:
“Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel, which is translated, ‘God with us’” (Matthew 1:23, NKJV).
Right from the start in the New Testament, Jesus is referred to as God—even as an infant.
In fact, the common Greek word for God in the New Testament is theos. This is where the word theology, which means the study of God, comes from. And many times, Jesus is referred to in the Bible as theos.
For example, when Thomas—who was known as “Doubting Thomas”—finally recognized the resurrected Jesus, he cried out to Him, “My Lord and my God [theos]” (John 20:24–28, NKJV)! A direct reference to Jesus as God.
The apostle Paul wrote:
“According to the flesh, Christ came, who is over all, the eternally blessed God [theos]. Amen” (Romans 9:5, NKJV).
Paul even quotes the Old Testament in Hebrews 1:8, which also refers to the Son as God:
“But to the Son He says: ‘Your throne, O God [theos], is forever and ever’” (NKJV).
This equates Jesus with God Himself.
The apostle Peter also comments on Jesus as God:
“Simon Peter, a bondservant and apostle of Jesus Christ, to those who have obtained like precious faith with us by the righteousness of our God [theos] and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 1:1, NKJV).
Jesus is God and Savior. In fact, the only reason He could even be our Savior is that He is God.
Did Jesus ever call Himself God?
Paul Peterson, a professor of the New Testament at Andrews University, notes:
“Several of the other claims Jesus made when He used the phrase ‘I Am . . .’ imply a very high degree of authority that normally belongs only to God. Jesus is ‘the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through’ Him (John 14:6). He is ‘the resurrection and the life’ (John 11:25) and ‘the bread of life’ (John 6:48).”2
One of the most dramatic examples of this use was when Jesus was in a discussion with the religious leaders. Jesus said:
“Your father Abraham rejoiced to see My day, and he saw it and was glad. Then the Jews said to Him, ‘You are not yet 50 years old, and have You seen Abraham?’” (John 8:56–57, NKJV).
How did Jesus respond?
“Jesus said to them, ‘Most assuredly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM’” (John 8:58, NKJV).
In English, the phrase “I am” seems pretty simple. But the reaction of the religious leaders says everything:
“Then they took up stones to throw at Him” (John 8:59, NKJV).
Why would they have wanted to kill Jesus unless they believed He was making Himself out to be God? He said only “I AM,” and they understood this as Jesus referring to Himself as God, the eternal God who spoke to Moses out of the burning bush.
Back in the Old Testament, when God was telling Moses he would be the one to lead the Hebrew people out of Egypt, He used the phrase “I AM”:
“Indeed, when I come to the children of Israel and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they say to me, ‘What is His name?’ what shall I say to them?” (Exodus 3:13, NKJV).
“And God said to Moses, ‘I AM WHO I AM.’ And He said, ‘Thus you shall say to the children of Israel. I AM has sent me to you’” (Exodus 3:14, NKJV).
Another instance where Jesus calls Himself God is in Revelation.
Revelation 1:8 reads:
“‘I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End,’ says the Lord, ‘who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty’” (NKJV).
This is the Lord, the “Almighty,” referring to Himself as the “Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End.”
Later on in Revelation 22:13, Jesus also says:
“I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End, the First and the Last” (NKJV).
In other words, Jesus is saying, “I am God.”
And if God is our creator, is Jesus also?
Is Jesus the creator?
While God the Father is commonly (and correctly) referred to as the creator, so was Jesus, His Son (John 1:1–5).
(And so was the Holy Spirit, because all three persons of the Trinity were involved.)
Notice the use of plural pronouns in the Creation account:
“Then God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, after our likeness’” (Genesis 1:26, NKJV).
There are a few more passages of Scripture that have both God the Father and God the Son in the role of creator:
“God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds” (Hebrews 1:1–2, NKJV).
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made” (John 1:1–3, NKJV).
All the Greek terms for God used in these examples come from theos. John even explicitly says that the “Word was God [theos].” (John 1:14 clearly identifies the Word as the one who became human flesh and blood.)
The text also says that “all things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made” (John 1:3, NKJV).
So, anything that “was made”—anything that once didn’t exist but then came into existence—did so only through Jesus. For this to be true, Jesus must have always existed.
But if that is the case, why does God the Father call Jesus His Son?
What does it mean for Jesus to be God’s “only begotten Son”?
Because the Bible is clear that Jesus as God has always existed, His title as “the Son of God” or “only begotten Son” refers to His role in fulfilling God’s special promise of salvation to His people, similar to Isaac being Abraham’s “only begotten son” (Hebrews 11:19).
The Bible text that calls Jesus “God’s only begotten Son” is the famous verse, John 3:16:
“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (NKJV).
The phrase “only begotten son” certainly sounds as though Jesus came after or from the Father, doesn’t it?
Here is where a bit of knowledge of the original language is helpful.
The Greek word, monogenes, translated in the KJV, NKJV, and NASB as “only begotten,” isn’t referring to birth or generation.
Instead, the term means “one of a kind” or “unique.”
It’s about the nature of something, not about its creation. Mono in Greek means “one,” such as one God, and genes means “kind” or “type.” Together, they mean “one of a kind.”
The correct translation appears in other versions like the following:
“For this is the way God loved the world: He gave His one and only Son” (NET).
“For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son” (NIV).
“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son” (ESV).
For another example, let’s look at Hebrews 11:17:
“By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises offered up his only begotten son [from monogenes]” (NKJV).
Only begotten son? But Abraham had another son, Ishmael. And then later he had even more sons (Genesis 25:1–4).
So how could Isaac have been his only begotten, as in the only son he bore?
He couldn’t, and he wasn’t. The emphasis here was on the unique status of Isaac. He was the son—the only son—who would be heir of the covenant promises made to Abraham (Genesis 17:19).
The idea of Jesus as “the only begotten Son” implies His unique role as God’s Son in the plan of salvation. He fulfills God’s covenant promise to us to send a Redeemer (Genesis 3:15). It has nothing to do with His origins.
His origin, as discussed earlier, is from eternity, even before the creation of the world. And like the Father, He’s eternally divine.
Why Christ’s divinity matters
The divinity of Christ means that God Himself, not some lower creation, died on the cross for us. And He did this so that as sinners, we could have the promise of eternal life with Him.
This great significance is expressed in verses such as the following:
“But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8, NKJV).
“This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief” (1 Timothy 1:15, NKJV).
It further demonstrates God’s great love for humanity:
“He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?” (Romans 8:23, NKJV).
It would have been an infinite humiliation for Him to have merely become a human being. But to offer Himself as a sacrifice for us when He had done no wrong? When He succeeded where we failed? It’s incredible to think about the God of the universe loving us that much.
Adventists see the beauty of this love that emanates from the life and sacrifice of Jesus.
Now, let’s uncover more about His humanity.
Jesus was fully human
Adventists believe that though Jesus Christ was fully God, He was also fully human.
But how could that be?
We don’t understand.
Just like we also don’t understand why the law of gravity works as it does. But our lack of understanding about how gravity works hardly means it doesn’t work.
And just like we can’t fully understand gravity, there are many things that we may not fully understand about our world and about the God who created it all. That’s the case when it comes to the nature of Jesus as both God and man.
Along with the deity of Christ, Scripture affirms Jesus’ humanity.
Several Bible verses in both the Old and New Testaments of the Bible refer to the Lord Jesus Christ as the Son of Man, pointing to His humanity (Daniel 7:13; Luke 21:27).
The Bible shows that though Jesus was always God, He wasn’t always human. He took on human form and was born among us in lowly circumstances (Luke 2:7).
He grew and learned as we do (Luke 2: 52); He had siblings as we often do (Mark 6:3); He wept as humans weep (John 11:35); He got tired like we do (John 4:6); He was tempted as humans are tempted. The only difference was that He never sinned (Hebrews 4:15).
Christ’s humanity was powerfully tested in the wilderness when the devil sought to take advantage of Him and tempt Him after He was hungry and weak from 40 days of fasting (Matthew 4:1–10).
What’s important to note is that Jesus was tempted as a human being. He had flesh, bones, blood, hormones, emotions, and desires. He was human. And yet in His humanity, Jesus didn’t submit to the temptation.
He used the Word of God as His defense against giving in and sinning.
For example, when the devil sought to make Him doubt His status as the Son of God, Jesus replied, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God’” (Matthew 4:4, NKJV).
Not only did He overcome the temptations, He also showed us how we as humans can overcome too.
As a human, Jesus did not use any advantages of His divinity since we humans would not be able to do that. He relied completely on God the Father and the Holy Spirit, just the way we should.
Here are some more texts about the humanity of Jesus:
“Inasmuch then as the children have partaken of flesh and blood, He Himself likewise shared in the same, that through death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil” (Hebrews 2:14, NKJV).
“Therefore, He had to be like His brothers and sisters in every way, so that He could become a merciful and faithful high priest in matters pertaining to God, to make atonement for the sins of the people.” (Hebrews 2:17, ESV).
“For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus” (1 Timothy 2:5, NKJV).
So you may wonder, if He was God just like the Father, why did He come to the world to become human? And why only Him, and not any other member of the Godhead?
We’ll explore that next.
Why did Jesus come to earth instead of God the Father?
Christians believe Jesus came to earth for two reasons:
- To live a sinless life so He would be worthy to sacrifice His life for us
- To be our example
He came to be our perfect example of what it means to live a life of faith and obedience.
As a human, He experienced the same struggles and temptations we all do. The difference is He did not succumb to these temptations. He lived in full submission to the will of God the Father and gives us the power to do the same.
Here’s another way to think of Jesus as our example:
Almost all societies have relationships that involve authority—parent/child, employee/employer, etc.
Similarly, God calls us to be His children and heirs together with Jesus.3 And Jesus, as the Son of God, came to teach us to be just that—loving and obedient children of God.
With this understanding, take a look at the following texts which show Jesus’ obedience to the Father.
“Or do you think that I cannot now pray to My Father, and He will provide Me with more than twelve legions of angels?” (Matthew 26:53, NKJV).
“He went a little farther and fell on His face, and prayed, saying, ‘O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will’” (Matthew 26:39, NKJV).
“For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me” (John 6:38, NKJV).
Quoting Psalms 40:7, Paul refers to how Jesus came to earth to fulfill Old Testament prophecies about Him being our Savior and to obey the will of His Father:
“Therefore, as He was coming into the world, He said: You did not desire sacrifice and offering, but You prepared a body for Me. You did not delight in whole burnt offerings and sin offerings. Then I said, ‘See—it is written about Me in the scroll—I have come to do Your will, God’” (Hebrews 10:5–7, ESV).
In His role as our Savior, substitute, and example, Jesus lived in perfect harmony with the Father, showing us how to do the same.
More next on how Jesus’ divinity and humanity affect us personally.
Why Jesus Christ’s divinity and humanity is still relevant today
Jesus’ humanity is the key link between God and us. And His divinity links us to heaven.
Together, between Christ’s deity and humanity, we have the assurance of God’s nearness and understanding of what we are going through. And that is because God Himself experienced the woes, temptations, and suffering in the person of Jesus.
Jesus came in human flesh, as a human being, to be both our perfect substitute and our perfect example.
He was the only human to live without sin. Which is why He alone could be our substitute and die on the cross to provide us with His perfect righteousness (Hebrews 4:15).
This is key to the plan of salvation.
We as human beings have sinned, and, as a result, face the penalty of death. We deserve it. As the Bible puts it, “The wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23, NKJV).
But because Jesus came down and lived as one of us, He tasted death for us:
“But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, for the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor, that He, by the grace of God, might taste death for everyone” (Hebrews 2:9, NKJV).
And He is our example because He showed us what it means to live by faith. John made it plain that we are to follow Jesus’ example when he wrote:
“He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked” (1 John 2:6, NKJV).
In fact, in the final deceptions of the last days, God’s people are depicted as those who “keep the commandments of God and have the faith of Jesus” (Revelation 14:12, NKJV).
They will have a faith that reflects the faith of Jesus—the faith that enables them to keep God’s law of love. Just like Jesus did.
That Sabbath would not be about a checklist of rules but about a mindset of rest. It’s a day to set aside daily cares and connect with God, our Creator. Out of our love for Him, we take the principles of the Bible and apply them in the way we keep the Sabbath.
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What is Jesus doing right now?
The Seventh-day Adventist Church believes God made marriage and family as special blessings to reflect Him and His love for us.
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Seventh-day Adventists believe that the idea of the church is an important biblical concept.
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