What Seventh-day Adventists Believe about God the Son
They believe that while Jesus is fully God, He came to this earth, first as a human infant (Luke 1:30-33), who then grew to adulthood and who lived and died as a human being like us (Philippians 2:5-8).
Here’s what this post will cover:
- Jesus is fully divine
- Jesus referred to Himself as God
- Jesus as the Creator
- Why Christ’s divinity matters
- What it means when the Bible calls Jesus “God’s only begotten Son”
- Jesus was also fully human
- Why the humanity and divinity of Christ is still relevant today
The full humanity of Jesus and His full divinity is 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.”
Jesus Christ is fully divine
The Bible teaches that Jesus is God (John 1:1), and for Adventist Christians, the Bible and the Bible alone must be the source of all teachings and practices (2 Timothy 3:16).
We find evidence for the divine nature of Christ 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.
And 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).
And 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)! 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, God the Son, 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 because He is God.
Did Jesus Ever Call Himself God?
Through the ages, Bible students have seen numerous places in which Jesus uses the phrase, “I Am,” in ways that recall God’s own name (John 6:35; John 9:5; John 11:25).
“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)1”
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 done that other than if they believed what He said was making Himself out to be God? He said only, “I AM,” and they understood this as Jesus referring to Himself as God, the 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).
Also, 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 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.”
In other words, Jesus is saying, “I am God.”
Jesus as 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.)
“Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness” (Genesis 1:26, NKJV).
There are also 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, and this text says that Jesus was the Word and that the “Word was God [Theos].”
The text also says that “All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made” (John 1:3, NKJV).
In other words, 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.
Why did Jesus Come to Earth Instead of God the Father?
Christians believe Jesus came to earth for a two-fold reason:
- To live a sinless life so He would be worthy to sacrifice His life for us.
- To be our example for how we should live our lives in service to God.
One of the central teachings of Scripture is that Jesus Christ came to the earth as a human being like us (John 1:14; 1 Timothy 2:5; Philippians 2:7; Galatians 4:4; Luke 2:7).
And Jesus came to be our perfect example of what it means to live a life of faith and obedience.
In other words, though fully God, Jesus was also fully human. And 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.
With this understanding, take a look at the following texts which show Jesus’ role of 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).
In His role of our Savior, our substitute, and our example, Jesus lived in perfect harmony with the Father. He had to; otherwise what possible example could He be for us?
Yet, while He did this, He was still fully God (Philippians 2:5-7).
What Does it Mean for Jesus to be God’s “Only Begotten Son”?
The text in question 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” (John 3:16, NKJV).
The phrase “only begotten son” certainly sounds as if Jesus, as a “begotten” Son, 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,” doesn’t really mean “only begotten,” as in “being born.”
As we have already seen, the Bible teaches that Jesus had always existed.
Instead, the term monogenes means “one of a kind, 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, type.” Thus, it is referring to “one of a kind.”
The correct translation appears in other versions: “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).
Look at Hebrews 11:17, which reads:
“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, in that 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. It has nothing to do with His origins.
Why Christ’s divinity matters
The deity 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 still have the promise of eternal life with Him.
“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).
Look at what this teaches us about God’s 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.
What Do Adventists Believe about the Humanity of Jesus?
Though Jesus Christ was fully God, He was also fully human.
But how could that be?
We don’t understand, but 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 if we can’t fully understand gravity, what makes us think that we can fully understand the nature of Jesus as both God and man?
But along with the deity of Christ, Scripture affirms Jesus’ humanity.
Jesus was always God, but He wasn’t always human. He took on human form and was born among us (Luke 2:7) without any pomp and circumstance.
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 just like we do (John 4:6); He was tempted as humans are tempted. The difference was, He never sinned (Mark 4:1).
Christ’s humanity was powerfully revealed in the story of Jesus in the wilderness. There, the devil sought to take advantage of Christ’s humanity, tempted Him three times in different ways (Matthew 4:1-10).
What’s important, first, 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, quoting Scripture each time.
For example, when the devil sought to make Jesus doubt His status as the Son of God, Christ 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.
Jesus was human in form, and He did not use any advantages of His divinity since we humans would not be able to do that. So He relied completely on God the Father and the Holy Spirit, just the way we are do.
More texts about the humanity of Jesus include:
“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, it was necessary for him to be made in every respect like us, his brothers and sisters, so that he could be our merciful and faithful High Priest before God. Then he could offer a sacrifice that would take away the sins of the people” (Hebrews 2:17, NLT).
“And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us” (John 1:14, NKJV).
“For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus” (1 Timothy 2:5, NKJV).
Why Jesus Christ’s Divinity and Humanity is Still Relevant Today
In many ways, the humanity of Jesus is the key link between God and us.
The deity of Christ links Jesus to heaven. The humanity of Christ links Jesus to Earth.
Together, between Christ’s deity and humanity, we have the assurance of God’s nearness and God’s understanding of what we are going through.
And that is because God Himself experienced the woes, temptations and suffering just like us in the person of Jesus.
Jesus’ humanity shows us that no matter what we face, we can be faithful and obedient to God through linking to Him.
Jesus came in human flesh, as a human being, to be both our perfect substitute and our perfect example.
Our substitute because 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.
“The wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23, NKJV).
But because Jesus came down and lived as a human being and 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.
“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, like Him, to keep the commandments of God.
By His death on the cross, Jesus gives His people victory over the evil forces that still seek to control us while the great controversy rages on. But by daily feeding on the Word of God, along with prayer, humility and surrender, we can grow in our knowledge and love of God.
We have been freed from our past life and now, “we also should walk in newness of life” (Romans 6.4). Our lives will then reveal to others the love and character of God (Mark 5:16).
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