A. THE ONE AND ONLY SON
“Only begotten Son”
In original Latin of Apostles’ Creed – Filium eius unicum (“his only Son”)
We are used to the phrase “only begotten Son,” because that is the word used in Nicene Creed and how the popular King James Version (KJV) renders the Greek word μονογενης (monogenes). We see this word in passages like John 1:14, 18; John 3:16.
- “Begotten”— Gives the idea that he came out or was generated out of the Father. But this cannot apply to the Son. He is co-eternal and co-essential with the Father and the Spirit.
- μονογενης (monogenes) refers to being one of the kind (BDAG). One and only. ESV and other modern translations get it right (Read John 1:14)
Now “only begotten Son” may confuse us as if Christ is born or came out of God. But it is better and more biblical to say “one and only Son of God.” “iisa lang at natatangi, bugtong na Anak, o walang katulad”
And that’s the significance of the word μονογενης (monogenes). It emphasizes the “uniqueness” of the Son, the “uniqueness” of Jesus Christ. He is the “only Son of God.”
“Son” — not by generation but by being co-essential with the Father (as a human son shares the same nature with the father), and by relationship to the Father within the economic Trinity.
Why and how is he unique?
Because he is like the Father in all respect. That is—he is not just a good teacher, not a mere prophet who came from God, not a good moral example. Jesus Christ is God himself.
Hebrews 1:3 – “He is the radiance (reflection/light) of the glory of God and the exact imprint (same copy) of his (Father’s) nature, and he (Christ) upholds the universe by the word of his power.”
That’s why even in his human flesh, we see the deity and power of the Son manifest. (The story of Jesus, being asleep but them calms the storm in the sea, while the disciples were filled with great fear).
Matthew 8:27 – “What sort of man is this, that even the winds and the sea obey him?” (Hindi na ‘to tao)
And they were right in their question. What we see in Jesus is one who is not just a man. He is no ordinary man. He is God. He is the Lord of everything.
Colossians 1:15-16 – “He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn (not by generation, but he has all the rights and inheritance) of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him.”
Lahat ng bagay ay galing sa kanya, sa pamamagitan niya, at para sa kanya. Together with the Father and the Spirit, the Son is the source, the accomplisher, and the benefactor of all things. Everything is made to serve him as the King of kings and Lord of lords.
That what being God is.
So here, we see the Lordship of Jesus Christ in this first respect: Being the one and only eternal Son of God, he is sovereign over all creation. He has all authority to govern everything for the benefit of his kingdom. He is Lord of everything.
- Consider the great earthly powers and kingdom in the Old Testament (Babylon, Cyrus of Persia), they were called as “servants” of God. While they enjoyed the power and dominion, God was using them to fulfill his purposes.
- Consider the enemies of Christ. Paul in Acts 9:1 was “breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord.” But on his way to Damascus, Christ confronts him and Paul recognizes the supreme glory and authority, and asks, “Who in you, Lord?” (Acts 9:4-5). Tumupi siya eh. And the voice from heaven answers, “I am Jesus whom you are persecuting… But go to the city and it will be told you what to do.”
Here’s the truth: No matter what people will do, Christ is the King of kings and Lord of lords. Maraming mga tao na walang pakialam kay Cristo ‘ni hindi nila kinikilala si Cristo bilang Panginoon at Tagapagligtas. Maraming mga masasama at matataas na tao na binabale-wala ang Diyos at nais pang labanan ang Diyos at ang Kanyang iglesiya. But as Psalm 2 says, “he who sits in the heavens laughs” at them!
God the Father has already appointed Christ on the throne. And whether we acknowledge Christ as Lord or not, it doesn’t change his sovereignty and authority over us. And that’s why we better bow down, worship him, and submit to him willingly or he shall break us and we realize how foolish it is to go against this King of kings and Lord of lords.
B. JESUS CHRIST, OUR LORD
Now aside from the Lordship of Christ because of his divinity, we learn his lordship in this second respect: Jesus Christ is Lord because as the mediator between God and the elect, Christ purchased them with his blood to be his own. Christ is now their Lord and Master, and the church belongs to him as his people.
1 Peter 1:18-19 – “… you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot.”
“Ransomed” / “Redeemed” – Released by paying ransom, released from someone else’s possession. The same idea with slavery. You are a slave to someone until someone else’s pays for your release and you belong to that new master.
Heidelberg Catechism states that because of Christ’s redemptive work, believers are freed from the tyranny of the devil. Does that mean that Christ paid the redemption price to Satan?—as if Satan owns us and God has to offer to Satan for our release? (E.g., Fellow masters, fellow businessmen making deals)
No. Even as sinners, it is God who owns everyone. Yet because of the fallenness of mankind, God leaves people to themselves (to their own sins and lusts) as judgment and allows Satan to exercise his temptation to men (blinding them) so they continue in their wickedness. And only in that respect that Satan is said to have some “rule” or “hold” of us.
But as Christ already brought satisfaction to the justice of God, we are justified by faith and God embraces us no longer as objects of his wrath but as objects of favor. Hence, he frees us from the curse and dominion of sin and protects us from the devil, who desires nothing but to destroy mankind together with himself.
So Jesus is Lord of believers because by his blood, they now belong to him. Paul exhorts the Corinthian believers, “You are not your own, for you were bought with a price” (6:19-20). Christ is their new Master.
And that’s the question for us: Is Jesus Christ your Lord?
You cannot have Christ as your Savior without having Christ as your Lord as well.
And we have to be careful with the state of our souls here. Because Christ himself warns, in Matthew 7:21, that “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven.” Luke 6:46, he says: “Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord’ and not do what I tell you?”
Satan is recognized as the prince of this world, he rules in this earthly and fallen kingdom, he is at work in the sons of disobedience. Kaya dalawa lang po yan: Either si Cristo ang ating Panginoon o ang diyablo?
[NOW, HOW DO WE KNOW THAT CHRIST IS INDEED OUR LORD?]
Four questions that call for self-examination.
- How did Christ become your Lord/King? Paano siya umupo sa trono at nagsimulang nag-hari sa buhay mo?
Christ cannot be Lord in a soul where sin and Satan still reigns. Hindi natin pwedeng sabihin na si Cristo na ang Panginoon ng buhay natin, pero ang kasalanan pa rin ang namumuno dito.
Look at your conversion. Although election is something we cannot determine for sure (expect for its fruits), we believers can be conscious of our conversion. We can experience it!
I’m not talking about your [external] “conversion experience” (e.g., altar call, crying). I’m referring to what happened in your heart when you start to think that you are now a Christian. (It can’t be that you just find yourself attending church).
Is there repentance of sin? Is there mourning over your sinful and hopeless state? Is there a renouncing of your self? Is there a hatred and despising of sin and this world replaced with a desire and love for Christ? Is there faith and embracing of Christ?
Look at your desires, your aspirations, your activities, your priorities! Who is at the center? Can you say with Paul, “I have been crucified with. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me” (Galatians 2:20)
If none of these have been real to you, pray that God will give you true repentance and faith in Christ. Pray that God will give you true conversion.
- Whose law do you submit to? Kaninong kautusan na ang sinusunod natin? Sino na ang pinapakinggan natin?
In the same way, my brothers and sisters, Christ paid the price, died for us, so that we will be free from the bondage and power of sin! Hindi na tayo pinamumunuan ni Satanas, hindi na tayo obligadong makinig sa kanyang tukso. Even despite the weakness of our flesh, we can say no to sin!
Paul exhorts in Romans 6, consider yourselves as dead to sin and alive to Christ! Romans 6:17-18 — “… thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness.”
As believers, we are now slaves of Christ. We are now bound to him and to his will. And here’s the comfort: The duty he gives us is not for our destruction. Living in righteousness and obedience to him is for our good and our sanctification leading to eternal life.
So let us keep praying that God will give us hearts that say, “Oh, how I love Your law!”
- Whom do you sympathize with? Kanino tayo nakikiramay at nakikisama? Nakay-nino ang ating “loyalty”?
Now true believers are loyal to Christ. We see this in Peter:
- I’ll go with you wherever you go, even if I die
- Ready to fight during Christ’s arrest
- Followed Christ even in secret
- Though denied Christ, he cried bitterly (for he has failed Christ)
- In the end, Peter conversing with Christ: “You know that I love you.”
Likewise, are we loyal to our master? When our Lord disciplines us, do we complain or are we thankful that still our Master cares for us?
When we look around us and see the ungodliness, are we indifferent? Or do we feel sad for our Master and wish and pray that everyone will know him?
Do we serve Christ? As believers, we worship and serve Christ not because he needs it, but he because deserves it. And when we serve him, we don’t take credit. We say, “We are unworthy servants. We only did what we ought to do.”
People who serve kings wouldn’t care about their honor or wage. They are already satisfied to be in service to the king.
Let us pray that like Paul, we’ll be proud and satisfied to call ourselves, “Slaves of Christ!” And may Christ’s joy be our joy, his honor be our honor
- To whom do you go for comfort, for protection, for strength? Kanino tayo lumalapit bilang ating sandigan at kalakasan sa buhay na ‘to?
Consider friends, what kind of Lord Jesus is. Anong klaseng Panginoon siya?
- He is a just Lord, and he will show no mercy to his enemies! And it is a sincere warning to us all! In 2 Thessalonians 1:8-9, “Christ will come back and will surely inflict vengeance upon his enemies, upon those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel.” At hindi Siya magpapalubag loob sa mga taong ayaw sa Kanya.
As we keep hearing his gospel, do not reject it. Listen to it. Live by it. It is your life!
- But friends, through Christ be severe against his enemies, this same Lord is gentle to his subjects. Paano dini-disiplina ng Diyos? Bilang isang mapagmahal na Ama. Paano namumuno si Cristo sa atin? Bilang isang mahinahon at maunawain na Hari.
Matthew 12:20 (from Isaiah 42) — “… a bruised reed (parang tambo na manipis) he will not break, and a smoldering wick (bumabaga na lang na mitsa) he will not quench, until he brings justice to victory.”
Even among ourselves, there are those who are weaker than others. But Christian, our Lord knows all our weakness. At bagama’t madalas tayong nanghihina sa ating pananampalataya at pag-sunod sa Kanya, hindi Niya hahayaan na tuluyan tayong manghihina at mawawala sa Kanyang biyaya.
And that should give us comfort in our weakness and encourage us to find strength in our King! Paul says, “Be strong in the Lord and in the power of his might!”
It is Christ who fights for us, he fights ahead of us—[OT times] “Do not fear, for it is God who fights for you!”
But Christ is no weak King of his followers! (Though there was a time when his disciples fled when he was arrested). But it was so only for the purpose of his sacrificial death, and afterwards he overcome death and was raised up in glory.
[HOW CAN WEE SEE CHRIST’S STRENGTH AND MIGHT TODAY?]
Look at yourself, Christian! Look at the church! Despite all the sinfulness and wickedness of this world, despite all the efforts to destroy God’s Word, despite all the distractions of this life—Christ by the Spirit continues to call and convert his people, making them his willing servants, a kingdom of priest, a holy nation, an army of God’s people. And he is able to sanctify them, and keep them until the end, and nothing can snatch them out of his hand.
Do you find strength and victory in him? O friends, “Be strong in the Lord and in the power of his might!” Not in yourself. Not in anything else. Because Christ has saved us, overcome sin and death for us, and his victory is secured… let us rally to him.
Let us put our faith in Christ. Let us and worship and follow him as our Savior and our Lord.
Reuel Dawal is the Minister of the Word and Sacraments at ZCRC. He was an intern prior to being ordained and installed as the church's new pastor. He is currently finishing his Biblical and Theological Studies at the Miami International Seminary (MINTS) online. He and his wife Yeng are married since 2017 and lives in Imus, Cavite.