Page 4 - January 2023 - Truth & Tidings
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“       ruly, truly, I say to you, before   nal), then Christ could not have revealed

              Abraham was, I am” (Joh 8:58).     God to man, we have not been redeemed
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        T This is certainly one of the great-  by God, nor have we been united to God in
        est declarations ever made. “Truly, truly”   Christ. In fact, if Christ were not eternally
        tells us that what follows is fundamentally   God, then we are blatant idolators for wor-
        important. And what follows is Christ’s   shiping Him.  Clearly, Christ’s eternality
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        affirming His own eternality and deity!   is a fundamental truth!
        The Jews heard in His words the language   The Apostle John treated it as funda-
        of Isaiah 41:4, “I, the LORD, the first, and   mental. He opened his Gospel echoing
        with the last; I am he.” They understood   Genesis 1:1. When time, space and matter
        Christ’s claims and tried to stone Him for   were brought into existence, there, pres-
        blasphemy.                            ent, John states, “was the Word, and the
          In the centuries since, many have   Word was with God, and the Word was
        thrown stones at these same truths. Arius   God” (Joh 1:1). “Was” juxtaposes “be-
        taught that the Son was not eternal, lead-  came” in verse 14. The Word’s existence
        ing to a landslide of heretical conclusions.    outside of time contrasts the moment in
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        He reasoned that the Son “was begotten   time when He “became” flesh. The one
        timelessly, before the aeons,” but that   whose glory is that “of the only Son from
        “there was when he was not.” If the Son   the Father,” this one always was, and this
        were not “eternal,” and if “begotten”   one became the man John knew.
        meant beginning, then, Arius concluded,   Christ declared His own pre-earthly
        “the Son has an origin, but God is unorigi-  existence on multiple occasions. For ex-
        nated.” This would mean the Father and
        the Son are not equals, and that the Son is   ample, He told Nicodemus that “no one
        not God. Arius slid still further into these   has ascended into heaven except he who
        diabolical lies and concluded that Christ   descended from heaven” (3:13). He asked
        was merely a created being. Athanasius   His disciples, “What if you were to see the
        was among those who countered Arius.   Son of Man ascending to where he was
        He argued that if Christ were not God   ³ My summary of Athanasius’ argument comes
        (which He could not be were He not eter-  from Donald Macleod, The Person of Christ, ed.
                                              Gerald Bray, Contours of Christian Theology
        ¹ Bible quotations in this article are from the   (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1998),
        ESV unless otherwise noted.           123. I am indebted to this resource for its
        ² For more details on Arianism, see “Ancient   systematic treatment of Christ’s pre-existence
        Errors, Modern Examples: Arianism” by Dan   and eternal sonship, and my article touches
        Shutt, Truth & Tidings, November 2021.  some of the many points that Macleod covers.

        4    TRUTH kTidings   January  2023
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