HOME   People do good because they are human, not because they are religious! 

Do not give God any credit for the good they do, they did it!

 

THE PRE-EXISTENCE OF CHRIST

Please read Roger Haight S.J., Jesus: Symbol of God (Orbis, 1999) for verification that the New Testament does not really teach that Jesus lived before he was born.
 
Orthodox Christianity holds that the pre-existent Jesus had no beginning for he was God. The Arians and the Jehovah’s Witnesses hold that Jesus was not God and did exist before his conception but was the first being to be made.

Some cults deny that Jesus had a life before he was conceived in his mother’s womb. The Christadelphians are the biggest.

They argue that verses (like John 6:38) in which Jesus says he came down from Heaven are figurative. Jesus said that the bread that the Hebrews ate in the desert which miraculously appeared on the ground came from Heaven which adds weight to the figurative interpretation. Came from Heaven means came from God. All things have come down from Heaven if all things have come from God (James 1:17). But Jesus’ usage infers that he came from God in some unique way – that God sent him as the supreme revelation and likeness of God and not that he was in Heaven first.

Jesus asked God to glorify him with the glory he had with him before the creation of the world (John 17:5). Before the creation of the world is a figurative term for the timeless state. Strictly speaking there was no before because there was no time. Jesus was asking for the glory that is his in the timeless state. Jesus could have originated in his mother’s womb and it would still be true that he is in eternity as long as he enters it sometime.

This kind of talk could be figurative for they all believed that God told Abraham that that he had made him the father of many nations before it happened. God talked as if it had happened already. Romans 4:17 remarked upon this.

When Luke said that Jesus increased in favour with God and in wisdom (2:52). The in favour with God bit indicates that Jesus was just a boy who had to grow in obedience the same as the rest of us. He had no life as an angel before his conception to give him a head start. He was just a boy who may have done stupid things through weakness but not necessarily malice and who developed obedience out of that weakness and struggle.

Jesus accepted the text of Psalm 2. This has God saying somebody was his son and telling him that he begat him the day he said it. Jesus said the psalm was about himself. It could be argued as follows: “The persons who first heard the Psalm would have understood it to have been saying that the king of Israel was being spiritually begotten by God that day. You can’t beget a son you already have. Therefore Jesus was hinting that he was not pre-existent for he said he was begotten as God’s son after becoming a man. He said he was the Son of God from his first moment of existence as a man. He was not before so he didn’t exist. Had he existed before his birth he would have been God’s son before he became man.”
 
Some think that Jesus must have been spiritually begotten by God at his baptism for God calls him his son at his baptism in a way that parallels the declaration in the Psalm. The Psalm says, “You are my son.” At the baptism God says, “You are my beloved son”. The beloved is contained implicitly in the Psalm. If Jesus took thirty years to become the Son of God and to be spiritually begotten by him it implies that it was not likely that he had a life before he was born.
 
He certainly was never God if any of this is true for Christianity teaches that God the Son is the Son of the Father and that Jesus was God the Son incarnate. If the Son never became incarnate he would still be the Son of God.

There is a nice sort of hymn in Philippians. It says that though he was like God or in the form of God, Jesus did not act like a Lord or cling to equality with God. This is said to be a thing to be grasped. But he emptied himself to take the form of a servant to be born in the likeness of humankind. Does this really mean that Jesus was pre-existent? Perhaps God miraculously made Jesus conscious from his conception or later so that Jesus freely decided that he would be born in the likeness of other people and not as a glorious and supernatural being. The doctrine of the perfection of Jesus implies that he must have been supplied with the right wisdom to develop absolute holiness by a miracle at some stage before the age of seven or thereabouts when the power to sin manifests. Luke said that Jesus had to grow in wisdom so God did not settle for making him holy the easy way but gave him the wisdom to progress in it the hard way (Hebrews 5:8,9). When Jesus decided for holiness he emptied himself. The passage does not need the idea of pre-existence at all so it should be kept out of interpretations of the passage.
 
It is possible as this is a hymn it is not chronological. “Though he was in the form of God, Jesus did not count equality with God, a thing to be grasped. He emptied himself taking the form of a servant being born in the likeness of men.” It could mean that as Jesus was born in the likeness of men he took on the form of a servant which doesn’t make it say that Jesus became a servant and emptied himself by being born. Its an emotional hymn. It is poetry. How literally could we take it? You might write of someone holy that they took on conception and being conceived just to help others without meaning it seriously or literally.

Colossians 1:15-19 seems to assert that Jesus was pre-existent and lived even before the world was made. It says that Jesus existed in eternity and was before all things that were created. If you are eternal you are before all things in the sense that you were there before time began. This does not refute the notion that Jesus’ existence began at his conception. If we will live forever and enter eternity or timelessness then the same as this text says about Jesus can be said about us.

Jude 4:5 mentions that Jesus is our only Lord and Master and then that the Lord brought Israel out of Egypt. This seems to say that Jesus is God because he is the only Lord and to say it again by saying that he delivered the Israelites because the scriptures say God did this.

King Jesus is the only Lord because God has left it to him to tell us what he wants. God, however, is the only real Lord and boss because even Jesus had to do what he commands.

The Lord who brought Israel out of Egypt may not be Jesus. The Lord means God and was a title used for Jesus too.

The spiritual rock that sustained the Israelites in the desert was Christ (1 Corinthians 10:4). Jesus being an eternal timeless being since he rose could have been around to do this before he was created. But if Jesus atoned for sins or pacified God he could have been their rock, their saving rock, without being alive then.

Hebrews 10:5-7 is merely saying what was in Jesus’ heart when he came into the world. It is not likely to be claiming that Jesus literally said God prepared him a body and that he has come to do God’s will. Jesus said it in his attitude. When Jesus said that he has come he said it after he became man so don’t suppose that the verse is saying he said them before that time.
  
Jesus is called the firstborn which is a title for the most important child not just the first. It does not imply that Jesus was the first to be created as the Jehovah’s Witnesses say.
 
The Bible does not clearly say Jesus lived before he was born. It doesn't say he is God either.

 

APPENDIX

 

Alan Hayward - Did Jesus really come down from heaven?


Did Jesus Christ really come down from Heaven?


Introduction

Before we begin it is necessary to make one thing absolutely clear.
The Lord Jesus Christ is the Son of God. He is the greatest Being in all the
universe, apart from God Himself. The purpose of this booklet is to honour the
Lord Jesus, as he should be honoured.

Unfortunately, the Bible's teaching about the Lord Jesus is often misunderstood.
In a well-meaning but misguided attempt to honour Jesus, many churches teach
things about him that are not Biblical. This booklet sets out to correct these
wrong ideas.

This is not from a desire to criticise anybody's religion, but simply to show
what the Bible really teaches about Jesus, the Son of God. Only when we
understand this can we give the Lord the glory that he deserves.

Alan Hayward

"I Came Down from Heaven"

The title of this booklet is a question: did Jesus Christ come down from heaven?
In Chapter 6 of the Gospel of John there is a verse which appears to answer that
question. Jesus said:

"I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will, but the will of him who
sent me." (Verse 38.)

But we must not jump to a conclusion. This subject is not nearly as simple as it
might seem.

A difficulty arises because there are two very different kinds of language,
literal language and figurative language. Both kinds are used by Jesus in the
chapter we are considering.

In verse 64 he said, "There are some of you that do not believe." This is
literal language. It means exactly what it says. Even a child could not mistake
its meaning.

But many other verses are not like this. Take verses 53 and 54, for instance.
Here Jesus said:

"I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood,
you have no life in you; he who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal
life."

This is figurative language. It does not mean what it appears to say; instead,
it carries a deeper meaning. You have to think carefully to discover its real
meaning. Consequently, if we are not careful we can easily misunderstand it.

As a matter of fact the unbelieving Jews did misunderstand this and similar
sayings of Jesus. They said, "How can this man give us his flesh to eat?"

Perhaps they thought Jesus was preaching cannibalism! Whatever they thought,
they were very much mistaken.

Well, what about the statement, "I came down from heaven." Is this literal, or
figurative?

There is good reason to think that it could be figurative. In verse 31 of the
same chapter there is a mention of what the Old Testament called "manna". This
was a kind of bread which God provided, by a miracle, for His people to eat
while they were in the desert. The words of verse 31 are, "He (God) gave them
bread from heaven to eat."

This is obviously figurative language. This miraculous bread was not baked in
heaven and then delivered to the earth. The statement that it came from heaven
informs us that the God of heaven created it on earth.

There is a famous hymn which people sing at harvest time. The chorus begins,
"All good gifts around us are sent from heaven above." These words are taken
straight from the New Testament, from James 1:17, which says that every good
gift "is from above, coming down from the Father." When farmers sing that hymn,
they do not imagine that their crops literally come down "from heaven above."
They simply mean that God gives us our harvests.

More Figurative Language

The Bible uses this sort of figurative language about men, as well as about
things. It tells us that "there was a man sent from God, whose name was John."
(John 1:6.) Yet John was never in heaven. "Sent from God" simply means that God
gave him a special job to do.

But this explanation could only apply to those verses that actually speak of
Jesus "coming down" from heaven. There are a number of other passages which seem
to suggest, in one way or another, that Jesus once lived in heaven, long before
he appeared on earth. This is one of them:

"Father (said Jesus), glorify me in your own presence with the glory which I had
with you before the world was made." (John 17:5)

What are we to make of verses like that? Are they literal, or figurative? Did
Jesus really live with God in heaven before the world was made? Or do the words
carry some deeper meaning than this?

The purpose of this booklet is to let the Bible speak for itself and answer
those questions for us.

Three Views of Jesus

People who do not believe the Bible usually say that Jesus was just an ordinary
man. They are wrong. He was the Son of God. We need not waste any time
considering their point of view.

But we shall have to consider the three different views of Jesus that are held
by Bible-believing Christians. *

The first view is by far the most widely held. This is that Jesus is God
Almighty in human form. People who believe this often refer to Jesus as "the
Second Person in the Trinity," although it is not easy to discover exactly what
they mean by that phrase. According to this view, Jesus lived in heaven for ever
and ever before he appeared on earth.

The second view is taught by the body known as "Jehovah's Witnesses," and a few
smaller sects. They say that Jesus is not God, but is a mighty angel who was
created by God long ago. They, too, believe that Jesus lived in heaven for a
very long time before he lived on earth.

People who hold either of these views, of course, take literally the verses that
speak of Jesus coming from heaven.

The third view is held by Christadelphians and some others. According to this
view Jesus did not live personally in heaven before he was born on earth; and
the verses which refer to his heavenly origin must be understood figuratively.
This is the view that will be explained in this booklet. If the thought of it
surprises you, please be patient and read on. There is a great weight of Bible
evidence to support this view.

Jesus Was a Real Man

Jesus was not an ordinary, sinful man. Let us make ho mistake about that. He was
a unique man. He was the Son of God. Nevertheless, in a very real sense he was a
man and not God Almighty.

This does not mean that he ceased to be a man as soon as he went bodily to
heaven. The Bible teaches us to think of him as a man, even now. Long after
Jesus had risen from the dead and ascended to heaven, the New Testament was
making statements like this:

"God's grace is much greater, and so is his free gift to so many men through the
grace of the one man, Jesus Christ.... How much greater is the result of what
was done by the one man, Jesus Christ... many will be put right with God as the
result of the obedience of the one man." (Romans 5:15-19, Today's English
Version.)

"There is one God, and there is one mediator between God and man, the man Christ
Jesus." (1 Timothy 2:5.)

So Jesus really is a man. This is the undoubted teaching of the New Testament.

Now compare that with these words by the former Bishop of Woolwich, Dr.
Robinson, in his book, "Honest to God," in a passage where he was explaining how
most Christians view Jesus:

"Jesus was not a man born and bred, he was God for a limited period taking part
in a charade. He looked like a man, but underneath he was God dressed up - like
Father Christmas."

Many church people find the bishop's reference to Father Christmas offensive.
Yet apart from that, they agree that this is a fair statement of church
teaching. If Jesus was really God, or even a mighty angel who once lived in
heaven, then he was never a real man, but a Divine Person dressed up in human
flesh.

But the New Testament disagrees. It describes Jesus as a man.

This is our first reason for thinking that the usual view of Jesus is mistaken.

The Birth of Jesus

The birth of the Lord Jesus Christ was the result of a mighty miracle. His
mother was a young unmarried woman of excellent character. She was a virgin.
This was how it happened:

"The angel said to her, 'Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favour with
God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall
call his name Jesus... 'And Mary said to the angel, 'How shall this be, since I
have no husband?'

"And the angel said to her, 'The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power
of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be
called holy, the Son of God'." (Luke 1:30-35.)

Study those words closely. There is much to be learnt from them.

The child was to be Mary's own son. The angel did not say, "Mary, you will
produce a body of flesh for a Divine Person to come and live in." He said, "You
will conceive in your womb and bear a son." These words were obviously intended
to be understood literally. They describe the beginning of a new human life -
not the coming to earth of a Divine Person.

Also, if Jesus had been a Divine Person, millions of years older than Mary,
could he have been, in any real sense, her son? Yet he washer son, and not just
an unusual sort of foster child. Throughout the gospels she is called his
mother, and never his foster-mother.

On the other hand, although the man Joseph, who afterwards married Jesus'
mother, is sometimes called his father, we are not left in any doubt about the
real facts. Luke refers to Jesus as "the son, as was supposed, of Joseph." (Luke
3:23.)

So Jesus was truly the son of Mary, not a Divine Person pretending to be the son
of Mary. As children do, he took after his mother in many ways. That is what
made Jesus truly a man. Real men do not live in heaven before they are born, and
neither did this man. His miraculous conception and birth was the very beginning
of his existence as a person.

Human nature is weak, and full of temptations. As we shall see later, Jesus
inherited the weakness of human nature from his mother.

But that is only half the story. The angel made it plain that the son of Mary
was to be also the Son of God. "The power of the Most High will overshadow you;
therefore the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God", said the
angel. (Luke 1:35.)

Jesus also inherited many things from his other parent. God was his father, and
from God he inherited the desire to do what was good, always. It was this which
helped him to overcome the weakness of his human nature - to' fight temptation
and to conquer it.

The Childhood of Jesus

We are told very little about the childhood of Jesus. One thing which we are
told is extremely important. Luke describes the way he grew up like this:
"Jesus increased in wisdom and in stature, and in favour with God and man."
(Luke 2:52.)

Those who believe that Jesus was actually God are perplexed by this verse. How
could God grow wiser, and increase in favour with Himself?

The very idea is absurd. Obviously Luke did not believe that Jesus was God,
dwelling for a time in a boy's body.

What of the other idea, that Jesus was a mighty angel from heaven, inhabiting
the body of a growing boy? This is no better. Such an angel must surely have
been perfect, long before he came to earth. An angel within a boy's body could
not "increase is wisdom and. .. in favour with God."

No, this verse describes the growing up of a real boy. His body developed. His
store of wisdom was steadily enlarged. And his character matured so well that
his Father became more and more pleased with him.

His Victory over Temptation

It is said that professional boxers or wrestlers sometimes get together before a
fight and strike a bargain. They agree not to hurt each other, although for the
sake of the crowds they will make it look as if they are fighting hard. They
even decide who shall win this mockery of a fight, and of course they agree to
share the prize money.

There is a name for this sort of deception. It is called a "pushover."

Now the Lord Jesus is described in the Bible as fighting a tremendous battle
against human temptations. He fought temptation every day; and every single time
he won.

All of us know what temptation is. If Jesus was a real man, then we can
understand what a struggle he had. But if Jesus was a heavenly being dressed up
in a human body, then it was not a fight at all - it was just a "pushover"!
For there is no possibility of God or an angel being tempted like us. The Bible
says, "God cannot be tempted with evil."(James 1:14.) Yet we are told this about
Jesus:

"We have a high priest who was tempted in every way that we are, but did not
sin." (Hebrews 4:15, Today's English Version.) Once when Jesus was fighting
against temptation he said to God, "Not my will, but yours, be done." (Luke
22:42.)

Evidently Jesus had a will of his own which had to be crushed, so that God's
will could be done instead. If he was truly man, we can understand this verse.
But it makes no sense at all if Jesus was really God, or an angel in human form.

How Jesus Became Perfect

There are two very different ways in which something can be less than perfect.

It is important to appreciate the difference between them.

An old house that is nearly ready to fall down is not perfect. This is because
it is rotten: there is a lot wrong with it.

A new house that is only half built is also not perfect. But this is a different
sort of imperfection. There is nothing wrong with this half-built house. It is
fine, as far as it goes. But it is not yet complete.

Now Jesus was never imperfect in the first sense. There was never anything wrong
with him. He never sinned, not once.

Nevertheless, his character had to be developed gradually, like a house being
built, until it was complete. In this sense he had to become perfect, as these
Bible quotations show:

"Although he was a Son, he learned obedience through what he suffered: and being
made perfect he became the source of eternal salvation." (Hebrews 5:8, 9.)

"For it was fitting that he, for whom and by whom all things exist, in bringing
many sons to glory, should make the pioneer of their salvation perfect through
suffering." (Hebrews 2:10.)

Once more it is clear that there is something badly wrong with the popular idea,
that Jesus was a Divine Being clothed with a human body. Can you imagine such a
Being "learning obedience through what he suffered"? Can you conceive of such a
Divine Person being "made perfect through suffering"?

Of course not. We have here a description of a real man building up a perfect
character, layer upon layer.

If Jesus had been God Himself, or a great angel, then he would have been perfect
long before he came to this world. But this was not so. Jesus, we are plainly
told, only became perfect through his sufferings on earth.

His Death on the Cross

The death of the Lord Jesus presents yet another problem to those who hold the
more usual views about his nature. God cannot die, says the Bible. (Daniel 12:7;
1 Timothy 6:16.) Neither can angels (Matthew 22:30.)

Yet, as everybody knows, Jesus died on the cross.

Some people think they have an answer to this. They say, "Yes, but it was only
his body that died. The Spirit Being inside the body lived on."

This will not do. The Bible says that it was not only the body of Jesus that
died. We are told that "He poured out his soul to death." (Isaiah 53:12.)

Moreover, the Bible shows us that Jesus dreaded death as much as we do. Death
was a frightening ordeal to him, just as it is to us.

"In the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud
cries and tears, to him who was able to save him from death, and he was heard
for his godly fear." (Hebrews 5:7.)

This also is strong evidence that Jesus was neither God nor an angel in human
form. Would such a Being have suffered great distress at the thought of losing
his temporary human body?

Surely, only a real man, who was really about to die, could feel like that about
death.

Why Jesus is at God's Right Hand

At the present time Jesus is seated at God's right hand (Psalm 110:1; Hebrews
1:13.). In these words and in various other ways the Bible tells us how great
Jesus is. He is the second greatest person in all creation, second only to God
Himself.

Now suppose that we were to ask the question, "Why is this? Why is Jesus so
great? Why has God given such a high place to him?"

Those who believe that Jesus is God or an angel have a simple answer. They say,
"Because he always was great. He was a great Spirit in heaven before he came to
earth. Afterwards he went back where he belonged. He returned to the high place
that he came from."

But this is not the answer of the Bible.

The Bible says that Jesus became great after his life on earth. It says that he
became great then because God made him great. And it tells us, time after time,
that God made him great because he had deserved it by what he did on earth.
"We see him crowned with glory and honour now because of the death he suffered."
(Hebrews 2:9, Today's English Version.) "Because he (Jesus) hath set his love
upon me (God), therefore will I deliver him: I will set him on high, because he
hath known my name." (Psalm 91:14, King James Version.)

"You (Jesus) love righteousness and hate wickedness, therefore God, your God,
has anointed you with the oil of gladness above your fellows." Psalm 45:7.)

"He humbled himself and became obedient unto death, even death on a cross.
Therefore God has highly exalted him." (Philippians 2:8,9.)

This, surely, is the final, conclusive evidence that Jesus is a real man. A real
man, but nevertheless a very special man. He is the only man who has ever
conquered human temptation completely. That is why he now Sits at God's right
hand.

Seeing Things from God's Point of View

On pages 1 and 2 we looked at the words of Jesus, "I came down from heaven."
Remembering the Bible-based words of the hymn, "All good gifts around us are
sent from heaven above", we saw that these words of Jesus could easily have been
figurative, not literal.

Now we can reach a more definite conclusion. In the light of all the plain
teaching we have looked at, we can be certain that Jesus was a real man. That
being so, his words about "coming down from heaven" simply must have been
figurative. We can be sure of that now. He evidently meant that his life began
when the God of heaven reached down to earth and worked a mighty miracle on his
mother, Mary.

This still leaves a number of puzzling verses. There are, for instance, the
words from John 17:5, where Jesus referred to the glory which he "had with God
before the world was made", and a few others? Bible passages where similar
expressions occur. Could this also be figurative language?

Yes, it could indeed. But to appreciate the meaning of such sayings we must make
a special effort to see things from God's point of view. There are many
differences between God and ourselves. The one that concerns us just now is
this. To us the future is unknown: we can only guess what will happen tomorrow.
But God knows the future; tomorrow is as real to Him as today is to us. That is
why Bible prophecy always comes true.

Paul commented on this fact in Romans 4:17. He pointed out that God had said to
Abraham in the Book of Genesis, "I have made you the father of many nations."
Note that word, 'have". Not, "I will make you," but, "I have made you". At that
time Abraham had only one child. But when God promises something, that promise
is certain. The thing is as good as done.

When a man makes a promise he normally says, "I will do such-and-such". But God,
through His prophets, frequently says about the future, "I have done
such-and-such", when He means that He is certainly going to do it.
In the second half of Romans 4:17 Paul drew out this same lesson. He said, in
the words of the New English Bible, that God "summons things that are not yet in
existence as if they already were."


The Future is Real to God

With a little help from the apostle Paul we have now established an important
principle. To us, only the past and the present are real. The future is hidden
from our eyes.

But God is different. He can see the future perfectly. The future is as real to

God as the present is to men. Consequently, God can speak of the future as if it
had already happened.

There are many places in the Bible where God has done this. Here are three of
them.

(1) "Now the word of the Lord came to me saying, 'Before I formed you in the
womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you.' "(Jeremiah 1:4,5.)
So God knew Jeremiah before the man was born! Obviously, this is figurative
language. It does not mean that Jeremiah really existed before his birth. It
means that God could look into the future and see Jeremiah before he was born.
To express it another way, before Jeremiah was born he existed in the mind of
God.

(2) "Before the world was made, God had already chosen us to be his in Christ,
so that we would be holy and without fault before him. Because of his love, God
had already decided that he would bring us to himself as his sons - this was his
pleasure and purpose." Ephesians 1:4,5, Today's English Version.)

So it was not only Jeremiah; God also knew the members of His church before they
were born! This, too, is figurative language, based on God's knowledge of the
future. In the second sentence of that quotation, Paul said what he really
meant, in literal language: "God had already decided that he would bring us to
himself."

(3)"He (Jesus) was destined before the foundation of the world but was made
manifest at the end of the times for your sake." (I Peter 1:20.)from which we
get the English word "prognosis". In that quotation the word "destined" is
interesting. It is the translation of a Greek word meaning "known in advance".
This is a form of the Greek word

Prognosis is a word mostly used by doctors. Like its Greek equivalent, it means
''advance knowledge''. A doctor might say, for instance, ''This man has cancer
of the stomach. My prognosis is that the bleeding will continue, and he will be
dead within a month."

Doctors, of course, can make mistakes. They admit that their prognosis, like
weather forecasts, often turn out to be wrong. God is different. He really does
know in advance. A prognosis by God is absolutely certain.

The verse quoted above, then, tells us that God knew all about Jesus before He
created the world. This is only what we might expect. We saw in the previous
quotation that God knew all about the early Christians before the world began.
Jeremiah, the early church, and the Lord Jesus Christ. They were all there, in
the mind of God, from the beginning of time.

So it is not surprising that Jesus should have said to his Father in heaven,
"Glorify me with the glory which I had with you before the world was made."
(John 17:5.)

We know now what he must have meant by this.

God the Great Planner

Whenever men propose to do anything important they begin by drawing up a plan.
Before launching an attack an army commander prepares a plan of battle, and
reveals it to his generals. Before any great building is erected an architect is
engaged to draw a plan of it.

The plans of men often come to nothing. The enemy might make a surprise move and
make it impossible for the generals to begin their attack. The customer might
run out of money and tell the architect to tear up his drawings.

But nothing can stop God from carrying out His plan for this world. As we have
seen, He began to speak as if His plan had already been completed, even before
He started work.

The Old Testament had a name for God's plan. It called it God's "Wisdom". The
New Bible Dictionary (which is written by churchmen, not by (Christadelphians)
says that wisdom in the Old Testament stands for "God's irresistible fulfilment
of what He has in His mind."

That is a good definition. It fits the following Old Testament passage very
well:

"Does not wisdom call, does not understanding raise her voice? ... at the
entrance of the portals she cries aloud: "... The Lord created me (Wisdom) at
the beginning of his work, the first of his acts of old. Ages ago I was set up,
at the first, before the beginning of the earth.' Proverbs 8:1-23.)

In other words, before God started work on this world He drew up His Plan
-Wisdom, as the Jews called it.

The Greeks - who believed in a god or gods, although not the God of the Bible -
gave it a different name. They called it God's "Word". The same Bible Dictionary
says that the Greek word for "word" means "both God's plan and God's power of
creation."

This is helpful because it enables us to understand the first chapter of John's
Gospel. John seems to have combined the Greek idea of God's Word with the Jewish
idea of God's Wisdom. His Gospel begins, "In the beginning was the Word."
Some people cannot make any sense out of this passage. Others think they can,
but they take the wrong sense from it, because they think the Word is a living
Being. (This, by the way, is why the translators in this passage refer to the
Word as "he" in our English Bible The Greek word for "he" also means "it", and
that is how it should be translated here.)

Now if we think of God's "Plan" instead of His "Word", and use "it" instead of
"he", this is what we learn from John 1:

"In the beginning was the Plan, and the Plan was with God, and the Plan was God.
It was in the beginning with God; all things were made through it, and without
it was not anything made that was made. In it was life, and the life was the
light of men. . . . And the Plan became flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace
and truth; we have beheld his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father."
(John 1:1-14.)

These words of John's summarise the Bible's teaching beautifully. Jesus did
exist in heaven from the beginning, but not as a person. He existed as a great
idea in God's mind, as the very centre of God's Plan. He did not exist as a
person until he was born in Bethlehem. Then, in John's phrase,"the Plan became
flesh".

Honouring Jesus

Now that we have seen what the Bible really teaches about Jesus we can begin to
honour him as, perhaps, we have never done before. You will see why this is so
if you think back over what we have discussed.

We saw that there are two kinds of language in the Bible. There is literal
language, which means exactly what it says on the surface. And there is
figurative language, which bears a deeper meaning.

At the time when Jesus said that he came down from heaven he had never been in
heaven personally. So his words cannot have been literally true, but I must have
a figurative meaning.

Because God knows all things He can see into the future. When God Almighty
decides to do something it is as good as done. So before He created the world
God drew up a plan. Jesus was the beginning of this plan, and the most important
part of it. The followers of Jesus were all in the plan, too. Both they and
their Lord are spoken of as existing before the creation of the world.
Neither he nor they were alive then, of course. They existed only in God's mind
as part of His plan. In this figurative sense they were all in heaven from the
beginning of creation.

But the actual life of the Lord Jesus Christ only began when he was born in
Bethlehem. His birth followed a miracle. God was his father, and Mary, his
mother, was a virgin.

She was his real mother, and he was just as much her son as he was God's son.
Because of this he was a real man. This meant that he suffered the same
temptations to sin as any other man.

But he conquered temptation, completely. He lived a sinless life, and developed
a perfect character. As a reward for this God raised him from the dead, and made
him the greatest person in the universe after God Himself.

If it pleased God to honour Jesus like that, we also should honour him, and God:
for the same reason. We should be able to look up towards heaven, and say to
God:

"Our Heavenly Father, your Son had to fight temptation, just as I have to fight
it. So he knows how I feel."

"But he won every single battle he fought against temptation, while I often lose
mine. Lord, I admire his great victory and wish I could follow his example more
perfectly than I do."

"But I am weak. Lord, please pity me and help me. Help me to be more like your
Son. Help me to try with all my heart to follow Him. Help me to love him and
honour him and obey him."

"Almighty God, your Son has been through this life of suffering and death
himself. Because I know he understands me, Lord, I pray through him for your
help. And I know that you will hear me."


By Alan Hayward, 1975

Paper copies of this pamphlet, and many others, are available free from the
publishers :
the Christadelphian Auxiliary Lecturing Society,
who may be contacted by email at info@christadelphian.org
or by writing to CALS., P.O. Box 316, Kings Norton, Birmingham B3O 3EA, England.

Scripture Quotations are from the Revised Standard Version of the Bible,
copyrighted 1946 and 1952 by
the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of
Christ in the USA, except where otherwise stated.

 
BOOKS CONSULTED

A CALL TO HERESY, Robert Van de Weyer, Lamp Press, London, 1989
ALLEGED DISCREPANCIES OF THE BIBLE, John W Haley, Whitaker House, Pennsylvania, undated
ASKING THEM QUESTIONS, Various, Oxford University Press, London, 1936
CHRIST IS GOD, Rev JP Arendzen DD, Augustine Publishing Company, Devon, 1987
CHRIST OUR LIGHT, J Buys SJ Geoffrey Chapman and Gill & Son, London-Melbourne, Dublin 1966
CHRISTIANITY FOR THE TOUGH-MINDED Ed John Warwick Montgomery, Bethany Fellowship Inc, Minneapolis, 1973
DID JESUS CHRIST REALLY COME DOWN FROM HEAVEN? Alan Hayward, Christadelphian ALS, Birmingham
DO CHRISTIANS BELIEVE IN THREE GODS? Radio Bible Class, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1992
EVIDENCE THAT DEMANDS A VERDICT, Vol 1, Josh McDowell, Alpha, Scripture Press Foundation, Bucks, 1995
FOUR GREAT HERESIES, John R Rice, Sword of the Lord, Murfreesboro, Tennessee, 1975
GOD AND THE HUMAN CONDITION, F J Sheed, Sheed & Ward, London 1967
HANDBOOK OF CHRISTIAN APOLOGETICS, Peter Kreeft & Ronald Tacelli, Monarch, East Sussex, 1994
HONEST TO GOD, John AT Robinson, SCM Press, London, 1963
JEHOVAH’S WITNESSES John Wijngaards, Catholic Truth Society, London, 1998
JESUS AND EARLY CHRISTIANITY IN THE GOSPELS, Daniel J Grolin, George Ronald, Oxford, 2002
JESUS GOD THE SON OR SON OF GOD? Fred Pearce Christadelphian Publishing Office, Birmingham
MERE CHRISTIANITY, CS Lewis, Fontana, Glasgow, 1975
MIRACLES, CS Lewis, Fontana, London, 1960
PRIESTLAND’S PROGRESS, Gerald Priestland, BBC, London, 1981
SCIENCE AND THE BIBLE, Henry Morris, Moody Press, Bucks, 1988
SET MY EXILES FREE, John Power, Logos Books, MH Gill & Son Ltd, Dublin, 1967
SOME MODERN FAITHS, Maurice C Burrell and J Stafford Wright, Intervarsity Press, Leicestershire, 1988
THE CASE FOR CHRIST, Lee Strobel, HarperCollins and Zondervan, Michigan, 1998
THE EARLY CHURCH, Henry Chadwick, Pelican, Middlesex, 1987
THE GODHEAD EXPLAINED, Christadelphian Press, Beverley, South Australia
THE METAPHOR OF GOD INCARNATE, John Hick, SCM Press, London, 1993
THE MYTH OF GOD INCARNATE, John Hick ed., SCM Press, London, 1977
THE NEW CULTS, Walter Martin, Vision House, Santa Ana, California, 1980
THE SPIRIT OF GOD, John Bedson, Lightstand Burbank CA 1984
THE UNAUTHORISED VERSION, Robin Lane Fox, Penguin Books, Middlesex, 1992
UNDERSTANDING THE CULTS, Josh McDowell and Don Stewart, Campus Crusade for Christ, San Bernardino, 1983
UNITARIAN CHRISTIANITY AND OTHER ESSAYS, William Ellery Channing, The Bobs-Merrill Company Inc, Kansas, 1957
YOU CAN LIVE FOREVER IN PARADISE ON EARTH, Watchtower Bible and Tract Society, New York, 1982
 
THE WWW
 
http://www.christadelphia.org/wrested1.htm  
 
http://www.kevinquick.com/kkministries/books/reasoning/nwt.html,
Kevin Quick discusses the Jehovah’s Witnesses claim that the Bible never says that Jesus is God

www.gospelassemblyfree.com/facts/fathersonwayne.htm
Father and/or Son by H Wayne Hamburger