"He Who Has The Son Has Life…" (1 John 5:12)
By Rich Carmicheal
Recently, I visited with a gentleman who shared with me that he believes that Christians should not try to convert those who practice other religions such as Hinduism, Buddhism and Islam. After all, he maintained, people from other religions are following after God and striving to live a good life, just as Christians are trying to do. Why should Christians try to impose their beliefs on others?
His way of thinking is certainly not uncommon. There is in our world a growing consensus that one religion is not better than another, and that we need to practice tolerance toward the beliefs of others. Many people seem to believe that all religious roads lead to the same God.
As I later contemplated my conversation with the gentleman, the Lord shared a truth with me which is foundational and known by many people, but which settled profoundly into my spirit. Simply stated, the truth is this: God has a Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. And on this central issue, Christianity differs dramatically with world religions. While Hindus, Buddhists, Muslims and those from other religions may respect Jesus as a good man, a good teacher and a good prophet, they fall woefully short of the truth when they do not recognize and acknowledge Jesus as the Son of God and the only way to the Heavenly Father.
Dear brothers and sister in Christ, by the grace of God we have been entrusted with precious revelation regarding God’s Son. As was the case with the Apostle Peter, we have come to know that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God, not because flesh and blood have revealed it, but because of revelation from our Heavenly Father (Matt. 16:17). Most people in the world, however, have not heard or have not believed the central truth that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and the only way to salvation. We, therefore, have the great responsibility and tremendous privilege to adorn and proclaim the truth about the Son of God, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
To encourage you in this, I invite you to consider with me these important truths regarding Jesus, the Son of God.
Jesus Is the Unique Son of God
While it is true that God has many sons and daughters who have been adopted into His family, Jesus Christ stands alone as His one and only Son. He was with God in the beginning (John 1:1-2), and when the time had fully come, God sent His Son into the world, born of a woman (Gal. 4:4). He sent His angel to Mary, a virgin, and told her, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you" and "you will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give Him the name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David, and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever; His kingdom will never end" (Luke 1:35,31-33).
The Apostle John describes how Jesus, the Word of God, "became flesh and lived for a while among us. We have seen His glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth" (John 1:14). John the Baptist gave this testimony regarding Jesus, "I have seen and I testify that this is the Son of God" (John 1:34). Nathanael, amazed at Jesus’ knowledge, stated, "Rabbi, You are the Son of God; You are the King of Israel" (John 1:49). The disciples witnessed His miraculous power and declared, "Truly You are the Son of God" (Matt. 14:33). Martha expressed her understanding of Jesus in these words, "I believe that You are the Christ, the Son of God" (John 11:27). Peter, by divine revelation, understood that Jesus was God’s Son and God’s Anointed One: "You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God" (Matt. 16:16). The Roman centurion who saw how Jesus died, proclaimed, "Surely He was the Son of God" (Matt. 27:54). Even Satan and demons recognized that Jesus was the Son of God (Matt. 4:1-10; Mark 5:6-7).
The Heavenly Father also acknowledged His special relationship and appreciation for His Son. For example, during Jesus’ baptism and during the Transfiguration the Father spoke: "This is My Son, whom I love; with Him I am well pleased" (Matt. 3:17; 17:5). The Father also stated of Jesus, "You are My Son; today I have become Your Father" (Heb. 1:5; Psalm 2:7). And, according to Hebrews 1:6, "…when God brings His firstborn into the world, He says, ‘Let all God’s angels worship Him.’"
Jesus also acknowledged His unique relationship with His Father. At the age of twelve, He spent additional time in the temple and then shared with His anxious parents, "Didn’t you know I had to be in My Father’s house!" (Luke 2:49). Years later, during His public ministry, He further described His unity with His Father: "I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by Himself; He can do only what He sees His Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does. For the Father loves the Son and shows Him all He does" (John 5:19-20); "I and the Father are one" (John 10:30); "…the Father is in Me, and I in the Father" (John 10:38). In His prayer recorded in John 17, He asked, "And now, Father, glorify Me in Your presence with the glory I had with You before the world began" (v.5).
Because Jesus taught that He had such a unique relationship with His Father, the Jewish leaders were intent on killing Him. They knew that in "calling God His own Father" Jesus was "making Himself equal to God" (John 5:18). This reached its zenith during His trial when the high priest charged Jesus under oath, "Tell us if You are the Christ, the Son of God," and Jesus, knowing full well the dire consequences, replied, "Yes, it is as you say" (Matt. 26:63-64). Those trying Him accused Him of blasphemy, spit in His face, struck Him with their fists, and slapped and mocked Him. They insisted before Pilate that Jesus be put to death: "We have a law, and according to that law He must die, because He claimed to be the Son of God" (John 19:7). These leaders were, of course, correct in asserting that Jesus claimed to be the Son of God. Their horrible mistake was in not recognizing that His claim was true.
Jesus is indeed the unique Son of God and is equal to God. The Apostle Paul writes of the Son: "He is the image of God, the firstborn over all creation. For by Him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by Him and for Him. He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together. And He is the head of the body, the Church; He is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything He might have the supremacy. For God was pleased to have all His fullness dwell in Him, and through Him to reconcile to Himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through His blood, shed on the cross" (Col. 1:15-20). Paul also writes of Jesus, "who as to His human nature was a descendant of David, and who through the Spirit of holiness was declared with power to be the Son of God by His resurrection from the dead: Jesus Christ our Lord" (Rom. 1:3-4).
The writer of Hebrews adds, "…in these last days He [God] has spoken to us by His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, and through whom He made the universe. The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of His being, sustaining all things by His powerful Word. After He provided purification for sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven" (Heb. 1:2-3). And "…about the Son He says, ‘Your throne, O God, will last forever and ever…’" (Heb. 1:8). Similarly, the Apostle John writes, "And we are in Him who is true – even in His Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life" (1 John 5:20).
The Son has life in Himself (John 5:26) and is a giver of life (John 5:21). He is chosen by the Father (Luke 9:35) and appointed by Him as High Priest (Heb. 5:5; 7:28). As the Son, He is faithful over God’s house (Heb. 3:6). The Father loves the Son and has placed everything in His hands (John 3:31-36). The Father has given Him authority (Rev. 2:26-27) and has entrusted all judgment to Him (John 5:22). The Son is to be honored by all (John 5:23).
God Demonstrates His Great Love By Sending His One and Only Son
As we consider the uniqueness of Jesus and His perfect relationship with the Father, we can appreciate all the more the magnitude of the Father’s love for us since He was willing to send His Son Jesus to die for our sins. "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life" (John 3:16). "This is how God showed His love among us: He sent His one and only Son into the world that we might live through Him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins" (1 John 4:9-10). God "did not spare His own Son, but gave Him up for us all" (Rom. 8:32). How great the Father’s love for us is that He was willing to give up His only Son as a sacrifice for our sins. How difficult it must have been for the Father to see His Son misunderstood, mistreated, beaten and to suffer the pain and humiliation of crucifixion. And how difficult it must have been for God to make "Him who had no sin to be sin for us" (2 Cor. 5:21) and to hear His Son cry out just before His death, "My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?" (Matt. 27:46). If you are a parent, you may be better able to contemplate the precious gift God gave to us when He gave His Son so that we might be forgiven.
The Son of God Is the Only Way to the Father
Such a great sacrifice reveals that there was no other way for our sins to be forgiven. If there were some other means, God would certainly have chosen it. God is absolutely holy, and our sin had separated us from Him (Isa. 59:2). In order for our fellowship with God to be reconciled, our sin had to be dealt with, and without the shedding of blood there could be no forgiveness (Heb. 9:22). Under the old covenant, the blood of animals was offered as a sacrifice for man’s sin, but it was impossible for this blood to take away man’s sin (Heb. 10:4). Only the blood of Jesus, the precious Lamb of God, has the infinite worth and sufficiency in the sight of God to cleanse us of our sin. It is the blood of Jesus alone, His Son, that purifies us from all sin (1 John 1:7). "For what the law was powerless to do…God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful man to be a sin offering" (Rom. 8:3). Though "we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to Him through the death of His Son" (Rom. 5:10). It is in the Son He loves, that we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins (Col. 1:13-14).
This is the reason that Jesus could make the bold declaration, "I am the Way and the Truth and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through Me" (John 14:6). As the Apostle Peter proclaimed, "Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved" (Acts 4:12). Jesus is the atoning sacrifice for our sins (1 John 4:10) and the only means to reconciliation with God. People who practice Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam and other false religions may be sincere and show much devotion, but they are lost in their sins until they turn to Jesus for forgiveness and salvation. His blood alone is sufficient to cleanse mankind from sin. He alone is "the source of eternal salvation for all who obey Him" (Heb. 5:9).
God has given very definite and clear testimony regarding the centrality of His Son. "And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life" (1 John 5:11-12). Anyone who does not believe God’s testimony about His Son makes God out to be a liar (1 John 5:10). His command is that we believe in the name of His Son, Jesus Christ (1 John 3:23), listen to Him (Matt. 17:5) and enter into fellowship with Him (1 Cor. 1:9; 1 John 1:3).
To Reject the Son of God Is of Great Consequence
Of course, there are many who reject that God’s Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, is the only way to salvation. This should not surprise us because we are forewarned of the spirit of the antichrist. "Who is the liar? It is the man who denies that Jesus is the Christ. Such a man is the antichrist – he denies the Father and the Son. No one who denies the Son has the Father; whoever acknowledges the Son has the Father also" (1 John 2:22-23).
To deny the Son of God is of eternal consequence. "He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father, who sent Him" (John 5:23). "No one who denies the Son has the Father…" (1 John 2:23). "Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on him" (John 3:36). "Whoever believes in Him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son" (John 3:18). To trample the Son of God under foot, and to treat His blood as an unholy thing, brings severe judgment (Heb. 10:29-31).
The Gospel Message Centers in the Son of God
Though to reject the Son of God brings such great judgment, the Gospel, or Good News, is that God desires everyone be saved through His Son Jesus. "The Father has sent His Son to be the Savior of the world. If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in him and he in God" (1 John 4:14-15). Jesus Himself declares, "My Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in Him shall have eternal life…" (John 6:40). Again, in the very familiar words of John 3:16, Jesus shares, "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life." He goes on to state, "For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him. Whoever believes in Him is not condemned…" (John 3:17-18).
The Gospel is "about Jesus Christ, the Son of God" (Mark 1:1) and the heart of the Gospel is that He died for our sins, was buried, and was raised from the dead (1 Cor. 15:3-5). He is the only one who can restore our fellowship with God. He is able to set us free from the guilt of sin (1 John 1:7; Heb. 9:14) and from slavery to sin. And "if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed" (John 8:36). He appeared to destroy the devil’s work (1 John 3:8), and the one who overcomes the world is the one who acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God (1 John 5:5).
And so as believers we have "turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, and to wait for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead – Jesus, who rescues us from the coming wrath" (1 Thess. 1:9-10). The life we live, we live by faith in the Son of God, who loved us and gave Himself for us (Gal. 2:20). And as we wait, looking forward to His return, we do all that we can, and we say all that we can to help others come to know the love and salvation that we know through God’s Son, our Lord Jesus Christ.