First Baptist Church, Cobden IL
Monday, January 30, 2023
200 South Walker St. Cobden, IL 62920

Study in the Scriptures: Matt Hartline

 
 
 

 

Pondering the Creed with William Perkins 


In the last post, I dealt with William Perkins’s understanding of the creed’s statement, “I believe in Jesus Christ, [God’s] only Son our Lord.” Perkins takes this confession in two ways: (1) that He is “the Son of God,” and (2) that He is “the only Son of God.”  Having handled the former, this post will consider the latter. 

In what sense is Jesus Christ God’s only Son? Perkins deals with the Scriptural texts where others are called “sons of God.” For example, angels are called “the sons of God” (Job 1:6). Luke identifies Adam as a son of God (Luke 3:38). Perkins states that all who believe in Christ are sons of God. Lastly, Christ, “as He is man,” is a son of God. However, Perkins makes a distinction between being a son of God by creation (angels/Adam), adoption (believers), personal union (Christ’s humanity), and sonship by “by nature” (second Person of the Trinity). 

When one confesses that Jesus Christ is God’s only Son, he makes a unique claim that the Son of God is “begotten of the very substance of the Father” by nature and before all worlds. Therefore, being the Son of the Father in “a special manner,” only He can properly be called “the only begotten Son of God” (cf. John 1:14; Rom 8:32). This “special manner” consists of the Father eternally communicating His whole Godhead “willingly without constraint” to the Son. In this sense, the term “Son of God” is reserved solely and exclusively to the second Person of the Godhead. 

Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son of God by nature, becomes a great comfort for Christians. Perkins shows that Christ being the Son of God serves as a means to make “miserable and wretched sinners,” who are by nature children of wrath and damnation, to be “the sons of God by adoption.”  According to Perkins, the “right of adoption” is a most excellent privilege. For when an individual is “spiritually allied to Christ,” he then has God for his Father, Christ for his elder brother, all of Christ’s members as brothers and sisters, and, therefore, “heirs of God and heirs annexed to Christ.” 

However, Perkins laments that few “rightly weigh and consider” this high privilege. Many thoughts are taken captive to achieving an esteemed rank and reputation among men, but it is a “matter of no account” to be the son of God and fellow heir with Christ. Perkins explains that while men “savor the things of the flesh,” their minds are set on the earth, blinding themselves to see and feel what an excellent thing it is to be the child of God.  “But let all such as fear God enter into a serious consideration of the unspeakable goodness of God, comforting themselves in this,” Perkins concludes, “that God the Father has vouchsafed by His own Son to make them of the vassals of Satan to be His own dear children.” 
 
 
For the supremacy of Christ in all things,

Brother Matt