In the best known scripture in the world – have you ever wondered about…
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. John 3:16
…have you ever wondered about begotten? I’ve always accepted it as had, or a word for possession. Simply, God gave His Son. Which is true.
I was intrigued and enlightened to learn more about this word.
C.S. Lewis, in Mere Christianity explains that this word represents Jesus as the same being as God, from before all worlds was even created. He contrasts begotten from created… Begotten being the same as the begotter, and creation being different than the creator. People beget people. Squirrels beget squirrels. God created earth. A bird creates a nest. I create a painting. But God beget Jesus, His Son, who is also fully God in his image.
So what’s the big deal? Does this begotten matter?
Back in 325 AD, apparently it did matter – there was a large discussion (debate?) within in the early church, which resulted in the Nicene Creed (the first half is below). Nicene, because it happened in city of Nicaea (present day Iznik, Turkey), and Creed, which is a fancy word for statement of beliefs, usually in the realm of faith.
We believe in one God, the Father Almighty, the maker of heaven and earth, of things visible and invisible.
And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the begotten of God the Father, the Only-begotten, that is of the essence of the Father.
God of God, Light of Light, true God of true God, begotten and not made; of the very same nature of the Father, by Whom all things came into being, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible.
Who for us humanity and for our salvation came down from heaven, was incarnate, was made human, was born perfectly of the holy virgin Mary by the Holy Spirit.
By whom He took body, soul, and mind, and everything that is in man, truly and not in semblance.
So, the question I ask myself, do I truly believe in Jesus as fully God, begotten, not made. Born from a virgin birth. Or have I accepted this as a sweet traditional story during Christmas, folklore almost? And does this differentiation matter?
Here’s what I’ve come to, and I am curious about where you land.
I believe it does matter. This is the basis of Christ, who He is, why He came, and the sufficiency we have through Him. Without the virgin birth – without the begotten – He wouldn’t be fully God, and able to be the perfect and full sacrifice for our sins. Without this, we aren’t able to live in eternity with the Father.
What proof or why do I believe this? Sure, I can go with “it says so in the Bible”, but without the belief in the inerrancy of scripture, or taking God’s word as truth, it might be difficult to stand firm in this belief in the begotten Jesus. Like other questions of faith, it requires prayer. Persistently asking the Holy Spirit to guide you to truth. In this you might land where I did – begotten Jesus is in sync with other truths God has shown us. Collectively and personally. The consistency of the begotten Jesus reaffirms salvation available through a perfect sacrifice. Personally, this sacrifice has been life changing. This side of eternity, I experience salvation and life as a new creature. This personal testimony can only be attributed to the begotten Jesus.
This belief is also woven all through scripture. In the first chapter of John, it’s noted that In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. Jesus is the Word, and He was both with God and fully God. Mind blowing. Perfect. Complete.
In Psalms 2, which is our reading for today, you can read through the passage and see these themes:
- Verses 1-3 Our sin and rebellion
- Verses 4-6 God’s response
- Verses 7-9 Begotten Jesus’ authority over all
- Verses 10-12 Our response
I love how Psalms 2 ends in a charge for us to respond. Be wise, serve the Lord, humble ourselves.
How do you answer this question in your own faith journey? Do you recite John 3:16 or the Nicene Creed in a routine manner, without having explored your true and full belief in the begotten Jesus?
I’d love to hear your reflections and thoughts. I’m praying for each reader to feel the promptings of the Holy Spirit – to identify your belief or areas of doubt as we journey through the Psalms. Don’t be afraid to recognize those corners of your heart that have questions. I’m praying that each of us has a renewed conviction to search through the doubts we carry. A desire to ponder our uncertainties. Through this we can develop our own personal creeds.
Revelation 12:11 says that we will overcome by the blood of the Lamb (thank you Jesus) and the word of our testimony. Our personal testimony of who Jesus is and what he has done in our life. I can’t wait to testify together in 2021. Creed on, friends!