A Study of Romans 1:3-4
“Concerning his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord, who was made of the seed of David, according to the flesh, hut declared to he the Son of God with power, according to the Spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead.”
That Jesus Christ is of the seed of David, according to the flesh, few will deny except deists; but that he is the Eternal Son of God, many have denied and do deny, which has caused much distress and sorrow in the hearts of those who are seeking to know Him of whom Moses and the prophets did write.
For the strengthening of the faith of such seekers, these lines are penned.
I. Let us inquire after the declaration, “Declared to be the Son of God.”
II. Inquire after that power by which He is declared, “According to the Spirit of holiness.”
And III. “By the resurrection from the dead.”
I. The declaration.
“The Father that sent me beareth witness of me;”
“with a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” Thus the Father and the Holy Spirit bare witness to the Sonship of the Lord Jesus. See Matthew 3:16-17; and Mark 1:10-11.
Again, the Father declared from heaven with a voice which the three disciples heard in the holy mount, “This is my beloved Son, hear ye him.” (Matthew 17:5)
And John, his messenger and forerunner, bare witness to the truth of his Sonship, “He that sent me to baptize with water, the same said unto me, Upon whom thou shall see the Spirit descending and remaining on him, the same is he who baptizeth with the Holy Ghost. And I saw, and bare record that this is the Son of God.” (John 1:33-34)
Again: “He whom God hath sent speaketh the words of God: for God giveth not the Spirit by measure unto him. The Father loveth the Son, and hath given all things into his hand. He that believeth, on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.”
But the blessed Saviour saith, I have greater witness than John:
“My Father worketh hitherto, and I work.”
See his almighty power in raising Lazarus from the dead, which he declared was for the glory of God, that the Son of God might be glorified thereby. And many other such works as these the glorious Son of God did, and claimed equality with the Father, saying, “I and my Father are one;” which the Jews understood clearly, as declaring his Godhead.
Nor did the blessed Saviour contradict this, but answered, “Many good works have I showed you from my Father; for which of those works do ye stone me? The Jews answered him, saying, For a good work we stone thee not; but for blasphemy; and because that thou, being a man, makest thyself God.
Jesus answered, Is it not written in your law, I said, Ye are gods?
If he called them gods, unto whom the word of God came, and the Scripture cannot be broken; say ye of him, whom the Father hath sanctified and sent into the world, Thou blasphemest, because I said, I am the Son of God?”
Here he styles himself the eternal Son of the eternal Father by a demonstration, declaring himself to be the giver of eternal life to all his sheep.
Again; “This is the Father’s will which hath sent me, that of all which he has given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day. And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one that seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life; and I will raise him up at the last day.”
And it is the Father’s will and determination, that “all men should honour the Son even as they honour the Father: He that honoureth not the Son honoureth not the Father that sent him.”
But further, as God the Father, and God the Holy Spirit, have witness from heaven, both to the Messiahship and Sonship of Christ Jesus; and John the Baptist, who was a burning and shining light, bare the same testimony; and as the blessed Son of God, who had the Spirit without measure given to him as Mediator, who is the faithful and true witness, also bare the same testimony, and all according to the Spirit of holiness; so the most gracious God and Father hath given the blessed Spirit to his children in all ages, and declares them to be his witnesses that he is God; whose testimony in the Word being according to the’ Spirit of holiness we will now endeavour to inquire into.
II. Abraham is called to offer up his only-begotten son, Isaac, of whom it was said, “In Isaac shall thy seed be called;” but faith in the Son of God overcame his natural or parental feelings; and by faith he builds the altar, lays the wood, binds his son Isaac, and raises his hand with the knife; at which moment, God called to Abraham, out of heaven, and showed him the ram, which he offered instead of his son.
And what a discovery did God make to Abraham of the Son of his love and of his everlasting covenant with him!
Thus, he was declared to Abraham to be the Son of God with power, according to the Spirit of holiness which Abraham had, and by the resurrection from the dead vhich his faith received. And “he accounted that God was able to raise up his son even from the dead, from whence also he received him in a figure;” and declares that these things, in their spiritual import, are to be seen to this day in the mount of God, by the children of the faith of Abraham and Christ: “Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day: and he saw it and was glad.” (John 8:56)
Again. David, being a prophet, foretold the rage and malice of the Jewish rulers and Pharisees against this King of Zion, whom God the Father sent into this world, saying, “They will reverence my Son.” And this prophet tells them, it will be their wisdom to “kiss this Son, (that is, bow to his righteous sceptre,) lest he be angry, and they perish from the way when his wrath is kindled but a little; and he blesses all them that put their trust in him.”
And in Psalm 14, he says, “Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever,” which in the epistle to the Hebrews is applied to the Son.
Again. Isaiah saw his glory and spake of him, saying, “Unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given.” Here, 1st, is his human nature, which never had a personal subsistence of itself, consequently, was not a person; but, when united to the Person of the Son of God, the two natures constituted one Person, whose name is “Wonderful, Counsellor, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace.” And so profound a mystery is the Holy Trinity, that the wise man asks, “What is his name, and what is his son’s name, if thou canst tell?” (Proverbs 30:4)
But again, when Nebuchadnezzar, the king, cast the three children into the fiery furnace, he called to his nobles, saying, “I see four men loose, and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God.”
No doubt these three faithful men witnessed of him to the king as their God; and the faith by which they stood was the faith of the Son of God, which he honoured, and quenched the violence of the fire, delivered his servants that trusted in him, and showed himself who he was even to this heathen king; which is recorded for our encouragement under similar trials.
But we will now come to the New Testament, and endeavour to show, that where the Holy Ghost wrought true faith in the hearts of his saints, that faith received, and believed in, the Son of God, even when it was first wrought in the heart.
Christ saw Nathaniel under the fig-tree before Philip called him, which, when Nathaniel discovered, and perceived his omniscience, he exclaimed, “Rabbi, thou art the Son of God, thou art the King of Israel.” Christ acknowledged his faith, and told him he should see greater things.
Again. Christ said to his disciples, “Whom do men say that I the Son of man am? And they said, Some say that thou art John the Baptist: some, Elias; and others, Jeremias, or one of the prophets.”
But to prove their faith in him, he asked, “whom say ye that I am? And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God” upon which Christ pronounces a blessing on him, saying, “Flesh and blood hath not revealed this unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven.”
Again. The man that was born blind, whose eyes Jesus opened, was cast out by the Jews for confessing Christ as the worker of this miracle.
“…and when he had found him, he said unto him, Dost thou believe on the Son of God?
He answered and said, Who is he, Lord, that I might believe on him?
And Jesus said unto him, Thou hast both seen him, and it is he that talketh with thee.
And he said, Lord, I believe. And he worshipped him.”
Thus, the omniscient Judge draws the line of separation between the children of light and those given up to blindness of mind.
Again: God the Spirit ordered Philip to preach to the eunuch Christ Jesus, by which God wrought faith in his heart. After this he wished to be baptized : “And Philip said, If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.”
And when Christ was about to raise Lazarus from the dead, and told Martha, his sister, that he was the resurrection and the life, and said, “Believest thou this? She said, Lord, I believe that thou art the Christ, the Son of God.”
But further. Paul declared that God the Father revealed his Son in him that he might preach him; and immediately after he had received the Holy Ghost he preached Christ in the synagogues, that he is the Son of God.
But the time would fail to point out the many times Paul sets him forth in his epistles as the Eternal Son of God, the Maker of all things, and upholder of all things by the word of his power, showing withal our blindness and great ignorance of this glorious person; also, his kindness in the gift of the Holy Ghost, to instruct us into a knowledge of him, till we all come in the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the stature of the fulness of Christ.
But again. John declares him to be that Eternal Life which was with the Father, and
was manifested unto us. And further, “Whoso shall confess that Jesus is the Son of God, God dwelleth in him, and he in God.” (I John 4:15)
“He that believeth on the Son of God hath the witness in himself: he that believeth not God hath made him a liar; because he believeth not the record that God gave of his Son.
And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son.
He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life.”
(I John 5:10-12)
Thus we see that the faith of bible saints in all ages has received and embraced the eternal Son of God, with all his saving benefits.
And now, reader, let me ask thy conscience, Dost thou believe in the Son of God?
Hath God the Father ever revealed him to you by faith, or drawn thy heart and affections towards him, to behold a little of his glory?
“the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.”
And what has thy faith done for thee?
Has it ever obtained any promise?
Has it ever overcome the world?
For “who is he that overcometh the world but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God?” implying, that if tbou believest not that Jesus Christ is the Eternal Son, the world will be too much for thee, and Satan, the god of it, will make thee his slave secretly if not openly.
But if the Son hath made thee free, thou canst say with John, “And we know that the Son of God is come, and hath given us an understanding to know him that is true;” and we are in him that is true, even in his Son Jesus Christ.
This is the true God and eternal life; and, through rich and sovereign grace, the writer can testify that God the Father revealed in him his dearly-beloved Son, and assured his heart of his good pleasure in him, causing pardon, reconciliation, and peace, to flow into his poor soul more than thirty years ago; and at that day he could say, with melting heart and weeping eyes, “O Lord, I will praise thee: thought thou wast angry with me, thine anger is turned away, and thou comfortest me.
Behold, God is my salvation, I will trust and not be afraid, for the Lord Jehovah is my strength and my song: he also is become my salvation.” (Isaiah 12:1-2)
This everlasting love conquers the rebel, slays the enmity of his mind, makes him willing to renounce all his own righteousness, and with all his heart bow to sovereign grace, believing nothing less could ever reach his case as a fallen son of Adam. Thus, Christ Jesus is declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the Spirit of holiness, which was given to the Mediator without measure, and was never to depart from his seed forever.
III. But Christ’s resurrection from the dead is said to have an influence in this, which we will inquire into Christ, by his doing and dying, finished the work that the Father gave him to do.
His resurrection is a receipt in full, that not one jot or tittle was left undone and it was such a blow to his enemies, as they have not been able to heal to this day.
Hence, the Holy Ghost was given, which is the li of all real religion to this day in the world; for if Christ be not risen, our faith is vain, and we are yet in our sins; but the power of God that was put forth in our hearts, to beget us again to a lively hope, is a proof to us of Christ’s resurrection.
But His resurrection is also a sign to the whole world, because “God the Father hath appointed a day in the which he will judge the world in righteousness, by that man whom he hath ordained, whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead. For the Father juclgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son, that all men should honour the Son, even as they honour the Father.”
But some, who style themselves Ministers of Christ’s gospel, tell us they cannot find the eternal Sonship of Christ in the Scriptures; but surely he that gives eternal life must be eternal.
Others go farther than this, and impiously ask, How can God beget God? and suppose him to be a Son either by adoption or by office, applying his Sonship only and exclusively to his human nature.
Others go farther still, declaring, that to talk of the eternal Son of God, is to talk eternal nonsense. This appears awful, as it is setting at nought God’s holy word, and advancing towards Arianism.
Should any godly reader be entangled by such, sophistry, let him do as the noble Bereans did, search the Scriptures daily, to see if these things are so, and mingle earnest prayer therewith, as our God has kindly recorded them. “And these things are
written, that ye might believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, and that believing, ye might have life through his name.”
And O, when he appears as our life, and we see him as he is, he will indeed be declared to be the Son of God, with power, when our bodies shall be fashioned like his glorious body, by the resurrection at the last day; but all his enemies that would not that he should reign over them, shall be consigned to the bottomless pit for ever.