Speaking to a man who, after years of blindness, had been healed just one or two hours before, Jesus asked him: “Dost thou believe on the Son of God?” Since this was the man’s first opportunity to see Him, his answer was: “Who is He, Lord, that I might believe on Him?” John 9:35, 36.
People are interested in investigating many things in the world; they want to know what is in the bowels of the earth, to explore the depths of the sea, and to discover and examine heavenly bodies in the great expanse of the universe. They like to study about the mechanics of nature and the laws and principles of God’s handiwork, but they devote very little effort to knowing the One who created so many wonderful things.
If the investigation of realities in the earth, sea, and sky provides so much scientific knowledge, how much more people would achieve if they acquired a knowledge of their Creator. It is with good reason that the wise thinker has written: “… The knowledge of the Holy is understanding.” Proverbs 9:10. In reality this is the first and most important knowledge that we should search for; as Jesus said, it is eternal life: “And this is life eternal, that they might know Thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom Thou hast sent.” John 17:3.
Our knowledge of the Son of God is limited, and our experience is often superficial. We need to know Him better to comprehend more completely His true identity, His attributes, and His work for us. This will be a great experience and blessing for everyone.
As in the time of the apostles, when they were asked, “‘Who is this?’ the disciples, filled with the spirit of inspiration, answer this question. In eloquent strains they repeat the prophecies concerning Christ:
“Adam will tell you, It is the seed of the woman that shall bruise the serpent’s head.
“Ask Abraham, he will tell you, It is ‘Melchizedek King of Salem,’ King of Peace.
“Jacob will tell you, He is Shiloh of the tribe of Judah.
“Isaiah will tell you, ‘Immanuel,’ ‘Wonderful, Counselor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.’
“Jeremiah will tell you, The Branch of David, ‘the Lord our Righteousness.’
“Daniel will tell you, He is the Messiah.
“Hosea will tell you, He is ‘the Lord God of hosts; the Lord is His memorial.’
“John the Baptist will tell you, He is ‘the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.’
“The great Jehovah has proclaimed from His throne, ‘This is My beloved Son.’
“We, His disciples, declare, This is Jesus, the Messiah, the Prince of life, the Redeemer of the world. “And the prince of the powers of darkness acknowledges Him, saying, ‘I know Thee who Thou art, the Holy One of God.’” –The Desire of Ages, pp. 578, 579.
The objective of these lessons, then, is that we ourselves may so identify with the Son of God and the Son of man that we may more fully reveal Him in our lives so men may glorify our Father in heaven. This can be accomplished only if we come nearer to Him. Therefore the title of the lessons for this half year is “Knowing Jesus Better.”
Great blessings are in store for the earnest student. Let us therefore study these lessons every day, at last one hour every day, as the Spirit of prophecy recommends–not just at the last moment–because by beholding holiness and love we will be transformed.
“The heavenly world would open its chambers of grace and glory for exploration,” writes the Spirit of prophecy. “Human beings would be altogether different from what they now are, for by exploring the mines of truth men would be ennobled. The mystery of redemption, the incarnation of Christ, His atoning sacrifice, would not be as they are now, vague in our minds. They would be not only better understood, but altogether more highly appreciated.
“In His prayer to the Father, Christ gave to the world a lesson which should be graven on mind and soul. ‘This is life eternal,’ He said, ‘that they might know Thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom Thou hast sent.’ John 17:3. This is true education. It imparts power. The experimental knowledge of God and of Jesus Christ whom He has sent, transforms man into the image of God. It gives to man the mastery of himself, bringing every impulse and passion of the lower nature under the control of the higher powers of the mind. It makes its possessor a son of God and an heir of heaven. It brings him into communion with the mind of the Infinite, and opens to him the rich treasures of the universe.
“This is the knowledge which is obtained by searching the word of God. And this treasure may be found by every soul who will give all to obtain it.” –Christ’s Object Lessons, p. 114.
May the acquisition of such knowledge be a wonderful experience for all who study these lessons.
–The brothers and sisters of the General Conference
Sabbath, January 5, 2013
“God is the Father of Christ; Christ is the Son of God. To Christ has been given an exalted position. He has been made equal with the Father. All the counsels of God are opened to His Son.” –Testimonies for the Church, vol. 8, p. 268.
1. Where do we find testimonies in the Scriptures concerning the preexistence of God’s Son?
John 1:1, 2 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God.
Micah 5:2 But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting.
Colossians 1:16 For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him.
“Christ is the preexistent, self-existent Son of God…. In speaking of His preexistence, Christ carries the mind back through dateless ages. He assures us that there never was a time when He was not in close fellowship with the eternal God. He to whose voice the Jews were then listening had been with God as one brought up with Him.” –Signs of the Times, August 29, 1900.
“Christ, the Word, the only begotten of God, was one with the eternal Father–one in nature, in character, in purpose–the only being that could enter into all the counsels and purposes of God. ‘His name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.’ Isaiah 9:6.” –Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 34.
2. What declarations confirm Jesus is God’s Son?
Luke 3:22 And the Holy Ghost descended in a bodily shape like a dove upon him, and a voice came from heaven, which said, Thou art my beloved Son; in thee I am well pleased.
Psalm 2:7 I will declare the decree: the Lord hath said unto me, Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten thee.
Hebrews 1:5 For unto which of the angels said he at any time, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee? And again, I will be to him a Father, and he shall be to me a Son?
“The Scriptures clearly indicate the relation between God and Christ, and they bring to view as clearly the personality and individuality of each.
“‘God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, hath in these last days spoken unto us by His Son, whom He hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also He made the worlds; who being the brightness of His glory, and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power, when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high; being made so much better than the angels, as He hath by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they. For unto which of the angels said He at any time, Thou art My Son, this day have I begotten Thee? And again, I will be to Him a Father, and He shall be to Me a Son?’ Hebrews 1:1-5.” –Testimonies for the Church, vol. 8, p. 268.
An incalculable gift
3. How did God express His supreme love for fallen mankind?
John 3:16 For unto which of the angels said he at any time, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee? And again, I will be to him a Father, and he shall be to me a Son?
1 John 4:9, 10 In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him. Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.
1 John 4:14 And we have seen and do testify that the Father sent the Son to be the Saviour of the world.
“We have everything we could ask to inspire us with faith and trust in God. In earthly courts, when a king would make his greatest pledge to assure men of his truth, he gives his child as a hostage, to be redeemed on the fulfillment of his promise; and behold what a pledge of the Father’s faithfulness; for when He would assure men of the immutability of His council, He gave His only-begotten Son to come to earth, to take the nature of man, not only for the brief years of life, but to retain his nature in the heavenly courts, an everlasting pledge of the faithfulness of God. O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and love of God!” –Selected Messages, book 1, p. 258.
The enemy of God’s Son
4. Just as Satan did not accept the authority of the Son of God in heaven, how did he continue his fight against Christ on earth, and why?
Matthew 4:3 And when the tempter came to him, he said, If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread.
Matthew 4:6 And saith unto him, If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down: for it is written, He shall give his angels charge concerning thee: and in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone.
“But again he was filled with pride in his own glory. His desire for supremacy returned, and envy of Christ was once more indulged…. ‘Why,’ questioned this mighty angel, ‘should Christ have the supremacy? Why is He honored above Lucifer?’” –Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 36.
“If Christ’s confidence in God could be shaken, Satan knew that the victory in the whole controversy would be his. He could overcome Jesus. He hoped that under the force of despondency and extreme hunger, Christ would lose faith in His Father, and work a miracle in His own behalf. Had He done this, the plan of salvation would have been broken.” –The Desire of Ages, p. 119.
The Son of God on earth
5. On what occasions did God reveal His kinship to Christ?
Matthew 3:16, 17 And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him: And lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.
Matthew 17:5 While he yet spake, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them: and behold a voice out of the cloud, which said, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him.
“At the baptism and at the transfiguration the voice of God had been heard proclaiming Christ as His Son….
“The Saviour’s glance seems to penetrate heaven as He pours out His soul in prayer…. He asks for the witness that God accepts humanity in the person of His Son….
“Of the vast throng at the Jordan, few except John discerned the heavenly vision. Yet the solemnity of the divine Presence rested upon the assembly. The people stood silently gazing upon Christ. His form was bathed in the light that ever surrounds the throne of God. His upturned face was glorified as they had never before seen the face of man. From the open heavens a voice was heard saying, ‘This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.’
“These words of confirmation were given to inspire faith in those who witnessed the scene, and to strengthen the Saviour for His mission. Notwithstanding that the sins of a guilty world were laid upon Christ, notwithstanding the humiliation of taking upon Himself our fallen nature, the voice from heaven declared Him to be the Son of the Eternal.” –The Desire of Ages, pp. 764, 111, 112.
6. To whom was it given to know and believe that Jesus was the Son of God?
John 1:49 Nathanael answered and saith unto him, Rabbi, thou art the Son of God; thou art the King of Israel.
Matthew 16:15-17 He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am? And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God. And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven.
Matthew 14:33 Then they that were in the ship came and worshipped him, saying, Of a truth thou art the Son of God.
“Jesus now put a second question, relating to the disciples themselves: ‘But whom say ye that I am?” Peter answered, ‘Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.’ From the first, Peter had believed Jesus to be the Messiah….
“He waited not for kingly honors to crown his Lord, but accepted Him in His humiliation….
“The truth which Peter had confessed is the foundation of the believer’s faith. It is that which Christ Himself has declared to be eternal life.” –The Desire of Ages, pp. 411, 412.
Condemned to die
7. Having declared Himself the Son of God, what awaited Jesus?
Matthew 26:63, 64 But Jesus held his peace. And the high priest answered and said unto him, I adjure thee by the living God, that thou tell us whether thou be the Christ, the Son of God. Jesus saith unto him, Thou hast said: nevertheless I say unto you, Hereafter shall ye see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven.
John 10:36 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?
John 19:7 The Jews answered him, We have a law, and by our law he ought to die, because he made himself the Son of God.
“To this appeal Christ could not remain silent. There was a time to be silent, and a time to speak. He had not spoken until directly questioned. He knew that to answer now would make His death certain….
“And so by the third condemnation of the Jewish authorities, Jesus was to die.” –The Desire of Ages, pp. 706, 714.
“Satan hoped that such mockery and violence would call forth from the Son of God some complaint or murmur; or that He would manifest His divine power and wrench Himself from the grasp of the multitude, and that thus the plan of salvation might at last fail.” –The Story of Redemption, p. 213.
“Those who in derision uttered the words, ‘He trusted in God; let Him deliver Him now, if He will have Him: for He said, I am the Son of God,’ little thought that their testimony would sound down the ages. But although spoken in mockery, these words led men to search the Scriptures as they had never done before. Wise men heard, searched, pondered, and prayed. There were those who never rested until, by comparing scripture with scripture, they saw the meaning of Christ’s mission. Never before was there such a general knowledge of Jesus as when He hung upon the cross. Into the hearts of many who beheld the crucifixion scene, and who heard Christ’s words, the light of truth was shining.” –The Desire of Ages, p. 749.
For personal study
- 2 Peter 1:16-18
- John 12:28-30; 11:27; 5:36, 37
“He was equal with God, infinite and omnipotent…. He is the eternal, self-existent Son.” –(Manuscript 101, 1897) Evangelism, p. 615.
“The Father wrought by His Son in the creation of all heavenly beings. ‘By Him were all things created,… whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by Him, and for Him.’ Colossians 1:16.” –Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 34.