After we confess that “we believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ” there is a string of phrases intended to articulate the full divinity of the Son of God and his unique relationship to God the Father: “the only-begotten Son of God, eternally begotten from the Father, Light from Light, true God from true God, begotten, not made, of the same substance of the Father.” In my last note, I considered our confession that the Son is “Light from Light.” In this note, we turn our attention to the phrase: “true God from true God.”
Every Sunday we bless one another with these words, “the LORD bless you and keep you; the LORD make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you” (Numbers 6:24-25). This blessing is fulfilled and received in Jesus. Our Lord Jesus Christ is the radiance of the glory of God, who has shone in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. Jesus is God’s face shining upon us.
Remember what Jesus said to Philip at the last supper. Philip said to him, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us.” Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you so long, and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father.” (John 14:8-9)
Whoever has seen Jesus has seen the Father. Whoever knows the Son knows the Father. Whoever truly knows Jesus truly knows God. Whoever does not know Jesus does not know God.
Let me draw out three implications of our confession that the Son is “true God from true God.” First, God is known in Christ and in Christ alone. Hence, the exclusive claims of Christ and the Gospel. He is the Way.
Second, this means theology is centred on Christ. As we come to know him, we come to know God. He is the Truth.
Third, knowing him is not learning about him, the acquisition of the right concepts and terminology. Knowing him is knowing God and knowing God is eternal life. As Jesus prayed at that last supper, “And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent” (John 17:3). And then John writes in his first letter, “And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know him who is true; and we are in him who is true, in his Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life” (1 John 5:20). Knowing the Son is eternal life. Because he is true God from true God, he is the Life.
The Son is true God from true God. He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life (John 14:6).