THE BASF - ITS IMPORTANCE AND TEACHING
BASF – CLAUSE 2
“That Jesus of Nazareth was the Son of God, begotten of the Virgin Mary by the Holy Spirit, without the intervention of man, and afterwards anointed with the same spirit, without measure, at his baptism. – Mat 1:23, 1Tim 3:16, Acts 2:22-24,36; Matthew 1:18-25; Luke 1:26-35; Gal 4:4, Is 7:14; Mat 3:16,17; Is 11:2; 42:1, 61:1, Jno 3:34; 7:16; 8:26-29; 14:10-24”
From describing the succeeding Revelations of Himself it has so Pleased the Eternal Creator to make before man, the Birmingham Amended Statement of Faith proceeds to examine more closely the One through whom the greatest revelation of all came, even our Lord Jesus Christ. It introduces us to “the Son of God, or “Jesus of Nazareth”, a description applied to our Lord 19 times in Scripture, one of which being the title placed over the “tree” (Jno 19:19, Gal 3:13), upon which he was crucified. Ironically in this regard, the word “Nazareth” is said by some, to be from the Hebrew run netser, translated “branch” in Is 11:1: “There shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a branch shall grow out of his roots”. The irony is, that the one who was to be the living “Branch” to continue the Davidic dynasty, was crucified on a dead tree.
Nazareth was a place held in low esteem, it being ordinarily supposed that not “any good thing” could come (Jno 1:46) from there, and in this regard the Type is most remarkable. Out of such a place emerged the Saviour of the World. The Lord Jesus, being the Son of God, is the means whereby out of human flesh – from which ordinarily “no good thing” can emerge (Rom 7:18) – Salvation might come. As the Branch of Yahweh, “made of a woman” (Gal 4:4), he grew up out of the most unlikeliest of fleshly environments, as one scorned, and rejected by men: “he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: he hath no form or comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him” (Is 53:2). Such was the fleshly perception of the Son whom the Lord God sent to be the redeemer of Israel, and Saviour of the World.
The BASF is very careful to emphasise the origin of our Lord as being Divine – but also human. The designation “of Nazareth” is indicative of this latter aspect, but clearer still, is the description of the Christ as being “begotten of the Virgin Mary by the Holy Spirit, without the intervention of man” (cp Is 7:14). This dual aspect of our Lord’s parentage was vital for the successful completion of the work which the Lord was sent to do (see Clause IX). He was begotten of God through the operations of the Holy Spirit upon a human mother – yet without the intervention of Man. Man has no part to glory of in the provision of the Saviour. The whole process was a work of God: “not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth Mercy” upon whom he will (Rom 9:16). “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners” (1Tim 1:15), that the original purpose of God with man might yet be fulfilled; and the fact of his Divine Begettal is the very means by which that end might be accomplished.
THE FIRST SON OF GOD – ADAM
The father of the human race, Adam was the first “son of God”, as he is so styled in our Lord’s genealogy: “ … Adam, which was the son of God …” (Luke 3:38). Although not being a “begotten” son, as our Lord Jesus undoubtedly was, because God was his Maker in giving him existence and life, Adam was regarded as the Creator’s Son. And just as in the natural state of affairs, sons very often reflect their father’s likeness (whether it be in terms of physical attributes, mental likeness, mannerisms, etc.), even so Adam, as a Son, was created to reflect the likeness of his Father: “So God created man in His own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them” (Gen 1:27). But as we know only too well, and as is graphically illustrated in the world around us, Adam failed. When we consider the multitude of dying sinners – the sons of Adam – which currently populate the globe, we see not an image of the God of Glory, rather we see abundance of evil and iniquity, emanating from those who willingly reflect “the likeness of sinful flesh” (cp Rom 8:3) in all their doings. Death and corruption characterises this epoch of man’s self-rule, and will continue to do so, until the Lord Jesus descends to bestow immortality upon those who believe on him, who are “born of God” through faith and Baptism, and who therefore “overcome the world” (1Jno 5:4) through the victory of their Lord.
So it is, that the Scriptures testify that “all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever” (1Jno 2:16,17). The basic root of the problem Christ came to solve then, is “lust” and “pride”- emanating from human nature itself (Mark 7:21). Human nature is inherently evil; full of sin, and obnoxious to the Eternal Creator, who is “of purer eyes than to behold evil, and canst not look upon iniquity” (Hab 1:13). When Adam transgressed, sin became lodged within his very being – it became part of his nature to transgress and that nature is inherited by all his seed. So the Apostle Paul testified of his own experience: “I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing” (Rom 7:18), and again, in speaking of his acts of transgression, committed against his greater desire to serve the Lord: “it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me” And again, in repeating this fact: “Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me” (Rom 7:17,20).
So it is that in simple terms, the nature of the problem, is the problem of our nature – and that which lies within it. Any solution to the problem must, of necessity involve the condemnation and destruction of this indwelling “sin”, a defilement inherent to us all. The One who came to redeem us from sin must have possessed an identical nature to ourselves – he had to share our nature in order to overcome it. And this of course, was the case in our Lord Jesus: “forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the diabolos” (Heb 2:14). The Lord Jesus, being “made of a woman” had Sin, alias the devil, or diabolos, within him “in the flesh” (Rom 8:3), and took it to the grave – it was condemned to destruction in the offering of his Sacrifice.
THE ONLY BEGOTTEN SON OF GOD – JESUS CHRIST
But the fact of the Lord also being the Son of God provides the answer of why he overcame sin, whereas we cannot. He was Divinely strengthened by his Divine Begettal to do so. “For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh” (Rom 8:3). Note the emphasis here; what the Law could not do, God did. The whole work was a work of God. God “condemned sin in the flesh”, by sending his own son in flesh just like ours, that there the diabolos might be “destroyed” through his Son’s death. God did it, not the Lord Jesus alone. We often reflect upon the Sacrifice of the Son in offering himself up for the remission of our sins, yet we ought to be mindful also of the Sacrifice of the Father. “God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (Jno 3:16). God gave – He sent His Son to die that we might have life. And he so strengthened His Son to perform the work which he came to do, even as it is written: “let thy hand be upon the man of thy right hand, upon the son of man whom thou madest strong for thyself” (Ps 80:17). This dual origin of the Lord Jesus then, was an essential prerequisite for the condemnation of sin, and the redemption of man. The fact that as the Antitype to Adam (cp 1Cor 15:45) he was the Son of God – literally – ensured that he was able to show forth his Father’s Image, which Adam failed to do. He “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” (Heb 1:3)
THE HOLY SPIRIT GIVEN WITHOUT MEASURE
As we have shown, the work of our Lord was not a work in which he was engaged alone. The Father was with him, and in him by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. Thus, the BASF states that having been begotten by the Holy Spirit, the Lord “was afterwards anointed with the same spirit, without measure, at his baptism”. Isaiah testified of this, continuing his prophecy of the “Branch”: “ … and the spirit of Yahweh shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of Yahweh; and shall make him of quick understanding in the fear of Yahweh: and he shall not judge after the sight of his eyes, neither reprove after the hearing of his ears: but with righteousness shall he judge the poor …” (Is 11:3,4, see also 41:1, 61:1).
So it was that in giving him “wisdom and understanding”, “counsel and might” and “knowledge”, the Spirit ensured that the One sent by God spoke His Word, and Performed His Works perfectly, for as the inspired commentary has it: “he whom God hath sent speaketh the words of God: for God giveth not the Spirit by measure unto him” (Jno 3:34).
The bestowal of the Holy Spirit power upon an individual was not unique by any means. In old Testament times, we find that Moses was given the Spirit in measure, which was taken and put upon 70 elders, as recorded in Numbers 11:25: “Yahweh came down in a cloud, and spake unto him, and took of the spirit that was upon him, and gave it unto the seventy elders: and it came to pass, that, when the spirit rested upon them, they prophesied, and did not cease”. Also, those entrusted with the task of constructing the Tabernacle received special blessing, by being give the Spirit in order that they might accomplish their work (Ex 28:3, 31:3, 35:31). And again, those whom the Lord selected to be his prophets similarly were endowed with the Spirit, that they might speak forth the word’s of Israel’s God perfectly – whether it be their will to do so or not (Num 24:2, 1Sam 10:10, cp 2Kings 2:9). But the essential difference is that whereas these faithful men of old had a measure of Divine Power to enable them to perform the particular tasks required of them, the Lord Jesus was given it “without measure” at the commencement of His Ministry, a reflection upon the greater work he came to do, and his more highly exalted position as being the Son of the Most High God.
But in addition to this, the bestowal of Spirit Power upon our Lord was itself a testimony of Divine approval, as can be seen from the circumstances of his Baptism: “Jesus, when he was baptised, 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” (Mat 3:16,`17). And this approval rested upon our Lord, even till the time of his work’s completion, and his ascent to be enthroned at his Father’s right hand.
That this was so can be seen in miracles he accomplished by the use of the Spirit, for these testified to his Messiahship and unique Divine Parentage. As the Lord Himself testified: “I have greater witness than that of John: for the works which the Father hath given me to finish, the same works that I do, bear witness of me, that the Father hath sent me” (Jno 5:36). And again, in response to those sent by John to enquire “Art thou he that should come, or do we look for another?” He said, “Go and shew John again those things which ye do hear and see: The blind receive their sight, and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the poor have the Gospel preached unto them. And blessed is he whosoever shall not be offended in me” (Mat 11:4-6). Truly, as the BASF shows, Jesus of Nazareth was the Son of God, which fact was testified by the miracles He performed by the Spirit; even as the Apostle testified to the Jews who had him crucified: “Jesus of Nazareth” was “a man approved of God among you by miracles and wonders and signs, which God did by him in the midst of you, as ye yourselves know” (Acts 2:22).
RESURRECTION FROM THE DEAD
But the greatest testimony to the Divine parentage of our Lord is seen in his resurrection. As Paul spake to the Romans, “Jesus Christ our Lord … was made of the seed of David according to the flesh; and declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead” (Rom 1:3,4). So then, the Lord was “declared” to be the Son of the Most High both by the Spirit, and by his resurrection. Indeed this was the sign that he himself gave to those who tempted him, of the truthfulness of the words he spake “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up” (Jno 2:19) and this he spake concerning “the temple of his body” (Jno 2:21) in which the Spirit of God resided. The fact of our Lord’s resurrection is a testimony to the ultimate Approval by the Father of His Son’s work, and it provides an assurance to us that there is hope of life from the dead, and that there is a day yet future when judgements against sin will again be manifest, for God “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” (Acts 17:31).
THE VITAL IMPORTANCE OF CHRIST’S PARENTAGE
The importance of this clause of the BASF is seen when we compare these things with some of the theories of the heathen around us. The standard dogma of the Churches, is the Trinity, a doctrine almost universally accepted by current “Christendom”, falsely so-called. The teaching here is that the Lord Jesus is God; that he existed before he was born, and that he only took human form in being born through Mary. Yet this denies both aspects of the origin of our Lord, who was both Son of God and Son of Man – literally so. And this in turn removes from Christ both qualifications which were so important for the work he came to do. The alternatives are no better. Some claim that Jesus was simply a supremely righteous man, and thus rob him of his Divine Begettal – the very means whereby he was able to overcome. Still others regard the Lord as a pre-existent being – not God Himself, but God’s Son who existed before the creation of the world, and emerged from the womb of Mary in human form. But again, this robs him of the reality of being a man, experiencing like passions as ourselves. To our knowledge, the proper understanding which we have of the dual origin of the Lord Jesus is unique to ourselves. Let us then seek to understand more fully, and uphold the things the Scriptures reveal to be true, that in resisting the errors of the heathen we might hold fast to those vital truths which are unique to our faith.