Biblical Doctrine, Plainly Stated

By William S. Plumer, 1875


I. Christianity takes its name from its author, the Lord Jesus Christ. A human frame without head or heart would not be more monstrous or useless than a system of religion designed for sinners without a Christ—an anointed Savior. A "Christless Christianity "is an absurdity. To every man, therefore, these are solemn questions: "What do you think about the Christ? Whose son is he?" Matt. 22:42.

II. Christ is both the Son of God and the Son of Man. This statement is not contradictory, for he is both God and man. He is the Son of God as to his divine nature, and the Son of Man as to his human nature. As the Son of God, he was in the bosom of the Father, John 1:18; he was in heaven, John 3:13; he is with all worshiping assemblies, Matt. 18:20; he was before all things Col. 1:17. As the Son of Man, he was born, Matt. 2:1; he increased in stature and wisdom, Luke 2:52; he was sorrowful, Matt. 26:37; he died, Matt. 27:50; and rose again, Matt. 28:7. No saved man denies that this union of Christ's natures is a great mystery; but then it is a mystery to be gloried in: "Without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, justified by the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory." 1 Tim. 3:16.

III. Christ is often called the Son, the Son of the Blessed, the Son of the Highest, the Son of God. He is called God's own Son, Romans 8:32; God's dear Son, Col. 1:13; God's one Son, his well-beloved, Mark 12:6; his beloved Son, Matt. 3:13; 17:5; Mark 1:11; 9:7; Luke 3:22; 9:35; 2 Pet. 1:17. It would be easy to fill many pages with texts in which he is called the Son of God. By his miraculous birth he is proven to be the Son of God, Luke 1:35; by his resurrection he is powerfully declared to be the Son of God, Romans 1:4; he is shown to be the Son of God by his glorious exaltation, Heb. 1:3-5. He existed as the Son of God before he was born on earth, for "God sent forth his Son." Gal. 4:4. He did not become God's Son by being sent; but being God's Son, he was sent.

IV. Christ is God's Son in the highest possible sense. Adam was God's son, because he was made by God without having any parents according to the flesh. Luke 3:38. Pious men are God's sons by a gracious adoption. 1 John 3:1. Holy angels are God's sons, because they have no parents of their own nature. But Jesus Christ is God's Son, because God is his Father who begat him. Psalm 2:7; Heb. 1:5; 5:5. No less than five times is Christ declared to be the only begotten Son of God. John 1:14, 18; 3:16, 18; 1 John 4:9. God is the Father of Christ in a sense in which he is the Father of none else. No mere creature has life in himself as the Son of God has life in himself. John 5:26. Nor does any creature know the Father as the Son knows him, nor does any know the Son but the Father. Luke 10:22. So that Christ's sonship is and should be confessed to be incomprehensible and ineffable.

V. At least one gospel and one epistle were written for the very purpose of convincing men that Jesus Christ was the Son of God. John 20:31; 1 John 5:13. A belief in Christ's sonship with God is an element in saving faith. 1 John 5:5. If a man denies the Son, he dishonors him and his Father also: "Whoever denies the Son, the same has not the Father." 1 John 2:23.

VI. The greatest and most happy effects flow from Christ being the Son of God, and from our belief of that truth. As Son he was manifested to destroy the works of the devil. 1 John 3:8. The greatness of Christ's priesthood consisted very much in his being the Son of God. Heb. 4:14; 7:28. So glorious is the Son that he counted it not robbery to be equal with God. Phil:2:6. He declared it was right and a duty to honor the Son as we honor the Father. John 5:23.

VII. But Christ is not only the true God and eternal life, 1 John 5:20, he is also truly the Son of Man. The Creator and the creature are united in the one person of Christ. Simeon saw and handled the infant of days, who was also the Father of eternity. "He is not only perfect God, but perfect man, of a reasonable soul and human flesh subsisting." Christ as God sought and formed a union with human nature. Christ's human nature had no personal subsistence by itself. His divine nature continues divine. His human nature cannot cease to be human.

VIII. In man's constitution there is a soul and a body. In Christ's constitution there are two natures. These are not changed the one into the other; nor are they confounded, nor are they mixed, but remain distinct. And yet there is but one person of the Mediator. The condescension of the Son of God in becoming the Son of Man was indeed wonderful. The Scriptures celebrate it: "You know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that you through his poverty might be rich." 2 Cor. 8:9.

IX. Christ's manner of taking human nature was miraculous. Prophecy required this: "Behold, a virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call his name Immanuel." Isaiah 7:14. The very first gospel promise ever made declared that the Redeemer should be "the Seed of the woman." Gen. 3:15. Christ had no father according to the flesh. He was the Seed of Abraham and the Seed of David in this sense, that his mother was descended from those ancient worthies. This is all that is there taught.

X. Of Christ's being a man there is no doubt. The prophet Daniel styled him the Son of Man. Dan. 7:13. The New Testament often calls him a man. More than sixty times does he call himself the Son of Man. He had all the innocent infirmities of a man. He wept; he was hungry; he was sorrowful; he rejoiced; he was weary; he died. If Jesus Christ did not prove himself to be truly a man, having both a soul and a body, no one ever proved himself to be a man.

XI. There is no more important truth than this, that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh. This truth makes glad millions of hearts in heaven and in earth. Upon it hang all the good hopes of man for eternal life. Christ becoming incarnate made sure to mortals the work of salvation. He is mighty to save; he is able to save; he is willing to save.

XII. Let no one be offended at this great mystery. Simeon spoke by the Spirit the simple truth when he said: "This child is set for the fall and rising again of many in Israel; and for a sign which shall be spoken against, that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed." Luke 2:34. Unto those who believe he is precious; but unto those who are disobedient, the stone which the builders disallowed, the same is made the head of the corner, and a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offence. 1 Pet. 2:7, 8. As men regard and treat the Son of God, who is also the Son of Man, the Christ of God--so are they saved or lost. If they believe not in him, they shall die in their sins. John 8:24. The aversion of the natural man to the person and work of Jesus Christ is dreadful. John 5:40; 6:44. Nothing is more foolish, yet nothing is more perverse or stubborn than unbelief. It is the master sin. It is the great damning sin of all who perish in a gospel land.

XIII. This God-man, Christ Jesus, shall judge the world. At his tribunal we must all stand. Romans 14:10; 2 Cor. 5:10. The Father has committed all judgment to the Son. John 5:22, 27. In the sublime account Christ has given of the last day, the only Judge named is the Son of Man in his glory, called more than once the King. Matt. 25:31-46. He who is truly wise will make friends with the Judge before that great and dreadful day.