THE BELGIC CONFESSION – ARTICLE 10 (The Divinity of Christ)

Article 10 of the Belgic Confession deals with the deity of Christ -that He is the true and eternal God:

We believe that Jesus Christ according to His divine nature is the only begotten Son of God, begotten from eternity, not made, nor created (for then He would be a creature), but co-essential and co-eternal with the Father, the very image of his substance and the effulgence of his glory, equal unto Him in all things. He is the Son of God, not only from the time that He assumed our nature but from all eternity, as these testimonies, when compared together, teach us. Moses says that God created the world; and St. John says that all things were made by that Word which he calls God. The apostle says that God made the world by His Son; likewise, that God created all things by Jesus Christ. Therefore it must needs follow that He who is called God, the Word, the Son, and Jesus Christ, did exist at that time when all things were created by Him. Therefore the prophet Micah says: His goings forth are from of old, from everlasting. And the apostle: He hath neither beginning of days nor end of life. He therefore is that true, eternal, and almighty God whom we invoke, worship, and serve.

Article 8 of the Confession stated the doctrine of the Trinity. Article 9 gave the proofs for the doctrine of the Trinity. Now here in Article 10 the Confession states the doctrine of the true deity or divinity of Christ, along with the Scriptural proofs for this doctrine. (Likewise Article 11 does the same regarding the true deity or divinity of the Holy Spirit.)

The Doctrine of the Deity of Jesus Christ

The first part of Article 10 states the doctrine of Christ’s divinity:

“We believe that Jesus Christ according to His divine nature is the only begotten Son of God, begotten from eternity, not made, nor created (for then He would be a creature), but co-essential and co-eternal with the Father, the very image of his substance and the effulgence of his glory, equal unto Him in all things. He is the Son of God, not only from the time that He assumed our nature but from all eternity . . . .”

The Nicene Creed similarly states the divinity of Jesus Christ, that according to His divine nature he is “co-essential” or “of the same substance” with God the Father:

“And [we believe] in one Lord Jesus Christ,

the only-begotten Son of God,

begotten of the Father before all worlds;

God of God, Light of Light,

very God of very God; begotten, not made,

being of one substance with the Father,

by whom all things were made.”

The Confession uses very similar wording to that which is found in the Nicene Creed, not only because the Creed has endured the test of time, and is worded in a rather careful, clear, and helpful manner; but also for apologetic purposes, to show the explicit connection and continuity between the teachings of the Reformed faith of the 16th century and the teaching of the ancient church. The Reformed faith affirms and teaches nothing new or novel about the Trinity and the deity of Christ, but rather affirms and upholds the true doctrine that the true church has always held regarding these things down through the centuries.

Not only does the Confession specify that that the Son of God is “co-essential” with the Father, but also that He is “co-eternal” with the Father as well. He is said to be eternally begotten, but “not made, nor created (for then He would be a creature).” If the Son of God were a created being (i.e. a “creature”), He could not then be truly God.

When the Confession states that the Son of God is “co-essential and co-eternal with the Father,” it is emphasizing the unity of the Godhead (i.e. that there is only one God in three Persons). To say that the Son of God is “co-essential” with the Father is to say that He is of the very same essence or substance with Him. To say that He is “co-eternal” is to say (contrary to the heresy of Arianism) that there was never a time when He was not.

The Confession then says that “He is the Son of God, not only from the time that He assumed our nature but from all eternity . . . .” This is contrary to the anti-Trinitarian heresy of Adoptionism, which taught that Jesus was basically just a very holy man whom the Christ Spirit indwelled at his baptism, so that God essentially adopted him as His Son. Rather we affirm and confess that the Lord Jesus Christ, according to His divine nature, is the Son of God from all eternity!

The Scripture Proofs for the Deity of Jesus Christ

The second part of Article 10 gives the Scriptural proofs for the doctrine of Christ’s divinity:

“ . . .as these testimonies, when compared together, teach us. Moses says that God created the world; and St. John says that all things were made by that Word which he calls God. The apostle says that God made the world by His Son; likewise, that God created all things by Jesus Christ. Therefore it must needs follow that He who is called God, the Word, the Son, and Jesus Christ, did exist at that time when all things were created by Him. Therefore the prophet Micah says: His goings forth are from of old, from everlasting. And the apostle: He hath neither beginning of days nor end of life. He therefore is that true, eternal, and almighty God whom we invoke, worship, and serve. ”

The Belgic Confession teaches that “these testimonies” (i.e the various passages of Scripture cited from both the Old and New Testaments), when taken or “compared together” with each other clearly teach the deity of Christ. Some of these “testimonies” or passages of Scripture that the Confession weaves together in the above paragraph are as follows:

  • “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” (Genesis 1:1, ESV)

  • “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made.” (John 1:1–3, ESV, Italics added)

  • “He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together.” (Colossians 1:15–17, ESV, Italics added)

  • “But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, who are too little to be among the clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler in Israel, whose coming forth is from of old, from ancient days.” (Micah 5:2, ESV, Italics added)

  • “He is without father or mother or genealogy, having neither beginning of days nor end of life, but resembling the Son of God he continues a priest forever.” (Hebrews 7:3, ESV)

All of these passages (and others as well), when taken together, clearly teach the true deity of Jesus Christ. As Mark Jones puts it in his book, Knowing Christ, “The Scriptures simply overwhelm us with proofs of Christ’s divinity” (p.35). The Confession here just points us to the proverbial tip of the iceberg when it comes to the Scriptural proofs for this doctrine.

As article 10 puts it above, “Therefore it must needs follow that He who is called God, the Word, the Son, and Jesus Christ, did exist at that time when all things were created by Him” and also that He “is that true, eternal, and almighty God whom we invoke, worship, and serve.” And that is the point, after all, isn’t it? The deity of Christ is not just a doctrine for us to affirm, believe, and confess (although it certainly is those things); but rather because of this great truth regarding our Savior we must make it our aim to then “invoke, worship, and serve” the Lord Jesus Christ as our “true, eternal, and almighty God.”

 

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