QUESTION: What is the difference between the two descriptive titles used of Christ, the Only-begotten Son and the Firstborn or First-begotten?
ANSWER: As the Only-begotten, Christ stands in a relationship to God from which all others are excluded; He is God’s unique Son. As the First-begotten He occupies a relationship into which others are brought (Rom. 8:29). The first speaks of priority, the second of supremacy. In the first we see the very essence of the Divine Being; in the second, the divine pattern to which all the redeemed are to be conformed. Five times John speaks of our Lord as the Only-begotten (John 1:14, 18; 3:16, 18. 1 John 4:9). In these Scriptures we see His co-equality with the Father and the Divine Spirit as the Eternal Son of God. Five times the Epistles speak of Him as the Firstborn or the First-begotten (Col. 1:15, 18. Rom. 8:29. Heb. 1:6. Rev. 1:5). In these passages we see His supremacy in creation in the past. He is Creator (Col. 1:15); His supremacy in resurrection in the present, He is the First-begotten from among the dead (Rev. 1:5); and His supremacy in glory in the future, He is the Firstborn among many brethren (Rom. 8:29).
QUESTION: What is the difference between Christ as the image of God and Adam of whom we read that he was made in the image of God?
ANSWER: The able expositor, Barlow, has clearly expressed it thus: “In Christ it is as Caesar’s image in his son; in Adam it is as Caesar’s image on his coin.”
The word “image” as applied to Christ suggests three things: similitude, representation, and manifestation. The glory of God that filled the tabernacle of old, the visible sign of God’s presence in the midst of His people, was a distinct ray of that glorious light of Deity, it had neither shape nor form. In the incarnation of Christ, the glory of God manifests itself in the form of a man. “The Word became flesh and tabernacled among us and we beheld His glory.” The Lord Jesus claimed to be the perfect similitude of God when He said, “He that hath seen Me hath seen the Father.” Christ was not making reference directly to His bodily appearance, but indicated that in His body He revealed the nature, the character, and the heart of God. The Lord Jesus Christ was the visible representation of the invisible God. We, frequently, in our behaviour misrepresent God and His truth; not so our perfect Lord. He declared the Father in all the perfections of His being. To quote Barlow again, “The Incarnate Word in His nature, attributes, and actions is the true epiphany of the unseen Deity, setting forth, like distinct rays of one and the same glorious light, His infinite wisdom, mercy, righteousness, and power.”
The restored image of God in redeemed man is seen as the reflection of God’s character, but the perfections of that character are seen in Christ alone.
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Habitual communion with God must be maintained or our public service will be formal and futile. If there be no melting of the glacier high in the ravines of the mountain, there will be no descending rivulets to cheer the plain.
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There are allurements which cannot be forsaken except through the eye being filled with a fairer object, and the heart being occupied with a more satisfying portion. To resist fleshly allurements is good; but it is far better to be so occupied with Christ that the charmers shall charm in vain.