|Vol. 15 No. 6 June 2013||
Rodney Nulph, Associate Editor
Spring has finally sprung in our little part of the world! I love spring; the singing birds, the shining sun, the sprouting trees, and the splendid flowers all remind us of the awesome God we serve (cf. Romans 1:20). This morning as I walked to my truck to make my way to my study, I was compelled to stop and “smell the flowers.” Last fall, Julene and I planted some tulip bulbs. After a long winter, they have made their presence known in a spectacular way. Tulips are certainly one of my favorite flowers! Not just for their splendor, but for the schooling they provide as well. Tulips and Christians are alike in several ways.
Firstly, tulips are like Christians in that each one is different! I am truly amazed with the variety of tulips there are to enjoy. Some are pure red, others are yellow with red stripes and still others are bright yellow, and on and on. Some have large petals while others have small petals. Their uniqueness is evident. The same is true of Christians. In fact, Paul made that point clear in Romans 12:4ff. We each have different talents and abilities. This diversity certainly adds strength to the body of Christ.
Secondly, tulips are like Christians in that sun makes them flourish! On overcast days, when the sun is “hidden,” our tulips just do not open and bloom like days when the sun is bright. To reach their wonderful potential, tulips need the sun. Christians are no different. In order for Christians to really shine, they need the Son! Those who saw Peter and John could easily see “they had been with Jesus” (Acts 4:13). Closeness to the Son enables us to “shine” in a dimly lit world (Matthew 5:16; Philippians 2:15). The Son causes Christians to really flourish!
Thirdly, tulips are like Christians in that sometimes they hide in darkness! Sadly, each evening, when the dark shades fall to earth, our beautiful tulips hide. For some reason, tulips will not let their beauty be seen in the darkness. Sometimes that is true of Christians as well. When the dark world rears its ugliness, we sometimes hide instead of attempting to lighten and brighten the way. We have been ordered to never hide from darkness but rather to reprove it (Ephesians 5:11). We must array ourselves with the proper attire (Ephesians 6:10ff) and never give up (Galatians 6:9).
Surely the surroundings of God’s seasons can teach us valuable lessons. I hope that the next time you see a tulip, you will be reminded that God made you an individual, and you must use that for His glory, that your potential can only be reached by staying close to the Son, and that although we may want to, we must never hide our light, no matter how dark this world gets! Thank you God for spring and for the lessons in the tulips!
In John 3:16 Jesus called Himself God’s “only begotten Son.” There are some who take this as evidence of Jesus being not divine, alleging that something that is “begotten” is created. What does it mean to be the “only begotten Son”?
The phrase “only begotten” appears six times in the New Testament. Five times it was used by John (John 1:14, 18; 3:16, 18; 1 John 4:9) and one time by the Hebrews writer (11:17). If we wish to understand what it means to be the “only begotten Son,” then we must examine all of these passages to see what can be learned from each. That being said, every time John uses the phrase, he talks about Jesus, but the Hebrews writer talks about Isaac. There in Hebrews 11, the heroes of faith are recounted and Abraham is listed among them for a number of reasons, one of which being his sacrifice of Isaac. What is interesting about this usage is that the Greek word behind the phrase literally means “only child,” yet Isaac was not Abraham’s only child. Even back in Genesis 22, where the story is found, Isaac is called Abraham’s only son, but he is not. So what are we to make of this?
Most commentators remark that Isaac is the only child of Abraham through Sarah, which is true enough. However, there must be something more behind the usage other than a literal, born child. The “only begotten,” then, denotes a special relationship. Isaac is the “only begotten son” because he is the child of promise. Jesus is the “only begotten Son” because He is a part of the Triune Godhead. Jesus is not a begotten creature, but the Creator.