The Nicene Creed
Very God of Very God
God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God, begotten, not made
This is quite a mouthful, but we shall pick up with the word “begotten” with which we were dealing yesterday. If God begets, He must beget His own kind, which is true for everyone and everything. God’s kind is, well…God. We cannot say what God is in and of Himself—like we can say what a man is or a dog is; the essence of God’s nature will ever remain a mystery to us. But we can say that if God begets, He must beget that which is of His own nature—which is God.
So the Creed follows the necessary result of what it means to be begotten. This one who is begotten must be a son, and if a son, then he must be by the nature of the case: “God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God [or, truly God of truly God].” As begetting, God is Father; as the one begotten, he is Son who partakes of the same essence of his Father and is thus God, or more precise, the Son of God. This is the necessary conclusion one must draw from the word, “begotten.” One might suggest that such is metaphorical language when expressed of the God whom Jesus himself says is spirit (John 4:24). We agree that God does not beget in the same way a man does; but we must insist that the word carry the appropriate meaning; to sum, that the Son truly and really did come forth from His Father and thus shares His very being.
So the Creed here places an exclamation point saying, “Begotten, not made.” The Father made all things, but not His Son. Even he cannot make a son. Oh, God can adopt sons and daughters as He has so done for us through His Son, but God cannot make a natural-born son of Himself. This requires begetting, which is precisely what Scripture tells us God did.
There is an entire “church history” behind the next clause, “Being of one substance with the Father,” which we shall unpack tomorrow. Suffice it to say now that our Lord Jesus Christ is the Son of God. (How so very fitting in this case that “is” is the being verb.) He was not at some point in his life “adopted” by God because he was such a good person. He is not even called God’s Son because he was so much like God. He is called God’s Son by both Scripture and the creeds of the Church because he came forth from God the Father from all eternity. And this is the one we call Savior, not because he is like a savior, but as God’s Son, he is Savior.