Thursday, September 9, 2010

100% God or 100% Man - or both?

I was asked a question last night at church, "how can Jesus be 100% God and 100% man? Did He lay down His divine nature and pick up a human nature?"

This is not an uncommon question. It is similar to the questions about the Trinity - "How can God be three different persons but all of them be God?" I like to answer it by saying, "who wrote the book of Romans"? Paul is usually the answer. I then say, "Did he or did God?" The answer is yes and yes. Is God God, Jesus or the Holy Spirit? Yes, yes, and yes. "For there are three that testify: the Spirit, the water and the blood; and the three are in agreement." - 1 John 5:7. There are many more scriptures to support the doctrine of the Trinity (the word "Trinity" is not found in scripture but the principle of it is found in tons of scripture). Here are a few of them, but I'll move on to the the Incarnation of Jesus doctrine. 1 Peter 1:2; Ephesians 2:18; Galatians 4:6; John 15:26.

Was Jesus 100% God AND 100% man? Does that make Him 200%? That just doesn't add up. Surely, it was more like 50% man and 50% God. Maybe He dropped His divinity and was just 100% man for a while? Was He really a man or just God in a different package? These questions have been asked for centuries. The truth can only be found in scripture, not in human thinking. You'll never fully wrap your finite mind around an infinite God - especially when it comes to the doctrine of the Trinity and the Incarnation of Christ. These absolute truths go way beyond human comprehension. 1+1+1 in human terms doesn't equal 1. Is God schizophrenic? Does he have multiple personalities? Is he a shape shifter, changing from God the Father, God the Son, and the Holy Spirit then changing to God the man?

The Trinity has been around for eternity. None of them were created by another. Then God said, "Let us make man in our image..." (Genesis 1:26) The Triune God has existed before creation. Genesis 1:1 says, "the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters." Tons of Old Testament scripture point to a Christophany (Christ's appearance in OT scriptures) or prophecies about Christ, the Messiah, coming to earth. Here are some for further study - Genesis 32; Joshua 5:13-15; Daniel 3:23-25; Numbers 22:35; Isaiah 53.

If Jesus was God, how could he have hungered, thirsted, wept and died?

I will give scripture to support all of these headings. There is tons more to be said here and tons more of scripture to support the doctrine of Incarnation - God being fully God and fully man - 100% and 100% at the same time. I'll just give a brief overview in this blog.

Jesus is God
Titus 2:13 says we are, "waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ." He knows everything (Mt 16:21; Luke 11:17; John 4:29), is everywhere (Matthew 18:20; 28:20; Acts 18:10), has all power (Mt 8:26, 27; 28:18; Jn 11:38-44; Lk 7:14-15; Revelation 1:8), depends on nothing outside of Himself for life (Jn 1:4; 14:6; 8:58), rules over everything (Mt 28:18; Rev 19:16; 1:5) never began to exist and never will cease to exist (John 1:1; 8:58), and is our Creator (Colossians 1:16).

In Philippians 2:6-12 describes Jesus as God. "Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death — even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father."

Only Jesus Took On Flesh and Became the Son of Man
Luke 3:22 says, "and the Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily form, like a dove; and a voice came from heaven, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased."

John 3:16 - "For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son..."

Jesus is Man
1 John 4:2 - "By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God."
2 John 7 - "many deceivers have gone out into the world, those who do not confess the coming of Jesus Christ in the flesh. Such a one is the deceiver and the antichrist."

Luke 2:7 - "And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn."

He wept (John 11:35). He hungered (Matthew 4:2). He thirst (John 19:28).

Jesus was Sinless Man
Hebrews 4:15 - "For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin."

So, is he fully all those at the same time? Yes.

Colossians 2:9 says, "For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily." He was fully God while on earth. He was also fully man.

Why did He have to be fully man and fully God?

Hebrews 2:17 says, "For this reason he had to be made like his brothers in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people."

Jesus is only one person - with two natures.
His human nature was only human and His divine nature was only divine. The Chalcedonean Creed says, Christ is "to be acknowledged in two natures...concurring in one Person and one Subsistence, not parted or divided into two persons, but one and the same Son, and only begotten, God, the Word, the Lord Jesus Christ..."

Evidence of this: John 1:14 - "And the Word (divine nature) became flesh (human nature) and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth."

God Did Not Die
God cannot die. He is "I AM". This implies He is eternal - no beginning and no end. But humans can die, and Jesus' human nature did die - fully. He didn't sleep, it wasn't an illusion. Jesus' divine nature did not die. But, the Person of Christ experienced death because of the union of the two natures in the one Person of Christ. His human nature now lives and ascended into heaven (Acts 1:9), forever making intercession for us (Hebrews 7:24-25). He will return physically (Philippians 3:21). He will transform our bodies to be like His. Jesus and Christians will continue to live forever with resurrection bodies that cannot die - 1 Corinthians 15:42; 2 Corinthians 5:1.

Thank you God for sending your Son to become human so He could understand, identify, and be like one of us - without sin. Thank you that we have a new High Priest in Him. Thank you that God became one of us. As J.I. Packer said this about the incarnation of Jesus: "Remaining what He was, He became what He was not. Christ was not now God minus some elements of His deity, but God plus all that He had made His own by taking manhood to Himself."

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