The Incarnation of Jesus Christ
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Compiled by Derek Gentle
1. THE FULL DEITY OF JESUS CHRIST
"For in Him dwells all the fullness of
the Godhead bodily" Colossians 2:9
We see evidence for Christ's deity in that
He does things which only God does and has attributes which only God has.
For a few examples, we see Christ's deity in His:
"...He who came down from heaven,
that is the Son of man who is in heaven" John 3:13
"He who comes from heaven is above all"
"The birth of Jesus was not, as
in ordinary births, the creation of a new personality. The person - already
existing - entering on this new mode of existence" James
"It is not possible to speak of the incarnation
of one who had no previous existence" L. Berkof
"Before Abraham was, I am"
"For unto us a Child is born... And His
name will be called... Everlasting..." Isaiah 9:6
C. BEING CREATOR
"All things were made through Him and without
Him nothing was made that was made" John 1:3
"For by Him all things were created that
are in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions
or principalities or powers. All things were made through Him and for Him"
"To the Son He says, '...You O Lord, in
the beginning, laid the foundation of the earth, And the heavens are the
work of your hands" Hebrews 1:10
D. FORGIVING SINS
"Who can forgive sins but God alone?"
"The Son of man has power on earth to forgive
sins" vs. 24
E. BEING CO-PARTNER IN DIVINE GLORY
God alone possesses Glory:
"I am the Lord, that is my name; and my
glory I will not give to another" Isaiah 42:8
Jesus possessed this glory with the Father:
"And now O Father, glorify Me together
with Yourself with the glory I had with You before the world was"
F. RECEIVING WORSHIP
The Father says of the Son:
"Let all the angels of God worship Him"
Jesus accepted the worship of others:
"And Thomas answered and said to Him,
'My Lord and my God!' Jesus answered and said to him, 'Thomas, because
you have seen Me, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not
seen and yet have believed.'" John 20:28-29
Notice that Jesus does not shun his worship
or redirect Thomas to worship more appropriately as the angel does in Revelation
19:10, "Then I fell down at his feet to worship him, but he said to me,
"You must not do that! I am a fellow servant with you and your brethren
who hold the testimony of Jesus. Worship God."
G. SAYING HE WAS GOD
"I and the Father are one"
The Jews who heard Him say this understood
what He meant. They were about to stone Him because, in their words, "You
being a man, make Yourself God" (vs. 33).
"Philip said to Him, 'Lord show us the
Father, and it is sufficient for us.' Jesus said to him, 'Have I been with
you so long, and yet you have not known Me Philip? He who has seen Me has
seen the Father..." John 14:8-9
H. BEING CALLED GOD
By the Father:
"But to the son He says: 'Your throne
O God...'" Hebrews 1:8
By the Gospels:
"And the Word was God"
By the Apostles:
"And Thomas answered to Him, 'My Lord
and my God!'"
By the prophet, Isaiah:
"Immanuel" Isaiah 7:14
Immanuel="God with us"
"His name will be called Mighty God"
2. THE GENUINE HUMANITY OF JESUS CHRIST
"For there is one God and one Mediator
between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus" I Timothy
"Greek mythology abounds in stories of
gods who walked the earth giving the impression that they were men. They
looked like men. They acted like men. But when need arose they cast off
pretense, put forth their powers, and revealed their identity. They were
not really men, but gods in disguise"
A. HE TOOK ON AN
He was tangible:
"That which was from the beginning, which
we have seen with our eyes, which have looked at and our hands have touched-this
we proclaim to you concerning the Word of life."
I John 1:1 (NIV)
"Look at my hands,and feet. It is I myself!
Touch me and see; a ghost does not have flesh and bones, as you see I
Luke 24:39 (NIV)
He knew :
Physical growth Luke
B. HE EXPERIENCED HUMAN EMOTIONS
Weariness John 4:6
Hunger Matthew 4:2; 21:18
Thirst John 19:28
Astonishment Mark 6:6
Grief John 11:33
Being Troubled John 12:27
Agony Luke 22:44
Loneliness & Abandonment
Matthew 26:38; Mark
C. HE TOOK ON A HUMAN SOUL/SPIRIT
"He groaned in the spirit"
3. TWO NATURES IN ONE PERSON
"Father, into Your hands I commit My spirit" Luke 23:46
"My soul is troubled" John
"Humanity was spoiled and corrupted by the
sin of Adam and Eve. Consequently, we are not true human beings, but impaired,
broken down vestiges of essential humanity, and it is difficult to imagine
this kind of humanity united with deity. But when we say that in the incarnation
Jesus took on humanity, we are not talking about this kind of humanity.
For the humanity of Jesus was not the humanity of sinful beings, but the
humanity possessed by Adam and Eve from their creation and before their
fall. There is no doubt then as to Jesus' humanity. The question is not
whether Jesus was fully human, but whether we are..."
Millard J. Erickson
"And without controversy great is the mystery
of godliness: God was manifested in the flesh" I Timothy
A. AS DISCUSSED, SCRIPTURE AFFIRMS
BOTH HIS DEITY AND HIS HUMANITY
B. HE ALWAYS REFERRED TO HIMSELF
AS A SINGULAR PERSONALITY
There is nothing like, "Let us
make man in our own image" (Genesis 1:26)
Thus, two natures exist in one
C. CHARLES HODGE LISTS FOUR CLASSIFICATIONS OF SCRIPTURAL REFERENCES TO CHRIST
(1) Those which apply to His whole
Person as the God-Man
(2) Those which apply exclusively to His divine
"Before Abraham was, I am"
"The glory which I had with You before
the world was" John 17:5
(3) Those which apply to Him exclusively in
Hodge names two subdivisions
in this category:
(4) Those which apply to Him as the God-Man,
but are not true of Him in regard to His deity alone
Those references to His divine nature which
are true due to His human nature
"The church of God which He purchased
with His own blood" Acts
Those references to His human nature which
are true due to His divine nature
"What then if you see the Son of man ascend
where He was before" John 6:62
"The Son will be subject to Him
who put all things under Him"
I Corinthians 15:28
"My Father is greater than I"
4. REASONS FOR THE INCARNATION
"For the virgin birth itself carries by
implication the sum and substance of the gospel" - Carl F. H. Henry
A. The Necessity of Christ's Full Humanity
(1) To Reveal God To Us
"No one has seen God at any time. The only
begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him"
(2) To Be An Example To Us
"...Leaving us an example, that you should
follow His steps" I Peter 2:21
"He who says he abides in Him ought himself
to walk just as He walked"
I John 2:6
(3) To Be Able To Be Tempted
"...God cannot be tempted by evil..."
Jesus was, "In all points tempted as we
are, yet without sin" Hebrews 4:15
(4) To Be Able To Die As Our Sacrifice
As God Jesus could not die; God is immortal. Only as man could He die.
"You are the same and your years will have no end" Psalm 102:27
"For it is not possible that the blood
of bulls and goats should take away sins. Therefore, when He came into
the world, He said, 'Sacrifice and offering You did not desire, but a body
You have prepared for Me" Hebrews 10:4-5
(5) To Be Able To Fulfill God's Promise
"When your days are fulfilled and you lie
down with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring after you, who shall
come forth from your body, and I will establish his kingdom. He shall
build a house for my name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom
(II Samuel 7:12-13 RSV)
"And behold, you will conceive in your
womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. He will be great,
and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give
to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house
of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there will be no end."
(Luke 1:31-33 RSV)
(6) To Defeat The Devil
"For this purpose the Son of God was manifested,
that He might destroy the works of the devil" I John 3:8
(7) To Be The Second (and last) Adam
"For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ
shall all be made alive. . . Thus it is written, 'The first man Adam became
a living being'; the last Adam became a life-giving spirit."
Jesus has neither a mother in heaven
nor a father on earth
(1st Corinthians 15:22, 45 RSV)
"But the free gift is not like the trespass. For if many died through one man's trespass, much more have the grace of God and the free gift in the grace of that one man Jesus Christ abounded for many. . . . Then as one man's trespass led to condemnation for all men,
so one man's act of righteousness leads to acquittal and life for all men.
For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so by one man's
obedience many will be made righteous."
(Romans 5:15, 18-19
Man got us into this mess; a man would
have to get us out.
"Man is the one who wronged God and must
therefore make the wrong right"
James Montgomery Boice summarizing
"He is the second man, the Lord from heaven,
the Son of Man who is also the Son of God incarnate for us men and for
Carl F. H. Henry
B. The Necessity of His Full Deity
(1) To Truly And Fully Reveal
"And the Word became flesh and dwelt among
us and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,
full of grace and truth"
(2) To Be A Sinless Sin-Bearer
How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God? Hebrews 9:14
We were redeemed, . . .with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot. 1st Peter 1:19
"The man who yields to a particular temptation
has not felt its full power. He has given in while the temptation has yet
something in reserve. Only the man who does not yield to a temptation,
who as regards that particular temptation, is sinless, knows the full extent
of that temptation"
Leon Morris (quoted by Erickson)
(3) To Be A Sufficient Sin-Bearer
"God was in Christ reconciling the world
to Himself" II Corinthians 5:19
". . .The debt was so great that, while man
alone owed it, only God could pay it, so that same person must be both
man and God" Anselm
"It was evident for the writers of the
New Testament, as it should be for us, that Christ could not save if he
were not fully divine. The all-sufficiency of the sacrifice depends on
his absolute authority. Had he been a created being, he would have been
in some sense under compulsion, a victim... And only of one who had himself
absolute immortality could it be said that 'he became obedient unto death'"
F. F. Bruce and William J.
(4) To Be Outside of Adam
"By one man's disobedience many were made
sinners" Romans 5:19
"A man born in the normal way could have
been one with sinners, but he could not have been a sinless sin-bearer"
Carl F. H. Henry
"If Christ had been generated by man, He would
have been born a human person, included in the covenant of works, and as
such would have shared the common guilt of mankind. But now that His subject,
His ego, His person, is not out of Adam, He is not in the covenant of works
and is free from the guilt of sin. And being free from the guilt of sin,
His human nature could also be kept free, both before and after His birth,
from the pollution of sin." -
L. Berkof, Systematic
Theology, page 336
(5) To Unite God and Man In Reconciliation
II Corinthians 5:19 (quoted above)
5. THE MEANS OF THE INCARNATION- THE VIRGIN CONCEPTION AND BIRTH
Various church fathers
"'How will this be,' Mary asked, 'since
I am a virgin?' The angel answered, 'The Holy Spirit will come upon you,
and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to
be born will be called the Son of God."
Luke 1:34-35 (NIV)
"But after he had considered this, an angel
of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, 'Joseph son of David,
do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived
in her is from the Holy Spirit"
Matthew 1:20 (NIV)
"What God did was to supply, by a special
creation, both the human and component ordinarily contributed by the male
(and thus we have the virgin birth) and, in addition, a divine factor (and
thus we have the incarnation)."
Millard Erickson, Christian
Theology, page 755
"The virgin birth is important because
of . . . (4) The sinlessness of Christ. If he were born of two human parents,
it is very difficult to conceive how he could have been exempted from the
guilt of Adam's sin and become the new head of the human race."
J. M. Frame, "Virgin Birth
in Evangelical Dictionary of the Bible
6. THE SELF-EMPTYING OF CHRIST
The Son, never ceasing to be God,
nor in any way compromising His identity, chose to, for a time, lay
aside His royal rights as God and to temporarily cease to display the splendor
of His glory. He took on humanity and human responsibility. "When the time
had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law"
(Galatians 4:4 NIV). He played by the same rules by which we play. He,
as man, lived in dependance upon the Father and relied on Him for His power.
"For I have not spoken on my own authority; the Father who sent me has
himself given me commandment what to say and what to speak." (John 12:49
"Do you not believe that I am in the Father and
the Father in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own
authority; but the Father who dwells in me does his works." (John 14:10
"Who although being essentially one with
God and in the form of God [possessing the fullness of the attributes which
make God God], did not think this equality with God was a thing to eagerly
grasped or retained; but stripped Himself [of all privileges and rightful
dignity] so as to assume the guise of a servant (slave), in that He became
like men and was born a human being." Philippians
". . . The glory I had with you before
the world was."
Jesus praying to the Father
in John 17:5
7. FALSE UNDERSTANDINGS OF CHRIST
"A study of errors should help
clarify the truth and make us more careful how we express it. Semantics
are very important in the statements of theology."
C. C. Ryrie
A. That Christ was God and only appeared
to be a man.
(Docetism, 1st century)
B. That Christ was not God, but was
elected to be the Son of God at his baptism.
(Ebionism, 2nd century)
C. That, being begotten, Christ had
a beginning and was, thus, "only" the Son of God. That
He was similar to God but not, in fact, fully and truly God.
(Arianism, 4th century - condemned
by the Council of Nicea in 325)
D. That Christ did not have a human
soul and spirit.
That as God the Divine Logos filled that
role instead. (Apollinarianism, 4th century - condemned by the
Council of Constantinople in 680)
E. That Christ's two natures (divine
and human) were distinct because He was really two separate persons. (Nestorianism,
5th century - condemned by the Council of Calcedon in 451)
F. That Christ had only one nature and was
neither fully divine nor fully human.
(Eutychiansim, 5th century
- condemned by the Council of Calcedon in 451)
Definition of Chalcedon (451 AD)
Following, then, the holy fathers, we unite
in teaching all men to confess the one and only Son, our Lord Jesus Christ.
This selfsame one is perfect both in deity and in humanness; this selfsame
one is also actually God and actually man, with a rational soul [meaning
human soul] and a body. He is of the same reality as God as far as his
deity is concerned and of the same reality as we ourselves as far as his
humanness is concerned; thus like us in all respects, sin only excepted.
Before time began he was begotten of the Father, in respect of his deity,
and now in these "last days," for us and behalf of our salvation, this
selfsame one was born of Mary the virgin, who is God-bearer in respect
of his humanness.
We also teach that we apprehend this one
and only Christ-Son, Lord, only-begotten -- in two natures; and we do this
without confusing the two natures, without transmuting one nature into
the other, without dividing them into two separate categories, without
contrasting them according to area or function. The distinctiveness of
each nature is not nullified by the union. Instead, the"properties" of
each nature are conserved and both natures concur in one "person" and in
one reality [hypostasis]. They are not divided or cut into two persons,
but are together the one and only and only-begotten Word [Logos] of God,
the Lord Jesus Christ. Thus have the prophets of old testified; thus the
Lord Jesus Christ himself taught us; thus the Symbol of Fathers [the Nicene
Creed] has handed down to us.
Christian Theology, Millard J,. Erickson, Baker Book House, 1983,
"Our Lord's Virgin Birth" by Carl F. H. Henry in Readings in Christians
Theology, Volume 2: Man's Need and God's Gift, Millard Erickson, editor,
Baker Book House, 1976
"Virgin Birth of Jesus" by J. M. Frame in Evangelical Dictionary
of Theology, Walter A. Elwell , editor, Baker Book House, 1984
"The Virgin Birth of Christ" by James Orr in The Fundamentals: A
Testimony to the Truth, R. A. Torrey, A. C. Dixon,and others, editors,
Baker Books, 1917 (reprinted 1996)
Systematic Theology, L. Berkof, Eerdmans, 1939, 1941
Foundations of the Christian Faith, James Montgoemery Boice,
InterVarsity Press, 1986
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