Monday, December 23, 2013

Fully God - Fully Man

“But when the fullness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law, so that He might redeem those who were under the Law, that we might receive the adoption as sons.” (Galatians 4:4–5, NASB95) 

This time of year we hear quite a bit about the ‘incarnation’ of Jesus. It is in our hymns, our sermons, and even in our speech. But what does it mean for Christ to be God incarnate? In its most basic form it simply means to take on earthly form, and this is what Jesus did for us when He was born of a virgin. The long awaited Savior of mankind became man to pay the penalty for our sins. But is there more to it? Clearly we see in Scripture that Jesus willingly laid down His life and He had the power to take it up again. We see in Scripture that He knew things that someone simply man would not know. He had power to heal and to even bring back life. He told us that He and the Father are One and that They are One with the Spirit-the Trinity.

No, God incarnate is not merely man. But then, is He always God and if so then was there ever really any temptation to sin or anything else that we might consider normal to man? The Bible teaches us that Jesus is, has been and always will be God. He cannot alienate Himself from who He is. It also teaches us that He is man and that He endured hardships as man and lived victoriously as man.

Somehow we just have to accept that both of these are true. Our Savior and Lord is fully God and fully man, not an enhancing or even minimizing of one or the other. There is a theological term for this—hypostatic union. Moody’s Bible Handbook explains it as “a theological expression that refers to the dual nature of Christ. God the Son took to Himself a human nature, and He remains forever true God and true man—two natures in one Person forever. The two natures remain distinct without any intermingling; but they nevertheless compose one Person, Christ the God-Man.” John MacArthur in answering a question in “Grace To You” wrote, “The theological term "hypostatic union" has its origins in the Council of Chalcedon and emphasizes that Jesus Christ was fully God and fully man at the same time. It is used to affirm the union of Jesus' divine and human natures in one person--that Jesus Christ is perfectly God and perfectly man. Or, as theologians say, He is consubstantial with God as to His deity and with mankind as to His humanity.”

I tried to think of analogies, such as oil and vinegar, but not one of them holds up to scrutiny. For the oil will always be oil and the water, water. They can be blended for a brief time to make a nice dressing, but then they separate again and they can also even be fully separated at any time in the future. Jesus represents both fully, distinctly, and permanently. For me it is simple to grasp though I might not understand it, because in grasping it has to do with me trusting God and the truth of His Word. Understanding is something that He grants through the study of His Word and the illumination of that Word by His Spirit. Some mysteries belong to Him and some are revealed to us, even in varying degrees.

In an effort to clarify confusion of teachings on the nature of Christ, in A.D. 451, a large church council in the city of Chalcedon formulated the following establishing an accurate theological statement concerning the person and nature of Christ: (source:

“We, then, following the holy Fathers, all with one consent, confess one and the same Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, the same perfect in Godhead and also perfect in manhood; truly God and truly man, of a reasonable [rational] soul and body; consubstantial [coessential, of the same substance] with the Father according to the Godhead, and consubstantial with us according to the Manhood; in all things like unto us, without sin; begotten before all ages of the Father according to the Godhead, and in these latter days, for us and for our salvation, born of the Virgin Mary, the God-bearer, according to the Manhood; one and the same Christ, Son, Lord, Only-begotten, to be acknowledged in two natures, inconfusedly, unchangeable, indivisibly, inseparably; the distinction of natures being by no means taken away by the union, but rather the property of each nature being preserved, and 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, as the prophets from the beginning [have declared] concerning Him, and the Lord Jesus Christ Himself has taught us, and the Creed of the holy Fathers has been handed down to us.”

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being.” … “And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.” (John 1:1-3,14, NASB95) 

Christmas is an incredible time in many ways, and one of them is the abundance of songs written and sung about our God and His love for us. Scripture tells us how to respond to the great salvation given to us through the Son of God. We are to bow in worship and praise and to go out in service and obedience. Jesus not only is our God whom we worship, but He personally taught and showed us how to live for Him.

“Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus EVERY KNEE WILL BOW, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (Philippians 2:5–11, NASB95)

Today in “Jesus Calling” by Sarah Young (12/23)

I am King of kings and Lord of lords, dwelling in dazzling bright Light! I am also your Shepherd, Companion, and Friend—the One who never lets go of your hand. Worship Me in My holy Majesty; come close to Me, and rest in My Presence. You need Me both as God and as Man. Only My Incarnation on that first, long-ago Christmas could fulfill your neediness. Since I went to such extreme measures to save you from your sins, you can be assured that I will graciously give you all you need.

Nurture well your trust in Me as Savior, Lord, and Friend. I have held back nothing in My provision for you. I have even deigned to live within you! Rejoice in all that I have done for you, and My Light will shine through you into the world.

“which He will bring about at the proper time—He who is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone possesses immortality and dwells in unapproachable light, whom no man has seen or can see. To Him be honor and eternal dominion! Amen.” (1 Timothy 6:15–16, NASB95)

“Come, let us worship and bow down, let us kneel before the LORD our Maker. For He is our God, and we are the people of His pasture and the sheep of His hand. Today, if you would hear His voice,” (Psalm 95:6–7, NASB95)

“So we have the prophetic word made more sure, to which you do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star arises in your hearts.” (2 Peter 1:19, NASB95)

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