The Incarnation of Christ Part Three:
Son of God AND Son of Man

Years ago I taught a series for our church at Christmas
on the Incarnation of Christ,
which covered such difficult subjects as the Trinity,
and Jesus being both God AND Man.

Part I addressed the Trinity, and how Jesus
represents God to man.
Part II--His representation of Man (Adam II) to God
Part III--Son of God And Son of Man
Part IV--Christ in You, the Incarnation Continues!

"For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily."  (Colossians 2:9) 

Church teaching interpreted the above verse to mean that the divine nature penetrates and perfects every aspect of the human, and the human is pervaded by the divine (John of Damascus, On the Orthodox Faith, 111.8)

Jesus' conception was supernatural-exceeding natural explanation; his birth was natural.

Methodist theologian and author, Thomas Oden, comments, "The deity participated in the Passion of the humanity and the humanity in the majesty of the deity without blurring or confusing either. (Systematic Theology, Vol. II, the Word of Life)

Lewis Sperry Chafer, evangelical theologian, stated in his Systematic Theology: "The Incarnation introduced the unique situation in which God and man became one without depriving either of their essential qualities...Jesus Christ was perfect God and became perfect man--being all that God in His deity and all that man is apart from sin."

"Jesus did not temporarily become man, but his divine nature was permanently united to his human nature...

"And He lives forever NOT JUST as the eternal Son of God, the second person of the Trinity...but also as Jesus, the man who was born of Mary, and as Christ, the Messiah and Savior of his people. Jesus will remain fully God and fully man, yet one person, forever." (Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology)

Theologians call these two natures of Christ occurring together in one Person the Theandric Union.  Theandric is a contraction of theanthropos, or "God-man".

Christ is one person, two natures; God is three persons, once essence!

His union, contends Oden, was not like a physical union, as when form and matter are united. Nor is it like a union of friends. "It is a more profound union than two people in marriage, for the unity of marriages leaves husband and wife, even after their union, two persons, nor is it one nature being mingled and absorbed by the other.

"Rather, Christ's personal union is a union that can only exists in one distinctive person in who there is an intimate and perpetual conjunction of divine and human natures in one individual, wherein the human nature was ASSUMED by the Logos so as to be the WORD IN PERSON." (Systematic Theology, Vol. II, The Word of Life)

As mentioned in previous notes, many heresies arose that either rejected Christ's humanity or deity, or dualized the one person. Thomas Oden provides a simple breakdown:

Heresies against Christ's humanity:
Docetists-Christ as not fully in flesh
Apollinarians-Logos replaces human spirit
Eutychians-Christ as a single mixed nature

Heresies against Christ's divinity:
Eutychians-Christ not fully divine, but mixed nature
Ebionites-Jesus as the natural son of Joseph and Mary
Arians-Christ as creature, not eternal

Heresy that rejects Christ's person union:
Nestorians-Christ as two persons

Early Church Father Novatian warned, "He is a man who is of man and He is a God who is of God...however, when you read about both these truths, there is a danger that you will believe not both them, but only one." (Trinity 11)

In order to attempt to solve the problems raised by the controversies over the person of Christ, a large church council was convened in the city of Chalcedon near Constatinople (modern Istanbul) in A.D. 451.

The result was the Chalcedon Creed, which has been taken as the standard, orthodox definition of the biblical teaching on the person of Christ since that day by Catholic, Protestant, and most Orthodox branches of Christianity.

The Chalcedonian Definition declares that our Lord Christ is to be acknowledged in two natures

Inconfusedly--no mixing of the two natures, which remain distinct even while they are in communion
Unchangeably--the deity is not transmuted in humanity, nor humanity into deity
Indivisibly--unable to be divided-the personal union is never at any point split apart
Inseparably--undissolved through eternity and perpetual

(We must rigorously examine what we believe about Christ in the honest light of Scriptures and in the clarity brought forth from the early church fathers. These heresies are STILL around--parading under different names, of course, and deceiving many well-intentioned converts!)

"And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man." (Luke 2:52)

"Much discussion has arisen in theology over the question of Christ's self-consciousness. How could He know and sense the infinite might and wisdom of God and at the same time appear with normal human weaknesses and limitations apart from complications with immorality?

"How could He know and not know? How could He be the source of all power and yet be prone and exposed to human frailty?

"The answer to the problem is that Christ operated in the human sphere to the extent it was necessary for Him to accomplish His earthly purpose, but at the same time continued operating in the divine sphere to the extent that it was possible in the period of His humiliation" (Chafer).

As God, the Son knew He was human; as human, He knew that He was God.

Thomas Oden further explains, "The Logos is united not with an individual person that existed prior to the God/man, but with a human nature that had no separate identity before union with the divine, for Jesus' human body had not existed eternally, but was born in time.

Hence, there are not two conscious persons, but a single conscious person uniting the divine and human natures. It is not one or the other nature that speaks when Jesus Christ speaks, but one person bearing the harmonious imprint of two natures."

"I do not think of Christ as God alone, or man alone, but both together.
For I know He was hungry, yet I know that with five loaves He fed 5,000.
I know He was thirsty, and I know He turned water into wine.
I know that He was carried in a ship, yet I know that He walked upon the sea.
I know that He died, yet I know that He raised the dead Himself.
I know that He was set before Pilate, and I know that He sits with the Father in His throne.
I know that He was worshiped by angels, yet He was scourged by man."
(John Chrysostom)


"The questions of sin and temptation in Christ from an orthodox point of view should be answered by the statement that He could not sin. As far as the divine nature is concerned, it is clear that God could not sin and that God cannot be tempted.

"On the human side it is obvious that Christ could be tempted, and the human nature by itself could sin. But when the human and divine natures were united in Christ that left the person of Christ in a situation where the Person can be tempted but where the Person cannot sin because of the presence of the divine nature.

"The doctrine is not simply that Christ was able not to sin but that Christ was not able to sin because He is God." (Chafer)

"Then Jesus answered and said to them, ‘Most assuredly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, but  what He sees the Father do; for whatever he does, the Son also does in like manner'." (John 5:19)

At the sixth ecumenical council (Constantinople III in 681), the undivided Church confessed that Christ possesses two wills and two natural operations, divine and human, and they are not opposed to each other, but cooperate in such a way that Christ's human will submits to His divine will.

Oden comments that the divine will always went before (lead the way) for the human will, so that the human will chose freely in accord with the divine will. The pattern is the Gethsemane prayer, in which is faced and resisted in a way fitting to the human nature and then freely offered up to God.

"...And so, the Lord's soul was freely moved to will, but it freely willed those things which His divine will willed." (John of Damascus, On the Orthodox Faith, 111.18)

"For I have come down from Heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me. This is the will of the Father who sent Me, that of all He has given Me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up at the last day." (John 6:38-39)

Jesus Christ is one person, two natures; God is three persons, once essence!

Although Christ has retained His human body, He has not added to the Godhead, but simply enriched it forever.


Part IV: "Christ in You!"

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