Category: Columns

Subordination and Scripture

This is the fifth in a series of articles on the Incarnation. Previously: Six key passages on the Incarnation

In the previous column, we examined six key passages of Scripture that help us understand the Incarnation – the eternal Son of God taking on human flesh in the person of Jesus of Nazareth.

The Bible is clear that Jesus is one person with two distinct, but undivided, natures: human and divine. This means, at least in part, that by adding sinless humanity to His deity, Jesus did not become less than co-equal with the other members of the Trinity.

At the same time, we must address several verses of Scripture that seem to say Jesus is a lesser being than God. Those who promote this false view of Jesus, and who use these Scriptures to support their position, are known as “ontological subordinationists.”

These are people who believe that Jesus is less than God by nature of who He is. Rather than the eternal Son of God, Jesus either is a created being, a lesser god, or both.

This should not be confused with “relational subordination,” a biblically faithful position also known as “economic subordination.” According to this view, the three persons of the Godhead are equal in nature, but they voluntarily submit to each other respecting the roles they play in creation and salvation.

We should embrace relational subordination and reject ontological subordination.

Counterfeit Christian groups like the Jehovah’s Witnesses (JWs) reject Christ’s deity, along with the doctrine of the Trinity. Instead, they believe Jesus is subordinate in nature or essence to the Father. JWs insist that Jesus is the first of Jehovah’s creations, Michael the archangel.
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Six key passages on the Incarnation

This is the fourth in a series of articles on the Incarnation. Previously: Ten truths about the Incarnation

By the term “Incarnation,” we mean the eternal Son of God took on human flesh in the person of Jesus of Nazareth. As such, Jesus is one person in two distinct but undivided natures: human and divine.

In previous articles, we explored how these two natures work together as the eternal Son of God adds sinless humanity to His deity via the miracle of the virgin birth. And we summarized 10 essential truths about the Incarnation.

Now, let’s look at six key passages of Scripture that help us understand what it means when the apostle John writes, “the Word became flesh.”

John 1:14 – “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us. We observed his glory, the glory as the one and only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.”

The eternal Son of God always had a divine nature. He was with God in the beginning, and John makes it clear He was God (John 1:1).  In the Incarnation, He added a real human nature and thus became both God and man.

The word “dwelt” may be translated “tabernacled.” Just as the divine presence was with ancient Israelites in the pillar of cloud and fire, the tabernacle, and the temple, Yahweh now manifested Himself in the person of Jesus Christ, the God-Man.
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Ten truths about the Incarnation

 

This is the third in a series of articles on the Incarnation. Previously: Jesus as the God-Man

So far in this series, we have established that the Incarnation means the eternal Son of God took on human flesh in the person of Jesus of Nazareth. As such, Jesus is one person in two distinct but undivided natures: human and divine.

In addition, we’ve explored how these two natures work together as the eternal Son of God adds sinless humanity to His deity via the miracle of the virgin birth.

In this article, we summarize 10 essential truths about the Incarnation. They help us form a framework for better understanding the person and work of Christ. They also help establish a foundation for exploring the thornier issues related to the Incarnation.

These truths are drawn from a number of sources, including the systematic theologies of Wayne Grudem, Charles Hodge, and Lewis Berkhof, and are summarized in God Among Sages by Kenneth Samples.

Ten Truths

1. Jesus Christ is one person possessing two distinct natures: a fully divine nature and a fully human nature. Thus, Jesus of Nazareth may rightly be called the God-Man.

2. Christ is the same person both before and after the Incarnation. As the writer of Hebrews notes, He is the same “yesterday, today, and forever” (Heb. 13:8). The difference is that before the Incarnation, Jesus had but one nature (divine). In the Incarnation, He added a human nature, one that exists together with the original divine nature, which did not and will not disappear.
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Jesus as the God-Man

This is the second in a series of articles on the Incarnation. Previously: The doctrine of the Incarnation.

If Jesus is the God-Man, fully divine and fully human, how are we to understand the way in which these two natures work together?

Think about it. At times, Jesus exhibits the fullness of deity – demonstrating His sovereign control over nature, forgiving sins, receiving worship, and knowing the thoughts of human beings.

But He also displays the full range of humanity – getting hungry, growing tired, and, at times, not knowing certain things such as the time of His return.

So, when Jesus is walking the earth, is He partly divine and partly human? Does He toggle back and forth between deity and humanity? Or is He simply an extraordinary human who is able to exhibit divine powers?
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The doctrine of the Incarnation

This is the first in a series of articles on the Incarnation.

Lorenzo Snow, fifth president of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, once claimed the Spirit of God fell upon him and revealed a principle that has become an apt summary of Mormonism: “As man now is, God once was; As God now is, man may be.”

In other words, the God of this world once was a mere human who attained deity, showing us the path to our own godhood. This principle of “eternal progression” is a stunningly unbiblical doctrine that sets Mormonism outside the boundaries of historic Christianity.

At the same time, it raises questions – not only about God, but about the Son of God: Who is Jesus? Where did He come from? And why and how did He become human?

The doctrine of the Incarnation – God becoming a human in Jesus of Nazareth – is central to Christianity. Get it wrong and many other non-negotiable doctrines of the Christian faith quickly veer into counterfeit territory.

As we explore the Incarnation from a biblical perspective, it may help to compare Snow’s “revelation” with the following orthodox statement from Christian author C.S. Lewis in Mere Christianity: “The Son of God became a man to enable men to become sons of God.”
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