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.
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.
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.
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?
This is the third in a series of excerpts from the new MBC resource, “The Last Apologist: A Commentary on Jude for Defenders of the Christian Faith,” available at mobaptist.org/apologetics.
With an estimated 2.2 billion Christians in the world, worshiping in more than 41,000 denominations, one may legitimately wonder how we can possibly fulfill the prayer of Jesus that we all be as one (John 17:22).
But diversity does not necessarily mean division. The differences among the world’s Christian denominations generally have more to do with location, culture, worship styles, missionary efforts, and forms of church government than they do with major doctrinal differences.
Even so, it’s good to ask: What are the non-negotiable doctrines of the Christian faith?
Albert Mohler, president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, refers to the process of discerning biblical truth as “theological triage.” On the battlefield and elsewhere, triage is the process by which medical personnel evaluate and prioritize the urgency of patient needs. A scraped knee can wait; a severed artery cannot.
Mohler suggests that a similar method be used in our churches to determine a scale of theological urgency – what some theologians call primary, secondary, and tertiary issues.
Previously: Those invited are fortunate – Revelation 19:9
Rev. 19:10 – Then I fell at his feet to worship him, but he said to me, “Don’t do that! I am a fellow slave with you and your brothers who have the testimony about Jesus. Worship God, because the testimony about Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.” (HCSB)
I fell at his feet to worship
In verse 10, John records, “Then I fell at his feet to worship him, but he said to me, ‘Don’t do that! I am a fellow slave with you and your brothers who have the testimony about Jesus. Worship God, because the testimony about Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.’”
In Exodus 20 the Lord tells His people to have no gods beside Him. He instructs them to make no idols for themselves and prohibits them from bowing down before them or worshiping them, “for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God” (v. 5). Throughout the history of Israel, God seeks to protect the integrity of His relationship with His people. The worship of Yahweh as the one true and living God is not designed to feed some massive divine ego; rather it is to ensure an intimate relationship with the One who created us, loves us, provides the balm for our sin, and ensures us a place at His banquet table in heaven.
God is never pleased with the construction of idols and will share His glory with no other creature. One clear sign of Jesus’ claim to deity is that He never refuses to be worshiped. In addition, He forgives sins, which only God can do; He calls God His Father, making Himself equal with God; and He admits to holy anticipation of the day in which He will once again receive the glory He shared with the Father before the world began. Jesus, as the God-man, is the only human worthy of worship.
If idols are not to be worshiped (Paul says they represent demons), neither are humans or even angels. Paul and Barnabas are grieved in Lystra when they are mistaken for the gods Zeus and Hermes (Acts 14:8-18). The angel in Rev. 19:10 is quick to rebuke John for falling at his feet in worship: “Don’t do that!” John is told. Despite the warning, John repeats the mistake in Rev. 22:9, attracting another reprimand from the angel, who says, “Don’t do that! I am a fellow slave with you, your brothers and prophets, and those who keep the words of this book. Worship God.”