Monday, August 1, 2011

Getting to Know Jesus Christ - His Natures

Proverbs 22:18 states - Remove not the ancient landmark, which thy fathers have set.
This principle is mentioned at least five times in the scriptures, warning us not to ignore the timeless and well established truths of scripture and the message of God's word preached throughout the history of God's people.  The early Christians in 2 Thessalonians 2:15 were told to hold fast to the traditions handed down to them by the apostles.  This idea of traditions speaks of the truth of God's word in the written word of God which is handed from one generation to the next through its preaching and teaching.  Knowing what has been taught about Jesus Christ over the centuries, and comparing that to what is seen in the Bible, can aid greatly in our getting to know the person and work of Jesus Christ. It can helps us avoid any newly invented ideas made up by men who do not use the scriptures as their foundation.

The biblical record makes it clear that by starting either with Christ's full humanity or full deity, will lead us to the right understanding of Jesus Christ.  The early church saw this too.  They came to describe Jesus Christ's human and Divine natures as being without mixture, confusion, division or blending.  Those four terms were used to guard the church against all forms of heresies that tried to either elevate or deny one of Christ's natures at the expense of the other. 

WHAT IS MEANT BY THE TERM "NATURE"?When we say "nature", we are referring to the way in which a living being expresses their own life or existence.  You and I have a human nature.  We express our existence as beings who are created, have flesh and blood, limited knowledge, strength and intellegence.  We have a birth and will have a death.  And if you are a Christian, you will go onto be with the Lord in Heaven.  If you die without Christ as your Savior, Lord and Treasure, you will spend eternity in Hell.  (Please compare Psalm 90, Luke 16, 2 Corinthians 5)

God of course has a Divine nature.  That means He expresses His existence as unlimited in strength, wisdom, presence and knowledge.  His identity is three - Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  Each Person of the Trinity shares in this nature.  Since the nature is infinite, each person of the Trinity can be said to be eternal, since any way you slice an infinite object will still yield an infinite object. (please compare Isaiah 40, Psalm 139, Matthew 28:18-20; 2 Corinthians 13)

Now when we come to Jesus Christ, we discover He expresses Himself in two ways or by "two natures".  He has always been God, sharing in the unified Divine nature with the Father and Holy Spirit.  However when he entered into time, he began to expresses himself a second way - through a human nature.  He got tired, sweated and experienced pain.  Christ is the only being in the Bible who has a dual nature.  Therefore whenever we talk about Jesus, we need to specify whether we are talking about Jesus the man or Christ the eternal God.  (Please compare Philippians 2:1-11; Colossians 1:16-17)

As man here on earth, Jesus Christ never ceased being God.  As God in Heaven, Jesus Christ came down to earth, crawled into the womb of a virgin Jewish girl, Mary, and had his human nature miraculous conceived in that womb by the Holy Spirit. Right now in Heaven He is both God and man, and forever will be.  Scripture reveals that it was God's objective from before creation to express Himself as the very creatures whom He deemed to be the crown of His creation - human beings. 

PRACTICAL SUGGESTIONS FOR BEGINNING YOUR OWN STUDY OF CHRISTOLOGYAs we have been saying throughout this blog series, the goal is to achieve equal balance in the theological, supernatural and practical sides of the Christian walk.  My suggestion would be to begin with the introductions to the first three gospels, and note the characteristics spoken of concerning Christ's humanity.  I would then consider what John says in His introduction (John 1:1-18) about Christ's Deity.  Thirdly, I would then go through the remaining passages mentioned above, toggling between the humanity of Jesus and the Divinity of Christ.  As you come to understand His human and Divine natures, you will arrive at knowing the Person of Jesus Christ.  Come sit at His feet, and then bow your knee to His unending Divine glory.  This is the goal of any study of Christology, and more importantly, the Christian faith.

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