Thursday, December 6, 2012

Great Christmas Miracles P3: The Hypostatic Union

Luke 1:35  34Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I am a virgin?” 35The angel answered and said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; and for that reason the holy Child shall be called the Son of God.

In yesterday's post we looked at the Holy Spirit's miracles of the incarnation and virgin (conception) birth of the Lord Jesus Christ. Two days ago we considered the Spirit's Divine inspiration of the scriptures as the miracle needed to get ready for the first Christmas.  With these three miracles we turn our attention today to a fourth Christmas miracle: namely the hypostatic union. 

Hypostatic Union - What the Holy Spirit actually did in connecting and uniting a complete, sinless human nature to the One Person Jesus Christ who already had an eternal Divine nature

If the incarnation describes what the Spirit did in making it possible for Christ to come into this world, and the virgin birth describes the means by which He did the incarnation, then the hypostatic union tries to explain the details of what took place.  This rather strange sounding phrase "hypostatic union" can be broken down in the following way. First, "hypostatic" comes from a Greek word "hypostasis" meaning "substance, nature, expression of one's existence". The second term "union" refers to how the already pre-existing Divine nature and the newly conceived human nature would function "united" to the Person of God the Son. A brilliant conservative Christian Theologian, W.G.T Shedd, writes the clearest explanation I have found on this point: "A common the union of the human soul and body in one person, and the union of heat and iron, neither of which loses its properties."1

God the Father planned and The Holy Spirit prepared the womb of Mary to receive the Divine nature of the Person of God the Son. (Hebrews 10:4-7) The Son in turn worked as well in the uniting of Himself to the Holy Spirit conceived humanity in Mary's womb. (Hebrews 2:14) Fully and completely, from beginning to end, the Holy Spirit is credited with the process of bring both human and Divine natures to function equally but distinctly in the One Person of the Son. Thus Christ has a human will and divine will, a human mind and Divine mind and human qualities like weakness and tiredness while retaining His Divine qualities of omnipotence and the like. The only thing being of course that while on earth, Christ chose mostly not to exercise many of His Divine attributes, but rather, by the Holy Spirit, chose to function primarily through his humanity.

The point of this discussion was to show the great lengths that God the Holy Spirit went to in order to bring God the Son into this world. Christ's hypostatic union was crucial, since He could now experience what it was like to be fully human and to empathize with us in our time of need. (Hebrews 4:15) The Virgin conception meant that He could be fully human without sin, qualifying Him to be our Savior and to intercede for every Christian before the throne of God. (Hebrews 7:24-25) Finally, without the incarnation - salvation, the fabric of sacred scripture, Christ's death, resurrection and Second coming would all be jeopardized. Let us praise God for the Holy Spirit's work in the Scriptures, incarnation, virgin birth and hypostatic union - since He points us to Jesus.

1. W.G.T Shedd. Systematic Theology Volume 2. Pages 327-328

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