Christology

The person of Jesus Christ is a unique and highly controversial topic. The bible teaches that he possesses full deity, yet walked the earth as completely human as any other man. This union of God and Man is called the hypostatic union. Because that attribute of Christ is essential to Christianity, heretical fallacies must be avoided.

Christ’s humanity is quite evident in scripture. John makes it clear with statements such as “The word became flesh…” (John 1:14) while his human development, emotion, and temptation are recorded throughout the gospels. Hebrews 4:15 states that Christ was in every way “tempted as we are, yet without sin.” The writer was affirming Jesus, the high priest, as someone who is able to sympathize with our human struggles, because he fully experienced manhood.

Also evident, though more often disputed, is the deity of Christ. He behaved with divine authority, and made statements affirming his belief in his own divine nature. He spoke with the authority to forgive sin, which is a power attributed only to God. (Mark 2:1-12) He described himself as being one with the Father (John 10:30, John 17:21) and referred to himself by messianic titles. Jesus is referred to as “the Word” and John 1:1 states clearly the eternality and divinity of the Word.

The dual nature of God, or hypostatic union, may be understood as one person with two complete and separate natures. The concept may not be entirely comprehensible with our limited understanding of human and divine essence, but we can know that the union was, in fact, achieved. The notion should not be entirely alien, as every man is simultaneously human and spiritual—though not a perfect example, we indeed have two distinct natures coexisting (at times in conflict) in one being.

That Jesus was man means that he had every attribute that can be said of every other human, with the exception of fault, or sin. He was blameless. (1 Peter 1:19) However, he is part of God and retains, alongside his humanity, divine authority, wisdom, and power.

Atoning redemption from the penalty of sin required the blood of a sacrifice without blemish. Jesus Christ’s sacrificial death was the sacrifice of a blameless human life. Only he could achieve such a life, as everyone else is guilty before God’s law (Romans 3:23) God paid our penalty for our sin against Him by providing his incarnate self to receive the sins of the world. The sins are of the flesh, and thus required flesh to receive them.

It is important to avoid an unbalanced view of Christ’s dual nature. Denying either his deity or his humanity would result in an unscriptural understanding of Jesus, who would not have credibility, authority, or saving power.

Since the earliest days of the church, there have been wrongful, heretical views regarding Christ. Ebionitism, for example, posited Christ as a normal man who received the spirit of God when he was baptized. Arianism declared Christ as the first born of Creation, created from nothing before time began, and denied distinction within the Godhead. Apollinarianism departed from Christ’s total humanity in an attempt to defend the unity of God and man. Such views are contrary to scriptures such as previously cited, and have been condemned as heresy.

The manhood of Jesus Christ exists as a perfect model for his followers. He was tempted, tested, and tortured to the extent or beyond that which I will ever experience. Nevertheless, he submitted to the will of the Father. He demonstrated the fruits of love and taught the meaning of truth. I strive to live according to His teachings and example of how a man should live and interact with his friends, neighbors, and enemies.

Jesus Christ came as God incarnate. He existed as completely human and completely God—one person in the triune Godhead, possessing two distinct and essential natures. Living as a human, humiliating himself to walk among a corrupt people on a fallen earth, he provided a perfect sacrifice for redemptive atonement of all mankind. This understanding of our Lord is a cornerstone for Christianity. Let us continually uphold the importance of these truths regarding Christology.