THE LORD JESUS CHRIST
We have studied God the Father, and the doctrine of the Trinity. It now remains for us to study the other two members of the Trinity. In this chapter our study is to be devoted to the Lord Jesus Christ, God the Son.
I. HIS PRE-EXISTENCE AND ETERNITY
The pre-existence of Christ means His existence before the incarnation. The Scripture teaches this very plainly. But more than that, it teaches also that He has existed from all eternity. In our study of the Trinity we noted that the distinctions in the Godhead are eternal. The following passages clearly set forth the pre-existence and eternity of God the Son:
"I am come down from heaven" (John 6:38).
II. HIS INCARNATION
Let us note:
1. THE FACT OF THE INCARNATION.
"And the Word became flesh" (John 1: 14).
"Who. . .emptied himself, talking the form of a servant, being made in the likeness of men" (Phil. 2:6,7).
"He saith ... a body didst thou prepare for me" (Heb. 10:5).
2. THE NECESSITY OF THE INCARNATION.
The final suffering of sinners in hell will be a suffering of both body and soul (Matt. 10-28). Therefore, since Jesus was to suffer in the place of sinners, it was necessary that He have a body in which to suffer.
(2) It was necessary that He have a body that He might be "in all points tempted like as we are," so that He, as a high priest can be "touched with the feeling of our infirmities" (Heb. 4:15).
The angel Gabriel cannot sympathize with us when we are tempted, because he has never known temptation in the flesh. But Christ can sympathize with us. "In that he himself hath suffered being tempted, he is able to succor them that are tempted" (Heb. 2.18).
The righteousness imputed to us through faith is not righteousness as the personal attribute of God, but it is the righteousness wrought out by Christ in His earthly life. This is indicated because the righteousness imputed to us is described as being by or though faith in Christ (Rom. 3:21, 22; Phil. 3:9).
(4) The incarnation was also necessary to His ministry of teaching, His selecting the twelve apostles and founding the church, and His setting for us an example of perfect obedience to the will of God.
These things are things which God saw could be best accomplished by one in the flesh. Therefore the incarnate Christ was sent to accomplish them.
The incarnation of Christ is a mystery incomprehensible to the finite mind. It is a supernatural phenomenon. Hence the necessity of the supernatural virgin birth of Christ as shown in the following passages:
"Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When his mother Mary had been bethrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found with child of the Holy Ghost" (Matt. 1:18).
"And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Spirit shall come upon thee, and the power of the Most High shall overshadow thee; wherefore also the holy thing which is begotten shall be called the Son of God" (Luke 1:35).
"And the word became flesh, and dwelt among us" (John 1:14).
The birth of Christ was miraculous. But let us beware of pushing the miraculous element so far that we destroy the reality of Christ's human nature. Of what did the miracle of Christ's birth consist? It did not consist of a miraculous creation of Christ's body, nor of an immediate birth; but of merely a conception in the womb of Mary. Matt. 1:20; Luke 1:31. There is every evidence that the body of Jesus passed through embryogeny and fetation just as the bodies of other human infants do, and that he was carried in the womb of His mother for the usual period of nine months. Luke 1:56; 2:6. It is quite plain that the miraculous element in the incarnation consisted merely of the divine impregnation of the ovum. Thus the human nature of Christ was made a normal human nature, but, nevertheless, completely sanctified and preserved from every taint of sin by the implantation of Deity.
The following Scriptures show that Christ had a real human nature:
"Jesus therefore, being wearied with his journey, sat thus by the well" (John 4:6).
Deity cannot become wearied.
"When the fulness of the time came, God sent forth his Son, born of a woman" (Gal. 4:4).
Christ's body and human nature were in all respects like our own, except that there was no taint of sin in Him. He was the flesh of our flesh and blood of our blood. "Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of FLESH AND BLOOD, he also himself took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil" (Heb. 2:14).
On the human side Jesus was a bonafide Jew. We are plainly told that He "was made of the SEED OF DAVID ACCORDING TO THE FLESH" (Rom. 1:3). See also John 7:42; Acts 13:23; 2 Tim. 2:8. The physical characteristics of Jesus were those of a Jew, and thus the Samaritan woman recognized Him as a Jew. John 4:9. Then Jesus freely acknowledged Himself a Jew. John 4:22.
We should be just as zealous in maintaining Christ's humanity as we are in maintaining His deity. It was against those who denied the true humanity of Jesus that John wrote in 2 John 7-11, and he shows that their error was just as fatal as the error of those who deny His deity. As shown in the preceding discussion of the incarnation, it was just as necessary that He be man as it was that He be God.
V. HIS DEITY
"And the Word was God" (John 1:1).
"The first man is of the earth, earthy; the second man is of heaven" (1 Cor. 15:47)
"Who is the image of the invisible W the firstborn of all creation" (Col. 1:15).
"Being the effulgence of his glory, and the very image of his substance" (Heb. 1"3).
"They shall call his name Immanuel; which is, being interpreted, God with us" (Matt. 1:23).
The notion of modernists that Jesus was divine only in the sense that they hold man to be divine does not satisfy these passages. Man is not divine in his natural condition. After regeneration he has a divine nature dwelling in him, but retains also the sinful human nature. It is never said that man, even after regeneration, is God or that he is the "effulgence of His glory."
How Christ could be both God and man is a mystery beyond the power of man to comprehend. Neither does man have any ground for a denial of it. It is a revealed fact, necessary, as we have seen already, to the work that Christ came to do.
"Him who knew no sin he made to be sin on our behalf; that we might become the righteousness of God in him" (2 Cor. 5:21).
"For such a high priest became us, holy, guileless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and made higher than the heavens" (Heb. 7:26).
VII. HIS SACRIFICIAL DEATH
"He was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed" (Isa. 53:5).
"The Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many" (Matt. 20:28).
"Who was delivered up for our trespasses, and was raised for our justification" (Rom. 4:25).
"Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures" (1 Cor. 15:3).
"Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree" (Gal. 3:13).
"Who his own self bare our sins in his body upon the tree, that we, having died unto sins, might live unto righteousness; by whose stripes ye were healed" (1 Peter 2:24).
"The blood of Jesus his Son cleanseth us from all sin" (1 John 1: 7).
Christ did not die merely as a martyr. In a sense He was a martyr. His death was brought about, from a human standpoint, by His faithfulness to His Father's will. But He was more than a martyr. He was the substitute for sinners. He died in their stead.
"The unmartyrlike anguish cannot be accounted for, and the forsaking of the Father cannot be justified, upon the hypothesis that Christ died as a mere witness to truth [nor upon any other hypothesis except the one that affirms that He died as a substitute for sinners to satisfy the justice of God]. If Christ's sufferings were not propitiatory, they neither furnish us with a perfect example, nor constitute a manifestation of the love of God ... If Christ was simply a martyr, then He is not a perfect example; for many a martyr has shown greater courage in the prospect of death, and in the final agony has been able to say that the fire that consumed him was 'a bed of roses.' Gethsemane, with its anguish, is apparently recorded in order to indicate that Christ's sufferings even on the cross were not mainly physical sufferings" (Strong, Systematic Theology, p. 399).
VIII. HIS RESURRECTION
1. As Prophesied.
Psa. 16:9, 10.
2. As Taught by Jesus Himself.
3. As Witnessed by the Angel.
4. As Taught by the Apostles.
Acts 2:24; 3:15; 4:10,33; 10:40; 13:30-33; 17:2,3,31;26:23,26; Rom. 1:4; 4:25; 6:4,5,9; Eph. 1:20; Heb. 13:20; 1 Pet. 1:3; 3:18; Rev. 1:5.
5. As Proved by Rational Arguments.
For arguments in proof of the resurrection of Christ see Chapter 1.
1. As Prophesied.
2. As Taught by Jesus Himself.
4. As Recorded by the Inspired Historian.
5. As Declared by the Apostles.
6. As Proved by His Presence at the Right Hand of the Father.
X. HIS OFFICES
Heb. 3:1; 5:6; 6:20; 7:11,15-17,20-28; 8:1,2,6.
Num. 24:17; Psa. 72:8,11; Isa. 9:6,7; 32:1; Jer. 30:9; Ezek. 37:24,25; Dan. 7:13,14; Hos. 3:5; Mic. 5:2; Zech. 9:9; Matt. 2:2,6; 19:28; 21:5; 28:18; Luke 1:33; 19:27; 22:29,30; John 1:49; 12:13,15; 12:19.
As a prophet Christ taught the will of God. As a priest He offered His own blood in the heavenly temple (Heb. 9:11-14) and intercedes for believers (Heb. 7:25). As king He possesses all power (Matt. 28:18) and rules now over an invisible, spiritual kingdom (John 18:36,37), and is later to rule visibly over the whole earth (Psa. 66:4; 72:16-19; Isa. 2:2; Dan. 7:13,14,18,22,27; Heb. 10:13; Rev. 15:4).