Lesson 36 - Christology

Lesson 36 - Christology

Lesson for September 2, 2012

Christian Integrity

Christology

It is our responsibility to learn all that we can about the life of Christ.  We do this through the study of Christology.  Christology is the study of Christ our Savior.  Christology is one of the most essential doctrines that we study because it reveals to us the Person and the work of Jesus Christ on behalf of us all.  We know that the Bible is a progressive revelation of Jesus Christ and it is God’s desire that we all come to know Him.  This is why we must be consistent in studying God’s Word.  There are three doctrines in Christology that are essential to our spiritual life.  These doctrines are the hypostatic union, kenosis, and impeccability. (Hebrews 12:2; I John 4:2; II Timothy 2:15)

The Hypostatic Union

Jesus Christ is the unique Person of the universe.  He is the only Person in history to be both fully God and fully man.  The term for this unique union is derived from the Greek word hupostatis meaning essence.  In the case of Christ it is both divine and human essence in one Person forever.   He is the God-Man.  (Hebrews 1:3)  Christ was born of a virgin therefore He was born without a sin nature.  He is superior to man because He is God and because He is a sinless human being.  Even though His two natures are united in one Person, they retain their separate identities.  The attributes of one do not belong to the other.  Deity remains deity and humanity remains humanity.  Because of this unique union, Christ is the perfect mediator between God and man.  He is the only One in history qualified to go to the Cross and pay the penalty for sin.  Christ was also our prototype, in that He lived an impeccable (sinless) life under the filling of God the Holy Spirit. (I Timothy 2:5)

Jesus, as a man, is seated at the right hand of the Father at this very moment.  Deity is omnipresent and does not sit; only His humanity sits.  And it is His humanity that will return to earth at the Second Coming.  Theologically we say that Jesus is undiminished deity and true humanity in One Person forever.  He is undiminished deity in that He is as much God as the Father and the Holy Spirit in essence, attributes and character.  He is true humanity in that our Lord possesses a body, a soul and a spirit. (Acts 5:31; Hebrews 1:3, 4:15,10:5; I Peter 2:24; Matthew 26:38; Mark 2:8; Luke 23:46; I John 3:3)

Kenosis

Christ voluntarily restricted the function of His deity.  This doctrine takes its name from the Greek word kenoo, which means to deprive oneself of a rightful function.  This doctrine explains how Christ, the creator of the universe, could leave Heaven and become a man.  II Corinthians 8:9 tells us that even though Christ was rich, for our sakes He became poor.  This is kenosis.

We must remember that Jesus Christ is coequal and coeternal with God the Father and God the Holy Spirit.  He voluntarily subordinated Himself to the Father’s plan of salvation.  This means He also deprived Himself of the independent exercise of His divine attributes.  At no time did Christ “empty Himself” of His deity.  He was never less than God.  He simply restricted the use of His divine attributes voluntarily.  (Colossians 2:9) 

Jesus was born as a man and had to learn the Scriptures the same way that we do - under the control and the guidance of the Holy Spirit.  The Holy Spirit was the One who empowered Him and sustained Him throughout His life on earth.  As a man, Christ suffered in the same ways that we suffer, but much greater, of course.  The ultimate humiliation was suffering the divine judgment from God for our sins. (Matthew 24:36; John 8:56, 16:14; Philippians 2:8)

Christ glorified the Father by executing the Father’s plan, not by glorifying Himself.  However, the limitation of kenosis ultimately glorified Christ because He was able to execute God’s plan perfectly, without sin.  As a testimony to the fact that God is completely satisfied with the Son, Christ is now seated at the right hand of the Father.  This impeccable life was our prototype to demonstrate to us the fact that we too can execute God’s plan. (John 19:30; Philippians 2:5-8)

Impeccability

Christ remained free from the three categories of sin: the sin nature, Adam’s original sin and personal sins.  The sin nature, as we have studied, is passed down genetically from the father, but Christ had no human father.  The virgin birth of Christ assured that He would have no sin nature. (I Corinthians 15:22)

Without a sin nature, Adam’s original sin could not be imputed to Christ since it had no home or target as it does with the rest of humanity.  Therefore, the first two categories of sin were already taken care of when He was born.  Christ was born physically and spiritually alive, whereas, we are born physically alive but spiritually dead (separated from God). (Romans 6:12)

Christ did, however, have to face the avoidance of personal sin.  As deity, He was not able to sin and as humanity, He was able not to sin.  This means that the possibility of committing personal sin existed.  Christ was tempted to sin in His humanity, not in His deity.  God cannot be tempted to sin, but Jesus, as a man, could be tempted to sin.  How could Christ accomplish the amazing task of a sinless life?  The only way He succeeded in not sinning was by residing in and relying upon the power and the control of God the Holy Spirit.  Jesus Christ, our Savior has paved the way for us to execute the Victorious Christian Way of Life. (James 1:13; Hebrews 4:15; I John 3:5; Matthew 4:1-4)

“Able not to sin” emphasizes Christ’s free will to make the right decisions to obey God’s mandates.  Satan’s temptations of Christ were real and intense.  And remember that Christ in His humanity was personally weaker than Satan, yet He was able to resist him by the power of the Word of God and the Holy Spirit. (Hebrews 2:7)

The filling of God the Holy Spirit is much more powerful that Satan, all his demons and this world system.  Christ tested and proved the Christian Way of Life under the control of the Holy Spirit.  We cannot be sinless as Christ, but we can use the same power system that He used.  And God has also given us a recovery system (something that Christ did not need) in order that we might utilize this power system to our maximum advantage.  We, therefore, have no excuse for not living in the same spiritual environment in which Christ lived.  We can acquire wisdom, make good decisions from a position of strength, develop a personal sense of destiny, increase our capacity for love, happiness and blessing, have complete control over our lives and bring glory and honor to God by a life of virtue and integrity.

Being occupied with the Person of Christ is a part of living in God’s power system.  Occupation with Christ means that He has become your best friend.  (Proverbs 18:24)  It means that you are fully aware of Christ in every area of your life and that you are staying in fellowship with Him a maximum amount of time.  It means that you are thinking divine viewpoint based on your knowledge of His Word and that you have no higher goal in life than to bring honor and glory to Jesus Christ in your thoughts, in your attitudes, in your words and in your actions. (II Corinthians 10:5; I Corinthians 2:16b)  Our minds are to be saturated with His mind. (Philippians 1:19-21)

You become occupied with Christ when you obey the same mandates that He obeyed, concentrate on what He concentrated on (Divine Viewpoint Thinking), make positive decisions from a position of strength as He did and use the Problem-Solving Devices constantly, as He did.  Christ was our example for the execution of the Christian Way of Life: OUR PERFECT ROLE MODEL. 

The purpose of the Bible is to reveal Jesus Christ to the world and to teach believers how to execute God’s plan, purpose and will.  From the book of Genesis to the book of Revelation, Jesus Christ is revealed.  We see Him in theophanies in the Old Testament.  A theophany is a manifestation of God (Jesus Christ) in visible and bodily form before His Incarnation (literally, being clothed with flesh – the Hypostatic Union).   The theophanies are chiefly appearances of the Angel (messenger) of the LORD, who is clearly distinct from angelic beings. These appearances are actual occurrences, not imaginary, not hallucinatory experiences. They take place in historical settings initiated only by God.  But in all the dispensations of Scriptures, Jesus Christ is the central figure.  All human history revolves around Christ; it begins and ends with Him.  (Luke 24:25-27)

The Angel of the LORD was a divine Person and He is the pre–incarnation of the Messiah.  The identity of "the Angel of the LORD" with Jehovah is fully established in Genesis 16:13. "Then she called the name of the Lord who spoke to her, 'You are a God who sees'; for she said, 'Have I even remained alive here after seeing Him?'" The angel of the LORD is not a created being, but the divine being Himself. 

The Angel of the Lord is recognized as a superior being by the writers of the Old Testament.  This Angel is of the Godhead because He bears the titles belonging to deity alone – Jehovah and Elohim. Isaiah 42:8 reads, "I am the LORD, that is My name; I will not give My glory to another, nor My praise to graven images.”

The Angel of the LORD definitely identifies Himself with Jehovah on various occasions. In Genesis 16:10, "Moreover, the Angel of the Lord said to her, 'I will greatly multiply your descendants so that they will be too many to count.'"  This is no ordinary messenger of God. He doesn't say, "God will."  He says, "I will greatly multiply your descendents." Examine Genesis 18:19–21 and note who is speaking and who is making the promises to Abraham.  "The Angel of the LORD" in chapter seventeen is "God" in chapter eighteen.

The Angel of the LORD is God Himself. Sometimes He is called Jehovah and at other times Jehovah's Messenger. Jehovah says, "I will send My Angel [or messenger]," but the Angel is clearly said to be Jehovah Himself.  The same Person is in view whether Jehovah says, "I will send my Angel," or "I will go."

The writers of the Old Testament call Him Jehovah (LORD).  In a time of crisis the Angel of the LORD visited Gideon to give encouragement (Judges 6:11–24).  It climaxes with worship in verse 20–21, "The Angel of God said to him, 'Take the meat and the unleavened bread and lay them on this rock, and pour out the broth.'  And he did so. Then the Angel of the Lord put out the end of the staff that was in His hand and touched the meat and the unleavened bread; and fire sprang up from the rock and consumed the meat and the unleavened bread. Then the Angel of the Lord vanished from his sight."  Note carefully what happens next. "When Gideon saw that He was the Angel of the Lord, he said, 'Alas, O Lord God!  For now I have seen the Angel of the Lord face to face.'  The Lord said to him, 'Peace to you, do not fear; you shall not die.'  Then Gideon built an altar there to the Lord and named it The Lord is Peace. 

Jesus Christ was and is Jehovah, and since He is Jehovah, He preexisted from all eternity.  The Angel of the LORD in the Old Testament is clearly the same Person identified as the Christ of the New Testament. The Angel of the LORD and Jesus Christ our Savior are the same Person. 

In the fullness of time, "the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth. . . No one has seen God at any time; the only begotten God who is in the bosom of the Father, He has revealed Him" (John 1:14, 18).  In Him we have the perfect vision of what God is like. Jesus said, "He who has seen Me has seen the Father."