- The Person of Jesus Christ
At the very heart of the Christian faith is the teaching of the humanity and divinity of Jesus Christ. One of the distinctive Christian doctrines is that Jesus Christ was truly, fully man and truly, fully God.
According to Bruce Milne (1998, 161-164) the evidences for the full humanity of Jesus as found in the Bible are:
His religious life. He engaged in worship communion and prayer with God the Father (e.g. Luke 4:3-21; 16; 6:12);
His limited knowledge. As a human being he confessed his ignorance of certain knowledge (e.g Mark 13:32);
His temptation. Jesus was tempted to commit sin like every other human being (Matt. 4:1-11; Heb. 4:15). However, he resisted and he did not fall into sin.
Some other aspects of his life that reveal his humanity are:
His human genealogy (Luke 3:23-28),
Normal birth growth and development as a child (Mark 6:1-6),
Physical limitations like: weariness (John 4:6), hunger (Matt. 21:18), thirst (Matt. 11:19) and physical death (Luke 22:63; 23:33).
He experienced and demonstrated human emotions: joy (Luke 10:21) sorrow (Mt. 26:37), love (John 11:5), compassion (Mat. 9:36), astonishment (Luke 7:9) and anger (Mark 3:5).
Milne also gave the following biblical evidences to support the full divinity of Christ (1998, 165-179).
Direct statements of his deity (John 1:1-2; Rom. 9:5; Titus 2:13).
Identity of the name of Jesus with Yahweh/Jehovah, the Creator, Redeemer, Covenant God in the Old Testament (Rom. 10:9; I Cor. 12:3; Phil. 2:11).
The glory of God (I Cor. 2:8; 2 Cor. 4:4).
Worship and prayers are addressed to Christ (Matt. 28:17; Acts 7:59f; 9:13f; I Cor. 16:22; Rev. 22:20).
Jesus is the creator of the universe (John 1:1, 3; Heb. 1:3).
Jesus is the saviour of humanity from sins (Matt. 1:21; Luke 7:48).
Jesus will be the righteous judge at the end of the age (Mark 8:38; John 5:22-30; Acts 17:31).
It should be stated that these biblical evidences prove the divinity of Jesus Christ. However, the doctrine is a confession of faith that is made possible by the ministry of the Holy Spirit (I Cor. 12:3).
- Some Christological Views
At this point I think it is necessary to introduce you to some christological views and debates of the early centuries. Actually, it can be said that christological controversy started during the life, times and earthly ministry of Jesus Christ. In response to his question “Who do people say the son of Man is?” (Matt. 16:13) his disciples replied that various people thought he was John the Baptist, Elijah, Jeremiah or one of the prophets (v.14).
Some views, attempts to explain the deity and humanity of Jesus Christ, in early church history that have been rejected as discussed by Grudem (1994, 554-563), are:
Arianism: The view that Christ was “begotten” (John 1:14) and so was only “like the Father” or similar “to the Father”. This view denied the full divinity of the Son.
Apollinarianism: The view that Christ had a human body, but he did not have a human mind or spirit. Whereas human body and divine nature meet in him, this view denied the full humanity of the Son (Heb. 2:17).
Nestorianism: The view that there were two separate, independent parts (human and divine) in the one person of Jesus Christ. We affirm that Jesus is one person but with both a human nature and a divine nature (John 14:23).
Monophysitism (Eutychianism): The view that Christ had only one (mono) nature, the human nature was absorbed into the divine nature. This view means that Christ had a third nature that was neither truly God nor truly man.
Some other views are eblonism, docetism and gnosticism.
It was at the Chalcedonian council in A.D 451 that the church finally agreed on the doctrine of full humanity and full divinity of Jesus Christ. Some of the errors of the past may show up with new names today. We need to affirm the historic Christian faith. Jesus is fully God and fully human. That is why he is the mediator between God and humanity (I Timothy 2:5).
- The Virgin Birth
Matt. 1:18 & Luke 1:35 teach the virgin birth clearly. No portion in the New Testament denied the doctrine. An objective interpretation of the birth narratives in Matthew and Luke leads to one conclusion and that is, they are historical narratives (they are meant to be historical). One basic difficulty, however, in the interpretation of the virgin birth, is the question of whether it supports humanity or divinity of Jesus Christ.
It should be admitted that while we accept the doctrine of the virgin birth, it does not necessarily solve the problem of the mystery of the union of humanity and divinity in the person of the Lord Jesus. The virgin birth however has the following significance according to Bruce Milne (1998, 177):
- It proclaimed the unique character of the baby Jesus (Lk. 1:5-22).
- It shows the operation of the supernatural in the incarnation.
- The coming of the H.S upon Mary shows that God has completely entered the human experience.
- “Christ is the second Adam in whom there takes place a new beginning to the moral history of the human race” (Rm. 5:12; I Cor. 15:22).
- The story of the virgin birth is very consistent with the pre-existence of the eternal Son of God. Jesus had existed in the eternal past before the historic conception in the womb of Mary (Lk. 1:35).
- In the virgin birth we have an analogy of redemption described as a “new birth” (Jn. 1:12; 3:3; 1 Pet. 2:2; Titus 2:5).
- The Work of Christ I
All that has been discussed so far in this unit concern the person of Jesus Christ. We shall now briefly consider the work of Christ in terms of his ministries as prophet, priest and king as well as atonement
As Prophet Jesus Christ reveals God to us, speaks God’s words to us and also embodies the revelation of God to us. He is truly and fully a prophet. Some Old Testament prophets prefigured him (Deut. 18:15-18; Luke 7:16).
As Priest Jesus Christ offered himself as a perfect, once-for-all sacrifice to God on our behalf and for our sins. As a matter of fact Jesus Christ is our Great High Priest (Heb. 4:14; 9:26).
As King Jesus Christ is our Lord. He rules over our lives, and the church and over the entire universe, including all ruler, authority, power and dominion (Philip 2:9-11; Eph. 1:20-22).
- The Work of Christ II
Originally, atonement meant “at-one-ment” or “a making at one” or “reconciliation”. In contemporary usage, atonement refers to the reconciliation of God and man. The word occurs in Rom. 5:11, as a translation of the Greek word kattalage. Atonement can be defined as “the entire process of what is involved in the work of God in Jesus Christ through which God is reconciled to man”.
In the Old Testament, the usual Hebrew word for atone is kpr used in the general sense of removing the effect of sin by means of sacrifice (Lev. 17:11). We need to explain however, that it is the love of God that is evidence in putting sin away through the blood of the animal victim (Heb. 10:4). God asked for repentance on the part of the worshippers (I Kgs 8:47; Ez. 18:30-31).
The idea of the atonement can be found throughout the New Testament. The atoning work of Christ is viewed from many angles in view of the multiple facets of sin, atonement and salvation.
The words used in the New Testament to describe what Christ has done to reconcile sinners to God include: substitution (Matt. 20:28), propitiation/expiation (Rom. 3:25; Heb. 9:5), redemption (Gal. 3:13), justification (Rom. 4:25) and reconciliation (Rom. 5:10-11).
Source- National Open University of Nigeria