Sunday, August 16, 2009

Is Jesus God the Son?

(Photo by Neil Cullan McKinlay)

As we continue on considering what God has revealed about Himself in the Bible, let's now think about who Jesus is. He is the Word become flesh (John 1:-3, 14).

We love the simplicity of the Gospel whereby Jesus Christ is the Saviour of sinners - that whosoever believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life (John 3:16).

But we also love the profundity of the Gospel - that it's on account of Jesus being a Divine Person that His salvation is of infinite worth and His work on earth goes out into eternity.

Ontologically God is ever pleased, but is never displeased or angry, with Himself. Each of the three Persons of the Godhead, though distinct, is well pleased with the Others and Himself. God does not experience anger.

Economically God is pleased and angry only metaphorically because the nature of God itself never changes. Because God is not a man not a hair of His head was singed nor was the smell of fire on Him when He was revealing Himself to Moses in the burning bush. We know God only analogously.

God made man in His own image and likeness. But this image and likeness of God is not exhaustive. Unlike man who is finite, God is infinite. Therefore God is not the image and likeness of man – which would be to confuse or mix our created human nature with His eternally uncreated and unchanging Divine nature. God does not absorb anything in or of nature. Nor does creation absorb anything in or of God. God transcends matter.

The eternal Second Person of the Trinity, the Word, became flesh in time but continued unchanged as God. Christ's incarnation, resurrection, and ascension prove that the divine and human are and will remain two distinct natures forever. Christ's human nature with its passions (pain, anguish of soul, hunger, thirst etc.), are forever distinct from His Divine nature. Yet God knows these passions in the same way He knows good and evil (Gen. 3:22), but experiences none of these because He is without passions in and of Himself.

Speaking of Paul and Barnabas certain men said, “‘The gods have come down to us in the likeness of men!’ To which Paul, by the Holy Spirit replied, ‘Men, why are you doing these things? We are men with the same nature as you, and preach to you that you should turn away from these vain things to the living God, who made the heaven, the earth, the sea, and all things that are in them...’” Acts 14:11&15. Paul here is stating that the nature of God is not the same as the nature of man: the two natures are distinct and are not to be confused – as was being done by the men whom Paul was addressing.

God is eternally well pleased with, and is never angry with His Son, whether at the Word’s incarnation, or His baptism, or His transfiguration, or His crucifixion. However, God is never pleased with the wicked, but angry with them every day (Psalm 7:11). Paradox? Not in Christ!
Christ never was, nor ever became, one of the wicked. Jesus Christ is the same, yesterday, today, and forever. He is a Divine Person. Neither His divine nor human nature changed at His crucifixion. Jesus did not become a sinner on the cross. He became a sin-offering, and as such, received God's out poured fiery wrath. But Jesus suffered only in His human nature which remained distinct from His divine nature.

Was God pleased, or angry with Christ on the cross? One might as well ask whether Christ was angry or pleased with Himself on the cross? That is the question! Was there a conflict between His two natures? Was His Divine nature angry at His human nature – as God poured out His anger upon Him? And was His human nature angry at His divine nature for the suffering caused?

All paradoxes between the Divine and human (even God and creation) are resolved by keeping the two natures of Christ distinct. Confuse them and both the nature of God and man begin to change: Man becomes God and God becomes man. But either way both disappear like the metaphorical snake that swallowed its own tail!

In Christ God (the Word) and man are one in unity but not in substance. The properties of both natures may be ascribed to the One Person, i.e., Jesus Christ. But the nature of His Divinity must not be ascribed to the nature of His humanity, nor vice versa. Thus the Man Jesus Christ’s anger (overturning tables etc.) may very well be an expression of what is understood to be God’s anger.

However, because all revelation of God is not exhaustive and is only analogous one sees in the Man Christ Jesus’ anger more a revelation of God's Holy nature than of any supposed human passion of “anger.” Christ’s anger is revelation of God’s holiness, not God’s anger.
To say that God was both pleased and angry at the same time when Christ hung on the cross is to speak metaphorically of the holiness and righteousness of God. For God revealed who and what He is at the cross. But we must not confuse God’s anger or His pleasure with human passions. The nature of God who made heaven, the earth, and all things that are in them was not changed by His creation nor by Christ's cross.

All creation is revelation of who and what God is: even Hell itself! All creation therefore, though solid and real, is a metaphor of God.

Christ is the ultimate revelation of God, for He is the express image of His person. Christ's human nature is what God would be like if He were clothed in flesh. His humanity is not God, but is united to God forever.God’s anger at Christ’s cross therefore is not revelation of an emotion of God akin to man’s anger, but rather it is the expression, the revelation of His pure and holy nature which is infinite in being and perfection, invisible, without body parts, or passions.

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