Jesus Christ’s uniquely qualification for revelation, reconciliation and rule (2/3)
In the last blog, we outlined the need for a theological approach to reading culture. Secularism, moral relativism and Islam in Europe stand out as key sources of opposition to the gospel, and each seems to require a totally different approach. However, seen theologically, these are all downstream of who God is, what he has done and the human predicament in light of our rebellion. Therefore, each of these worldviews shows common elements which, when noticed, enable us to get a handle on them and address them. In this blog, we will begin our theological reading by starting with a very brief sketch of Christ in Scripture.
Jesus Christ: God and man in hypostatic union
Jesus is God incarnate. As to his divine nature, he is the creator God, who shares in the same nature as the God the Father:
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made. John 1:1-3
As God come to redeem his people, he took on a truly human nature.
Therefore he had to be made like his brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. Hebrews 2:17
His two natures exist in hypostatic union. The divine Son of God took on a human nature without giving up divinity or divinizing his humanity:
And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. John 1:14
In a handful of words, Colossians 2:9 makes the boldest claim, “For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily.” We meet God himself in Jesus.
In Philippians 2:5-11, we see the preexistent Son of God, who was in nature God, taking on, as the active agent, the likeness or form of a human. He did this in order to live a life of obedience for us, to die for his people and then be exalted as the God Man (the union of his two natures being irreversible), to the place of highest honour and worship. One day every tongue will confess the man Jesus is LORD, to the glory of the Father.
That is the central confession of the church.
Jesus’ unique qualification for revelation, reconciliation and rule
Jesus’ two natures are seen in his role as prophet, priest and king, whereby he reveals God, reconciles sinners to God and rules his people as God with us.
He reveals God the Father to us. He is God and only God can reveal himself to us (Matthew 11). He is the Word made flesh; the truth behind all existence has come into this world (John 1:1-4). And since he is also fully man, he is the fullness of deity accommodated to humanity, without change in his divine nature, so that as the true revelation of God, he is accessible to us.
The two natures make him uniquely qualified to reconcile us to God, since he is God come into the world to reconcile us to himself. He is the perfect man who lived a spotless life for us, and, as our high priest, he made atonement for our sin by his real human death. Therefore, through his incarnation, death, resurrection and ascension, he is God and man reconciled,
He is God the king come to conquer and rule his people. By our union with Christ through faith, sinners are brought to death through the cross and raised to new life under God’s rule. God’s people submit to the raised and reigning Christ and live out our new nature in him, by his word and the indwelling Spirit.
Great truths. And if we deny his divinity, all this falls apart. And we also undermine his humanity.
If we deny his divinity:
He cannot reveal God to us. He is a mere prophet revealing things about god and not God himself.
He cannot reconcile us to God because God was not in him reconciling us. As a mere man he cannot take us into a relationship he never had himself.
He cannot rule over us as our king. His rule would not be the rule of God over his people.
If we undermine his divinity, we also undermine his human nature:
If he is not God he is a liar and a false prophet.
If he is not God his death was a bizarre and fruitless martyrdom of the best human that ever lived; revealing the depths of human sin and nothing of God.
If he is not God his kingdom is nothing more than the failed moral manifesto of a dead prophet, not the everlasting Kingdom of God.
Even before we approach our cultural situation, the gospel tells us that in Christ, God came to bring us truth, reconciliation and his kingdom rule under which humanity would flourish. If Jesus is not God, then there is no ultimate truth, no reconciliation and no restoration of justice or human flourishing in God’s kingdom.
In the next post, we will see how the denial of the Son’s Divinity by secularism, moral relativism and Islam creates spaces for each one to elevate creaturely attributes, ideas, concepts, processes and examples to the place of ultimate truth, with disastrous and confused consequences.
Jonny Woodrow is a Faculty Member of Crosslands and Lead Pastor of The Crowded House church Loughborough.