Understanding Theology - Lesson 5

Person of Christ

In this lesson, Dr. Ware discusses the doctrine of the Person of Christ, which includes his pre-incarnate existence, his incarnation, his deity and his humanity. He also discusses the important Christological passage of Philippians 2:6-8 and what does it mean that Christ “emptied” himself. Dr. Ware concludes this lesson with a discussion of the Council of Chalcedon.

Bruce Ware
Understanding Theology
Lesson 5
Watching Now
Person of Christ

I. Christ’s Pre-incarnate Existence

A. Jesus as the “LORD” of the Old Testament

B. The Testimony of Jesus about His Own Pre-existence

II. The Incarnation

A. Jesus as Prophet

B. Jesus as Priest

C. Jesus as King

III. The Deity of Christ

A. The names of God are applied to Christ.

1. “God”

2. “Son of God”

3. “Son of Man”

B. The attributes of God alone are applied to Christ.

1. Eternity

2. Immutability

C. The works that only God does are done by Christ.

1. Creation

2. Giving eternal life

3. Forgiving sins

D. The worship belonging to God alone is given to Christ.

E. Jesus’ own claims to deity are evidence that he in fact is God.

IV. The Humanity of Christ

A. The Old Testament teaches that the Messiah who would come would be human.

B. Christ’s own life also indicates his humanity.

C. Christ remains human forever.

V. The Emptying (Kenosis) of Christ: Philippians 2:6-8

A. Key Terms

1. “form” (morphe)

2. “equality” (isos)

3. “He emptied himself” (ekenosin)

B. The Meaning of Kenosis: Emptying by Adding

1. Divine attributes “hidden” under Christ’s humanity

2. The significance of the kenosis

VI. The Sinlessness (Impeccability) of Christ

A. Meaning of the term impeccability

B. Support for impeccability

1. Christ did not sin.

2. Christ could not sin.

3. The Reality of Christ’s temptations

a. Christ was fully and truly tempted

b. By never sinning, he endured the full weight of temptation.

c. Key distinction and solution

VII. Hypostatic Union and the Council of Chalcedon in A.D. 451

A. Erroneous views of Christ prior to Chalcedon

1. The Apollinarian View (one nature – divine only)

2. The Nestorian view (two natures)

3. Eutychianism (Divine and human nature mixed together)

B. Orthodox Decision

  • Studying systematic theology in this 10-hour course will provide you with a comprehensive understanding of the doctrines of the Christian faith, from God and Christ to sin, salvation, the church, and the last things. By exploring these doctrines, you will strengthen your faith, gain hope and courage, and deepen your knowledge of God's character, work, and purposes. This course is liberating and will provide you with the truth that sets you free to live in the light of God's promises.
  • This is the first of ten lectures on Systematic Theology, a survey of the whole corpus of theology, and each lecture will be one hour long and each covering a separate doctrine or series of doctrines together. In this lesson Dr. Ware introduces the what and why of theology and discusses the foundational doctrines of Revelation and Scripture.

  • In this lesson, Dr. Ware discusses the Doctrine of God proper: why we need to know God, his incommunicable attributes, and those attributes that in some sense are communicable to humans.

  • Dr. Ware discusses the biblical basis for monotheism and trinitarianism. He also gives a brief overview of the history of the doctrine and the heresies that arose concerning the Trinity.

  • This lesson is an overview of the doctrines of humanity and sin, including a discussion of the origin of humanity, what it means to be created in the image of God, the nature and effects of sin, and original sin.

  • In this lesson, Dr. Ware discusses the doctrine of the Person of Christ, which includes his pre-incarnate existence, his incarnation, his deity and his humanity. He also discusses the important Christological passage of Philippians 2:6-8 and what does it mean that Christ “emptied” himself. Dr. Ware concludes this lesson with a discussion of the Council of Chalcedon.

  • Dr. Ware discusses the past (Atoning Savior), present (Mediator and Lord) and future (Coming Judge and Reigning King) work of Christ.

  • In this lesson, Dr. Ware discusses the person of the Holy Spirit, both his personhood and his deity. He also covers the work of the Holy Spirit in the Old Testament, in the life of Jesus, and in the church.

  • This lesson is an overview of the doctrine and process of salvation, beginning with election and then discussing calling, regeneration, conversion, justification, adoption, sanctification, perseverance, and, finally, the glorification of the believer.

  • Dr. Ware talks about the church universal and the local church. He discusses the offices of the local church, including the roles of elders and deacons. Dr. Ware also looks at how the church can be organized and what ordinances should be celebrated by a local body of believers.

  • In this final lesson, Dr. Ware gives a rationale for studying eschatology or last things. He discusses what happens to people just after they die and before the return of Christ. He also gives an overview of the various beliefs about the timing and events of the last days. He completes the lesson with a discussion of final judgment, heaven, and hell.

We all have a theology, a set of beliefs, but many are not able to articulate it or really understand it. This class will walk you through a basic evangelical understanding of God and his Word.

Recommended Books

Understanding Theology - Student Guide

Understanding Theology - Student Guide

We all have a theology, a set of beliefs, but many are not able to articulate them or really understand them. This class will walk you through a basic evangelical...

Understanding Theology - Student Guide

Dr. Bruce Ware
Understanding Theology
Person of Christ
Lesson Transcript

Lecture number five, The Doctrine of the Person of Christ. Here we turn our attention to the glory of Jesus, the God man who as eternal son of the Father took on also another nature, a human nature. Though in nature He is eternally God with the Father and the spirit, yet He was not eternally the God man. Rather He took on a created human nature in the incarnation. That's what we want to focus on is the incarnation of the God man, the second person of the Trinity, the eternal son of the Father who becomes also a man. And we begin with his pre-incarnate existence that obviously Jesus who came and dwelt among us and taught us and died for us and rose again existed previously before the incarnation as God. And there is strong evidence that this in fact is the case. Let me give you just a little bit for both Old and New Testaments of the pre-incarnate existence of Christ.

For example, in Isaiah 40:3, Isaiah 40:3, we read of a voice calling in the wilderness, make ready the way for Yahweh. And Matthew 3:3 explains that this is John the Baptist preparing the way for Jesus. Yahweh of Isaiah 40:3 is fulfilled when Jesus comes. Indeed, this is one of the places in the Old Testament where Jesus is referred to as Yahweh of the Old Testament. Obviously, Yahweh, eternal God, exists prior to the incarnation that takes place. Similarly, another time you see Yahweh used is Jeremiah 23:5-6, which speaks of the branch of David who is to come, who is given a name, this is in verse six, Yahweh, our righteousness. This name given to him indicates that he is indeed Yahweh, the God of Israel, the one who created the world, the one who delivered Israel out of Egypt and so on. This is Yahweh, who is the name for Jesus.

A third example from the Old Testament is a very interesting one, and that is the high and exalted Lord that is in Isaiah chapter six. You might remember that Isaiah 6:1 begins “in the year of King Josiah's death, I saw the Lord seated on a throne lofty and exalted, the train of his robe filled the temple." Who is this? And obviously this is God that seraphim are crying out holy, holy, holy in just a moment in that passage. But in terms of which person of the trinity is being the focus here, and I think it's the Son because you'll notice in verse one that he's seated on a throne which indicates he's king on this high pedestal with the train of his robe that fills not the palace but the temple. Here is one who is king and priest. He's in a temple.

And of course the irony of this is that Isaiah speaks of the death of Uzziah, who died as a leper because he attempted to function as a priest in burning incense when of course he was king of Israel. You couldn't be king and priest, king from the line of Judah, priest from the line of Levi. You couldn't be both king and priest until Jesus who is king in the line of Judah, but then priest who's in the order of Melchizedek, who's greater than Levi, as we've talked about briefly. This high and exalted one in Isaiah six, the vision that Isaiah had of him is none other than the second person of the Trinity who we come to know of as Jesus of Nazareth. This is confirmed in John 12:41, where John says that Isaiah spoke of him, of Christ, and beheld his glory and spoke of him.

This is confirmed then by the writer of the Gospel of John as he indicates that indeed Isaiah spoke of Christ. In the New Testament, likewise, we see reason for affirming the pre-incarnate existence of Christ. For example, Jesus himself declares in John 8:58, "Before Abraham was, I Am." Here's a very direct declaration of his own existence as Yahweh, the deliverer of the people of Israel, the I Am. Long before, of course, the incarnation, he is the eternal God. Or in John 17:5, he prays that the father would glorify him with the glory that he had with him, with the Father, before the world was. Indeed he's planning to go back and be with the Father and he refers there to the fact that he existed eternally with the Father, with the glory of the Father. And so indeed he existed before the incarnation. And then over and over again we read of Jesus coming down from heaven or being sent by the Father from heaven. Passages like John 3:13, John 3:16 and 17, John 6:33, John 6:62.

These are all passages that refer to Jesus coming from heaven or the Father sending him. And so he existed as the one who came from heaven to become incarnate. Indeed, Jesus existed before the incarnation as the eternal son of the Father who then takes on human nature. And of course there's much more evidence, but we've looked at enough to establish the point for this.

Secondly, we want to think together just for a bit about the nature of the incarnation itself. Why did this happen? Why did the second person of the Trinity take on human nature? And I think the answer to that is found in these three offices of Christ. They really do articulate, probably better than anything else, an answer to that question of what was the purpose of the incarnation. And it involves these three offices of Christ. 

He came first of all to be the greater than Moses prophet, the final word of the Lord to his people. I think for example in Hebrews one, “God spoke through the prophets in many portions, in many ways, but in these last days, he has spoken to us in his son.” And so the idea obviously is this greatest revelation has now been given. Yes, we have all this previous revelation that the Father has given to us through the prophets, but now in Christ is the greatest and final revelation that God can give to us. 

Or think for example, he's the greater than Moses prophet. An example of that is the Sermon on the Mount where Jesus will quote Moses, you have heard that it was said, you shall not commit adultery or you shall not commit murder and so on. You have heard that it was said. And then Jesus will go on to say, "But I say to you." I mean if you just put yourself back in that setting as a Jew hearing that who reveres Moses, I mean there's no prophet greater than Moses. And so for Jesus to quote Moses and then say, "But I say to you," I mean they would be thinking, and who do you think you are? And of course that's the point. He is the greater prophet than Moses, as Deuteronomy 18:15 had indicated that one would come to surpass Moses and indeed that one is Jesus Christ. He brings us the final revelation of God. 

Now if you're wondering, how can it be the final revelation if there was revelation given to the apostles and prophets after Jesus came, died, was raised and ascended back to the Father? It doesn't seem like the revelation from Christ himself was final because we have revelation from Peter and Paul and John and the apostles of the New Testament. And I think the answer is this, that Jesus says in John 16:12, "I have many more things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now," but when the Spirit comes, he will take a mind and disclose it to you. The idea is this, that the many more things that Jesus had to give could not be given to them yet because they didn't have the Spirit yet. But when they had the Spirit, then Jesus through the Spirit could give to them the rest of the revelation that came from him. Indeed, the red letters of your gospels in Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John are not the only words that Jesus spoke. He also spoke through the Spirit to those who are writing the books of the New Testament. Really the whole of the New Testament is the revelation of Jesus Christ culminating in the final book, the Book of Revelation itself, which is the revelation of Jesus Christ as it says from the very beginning of the book. 

Indeed, he is the final prophet, the one who brings the final word of the Lord to his people, but he's also a priest. He's the greatest, the high priest who comes to function as priest in a way that surpasses the priests of the Old Testament in offering a better offering, in establishing a better covenant, in being himself a better priest. And so in all these ways that Hebrews talks about, he is the greater and highest priest for the people of God. And thankfully he lives forever continually to be the priest for his people. He continues interceding for us and he continues mediating on our behalf to the Father and functions in that way of representing us to the Father and representing the Father to us. 

And then finally, he is the great and final king in which he will reign over all things. Now it's interesting, even though right now he is seated at the right hand of the Father above all rule and authority and power and dominion in every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come, that's from Ephesians 1:19 and following. Even though that is the case, Hebrews will tell us, we do not now see all things subject to him. I think that's Hebrews 2:8 if I remember correctly. And so here we have this statement of even though he's seated at the right hand of the Father, all authority is his. There still is this ongoing battle against Christ that will only culminate when Christ defeats all the enemies of God. We see this spoken of, for example, in Psalm two, you might remember in that Psalm the nations are raging, the peoples are devising of anything against the Lord and against his anointed. And so again, the whole world, it's described as national and international defiance against God. Every ruler, every king is defiant against God and his ways, which honestly is a little bit heartening when you see how things are going these days to realize, oh, this is exactly what the Bible indicates will be the case before the end comes.

In any case, the whole world is defiant against Christ. But then it says, beginning at about verse seven, that "The Lord said to him, you are my son. Today, I begotten you ask of me, I will give you the nations as your inheritance, the ends of the earth as your possession. You will break them with a rod of iron, you will shatter them like earthenware." And so the day will come when Christ will establish his kingdom on earth and will vanquish all the enemies who stand against God. That day of the son's reign over all, even though he formally has that reign right now, but we do not now see all things subject to him, Hebrews 2:8, but the day will come when that does happen and he will function then as king of kings and lord of lords over all of the earth. Praise me to God, hasten the day. Come, Lord Jesus, we long for that day to take place. 

Let's move on then to the main headings of the person of Christ, his deity, his humanity and some of the issues that relate to his own role and functioning as the incarnate son of God. 

First of all, the deity of Christ. And it's interesting when you look for evidence for the deity of Christ, they seem to fit under these five categories that I have enumerated here on your outline. First of all is names of God that are applied to Christ. It's just so interesting that indeed there are prominent names of God which are used of Christ and probably the most important one of the batch of them is the name Theos, the Greek word for God. Let me remind you just a few passages where the word God is used of Christ. I believe I said this earlier, that the vast majority of usages of Theos, the word God in the New Testament, apply to the Father, but there are some that apply to Christ and here is a sampling of that evidence. 

John 1:1 is such an important statement. "In the beginning was the word and the word was with God and the word was God." Here's John's declaration that indeed this word, whom we know is going to be Jesus Christ, why? Because of verse 14, the word became flesh and dwelt among us and we beheld his glory. Glory is the only-begotten of the Father full of grace and truth. Indeed, this eternal word is the one who became flesh and the one we know of as Jesus from Nazareth. And he is with God and he is God. And one of the evidences that he is God is that he creates all things. By Him, all things are created and apart from Him, nothing is here that hasn't been created by Him, John tells us. We realize that creation takes place as the Father creates through the Son and his role as God is manifest in His being creator of all that is. Another passage where you see him refer to as God is First John 5:20, Jesus Christ is referred to as the true God and eternal life. The true God meaning genuine, the real article. Genuinely actually God, the true God and eternal life.

Hebrews 1:8, "Of the Son, he says," this is God says, "Thy throne, O God, is forever," quoting from Psalm 45:6. Here is another statement that indicates that the Son, who is born, is indeed God. Let me just give you one more, Titus 2:13. Looking for the blessed hope in the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus. Looking for the blessed hope in the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus. Now some people have tried to say that our Great God refers to the Father and our Savior refers to Christ. Our Great God, Father, Savior, Jesus Christ. The problem with that is the way it's structured in Greek, it could be translated literally this way. Let's see, looking for the blessed hope in the appearing of the glory of the Great God and Savior of us.

That's how it appears literally, the Great God and Savior of us, where the "the of us" that we translate as our, right, the Great God and Savior of us, brackets that whole phrase. It doesn't say the Great God of us and Savior, that would refer just to the Father then, but rather it's the of us indicating Great God and Savior is the same person. And he identifies him as Christ Jesus. Indeed, Christ is God, and that's an amazing thing. Now let me just mention to you a couple other names without going into details of passages, it would just take too long to do that. And of course that's covered in more length in other formats, the longer lectures of theology that are available on biblical training. But just a couple things here, Son of Man and Son of God are both used of Christ, and both refer to him as God, Son of Man.

Some have thought, well that refers to his humanity, Son of God, deity, but actually both are references to his deity. The way you know this is because Son of Man that Jesus refers to in Matthew 24:30 and Matthew 26:64 are taken from Daniel chapter seven, where the Son of Man comes to the Ancient of Days unto him is given glory and power and honor that everyone may worship him and honor him. Well, this obviously is God. When Jesus uses the phrase Son of Man, of himself, he's identifying himself with Son of Man of Daniel seven and obviously that's a divine figure in that passage. He's affirming himself as God. It is, Son of Man is his favorite self ascription. It's used 84 times in the gospels and every one of them, no exception, every one of them is Jesus using it of himself. It was his favorite term and he's clearly referring to himself then as the one who will judge all things and the one who is God himself. Son of God, obviously a name of his deity. You see this in John 5:17, John 10:33 to 36 and Matthew 26:63 and 64. 

Besides names, the next category is attributes of God that are predicated of Christ, but these are attributes that are attributes of God alone. Otherwise known as incommunicable attributes. Attributes like eternity. Only God is eternal. But Isaiah 9:6, eternal father. Micah 5:2, "His days are from eternity." In Revelation 1:8, refers to him as eternal. Isaiah 9:6, Micah 5:2, Revelation 1:8, eternity immutability, which is an incommunicable attribute, is true of Christ. Hebrews 1:10 to 12, I may have mentioned this earlier that it quotes from Psalm 102:25 to 27, Hebrews 1:10 to 12 and Hebrews 13:8, "Jesus Christ the same yesterday, today and forever."

He has omniscience and omnipotence both which indicate he has attributes that are true of God alone. Now it's true that we have knowledge, but we don't have all knowledge. We have power, but we don't have all power. And so those qualities of those attributes that are true of Christ indicate his deity. 

Then there are works that are done by God alone that are done by Christ. Only God can do this, but Christ does it. For example, creation. Only God can create out of nothing, but Christ is stated over and again in the New Testament to be the one who created all things. John 1:3, Colossians 1:16, Hebrews 1:2. Indeed, Christ is creator. Preservation. He holds all things together. "He upholds all things by the word of his power." Colossians 1:17, Hebrews 1:3. 

He is the one who forgives sin. Only God can forgive sin. There's that interesting account in Mark chapter two where they drop this paralytic down through the roof of a house and Jesus says to the paralytic, "Your sins are forgiven." And the Pharisees look at him and say, "Who can forgive sin but God alone?" Strike one up for the Pharisees, they got it right. Yes, indeed. Who can forgive sins but God alone? Christ is able to forgive sin. Look sometime at Isaiah 43:25 that indicates this is the prerogative of God to forgive sin. Isaiah 43:25, "Christ gives eternal life. Only God can do that."

Also, worship that belongs to God alone is given to Christ. Worship that belongs to God alone is given to Christ. And this is just really an amazing thing because you realize, God knows that only God is to be worshiped. "You shall worship the Lord your God and serve him only," right, from Deuteronomy six. Christ knows that only God is to be worshiped. We know that because when Satan says, "Bow down and worship at my feet and I'll give you all the nations of the world," Jesus says to him, he quotes from Deuteronomy six, "You shall worship the Lord your God and serve him only." Jesus knows that, but when Jesus is worshiped, he accepts it. When he's brought into the world by the Father, he commands the angels to worship him. Indeed, worship that is given to him and accepted by him, worship that is commanded by the Father, worship that will be given to him in the age to come. As we see in Revelation five, where the son, the lamb with the one who is on the throne are worshiped together at the end of Revelation five. Indeed, worship that belongs to God alone is given to Christ.

And then finally the last category supporting the deity of Christ are Jesus' own self declarations of his deity. Some passages we thought about already, John 8:58, John 10:30, John 17:5 are all indicators of Jesus' understanding of his own deity. He knows that he is God and man. 

Now for salvation to occur, the one who saves us must be fully God so that the payment offered is of infinite value, but he has to be also fully man so that he can live the life of obedience we were called to live but fail to live. So that he can bear our sin in his body on the cross, so that he can die the death we deserve to die so that he can rise again from the dead. These are all ways in which Jesus' humanity is necessary for our salvation and hence the necessity of the incarnation of the second person of the Trinity taking on also a full human nature. Keep in mind that word also that I use. I am doing that intentionally. Sometimes we talk about Jesus becoming a man and that can be taken to mean wrongly that he ceased being God and now he's a man. But that's not the case. He continues being God, he is eternally God. But he takes on also a human nature joined with his divine nature in an inseparable union of those natures from that point on forever, always being the God man from that point on. 

First of all, in terms of the humanity of Christ, some Old Testament testimony that the coming of Messiah would be a man. Isaiah 7:14, "Behold a virgin will conceive and bear a son. And she will call his name Emmanuel, God with us." I mean really it points to both the deity and the humanity of Christ, doesn't it? But it does indicate the full humanity of Christ. "This virgin will conceive and bear a son." He's a human who comes from a human mother. Isaiah 9:6, Isaiah 9:6, "For a child will be born, a son will be given, his name will be called wonderful counsel or mighty God, everlasting Father, prince of peace. The government will be upon his shoulders and so on." He will be a human king, a child born, a son given who will reign upon the throne of David forever and ever.

Micah 5:3 refers to a ruler in Israel whose comings forth are from the days of eternity who will be a child born. This child born, whose days are from the days of eternity, will come and reign over his people. Second Samuel seven is one of the most important passages. This is the Davidic covenant, the promise to David that he would have a son who would reign upon his throne forever. That means that Jesus has to come in the line of David, and indeed he does. Both Matthew's genealogy and Luke's genealogy take the genealogy back through Joseph and through Mary respectively, through both of them back to Jesus. Why Joseph since he wasn't his physical father? Well the answer is because he was his legal father. Through Joseph, the legal father of Jesus and Mary, the biological mother of Jesus, both trace their lineage back to David.

He comes from David to be the one who will reign upon the throne of David forever, as Gabriel announced to Mary in Luke chapter one. We read these wonderful and amazing words. Verse 30, Luke 1:30, "The angel said to Mary, do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God and behold, you will conceive in your womb and will bear a son and you shall name him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the son of the most high. And the Lord God will give him the throne of his father, David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob and his kingdom will have no end." Verses 30 to 33. Indeed, comes in the line of David to be king over Israel and comes as a man. 

And then the historical life of Christ also demonstrates his humanity. He's born of a human mother. I just read that in Luke chapter 1:26 to 38, also in Luke two is the account of the birth of Jesus, verses one to 20. He is born of a human mother who was a virgin, so miraculous conception that took place in Mary by the work of the spirit to bring about the conception of Jesus.

He grew and developed as a normal human boy would. The only account we have of Jesus in his youth, in his childhood, is in Luke chapter two where his parents take Jesus down to Jerusalem, you remember this account, to be dedicated at the temple. I think he's 13 years old. On their way home, they discovered they left him behind. How did that happen? We don't know, but they did. They went back and found him in the temple and he was conversing with the teachers of the law in the temple in Jerusalem and they were astonished, that is the teachers in the law were astonished at the things Jesus was saying. Now a lot of people read that and they think to themselves, well of course they were astonished in what Jesus was saying because they didn't know he was God and was able to teach these things.

But Luke's indication is we're not thinking the right way about this because in Luke 2:42 and 50, which is the bookends around that account, he says the same thing in both those verses. He says, "The child continued to grow and develop and grew in wisdom and stature and the favor of God was upon him." This growth in wisdom is not something you would claim of the divine nature of Jesus. God does not grow in wisdom, he is infinitely wise. This has to be a reference to his human nature. If those are the verses that bracket this account, Luke is cluing us in on the fact that this is the boy Jesus, right? The human Jesus who astonished these people at how much he knew of the Old Testament by the time he was 12 years old. He grew in wisdom. The grace of God was upon him.

And I take it, that's a reference to the Spirit, the Spirit who was working in Jesus to help him to know these things. This accounts for his full humanity and yet his ability to know the loss so well. He really was the Psalm one prototype who loved the law of the Lord. And on that law he meditated day and night. And because of that, God prospered him and he was able to do all that he did because as a man, he was obedient fully to the Father. The historical life of Christ. 

Another element of this is his own death and resurrection, that he died a literal death on the cross and experienced human emotion in the process, his anguish and his despair that he felt, as well as the compassion that he felt for others. And so the emotion that he felt and then the anguish that he felt dying on the cross and his death itself all indicate his humanity.

And of course his resurrection from the dead was again in evidence that he was a mortal being, he could die. That's one of the reasons he had to take on human nature was because as God, he cannot die, but as a man he can die and hence can be raised from the dead, and he was. 

And then, the permanence of his humanity. I think years ago when this first occurred to me, I was just overwhelmed at the thought that when Jesus took on our human nature, he knew that he was doing this for keeps. That there never would be a time when he would say, "Okay, done with that," then shed the human nature and go back to as it were, what he was before. No, he accepted the limitations of living as a human. Of course he remains living fully as God. I mean, these two go together, more of this in just a bit. But he accepts the limitations of his human nature forever because he comes as the son of David who will reign upon the throne of David for how long? Forever. This is what he chooses to do and will reign with us. We will have bodies like his. He has a resurrection body. Ours will be made like his and we will reign with him forever in the new heavens and the new earth. 

Okay, next then is the kenosis. Roman numeral five, the kenosis, this passage from Philippians two verses six to eight, which is just one of the most glorious statements in all of scripture about what happens in the incarnation of Christ. Called the kenosis because of the first word in verse seven, "He emptied himself," and I'll talk about what that means in a moment, but the Greek word is ekenosin. Kenosis comes from that term referring to the emptying, the self emptying of Christ. Here's what Paul says in Philippians two, I'll read verses five to eight. "Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who although he existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God, a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, taking the form of a bond servant and being made in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross."

This passage indicates first of all that this is given to us. This example is given to us for us to follow, have this attitude in ourselves which was in Christ. This is really an astonishing thing. This one who came from the highest height to go to the lowest depths to offer the greatest obedience, even death on a cross, is given to us as a model for how we too should live. I mean, just file it away in your own mind. There never is anything God could call you to do or me to do that could surpass this. And yet we're called to have the same attitude in ourselves. Indeed, we need to be people who are open to whatever God calls us to do. 

Well, now to what it is Christ did. We see in verse six that he existed in the form of God. I mentioned already that word form is the Greek word morphe, the meaning of which is the very nature of something or the inner substance of something, not what we oftentimes think form is. That is the outward appearance, the outward shape of something. That's oftentimes what we think form is. But this is form like you find in Greek literature like in Plato. This is the very substance of something. And by the way, you know that's the case, not just from looking at a lexicon on the word morphe, but also look at verse seven where it says that "Christ emptied himself taking the form of a bond servant." Well, the whole point of this is what an extraordinary servant he was. This is not just the outer trappings of a servant, this is the inner nature of a servant. You realize that's what the word form means in verse six.

He had the very nature of God. And then he also says in verse six, he did not regard equality with God, something to be grasped. He was willing to come and take on our human nature, though he was equal with God. Well, what is equal to God except God? Again, there really are two evidences here of his deity in verse six. He has the very nature of God and he's equal with God. But according to verse six, he didn't grasp onto the privileges of that deity, of his rightful place to be with the Father, but was willing instead to empty himself, verse seven. 

Now here's where some trouble comes because some people have taken this to mean that Christ emptied out of himself attributes of deity when he took on attributes of humanity, right? He quit being omniscient in order to take on the attribute of finite knowledge. He quit being omnipotent in order to take on the human attribute of weakness, limited power. But Paul is not saying that he emptied something out of himself. Notice it says he emptied himself, all of who He is, here's what the word literally means, is poured out. All of who he is poured out. The word ekenosin simply means to pour out like water out of a pitcher or wine out of a flask. He poured Himself out, all of who He is. And if you ask the question, how did He do that? It comes in the very next term, He emptied himself taking. You could even translate that as by taking, right? The manner by which he poured himself out was by taking something on, which is an interesting kind of emptying by adding, right? Or a kind of subtraction by addition. 

Let me give you an illustration of this that I think helps in getting this across. The illustration is meant to say how you can diminish something without actually touching it at all by adding something to it. The illustration is this. Suppose you come into a large sum of money. This is a fun illustration because it's just fun to think about this. And you decide with this extra money you've got to buy a car you probably would never have thought about buying if it were not for this, but you have enough money here to look at a very nice car. And so if you were like me, you'd head to the BMW dealership. You go down to the BMW dealership, you're looking at all these cars, and boy, they're beautiful, but your eye follows on one in particular. Boy, you just love the looks of this thing and looks like a great, comfortable car. And so the dealer sees you looking at this car, comes over and says, "Would you like to take this for a test drive?"

And you say, "Sure." You take this out for a test drive for about 15, 20 minutes, and here's the thing, the days before this, it has been pouring rain like crazy. And you decide to take this car out onto back dirt roads that are, because of all that rain, incredibly muddy. And you press that pedal to the metal and you turn that wheel and you have a great time in this beautiful, shiny BMW and bring it back absolutely covered in mud. You drive it onto the showroom floor and park it there. And the dealer comes out and says, "What have you done to my car?" And you respond to him by saying, "Ah, not to worry. I haven't taken anything away from your car. I've only added to it," right? Is the luster of that car still there? Yes, but you can't see it because of what was added to it, right?

Is the omniscience of Christ still there? Yes. But because of human nature, he does not access that divine omniscience in his human nature. There's this covering that conceals that from him. Though he's omnipotent in his divine nature, he doesn't access that in his human nature. And so he gets tired, he has to go to sleep, he suffers and agonizes and so on. He emptied himself by taking on our human nature is really what Paul is getting at here. And in doing so, accepts all of the limitations that we have, the weaknesses, the frailties, undergoing temptations that we do. We'll talk more about that in a bit. Does that all for the purpose of fulfilling the will of the Father to go to the cross. Verse eight, "Being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross."

Christ in his work on the cross fulfilled that by not insisting on remaining with the glory of his father, but taking on our human nature, our human weaknesses and living life as one of us, though in his divine nature, he remained fully God. He's fully God carrying out what he must carry out in his deity, upholding the universe by the word of his power. But as a man experiencing only what we experience as human beings, limited knowledge, limited power, limited everything that we have in our human nature. That's the kenosis, a summary of it in any case. 

Now the last area that I want to think with you about is the impeccability of Christ. And this is a doctrine that has been troubling to a number of more recent theologians because what it affirms is not only that Christ did not sin, which of course every evangelical Christian would want to affirm because the Bible is crystal clear on this, but also that Christ could not sin.

And this is the classic doctrine of the church and has been held right from the early church on through the doctrine of impeccability that Christ could not sin. Impeccability is defined by William G.T. Shed in his dogmatic theology this way, that an impeccable will is one that is so mighty in itself determination to good, that it cannot be conquered by any temptation to evil, however great. Christ in his human nature had a will that was so strong in its self-determination to good that it could not be conquered by evil, by temptation to do evil. 

Now of course, if you hold to impeccability, it raises a huge problem, a huge issue. And that is how could Christ have been truly tempted if he could not sin? And this is one of the reasons that some have given up on the doctrine of impeccability because they can't see how the temptations of Christ could be genuine, could be real if it was the case that he could not sin. Here I want to think with you about some support for impeccability and then how to resolve this question of how Christ could be impeccable and also truly be tempted as a man. 

First, moving next then to support for impeccability. And the first thing to say here is the most obvious and clear thing from Scripture, and that is that Christ did not sin. We want to just establish that clearly. Let me just give you a few verses here to support this. In the gospels we read Luke 23:41, "This man has done no wrong." It was stated of Christ. Matthew 27:4, "Judas says that he has betrayed innocent blood," but then more forcefully are statements we find in the epistles in the New Testament. Second Corinthians 5:21, "God made Christ who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in him, but he knew no sin," Paul says. Hebrews 4:15, "Christ was tempted in every way as we are, yet without sin."

Hebrews 9:14, "Christ was offered without blemish to God." Taking the example of the Old Testament's sacrifices that needed to be without blemish. Christ was without blemish, without sin. First Peter 2:21 and 22, "That we are to follow in his steps who committed no sin, nor was any deceit found in his mouth," hearkening to Isaiah 53, a statement about him there. We see that indeed Christ did not sin. One more verse, First John 3:5, "In him there is no sin." Jesus did not sin. 

Now, further, I would want to argue that Christ could not sin and one of the reasons is because of his immutability. Do you remember? That's one of the attributes that's true of God alone, that's also true of Christ. He is immutable. Hebrews 13:8, "Jesus Christ the same yesterday, today and forever." And Hebrews 1:10 to 12, quoting from Psalm 102:25 to 27.

Well, here's my question to you. And that is, if Christ is immutable, in what sense can he not change? Because he changes in lots of ways. He grows in wisdom, He grows in stature, right? There are changes that take place in his human nature as he grows that are unmistakable and are necessary for the fulfillment of his mission as a man to be fulfilled only as He becomes a man. He changes in his thinking, He grows in wisdom, He changes in His physical form and so on. What would be the most likely category to select of a way that Christ is immutable, that He is the same yesterday, today and forever. And I think the answer has to be, it has to be His moral nature, His spiritual relationship with the Father. He is unchangeable in his righteousness, unchangeable in His obedience, unchangeable in His commitment to do the will of the Father. 

Even at the end when He is facing the cross and about to go there, about to give Himself up to be taken to the cross. "And praise, Father, if you'd be willing, let this cup pass from me," He's still not in opposition to the Father because what does He say next? "Yet, not my will but yours be done," right? He embraces the will of the Father. I think the most likely way you talk about Christ being immutable is immutable righteousness, immutable holiness, immutable in his character as a godly righteous man, an obedient man, a sinless man. Without sin. 

Here's another reason for upholding impeccability is that it's more of a philosophical argument, but it goes like this. It's very difficult, if not impossible, to imagine Christ sinning without that implicating his divine nature. That is, if He were ever to have sinned, which of course He didn't do, but if He were ever to have sinned, that would necessarily bleed over to his divine nature. And of course that is just impossible. The divine nature cannot be involved in sin. The divine nature is holy, eternally holy. 

There are ways in which Christ can do things as a human being that don't implicate the divine nature because there's nothing in the divine nature that corresponds to that. For example, Christ can be hungry, but that doesn't implicate the divine nature because there's nothing in the divine nature that corresponds to hunger. He can be thirsty. That doesn't implicate the divine nature. There's nothing in the divine nature that corresponds to thirst and so on. There are many things that would be in those categories, but to sin is a moral act. Is there anything in the divine nature of the corresponds to morality? Yes, the holy nature of God. I think it is best to solve this problem of the genuineness of the temptations of Christ without giving up impeccability. I think to give up impeccability is a great cost theologically and is the wrong way to go. 

How can we do this? Well, here's number three, the reality of Christ temptations. I'm going to try to support the solution to this through these points, particularly the last one.

The reality of Christ temptation is seen first of all in the fact that he was fully and truly tempted. I mean, Hebrews 4:15 says that, "He was tempted in every way as we are, yet without sin." And I take it when it says in every way, he means, in every category of temptation that is true for us. Like the ones we thought about earlier, the hedonist urge, the hedonist urge, the prideful urge, he was tempted in every category of temptation. What that cannot mean, that statement in Hebrews 4:15, is that he was tempted with every specific temptation every specific person is tempted with. That's impossible. There are people who are tempted because of alcoholism that a non-alcoholic is not tempted with. Men and women tempted in different ways and on and on. So many different examples could be given. It's not that Christ was tempted with every specific temptation that every specific person is tempted with, but rather in every category, every kind of temptation, what is common to all of us as those who are tempted as human beings. He was tempted genuinely and truly. 

Secondly, by never sinning, He endured the full weight of those temptations. And the point here is simply this, I'm sure we all relate to this immediately, that one of the reasons we give into temptation is because it's hard to keep fighting, right? And so maybe we're tired, maybe we were worn out, we just give in because we don't want to keep fighting. Well, the minute we give in, we don't know how much longer that temptation would've gone, how much more difficult it would've been. We've cut out the temptation any further, but Jesus, who never did yield to temptation, then felt the weight of that temptation all the way to the end, which is really a remarkable thing. Every temptation, the full force and he never once succumbed is really quite an astonishing thing. 

And here last, the last point I think is the most important in terms of really dealing with the nub of the question. How could He be genuinely tempted if He could not sin? It invokes a key distinction and solution that is found between why it is Christ did not sin and why it is he could not sin. That these in fact are two different questions that have two different answers. Why is it Christ could not sin? Well, we've already answered that in part because He was God. As God, He could not sin, He can't do something that would implicate the divine nature of Christ. But what about the question, why is it Christ did not sin? Well here, the answer is not that he was God, although he was. But that's not why it is He did not sin. Rather he did not sin because as a man, He utilized, made use of all of the resources given to Him in His humanity in order to fight that temptation as a man, as a genuine human being.

Resources like the word of God, prayer, the community of faith, the Holy Spirit who empowered Him, utilizing all those resources in order to fulfill His mission as the second Adam, as the one who had to live the obedient life we failed to live, right? Indeed, the way that Christ did not sin has nothing to do with His deity. It has only to do and everything to do with His humanity, making use of what is given to Him in His humanity. 

Now let me give you an illustration here that I think will be helpful also just in terms of getting this distinction down better. The distinction again is between why something did not happen and why something could not happen. The illustration is this. Imagine a swimmer who wants to break the world's record in the longest continuous swim. And so to attempt to do this, which by the way is over 90 miles, it was done a few years back by a woman who swam from Cuba to the Florida Keys. 90 miles. And to do that, this swimmer prepares much like a marathon runner would prepare. That is that he swims a few miles every day, three, four, five miles every day. But then on the weekends he does these longer swims. He'll swim 12 miles, 15 miles, 18 miles, 20 miles, and over time builds up his endurance to prepare himself to attempt this longest of all swims, 90 plus miles. When he's preparing and he's getting down a couple months, he's been doing this now and he's getting up to these longer swims of 30 miles, 35 miles, he's noticing toward the end of those swims that his muscles are cramping just a bit. And he does wonder whether the attempt to break the world's record, this longest 90 plus mile swim, if his muscles might cramp and he might drown. He mentioned this to some friends of his and in council together, they decide the best thing to do would be to arrange for a boat to be there to follow along behind close enough to pick him up if there's a problem, but far enough away so as not to invite the accusation of interference.

They decide to do that, they have the boat prepared to do, and he keeps training. And finally the day comes, perfect conditions, when he's decided he's going to do this, try to break the world's record. Boat's there, everything's set, water conditions couldn't be better. He decides, I'm going to do it. He dives in and begins swimming, and he swims and he swims and he swims. And sure enough, he does break the world's record. Huge accomplishment. Okay. If you ask this swimmer why it is in this record-breaking swim, why is it that he could not have drowned? Answer, the boat was there ready to pick him up at any moment, just following along 30 feet behind. That's why he could not drown, the boat. But ask him this question, why is it you did not drown? Notice there that the answer has nothing to do with the boat, right?

The boat's irrelevant to this. Why is it he did not drown? He swam, he prepared, he did everything that he needed to do to enable himself to fulfill this and keep swimming to the end. That's why he did not drown. Has nothing to do with the boat. Now, I had a student one time, very bright student who raised his hand thinking about this and said, "Dr. Ware, I'm not so sure about this, because I think the boat actually assisted him by relieving his mind of the worry of drowning." And I thought to myself, well, maybe he's got a point there. But then I started thinking more like this swimmer, how would he view that boat, as relief or a fear knowing that if he touches that boat, all of his work, everything he has prepared for, everything he has dreamed of is over. That boat is a threat, not a hope.

Not in the middle of this swim. It's a threat, not a hope. And I think actually that observation helps this illustration because you realize that for Jesus, he had to succeed where Adam failed, he had to do this as a man. And only then would he qualify to be the sinless man who takes our sin upon himself and his body on the cross and dies in our place. He resisted temptation in his humanity. And one of the ways in which that impacts us is to realize then the Bible's admonitions are valid when they say, "Have this attitude in yourselves, which was also in Christ Jesus." He was able to do what He did in His humanity because of resources given to Him in His humanity, which resources are also given to us. And when the Bible says in First Peter two "To follow in His steps who committed no sin," that's valid.

It isn't something that we look at and go, that's crazy. He's God and I'm not. Well, He is God, but He's a man who accomplished what He did as a man in the power of the Spirit and gives to us the Spirit. He is an example for how we should live our lives. 

Okay, finally, just in the moments remaining, just a few left here in this session, I want to think with you about the doctrine of the Hypostatic Union as it was devised at the Council of Chalcedon in 451 AD. The Hypostatic Union is the union of two ousia natures in one hypostasis, one person. These are Greek terms again, that are used to distinguish nature and person. The union of two ousia in one hypostasis

There were a couple erroneous views that led up to Chalcedon. One was the Apollinarian view that was rejected by the church that said that Jesus had only one nature and that was a divine nature. Apollinarius took seriously the teaching from Nicea that Jesus was fully God and could not comprehend how He could also be a man. And so he said, "He looks like a man, He seems like a man, but He wasn't really a man." He didn't have the nature of a man. This view was sometimes called docetism, the Appollinarian view, because the word dokeo means to seem or to appear. He appeared to be a man, He seemed to be a man, but He wasn't really. 

Another view that was rejected is the Nestorian view, which says that Jesus was not only two natures but two persons. And those two persons then acted independent of each other and were able to do two different things. The problem with that is you don't really know who Jesus is then. Who is Jesus? If there are two persons and not one, the identity of Jesus cannot be comprehended. And furthermore, the atoning work of Jesus is compromised because you don't have one offering given from one person. You have two persons. And so it doesn't seem as though that can really accomplish what the atonement is seeking to do. 

There's one other erroneous view that I should mention briefly that came after Nestoriius called Eutychianism. Eutychianism is the view that Christ had two natures, but those two natures were intermixed together. A divinized humanity and a humanized deity that were intermixed together, and that was rejected also at Chalcedon because then you end up with one homogenized nature that is neither integrally divine or integrally or authentically human. he's not really fully God and fully man, He's this mix of divinity and humanity, and that was rejected. The Orthodox decision at Chalcedon was to affirm that He is one person. He's the eternal son of the Father with His own divine nature that He has had for eternity. Now, taking on also a human nature in such a way that the two natures are joined inseparably together and cannot ever be separated from one another forever once they're joined together. But those two natures are never confused. That is, the word confusion in the Chalcedonian creed means you never have divine attributes that cross over to the human nature or human attributes that cross over to the divine nature. They're joined together inseparably, conjoined but not confused.

My favorite example of confusion in this sense of two substances mixed together is if you have in one hand a pitcher of grape juice, in the other hand, a pitcher of apple juice and you pour them into one common pitcher. You no longer have integral grape juice or integral apple juice, you've now got grapple juice, right? You don't have the authentic things that you had in the first place. In order to avoid that, rather than seeing those two natures as confused or mixed together, they are inseparably joined together, but not confused. 

There is then this view that the eternal son of the Father has access then to both natures and can utilize attributes of both natures in accomplishing what needs to be done to continue to maintain the universe. He upholds the universe by the word of His power, obviously employing the power of His divine nature to do that, but in fulfilling the will of the Father in His human mission on earth for most of what He did, not all of it, but for most of what He did, He worked out of His human nature to fulfill that precisely because He came as the second Adam, as the son of David, as the seed of Abraham to fulfill His work as a man in the power of the Spirit.

Let me just remind you one verse and then we'll call it quits here, that speaks of Jesus in His humanity, fulfilling what He does in the power of the Spirit. It is from Peter, a statement from Peter when he is about to proclaim the gospel to Cornelius in the Gentile conversion in Acts chapter 10, and he gives a one verse summary of the life of Christ in verse 38. Acts 10:38, he says to Cornelius, "You've heard of Jesus of Nazareth, how God anointed Him with the Holy Spirit and with power, and how He went about doing good and healing all who are oppressed by the devil for God was with Him." Interestingly, Peter, who knows that Jesus is God, does not say that he does these things as God. He rather as a man, anointed by the Spirit, is able to do these good things. The moral life of Christ, His compassion, His kindness, the good things that He did, His miracles, He is able to exercise the demons because God is with Him. God is at work in Him, in His human nature, accomplishing these things.

Yes, fully God and fully man, and living His life to fulfill the mission God called Him to, which requires Him living primarily out of His humanity to fulfill the will of the Father in accomplishing the work that He gave in saving humans from their sin.

Regarding the discussion of the kenosis and your example the muddy BMW, price still has an omniscience and has all the incommunicable attributes.


But he doesn't access them, as I understand.


But yet, at times in His life, He does seem to be able to access some of those incommunicable attributes. My question is, does He do this through appeal to the Holy Spirit? For instance, the night before He died, I mean He knew He was going to be crucified.


No one else did.


None of his apostles, but He did. How did He know that?


If you understand my question.

Yes. Oh, I do. It's a good question. You might add to that, He knew Nathaniel under the fig tree. John two ends by saying, "No one had to teach Jesus what was in the hearts of men. He knew what was in their hearts." I take it that obviously this is supernatural knowledge that He has, but from what source? Is this Jesus accessing His own divine omniscience or is this a revelation by the Spirit? And I think in light of what we read elsewhere in the New Testament about Christ and the Spirit like that verse in Acts 10:38, that the more likely answer is the Spirit enabled Him to know these things.

Which we also have access to.

Yes. Right. But of course it's the prerogative of the Spirit whether to tell us these, what he wants to or not.

But I mean, we can pray to the Spirit, we can try to...


My other question is, it's regarding our imputed righteousness that comes to us. Isn't what saves us Christ's impeccable life that is imputed to us and therefore the Father sees righteousness in us? Isn't that technically what saves us-

Yes, yes, yes.

Would you say?

Well, there's the combination, the justification that we receive at the moment of faith, having been justified by faith. We have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Justification that we receive the announcement by the Father, the declaration of the Father is not only that our guilt is removed. That is true. Forgiveness, the term forgiveness in the New Testament is that part of justification, guilt removed, but it's also positive righteousness imputed to us. One of the ways I like to put this is our justification is not only just as if I never sinned, it is that, but it's not only that. It's also just as if I had always obeyed, right? Do you see the difference?


One is removing the guilt, but if you're thinking of a bank account, granted you don't owe a million dollars anymore, but you have zero in the account, great. I mean, it's a wonderful thing not to have a million dollar debt, but zero in the account. But it's not just that. It's now you have billions in the positive side because the imputed righteousness of Christ is granted to us. Just as if we had never sinned. And what is that righteousness? It's the life of Christ. It's His life lived as a man in the power of the Spirit. The genuineness of that as it were earned righteousness is imputed to us. Yeah.

Pretty amazing.

It is amazing. It is absolutely amazing. Yeah.


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