This department is provided for the free and courteous discussion of biblical and spiritual problems which may be considered edifying to the people of God. Letters concerning such matters are requested.
Christ, Creator or Creature
Is it proper to say when speaking of the incarnation of the Lord Jesus that “The Creator became a creature”? We have heard this a number of times recently.
Yours in Christ,
Dear Brother S.,
Such a statement about our Lord is decidedly incorrect. In His incarnation our Lord Jesus became what He never had been before, perfect humanity; yet He did not cease to be what He always had been, perfect Deity. God is expressed in three distinct personalities, coequal and co-eternal with each other. The word God is in the plural. While some Hebrew scholars contend that this plurality is linked with the varied powers of God and not with His personalities, yet such Scriptures as Genesis 1:26; 3:22 and Isaiah 6:8 link these two together. The Father emphasizes the essence of the Godhead, the Spirit His operations, and the Son His manifestation. As the image of God, the Son became the visible representation of the invisible God.
Since creation this manifestation has taken on various forms, the most notable being those called the “Christophanies” of the Old Testament. These were temporary visible appearances of God. In the incarnation “God was manifest in the flesh,” He took upon Him a permanent visible form. The Eternal Son clothed Himself in the garment of perfect humanity and thereby brought God near to man. As the Light He revealed God, and as the Word He declared Him. The character of God is perfectly revealed in Christ. He could say, “He that hath seen Me hath seen the Father also.” Not only did He bring God near to man, but in assuming our humanity apart from its sin, He became Kinsman (Heb. 2:14), Redeemer (Heb. 2:15), and Avenger (Heb. 2:14b) to the human race.
We must guard ourselves against the error that our Lord in taking to Himself humanity became a dual personality. This error perhaps has prompted the matter now before us. It is true that He possessed two natures, the one human and the other divine, but the human nature formed in the womb of the Virgin Mary was impersonal until the Son of God entered into it. “A body hast Thou prepared Me,” He said, and then added, “Lo, I come to do Thy will, O God.” The personality of Jesus was, therefore, the personality of the Divine Son. At which point of time the Divine Person entered into the body in the process of its formation is one of the great mysteries of Godliness. In what manner the human and divine natures of our Lord Jesus became blended also belongs to that mystery. Like the beautiful curtains of the Tabernacle in the Wilderness, where the fine-twined linen was interwoven with the colours: blue, purple, and scarlet, our Lord’s two natures are so blended that we cannot say of His words and works that such and such was accomplished by the human, and such and such by the divine.
However, as the Servant of Jehovah which He voluntarily became at the time of the incarnation, He did leave many things in the hand of the Father (Mark 13:32. Acts 1:7), and submitted Himself to the Father’s will; yet He never did abdicate the throne of Deity. Mr. William Hoste has pointed out that the word rendered “emptied” in Philippians 2:7 would be nearer to the original had it been rendered by the word “effaced.” The Lord did not empty Himself of anything in order to become incarnate; on the contrary, since the incarnation “In Him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily.”
No, the Creator did not become a creature; but the Creator, the Eternal Son of God, added to Himself perfect humanity, so that as perfect Man and perfect God He went to the cross and made atonement for sin. There the true Daysman, as the Son of God placed His hand on the throne of Deity, and as Son of Man placed His hand on our ruined race. The antitype of Jacob’s ladder reached both Heaven and earth, and bridged the mighty gulf between our souls and God.
Yours in Christ,
Many thanks, Brother McC. for your excellent comments on this apparently clever but improper clause. To what you have said, one or two points might be added in confirmation.
The title “Only Begotten” as applied to Christ is used in regard to His Deity. The second part of this title is derived from an adjective, not from a verb form, which means origin, race, or stock; therefore, it must imply that Christ was not derived from, or subordinate to, the Father, but that He was unique, that Jesus is all that God is, and that He alone is this. Nevertheless, let it be remembered that His humanity is God only begotten. He was conceived by the Holy Spirit; consequently, His humanity is unique, different to that of any other human.
Two of the great Christological passages of the New Testament teach that even in His perfect humanity Christ is considered the Creator: “His dear Son: … the image of the invisible God (His appearance in humanity): …For by Him were all things created, that are in Heaven and that are in earth” (Col. 1:1317).
In His humanity the Lord Jesus is the outshining of God’s glory, the identical image of His substance, and His final message to man. Of Him as such, we read, “Whom He hath appointed Heir of all things, by whom also He made the worlds” (Heb. 1:13).
Revelation chapter five indicates the true position of the Lord Jesus. As the Lamb of God, the Lion of the Tribe of Judah, the Root of David (What emphasis upon His humanity!), He prevails to take the book and to execute the purposes of God relative to the earth, and as He does so “Every creature (Obviously, He is not one of them) which is in Heaven, and on the earth, and under the earth, and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, heard I saying, Blessing, and honour, and glory, and power, be unto Him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb for ever and ever” (V. 13).
Here the Lamb of God, Christ in His humanity, Christ the Redeemer, is acclaimed by every creature in all the Universe, The logical implication is simple; Christ, even in His humanity, is not referred to in Scripture as a creature.