Things Which are Surely Believed Among Us
The phrase, “Things which are most surely believed among us” is to be interpreted in no sectarian sense. “Food for the Flock” does not foster sectarianism. The phrase has been extracted from Luke 1:1, and, in using it as a caption for a series of articles touching our Faith, we wish to imply that those responsible for the production of the magazine unreservedly believe all that is contained in “the Scriptures of Truth,” and they write for that large body of Christians who share their like faith. All over the world, and at all times, God has those who like Paul say, “I believe God.”
Seeing that our beliefs are based on Holy Scripture, it follows that we should first consider the nature of those Scriptures, in order to satisfy ourselves that our faith is well-founded. Our Sixth paper, therefore, will relate to …
The Person of Christ
In our two previous papers we have considered the Deity of Christ, and His humanity, each separately. But this separation can only be in thought, for though the two natures may be distinguished, they are indivisibly united in the Person of Christ. All the chief early Christian heresies related to the Person of Christ, either denying the reality of His humanity or denying the fact of His Deity. We cannot be too thankful to God for those stalwarts who earnestly contended for the faith and withstood those errorists.
As the veil of the tabernacle of old was made of blue, purple, scarlet, fine twined linen, and all was interwoven with threads of gold, wrought with requisite wisdom by God, so Christ embodies in Himself all that these colours denote. His Deity and humanity are so closely knit together that denial of the one, or even error as to it, must involve error as to the other: neither can remain unaffected. Neither one nor other of the two natures was merely apparent and not real, but He embodied in Himself two whole and perfect natures, Deity with all its attributes and humanity with all that sinlessly marked it. Not one nature was accommodated to the other: each in fulness co-existed in the One Person.
It is utterly impossible for anyone to explain how this can be. The Lord Jesus is at one and the same time both God and Man. He knew all men and so possessed omniscience. He was everywhere and so possessed omnipresence: He was the Son of Man who had descended to earth from Heaven, yet was also “in Heaven.” He could do all things as His sign miracles attest, and so He possessed omnipotence for nothing is impossible with God. Yet He asked questions and averred also that He did not know the day nor the hour of His coming. This seems to deny His omniscience. An angel came and strengthened Him and Simon the Cyrenian carried His cross. This seems to deny His omnipotence. If He were on the mountain praying, He was not with His disciples distressed in rowing on the lake. This seems to deny His omnipresence. All this seems to tell against the truth of the affirmation of His Deity. But whilst the Father, who is Deity alone, may be known by the revelation given by the Son, yet the Son, who is both Deity and humanity, remains eternally inscrutable, for it is beyond human capacity to harmonize these. As with other antinomies of Scripture, the one seems to exclude the other, much as divine sovereignty seems to exclude human responsibility. But faith bows and believes where we cannot explain.
He is both the Child born and the Son given. He is both Jesus, the Man, and the Son of God. He is both Jesus and Immanuel—God with us. He is both root and offspring of David, and as “offspring” He came after David. He is both Lord and son of David: He is both “the young Child” and “My Son.” The Spirit of God has caused these titles to be put together in this manner in order to stress the fact of the co-existence of the two natures in the One Person. John Baptist said that Jesus came “after him,” though He was “before him.”
We must guard against saying that the Lord Jesus did certain things ‘as man’ and that He did other things “as God.” It was One who was both God and Man that did these things—one side of His being cannot be divided from the other. He never so acted. Principles of human logic do not apply in divine things, and this is specially so in the case of the Person of Christ. It was human logic that led to the erroneous doctrine of “the mother of God.”
Neither is the Lord Jesus what has been called “the God-man” for that merely describes an imaginary kind of man: it makes the word ‘God’ an adjective. In speaking of our blessed Lord it is safer by far to adhere strictly to what is written in the Scriptures of Truth.
Nor is it only in the matter of His names that there is this remarkable conjunction of things, but we may trace the same in His actions. From Jerusalem He goes to Nazareth and is subject to His “parents,” yet at the same time He spoke of His “Father’s house,” and He certainly was not referring to Joseph. The word ‘parents’ relates to His humanity: the word ‘Father’ to His Deity.
He sits on the well, weary, and asks for water for He was thirsty, His disciples having gone away to buy meat to satisfy the promptings of human hunger. The Lord knew what it was both to be hungry and thirsty, yet at that very time He does what none other could do: He told the woman of Samaria all that ever she did. He unveiled her whole life which was known to Him as fully — and more so — than to herself.
He is asleep with His head on the pillow at the stern of the boat, yet, He awakes and displays that He has complete authority over the winds and the waves, so that they obey Him. Can mere man do this?
He hungered in the wilderness when the devil challenged His Deity and Sonship, yet, when the ordeal of the temptation was over, angels came and ministered to Him (and it is the inferior who serves the Superior). Moreover, at that time the demons confessed Him to be the Son of God.
Like the centurion, but in an infinitely greater way, He was both “a Man under authority” having willingly taken the subject place, as also He was One who spake and worked “with authority.”
On the cross He said “I thirst” yet of His own volition, and having authority from the Father to do so, He bowed His head and dismissed His Spirit. He lay down His life. Clearly the One who hung on the central cross was different by far from the two who were crucified with Him, not only in character but in Being altogether. He possessed powers that they — nor any other — had not.
On almost every page of the New Testament this may be traced either in history or in doctrine. “The mother of Jesus” is present at Cana of Galilee where the Lord turns the water into wine. He speaks of His ‘flesh’ and ‘blood’ in such a way as to indicate that the one that “eateth Me, even he shall live by Me.” Such things can only be explained by the acknowledgement of the indissoluble union and co-existence of the two natures.
It is the same in the Epistles. The phrase, “The God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ” implies the two natures: “God” has in view His humanity, “Father” His Deity. He is “our great God and Saviour, Jesus Christ.” Here ‘Jesus’ denotes the Man, but “God” denotes His Deity. The two phrases “according to the flesh” and “according to the spirit” used of Him teach the same thing. He ever was and unceasingly is “in the form of God” but, at His incarnation, conjoined to it “the form of a bondservant, and was found in fashion as a man.” Here the two natures are clearly indicated. Again, “of whom, as concerning the flesh, Christ came, who is over all, God blessed for ever more. Amen.” No wonder the enemy has sought to tamper with the translation of this verse. It is too plain and indubitable for their liking. Again, “But to us… there is one Lord, Jesus Christ, by whom are all things and we by Him.” This duality of natures is existent even now: “In Him dwelleth — at the present time — all the fulness of the Godhead bodily.” This is not mere “divinity” of which Paul speaks in Romans 1:20, but “Deity”: Godhead.
If this inseparability of the two natures, which began at His incarnation and is now eternally true of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, be not admitted, then it is impossible to hold in truth either one of those natures. If He were merely man, He could not make the claims and promises, nor could He have done the things He did. If He were only God, He could not, on the other hand, have suffered the things which He did, or have experienced those common things of life which all mankind know. To deny that the Lord Jesus is at one and the same time both God and Man is to deny altogether the Unique Person of whom the evangelists wrote and concerning whom the Epistles teach.
It is precisely for this cause that John wrote his Gospel, that his readers might believe that the Man known as Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God.
It is this that Peter acknowledged at Caesarea Philippi, saying to the Man before him “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.” All four evangelists agree in this matter. The Man Jesus that put forth His hand and caught Peter, saving him from sinking, is the One of whom they said at that time, “Of a truth, Thou art the Son of God.” Wherever the hand of the Lord Jesus was in action, there was God’s perfect Man at work, but at work in such a way that it could not ‘be denied that He was God also, for what that hand did were the works of God.
This truth dawns upon the soul but gradually, but where there is a heart ready to believe whatsoever God reveals, all becomes plain though the facts cannot be explained. The blind man of John 9 first knew his Benefactor to be “a Man that is called Jesus,” but when he was informed that that Man was the “Son of God” he said, “Lord I believe.” And “he worshipped Him.”
It is the Son of Man who tells John, “I am He that liveth and became dead.” The force is that He was the ever and essentially living One. He who entered the human race is also the eternally living One —there never was a time when He was not. This is the same One who at the tomb of Lazarus “weeps,” yet with authority and power says “Lazarus come forth.” And so we might go on. The Being of our Lord is as His coat, “without seam, woven from the top throughout.” It must not be rent. He is the true “Daysman” and, being both God and Man, He can lay His hand on each and bring man to God and God to man. He manifested “God in the flesh,” and this could only be by union of the two natures.