Thursday, May 23, 2013

A Oneness Perspective On Incarnational Theology

Just wanted to clear up a prominent error that I've noticed in a lot of my fellow Oneness people. Most people understand that Jesus is both God and man (the God-Man). When Jesus prayed, was His human nature praying to His divine nature? I would like to clear up this error real quick in a way that will not lend itself to Trinitarianism, but the scripture. Through studying the Bible and letting the Word speak for itself, we will obtain a sound view of both Sonship theology (as it pertains to God's only begotten Son) and incarnational theology.

Let's go into a little lesson and go into the Person of our God. The Old Testament clearly testifies that God is one. Moses set this forth in Deuteronomy 6:4 by saying, "Hear O Israel: the LORD our God is one Lord." This is not Moses' only declaration of monotheism, but it is all throughout the Books he wrote by the inspiration of the Holy Ghost! The prophet Isaiah also focused more on monotheism than a lot of the prophets. In Isaiah 40- 50, I'd say focuses more on monotheism than any other passage in the Bible. In Isaiah 45:5-6, "I am the Lord, and there is none else, there is no God beside Me: I girded thee, though thou hast not known Me. That they may know from the rising of the sun, and from the west, that there is none beside Me. I am the Lord, and there is none else."

The Old Testament also testifies to the deity of the coming Messiah Jesus Christ. Isaiah 7:14 gives a strong case for the Messiah being God in the flesh, "Therefore the Lord Himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call His name Immanuel." The name Immanuel means "God with us". Isaiah 9:6 tells us this pretty explicit attestation to the deity of God's Christ, "For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon His shoulder: and His name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, the mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace."

When the fullness of the time came, the Messiah arrived. The four Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John give us accounts of the Messiah's life, ministry, death, and resurrection. The Messiah's name was JESUS. The name Jesus means "YHWH is salvation". The synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark, and Luke) give three similar accounts of the life of the Christ. In these Gospels, Jesus doesn't openly claim deity very much, but is more implied through His actions.

Jesus was accused of blasphemy for claiming the power to forgive sins, which was a power reserved for God alone (Matthew 9:2-6). In the accounts of Jesus' trial before Caiaphas, Jesus is asked whether or not He is the Messiah and Son of God, to which Jesus gives a yes and is accused of blaspheming (Mark 14:61-62).

In the Gospel of John, Jesus does make MANY open claims of deity. He never openly says, "I AM God," but He does make many obvious claims of deity. John's account of the life of Christ even starts of by speaking of Christ preexisting as the Word of God and being made flesh to dwell among men (John 1:1; 14). The Word is said to be God Himself and the Creator (John 1:3).

In John 5, Jesus heals a man on the Sabbath day and begins to be persecuted by the Jewish authorities. During His persecution, John 5:17 says, "But Jesus answered them, My Father worketh hitherto, and I work." The Jews then sought to kill Him because they Jesus claimed to be equal (the same as) God by claiming to be His Son. In simpler words: they understood Jesus to be claiming to be God Himself!

After claiming to be the Bread of Life, many disciples forsook Jesus. Jesus said to His disciples in John 6:62, "What and if ye shall see the Son of man ascend up where He was before?" This is obviously Jesus claiming to be God coming down from Heaven.

Let's read John 8:56-58. In this Jesus is teaching to some Jews in Jerusalem. "Your father Abraham rejoiced to see My day: and he saw it, and was glad. Then said the Jews unto Him, Thou art not yet fifty years old, and hast Thou seen Abraham? Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I saw unto you, Before Abraham was, I am." Notice that Jesus didn't say, "Before Abraham was, I was," He said, "I AM". This caused the Jews to try to stone Him for what they perceived to be blasphemy (John 8:59). This is one of Jesus' plainest claims of deity.

In John 10, Jesus is discussing God giving Him believers (or "sheep"). Jesus says in John 10:27-30, "My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me: and I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of My hand. My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of My Father's hand. I and My Father are one."

Notice how Jesus said that no man could pluck the sheep out of His hand. Then Jesus says that His Father gave them to Him, and that no man could pluck them out of the Father's hand. The Jews apparently noticed an apparent contradiction in these statements and the Lord Jesus knew it, and He clarified His meaning by saying, "I and My Father are one." The word used for "one" in this usually implies a oneness of unity, but I don't think the form of the word matters. If Jesus was claiming mere unity with the Father, I don't think the Jews would have reacted the way they did. Let's read on in John 10:31-36.

?"The the Jews took up stones again to stone Him. Jesus answered them, Many good works have I shewed you from My Father; for which of those works do ye stone Me? The Jews answered Him, saying, For a good work we stone Thee not; but for blasphemy; and because that Thou, being a Man, makest Thyself God. Jesus answered them, Is it not written in your law, I said, Ye are gods? If He called them gods, unto whom the word of God came and the scriptures cannot be broken; say ye of Him, whom the Father hath sanctified, and sent into the world, Thou blasphemest; because I said, I am the Son of God?"

The Jews knew perfectly what Christ meant by claiming to be one with the Father. He was claiming to be the same Person! If Jesus didn't mean that He could have corrected them and explained, but what did He do? He continued to back up His claim!

Jesus spoke to His disciples in the Upper Room before His arrest in John 14. In this speech, when questioned by one of His disciples Phillip, Jesus claimed deity quite openly. Let's read John 14:1-9.

"Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto Myself; that where I am, there ye may be also. And whither I go ye know, and the way ye know. Thomas saith unto Him, Lord, we know not whither Thou goest; and how can we know the way? Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by Me. If ye had known Me, ye should have known My Father also: and from henceforth ye know Him, and have seen Him. Phillip saith unto Him, Lord, shew us the Father, and it sufficeth us. Jesus saith unto him, Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known Me, Philip? He that hath seen seen Me hath seen the Father; and how sayest thou then, Shew us the Father?"

Jesus was clearly insulted by what Philip asked. The Father was with them all the time in physical form! This is a parallel statement to John 12:45, "And he that seeth Me seeth Him that sent Me." Jesus is speaking plainly to you here! The Father and Son are the same Person! Now, let me get to the main point of the lesson. Let's talk about how the incarnation effected the Person of God.

The best picture we have is painted in Philippians 2:5-8, "Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: but made Himself of no reputation, and took upon Him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: and being found in fashion as a Man, He humbled Himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross."

This scripture is basically saying that the infinite God became flesh as Christ Jesus. Jesus was God living humbly by imposing limitations on Himself in order to accomplish the work He had as the Lamb of God. God became a genuine Man to die for us! God never ceased being God when He became flesh as Jesus, but Jesus merely set aside the glory He had as God.

In the incarnate state, God took upon a form of existence that He never had before. God became a Man. This Man was Jesus. Jesus was God made flesh, and therefore was fully God and Man. The purpose of the incarnation was to redeem Man. We had a debt to God that we couldn't pay, so God became flesh as Jesus the Messiah. The only one who could pay the debt was God, and the only way the sins of man could be forgiven is by God is by the shedding of blood. The only way God could shed His own blood was by becoming a Man. God shed His own precious blood and spread it upon the Mercy Seat in Heaven. The blood of Jesus purchased our redemption (Acts 20:28).

Now Jesus, being a Man (albeit God in the flesh), had a genuine human consciousness. Because Jesus was a Man, He could be tempted, get tired, experience emotions like us, and He also had to pray and have a relationship with God like we do. Jesus was sinless though and could not sin because He was God in the flesh! Jesus' Father was not a human father, but was God Himself.

Jesus came through Mary. God and Mary did not have sexual relations, but the Holy Ghost overshadowed Mary (Luke 1:35) and the Word was made flesh (John 1:14). I do not believe that Jesus got His humanity from Mary, but His humanity is a different humanity from our sinful humanity. God essentially implanted Himself in Mary's womb! What was born 9 months later was the Son of God!

Jesus is the Son of God for two main reasons! His conception and existence as a Man was caused by God, therefore making God His Father. Another reason He is the Son of God is because He is God in the flesh, therefore having all of the fullness of the Godhead in Him (Colossians 2:9). Now the Son is the same Person as the Father, but not the same manifestation. The term "Son" refers to God's existence within the incarnation in relation to beyond the incarnation, while the term "Father" refers to God's existence beyond the incarnation in relation to His incarnate existence.

Now the Son of God is one Person that is fully God and Man. Jesus is the God-Man. Because He is the God-Man, He is aware that He is God, but is conscious of Himself as a Man. Jesus prayed and even spoke of Himself as adhering to God's will. This does not disprove Jesus' deity, it proves His genuine humanity!

The main point I wanted to get to is now what I'm talking about! Many Oneness people say that the divine nature of Jesus is the Father, while the human nature is the Son. This is similar to a Gnostic heresy called Cerinthianism, which divides Christ up into two different Persons (one being God, and one being an average man). This is also not very different at all from Trinitarianism (which teaches a plurality of Persons within the Godhead). Jesus is clearly to affirmed to be one Person!

When Jesus prayed, it wasn't God the Son praying to God the Father, and neither was it the human nature of Jesus praying to the divine nature of Jesus! What this was was a Man praying to His God! Jesus spoke of Himself as having a God (John 20:17). Certainly this isn't the God of God! This is the God of a Man (albeit God in the flesh). Jesus is truly God and truly a Man.