What I Believe . . . Christ

I believe that Jesus is God incarnate, that he has always been God and always will be God. I believe that as the second member of the Trinity, that Jesus is ontologically equal with the Father and the Holy Spirit. I also believe that in his incarnation Jesus became functionally submissive to the Father. I believe that Jesus is the creator of this universe as well as its sustaining force (Col. 2:16-17).

I believe that during his incarnation Jesus recognized his divinity, although I am uncertain just when he fully recognized that. During his visit to the temple at twelve years old he surely recognized some part of who he was (Luke 2:49), and by the time of his baptism he had become fully aware that he was God in the flesh (Luke 3:22). Jesus disciples seemed not to fully appreciate who he was until after his resurrection (John 20:28) and the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost (Acts 2:36).

I believe that Jesus was as fully human as any other person (Heb. 2:17). Jesus had the same physical limitations as any human, being subject to hunger (Matt. 4:2) and thirst (John 19:28), to growing weary (John 4:6), and subject to human emotions (John 11:35). Jesus had the same desires and temptations as any other man, yet he was without sin (Heb. 4:15). Jesus also went through all of the same developmental stages that a human goes through, from conception to birth, childhood development, and adulthood.

I believe that Jesus was fully and completely human and God at the same time. I do not understand how this was possible, or just how his two natures functioned together, but do accept that it is possible for the infinite God to join himself to a finite human nature. In doing so, I believe that Jesus, for the length of his stay on earth, limited himself to what a human could know and do.

I believe that the Scriptures use many different models to describe Jesus’ work while here. Jesus death was a ransom payment (Mark 10:45). It was a propitiation (1 John 2:2), making God favorably inclined toward us. His death was the means of enacting reconciliation between God and humanity (Rom. 5:11). And he was an atoning sacrifice (Rom. 3:25), paying the penalty for our sin. I believe all of these models give us a glimpse into the work of Christ, but none of them are complete in themselves. I believe there is mystery in the atoning work of Christ that is beyond our understanding.

I believe that Jesus’ death on the cross was somehow substitutionary, that he died in my place. Jesus took the place of the goats of the Day of Atonement; one offered as atonement for sin, and the other bearing my sin into the wilderness (Lev. 16:7-10; Heb. 9:23-28). Jesus is also pictured as the Passover lamb (1 Cor. 5:7), whose blood turns away the wrath of God. I believe that Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross dealt not just with my sin nature, but also with my actual sin, both past and future.

I believe that Jesus’ atoning work on the cross is available to all who respond to him in faith (Rom. 3:22). I do not believe that it is only applicable to a select few that God has chosen and who have no choice but to respond. Nor do I believe that it is universally applied to everyone throughout history. But all those who put their faith in his blood (Rom. 3:25) will be covered by his atoning work.

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