A Balanced Study of the God-Man

Posted On June 29, 2015

Editor’s note: The purpose of this series is to help our readers think through what the deity of Christ and it’s importance to the Christian faith.

We need a proper balance in our understanding of the nature of Jesus Chthe-deity-of-Christrist. Historically the church has struggled to keep one or the other of Jesus’ natures in proper place. We tend to emphasize one to the exclusion of the other. This is why the church councils throughout history have had to, at different times, put in writing that Jesus is the God-Man. Both God and man at the same time. Evangelicals today seem to be able to emphasize the divinity of Jesus, but we struggle often to understand and appreciate His humanity. Studying the humanity of Jesus has profound implications for our lives.

Most Evangelicals have a great appreciation for and respect for the divinity of Jesus. We are careful to guard against any conception of the nature of Christ or of the Trinity that would undermine the divinity of Jesus. We gladly and intentionally worship Jesus as God. In our apologetic defenses we argue from Scripture for the full divinity of Jesus, regularly articulating it so as to remind others that he was, is, and always has been God. But we do not usually put the same emphasis on the humanity of Jesus.

Of course we know that Jesus is human. We gladly acknowledge that and refer to Jesus as the God-Man. Yet even when we do our emphasis is still on the fact that Jesus is GOD-man. Bruce Ware, professor of Christian Theology at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, sees this as a real deficiency in contemporary Evangelical theology. In The Man Christ Jesus, Ware alludes to the fact that he is writing precisely because Evangelicals “understand better Christ’s deity than they do his humanity” (13). We need this reminder if we are to be Biblically faithful to the self-revealed testimony of our God; Jesus is the God-Man. Both are necessary for our understanding him and our relating to him.

The divinity of Jesus has massive implications for our life and faith as believers, yet so does the humanity of Jesus. His humanity tells us many things about who He was and how we lived on this earth, and even how he now continues to exist, but it also tells us much about how we are to fight sin, pray, relate to the Holy Spirit, and ultimately what we will be like in eternity. There is much practical theology to draw from the doctrine of the humanity of Christ. If we overlook it we do not simply do our theology a disservice, rather we actually outright damage our theology.

To neglect the doctrine of Christ’s humanity is to fundamentally misunderstand Jesus, and to misunderstand our own Christian life. Since Jesus is our example (1 Peter 2:21) we must wrestle with how the very Son of God can possibly serve that role. After all, we are not divine, so in what way can Jesus be said to be a good example for human beings? To answer such a question requires us to consider the humanity of Jesus. To neglect such a question is to fundamentally misunderstand him and our own sanctification.

We are right to celebrate the divinity of Jesus. He is God and his divinity is crucial to understanding who he is and how we must relate to him. But we must never study one aspect of God to the exclusion of others. Such a practice distorts our understanding of God. Jesus is the God-Man, and both aspects of his nature are worth our study. We need the balance.

 

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