If you are wondering what a serious theologian like Wayne Grudem is doing preaching at a charismatic conference, then you have yet to meet a group like newfrontiers. There are charismatics who are as committed to the preaching of God’s Word as the average cessationist. Indeed, many of us would argue that we take the whole of the Bible seriously as our guide to doctrine and practice – including the books of Acts and 1 Corinthians! In fact, there has already been a lot of biblical teaching at the conference, as regular readers of this blog will realise.
One bit of good news is that it was announced during one of the notices that the audio of this conference will be available for download from their website www.newfrontiers.xtn.org some time after the conference ends. So let your anticipation grow as you wait for that time!
On a personal front, the afternoon’s rest back in the hotel really helped my nerve pain. I even had time to read a newspaper, and I will be linking to a couple of interesting articles in tomorrow’s links. I have also discovered that there is a “nursing parents” room where the audio and video of the meeting are piped into the room. I am sitting in this air-conditioned room in a cushioned chair, which is allowing me to slouch a little, and has the effect of reducing the nerve irritation significantly. Another benefit of being in this room is that I can hear the band and singers more clearly on the audio feed – the others in this room are not singing nearly as loudly as the sound of 4000 charismatics singing with all their might! Of course, another factor that may help me is that I am also not going to be tempted to even sway a little as I did this morning since I won’t be surrounded by people doing the charismatic hop!
Once again during the worship there were several prophecies shared. Even in the notices, the prophetic came to the fore as Nigel Ring reminded people of a prophecy given ten years ago that we would be a movement that would be a blessing to millions of people and that millions of pounds of money would flow through us to bless the nations.
One of the articles that will be included in tomorrow’s “links” speaks of how money given to aid agencies can be swallowed by administrative costs and be put to projects that don’t meet the real needs felt locally. One of the strengths of our family of churches is that we have real relationships stretching across all the continents of the world. This means that when financial needs arise, we can give money directly into the hands of churches led by local indigenous leaders in many of the poorest nations of the world, confident that our friends will spend the money wisely.
The worldwide extent of the newfrontiers family and the breaking down of barriers to church planting came across so clearly in the video that was shown tonight. With all the talk on mission, after the video finished Terry quoted Piper, who said, “Mission exists because Worship doesn’t.” Terry encouraged people to buy Wayne Grudem’s Systematic Theology (one of the books I encourage every Christian to read) which he told us now has 100,000 copies in place. Terry also recommended the new short paperback summary of this which has recently been published.
Wayne Grudem introduced his talk by saying that Terry had asked him to speak on the person of Christ and how Jesus can be both God and man. He aimed to give us, if you like, a lecture on christology.
The Humanity of Christ – He was Fully Human
He was born of a human mother with no human father.
He had human weaknesses and limitations - He increased in physical strength as He grew as a human being. He learnt how to read, and increased in His knowledge. Palestinians were trilingual – Aramaic, Greek, and Hebrew. He became tired (John 4:26). He understands it when we are weary. He thirsted on the cross. He shared all our human experiences – “He was hungry” (Matthew 4:2). He wasn’t a ghost; even after the resurrection He had flesh and bones and ate food. He took that physical body with Him into heaven.
He had a human mind – He would have been given bigger responsibilities as He grew as a child. He never sinned, but was tempted by more and more difficult situations as He grew. He faced peer pressure as a teenager. Perhaps He was ostracised when He didn’t sin. He grew in His ability to resist temptation – He learnt obedience through what He suffered. Mark 13:22 – with respect to His human nature, He did not know the time of His return.
He had human emotions and was deeply troubled at times (John 13:21, Matthew 26:38). There was a weight of sorrow that felt almost like it would take His life as He considered what was coming as He would bear the full wrath of God. He wept. Hebrews 5:7 – He had loud cries and tears!
He felt the needs of the world.
He seems to have experienced the death of a parent, and then had to support the family – so He knew what it was to be the head of a household, although He had no wife. He would have experienced financial and sexual temptations – for the Word says He was tempted in EVERY way we are.
He knew the pressure of having people asking Him to do more than He could – the crowds pressing around Him.
He knew physical frailty - presumably He had illnesses of various kinds as He grew up. He is not unable to sympathise with our weaknesses. He understands what I am facing today, what you are facing today.
Jesus was seen by the people near to Him to be just a man. People would say, “We have known Him for thirty years” (Matthew 13:55). The people were astounded that He was able to do what He did as they had no hint as He grew up that He was also God! Even His own brothers, who would have shared the same bedroom with Him, didn’t realise that He was God and came to accuse Him of being mad!
Mary knew because she had been told by the angel who announced His birth that her son was also the Son of God.
He was without sin (Luke 4:14, John 8:29). “I always do the things that are pleasing to Him.” – Don’t you wish you could say that? (2 Corinthians 5:21, Hebrews 4:15, 1 Peter 2:22, 1 John 3:5)
He was truly tempted (Hebrews 5:8, Hebrews 2:18, Hebrews 4:15). There is a divine nature and a human nature, so He resisted in the strength of His human nature alone by trusting in God as we should.
Could he have sinned? His divine nature meant that He could not have sinned, but His human nature meant that the temptations were real. Grudem used the illustration of a swimmer who went across the Channel with a divine rescue boat, so could not have drowned, but in fact He didn’t use the rescue boat and faced them with His human nature – the swim is none the less a real one!
Temptation is hardest for those who resist to the end – rather than for those who give in! Jesus’ humanity is incredibly important to us – to represent us, to be our
substitute sacrifice, to be our example, to be a sympathetic high priest, to be the mediator between God and man (1 Timothy 2:5).
He will always be a man in heaven! (Matthew 26:29, Acts 1:11, Acts 7:56, Revelation 1:13). He will be a man like US!
The Deity of Christ – Jesus was Fully God
Direct scriptural claims - the word theos was used (John 1, John 20:28), and John wrote, “This is why I wrote this book.” Romans 9:5, Titus 2, Hebrews 1:8, and 2 Peter 1. 7 are verses that use the word God of Him.
The word “lord” in the New Testament is also a claim to deity. It is the common word used in the Old Testament to refer to God. 6,814 times in the Greek translation it is used to refer to God. Over 200 times Jesus is called the Lord – e.g. Luke 2:11: He is the Messiah and the Lord. Prepare the way of the Lord means God is coming. “One lord, Jesus Christ.”
Other strong claims to deity. “I am the bread of life.” “I am the resurrection and the life.” “I am the light of the world.” No creature could claim that. John 8: “Before Abraham was I AM” – and they wanted to stone Him. It is exactly a word-for-word quotation from the Greek translation of the OT. He was claiming to be the same as the One who identified Himself to Moses. He eternally exists – not “I WAS,” but rather “I ETERNALLY EXIST.” “I am the way, the truth, and the life,” “the alpha and omega.” Hebrews 1 is the key chapter for His deity. God created the world through the Son. He is the exact imprint or representation of God! If the Father is omnipresent, so is the Son, and in every other respect. He continually upholds the universe. This boy growing up in a small house is continually upholding the universe by His word and power!
He knew the heart of everyone around Him – which suggests He was omniscient – “You know all things.”
He is omnipresent - “When two or three gather, I am there.” “I am with you always.”
He is all-powerful – He said He would raise Himself from the dead (John 2:19).
The fullness of God dwelt in the man Jesus – Emanuel, God with us (Colossians 1:19, Colossians 2:9).
How do these two fit together?
This doesn’t make sense! Many sceptics claim it is incomprehensible, incoherent, and a myth. Our response is, “Of course, we cannot understand.” To deny the idea that Jesus is God in the flesh we have to deny that the Bible is trustworthy.
Don’t let your lack of ability to understand cause you to reject the biblical truth. Jesus had to be divine to be the mediator and the substitute. We lose our salvation without the divinity of God. We need His deity to have Him reveal God to us and say, “Whoever has seen me has seen the Father.” There is only one way to God – through Jesus.
People have tried to explain how this could fit together. There are three inadequate views of which we need to be aware that are heretical, and which can also recur today if we don’t warn against them.
1. Apollinarism. Jesus had a human body only, but His mind and spirit were divine. But our minds, spirits, and emotions also need saving. He could not have been tempted in every way, and would have been a hollow man like Mickey Mouse at Disney. It wasn’t a real mouse, it was just a costume! Inside the mouse was some non-mouse stuff! Jesus was not just a shell.
2. Nestorianism. Christ was really two distinct persons in one body – like a circus horse where one man is the hind legs and one the front! They are not one horse! The gospels do not portray Jesus arguing with Himself like Gollum in Lord of the Rings! He always speaks of “I.”
3. Monophysitism. Human and divine nature mingled together a bit like an ink drop in a glass of water. A third substance different from ink or water is formed – can’t use it to drink or write with! So He was more than human but less than divine. BUT, He is no longer God and no longer man – you lose on both counts! He is no longer human, but superhuman, and He is no longer God, but sub-God.
The idea of a kenosis in Philippians 2 – Jesus emptying Himself can also make Christ less than fully divine on earth. But Philippians 2 does not mean that Jesus gave up His divine attributes. Don’t give in to the heresy that came from this idea. He gave up His privileges of being in heaven, but NOT His divine attibutes.
The Chalcedon Creed has been accepted for centuries by all wings of the church. This is summarised as being two natures in one person. There are two overlapping natures – the divine and the human, neither of which are changed, but which overlap and function together as one person. Jesus wasn’t always man – He was always God. The human nature was a full man who did not previously exist, but was joined in one person to God forever. How could God join Himself for all eternity to a human nature like our own? Jesus was the eternal omnipresent, omnipotent God who could also walk around and talk! People could touch God. We can talk to Him, too. God is fully man and fully God.
Grudem led the whole congregation in reading the Chalcedon creed:
Following, then, the holy fathers, we unite in teaching all men to confess the one and only Son, our Lord Jesus Christ. This selfsame one is perfect both in deity and in humanness; this selfsame one is also actually God and actually man, with a rational soul and a body.
He is of the same reality as God as far as his deity is concerned and of the same reality as we ourselves as far as his humanness is concerned; thus like us in all respects, sin only excepted. Before time began he was begotten of the Father, in respect of his deity, and now in these “last days,” for us and behalf of our salvation, this selfsame one was born of Mary the virgin, who is God-bearer in respect of his humanness.
We also teach that we apprehend this one and only Christ-Son, Lord, only-begotten — in two natures; and we do this without confusing the two natures, without transmuting one nature into the other, without dividing them into two separate categories, without con- trasting them according to area or function.
The distinctiveness of each nature is not nullified by the union. Instead, the “properties” of each nature are conserved and both natures concur in one “person” and in one reality. They are not divided or cut into two persons, but are together the one and only and only-begotten Word of God, the Lord Jesus Christ. Thus have the prophets of old testified; thus the Lord Jesus Christ himself taught us; thus the Symbol of Fathers has handed down to us.
Practical Application of This
One nature of Jesus does some things that the other nature does not do. His human nature is no longer in the world, but His divine nature is still in the world – hence He could say, “I am leaving,” but also “I will always be with you.” Jesus could get tired humanly whilst remaining all-powerful. Matthew 8:24 – whilst He slept, He was also carrying the universe. He was tired. Wake up! Save us! He is stretching, opening His eyes, and says “peace be still”. Jesus’ human nature died, but His divine nature did not die for He was able to raise Himself from the dead. He was active in the resurrection.
Jesus learn things but be omniscient – He had two wills and two centres of consciousness – He could learn the human alphabet, but know all things. Yet He remains one person! J. I. Packer – perhaps Jesus had something like our experience of calling something to mind – we know something, but have to think about it to remember it. So, although He could only know at any one moment what the human brain could contain, He could call to mind any fact that is known in the universe.
Anything that either nature does, the person of Jesus does. Therefore, “before Abraham was I AM” even though it was His divine nature, or “I am leaving the world,” even though the divine nature was not leaving, or how it is possible to say that the world crucified the Lord of Glory even though the divine nature did not actually die!
Dare I myself also add here that perhaps this may go some way to explain why Jesus could speak on the cross of being forsaken by his Father, and yet somehow the unity of the Trinity was not broken?
He will be God and man FOREVER. This is the most astounding miracle in the universe. EVERY KNEE WILL BOW TO THE CARPENTER OF NAZARETH! Who would you rather have as Lord and Savior?