Posts Tagged ‘nature of god’

Why is it so important for us to understand that God was fully human and fully God?

January 7, 2010

Question: Why is it so important for us to understand that God was fully human and fully God?   It seems like there is a lot of confusion by other religions on this one.  Isn’t the Bible clear on this one?

Answer: Scripture is very clear that Jesus was fully God and fully human, and this is one of the foundational pieces of our faith.  But that’s not the question here, the question is “why is that important?”  Like the doctrine of the Trinity it is very difficult to understand, but very important to our faith.  Below are some reasons why.

Heresies about Jesus’ nature, and their problems…

1) Jesus is not human because the physical world is evil:  This heresy has existed since the first century.  It suggests that the physical world, including our flesh, is evil but the spiritual world is good.  This is a common view among ancient Greeks.  Thus how could Jesus be a part of the physical world if he is God?  This view goes directly against the fact that God created us and said that we were “very good.”  Jesus came to redeem creation not reinforce the idea that it is evil.

2) Jesus only appeared to be human:  Another danger of the belief that Jesus was not human is that it suggests that Jesus likely would not have experienced the pain and anguish of human life and death.  This could lead to the belief that Jesus only faked or acted out the pain and suffering of his death on the cross which goes directly agains one of the core elements of our faith.  Jesus suffered and died, he lived and experienced our pain, and took on the pain of crucifixion for the sake of those he loved.  Not to mention that if he only appeared to die they what need is there for a resurection, and if there is no resurrection there is no hope for all of us who are under condemnation.

3) Jesus was a human adopted by God: This heresy (called adoptionism) is the idea that Jesus was not God but was a human adopted by God.  In other words, he was a very special human.  These people often hold to the idea that Jesus was a good example for us because he was such a good man.  This view is very dangerous though because it robs the Gospel of all its power.   The Gospel says that there is nothing we can do to earn our salvation, it is a gift from God through His Son Jesus.  This view reduces the ‘gospel’ to self-salvation which is no gospel at all.  It’s the idea that by following the example of a good man we can be saved, but this is completely contradictory to our faith.

Those only represent a few of the problems/heresies that have threatened the true understanding of Jesus Christ.  It is important that we not make Jesus anything less then God neither can we make him anything less than human.

“If Jesus Christ was not God there would be no particular reason to suppose he cannot be surpassed.  People who settle for a merely functional [theology of Christ] will inevitably begin looking for another Christ or at least allowing for a the possibility of many Christs…at the same time, we must remember that he was and is not only truly human, but also the true human.  From Jesus Chrsit we learn not only the will and Character of God but also our own humanity” (Olson, 242).

That is precisely the reason why Matthew starts off his Gospel with a geneology from Adam to Jesus.  It points to his humanity.  It starts with the first, yet corrupted, human and ends with the perfected human in Jesus.

Reference from The Mosaic of Christian Belief, Roger E. Olson

Why did God previously require animal sacrifices?

January 5, 2010

This question could require a lot more, but I will give the bare minimum for basic understanding.

When Adam and Eve committed the original sin (Genesis 3) the consequence was death.  The first time we see this consequence is when God kills the animal to clothe them in animal skin.  Thus, blood was shed as a result of their sin.  Death remains the consequence of Sin, and like all people we will one day die, because our entire world has been contaminated with Sin.  God however, allowed men and women to live on this earth in spite of their sin, and he began to set in place ways for people to “atone” for their sin.  Animal sacrifice was a practice of atoning for their sin.  Instead of receiving the penalty of death, God would transfer the penalty to an animal, thus the penalty of death was still carried out for Sin.  This is a root part of the meaning of atonement (at-one-ment), because it allowed the people to be one with God even though the deserved death and eternal separation.

The crucifixion of Jesus and the sacrifice of animals in the Old Testament are intimately related.

Unfortunately this was only a temporary fix for the situation because sin was so great.  The reason that we do not continue this practice today is because Jesus received the penalty once and for all.  No longer would a sheep, a cow, or a goat need to be sacrificed, and no longer do we need to live under the consequence of our sin, because Jesus took the penalty that we deserved and satisfied the wrath that God had for our disobedience.  This is called substitutionary atonement.  There are many different good analogies that describe Christ’s atonement for our sins, but this is the most common and it is one of the fundamental beliefs of Christian faith.

Remember that God is both perfectly just and perfectly loving.  Sometimes it seems like the two cannot coexist, because if justice is to be done perfectly then everyone God loves deserves death, but if God is to love perfectly how can he bring death to those he loves.  It is a huge conundrum and that is why Jesus was the only way to redeem, or fix, the situation.  God could bring his perfect justice on Jesus.  Paul says that on the cross “he became sin for us” even though he was perfect in every way.  This substitution of Christ in our place satisfied God’s nature as one who is perfectly just, and allowed him to continue loving us by opening the door for eternal life.