Soteriology Lesson 14 - The Role of God the Son in Our Salvation

Thinking on Scripture with Dr. Steven R. Cook

Aug 20 2023 • 1 hr 4 mins

At a point in time, the eternal Son of God added humanity to Himself, simultaneously becoming God and man, Creator and creature, the unique theanthropic person (John 1:1, 14, 18; 8:58; 10:33; 20:28; Col 2:9; Heb 1:8). Jesus is the God-man and exists in hypostatic union, as a single Person with a divine and human nature (John 1:1, 14; 1 John 4:2-3), both natures being distinct and preserved, not mixed or confused, fully God and fully man. The hypostatic union is forever, from conception onward. Jesus was supernaturally conceived by the Holy Spirit in the womb of the virgin Mary (parthenogenesis – Isa 7:14; Matt 1:23; Luke 1:26-38), who is the mother of Jesus’ humanity (Christotokos – bearer of Christ). Some see Mary as the mother of God (Theotokos – bearer of God), and though Jesus is God, His divine nature is without origin and eternal. Being the mother of Jesus’ humanity honors Mary without elevating her to a place beyond what the Scriptures teach. And Jesus was a Jew, born a son of Abraham, in the line David (Matt 1:1), the promised Messiah (Matt 1:17). Jesus grew in wisdom (Luke 2:40, 52), and lived a perfectly righteous life before God and man. The record of Scripture is that Jesus “knew no sin” (2 Cor 5:21), was “without sin” (Heb 4:15), “committed no sin” (1 Pet 3:22), and “in Him there is no sin” (1 John 3:5). In His humanity, Jesus walked in perfect conformity to God the Father’s holy character and divine revelation. Cults such as Mormonism and Jehovah’s Witness deny the full humanity and deity of Jesus, and for this reason are not within the true Christian community. Thiessen states:

  • "The Council of Chalcedon, in AD 451, established what has been the position of the Christian church. There is one Jesus Christ, but He has two natures, the human and the divine. He is truly God and truly man, composed of body and rational soul. He is consubstantial with the Father in His deity and consubstantial with man in His humanity, except for sin. In His deity He was begotten of the Father before time, and in His humanity born of the virgin Mary. The distinction between the natures is not diminished by their union, but the specific character of each nature is preserved and they are united in one person. Jesus is not split or divided into two persons; He is one person, the Son of God."[1]

His Deity

The Bible presents Jesus as God. In the OT, the proper name of God is Yahweh (יהוה) and is generally translated LORD, using all capital letters. When the Septuagint (the Greek translation of the Hebrew OT) was written around 250 B.C., the translators chose the Greek word kurios (κύριος) as a suitable substitute for the Hebrew name Yahweh (יהוה). Though kurios (κύριος) is sometimes used in the NT to mean sir (John 4:11; Acts 16:30), and master (Col 3:22), it is also used to refer to the deity of Jesus Christ (compare Isa 40:3 with John 1:23; and Deut 6:16 with Matt 4:7; cf. John 20:28; Rom 10:11-12; Phil 2:11). According to Thiessen, “Although the second person of the trinity often appears in the Old Testament, He is never referred to as Christ. Instead, we have the names Son, Jehovah, and the angel of Jehovah. In Psalm 2:7 Jehovah calls him His Son. More frequently He is called Jehovah.”[2]The NT writers clearly saw Yahweh-God from the OT as referring to Jesus.

Concerning the NT evidence, the apostle John wrote, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God...And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:1, 14). And “the Word” which became flesh also existed with the Father “before the world was” (John 17:5). The Jews of Jesus’s day understood His claims to deity, that He “was calling God His own Father, making Himself equal with God” (John 5:18). On another occasion they said to Jesus, “For a good work we do not stone You, but for blasphemy; and because You, being a man, make Yourself out to be God” (John 10:33). The apostle Thomas, after seeing the resurrected Jesus, said to Him, “My Lord and my God!” (John 20:28). Paul wrote of Jesus, saying, “For in Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form” (Col 2:9), and elsewhere said that He is “our great God and Savior” (Tit 2:13). And the writer to the Hebrews said of Jesus, “But of the Son He says, ‘Your throne, O God, is forever and ever’” (Heb 1:8).

As God, Jesus created the universe, for “He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being” (John 1:2-3). And Paul wrote, “For by Him [Jesus] all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things have been created by Him and for Him. And He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together” (Col 1:16-17).

As God, Jesus accepted the worship of men and angels. The magi who came to see the newborn Jesus said, “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we saw His star in the east and have come to worship Him” (Matt 2:2), and “after coming into the house they saw the Child with Mary His mother; and they fell to the ground and worshiped Him” (Matt 2:11a). On three separate occasions the disciples worshipped Jesus. Matthew wrote, “And those who were in the boat worshiped Him, saying, ‘You are certainly God’s Son!’” (Matt 14:33), “And behold, Jesus met them and greeted them. And they came up and took hold of His feet and worshiped Him” (Matt 28:9), and “When they saw Him, they worshiped Him” (Matt 28:17a). And after Jesus healed a lame man, we are told “he worshiped Him” (John 9:38). And of the angels it is written, “Let all God’s angels worship him” (Heb 1:6). It follows that Jesus is God, since only God can receive worship. Walvoord states, “In any orthodox statement of the doctrine of the Trinity, the second Person is described as possessing all the attributes of the Godhead, being distinguished as the second Person in contrast to the first or third Persons of the Trinity and as the eternal Son in contrast to the Father or the Holy Spirit.”[3]

Hypostatic Union

The apostle John wrote, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God…And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:1, 14). At a point in time, God the Son added to Himself humanity, forever uniting His divine nature with a perfect sinless human nature, becoming the God-man (John 1:1, 14, 18). In the field of systematic theology, this is called the hypostatic union. Chafer states, “Though His deity is eternal, the humanity was gained in time. Therefore, the theanthropic Person—destined to be such forever—began with the incarnation.”[4] God the Son did not indwell a human, but forever added humanity to Himself. According to Paul Enns, “When Christ came, a Person came, not just a nature; He took on an additional nature, a human nature—He did not simply dwell in a human person. The result of the union of the two natures is the theanthropic Person (the God-man).”[5] Reading through the Gospels, there were times that Jesus operated from His divine nature (Mark 2:5-12; John 8:56-58; 10:30-33), and other times from His human nature (Matt 4:2; Luke 8:22-23; John 19:28). Concerning both natures, Paul Enns wrote:

  • "The two natures of Christ are inseparably united without mixture or loss of separate identity. He remains forever the God-man, fully God and fully man, two distinct natures in one Person forever. Though Christ sometimes operated in the sphere of His humanity and in other cases in the sphere of His deity, in all cases what He did and what He was could be attributed to His one Person. Even though it is evident that there were two natures in Christ, He is never considered a dual personality. In summarizing the hypostatic union, three facts are noted: (1) Christ has two distinct natures: humanity and deity; (2) there is no mixture or intermingling of the two natures; (3) although He has two natures, Christ is one Person."[6]

Jesus is the God-Man. He is eternal God (Isa 9:6; John 8:56-58), yet He was born of a woman in time and space (Gal 4:4). As God, He is omniscient (Psa 139:1-6), but as a boy, He grew in knowledge (Luke 2:52). As God, He created the universe (Gen 1:1; John 1:3; Col 1:15-16), but as a man, He was subject to weakness (Matt 4:2; John 19:28). Walvoord notes, “When the second Person of the Godhead became incarnate there was immediately introduced the seemingly insuperable problem of uniting God with man and combining an infinite and eternal Person with one that is finite and temporal.”[7] Concerning the complexity of the union, Lewis Chafer states:

  • "The reality in which undiminished Deity and unfallen humanity united in one Theanthropic Person has no parallel in the universe. It need not be a matter of surprise if from the contemplation of such a Being problems arise which human competency cannot solve; nor should it be a matter of wonder that, since the Bible presents no systematized Christology but rather offers a simple narrative with its attending issues, that the momentous challenge to human thought and investigation which the Christ is, has been the major issue in theological controversy from the beginning to the present time."[8]

As finite humans, we struggle to comprehend the union of God and Man; however, it is with certainty that the Bible portrays Him this way (John 1:1, 14; 20:28; Heb 1:8 cf. Luke 1:31-33; 2 Cor. 5:21; Heb. 4:15), and this truth is essential to Christianity.  As God, Jesus is worthy of all worship and praise (Luke 24:51-52; John 9:38; 20:28; Heb 1:6). As a perfect sinless Man, He went to the cross and died a substitutionary death in our place (Mark 10:45; Rom 5:6-10; 1 Cor 15:3-4; 1 Pet 3:18), and bore the wrath of God that rightfully belongs to us (Isa 53:1-12), so that we might have the gifts of righteousness and eternal life (John 3:16; 10:28; 2 Cor 5:21; Phil 3:9).

Dr. Steven R. Cook

[1] Henry Clarence Thiessen and Vernon D. Doerksen, Lectures in Systematic Theology (Grand Rapids, MI; Cambridge: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1979), 208.

[2] Ibid., 209.

[3] John F. Walvoord, Jesus Christ Our Lord (Chicago, Ill; Moody Press, 1969), 106.

[4] Lewis S. Chafer, Systematic Theology, Vol. 1 (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Kregel Publications, 1993), 383.

[5] Paul P. Enns, Moody Handbook of Theology, (Chicago, Illinois: Moody Press, 1989), 227.

[6] Paul P. Enns, Moody Handbook of Theology, 225.

[7] John F. Walvoord, Jesus Christ Our Lord (Galaxie Software, 2008), 107.

[8] Lewis S. Chafer, Systematic Theology, Vol. 1, 387.