Have you ever wondered how God could be both a living spirit and be in human form at the same time? From an honest standpoint, everyone has probably had certain doubts at times in their lives. I must admit, I have as well. Not Dad, however, Dad was from that old school of theology. The type religious schooling that was taught from the old barn yard and preached from the old "pine tree stump". ( 2 Timothy 4:2) Yes, Dad had it down pat. So, let us prayerfully dive into his theology and see for ourselves.
“Come on everybody. Get in the wagon or we will be late for Sunday meeting,” Dad exclaimed in that deep grouchy voice of his. I always tried to beat Sis to the wagon and sit up front, for that old back seat would jump up and down and jerk me around. Especially, if no weight was in the back. And, sometimes the jerking would kind off mess up my Sunday best. Now that I look back, I really feel sorry for Sis, after all, she did have those long flowing frills to keep straight.
You see, Dad was a student of that "old time religion", where one would shout if he felt like it, or lament an “Amen” when the spirit led. I can still see Dad now, standing firm against the background of that old rustic pulpit. He would scratch his head, rear back tugging at his overall straps, thump his big tattered King James Bible and boldly shout, "There are a lot of mysteries in this old world, I'll never understand, why night falls or why day breaks, but one thing I do know, if God said it, I believe it and that settles it."
Once, after Dad’s usual one hour sermon presentation, I decided to question his religion over dinner. Boy, was that the biggest mistake of my young life. "What do you mean, Son,” Dad asked. However, after talking it over with Dad, at what I called the old barn mercy seat, Dad's theological meanings suddenly became clear after the second razor strap lick. I'll never forget the jest of that barn yard meeting. "Christianity seems to have many mysteries, handed down since the beginning of time", …lick… "but these mysteries must be taken by our faith in the word." …lick… "You understand now, Son?". If not here's another "...lick... ? and a scripture verse to remember.( Ecclesiastes 9:10)
“Sure, Pop, sure,” I said. I surely believe.
Dad may have had a crude method to his Christianity but he certainly knew his Bible. And, more importantly, Dad had a personal relationship with the God of his Bible. I can still hear Dad as he would often say, "If I had to pick my favorite Bible mystery it would no doubt be how my God became man, to save me from my sin". (not knowing in his simplicity, he was actually referring to the incarnation of Jesus). "And it is amazing how the living God would want to become man and live right down here on this old evil earth for this little old farm boy". Dad would always back up his remarks by turning to the book of John. (John 14:1)
Yes, I learned a lot since that backyard theological session. So, allow me to move on. As you see, I've been the Director of the City of Light Mission for some 5 years now. And, it was all because of Dad’s firm belief in God's Word that I am what I am today.
The one doctrine that really bugged me throughout my seminary studies was the comment Dad often made about Christ being both God and man. How did this happen? Why did it happen? And most importantly, can it be proven? So, please allow me to share my research, on the subject. Like me, you may also have some concerns about this subject.
First, let us look into the authenticity of the Bible. The Apostle Paul tells us in (2 Timothy 3:16), that all scripture (the Bible) is inspired by God. And in (2 Peter 1:20-21), Peter also tells us that no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of man’s own interpretation, but that man, moved by the Holy Spirit, spoke from God.
So, what about Jesus, the God man. In the first chapter of Genesis, we find four important words, "In the beginning God"…( Genesis 1:1) The word God here is derived from the plural word Deity, indicating the plenitude of power and majesty and allowing for the New Testament revelation of the Trinity, which includes God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit.
Then, in (Geneses 1:26) we find these words, "Then let Us make man in Our image according to Our likeness…". The plurality of Us and Our also indicates that man was made in the likeness of God's Trinity. So would it not be natural, that when it came time for God to take on the human form, that the form would be the likeness of God, (John 1:1), (Galatians 4:4).
Jesus Himself confirms many times in the Bible that He is God. When testifying before the Sanhedrin, the high priest asked Jesus, "Are you the Christ, the Son of the Blessed?" Jesus responded: "I am. And you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Power, and coming with the clouds of heaven." (See Daniel 7:13 for explanation). The Sanhedrin used the profound statement as an excuse for condemning Him to death. It's unthinkable to think Jesus would be uncertain about this statement when it cost Him His life by confessing His identity as the Messiah in this situation. So, the fact that Jesus is God in the flesh is indisputable.
The Apostle Paul further explains the existence of the God Man, in (1 Timothy 3:16).
In other words, being revealed in the flesh was His (Jesus) physical birth, vindicated in the spirit, His resurrection, and taken up in glory, His ascension into Heaven.
As Christians, naming the name of Christ, we also see the God Man confirmed in the early Church Doctrine;
1) We believe that there are three persons in the Godhead - the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost, undivided in essence and co-equal in power and glory and; 2) We believe that in the person of Jesus Christ the Divine and human natures are united, so that He is truly and properly God and truly and properly man.
As mentioned earlier, the Christian doctrine of the God Man is just one of many doctrines which demand our faith. The same faith we exercised when we acknowledged our sinful state, by faith, accept God’s saving grace for our eternal repentance. So, likewise it is by faith that we acknowledge Christ as God Himself, in the flesh. ( Ephesians 2:8-9)
So, let us look deeper into the characteristics of the God Man, Christ Jesus. Jesus is not merely part God and part man. It was impossible for the divine nature of God to be changed. And, Jesus is not merely a man who "had God within Him" nor is He a man who "manifested the God principle” (John 1: 1-14 ) He is God, the second person of the “Trinity", the radiance of God's glory and the exact representation of His being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. (Hebrews. 1:3)
Moreover, Jesus' two natures, that of God and Man, are not "mixed together," nor are they combined into a new God-man nature. They are separated yet act as a unit in the one person of Jesus Christ. I know this is difficult to comprehend. Again, this is where our faith comes into play. ( Hebrews 11:1)
So why was the living God transformed to human form? It is impossible, with our finite mind, to comprehend an answer. It can only be answered theologically. You see, God needed a plan to bring sinful man back into fellowship with Himself, as He promised when mankind fell into temptation in the Garden of Eden. ( Genesis 3:15) Namely, Christ would deal a death blow to Satan's head at the cross, while Satan would bruise Christ's heel by causing Him to suffer.)
And since no human created thing could do this, God had to do it himself, in the person of his only begotten Son (John 3:16). He had to be born, live without sin (1Peter 2:22) in this world and die as we all do, in order to deliver us from rebellion and death. Not only must God totally identify with mankind, except for not yielding to sin, but He must also make a way to offer that reconciliation to all. Galatians 4:4-5)
The incarnation of our Lord Jesus Christ was both a climax and a commencement, and more. In and of itself, the incarnation of Christ was a wonderful event, unique and never again to be repeated. However, the incarnation is more than an event; it is based upon a principle evident long before the birth of our Lord. The incarnation of our Lord is the basis of our Salvation.
So, Dad's crude theology was certainly true, "God said it, I believe it and that settles it". In other words, Dad was truly a student of the full gospel. (1 Corinthians 15:1-4)
And now you have it. What lessons my "preacher Dad" taught me.
Well, you might think being exposed to the Christian way of life, as an old fashion preacher's kid, would have given me an automatic ticket to "glory land". Not so, for we all must come in by the way of the cross. For you see, looking back growing up as a "PK", the most important message I remember was Dad giving that the strong, but simple, evangelistic teaching based on ( Ephesians 2:8-9).
I can't help but ponder those old "brush-arbor" revival meetings where the "Amen's" and the "Hallelujah's" echoed, as the spirit led. And oh how I miss those old fashion alters, that were a part of Dad's "Old Time Religion" meetings. I can just see those crudely built alters filled with seekers crying out to the Lord, as Dad would move up and down the alter singing those encouraging "invitation hymns".
Come to the Mercy Seat, come as you are,
.Leaving your burdens there
Come to the Mercy Seat, come as you are.
Casting on Jesus your care.
What about you? beloved. Have you had a taste of that "old time religion" ?
Read more articles by Charles Robey or search for articles on the same topic or others.