Why Akathleptos?

Why Akathleptos? Because it means Uncontainable. God is infinite. Hence, the whole universe cannot contain Him. The term also refers to the incomprehensibility of God. No man can know everything about God. We can know Him personally but not exhaustively, not even in Heaven.

Why Patmos? Because the church is increasingly marginalized and exiled from the culture.

Why Pen-Names? So the focus is on the words and not who wrote them. We prefer to let what we say stand on its own merit. There is precedent in church history for this - i.e., the elusive identity of Ambrosiaster who wrote in the 4th century A.D.

“Truth is so obscured nowadays, and lies so well established, that unless we love the truth we shall never recognize it." Blaise Pascal

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Hypostatic Union (Part 3)

(Part 1 is here; Part 2 is here)

Here comes the most fascinating part. Since the two natures are united in one Person, the fact that Christ's human nature didn't know when He would return means that the Person of Christ did not know when He would return. Thus, Jesus the Person could truly say, "But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone" (Matthew 24:36). At the same time, by virtue of His divine nature, we can also say that the Person of Christ did know when He would return. Knowledge and ignorance of the time of His return are both true of the Christ, but in different ways. In His human nature, the Person of Christ was ignorant of when He would return. In His divine nature, the Person of Christ did know when He would return. Thus, Christ Himself both knew and did not know when He would return.

Jesus is now both God and man forever. Christ's humanity was not a mere fleshly shell that God rented and used for a temporary amount of time. God did not just come to live in flesh as a man, but the 'Word became flesh' (John 1:14). This means that God astonishingly incorporated human nature into His eternal being. In the incarnation humanity has been permanently incorporated into the Godhead.  God is now a man in addition to being God.

Think on the implications of that! While 2 Pet 1:4 is traditionally understood to mean we share in the divine nature as we become increasingly like Christ through the process of sanctification and subsequently glorification …. It may also echo that humanity is now permanently incorporated into the Godhead in the person of Christ. But we must be careful not to fall into heresy here by asserting that we somehow become divine (little “gods” in a sense) as some have done, i.e., as some Word of Faith teachers have (Kenneth Hagin, Kenneth Copeland, Creflo Dollar., Joyce Meyer, etc.)

At the virgin conception God acquired an identity He would retain for the rest of eternity. His human existence is both authentic and permanent. Jesus' humanity is not something that can be discarded or dissolved back into the Godhead, but He will always and forever exist in heaven as a glorified man, albeit God at the same time.  Upon his ascension, Jesus was not deified, but rather was glorified.

For most people it is obvious that Jesus will be God forever. But for some reason it escapes a lot of us that Jesus will also be man forever. He is still man right now as you read this and will be forever. The Bible is clear that Jesus rose physically from the dead in the same body that had died (Luke 24:39) and then ascended into heaven as a man, in His physical body (Acts 1:9; Luke 24:50-51). It would make no sense for Him to have done this if He was simply going to ditch His body and stop being man when He arrived in heaven.

That Christ continued being man, with a physical body, after His ascension is confirmed by the fact that when He returns, it will be as man, in His body. He will return physically. Philippians 3:21 says that at His Second Coming, Christ "will transform the body of our humble state into conformity with the body of His glory." This verse is clear that Jesus still has His body. It is a glorified body, which Paul calls "the body of His glory." And when Christ returns, He will still have it because this verse says that He will transform our bodies to be like His. Both Jesus and all Christians will then continue living together in their bodies forever, because the resurrection body cannot die (1 Corinthians 15:42) because it is eternal (2 Corinthians 5:1).

Why did Jesus become man, and why will He be man forever? The book of Hebrews says that it was so that Christ could be an adequate Savior who has all that we need. "He had to be made like His brethren in all things, that He might become a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people" (2:17). First, notice that Jesus became man so that He could die for our sins. He had to be human in order to pay the penalty for humans. Second, this verse says that because Jesus is human like us, He is able to be a merciful and faithful high priest. His humanity enables Him to more fully sympathize with us and identify with us.  weakens our comfort and faith to not know that Jesus is still man and in His body. For if He is not still man in heaven, how could we have comfort knowing that He can fully sympathize with us? He can sympathize and be a faithful high priest and know what we are going through not just because He was once on earth as a man, but because He continues forever as that same man.

The Chalcedonian Definition (also Confession or Creed of Chalcedon) was adopted in A.D. 451 at the Council of Chalcedon in Asia Minor. That council was the fourth of the first seven Ecumenical Councils, which are accepted by Eastern Orthodox, Catholic, and most Protestant churches. This creed was adopted at the Fourth Ecumenical Council held at Chalcedon--located in what is now Turkey--in 451 as a response to certain heretical views concerning the nature of Christ. It established the orthodox view that Christ has two natures (human and divine) that are unified in one person. (The Creed is reproduced in entirety at the bottom of this post.) The Definition defines that Christ is 'acknowledged in two natures', which 'come together into one person and one hypostasis'. There are five main truths with which the creed of Chalcedon summarized the biblical teaching on the Incarnation.

  1. Jesus has two natures -- He is God and man.
  2. Each nature is full and complete -- He is fully God and fully man.
  3. Each nature remains distinct.
  4. Christ is only one Person.
  5. Things that are true of only one nature are nonetheless true of the Person of Christ.

What Is the Significance? Why bother with this seemingly fancy term of "hypostatic union"? What good is it to know about it? At the end of the day, the term can go, but the concept behind the term is infinitely and crucially precious—and worshipfully mind-stretching. It is immeasurably sweet—and awe-inspiring—to know that Jesus’ two natures are perfectly united in his one person. Jesus is not divided. He is not two people. He is one person.

As the Chalcedonian Creed states, his two natures are without confusion, without change, without division, and without separation. Jesus is one. This means Jesus is one focal point for our worship. And as Jonathan Edwards preached, in this one-person God-man we find “an admirable conjunction of diverse excellencies.” Because of this hypostatic, one-person union, Jesus Christ exhibits an unparalleled magnificence. No one person satisfies the complex longings of the human heart like the God-man. God has made the human heart in such a way that it will never be eternally content with that which is only human. Finitude can’t slake our thirst for the infinite. And yet, in our finite humanity, we are significantly helped by a point of correspondence with the divine. God was gloriously infinite before he became a man in Jesus. But we are finite human beings, and unincarnate deity doesn’t connect with us in the same way as the God who became human. The conception of a god who never became man (like Allah) will not satisfy the human soul like the God who did.

Beyond just gazing at the spectacular person of Jesus, there is also the amazing gospel-laced revelation that the reason Jesus became the God-man was for us. His fully human nature joined in personal union to his eternally divine nature is permanent proof that Jesus, in perfect harmony with his Father, is undeterrably for us. He has demonstrated his love for us in that while we were still sinners, he took our nature to his one person and died for us. As the now-eternal God-man, Jesus alone is the perfect high priest of Hebrews 7, able to perfectly intercede for and represent man before God …. And perfectly able to represent God before man

Creed of Chalcedon (451 A.D.)
We, then, following the holy Fathers, all with one consent, teach men to confess one and the same Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, the same perfect in Godhead and also perfect in manhood; truly God and truly man, of a reasonable [rational] soul and body; consubstantial [co-essential] with the Father according to the Godhead, and consubstantial with us according to the Manhood; in all things like unto us, without sin; begotten before all ages of the Father according to the Godhead, and in these latter days, for us and for our salvation, born of the Virgin Mary, the Mother of God, according to the Manhood; one and the same Christ, Son, Lord, only begotten, to be acknowledged in two natures, inconfusedly, unchangeably, indivisibly, inseparably; the distinction of natures being by no means taken away by the union, but rather the property of each nature being preserved, and concurring in one Person and one Subsistence, not parted or divided into two persons, but one and the same Son, and only begotten, God the Word, the Lord Jesus Christ; as the prophets from the beginning [have declared] concerning Him, and the Lord Jesus Christ Himself has taught us, and the Creed of the holy Fathers has handed down to us.

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