We might be hard pressed to find within the umbrella of Christianity those who deny the “two natures of Christ.” We have to be careful, though, how we define Christianity and that is the purpose of this series of articles. One of the core beliefs within Christianity is the two natures of Christ. We can then say definitively that those religious groups and organizations that deny this doctrine do not rightly fit under the umbrella. Among these groups are the cults and non-Christian world religions.
Much has been written both in book and article form about this core Christian teaching and belief. A great deal of what has been written is an attempt to put human language and reason around all the details of what it means that Jesus is both God and man. Some of what has been written is helpful. Much of what has been written gets bogged down in particulars that may or may not be of value. Though this doctrine is fundamental, figuring out the details might not be. It is probably enough to state the case as simply as possible and believe it because it is what Scripture teaches about who Jesus is.
The first chapter of the Gospel of John is a great starting place showing the two natures of Christ. In verse 1, Christ is referred to as “the Word” (logos). “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” (NASB). The last of these three phrases states the divinity of the Word. He was God in the beginning. Verse 14 states the humanity of Christ. “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.” That the Word is Jesus Christ is stated in verse 17, “...grace and truth were realized through Jesus Christ.” The Word was God; the Word became flesh; that flesh is Jesus Christ.
Another key reference stating the two natures of Christ in Philippians 2. “Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men” (5-7). Christ Jesus existed in the form of God; He is divine. Christ Jesus emptied Himself into the likeness of men; He became human.
While it is easy to get bogged down and probably not necessary to explain how Jesus can be both God and man, it is important that we understand why God became man. We have a problem. Our rebellion, our disobedience, our sin has separated us from God. We might say we have trespassed against God's laws. There is a judgement against us, and the fine imposed against us is greater than we can pay. The penalty for our sin is eternal separation from God, and there is nothing we can do to mitigate our debt. But God, in His great love wants us to be in a right relationship with Him now and for eternity. He is not pleased with the death of sinners. His solution to our debt is to pay the penalty for our sin Himself. So, God in the second person of the Trinity emptied Himself into humanity so that a perfect man could die the death we deserve. The Philippian confession continues, “Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross” (2:8). We also read, “But now apart from the Law the righteousness of God has been manifested, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, even the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all those who believe; for there is no distinction; for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus; whom God displayed publicly as a propitiation in His blood through faith” (Romans 3:21-25). Christ Jesus became the final and perfect sacrifice (propitiation in His blood) so that we might be purchased out of our slavery to sin (redeemed). This gift is ours as we receive it by believing it (faith).
It is not humanly reasonable nor can we explain it in words, but the Word did become human flesh. That flesh took on Himself our sin that He might pay our debt and in so doing cover us (impute) with His righteousness. In this way, Christ in His two natures, worked for us forgiveness of sin, salvation, and eternal life.