The Identity of Jesus Christ Jesus Christ is both God and man. He is the one God incarnate. “For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily” (Colossians 2:9). “God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself” (II Corinthians 5:19).
Jesus Christ is the image of the invisible God, God manifest in flesh, our God and Savior, and the express image of God’s own person (substance) (II Corinthians 4:4; Colossians 1:15; I Timothy 3:16; Titus 2:13; Hebrews 1:3; II Peter 1:1). He is not the incarnation of one person of a trinity, but the incarnation of all the character, quality, and personality of the one God.Only as God could He exist from eternity, be unchanging, cast out devils by His own authority, be the bread of life, give living water, give spiritual rest, calm the storm, answer prayer, heal the sick, raise His body from death, forgive… Click To Tweet
1. The Absolute and Complete Deity of Jesus Christ
Acknowledging the deity of Jesus Christ is essential to salvation. Jesus said, “If ye believe not that I am he, ye shall die in your sins,” making reference to God’s name of I Am (John 8:24, 58). Only if Jesus is truly God does He have power to save from sin, for only God is the Savior and only He can forgive sin (Isaiah 43:25; 45:21–22; Mark 2:7).
All names and titles of the Deity properly apply to Jesus.
All names and titles of the Deity properly apply to Jesus.
He is God (John 20:28), Lord (Acts 9:5), Jehovah (Isaiah 45:23 with Philippians 2:10-11), I Am (John 8:58), Father (Isaiah 9:6; Revelation 21:6–7), Word (John 1:14), and Holy Spirit (John 14:17–18). God the Father dwelt in the man Christ.
Jesus said, “I and my Father are one” (John 10:30). “The Father is in me, and I in him” (John 10:38). “He that hath seen me hath seen the Father . . .the Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works” (John 14:9–10). The divine nature of Jesus Christ is the Holy Spirit (Galatians 4:6; Philippians 1:19), which is the Spirit of the Father (Matthew 1:18–20; 10:20). “The Lord is that Spirit” (II Corinthians 3:17). Jesus is the One on the heavenly throne, as we see by comparing the description of Jesus in Revelation 1 with that of the One on the throne in Revelation 4 and by noting that “God and the Lamb” is one being in Revelation 22:3–4.
Jesus is also the Son of God. The term Son can mean the human nature of Christ alone (as in “the Son died”) or the union of deity and humanity (as in “the Son shall return to earth in glory”), but it is never used apart from God’s incarnation. It never refers to deity alone. The terms “God the Son” and “eternal Son” are nonbiblical. The role of the Son began when Jesus was conceived miraculously in the womb of a virgin by the Holy Spirit (Luke 1:35; Galatians 4:4; Hebrews 1:5).
2. The Perfect, Sinless Humanity of Jesus Christ
Jesus was a perfect human, with everything genuine humanity includes.
The Scriptures emphatically proclaim Christ’s genuine and complete humanity (Romans 1:3; Hebrews 2:14–17; 5:7–8). He had a human body, soul, spirit, mind, and will (Luke 22:42; 23:46; Acts 2:31; Philippians 2:5; Hebrews 10:5, 10). Jesus was a perfect human, with everything genuine humanity includes. Christ’s true humanity does not mean He had a sinful nature. He was without sin, He did no sin, and sin was not in Him (Hebrews 4:15; I Peter 2:22; I John 3:5). He came with the kind of innocent human nature that Adam and Eve had in the beginning. Belief in Christ’s true humanity is essential to salvation (I John 4:3). If God did not truly come in the flesh, then there is no blood for remission of sin, no sacrifice of atonement. The very purpose of the Incarnation was to provide a holy man to mediate between holy God and sinful mankind.
3. The Clear Distinction between the Humanity and the Deity of Jesus Christ
It is necessary to distinguish clearly between the deity and the humanity of Christ. While Jesus was both God and man at the same time, sometimes He acted from the human viewpoint and sometimes from the divine viewpoint. As Father, He sometimes spoke from His divine self-consciousness; as Son He sometimes spoke from His human self-consciousness. Only as a man could Jesus be born, grow, be tempted by the devil, hunger, thirst, become weary, sleep, pray, be beaten, die, not know all things, not have all power, be inferior to God, and be a servant. Only as God could He exist from eternity, be unchanging, cast out devils by His own authority, be the bread of life, give living water, give spiritual rest, calm the storm, answer prayer, heal the sick, raise His body from death, forgive sin, know all things, have all power, be identified as God, and be King of kings. In an ordinary person, these two contrasting lists would be mutually exclusive, yet the Scriptures attribute all of them to Jesus, revealing His dual nature.
4. The Inseparable Union of Deity and Humanity in Jesus Christ
Although we must distinguish between Christ’s deity and humanity, it is impossible to separate the two in Christ (John 1:1, 14; 10:30, 38; 14:1011; 16:32). The Father united with humanity to form one being—Jesus Christ, the Godhead incarnate. While on earth Jesus was fully God, not merely an anointed man. At the same time, He was fully man, not just an appearance of man.
He possessed the unlimited power, authority, and character of God. He was God by nature, by right, by identity; He was not merely deified by an anointing or indwelling. Unlike a Spirit-filled believer, the humanity of Jesus was inextricably joined with all the fulness of God’s Spirit.
We can identify four major themes in the biblical description of the Incarnation: (1) the absolute and complete deity of Jesus Christ; (2) the perfect, sinless humanity of Jesus Christ; (3) the clear distinction between the humanity and the deity of Jesus Christ; and yet (4) the inseparable union of deity and humanity in Jesus Christ.
Jesus is the fulness of God dwelling in perfect humanity and manifesting Himself as a perfect human being. He is not the transmutation of God into flesh, the manifestation of a portion of God, the animation of a human body by God, or God temporarily dwelling in a separate human person. Jesus Christ is the incarnation—embodiment, human personification—of the one God.
Resources and Links
This material has been adapted from Essential Doctrines of the Bible.
Build your library with David K. Bernard’s definitive works of Apostolic doctrine.