Christology

Recognizing that an entire volume of this work has been assigned to Christology (Vol. V), the subject may be again approached in what is intended to be a highly condensed review. The theme (has been and) is well divided into the seven positions in which Christ has been set forth by the Bible, namely:

1. The Preincarnate Son of God. The fact of His preincarnate existence is established not only by direct statements of Scripture but by every implication. Some of these lines of proof are:

a. christ is god. It follows that if Christ is God then He has existed from all eternity. Evidence that He is God may be seen in His titles—Logos, Only Begotten, Express Image, First Begotten, Elohim, and Jehovah; in His divine attributes—eternity (Mic. 5:2), immutability (Heb. 1:11-12; 13:8), omnipotence (1 Cor. 15:28; Phil. 3:21), omniscience, and omnipresence; in His mighty works—creation, preservation, forgiveness of sin, raising the dead, and execution of all judgment.

b. christ is creator. In this regard the Scriptures are explicit (Rom. 11:36; Col. 1:15-19; Heb. 1:212). If He is Creator, He has existed before creation.

c. christ is named as one equal to other in the trinity. In all references to the Persons of the Godhead, Christ the Son shares equally. In all purposes of God, as far as revealed, He assumes those parts which only God can assume. He is thus before all things.

d. the messiah of the old testament is god. Since Christ is the Messiah of the Old Testament, He is necessarily God and from all eternity.

e. the angel of jehovah is christ. This is clearly proved in earlier pages of the present theological work and is unfailing evidence of Christ's pre-existence, indeed.

f. the direct biblical assertions imply the pre-existence of christ. Such assertions are numerous and conclusive.

g. the direct testimony of scripture is that christ has existed forever (e.g., John 1:1-2; Phil. 2:511; Heb. 1:1-3).

2. The Incarnate Son of God. The theme respecting the incarnate Christ occupies about two-fifths of the New Testament. The general outline of this aspect of Christology may be stated under seven divisions:

a. old testament anticipations. These are both typical and prophetic in character.

b. birth and childhood. Very much that is fundamental in doctrine is properly based on the birth of Christ. Here is to be introduced His various sonships—the title Son of God suggesting the divine; Son of man, the racial; Son of Mary, the human; Son of David, the Messianic and Jewish; Son of Abraham, the redemptive. Here also will be unfolded the entire theme of His hypostatic union of two natures; the mediatorial aspect of Christ's Person and His death; His earthly ministry to Israel as Messiah, Immanuel, and King; His ministry to the Gentiles as Savior, Judge, and Ruler; His ministry to the Church as Head, Lord, and Bridegroom. Here too is learned the twofold object of His earthly ministry, first to Israel respecting her covenanted kingdom and later to Jews and Gentiles respecting the Church which is His Body. Again, yet more of major import is brought forward, namely, Christ's three offices—that of Prophet, which incorporates all His teaching ministry; of Priest, which incorporates the sacrifice of Himself for the world; and of King, which incorporates the whole Davidic covenant together with the predictions and their fulfillment in His future reign.

c. baptism. The baptism of Christ was a major event in His earthly life and of far-reaching significance since by it He was consecrated to the office of Priest, which office, like that of King, endures forever.

d. temptation. Judging from the extended description given this crisis, the temptation is possessed evidently of great importance. It became the crucial attack of Satan against the humanity of Christ, the issue being whether or not He would abide in His Father's perfect will. That He would was assured by His very nature as God and was determined from all eternity; yet the test was allowed so that finite minds might be satisfied about the impeccability of the Savior.

e. transfiguration. The transfiguration, it is declared, was a setting forth of the power and coming of Christ in His kingdom (Matt. 16:28; Mark 9:1; Luke 9:27), that is, the event pictures the glory of the coming kingdom. When transfigured, Christ was about to turn from the kingdom ministry which had engaged John, the disciples, and Himself over to the new heavenly purpose concerned with a people qualified for glory through His death and resurrection. It was therefore essential that the kingdom not only be promised but displayed, that its future certainty might not be lost from view with the crushing disappointment which His death as a rejected king engendered.

f. teaching. Probably no clearer evidence respecting the scope and purpose of Christ's first advent can be discovered than is indicated in His teaching, especially that of the major discourses. His ministry to Israel and to the Church are therein distinguished completely—to those not blinded by theological prejudice.

g. mighty works. When Christ said, "If I had not done among them the works which none other man did, they had not had sin: but now have they both seen and hated both me and my Father" (John 15:24), He disclosed to some extent the reason why He wrought miracles. His mighty works attested His claim to be the Messiah and so His rejection was without excuse because of that evidence.

3. The Efficacious Sufferings, Death, and Burial of the Son of God. Considering these three events separately:

a. his sufferings. The evidence presented in John 19:28 intimates that the actual bearing of the judgments of sin fell upon Christ in the hours of His suffering which terminated in death. It was just before He said "It is finished" that John declares of Him, "Jesus knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the scripture might be fulfilled, saith, I thirst." What was actually experienced by Christ in those six hours upon the cross cannot be known in this world by any man; yet the value of it is received by those who believe.

b. his death. It was required of any efficacious sacrifice that it should be delivered unto death and the shedding of blood. The death of Christ is the antitype of every typical sacrifice and determined the nature of that particular type. Typical sacrificial deaths through bloodshedding were such as God required because of the truth that Christ would thus be sacrificed. The range of Biblical testimony respecting Christ's death may be examined in seven divisions, namely: (1) types, (2) prophecies, (3) historical declarations of the Synoptic Gospels, (4) declarations of the Apostle John in his Gospel, Epistles, and Revelation, (5) declarations of the Apostle Paul, (6) of the Apostle Peter, and (7) of the Letter to the Hebrews.

If it be inquired, as constantly it is, Who put Christ to death? it may be pointed out that He was offered by the Father (Ps. 22:15; John 3:16; Rom. 3:25), of His own free will (John 10:17; Heb. 7:27; 9:14; 10:12), by the Spirit (Heb. 9:14), and by men—Herod, Pilate, the Gentiles, and Israel (Acts 2:23; 4:27). To this may be added that part in His death which was contributed by Satan (cf. Gen. 3:15).

The death of Christ achieved a vast array of objectives. At least fourteen of these are indicated in this work under Soteriology (Vol. III).

c. his burial. As the scapegoat type anticipated, Christ carried away the burden of sin into oblivion. He went into the grave a sin-bearer and He came out the Lord of glory.

4. The Resurrection of the Son of God. Again, the Old Testament witness to that which concerns Christ is seen in types and prophecies. In the New Testament this theme is declared (1) by the predictions of Christ and (2) by the historical fact that He rose from the dead —an event more fully proved than perhaps any other of history. Christ was raised by the Father (Ps. 16:10; Acts 2:27, 31-32; Rom. 6:4; Eph. 1:19-20), by the Son Himself (John 2:19; 10:17-18), and by the Spirit (1 Pet. 3:18).

In disclosing the factors which enter into Christianity, the Apostle to whom this revelation was given places the resurrection of Christ in a central and all-important position. The death of Christ provides, but the resurrection constructs. Through Christ's death demerit is cancelled and the merit of Christ is made available, but by the resurrection of Christ the new Headship over a perfected New Creation is established forever. The importance of His resurrection may be seen from the following facts which in turn declare the reasons for the rising. Christ arose (a) because of what He is (Acts 2:24). That is, it is impossible that He the Son of God should be held in the place of death. (b) He arose because of who He is (Rom. 1:3-4). The resurrection served to prove His position as "Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness." (c) He arose to be Head over all things to the Church (Eph. 1:22-23). (d) He arose to bestow resurrection life upon all who believe (John 12:24). (e) He arose to be the source of resurrection power in the lives of His own who are in the world (Matt. 28:18; Rom. 6:4; Eph. 1:19-20). (f) He arose because His work which provided the ground for justification was completed (Rom. 4:25). (g) He arose as the pattern or first-fruits of all who are saved (1 Cor. 15:20-23; Phil. 3:20-21; 1 Tim. 6:16). (h) He arose to sit on David's throne and thus to fulfill all covenant promises to Israel (Acts 2:30).

In the sight and estimation of God, the resurrection of Christ is of sufficient import to be celebrated once every week and so the first day of the week on which it is celebrated supplants, in the present age, the Sabbath of the old order.

5. The Ascension and Session of the Son of God.

a. his ascension. The departure of Christ for heaven has been already onsidered under the doctrine of ascension in this volume. It is mentioned again here only to complete the structure of doctrine belonging to Christology. Two ascensions have been indicated—one immediately after the resurrection when the return of Christ into heaven as First-Fruits and as Priest presenting His blood occurred. The second ascension was that of final departure from the earth when He took up His present ministry in heaven.

b. his session. The whole of Christ's present ministry in heaven has been practically ignored by theologians and especially by Arminians, to whom this ministry is repulsive since it guarantees the eternal security of all who are saved. Seven aspects of His present ministry are to be recognized, namely: (1) exercise of universal authority. He said of Himself, "All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth" (Matt. 28:18); (2) Headship over all things to the Church (Eph. 1:22-23); (3) bestowment and direction of the exercise of gifts (Rom. 12:3-8; 1 Cor. 12:4-31; Eph. 4:7-11); (4) intercession, in which ministry Christ contemplates the weakness and immaturity of His own who are in the world (Ps. 23:1;

Rom. 8:34; Heb. 7:25); (5) advocacy, by which ministry He appears in defense of His own before the Father's throne when they sin (Rom. 8:34; Heb. 9:24; 1 John 2:1); (6) building of the place He has gone to prepare (John 14:1-3); and (7) "expecting" or waiting until the moment when by the Father's decree the kingdoms of this world shall become the kingdom of the Messiah—not by human agencies but by the resistless, crushing power of the returning King (Heb. 10:13).

6. The Second Coming and Kingdom of the Son of God.

a. the second coming. The stupendous event of the second advent of Christ with all its world-transforming results is to be distinguished from His coming into the air to gather the Church to Himself both by resurrection and translation. His second advent concerns the Jews, the Gentiles, and angelic hosts including Satan and his angels, and is related to the Church only as she is seen returning with Him and reigning with Him.

b. the kingdom. Though the long-promised, earthly, Davidic kingdom of Christ was offered to Israel at His first advent, it was forthwith rejected and postponed in the counsels of God until He comes again. One of the basic theological misconceptions is the attempt to relate Christ's kingdom on earth simply to His first advent. Since no earthly kingdom came into view even then, it is claimed by theologians that His kingdom must be spiritual and that all expectation based on covenants and promises of the Old Testament was misunderstood by the apostles and prophets in so far as that may have been construed literally. Nevertheless, according to every word of Scripture, a scope which extends to the greatest of all prophetic expectations, Messiah will come again and will do literally what it has been predicted He will do for the kingdom.

7. The Conclusion of Mediation and the Eternal Reign of the Son of God. Following the conclusion of the millennial kingdom, which is itself the last form of Christ's mediation, certain immeasurable events occur with all their transforming results, namely: (a) Satan is released from the abyss (Rev. 20:3); (b) armies are formed and a revolt against God occurs again (Rev. 20:7-9); (c) the passing of the old heaven and the old earth (Rev. 20:11); (d) the great white throne judgment (Rev. 20:12-15); (e) the creation of the new heaven and the new earth (2 Pet. 3:10-14; Rev. 21:1); (f) the descent of the bridal city out of heaven (Rev. 3:12; 21:2, 9-10); (g) the actual surrender of mediation, but not of the Davidic throne. From the reading of 1 Corinthians 15:25-28 translated according to the Authorized Version, a belief has been engendered that Christ surrenders His reign at the end of the kingdom age. Having declared that Christ receives the kingdom and its authority from the Father (1 Cor. 15:27), however, the passage really goes on to say that, after the mediatorial reign of a thousand years, Christ will go on reigning forever by the same authority of the Father. It is the testimony of the Davidic covenant that He shall reign on David's throne forever and ever (2 Sam. 7:16; Ps. 89:20-37; Isa. 9:6-7; Luke 1:31-33; Rev. 11:15).

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