(The Doctrine of Christ)
OUTLINE FOR CHAPTER II
I. Names and Titles of Christ.
E. Jesus Christ.
F. Christ Jesus.
G. The Lord Jesus Christ.
H. I Am.
I. The Son of God.
J. The Son of Man.
K. The Son of Abraham.
L. The Son of David.
M. The Son of the Highest.
N. Second Man.
O. Last Adam.
P. The Word.
II. The Incarnation of Christ.
A. The Fact of the Incarnation.
B. The Manner of the Incarnation.
C. The Objections to the Incarnation.
D. The Objects of the Incarnation.
E. The Perpetuity of the Incarnation.
F. The Proofs of the Incarnation.
III. The Two Natures of Christ.
A. The Humanity of Christ.
B. The Deity of Christ.
C. The Blending of the Two Natures Into One Person.
D. The Errors Concerning the Two Natures.
IV. The Death of Christ.
A. The Fact of the Death.
B. The Form of the Death.
C. The Unscriptural Theories Concerning the Death.
D. The Scriptural Names of the Death.
E. The Objectives of the Death.
F. The Extent of the Death.
G. The Results of the Death.
V. The Resurrection of Christ.
A. The Importance of the Resurrection.
B. The Meaning of the Resurrection.
C. The Unscriptural Theories Concerning the Resurrection.
D. The Proofs of the Resurrection.
E. The Result of the Resurrection.
VI. The Ascension and Enthronement of Jesus Christ.
A. The Meaning of the Ascension and Enthronement.
B. The Message of the Ascension and Enthronement.
C. The Nature of the Ascension and Enthronement.
D. The Necessity of the Ascension and Enthronement.
E. The Purpose of the Ascension and Enthronement.
F. The Results of the Ascension and Enthronement.
Christology, fundamentally, is the doctrine of Christ. Blessed is he who knows Him as Lord and Saviour.
Sometimes we are warned that we can preach too much of Christ, in that we may not emphasize enough the doctrines of God and of the Holy Spirit. Let us say here, that one cannot preach too much of Jesus Christ. Furthermore, there is no such thing as jealousy in the Godhead. From Scripture we can see that God would have us emphasize Christ more than we do: “And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence” (Col. 1:18).
I. NAMES AND TITLES OF CHRIST.
We believe in the verbal inspiration of the Holy Scripture. That is, we believe that every single word in the originals is the direct word chosen by God with which to convey His will to us. Believing thusly, we attach much importance to the titles and names of the Lord Jesus Christ. The most well-known name of our Saviour is:
The name Jesus is found in the Four Gospels 612 times, and it is found in the balance of the New Testament 71 times. The name Christ alone is found in the Four Gospels only 56 times, while in the remainder of the New Testament the name Christ is found 256 times.
Jesus is found before His death, burial and resurrection, while Christ is found after.
Jesus is the personal name of the Lord. It is His earthly name, the name under which He was born, lived, and died. It is the name of His humiliation; of suffering; of sorrow. It is the name of the One who humbled Himself. The name Jesus, at the time of our Lord, was not uncommon, there were many who were named Jesus. Jesus is the Greek form for the Hebrew word Joshua, and both mean “Jehovah our Saviour.” This name, Jesus, was the one which was nailed over Him on the Cross.
Again we emphasize the fact that the name Jesus is prominent in the Gospels, while the name Christ is mentioned more in the Epistles. The name Jesus was more prominent before salvation was made and completed, while the name Christ is prominent after the work of salvation was finished. A Christian is not a person who believes in Jesus — the whole world believes there’s a Jesus — but a Christian is one who believes in the LORD Jesus Christ. He is Lord! With this knowledge, that a person is saved by declaring Jesus as Lord (Rom. 10:9, R.V.), and believing that God hath raised Him from the dead (and we know by I Corinthians 15:1-3 that the Gospel is the death, burial and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ as the sinner’s Substitute), we state that there is very little “gospel” in the Four Gospels. The Four Gospels give very little of the doctrine of salvation for sinners; only in the last few chapters of each Gospel is the death, burial and resurrection of Christ recorded. Hence, the name Jesus is predominant.
The Epistles are the writings which bring out so clearly the doctrine of salvation by grace through faith in the substitutionary sacrifice of Christ. The Epistles are full of the doctrine of salvation; hence the emphasis upon the name Christ and Lord! Before Calvary it is Jesus which is emphasized; after Calvary it is Christ which is emphasized: “Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ” (Acts 2:36); “Being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Phil. 2:8-11).
This is interesting to point out: when He was upon this earth (before He was crucified), He was never called Jesus to His face. It was always Lord, Master, or Rabbi by His followers: “Ye call me Master and Lord: and ye say well; for so I am” (John 13:13); “Why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?” (Luke 6:46).
The reason why the name Jesus is mentioned most in the Gospels (612 times) is that the Gospels emphasize His humility; the reason why the name Christ is mentioned most in the Acts and Epistles is that these writings emphasize His exaltation! There is a reason why the name Jesus is mentioned in the Epistle to the Hebrews eight times: the Holy Spirit would have us know that this Person was a man. The institution of the Lord’s Supper is a perfect illustration of the emphasis on the name Jesus in the Gospels, and on the title Christ in the Epistles: “As they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed it, and brake it, and gave it to the disciples, and said, Take, eat; this is my body” (Matt. 26:26); “I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you, That the Lord Jesus the same night in which he was betrayed took bread” (I Cor. 11:23).
Men of the world, the demons of Satan, all addressed Him as Jesus, but never as Lord. Christian Science, Universalism and Unitarianism believe in a Jesus, but they claim that He cannot save, for they state that there is no sin to be saved from. Every false system of religion has the Lord Jesus Christ as the Object of its attack. Every false system reasons away sin; and in doing so, the need of a Saviour is ruled out. It says that Jesus died a needless death; and in doing that, He did not know what He was doing; in doing that, He must not have been the Son of God, for God knows all things. Do you not see that every attack upon the Son of God, Jesus our Lord, whether it be in regard to His blood, His resurrection, His substitutionary sacrifice or His second coming, is nothing but a subtle assault upon the deity of Christ.
We do not get our name from Jesus, but from Christ: we are Christians. Yes, we know that this name Christian was first given to the believers by those who hated God and His Christ; nevertheless, we are proud to take His dear name and to bear His reproach.
Never, remember, did unbelievers call the Saviour Lord, they called Him Jesus; and never did believers call Him Jesus, with one exception (and the exception makes the rule): “He said unto them, What things? And they said unto him, Concerning Jesus of Nazareth, which was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people: and how the chief priests and our rulers delivered him to be condemned to death, and have crucified him. But we trusted that it had been he which should have redeemed Israel: and beside all this, to day is the third day since these things were done” (Luke 24:19-21). These were the words of the disappointed disciples — “we trusted that it had been he” — all their hopes were shattered when Jesus was crucified. They did not know the Scriptures, nor had they remembered the Lord’s words that He would rise again from the dead, and thus they spoke of Him as a Lost Cause; and they, here, called Him Jesus. If Christ had not risen from the dead, their hopes, and not only theirs, but ours as well, would have been destroyed; He would have been just plain Jesus. “But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept” (I Cor. 15:20). He is Christ and Lord! Not mere man, but the God-man.
We have dealt at length with the name Christ as it is used, but let us add these details:
The name Christ means the Anointed One. This is the official title of the Son of God. Whenever we hear the word “anointed,” remember how, and under what circumstances, men were anointed. We know that men were anointed as kings, and prophets, and priests: “Samuel also said unto Saul, The LORD sent me to anoint thee to be king over his people, over Israel: now therefore hearken thou unto the voice of the words of the LORD” (I Sam. 15:1); “Jehu the Son of Nimshi shalt thou anoint to be king over Israel: and Elisha the son of Shaphat of Abelmeholah shalt thou anoint to be prophet in thy room” (I Kings 19:16); “The LORD spake unto Moses, saying, Take Aaron and his sons with him, and the garments, and the anointing oil, and a bullock for the sin offering, and two rams, and a basket of unleavened bread. . . . And he poured of the anointing oil upon Aaron’s head, and anointed him, to sanctify him” (Lev. 8:1, 2, 12).
1. Christ Has Been Anointed Prophet. “Moses truly said unto the fathers, A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethen, like unto me; him shall ye hear in all things whatsoever he shall say unto you. And it shall come to pass, that every soul, which will not hear that prophet, shall be destroyed from among the people” (Acts 3:22, 23).
2. Christ Has Been Anointed Priest. “Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession. For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin” (Heb. 4:14, 15).
3. Christ Has Been Anointed King. “Behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name Jesus. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: and he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end” (Luke 1:31-33).
In the Gospels Christ is pictured as King of Israel: in the Epistles Christ is pictured as Head of the Church.
“He first findeth his own brother Simon, and saith unto him, We have found the Messias [Messiah], which is, being interpreted, the Christ” (John 1:41); “The woman saith unto him, I know that Messias cometh, which is called Christ: when he is come, he will tell us all things” (John 4:25).
Messiah is the Hebrew word with the same meaning as Christ, which is the “Anointed One.” The Old Testament is full of the Messiah prediction, while the New Testament is full of Christ fulfillment; the Old Testament is written in the Hebrew language, while the New Testament is written in the Greek language.
This is Christ’s title of deity, that of authority. All three names of God, as found in the Old Testament, are compounded into that one name, Lord. In the study of the names of God, we saw that the word “God” in the Authorized Version comes from the Hebrew word Elohim, which is the office of God; and that the word “LORD” or “GOD,” comes from the Hebrew word Jehovah, which is the personal name of God; and that the word “lord,” or “Lord” (small letters), comes from the Hebrew word Adonai, meaning Master.
In the New Testament the word “Lord” comes from the Greek word kurios, which is translated in the Authorized Version as Lord, God, Master, and Sir. This rendering is equivalent to the Old Testament Adonai — Master. And Christ, the Lord, is our Master: “And, ye masters, do the same things unto them, forbearing threatening: knowing that your Master also is in heaven; neither is there respect of persons with him” (Eph. 6:9); “Masters, give unto your servants that which is just and equal; knowing that ye also have a Master in heaven” (Col. 4:1).
As stated above, the title “Lord” also includes another name for God, and that is LORD or Jehovah, and we know this by the way it is used in the New Testament. The New Testament quotes from the Old Testament Scriptures, using the word “Lord,” while the Old Testament word is “LORD,” or “Jehovah”: “Jesus said unto him, It is written again, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord [Old Testament: Jehovah] thy God” (Matt. 4:7). In this verse it is also seen that Elohim (God) is ascribed to the Lord, who is the Lord Jesus Christ.
In salvation we must acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Jehovah, God, and Master: “If thou shalt confess with thy mouth Jesus as Lord [Jehovah, God, Master — all three], and shalt believe in thy heart that God raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved” (Rom. 10:9, A.R.V.).
If we have declared Him as Lord (Jehovah, God, Master), then we recognize Him as the One who owns us, the One who determines our walk and life, the One who only has the right to us and everything we possess. We have a great responsibility to Him; His will is to be the will of our lives: “Be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord [Jesus Christ: Jehovah, God, Master] is” (Eph. 5:17). Even in marriage one should abide by the will of the Lord Jesus Christ: “The wife is bound by the law as long as her husband liveth; but if her husband be dead, she is at liberty to be married to whom she will; only in the Lord” (I Cor. 7:39). These words take on a deeper meaning as you realize that a Christian should not only marry another Christian, but that he should do so only if it is according to the will of the Lord. And after marriage the will of the Lord should be desired: “Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as it is fit in the Lord” (Col. 3:18).
No man can call Jesus Lord, except by the Holy Spirit, for the flesh (sin, carnal nature) does not recognize Christ as Lord: “I give you to understand, that no man speaking by the Spirit of God calleth Jesus accursed: and that no man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Ghost” (I Cor. 12:3).
E. Jesus Christ.
This is another title of the Lord, which is the combination of His personal name (Jesus) with His official title (Christ). The emphasis is on the first word — Jesus, what He was to what He is. That is, Jesus, who once humbled Himself, is now exalted.
F. Christ Jesus.
The emphasis is on the first word here also — Christ, which means He who was exalted, was once humbled; “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: but made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: and being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross” (Phil.
C. The Lord Jesus Christ.
This is the Lord’s fullest title: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ” (Eph. 1:3).
H. I Am.
This is an Old Testament title brought forth into the New Testament. Jehovah appeared unto Moses in the burning bush and commanded that he should tell Pharaoh to let the children of Israel go from the land of bondage. “Moses said unto God, Behold, when I come unto the children of Israel, and shall say unto them, The God of your fathers hath sent me unto you; and they shall say to me, What is his name? what shall I say unto them? And God said unto Moses, I AM THAT I AM: and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you” (Ex. 3:13, 14).
The Lord Jesus called Himself the great I AM when He was in Gethsemane. As the crowd came with lanterns, torches and weapons, the Lord went forth to meet them, asking, “Whom seek ye? They answered him, Jesus of Nazareth. Jesus saith unto them, I am...” (John 18:4, 5). But, you may add, the Scriptures say, “I am he,” not merely, “I am.” To this we reply, Look at the word “he”; it is in italics, and all italicized words have been supplied by the translators and can therefore be left out. The Lord Jesus actually said, “I am.” When the Lord announced that He was the great I am, what did they do? “As soon then as he had said unto them, I am, they went backward, and fell to the ground” (John 18:6). Still another portion of the Word bears out the fact that Christ Jesus was the great I Am. “Jesus saith unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am” (John 8:58). “In him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily” (Col. 2:9).
I. The Son of God.
This is the Lord’s title of personal glory and deity. “The angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God” (Luke 1:35). “The Jews answered him, We have a law, and by our law he ought to die, because he made himself the Son of God” (John 19:7). See also John 5:18.
The Lord Jesus is the Son of God. A Christian is a Son of God. The Lord Jesus is the Son of God by relation and nature; the Christian is a Son of God by regeneration and adoption. The Lord Jesus has been the Son of God from all time and eternity; the Christian becomes a child of God when he trusts in Christ, the Lord.
J. The Son of Man.
This seems to be the favorite title of the Lord, the one by which He called Himself time and again: “Jesus said unto him, Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head” (Luke 9:58).
This is the Millennial title of Christ. Wherever it is recorded, it is used in connection with the coming kingdom reign of the Lord Jesus Christ. Even in the Old Testament the same thing holds true. Some may take issue with this, stating that Ezekiel takes upon himself that same title, the son of man. However, we refer the reader to the passages where it is used; there the coming Millennial Kingdom is in view. For example, in Ezekiel 37 is the prophecy of the Valley of Dry Bones, the whole house of Israel, which shall come to life again when the Lord prophecies unto them to return to the Land of Palestine; that will be the Millennium.
This is the Lord’s title and not man’s. You are a son of man, but He is the Son of man.
The title, the Son of man, is found eighty-eight times in the New Testament: once in Acts; once in Hebrews; twice in Revelation; and eighty-four times in the Gospels; not once in the Epistles. The Epistles concern the Church, not the coming kingdom of the Millennium. Christ is King of the Kingdom, but Head of the Church. And as the Church is not the Kingdom, therefore, the Millennial Title (the Son of man) of Christ is not found in the Epistles to the Churches.
K. The Son of Abraham.
The Gospel of Matthew is described as “the book of the generation of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham” (Matt. 1:1). “Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ” (Gal. 3:16).
The Messiah (Christ) was to be a Jew. Christ was a Jew, for He was a Son of Abraham, and thus the Messiah!
L. The Son of David.
This is the royal title of the Lord Jesus: “When he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to cry out, and say, Jesus, thou son of David, have mercy on me” (Mark 10:47).
M. The Son of the Highest.
The title of pre-eminence: “He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David” (Luke 1:32).
N. Second Man.
“Second Man” indicates that there was one man before Him — only one — and that man was Adam: “The first man is of the earth, earthy: the second man is the Lord from heaven” (I Cor. 15:47).
O. Last Adam.
“Last Adam” indicates that there is no man to follow Him. There are only two men in the records of God: Adam and Christ. Thus, the world is divided under these two headships: Adam and Christ. All are of Adam by the natural birth; only those are of Christ who have experienced the new birth.
“It is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening spirit” (I Cor. 15:45).
P. The Word.
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God” (John 1:1, 2).
As spoken words reveal the invisible thoughts of man, so the visible (living) Word reveals to us the invisible God.
“Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us” (Matt. 1:23). As the Scripture tells us, it means “God with us.” Remember, the Lord Jesus is Emmanuel — God with us; He will never leave nor forsake us (Heb. 13:5, 6).
“Unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord” (Luke 2:11). Not a helper, but a Saviour!
This comes from the Hebrew word meaning teacher. “Then Jesus turned, and saw them following, and saith unto them, What seek ye? They said unto him, Rabbi (which is to say, being interpreted, Master,) where dwellest thou?” (John 1:38).
This is the same as the word “rabbi,” meaning Teacher, but comes from the Chaldean. “Jesus saith unto her, Mary. She turned herself, and saith unto him, Rabboni; which is to say, Master” (John 20:16).
“When the Pharisees saw it, they said unto his disciples, Why eateth your Master with publicans and sinners?” (Matt. 9:11). The meaning here is “Instructor.” The idea of Owner is not here implied, as in the word “Lord” (Adonai). The world today recognizes that Jesus is a great Master (Instructor), but will not own Him as Lord. The Lord Jesus is not merely our Instructor: He is our God, our Jehovah, our Lord!
II. THE INCARNATION OF CHRIST
This is a cardinal truth of Christianity. It is the fundamental foundation upon which our faith rests. Without the incarnation, Christianity could not stand. There is no way of getting rid of the incarnation without getting rid of Christianity. Mere man did not reveal this to us but God Himself did, through the revelation of His Word: “I would that ye knew what great conflict [fear or care] I have for you, and for them at Laodicea . . . that their hearts, might be comforted, being knit together in love, and unto all riches of the full assurance of understanding, to the acknowledgment of the mystery of God, and of the Father, and of Christ, in whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” (Col. 2:1-3).
The word “incarnation” comes from the Latin word meaning enfleshment; thus, when we speak of the incarnation of Christ Jesus, the Son of God, we mean the “enfleshment” of God — God manifest in the flesh.
A. The Fact of the Incarnation.
Two of the Gospels, Matthew and Luke, record the full account of it. Both accounts are different, but both agree in the true facts. Matthew, which portrays Christ as the King throughout the whole Book, describes His birth as: “He who is born King of the Jews,” tracing His line through Solomon to David. Luke, which reveals Christ as the perfect Man, emphasizes the humanity (human nature) of Jesus, showing that His lineage went back through Mary, to Nathan (another son of David), then to David, and on to Abraham, and finally to the first man, Adam.
1. As To the Virginity of Mary. Both Matthew and Luke state she was a virgin. “Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost” (Matt. 1:18). “In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God unto a city of Galilee, named Nazareth, to a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary. . . . Then said Mary unto the angel, How shall this be, seeing I know not a man?” (Luke 1:26, 27, 34).
2. As To Her Discovered Motherhood Before Her Marriage to Joseph. “Joseph also went up from Galilee . . . to be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child” (Luke 2:5). See also Matthew 1:18-20.
3. As To the Divine Paternity. If Joseph was not Jesus Christ’s father, then who was? God, of course: “Behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David. . . . And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God” (Luke 1:31, 32, 34). See also Matthew 1:18-20.
B. The Manner of the Incarnation.
The reason why so many do not believe in the virgin birth of Jesus Christ is that they think His birth was the birth of a mere baby, and not the birth of God, the Son. Remember, this is the incarnation — the enfleshment of God, God manifest in the flesh!
1. As Testified By Matthew.
a. In the Genealogy of Christ. Tracing the Lord’s descent from Abraham in chapter one, verses one through seventeen, we notice that the word “begat” is mentioned thirty-nine times, but is omitted after the name Joseph, the husband of the Virgin, Mary. Joseph did not beget Jesus Christ: “Jacob begat Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus, who is called Christ” (Matt. 1:16).
Then, one may ask, why is this genealogy mentioned in the first place? The reason is this: the future King of Israel had to come through this line (David, Solomon, etc.); and, in order to prove that Jesus was the rightful heir to the throne of David, it had to be shown that He came from this line. When Joseph married the Virgin Mary, her virgin-born Son became the legal heir of Joseph and first in line for the throne.
Was Christ an actual son of David? Certainly He was, but not through Joseph to Solomon and David. He was a son of David by His mother; she, herself, was a princess in Israel, tracing her lineage through Nathan (another son of David) on to David. By blood Christ Jesus was a son of David through Mary; legally He was a son of David through Joseph.
b. In the Attitude of Joseph. For this let us turn to Matthew 1:18-25: “Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost. Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not willing to make her a publick example, was minded to put her away privily. But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost. And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins. Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us. Then Joseph being raised from sleep did as the angel of the Lord had bidden him, and took unto him his wife: and knew her not till she had brought forth her firstborn son: and he called his name JESUS.”
Now if this does not speak of the virgin birth, how would you state it? In his own mind, Joseph was convinced of the impurity of Mary, his espoused wife. He reasoned that if he had not known her some other man must have. Living under the law, a just man, he thought of two things to do: divorce her; or have her exposed and stoned to death. He never once conceived of the idea of taking her and making her his wife; indeed, not until the angel appeared unto him and commanded him to do so; and this he did.
Men today, even some preachers, think it is smart to deny that Jesus was of a virgin birth. They say that Joseph was the father, but Joseph said he was not.
c. In the Worship of the Wise Men. “There came wise men... saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him. . . . And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshiped him” (Matt. 2: 2, 11).
These wise men were indeed wise men. They worshiped the Baby, and not the mother Mary. These men were men of God, taught and led by God; they would not have worshiped the Baby if Joseph had been the father.
d. In the Expressions of “the Young Child and His Mother.” Four times is this statement made (Matt. 2:11, 13, 14, 20); never does it say, “your wife and your child.” In connection with this we note another statement: “When they were departed, behold, the angel of the Lord appeareth to Joseph in a dream, saying, Arise, and take the young child and his mother, and flee into Egypt; and be thou there until I bring thee word: for Herod will seek the young child to destroy him. When he arose, he took the young child and his mother by night, and departed into Egypt: and was there until the death of Herod: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Out of Egypt have I called my son.” (Matt. 2:13-15). My Son. Not Joseph’s, but God’s!
2. As Testified by Luke.
a. In the Enunciation to Zacharias. “The angel said unto him, Fear not, Zacharias: for thy prayer is heard; and thy wife Elisabeth shall bear thee a son, and thou shalt call his name John. And thou shalt have joy and gladness; and many shall rejoice at his birth. For he shall be great in the sight of the Lord, and shall drink neither wine nor strong drink; and he shall be filled with the Holy Ghost, even from his mother’s womb. And many of the children of Israel shall he turn to the Lord their God. And he shall go before him in the spirit and power of Elias, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just; to make ready a people prepared for the Lord” (Luke 1:13-17).
Herein Zacharias was told that he was to have a son who would be the forerunner of the Christ, the Son of God.
b. In the Enunciation to Mary. “The angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God. And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS” (Luke 1:30, 31).
Mary became a woman with child out of wedlock, which was evil unto God; but Mary found favor in God’s sight. Thus, if Mary had become with child by man, and God still blessed her while in that condition, then God would be a God of evil. But we know He found favor with her, and she with Him, for she was with child, but by the Holy Ghost.
c. In the Praise of Elizabeth. “She [Elizabeth] spake out with a loud voice, and said, Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb. And whence is this to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For, lo, as soon as the voice of thy salutation sounded in mine ears, the babe leaped in my womb for joy. And blessed is she that believed: for there shall be a performance of those things which were told her from the Lord” (Luke 1:42-45).
Was this the praise to Mary? No!
d. In the Song of Mary. “Mary said, My soul doth magnify the Lord, and my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour...” (Luke 1:46-55). This was not a song of a woman that had conceived and was to bear in shame; it was a song filled with joy and praise to God, who had selected her to bring forth the Messiah.
e. In the Prophecy of Zacharias. “Thou, child, shalt be called the prophet of the Highest: for thou shalt go before the face of the Lord to prepare his ways” (Luke 1:76). This is only a portion of the prophecy of the father of John the Baptist concerning the work of John, then just born. He declares that the One whom John shall go before is the Son of God, and not the son of a man.
f. In the Experience of Shepherds. “There were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not:
for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men” (Luke 2:8-14).
When Christ was born, Heaven shouted a message of praise. Would all this have happened over a bastard child? Of course not! But Jesus was what the Word says He is — Christ the Lord!— the virgin son of Mary.
C. The Objections to the Incarnation.
Many of the enemies of God are within the body of professed believers — those who claim to be Christians, but deny the virgin birth of Christ. Someone may ask: “When a person is to be saved, does he have to believe in the virgin birth of Christ to be saved? Is this one doctrine which one must believe and understand to be saved?” Let us answer by asking this: “Do you believe that it is possible for a saved person not to believe in the virgin birth of Christ?” Of course not! All saved, born-again saints of God will believe that our Saviour was virgin born. The only thing that a lost person has to do to be saved is to repent of his sins and trust Christ as his Saviour, believing that He died for his sins and that He rose again from the dead. Saved people will believe in the virgin birth of our Lord.
Those who say they are Christians, and deny the virgin birth, are mere “professors” and not “possessors.” These enemies within, and those without the professing Church, object to the virgin birth by the following arguments:
1. The Scholarship of the Day is Against It. This statement is not true, but it would not matter much if it were, for we know that “the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be” (Rom. 8:7). The unconverted heart knows not God nor of the things of God; and, of course, it would not believe in the virgin birth of Jesus Christ. lJnregenerated scholars may not accept this divine truth, but there are great minds of this world sitting upon the chairs of learning in our leading colleges and universities — saved men - who believe and testify to the virgin birth of Jesus. Really, a person is not indeed educated until he believes God and His Word: “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge” (Pro. 1:7).
2. The New Testament is Silent Concerning It. Certainly Matthew is not silent concerning it; surely Luke is not silent concerning it. God has provided two witnesses, for “in the mouth of two or three witnesses shall every word be established” (II Cor. 13:1). God fulfills the Law, thus establishing the truth concerning the virgin birth of our Redeemer. What if there were only one witness? It still would be true, for it is God who speaketh.
a. But There is the Testimony of Mark. By this we present indirect evidence which proves the virgin birth of Christ. There is nothing said against the virgin birth. Mark does not record the birth of the Lord; does he mean to state that Christ never existed? Of course not. The Gospel of Mark presents Jesus as the Perfect Servant; and when considering a servant, no one cares to know his genealogy; thus the birth of Christ is omitted. The first verse of Mark’s Gospel states: “The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.” Any Hebrew knows that this means that Jesus Christ was on an equal with God, and we know that the record tells us of things Jesus Christ did which no other man could ever do.
b. But There is the Testimony of John. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. . . . And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth” (John 1:1, 14). Indeed this is not the record of a mere man, but the Son of Man, the Son of God, God Himself!
c. But There is the Testimony of Paul. While stating that these arguments are of Mark, John, Paul, and others, let us bear in mind that, while these men penned these words, the words are the words of God, and they express His mind upon the virgin birth of His Son.
Paul was separated “unto the gospel of God . . . concerning his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, which was made of the seed of David according to the flesh; and declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead. . . . what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh” (Rom. 1:3, 4; 8:3). “Ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich” (II Cor. 8:9). See also Philippians 2:5-7; Galatians 4:4; I John 4:2; Colossians 2:8.
3. The Early Church Didn’t Believe It. This is another false argument against the virgin birth which can be refuted easily. The early creeds of the Church plainly declared the virgin birth.
a. The Apostles’ Creed. This dates back to the second century. The word “creed” comes from the Latin, credo, which means, “I believe.” These creeds came first orally, then written.
b. The Nicene Creed. This goes back to the fourth century. When Arius stated that Jesus was a created being, and not the Son from all eternity, a council was called to settle the fact that Christ, though born of the virgin, has existed co-eternally with the Father. The Council at Constantinople (381) was called. This council also refers to the fact of the virgin birth of Christ.
c. The Te Deum Laudamus. This was an ancient hymn preserved by the Church, which proved that the Early Church believed in the virgin birth of Christ.
4. It Is Against the Laws of Nature. To this argument against the virgin birth, we reply, “It most certainly is against the laws of nature.” For this was not the birth of a mere baby, but the birth of the Son of God in the flesh. Did you ever take time to consider that this might have been the only way by which God could have come in the flesh — by the virgin birth?
There are three ways by which God made human beings not according to the laws of nature: (1) When He made Adam without the aid of a man and woman; (2) when He made Eve without the aid of a woman; (3) when He made Christ without the aid of a man.
5. It Is Too Much Like Mythology. It is true that many idolatrous religions have taught that their gods were the offsprings of women, but not wholly of virginity; rather, that these women had carnal relations with other gods which produced the people’s gods. Can there be any comparison between the birth of Jesus Christ and the reported stories of those myths? Of course not! The virgin births of the men of mythology are not virgin, but the result of carnal intercourse.
6. In Calling Himself the Son of Man Christ Denied the Virgin Birth. Remember, the Lord Jesus Christ never said, “I am a Son of a man”; but, “I am the Son of Man.”
7. The Need of a Purification Proved That This Was a Natural Birth. Under the law of Israel all women were unclean. The purpose of this law was hygienic, to save the woman’s health, protecting her from the pleasure of her husband while she was still in a weakened condition, caused by childbirth.
D. The Objects of the Incarnation.
What were the purposes of the virgin birth?
1. To Reveal the Invisible God. “No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him” (John 1:18). Jesus Christ is the Exposition of God, the Revealer of God. If you want to know what God is like, look upon Jesus.
2. To Fulfill Prophecy.
a. The Seed as an Example. “I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel” (Gen. 3:15). A woman does not have seed; seed belongs to the man. But this Scripture mentions the “seed of the woman.” This is contrary to nature and refers, of course, to the virgin birth — fulfilled when Mary gave birth to Jesus Christ.
b. The Virgin as an Example. “The Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.” (Is. 7:14). This Scripture means exactly what we mean.
3. To Fulfill the Davidic Covenant. “There shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots. . . . And in that day there shall be a root of Jesse, which shall stand for an ensign of the people; to it shall the Gentiles seek: and his rest shall be glorious” (Is. 11:1, 10). “Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will raise unto David a righteous Branch, and a King shall reign and prosper, and shall execute judgment and justice in the earth. In his days Judah shall be saved, and Israel shall dwell safely: and this is his name whereby he shall be called, THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS” (Jer. 23:5, 6). “Men and brethren, let me freely speak unto you of the patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried, and his sepulchre is with us unto this day. Therefore being a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him, that of the fruit of his loins, according to the flesh, he would raise up Christ to sit on his throne; he seeing this before spake of the resurrection of Christ, that his soul was not left in hell, neither his flesh did see corruption” (Acts 2:29-31). See also I Samuel 7:4-17; Luke 1:32, 33.
4. To Sacrifice For Our Sins. “Ye know that he was manifested to take away our sins; and in him is no sin” (I John 3:5). “It is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins. Wherefore when he cometh into the world, he saith, Sacrifice and offering thou wouldest not, but a body hast thou prepared me. . . . Above when he said, Sacrifice and offering and burnt offerings and offering for sin thou wouldest not, neither hadst pleasure therein; which are offered by the law; then said he, Lo, I come to do thy will, O God. He taketh away the first, that he may establish the second. By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all” (Heb. 10:4, 5, 8-10). “Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; by which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain. For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; and that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures” (I Cor. 15:1-4).
a. A Sacrifice of Beast Never Took Away Sin. It is God who instituted animal sacrifice. Yet all the blood for centuries shed upon Jewish altars never took one sin away. Why, then, was it commanded? It was commanded in order to provide a “covering” for sins until the blood of Christ would come and “wash” them away. No, animal sacrifices could never take away sin, for the sacrifice must come up to the level of man, for whom it is sacrificed.
b. The Sacrifice Must Be Sinless. We agree that a “man must be sacrificed for a man”; animals do not come up to the level of man. Yet one sinful man cannot be offered up as a sacrifice for another sinful man, for if the first sinful man must die, he must die for his own sin.
c. The Sacrifice Must Be an Infinite Sacrifice. Not only must the sacrifice come up to the level of man, for whom it is offered, but it must come up to the level of God, whom it must satisfy! Jesus, our Lord, fulfilled all! “His own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sin, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed” (I Peter 2:24).
5. To Provide the Redeemed With a High Priest. “In all things it behoved him to be made like unto his brethren, that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people. . . . Wherefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the Apostle and High Priest of our profession, Christ Jesus” (Heb. 2:17; 3:1).
Today we have One, even Jesus Christ, who stands for us before God. We have an accuser (Rev. 12:10), who accuses us daily before God, but we also have an advocate with the Father, who maketh intercession for us.
6. To Show Believers How To Live. “He that saith he abideth in him ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked” (I John 2:6). “For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps” (I Peter 2:21).
7. To Become the Head of a New Creation. “He that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. And he said unto me, Write: for these words are true and faithful” (Rev. 21:5). See also II Corinthians 5:17; I Corinthians 15: 4, 47.
E. The Perpetuity of the Incarnation.
By this we mean the “everlasting of the incarnation.” God will always be manifested in the flesh in the person of His Son Jesus Christ.
1. Is Essential To the Integrity of Our Lord’s Manhood. Our Lord, now in glory, has His manhood. He is man today.
2. Is Essential To Our Lord’s High Priesthood. “Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil; and deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage. For verily he took not on him the nature of angels; but he took on him the seed of Abraham. Wherefore in all things it behoved him to be made like unto his brethren, that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people. For in that he himself hath suffered being tempted, he is able to succour them that are tempted” (Heb. 2: 14-18). “And they truly were many priests, because they were not suffered to continue by reason of death: but this man, because he continueth ever, hath an unchangeable priesthood. Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them. For such an high priest became us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and made higher than the heavens; who needeth not daily, as those high priests, to offer up sacrifice, first for his own sins, and then for the people’s: for this he did once, when he offered up himself. For the law maketh men high priests which have infirmity; but the word of the oath, which was since the law, maketh the Son, who is consecrated for evermore” (Heb. 7:23-28). “For Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures of the true; but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us” (Heb. 9:24). “Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Heb. 12:2).
3. Is Essential To Our Lord’s Return and Millennium Reign. “While they looked stedfastly toward heaven as he went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel; which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven” (Acts 1:10, 11). “I have said, Mercy shall be built up for ever; thy faithfulness shalt thou establish in the very heavens. I have made a covenant with my chosen. I have sworn unto David my servant, Thy seed will I establish for ever, and build up thy throne to all generations” (Ps. 89:2-4). “In that day will I raise up the tabernacle of David that is fallen, and close up the breaches thereof; and I will raise up his ruins, and I will build it as in the days of old” (Amos 9:11). See also Isaiah 9:6, 7; 55:3, 4.
F. The Proofs of the Incarnation.
The proofs of the incarnation are centered in Christ Himself!
1. Such As His Sinless Life. “We have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin” (Heb. 4:15). “For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him” (II Cor. 5:21). Only God, in human flesh, could live the sinless life.
2. Such As His Resurrection. “Now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept” (I Cor. 15:20). Would He have been raised from the dead had He not been the incarnate Son of God? Of course not.
III. THE TWO NATURES OF CHRIST
There can be no Christianity without Christ. Orthodoxy of any person, or any church, can be settled upon this question: What think ye of Christ?
We wonder why the modernists of today try to lay Christ low. There are those who try to prove that He never existed. In one great university, a certain professor went to lengths to prove that Christ was only a figment of the mind. After many lectures, he completed his tirade, and then asked for comments. One student humbly asked, “If Christ never existed, why are you attacking Him?”
Why do not the enemies leave Him alone if He never existed? Why have anything to do with Him if He never rose from the dead? But He does exist; He has been resurrected; He ever lives!
Who is He? has been the question for two thousand years. We have the testimonies and confessions of men who saw Him: John the Baptist — “Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world” (John 1:29); “I saw, and bare record that this is the Son of God” (John 1:34); Andrew —“We have found the Messias, which is, being interpreted, the Christ” (John 1:41); Philip — “We have found him, of whom Moses in the law, and the prophets, did write, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph” (John 1:45); Peter — “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God” (Matt. 16:16).
Among the people there was division caused by this question, Who is He? “Many of the people therefore, when they heard this saying, said, Of a truth, this is the Prophet. Others said, This is the Christ. But some said, Shall Christ come out of Galilee? Hath not the scripture said, That Christ cometh of the seed of David, and out of the town of Bethlehem, where David was? So there was a division among the people because of him” (John 7:40-43). See also John 9:17, 18; 10: 9-20; Luke 5: 21.
Men questioned the deity of Christ, but the demons never did. They acknowledged Him as being their Creator and coming Judge: “Behold, they cried out, saying, What have we to do with thee, Jesus thou Son of God? art thou come hither to torment us before the time?” (Matt. 8:29).
At the trial of the Lord Jesus, this same question predominated: “Jesus stood before the governor: and the governor asked him, saying, Art thou the King of the Jews? And Jesus said unto him, Thou sayest” (Matt. 27:11). See also Matthew 26:63; Luke 22: 67, 70.
And as He hung upon the Cross, the question still agitated the minds of his enemies: “They that passed by reviled him...saying, Thou that destroyest the temple, and buildest it in three days, save thyself. If thou be the Son of God, come down from the cross” (Matt. 27:40).
As we have the testimonies and confessions of those who saw Him, we ourselves who trust Him, and love Him, have the Witness (Holy Spirit) within that He is the Christ, the Son of the living God: “For he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you” (John 14:17a); “No man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Ghost” (I Cor. 12:3b).
A. The Humanity of Christ.
In other days it was the humanity of Christ which was under attack, and not His deity. No matter what age we may live in, Satan is the common enemy, and it is he who keeps going the continued attack upon our Lord.
1. He was Perfectly Human. By this we mean that our Lord, though He has been from all time and eternity, yet when He became flesh, He possessed a perfect human body, soul and spirit. Man, we know, has a body, soul and spirit: “The very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ” (I Thess. 5:23).
a. His Human Physical Body. Yes, the Lord Jesus, in His humanity, possessed a body: “For in that she hath poured this ointment on my body, she did it for my burial” (Matt. 26:12; see also Hebrews 10:5); a soul: “Now is my soul troubled; and what shall I say? Father, save me from this hour: but for this cause came I unto this hour” (John 12:27; see also Matthew 26:38); and a spirit; “Immediately when Jesus perceived in his spirit that they so reasoned within themselves, he said unto them, Why reason ye these things in your hearts” (Mark 2:8; see also Luke 23:46; Luke 10:21).
b. His Human Appearance. The woman at the well recognized Jesus as a human being: “How is it that thou, being a Jew, askest drink of me, which am a woman of Samaria? for the Jews have no dealings with the Samaritans” (John 4:9). And after Christ’s resurrection He still maintained His human appearance; for Mary, supposing Jesus to be the gardener, recognized Him as a human being: “She, supposing him to be the gardener, saith unto him, Sir, if thou have borne him hence, tell me where thou hast laid him, and I will take him away” (John 20:15b).
c. His Human Parent. Though God was His Father, yet the Lord Jesus did have a human mother, thus proving that He was human: “When the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law” (Gal. 4:4); Paul was separated unto the gospel “concerning his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, which was made of the seed of David, according to the flesh” (Rom. 1:3); “The third day there was a marriage in Cana of Galilee; and the mother of Jesus was there” (John 2:1). See also Matthew 2:11; 13:55; John 1:14.
d. His Human Development. Being perfectly human, the Lord was born, and He grew as other boys and girls: “The child grew, and waxed strong in spirit, filled with wisdom: and the grace of God was upon him. . . . And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man” (Luke 2:40, 52).
e. His Human Limitation. Being God, the Son of God became man, and when He did, He limited Himself to the realm of the human. Thus, He possessed human limitations, which were sinless infirmities. As we thus speak, let us not confuse infirmity with sin. He had human infirmities, but no sin. He hungered (“When he had fasted forty days and forty nights, he was afterward an hungred” — Matt. 4:2); He thirsted (“After this, Jesus knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the scripture might be fulfilled, saith, I thirst” — John 19:28); He became weary (“Now Jacob’s well was there. Jesus therefore, being wearied with his journey, sat thus on the well: and it was about the sixth hour” — John 4:6); He slept (“Behold, there arose a great tempest in the sea, insomuch that the ship was covered with the waves: but he was asleep”— Matt. 8:24). See Matthew 26:36-40, for these verses describe in full the testing of Christ in the garden such as only a human being can endure.
f. His Human Name. His human name was a name common to all of that time: “And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins” (Matt. 1:21). See also Luke 2:21.
g. His Human Suffering and Death. His suffering and death was common to that which is experienced by man. The Scriptures abound in the fact that He possessed a human body and suffered as a human (Matt. 26:26-35; John 19:20; Luke 22:44).
If Jesus was not man, He could not have died, for God, in His true essence, cannot die! And He did die “Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us” (Heb. 9:12). He rose from the dead! And He is still man!
2. He is the Perfect Human.
a. As He Transcends All Limitation of Character. Everything is combined in Him. Look at all the attributes of man, and you will find that some men possess one kind while other men possess other attributes; but in Him we find completeness — all the attributes of men.
We believe that the character of Jesus is free from forgery. It takes a Plato to forge a Plato, and it would have taken a Jesus to have forged a Jesus.
Think of His power compared with His humility: He drives the money-changers out of the temple at one moment, and then washes the disciples’ feet at another.
(1) He Has All Perfection. He never ran for fear. No one ever frightened Him. He was never elated with success; we are. The Devil never baffled Him. He is the Man above all men. You cannot put anyone on the same level with the Lord Jesus. Take the leaders of the world — Caesar, Alexander the Great, yea, even godly men, such as Moody and Billy Sunday — they can never come up to Him. You cannot put the gods of men upon the same platform with the Lord Jesus. There is only one place for our Saviour, and that is the throne!
(2) He Is Without Sin. He is a perfect human being, the only One the world has ever seen. Turn to II Corinthians 5:21 and read the description of Him: “He hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.” This verse of Scripture does not mean that Christ never sinned, although He never did, but rather that He was without a sinful nature.
If a man lived all his life without sin, he still would not be perfect. By living without sin, he would only be triumphing over a sinful nature. Christ never had a sinful nature. “that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God” (Luke 1: 35c). There has been only one Holy Baby ever to be born into this world, and they called Him Jesus! No drunkard can help a drunkard. A man does not have to become a thief to help a thief. The Lord Jesus did not take upon Himself a sinful nature in order to help us who do have a sinful nature.
When the Lord Jesus was in the wilderness for forty days, He knew what hunger was. He knows how it is with us when we go hungry. No man ever died at the stake, or went through a time of testing, as He did upon the Cross. He knows what it is to suffer. We have something in us that wants us to sin, but He never wanted to sin — that is what He suffered: the Devil trying to make Him want to sin.
That age-old question may now be raised: “Could the Lord Jesus have sinned had He wanted to?” The question is thrown aside by stating, “He could not have wanted to, being the Son of God.” But, someone may add, if He could not have sinned, then why the temptation? If He could not have sinned, then the temptation was a mockery! That is exactly the answer! For He was not tested to see if He would sin, but He was tested to show (to prove) that He would not sin.
This is something to consider also: if the Lord Jesus could have sinned here upon earth, then it is still possible for Him to sin in Heaven as He maketh intercession for us. But He could not have sinned upon earth, and He cannot sin in heaven. He is our perfect High Priest.
b. As He Transcends All Limitations of Time. He is for all time. His teachings are not out-of-date. They are up-to-date! The books of our colleges and universities are not over ten years old; they are ever changing. But His words stand sure.
He is the One who has said, “Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall never pass away.” But there is no record of Him writing a book of His life — yet His words are true, for they have not passed away!
c. As He Transcends All Limitations of All Nationalities. The Jew was exclusive of all people, and the Lord Jesus came from the most exclusive race of people, yet He belongs to all kindreds and tribes! He belongs to all. The Chinaman thinks of Him as being Chinese; the Englishman thinks of Him as being English. When we are saved, we claim Him as our own, no matter to what race we belong.
Christ was liar, lunatic, or Lord! No modernist ever says He was a liar — He only thought He was God. Then He must have been a lunatic. Of course He was not a liar nor a lunatic; He was the Son of God! The God man!
B. The Deity of Christ.
1. Divine Predictions. “The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit thou at my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy foot-stool” (Ps. 110:1); “Thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting” (Mic. 5:2). See also Isaiah 7:14; 9:8; Jeremiah 23:6; and Genesis 3:15.
2. Divine Names.
a. He Is Called God. “Thomas answered and said unto him, My Lord and my God” (John 20:28); “Christ came, who is over all, God blessed for ever. Amen” (Rom. 9:5); “We know that the Son of God is come, and hath given us an understanding, that we may know him that is true, and we are in him that is true, even in his Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God, and eternal life” (I John 5:20). See also Matthew 1:23; John 1:1; compare Psalm 45:6, 7 with Hebrews 1:8.
b. He is Called the Son of God. This implies sameness with God. “Devils also came out of many, crying out, and saying, Thou art Christ the Son of God. And he rebuking them suffered them not to speak: for they knew that he was Christ” (Luke 4:41); “Verily, verily, I say unto you, The hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God: and they that hear shall live” (John 5:25); “For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh” (Rom. 8:3). Look up these other Scriptures: Mark 1:1; Matthew 27:40, 43; John 19:7; 10:36; 11:4.
c. He Is Called Lord. “The Son of man is Lord even of the sabbath day” (Matt. 12:8); “Ye call me Master and Lord: and ye say well; for so I am” (John 13:13); “And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house” (Acts 16:31); “He hath on his vesture and on his thigh a name written, KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS” (Rev. 19:16).
d. He Is Called Other Divine Names. “When I saw him, I fell at his feet as dead. And he laid his right hand upon me, saying unto me, Fear not; I am the first and the last” (Rev. 1:17). See also Revelation 22:13.
3. Divine Equality. “Now, O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self with the glory which I had with thee before the world was” (John 17:5); “He that seeth me seeth him that sent me” (John 12:45); “Being in the form of God, [Christ Jesus] thought it not robbery to be equal with God” (Phil. 2: 6a); “In him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily” (Col. 2:9).
4. Divine Relationship. His name is coupled with the Father’s. “I and my Father are one” (John 10:30). “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Ghost, be with you all. Amen” (II Cor. 13:14); “Now our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God, even our Father, which hath loved us, and hath given us everlasting consolation and good hope through grace, comfort your hearts, and stablish you in every good word and work” (II Thess.
5. Divine Worship. Worship belongs only to God. Christ received true worship. Therefore, Christ is God! “There came wise men . . . saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him. . . . And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down and worshipped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense, and myrrh” (Matt. 2:2, 11). The wise men did not come to worship Mary, but Christ Jesus. In later years he accepted worship: “They that were in the ship came and worshipped him, saying, Of a truth thou art the Son of God” (Matt. 14:33). See also Matthew 9:18; Luke 24:52. If Christ had not been God, then this worship would have been idolatry. It is God’s command that the Son should be worshiped. “And again, when he bringeth in the firstbegotten into the world, he saith, And let all the angels of God worship him” (Heb. 1:6). “That all men should honour the Son, even as they honour the Father. He that honoureth not the Son honoureth not the Father which hath sent him” (John 5:23). This is true of all ages, that Christians have worshiped Christ as God. Born-again men would not have been satisfied with the worshiping of the mere man.
6. Divine Attributes.
a. Omnipotence. “Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth” (Matt. 28:18). He has power over death: “Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: and whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this?” (John 11:25, 26). He has power over nature: “By him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: and he is before all things, and by him all things consist” (Col. 1:16, 17). He has power over demons: “They were all amazed, and spake among themselves, saying, What a word is this! for with authority and power he commandeth the unclean spirits, and they come out” (Luke 4:36).
b. Omniscience. “Now are we sure that thou knowest all things, and needest not that any man should ask thee: by this we believe that thou camest forth from God” (John 16:30). “He [Peter] said unto him, Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee. Jesus saith unto him, Feed my sheep” (John 21:17c). See also Matthew 9:4; 12:25; Luke 6:8; 9:47; 10:22; John 1:48, 49; John 4:16-19; Mark 2:8.
This one question of the doctors of Jerusalem proves the omniscience of the Lord Jesus: “How knoweth this man letters, never having learned?” (John 7:15). This leads us to know that Christ was never taught by man. He needed no schooling, nor tutors. His disciples sat at His feet — at whose feet did He sit? At no one’s! Paul was a student of Gamaliel — who taught Jesus? No one! Christ said, “Learn of me” — when did He ever say, “Teach me”? Never! We are sometimes advised to go to a higher authority, but to what authority did He go? To none other, for He had all authority. When did Jesus ever say, “I don’t remember, I will have to look it up?” Never! He was never caught off guard. In Mark 12:13 we have these words: “And they send unto him certain of the Pharisees and of the Herodians to catch him in his words.” They tried to trap Him in His words, but He was all wise and put His persecutors into confusion.
(1) How He Taught.
(a) With Simplicity. His illustrations were made on the spot. He drew them from life itself. He had no need of a filing system.
(b) With Authority. You never heard the Lord say, “We may as well suppose” (See Matthew 7:29; Mark 1:22).
(2) What He Taught.
(a) Doctrine. What He taught is not popular today. The modernists substitute ethics for doctrine; they believe in salvation by ethical living.
(b) Ethics. Christ certainly did teach ethics, but doctrine was first. Ethics must have doctrine for its foundation.
c. Omni-sapience. “In whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.” (Col. 2:3).
d. Omnipresence. “Lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world” (Matt. 28:20). “No man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven” (John 3:13).
e. Immutability. “They shall perish; but thou remainest; and they all shall wax old as doth a garment; and as a vesture shalt thou fold them up, and they shall be changed: but thou art the same, and thy years shall not fail” (Heb. 1:11, 12). “This man, because he continueth ever, hath an unchangeable priesthood” (Heb. 7:24). “Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever” (Heb. 13:8). Jesus may change His position, but His Person never changes.
f. Everlastingness. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God” (John 1:1, 2). “Thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting” (Mic. 5:2). “Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am” (John 8:58). “Fear not; I am the first and the last” (Rev. 1:17c).
g. holiness. “Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth” (I Peter 2:22). “Ye know that he was manifested to take away our sins; and in him is no sin” (I John 3:5). See also Hebrews 7:26.
h. Love. Paul prays that the Ephesians may be able “to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye may be filled with all the fulness of God” (Eph. 3:19).
(1) It is Spontaneous.
(2) It is Eternal.
(3) It is Infinite.
(4) It is Inexhaustible.
(5) It is Invincible. See Ephesians 5:25; Revelation 1:5.
i. Righteousness and Justice. “Ye denied the Holy One and the Just, and desired a murderer, to be granted unto you” (Acts 3:14).
7. Divine Offices.
a. Creation. All creation is by the act of God; Christ created: therefore, Christ is God. “Thou, Lord, in the beginning hast laid the foundation of the earth; and the heavens are the works of thy hands” (Heb. 1:10). See John 1:3; Colossians 1:16; Ephesians 3:9; John 1:10.
b. Preservation. “Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high” (Heb. 1:3). “He is before all things, and by him all things consist” — all things hang together (Col. 1: 17).
c. Pardon. “He said unto her, Thy sins are forgiven” (Luke 7:48). See also Mark 2:5-10.
d. Resurrection. “This is the Father’s will which hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day. And this is the will of him that sent me, that everyone which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day” (John 6:39, 40).
e. Transformation. “Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is” (I John 3:2). See also Philippians 3:21 (R.V.).
f. Judgment. “The Father judgest no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son” (John 5:22). See also Acts 17:31; Matthew 16:27; Matthew 25:31; Romans 2:16; 14:10; II Corinthians 5:10; Revelation 22:12.
g. Salvation. “I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand” (John 10:28). See also John 5:25; 6:47; 10:10; 17:2.
C. The Blending of the Two Natures in One Person.
Man cannot understand it. This is one proof that the Bible is the Word of God, for if man had written the Bible he would have left the two natures of Christ out of it. These are infinite facts, and God does not seek to explain, but makes a simple declaration of fact; Christ possessed a human nature and a divine nature — both are complete. It is not Scriptural to say Christ is God and man; rather, He is the God-Man. A type of His dual nature can be found in the boards of the tabernacle. The boards were of wood and gold — one board, with two materials; not two boards. The wood never became gold, and the gold never became wood. Christ had but one personality, not two. Two natures, with one personality.
We try to make John 1:14 read, “The Word became a man”; but it says, “The Word was made flesh.”
If we make Christ have two personalities, then we make the Godhead a Foursome instead of a Trinity.
D. Errors Concerning the Two Natures of Christ.
1. Ebionitism. This error was prevalent during the first century of the Christian Church. It denied the deity of Christ. It stated that Christ had a relationship with God after His baptism.
2. Corinthianism. This was most popular during the days of the Apostle John. According to this error, Christ possessed no deity until He was baptized.
3. Docetism. This error found its way into the Church during the latter part of the second century. It maintained that Christ did not possess a human body. He had a body, He had a celestial body. Thus Docetism denied Christ’s humanity. Such error is the “spirit of anti-Christ” (I John 4:1-3).
4. Arianism. This error denied the divine nature of Christ. Arianism maintained that there was a time when the Son never existed, that God lived and then begat His Son after Him. Thus it denied Christ’s pre-existence.
5. Apollinarianisin. This error maintained that Christ possessed an incomplete human body. The Apollinarians reasoned: sin is sown in the soul of all men; God had no sin; therefore Christ had no soul; therefore He had an incomplete body.
6. Nestorianism. Nestorians took the two natures of Christ and made two persons out of them. That is, God came and dwelt in a perfect man; therefore God was in Christ, instead of Christ being God.
7. Eutychianism. The Eutychians took the two natures of Christ and ran them together and made one new nature.
8. Monothelitism. This error consisted of the belief that Christ had two natures, but only one will.
9. Unitarianism. The Unitarians deny the Trinity. Thus they deny the deity of Christ altogether.
10. Christian Science. This belief is a denial of the humanity of Christ.
11. Millennial Dawnism. This belief denies the personal existence of our Lord Jesus Christ.
IV. THE DEATH OF CHRIST
The Cross is the fundamental truth of the revealed Word of God. By the Cross we do not mean the tree, but the Sacrifice upon that tree.
We see the emblems of Christ and Him crucified in Genesis, and so on through the Old Testament. The only reason for Bethlehem is Calvary. Our salvation depends upon Christ dying upon the Cross.
A. The Fact of the Death.
1. Old Testament Anticipation.
a. In Type.
(1) Coats of Skin (Gen. 3:21).
(2) Abel’s Lamb (Gen. 4:4).
(3) Offering of Isaac (Gen. 22).
(4) Passover Lamb (Ex. 12).
(5) The Levitical Sacrificial System (Lev. 1:1 — 7:16).
(6) The Brazen Serpent (Num. 21; John 3:14, 15).
(7) The Slain Lamb (Is. 53:6, 7; John 1:29).
b. In Prediction.
(1) Seed of the Woman (Gen. 3:15).
(2) The Sin Offering of Psalm 22.
(3) The Vicarious Sufferings of Isaiah 53.
(4) The Cut-off Messiah of Daniel 9:26.
(5) The Smitten Shepherd of Zachariah 13:6, 7.
2. New Testament Revelation.
a. In General. One third of the Book of Matthew, more than one third of Mark, one fourth of Luke, and one half of John deals with the last week of Christ before His crucifixion.
b. In Particular.
(1) The Heart of Christ Must Be Noted.
(a) His Death. “If when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life” (Rom. 5:10). See also Philippians 2:8; Hebrews 2:9, 14; Revelation 5:6-12.
(b) His Cross. “We preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumbling block, and unto the Greeks foolishness” (I Cor. 1:23). See also Galatians 3:1; 6:14; Ephesians 2:16; Colossians 1:20.
(c) His Blood. “This is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins (Matt. 26:28). See also Mark 14:24; Ephesians 1:7; Cobssians 1:14; I John 1:7; Hebrews 9:12, 25; Revelation 1:5; 5:9.
(2) The Three Statements Concerning His Death Must Be Studied.
(a) Made Sin for Us. “He hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him” (II Cor. 5:21).
(b) Died the Just for the Unjust. “Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit” (I Peter 3:18).
(c) Made a Curse For Us. “Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree” (Gal. 3:13).
B. The Form of the Death.
1. A Natural Death. His death was a death such as experienced by man. It had to be a natural death, for He was The Man dying for all men.
2. An Abnormal Death. God cannot die, but God had to die if He was to become man’s substitute. Therefore He became a creature who could die. However, He contracted no sin while He lived.
Man dies today because of sin; but He had no sin. Apart from our sins, He would never have tasted death.
3. A Preternatural Death. Christ’s death was marked out and determined beforehand. Before the fall of Adam, God anticipated it. Before man sinned, God made provision for Calvary, for Christ is the Lamb slain “before the foundation of the world” (I Peter 1:20). Were the sins that man committed before Calvary taken away by the blood of bulls and goats? No! For all sins, whether committed before or after the Cross, were put on Him at Calvary (Rom. 3:25).
4. A Supernatural Death. While we have stated that His death was a natural death, yet it was different from the death of other men. “Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I might take it again. No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This commandment have I received of my Father” (John 10:17, 18).
His death was of His own volition. He lay down His life Himself; no one took it from Him. Usually it took two days for a man to die by crucifixion, but He died in six hours. Matthew 27: 46 and 50 state that He cried out with a loud voice. His strength had not left Him. He died in His strength. He gave His life; no one took it from Him. He bowed His head in death; He was majestic, even upon the cross.
Thus we see Christ suffering two deaths for us: the first death, the separation of the soul and spirit from the body; the second death, the separation of the individual from God. Christ suffered the second death first, and the first death last. He suffered the second death when He was separated from the Father, for He cried, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” (Matt. 27:46). Christ, the very son of God, was able to suffer in six hours what the sinner will endure throughout eternity.
C. Unscriptural Theories Concerning the Death.
“Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures” (I Cor. 15:3b). Anything that is not of the Scripture is false.
1. The Death of Christ Was a Martyr’s Death. “In this He died to show us that truth is worth dying for.” How does the child of God meet this argument? Simply by the following: Why didn’t Christ say so? Why didn’t Paul say so? Why didn’t Peter say so? And why didn’t John and Luke say so? If Christ had died a martyr’s death, why didn’t the apostles say, “Believe on Stephen’s death and be saved, for Stephen was a martyr?” If Christ died as a martyr, why didn’t the Father comfort Him at His death as He has done others down through the centuries? But He cried out, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?”
2. The Death of Christ Was Accidental. By the above statement critics mean that He was the victim of a mob. This we know is not true, for He was conscious of His future death. Seven times in the Gospel of John He speaks of “mine hour,” which was in the future, and which was Calvary. He need not have died. Nails did not hold Christ upon the cross, but His will. “Come down from the cross, if thou be the Son of God,” cried the mob; but Christ did not come from heaven to come down from the cross.
3. The Death of Christ Was a Moral Example. This theory holds that a drunkard has only to think on Christ and he will improve. To refute this we ask, “Why didn’t it improve the ones who crucified Him?” If Christ’s example is for the improvement of the world, then Christianity is a failure. Why not look upon the cross of Peter, as he was crucified downward? Man needs more than improvement.
4. The Death of Christ Was an Exhibit of God’s Displeasure with Sin. In other words some people think that God’s displeasure with sin is pictured on the cross rather than in hell. If the preceding statement is true, why the incarnation? Why not crucify a plain sinner, instead of the best Man who ever lived?
5. The Death of Christ Was to Show Man That God Loves Him. God does love man, and the Cross does show that God loves him, but the death of Christ was not only to show God’s love.
6. The Death of Christ Was the Death of a Criminal. Can it be possible that one could hold to this theory? The answer is “yes.” And we refute this theory by stating that Pilate found no fault in Him. A study of the trial, as found in the Gospels, will disprove this theory.
D. Scriptural Names of Christ’s Death.
1. Atonement. This is an Old Testament idea which means “to cover.” The only place that the word “atonement” can be found in the New Testament is in Romans 5:11, but this is a mistranslation; it should be translated “reconciliation.” However, the word “atonement” is a New Testament idea meaning “at-one-ment” — at one with God through the sacrifice of His Son.
2. Sacrifice. “Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. For even Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us” (I Cor. 5:7). See also Ephesians 5:2; Hebrews 9:26; 10:12.
3. Offering. “By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. . . . for by one offering He hath perfected forever them that are sanctified” (Heb. 10:10, 14).
4. Ransom. “The Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give His life a ransom for many” (Matt. 20:28). Also I Peter 1:18, 19; I Timothy 2:5, 6. We have been redeemed (bought back) by the Price, which is the blood of Jesus Christ.
5. Propitiation. “He is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world” (I John 2:2). See also I John 4:10; Romans 3:25. In Hebrews 9:5 the word “propitiation” is translated “mercy seat,” which is correct, for in the above Scriptures also the word “propitiation” means “mercy seat.” The law demanded death for sin; therefore, the blood of the sacrifice was placed on the mercy seat (Ex. 25:22; Lev. 16:13, 14), showing that death had taken place. God looked upon the mercy seat and saw blood — life — and was satisfied. Since Calvary, God looks upon our Mercy Seat, which is Christ, and is satisfied. Therefore, the underlying thought of propitiation is “satisfaction.”
6. Reconciliation. “To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation” (II Cor. 5:19). See also Colossians 1:20. The word “reconciliation” means to cause, or affect a thorough change. Never in Scripture does it say that God is reconciled. It is man who has to be reconciled; it is man who needs a thorough change.
7. Substitution. Substitution is not a Scriptural word, but it surely is a Scriptural idea. “He was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all” (Is. 53:5, 6). See also I Peter 3:18; II Corinthians 5:1.
8. Testator. A testament is a will that goes into effect at the death of the testator. Thus, our inheritance is that which we shall receive, which is made possible by the death of the Lord Jesus. “He is the mediator of the new testament, that by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first testament, they which are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance. For where a testament is there must also of necessity be the death of the testator. For a testament is of force after men are dead: otherwise, it is of no strength at all while the testator liveth” (Heb. 9:15-17). See also Colossians 1:12-14; Ephesians 1:1-7.
E. The Objectives of the Death.
1. The Manifestation of Divine Character. “Now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets. . . . To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus” (Rom. 3:21, 26).
2. The Vindication of Divine Law. The law is unto death. There is no mercy in law, only justice. The law condemns the sinner to death; Christ took the sinner’s place; therefore, Christ paid the law’s demand.
3. The Foundation of Divine Pardon. This statement will go unchallenged in the New Testament. There is one essential feature of forgiveness, and that is: the one who forgives must take upon himself all wrong (or loss) that has been committed. For example, if a person is robbed of ten dollars, and the culprit is found, but is forgiven, who then stands the loss? It is he who forgave.
F. The Extent of the Death.
1. General Statements.
a. Its Universality. His death was for all men — for those who believe, and those who believe not. “We see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man” (Heb. 2:9). See also I Timothy 2:6; 4:10; Titus 2:11; I John 2:2; II Peter 3:9.
b. Its Limitation. Christ’s work upon the cross was conditional, as the efficiency of it depended upon the repentance and acceptation of Christ by the sinner. “We labor and suffer reproach, because we trust in the living God, who is the Saviour of all men, especially of those that believe” (I Tim. 4:10).
2. Particular Statements.
a. Christ Died for the Believer. “Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works” (Titus 2:14). See also Ephesians 5:2; Galatians 2:20; I Timothy 4:10.
b. Christ Died for the Church. “Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ loved the church, and gave himself for it; that he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, that he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish” (Eph. 5:25-27).
c. Christ Died for Sinners. “Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but: quickened by the Spirit” (I Peter 3:18). See also I Timothy 1:15; Romans 5:10.
d. Christ Died for the World. “They sing a new song, saying, Worthy art thou to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and didst purchase unto God with thy blood men of every tribe, and tongue, and people, and nation” (Rev. 5:9, R.V.). See also John 3:16; 1:9; I John 2:2.
C. The Results of the Death.
1. In Relation to the Sinner.
a. Provides a Substitute. “We see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death ... that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man” (Heb. 2:9).
b. Provides a Ransom. “Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time” (I Tim. 2:6).
c. Provides a Propitiation. Because of the death of Christ, God is “mercy seated” — satisfied. “He is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world” (I John 2:2).
d. Provides for Non-imputation of Sin. “God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them: and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation” (II Cor. 5:19).
e. Provides an Attraction. “I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me” (John 12:32).
f. Provides a Salvation. “The grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men” (Titus 2: 11).
g. Provides a Gracious Invitation. “God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16).
2. In Relation to the Believer.
a. Reconciliation. “All things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation” (II Cor. 5:18).
b. Redemption. “We have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace” (Eph. 1:7). See also Galatians 3:13.
c. Justification. “Being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Rom. 5:1).
d. Exoneration. “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus” (Rom. 8:1, R.V.).
e. Possession. “What? Know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have received of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s” (I Cor. 6:19, 20).
f. Sanctification. “We are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all” (Heb. 10:10).
g. Perfection. “By one offering he hath perfected forever them that are sanctified” (Heb. 10:14).
h. Admission. “Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and a living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh; and having a high priest over the house of God; let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water” (Heb. 10:19-22).
i. Identification. “The love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that one died for all, therefore all died” (II Cor. 5:14, R.V.).
j. Liberation. “Since then the children are sharers in flesh and blood, he also himself in like manner partook of the same; that through death he might bring to nought him that had the power of death, that is, the devil; and might deliver all them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage” (Heb. 2:14, 15, R.V.).
k. Donation. “He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?” (Rom. 8:32).
3. In Relation to Satan.
a. Dethronement. “Now is the judgment of this world: now shall the prince of this world be cast out” (John 12:31).
b. Nullification. “Since then the children are sharers in flesh and blood, he also himself in like manner partook of the same; that through death he might bring to nought him that had the power of death, that is, the devil” (Heb. 2:14, R.V.).
c. Defeat. “Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son” (Col. 1:13). See also Ephesians 6:12.
4. In Relation to the Material Universe. “It pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell; and, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven” (Col. 1:19, 20).
Some teach that Philippians 2:9-11 reveals the fact of universal salvation, but this is not so. This passage declares the truth of universal adoration.
V. THE RESURRECTION OF CHRIST
A. The Importance of the Resurrection.
In the Bible there are several accounts of people having been brought back to life. These people, however, were not resurrected, but restored, for they died again. But our Lord was resurrected, having died once and for all and having been raised from the dead. He now liveth and abideth forever.
His death was necessary, because He was made sin for us.
1. Its Place in Scripture. There are thirteen or fourteen references in the New Testament concerning the ordinance of baptism, and even fewer Scriptures referring to the Lord’s Supper. However, the fact of His resurrection is mentioned over one hundred times.
2. Its Part in Apostolic Testimony. “With great power gave the apostles witness of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus: and great grace was upon them all” (Acts 4:33). See also Acts 2:32; 17:18; 23:6.
3. Its Prominence in the Gospel. If Christ be not risen there is no Gospel. “Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I have preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; by which also ye are saved if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye believed in vain. For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; and that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures” (I Cor. 15:1-4).
4. Its Preeminence in Salvation (I Cor. 15:12-20).
a. First Proposition. “Now if Christ be preached that he rose from the dead, how say some among you that there is no resurrection of the dead?” (verse 12).
b. Second Proposition. “But if there be no resurrection of the dead, then is Christ not risen” (verse 13). If we are not to be raised from the dead, then Christ is not risen.
c. Third Proposition. “And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain” (verse 14). If Christ is not risen, Christianity is a sham.
d. Fourth Proposition. “Yea, and we are found false witnesses of God; because we have testified of God that he raised up Christ: whom he raised not up, if so be that the dead rise not” (verse 15). If Christ be not raised, every evangelical preacher is a fraud.
e. Fifth Proposition. “For if the dead rise not, then is not Christ raised: and if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins” (verses 16 and 17). If He be not risen, He is still dead, and therefore cannot redeem us. The penalty paid for any crime is not fully paid until the one for whom it was paid is free. As long as Christ was in the tomb, the penalty for our sins was not paid; but His resurrection shows that the penalty has been paid. And, remember, this Scripture was written to those who were not in their sins.
f. Sixth Proposition. “Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished” (verse 18). In other words, they have all gone like the beasts of the field, if Christ did not rise from the dead.
g. Seventh Proposition. “If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable” (verse 19). If all of our hope is staked upon the resurrection of Christ, and if He has not risen, then we are of all men most to be pitied. We have done nothing else to secure salvation, and if our Saviour be not risen, we have no Saviour. We had better look into some other religion.
h. Eighth Proposition. “But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept” (verse 20). Praise the Lord, He is risen! He is alive! We are saved by a living Redeemer. We, of all men, are the only sinners who are saved.
B. The Meaning of the Resurrection.
By the resurrection we mean the bodily resurrection, not the spiritual resurrection.
1. Provision of the Tomb. Guards were placed there to guarantee against the removal of His body, not His Spirit. “So they went, and made the sepulchre sure, sealing the stone, and setting a watch” (Matt. 27:66).
2. Recognition of the Disciples. “Then saith he to Thomas, Reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into my side: and be not faithless, but believing. And Thomas answered and said unto him, My Lord and my God” (John 20:27, 28).
3. Testimony of the Apostles. “This Jesus hath God raised up, whereof we are all witnesses” (Acts 2:32).
4. A Testimony of the Lord Himself. “He began to teach them, that the Son of man must suffer many things, and be rejected of the elders, and of the chief priests, and scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again” (Mark 8:31).
5. The Announcement of Our Transformation. “Our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ: who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself” (Phil. 3:20,21).
C. The Unscriptural Theories Concerning the Resurrection.
1. The Unburied Body Theory. By this statement unbelievers maintain that the tomb was never filled, that the two thieves, and Christ, were thrust out upon the trash heap. However, this is refuted by the Jew’s own law: “If a man have committed a sin worthy of death, and he be put to death, and thou hang him on a tree; his body shall not remain all night upon the tree, but thou shalt surely bury him the same day; for he that is hanged is accursed of God; that thou defile not thy land which Jehovah thy God giveth thee for an inheritance” (Deut. 21:22, 23).
2. The Unemptied Grave Theory. Those that hold to this say that He is still there. Surely common sense would refute this argument, for if Christ had not arisen, the Devil would have caused His body to have been found sometime during the last two thousand years.
3. The Removal Theory. This is that theory which proposes that Joseph moved the body out of the tomb. Of this argument we ask, “If he removed the body, why didn’t he also remove the clothing?” All will have to admit that if Joseph did remove the body, it would have had to be done in secret. If done in secret, why wasn’t the stone rolled back against the door?
4. The Mistaken Woman Theory. This theory contends that the woman misunderstood what the man in the sepulchre had said. We refute this contention by saying that the Word does not so declare it, and the Word is the only authority and witness we have.
5. The Deliberate Deception Theory. This supposition clings to the idea that Christ did not die at all, but rather that He fainted on the cross and was revived by the cool air of the tomb. If this be the case, where did He go? Surely, as He was an object of interest to the entire populace, He would have been recognized and openly accepted or rejected.
6. The Fraud Theory. This states that the apostles plainly lied and deceived those that heard them. However, all of the apostles, except John, met a martyr’s death. Why? Because of their devotion to Christ and His resurrection. Would they have sacrificed their lives for a lie? Of course not!
7. The Self-Deception Theory. In other words, this speculation declares that the apostles had an illusion; that is, they thought that He arose from the dead, and kept on thinking it, until after a while they believed it. We know, from human experience, that delusions soon fade away, and we awaken to reality. The apostles could not have deceived themselves very long.
8. The Hallucination Theory. This idea supposes that they thought they had actually seen the resurrected Saviour, when it was merely a hallucination caused by nerves and excitement. Can you imagine Peter becoming delirious, and Thomas hysterical?
9. The Recollection Theory. This view sees the hysterical apostles fleeing to Samaria, and while alone in this place, they began to think that Jesus is still with them. That is where we get the idea that He arose from the dead. The Scriptures, nevertheless, declare that they remained in Jerusalem behind closed doors until He revealed Himself to them.
10. The Misunderstood Theory. This reasoning admits that the Saviour died, but states that the apostles preached the resurrection of His Spirit, and not His body. However, people took it wrong. The word “resurrection” is never connected with the spirit, but rather with the body, for the spirit never dies.
11. The Spiritual Vision Theory. This supposition maintains that the apostles actually saw something. What they saw was a lying vision, not the Lord. The Devil had fooled them. But, if there was anything the Devil did not want them to believe, it was the resurrection of Christ, whether, a lying vision or the actual thing. Christ Himself dispels this argument by declaring, after His resurrection, that “a spirit does not have flesh and bones.”
12. The Twins Theory. Those who offer this suggestion say that Christ had a twin, and that three days after He had been crucified and buried, His twin showed himself, declaring that he was Christ risen from the dead. We ask, “Where was this twin hidden for thirty-three years?”
D. The Proofs of the Resurrection.
1. The Empty Tomb. The Gospels declare that the people held two views concerning his resurrection. One group, consisting of unbelievers, said that someone stole His body; the other group contended that He was raised by Divine Power. The empty tomb proves the latter. A Roman watch, composed of sixty men with four groups of fifteen each, were stationed to watch the tomb. Each group guarded the tomb for a six-hour period. The watch was ordered to guard the tomb against the theft of the body of Christ. Now the enemy did not wish to steal the body; they wanted it buried. We know that the apostles did not steal it, as they were afraid. Even at His crucifixion they fled. The soldiers were paid by the unbelievers to bear false testimony. Is it not peculiar that the Jewish priests did not prosecute the soldiers, if the body had actually been stolen? Had the disciples stolen the body, would not the priests have hounded them until they admitted such a deed? Why did they not do something? Simply because they did not believe the story.
A new tomb: there was but one body in it, and there is no question as to who rose from the dead when the tomb became empty. It was carved out of the rock — solid rock behind, above, below, and on the side. There were no other entrances.
2. The Undisturbed Grave Clothes. In the Orient the bodies of the dead are wound with grave clothes, from the neck down to the feet, in a manner similar to that used on Egyptian mummies. The head is wrapped with a napkin. When this wrapping was duly done, the body was stretched out on a ledge. When Peter came in to examine the grave clothes, he saw that they were undisturbed — the body of Christ had shot through the grave clothes without bursting a single thread. Peter discovered that the grave clothes were unmolested; the clothes appeared as though they were still wrapped around the body — but there was no body.
As for the tomb, the door was not opened to let Christ out — He was already out! He came out of the tomb just as He had come out of the grave clothes. Yes, He was out of the tomb long before the stone was rolled away. The soldiers had been guarding a sealed, empty tomb for nearly twelve hours.
3. The Appearances of Christ. In I Corinthians 15:1-11 we have recorded the number of witnesses who actually saw the Lord, the risen Saviour. This number does not include the women. The highest number of witnesses required to establish the truth in America is seven: one for murder; two for treason; three for a will; and seven for an oral will. The number of witnesses recorded in the Word is over five hundred. Certainly, according to the accepted jurisprudence, there is sufficient evidence that He arose from the dead.
4. The Character of Christ. No greater proof is needed in contending for His resurrection than His character. To think that such a shameful end would come to Him who was the Perfect One! Surely, God in His justice would not have allowed the only man without sin to remain in the tomb.
5. The New Testament. The twenty-seven books composing the New Testament are the effect; the cause is a risen Christ. Without Christ’s resurrection, there would not have been any New Testament. The death of Christ had sorely depressed the disciples. Their faith was shattered. If Christ had not appeared unto them, they would never have written about Him. The story of His life grew out of His resurrection.
6. The Apostles’ Church. The apostles began preaching at Jerusalem only seven weeks after the crucifixion. Right there in Jerusalem, where Jesus had been crucified and buried, the apostles declared Christ to have risen from the dead. If Christ had not risen, the enemies could have produced the body, for they had crucified Him. The silence of the Jews was as much proof of His resurrection as the writings of the disciples.
7. The Transformed Disciples. The resurrection brought about a transformation of the disciples. Before, they had seen Christ die, and thus their faith was shattered. Two of them said, “We hoped that it was he who should redeem Israel” (Luke 24:21, R.V.) Sad words — no hope. All faith was now dead. They were meeting together behind closed doors, frightened, afraid for their lives, when the Lord appeared. It was hard to convince them of His resurrection, even though He actually appeared before them. But when they were convinced, nothing could ever change them.
How about doubting Thomas? He was not present at Christ’s first appearance before the disciples, and, therefore, he doubted. I am glad that Thomas doubted, for now I am relieved of doubt. His unbelief was removed at the second appearance of the Saviour; consequently, all of our doubts concerning the resurrection should be removed.
8. The Conversion of Saul. The Church never had a greater enemy than Saul of Tarsus. He was a well-known individual in Judaism, belonging to the sect known as the Pharisees, who believed in the future resurrection of the dead, but certainly not in the resurrection of Jesus. What changed this terrible persecutor of the Church into the mighty preacher of Christ? The resurrection of Christ! From the day on the road to Damascus, he never doubted the resurrection. He suffered at the hands of his own countrymen and in the courts of the foreigner because of his belief in Christ’s resurrection.
9. Christian Experience. Since we have been born again hope has been placed in our hearts: that our sins have been taken away and that our own resurrection is assured. This hope could only be guaranteed by a risen Saviour. We are not saved from our sins by a living mother, nor by a dead Jew, but by a Living Lord.
10. The Gospel Record. The Gospels were written or dictated by witnesses, “chosen before of God, even to us, who did eat and drink with him after he rose from the dead” (Acts 10:41b). In reading the Gospels, we notice the little details, words and phrases, which prove to us how natural and how true to life the accounts are.
E. The Result of the Resurrection.
1. In Relation to Christ Himself.
a. It Was the Seal of His Father’s Acceptance. In other words, Christ’s sacrifice was sufficient and accepted by God. “It is God’s ‘amen’ to His Son’s ‘it is finished.’”
b. It Was the Mark of His Divine Sonship. Christ was “declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead” (Rom. 1:4). On being nailed to the cross, He was accursed of God. God would not let His Son remain accursed; therefore God raised him from the dead.
c. It Was the Demonstration of His Victory.
(1) Over the Devil. If only the Devil could have kept Him in the grave, complete victory would have been Satan’s. However, Christ arose from the dead, guaranteeing salvation for every believing soul. The believer is commanded to put on the whole armour of God in order to withstand the wiles of the Devil. One piece of that armour is the helmet of Salvation.
(2) Over Death. “Yet a little while, and the world seeth me no more; but ye see me: because I live, ye shall live also. At that day ye shall know that I am in my Father, and ye in me, and I in you” (John 14:19, 20). See also II Timothy 1:10.
d. It Was the Illustration of Incorruptibility. God’s purpose and grace “is now made manifest by the appearing of our Saviour Jesus Christ, who hath abolished death, and hath brought life and immortality [incorruptibility] to light through the gospel” (II Tim. 1:10).
2. In Relation to the Believer.
a. Proves His Justification. “Jesus our Lord . . . was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification” (Rom. 4:24, 25).
b. Illustrates His Power. Paul prayed that God might give the Ephesians “the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him . . . that ye may know . . . what is the exceeding greatness of his power to usward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power, which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places” (Eph. 1:17, 18,19, 20).
c. Provides a High Priest. “He is able to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them” (Heb. 7:25). See also Romans 8:34; Hebrews 3:1; 7:22.
d. Begets a Living Hope. “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you” (I Peter 1:3,4).
e. Guarantees Our Resurrection. “He which raised up the Lord Jesus shall raise up us also by Jesus, and shall present us with you” (II Cor. 4:14). See also I Corinthians 15:22; I Thessalonians 4:14.
3. In Relation to the World.
a. Gives Evidence of His Truth. All that he spake is substantiated by His resurrection, for God would not have raised a liar from the dead and declare Him to be His Son. His act proved His favor.
b. Gives Evidence of Universal Resurrection. “As in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive” (I Cor. 15:22).
c. Gives Evidence of World Judgment. “He hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead” (Acts 17:31).
VI. THE ASCENSION AND ENTHRONEMENT OF JESUS CHRIST
His ascension is a historical fact. If His resurrection is denied, then His ascension must also be denied. It is hard for some people to grasp the thought that a glorified, living Body is in glory; but He is up there, nevertheless.
A. The Meaning of the Ascension and Enthronement.
1. Of the Ascension. It is that event, after His resurrection, in which He departed visibly from the earth to heaven. “When he had spoken these things, while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight. And while they looked stedfastly toward heaven as he went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel; which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven” (Acts 1:9-11).
2. Of the Enthronement (Exaltation). This is that act of God by which he gave to the risen and ascended Lord full power and glory, allowing Him to sit down on the right hand of God’s throne. “This Jesus hath God raised up, whereof we are all witnesses. Therefore, being by the right hand of God exalted, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost, he hath shed forth this, which ye now see and hear” (Acts 2:32, 33). “To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in His throne” (Rev. 3:21). Christ is not now sitting on His own throne, but upon His Father’s throne.
B. The Message of the Ascension and Enthronement.
1. In Prophecy.
a. Testimony of a Psalmist. “Thou wilt not leave my soul in hell; neither wilt thou suffer thy Holy One to see corruption. Thou wilt show me the path of life: in thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore” (Ps. 16:10, 11). See also Psalm 68:18; 110:4, 5.
b. Testimony of the Saviour. “What and if ye shall see the Son of man ascend up where he was before?” (John 6:62). See also John 16:28.
c. Testimony of Luke. “It came to pass, when the time was come that he should he received up, he stedfastly set his face to go to Jerusalem” (Luke 9:51).
2. In History.
a. Testimony of Mark. “So then after the Lord had spoken unto them, he was received up into heaven, and set on the right hand of God” (Mark 16:19).
b. Testimony of Luke. “It came to pass, while he blessed them, he was parted from them, and carried up into heaven” (Luke 24:51). See also Acts 1:9-11.
c. Testimony of Stephen. “He, being full of the Holy Ghost, looked stedfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God, and said, Behold, I see the heavens opened and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God” (Acts 7:55, 56).
d. Testimony of Peter. “Who is gone into heaven, and is on the right hand of God; angels and authorities and powers being made subject unto him” (I Peter 3:22). See also Acts 3:15, 20, 21; 5:30, 31.
e. Testimony of Paul. “Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us” (Rom. 8:34). See also Ephesians 1:20, 21; 4:8-10; Colossians 3:1; I Timothy 3:16.
f. Testimony of John. The entire first chapter of the Book of Revelation declares John’s testimony of the ascended and enthroned Christ.
C. The Nature of the Ascension and Enthronement.
1. He Bodily and Visibly Ascended. Luke wrote “of all that Jesus began both to do and teach, until the day in which he was taken up, after that he through the Holy Ghost had given commandments unto the apostles whom he had chosen” (Acts 1:1, 2). See also Acts 1:9-11.
2. He Passed Through the Heavens. “Having then a great high priest, who hath passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession” (Heb. 4:14).
3. He Was Made Higher Than the Heavens. This means that He was made higher than all the created beings in heaven. “Such an high priest became us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and made higher than the heavens” (Heb. 7:26).
4. He Sat Down on the Right Hand of God. “Now in the things which we are saying the chief point is this: We have such a high priest, who sat down on the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens” (Heb. 8:1, R. V.). See also Ephesians 1:20; Colossians 3:1.
D. The Necessity of the Ascension and Enthronement.
1. For the Demonstration of His Complete Achievement. “Him hath God exalted with his right hand to be a Prince and a Saviour, for to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins” (Acts 5:31). He said, “Lo, I come to do thy will, O God. . . . By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all” (Heb. 10: 9, 10). In the tabernacle here upon earth there were no chairs, and this fact signified that the showing work was never complete. He entered heaven and sat down on the throne, and thus declared that the work of our redemption was a finished act.
2. For the Facilitation of Human Worship. “The hour cometh and now is. when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him. God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth” (John 4:23, 24).
3. For the Bestowment of the Holy Ghost. “I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you” (John 16:7).
4. For the Constitution of His Headship Over the Church. “[God] hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all and in all” (Eph. 1:22, 23).
E. The Purpose of the Ascension and Enthronement.
1. He Entered Heaven as a Forerunner. “The forerunner is for us entered, even Jesus, made a high priest forever after the order of Melchisedec” (Heb. 6:20). Another word for “forerunner” is “captain,” “prince leader,” one who has others to follow him.” The Lord Jesus precedes us; if death comes while He tarries, we will go on to be with Him.
2. He Entered Heaven as a Gift-Bestower. “He saith, When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive. and gave gifts unto men. . . and he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers” (Eph. 4:8, 11).
3. He Entered Heaven as a Place-Preparer. “I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also” (John 14:2, 3).
F. The Results of the Ascension and Enthronement.
1. Gives Us an Intercessor with God. “Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures of the true; but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us” (Heb. 9:24). See also Hebrews 7:25.
2. Gives Us Access to God. “Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession. For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feelings of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need” (Heb. 4:14-16).
3. Gives Us Ableness for Service. “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father” (John 14:12). “Greater works” does not mean healing or speaking in tongues, but the spreading of the Gospel of salvation. For example, Peter spoke, and three thousand believed; he spoke again, and five thousand others believed.
4. Gives Us Confidence in God’s Providences. “We know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose” (Rom. 8:28).
5. Gives Us Our Heavenly Position. “[God] hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus” (Eph. 2:6).