Discussion of the Humanity/Deity of Jesus Christ, published in Truth Magazine, January 21 and June 3, 1999. Two articles, one each by Elmer Moore and Gene Frost.
The Humanity of Christ
The Bible teaches and I believe that Jesus was (and is) God as God is and man as man ought to be. Whatever was essential to being God - he was; and whatever was essential to being man - he was. He was man as God intended for man to be when he created him. When men argue that Jesus being in the likeness of men does not mean anything more than similarity; that likeness does not mean sameness, we need to take a look at what the New Testament actually states about Jesus. He was not playing the part of a hypocrite, pretending to be something he was not (see Matt. 23). He had all the attributes of God; he also had all the attributes of humanity. To deny that he possesses all the attributes of Deity is to deny his Deity. In like manner, to deny that he possessed all the attributes of humanity is to deny his humanity. The Bible description of man, who was created in the image of God, is a proper description of the humanity of Jesus. If this is not a proper description of the humanity of Jesus; where would one go to find out?
If the Bible clearly describes how that Jesus was both God and Man, I confess that I do not know where such a description is found. I believe it because the Bible declares it to be so. I am satisfied with leaving it there and not trying to explain how this happened. There are some things that God has not seen fit to reveal to man and I am convinced that God being manifested in the flesh is one of those things (1 Tim. 3:16; Deut. 29:29). John writes, "Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God: and every spirit that confesseth not Jesus is not of God: and this is the spirit of the Antichrist" (1 John 4:2, 3). John writes, "In the beginning was the word, and the word was with God, and the word was God" (John 1: 1). He further writes, "And the word became flesh and dwelt among us" (John 1: 14). To deny the deity of Jesus; or that he came in the flesh, is to be Antichrist. I frankly admit that I do not know how he was both God and man and I have no desire to try to explain how that happened. The Bible declares it; I accept it by faith.
"In the Flesh" and "Became Flesh"
What do the terms "in the flesh" (1 John 4:2, 3) and "became flesh" (John 1:14) mean? They are obviously teaching the same thing. The word "flesh" is defined to mean "man in general; mankind humanity" (Webster unabridged).
Also, it means "a human being" (Strong). The word "flesh" is used as a synecdoche (a figure of speech that presents a part for the whole) to indicate his humanity (cf. Heb. 5:7). The language of John 1:14 does not state that he was clothed with flesh; it declares that he was made flesh (KJV), or became flesh (ASV). The idea of "made" or "became" is that of "generate" (See Strong). It is common to use a part of man for the whole man. In Romans 13:1 the "soul" of man is named to suggest the whole man. The spirit of man is named to suggest the prophet (1 John 4: 1).
The term "flesh and blood" is used, in the New Testament, to represent the entire man. In Matthew 16:13-17 Jesus asked his disciples, "Who do men say that the Son of man is?" (v. 13). They replied "John the Baptist; some Elijah and others Jeremiah, or one of the prophets" (v. 14). He then asked them "But who say ye that I am?" Peter responded: "Thou art the Christ, the son of the living God." Jesus then told Peter that what he had confessed did not come from man (flesh and blood) but from God the Father. In this instance the term "flesh and blood" is made distinct from God the Father. The Hebrew writer wrote, "Since then the children are sharers in flesh and blood, he himself in like manner partook of the same" (Heb. 2:14). The term "flesh and blood" is used to describe the humanity of Jesus. "God was manifest in the flesh" (1 Tim. 3:16).
Psalms 8:3-8; Hebrews 2:6-18
The Psalmist, after considering the great Jehovah, asked the question: "What is man that thou art mindful of him? or the son of man, that thou visitest him?" (Heb. 2:6). The terms "man" and "son of man" mean the same thing. They are simply forms of parallelism meaning man and his offspring. The Psalmist is describing mankind in general. The Hebrews writer declared that God in this age speaks to man in or through his Son (1:1, 2). He proceeds to prove that this was a wise choice. He first declares the deity of the Son (Heb. 1:2-14). This he does by proving that he was greater than the angels; that they serve and worship him. And in v. 8 he declares that he is God. In the second chapter the writer declares that the Son was "a little lower than the angels" (v.9). Jesus was greater than the angels and he was lower than the angels. This is not a contradiction when we understand that the writer is declaring Jesus' deity in the first chapter and his humanity in the second chapter. The context demands that we understand him to be speaking of the humanity of Jesus in Hebrews 2:9-18.
The writer declares, "both he that sanctifieth and they that are sanctified are all of one: for which cause he is not ashamed to call them brethren" (Heb. 2:11). They are both of one; one what? They are of one humanity. What is he discussing in Hebrews chapter 2? Obviously, he is discussing humanity. Hence, they are both of one humanity (see Acts 17:26). The writer declared, "For verily he took not on Him the nature of angels; but he took on him the seed of Abraham" (Heb. 2:16, KJV). Just as Jesus declared, "I and the Father are one" (John 10:30) and he affirmed his divinity; Hebrews 2:11 affirms his humanity. The Hebrew writer further writes, "Wherefore it behooved him in all things to be made like unto his brethren, that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God." May I suggest that the language declares that he was made like us in all things, not just a few (2:17; Heb. 5:1-5). The Hebrew writer declares, "For we have not a high priest that cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but one that hath been in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin" (4:15). To argue that he was not tempted as we are is to deny plain language. To argue that the word "tempt," as it applies to Jesus, does not mean the same thing as it does when it applies to us, is to accuse the Hebrew writer of being guilty of equivocation. In Hebrews 2:18 the writer states, "For in that he himself has suffered being tempted, he is able to succor them that are tempted." If the writer used the term "tempted" in two different senses, he equivocated.
I firmly believe that all of the furor that has arisen about the deity and humanity of Christ is a diversion from the real problem. The real issue is "Does man have to sin"? and "Was Jesus really tempted as we are?" Some say he was not tempted as we are and consequently, have given forced definitions to the word "tempt" and the term "in all things." If you believe and teach that "Jesus was tempted in all things as we are," you may be accused of teaching that Jesus was tempted to commit homosexuality and mass murder or any other heinous crime. Some make such arguments. Do they want us to believe that they have such desires and have been tempted to commit homosexuality, mass murder, etc.? The language "in all things" does not suggest in every conceivable way. Surely our brethren must know that man is tempted through the "lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes, and the vain glory of life" as John writes in 1 John 2:16. Man is tempted through the flesh and also through his spirit. Jesus pointed this out to the Jews in Matthew 15:10-20. We have successfully met Baptist preachers, on the possibility of apostasy when they argue that only the flesh of the child of God sins, by showing that the inner man is responsible for deeds of the outer man. Jesus declared that, "for out of the heart come forth evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fomications, thefts, false witness; railings: these are the things which defile the man; but to eat with unwashed hands defileth not the man" (Matt. 15:19-20). Paul wrote, "I buffet my body, and bring it into bondage" (1 Cor. 9:27). Paul also pointed out the essential difference between the inward and the outer man (2 Cor. 4:16-18; Rom.7:18-24). Brother Whiteside wrote, "Paul affirms that no good thing dwells in his flesh. In and of itself, aside from the intellect,. the flesh is neither morally bad nor morally good. The flesh, the animal part of man, is a bundle of appetites and passions, which lead to sin only when they have enlisted the mind to plan and execute methods of self gratification in an unlawful way. For that reason an idiot or a crazy person is not responsible for his deeds" (Whiteside on Romans 7:18). Jesus was neither an idiot or crazy. He was tempted in precisely the same way that you and I are tempted. To deny this is to rob us of the blessing of knowing that he was tempted as a man and not as God and thus overcame the temptation by his own will power. If that is not so, there is no justice in using him as an example for me to imitate. By my own will power I can overcome any temptation or I can choose to give in to my fleshly desires.
James 1:13-15 in Context
James begins his letter by calling upon his brethren to count it all joy when they are tempted (1:2). Do you suppose that he is advising them that they ought to be happy that they were being enticed to sin? Certainly not! The word "tempt," like many other words, has more than one meaning. The word translated "temptations" is describing trials and is so translated (v. 3, KJV). The same thought is being expressed in Romans 5:3 and is translated tribulations. God certainly tempts man in the sense of trying his faith. Such temptation is not to entice to sin but rather the proving of one's faith. You have a gold ring tested, not to bring out its impurities, but rather to show that it is genuine. The same holds true with the Christian's trials (Rom. 5:3-5).
In James 1:13 we are told what is the cause of sin. The word "tempt" is being used in the sense of an enticement to sin. In that respect God cannot be tempted and he never tempts man for that purpose. James then shows the birth of sin (vv. 14-15). He writes, "But each man (every man, KJV), is tempted, when he is drawn away by his own lust. and enticed. Then when lust has conceived, beareth sin (bringeth forth sin, KJV) and the sin when it is full-grown, bringeth forth death." Note the order of occurrence: lust, enticement, sin, and death. Temptation results from his own lust. Lust simply means desire. The context, not some Calvinist, will have to determine if it is sinful. Man has certain desires (lust), he is ensnared (enticed) by those desires, and is led to act (conception). Only then does sin, that produces death, occur. It does not take Solomon to know that sin did not occur until lust conceived. So states the inspired writer James.
Also, note Mark 16:15-16 where the order is believe, be baptized, receive remission of sins. There are those who will change the order and teach: belief, salvation, then baptism. They do this because their church doctrine demands the reversal of the given order. I believe that some are changing the order of James 1:13-15 for the same reason. There are legitimate desires within man that are not sinful.
Was Jesus tempted like James 1:13-15? I believe that he was. If he was not then he was not man because this passage states every man. Jesus was tempted as we are and we are tempted per James 1:13-15. Thus Jesus was tempted like James 1:13-15.
We must be willing to accept responsibility for our sin. We cannot excuse ourselves by arguing that the only reason Jesus did not sin was because he was divine and could not sin. No, my brother, Jesus did not sin because he chose not to sin. We sin by choice. Jesus was not tempted as God - he was tempted as man and as man he chose not to sin. Man does not have to sin. The Ephesians were said to be "dead through your trespasses and sins" (Eph. 2:1). This is further explained in 4:22 where Paul points out their former manner of life waxeth corrupt "after the lusts of deceit." They fell victim to deceitful desires.
Jesus Our Mediator
"For there is one God, one mediator also between God and men, himself man, Christ Jesus" (1 Tim. 2:5). "A mediator is not a mediator of one" (he does not belong to one party but two). For Jesus to meet the qualification of a mediator between men and God, he had to sustain the same relationship to both parties. When a dispute exists between management and labor; one is sought who sustains the same relationship to both. Jesus, our mediator was qualified. He was both God and man. If he was not both God and man he is not our mediator. To even suggest that our savior did not live, suffer and be tempted exactly like we are is to rob man of the great blessing of knowing that our savior understands, because he has been there and can surely relate to our cause. He can surely be touched with the "feeling of our infirmities" (Heb. 4:15) and is able to succor us when we are tempted (Heb. 2:18). I know that he could have understood this by virtue of the fact that he is God. He experienced temptation as a man to accommodate mankind. This was the will of his Father - his plan to redeem man, his provision of a perfect sacrifice to satisfy justice that demanded death as the penalty of sin. Where is the man that can say that God's plan should not have included his Son becoming flesh, to be tempted, to suffer and to die as man that he might become a perfect High Priest, redeemer and mediator?
"Just to what extent or even how humanity and divinity were blended in Jesus Christ we may never perfectly comprehend; but we know that he was born of a woman, that he hungered, thirsted, wept with those in distress, and sympathized with suffering humanity; that he was tempted, sorely tempted as we are, yet without sin; that he was touched with the feeling of our infirmity; that he took not on him the nature of angels but the seed of Abraham; hence we know that if we sin we have an advocate with the Father, even Jesus Christ the Righteous; and we gladly trust our cause to the care of such an advocate. He says, 'I am the way, the truth, and the life. And no Man cometh unto the Father but by me.' All our approaches to the Father are made through our advocate - our mediator - our high priest. We have no worth or merit in ourselves to commend us to the favor of God. Our confidence is in Jesus, who as our advocate will order our cause aright - in our mediator who will intercede for us - in our high priest who will present our offerings before the mercy seat. 'What a friend we have in Jesus, all our sins and griefs to bear; what a privilege to carry everything to God in prayer"' (T.W Brent, Gospel Sermons 9, 39).
I beseech the reading audience to be satisfied with what the Bible clearly affirms concerning both the deity and the humanity of Christ Jesus. That Jesus was God as God is and was man as man ought to be. We need to cease trying to explain how God was manifested in the flesh. The Bible teaches that he was. I believe that he was and am not about to try to explain how this happened but praise God that through his grace it did happen. If we hold to an opinion of how that God was manifested in the flesh, we should be very careful that we do not impose that opinion upon others. It is a sin to bind upon others that which the Scriptures do not bind.
Box 2412, Hwy. 190, Livingston, TX 77351
Jesus Christ: God and Man
There are three major views currently being espoused concerning the incarnation of Jesus Christ. These are historical traditions, two of which have been introduced within the past few years among the churches of Christ. All three traditions affirm that Jesus was manifest in a body of flesh. Differences concern the nature of the divine Spirit in that body and His relationship to it.
1. The first and oldest tradition is that God in the person of Jesus was tabernacled in a body, just as the spirits of all men are. The divine Spirit, being immutably God, retained the fullness of His deity or Godhood in the body that was prepared for Him. He experienced all that relates to the body: hunger, thirst, weariness, suffering, pain, etc. He exercised His divine powers only as compatible with His role as servant and the life He lived as a man. He was God manifest in the flesh. He suffered death in the same way that all men die: His Spirit departed from the body. His death constituted a sacrificial offering of His body for our sins.
2. The second tradition is that Jesus, as a man, in His humanity had a human spirit and, as God, He is Spirit. The two, the eternal Spirit and the human spirit, were united in the womb of Mary. Thus, as regards his Godhead He existed before the ages, but yet as regards his manhood He was begotten of Mary. Thus, "He is perfect in Godhead and perfect in manhood, very God and very man," having the same substance or essential nature "with the Father as touching His Godhead, and ... with us as touching His manhood..."
3. The third tradition is that the divine Spirit "abandoned His attributes of deity, such as omnipotence, omniscience, and cosmic sovereignty, in order to become a man." Within this tradition there is a variance. (a) Some interpret Phil. 2:7 "in the sense that the Logos gave up all the divine attributes, laid aside his deity, and so was transmuted into a man." They insist "that when the Son became a man, not only did he lay aside all the divine perfections, but, initially at least, he had no consciousness of his Logos-nature, no longer experienced the mutual indwelling of the Father and the Spirit, and ceased to govern the universe." (b) Others distinguish "between God's relative attributes (omnipotence, omnipresence, omniscience) and his immanent attributes (holiness, power, truth, love). In an act of self-limitation, the eternal second person of the Trinity was said to have divested himself of the relative attributes when he assumed the limitations of space and time. Having given up the divine form of existence for a creaturely form of existence, Jesus acquired a genuinely human consciousness and passed through all the stages of normal human development." Further, "if the Son of God had retained the so-called relative attributes, he could not have lived a truly human existence."
We readily accept and affirm the first tradition, one handed down from God. It is true, as God's word is true. (John 17:17). The second and third traditions are traditions of men, which we reject and hereafter refer to as (1) the two-spirit position and (2) the kenotic, or divested God, position. These latter two traditions (positions) have been introduced among God's people in this present time, but in reverse order, the third tradition (kenotic position) being first introduced and then the second (two-spirit position). I have debated both positions and have published much material in refutation of both.
The Kenotic Tradition
The kenotic position is bankrupt and needs no further response. Its principal advocate, John Welch, has admitted to having taught error in the theory's basic premises: on the deity and the divinity of Christ. Deity and divinity are correlative terms, defining the state of being God and the qualities that constitute that state. One does not exist without the other. His original contention, which gave rise to our controversy with him, was that the Word in coming to earth divested Himself of His deity or Godhood. He stated,
"He divested himself of the glory, honor, divinity, godhood and became subject to the Father as a man. Whatever qualities and characteristics had been his as divine were foregone. Whatever privileges and powers there might have been were stripped from him. He was a man." (Faith and Facts, April 1987, page 100.)
"Godhood," from the Greek theotes, is otherwise translated "deity," meaning the state of being God. To state that Jesus divested, gave up, surrendered, abdicated, or was stripped of His Godhood or deity is to say that He was no longer God, but became in full point of fact just a man. This statement, quoted above, John Welch confessed in our debate in Louisville, in June 1995, to be false. "It was wrong." "Wrong! One hundred percent wrong!" "It's false!" "Error!"
However, he continued to argue that Jesus was in full point of fact a man, and argued that the attributes of God were stripped from Him. He argued that God can surrender the attributes that make Him God and still be God, a God stripped of the attributes, powers and qualities of God. So Jesus was God stripped of the qualities, prerogatives, and powers that make Him God, so that He became a man no different from other men. He taught:
"Ladies and gentlemen, Jesus Christ did not give up his divinity for just 33 years. He gave it up for all time ... for all time!" (September 19, 1989, Ontario, Canada.)
We continued to expose this error, as we did in the debate, showing that deity and divinity are correlative terms; that one cannot be without the other. Where there is deity, there are the attributes of deity (divinity); where all the divine attributes (divinity) reside, there is deity. You cannot have one without the other.
Finally, in 1996, he acknowledged that saying Jesus divested His divinity is also wrong. "I made the statement quoted above. It was wrong." Further, "it is not the truth." "I am sorry for having made the statement. I have changed my mind about the truth concerning it."
For the most part, the proponents of the kenotic position are quiet as far as any serious discussion of the basic issue is concerned. Rather, there seems to be an effort to minimize the controversy, even to suggesting that there is no real or serious problem, no serious differences between brethren.
The Two-Spirit Tradition
The two-spirit tradition was introduced among us in 1995 by Jack L. Holt, and we debated it in Temple Terrace, Florida, August 11-14, 1997. The material used in this discussion is published in a booklet, The Humanity of Jesus. The tradition continues to be advocated and taught, though not as diligently.
Instead of a serious discussion of this issue, the proponents of this position appear to be aligning with the kenotic theorists in trying to convince brethren that there are no real differences between the three traditions.
Is There A Real Problem?
The reason I am writing further on the subject at this time is because of an effort to obscure and minimize the seriousness of these controversies concerning the deity of Christ on earth. After having discussed these issues for years, the tack now seems to be to avoid further discussion by pretending that there is no real differences between us. In fact, some have expressed the idea that there is no issue because they have been led to believe that everyone basically believes the same thing. This has been accomplished, in part, by a cleverly written slogan, which is ambiguous enough that everyone can subscribe to it when he puts his own definition to the terms.
"Jesus was God as God is and man as man ought to be."
Those of a Biblical persuasion could accept this statement if the terms are legitimately defined. Jesus on earth was God as God is - possessing and in full command of His divine attributes, characteristics and power. He was no stripped down God. And He was man as He ought to be - a spirit (in the likeness of God; in this case the spirit is God, in whose likeness we are) tabernacled in a body of flesh. And since no man has two spirits residing in his body, the one spirit in Jesus was the Word (John 1:1-3). Do the "stripped down God" advocates and the "two-spirit" advocates agree with this statement properly defined?
Those who promote a stripped down version of God in the person of Jesus can likewise accept the statement if they define the terms. Jesus on earth was God - a mutable God whose "attributes all were changed" so that "Jesus developed in his spirit just like John the Baptist did," and as all men do. And he was a man as he ought to be - a man as all other men are, a man no different than other men. If this is what the statement conveys, then the statement is false. This statement that "Jesus was God as God is and man as man ought to be" was first introduced, according to my knowledge, by the kenotic theorists in an effort to make it appear that there is no real difference, that the whole controversy was much ado about nothing.
And now the two-spirit advocates use the statement to suggest that we all believe the same thing. However, they define the terms to mean that Jesus was God as God is - in Him indeed dwelled the fullness of the Godhead, which includes all of the attributes, characteristics, prerogatives, and power of God. No problem here. But He was a man as man ought to be - a finite spirit in a body shared with God (the Word). Of course, this is not "man as he ought to be" - I know of no man with two or more spirits residing in his body. I know of no one who thinks every man ought to have two spirits! To pretend that when they say that "Jesus was God as God is and man as man ought to be," they are saying what everyone else is saying is not true and it is deceptive!
Any statement that can be used to set forth different and conflicting beliefs is useless at best and harmful at its worst. With its ambiguity it says nothing. In that it is used to support traditions of error as being harmonious with truth, it is pernicious in effect. It is used by those who seek to effect a compromise of the truth.
The Present Effort
The two-spirit advocates are deceptive in using the statement; without explanation it does not express what they believe. An occasion of this is the purpose of this article, as I now turn to the latest (to my knowledge) effort to promote the theory in an inoffensive way, while planting the seeds of heresy.
In the January (1999) issue of Truth Magazine, our esteemed brother Elmer Moore published an article entitled, "The Humanity of Christ." If one is familiar with the concept and terminology of the two-spirit position, he can clearly see that our brother is promoting the idea that when Mary gave birth to Jesus, she gave birth to a man (spirit and body) in whom the Word, as a second spirit, resided.
Elmer Moore's article is in two parts: the first part deals with the humanity of Jesus, and the second part with His temptations. He is not forthright in affirming that God (the Word), in becoming a man, shared a body with a created spirit. His argumentation necessarily leads to that conclusion, which he leaves to the reader to draw. Those who are not familiar with the two-spirit concept will conclude that surely he is describing Jesus as a divine Spirit tabernacled in a body, while those who accept the concept of two spirits in the body will find comfort in what he says. Let him tell us plainly, without equivocation, that two spirits were in the body of Jesus. That he does, we will demonstrate.
Ambiguity and equivocation allows the true and full concept of the two-spirit concept to go undetected ... for a time, until it is exposed or until those drawn into it are made to understand it clearly. Those who closely followed the presentation of the two-spirit tradition, as espoused by Jack Holt, understand clearly what I am saying. For a time, our brother ridiculed the charge that he believed in two spirits. He accused those who opposed him of charging him with believing that "Jesus had two spirits." This misled many until we detected that by "Jesus" he meant "God," and so he ridiculed the idea that God had two spirits, which would equal three spirits! Of course, no one charged him with believing that there were three spirits in the body, but by misrepresenting us he was able to make some think that he did not believe in the two-spirit tradition. However, when stated clearly that his concept is: there were two spirits in the body of Jesus, the obfuscation ceased.
Understand the issue: we oppose the concept that in the body of Jesus, along with (what they refer to as) a "human spirit" there was the divine Spirit (the Word), who was in control. The concept has many ramifications.
We look now at the present argumentation, as presented in the article, "The Humanity of Christ," by Elmer Moore.
In the first paragraph, he argues that Jesus, being in the likeness of man, means He was not in similarity, but sameness with mankind in general. He states, "When men argue that Jesus being in the likeness of men does not mean anything more than similarity; that likeness does not mean sameness, we need to take a look at what the New Testament actually states about Jesus." If he were considering only one spirit in Jesus, and contends that it was not just like, similar, to the spirits of other men, but is the same, then he would be affirming that the spirit of Jesus was stripped of divine qualities. This is the kenotic concept. But he does not believe this. The other alternative to his argument is that the spirit in the body of Jesus was indeed the same as other men - Jesus had a created spirit. But then the divine Spirit (the Word) was not the same - "He had all the attributes of God." Hence, two spirits! Of course, to necessarily conclude the two spirit concept, he has to argue that "likeness" means "sameness" because one divine Spirit in the body of Jesus would make Him "like" (similar to) other men, but not the same (conforming in every detail). So his argument centers around the word "likeness."
Jesus "was made in the likeness of men" (Phil. 2:7). "Likeness" is a translation of the Greek term, homoioma, which is defined as: "Likeness, shape, similitude, resemblance." The word is used five times: Phil. 2:7, Rom. 1:23, 5:14, 6:5 and 8:3. Note the word in context:
1. Romans 1:23 - "And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things." Were these icons or statues the same as actual men, birds, and beasts, or were they similar to or resembling them? Likeness is not sameness.
2. Romans 5:14 - "Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam's transgression, who is the figure of him that was to come." Does death reign only over those who committed the same transgression as Adam? Or, do men sin in a similar way to Adam?
3. Romans 6:5 - "For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection..." Are we planted in the same death of Jesus, and then raised in the same resurrection as His, when we are baptized? Or is this death and resurrection similar to that of Jesus, not actual but figurative?
4. Romans 8:3 - "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..."
"Sinful flesh" is a translation of two nouns in the genitive case, used as an adjective to modify "likeness," i.e. sinful flesh's likeness. The flesh is sinful, i.e. guilty of sin or marked by sin. Jesus came to save men defiled by sin. They were not born that way. Babies and children do not have sinful flesh. Jesus did not have sinful flesh. "Likeness" is very significant. If Paul had wanted to say that Jesus was born in the flesh the same as other man, he could have said Jesus "came in flesh," as it is in 1 John 4:2 and 1 Tim. 3:16. Jesus experienced in His body what other men do, except He knew no sin. He came in the likeness of men guilty of sin, but He did not have the sin. If Jesus came in the same sinful flesh, He would be a sinner as others (and born a sinner at that!)... and that is not true! (1 Pet. 2:22)
To raise the questions is to answer them. Likeness does not mean sameness.
To beg the question, if our brother were correct in his assertion that likeness means sameness, then consider the consequences of his argument. Man is made in the likeness of God. (Gen. 1:26) Is man the same as God, or similar to God? If the same, this would mean that we are God. Really?
Our brother states more clearly his two-spirit concept when he says: "The Bible description of man, who was created in the image of God, is a proper description of the humanity of Jesus."
It was the spirit of man that was created in God's image. Yet, man is not God, does not possess "all of the attributes of God," which describes deity. This created, finite spirit accounts for His humanity, we are told. At the same time, in the body of Jesus was God - "he had all the attributes of God." This Spirit is not created, but is eternal and infinite. Therefore, in the body of Jesus there was the divine Spirit, and a created spirit - two spirits! The two are not to be confused; they are separate and distinct. The conclusion is drawn from inference, an inference based upon assumption.
Man is a being consisting of body and spirit. (Gen. 1:26, 2:7; Eccl. 12:7, James 2:26.) When the Spirit, which is God, determined to come in the likeness of man, He did not need a spirit ... He is a spirit. (John 4:24) Man's spirit is in the likeness of God - not the same in that all of the attributes of God are infinite; man is finite. All that the Word (God) needed to be a man is a body ... and it was this that God prepared. (Heb. 10:5) The Father did not prepare for the Word both a body and a spirit. If so, where is the passage? I know a body was prepared; God says so. That a finite spirit was also prepared is a matter of theological speculation.
Where does the Bible say that in the body of Jesus there were two spirits? Every reference to the spirit of Jesus is singular, not plural. The idea of plurality is derived, not from Scripture, but from the historic theology of those who speculated about it and developed the two-spirit doctrine in the fifth century. Without Scripture the theology is bankrupt.
It is strange that our brother says that he does "not know how he [Jesus] was both God and man," after telling us that He was God because the spirit in His body was God, and He was man because in His body was a spirit created in God's image. Yet he has "no desire to try to explain how that happened" and avers that the "Bible declares it." We request not that he tell us "how," just show us where God says "that happened." Where does the Bible declare that in the body of Jesus, along with God (the Word) there was a "created spirit." Our brother says, "I accept it by faith." If he speaks of the faith that comes from hearing God's word, we ask for the reference. If there is no Scripture, then it is a matter of opinion. If there is any faith in such a doctrine, it is a faith in the theologians that devised it.
Without any clear statement that in the body of Jesus there were two spirits, my friend Elmer again tries to find it in an inference. To him, "flesh" is used figuratively for "a human being." God made (for) Him a human being, is His argument. It is not enough that God prepared for Him a body, for he says, "The language of John 1:14 does not state (that) he was clothed with flesh; it declares that he was made flesh (KJV), or became flesh (ASV)."
This is the traditional argument: "But we must note at the same time that this is a figure of speech, for in the word flesh the whole man is included. Apollo was therefore foolish to imagine that Christ was clothed with a human body without a soul." The tradition is Catholic and Calvinistic.
In response, we note first that it is assumed that to be made flesh does not allow being "clothed with flesh." However, that His Spirit was clothed ("to cover as with clothing") with flesh is clearly set forth in Scripture. In His incarnation, we have noted that the Father prepared for Him a body (Heb. 10:5), and it was in this body that He offered Himself as a sacrifice for our sins. (Heb. 10:10). As human beings, our spirits are covered in a body of flesh. To put it another way, our bodies are tabernacles in which we live. (2 Cor. 5:1-8; 2 Pet. 1:13-15; 2 Cor. 12:3.) The body is referred to as a temple. (1 Cor. 6:19) The spirit is within. (Dan. 7:15; Isa. 26:9; Psalm 142:3, 143:4.) Even so, Jesus' body was a temple in which His spirit dwelled. He told the Jews, "Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up. Then said the Jews, Forty and six years was this temple in building, and wilt thou rear it up in three days? But he spake of the temple of his body." (John 2:19-21)
Now to John 1:14 - "And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us..." It is noted that "flesh" here is a synecdoche, which means it is put for "man, a human being." He was "made," i.e. He "came to be" a man. The verb (ginomai) here is used: "As implying a change of state, condition, or passing from one state to another, to become, to enter upon any state, condition." It is "Spoken of persons or things which receive any new character or form." Notice that the Word Himself became a man, entered this new state or form. The text does not say that flesh, or a man, was made for the Word, to indicate that the Word indwelled a human being, but the Word was made flesh, i.e. He received a new form, that of a man.
The same argument is made concerning "flesh and blood": "Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same..." (Heb. 2:14.) The phrase is a periphrasis for the whole animal nature of man, the material nature as distinguished from the spiritual and intangible. To say that the expression simply refers to a "human being" is to confuse the definition. "Flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption." (1 Cor. 15:50) This does not mean that human beings cannot go to heaven; rather the material nature, the materiality that corrupts, is not fitted for the spiritual realm of heaven. God (the Word) was housed in a physical, material body, and thereby shared (koinoneo) in the material nature of mankind. This a far cry from saying that the Word moved into a human being, a person of body and spirit, so as to conclude that two spirits were in the body. No, there is just one spirit in the body. God, (pure spirit, invisible to man) was the one manifested (made visible, clear, or known) in flesh. (1 Tim. 3:16)
Why The Two-Spirit Position?
The Kenotic position and the Two-spirit position have one thing in common, which explains an apparent affinity they hold for each other, even though there are serious doctrinal differences. Both demand that Jesus be finite in spirit, whether stripped of all divine attributes or whether a finite spirit coexisted with the Word. Jesus had to be a man with a finite spirit in order "to satisfy justice that demands," they claim, "[spiritual] death as the penalty of sin." The wages of sin is spiritual death, i.e. separation from God. (Rom. 6:23). Jesus had "to die as a man" to become a redeemer. And Jesus had to be man, in body and spirit, in order to prove that a man does not have to sin. They denigrate my Lord in order to prove what the Scriptures can easily prove.
In an effort to shift the issue from the nature of Jesus, both positions pretend that the "real issue is 'Does man have to sin?'" It is not so, and we have exposed the effort over and over again.
John Welch made the charge when we first challenged his teaching: "Much of this controversy has been a smokescreen to disguise the incursion of a false doctrine by creating a false issue." (Faith and Facts, October 1990, page 47 (347). Once Welch set afoot the false charge, it has continued to circulate. And now brother Moore repeats it: "I firmly believe that all the furor that has arisen about the deity and humanity of Christ is a diversion from the real problem. The real issue is 'Does man have to sin'?" Of course, the charge is false. I have written in opposition to the contention, have preached against it, and actively opposed an attempt to introduce neo-Calvinism in Louisville. I have written evidence of my position, dating back to 1962. To say that I oppose the denigration of my Lord as an effort to create a false issue or to avoid confrontation with neo-Calvinism is ridiculous. We can shake hands in agreeing that man does not have to sin ... but I cannot accept either a stripped-down God or double-spirited Jesus.
Rather than being diverted from the issue at hand, as much as I am tempted to proceed, we defer any comments about the second part of his article until another study. We have addressed the basic concept upon which other ramifications are built. Of course, with the base refuted the superstructure collapses. Our purpose in this review is to expose the effort to introduce the two-spirit concept and then to refute its error.
In the body of Jesus there was one spirit, and every reference uses the singular to describe it. Every reference is to "spirit" (singular) and never "spirits" (plural). Observe references to Jesus (emphasis added):
Mark 2:8 - "And immediately when Jesus perceived in his spirit that they so reasoned..."
Mark 8:12 - "And he sighed deeply in his spirit..."
Luke 10:21 - "In that hour Jesus rejoiced in spirit..."
Luke 23:46 - "And when Jesus had cried with a loud voice, he said, Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit..."
John 11:33 - "When Jesus therefore saw her weeping ... he groaned in the spirit..."
John 13:21 - "When Jesus had thus said, he was troubled in spirit..."
The Jesus, whom I worship and serve, is God (John 1:1-2), for whom a body was prepared and in which He lived as a man while on the earth. As God, in him dwelled the fullness of deity, with all the powers and attributes, though not fully displayed, but veiled and exercised in His role of a servant. Without violating this purpose, He remembered who He is and heaven from which He came; He knew the thoughts of men; He controlled His life and no man could take His life until He laid it down; He forgave sins. He was God manifest in the flesh. In the flesh, He hungered, was thirsty, needed rest, experienced sorrow and joy; He lived as a man and experienced the human condition. Though a man, He was more than just an ordinary man. And unless we believe that He is the I AM, we will die in our sins. (John 8:24, 58)
(For a fuller study of the two-spirit tradition, read my booklet, The Humanity of Jesus, available at your religious bookstore.)
NOTE: I submitted this article to Elmer Moore for review, if he so desired. His written response follows and is inserted by mutual agreement.
"Gene, I do not believe that my brief article necessarily implies what you have indicated. I am sure that you do think so. So be it. I carefully read your response four times.
"I do not have the desire, intent, or time to reply to your article."
Obviously, from what brother Moore has written, the necessary conclusion is that in the body of Jesus there were two spirits, one "human" and the other Divine. He has before written "that Jesus being fully man had to have a human spirit," and "as God He was a Spirit." Surely, the one is not the other. I can draw no other conclusion from what he writes, that in the body of Jesus there were two spirits. If our brother does not mean to convey this concept, and, if by saying he doesn't "necessarily imply" it, he means he doesn't believe it, then we ask him to plainly and unequivocally so state and repudiate it. A discussion of what he did or did not imply serves no useful purpose.
The issue is, when God prepared a body for the Word, did He also prepare a finite "human spirit" to share that body with His Son? If not, then clearly state that in the body of Jesus was the divine Spirit alone, and declare that to teach He was degraded to become a finite spirit or that He shared the body with a finite spirit is to teach error. This subject is too serious to leave any doubt as to what one believes and where he stands.
Read Tim Haile's response or Dudley Spear's response to brother Moore's article.
Back to the Top | Back Home