Contending for the faith | Making Disciples | Equipping the Saints for Ministry

     We have been talking about the reality of God. It is vital that we possess the correct knowledge, understanding, and belief about God. If we don’t possess the right God, we will miss the mark set for all mankind. That mark is not a certain theology, religion, or doctrine; rather, it is the person of Jesus Christ.

      The Bible is clear that Jesus is the fullness of Godhead in bodily form, and it is only through Jesus that we can know God in a vital relationship, approach Him in prayer, and  come to Him as a child in need. It is only through Jesus that the reality of who God is and His heart towards us can be revealed to our spirits.

      To ensure salvation according to theological understanding, Christians need to be able to answer some vital questions. For example, how is it that Jesus was able to bridge a gap between a Holy God and profane man? How is that man who was unable to make himself right before God in his own power, can now through Jesus have right standing in God, before Him, and with Him?

      The reason that Jesus is the ladder that leads man upward towards God and the bridge that connects him to a relationship of reconciliation with God is because He is God who reflects the heart of the Father to man, and He is also man who can stand before a holy God and intercede on man’s behalf. Although Jesus’ deity is the truth that many stumble over (and fall into hell on their way to secure heaven), understanding His humanity is just as important.

      I think it was A.W. Tozer who stated that one of the teachings that is missing from the church is that of Jesus being man. Granted, Jesus’ manhood is an accepted historical fact. The problem with historical facts is that people can operate in the arena of assumption. Granted, they assume Jesus was man, but they fail to understand the significance of His humanity. If Jesus was not human there would be one important aspect of His ministry completely missing from the equation. That aspect is what ensures the ongoing work of salvation.

      There are extreme attitudes presented about Jesus’ humanity. For example, people who deny Jesus’ deity will never come to terms with His humanity. And, those who think of His deity without understanding the significance of His humanity will fail to understand the work He continues to do for us before the throne of God.

      In order to understand the significance of Jesus’ humanity, let us begin with an important event: that of Mount Sinai. It is important to understand that how God manifests Himself to man is determined by the attitude He is trying to instill into man so that he will be in the right frame to receive what God has for him. For example, God met Moses in a burning brush when he gave him his marching orders to go to Pharaoh and demand that he let God’s people go. All Moses was required to do was take off his shoes for he was standing on holy ground.

      Now fast forward to Mount Sinai. God was about to give Moses something of great value. What kind of attitude would the Lord instill in the people of Israel if they were going to properly receive what God was about to entrust to Moses in the right way? In Exodus 19:10-12, the people of Israel are instructed to set themselves apart (sanctify) and wash their clothes and to be ready against the third day for the Lord will come down in the sight of the people upon mount Sinai, and He ends with this instruction, “And thou shalt set bounds unto the people round about, saying, Take heed to yourselves, that ye go not up into the mount, or touch the border of it: whosoever toucheth the mount shalt be surely put to death.”

      What did the people see when it came to the presence of God in their midst? “And it came to pass on the third day in the morning, that there were thunders and lightnings, and a thick cloud upon the mount, and the voice of the trumpet exceeding loud; so that all the people that was in the camp trembled” (Exodus 19:16).

      Exodus 19:18 tells us this all occurred because the LORD descended upon it in fire and the smoke thereof ascended as the smoke of a furnace, and the whole mount quaked greatly. What would Moses receive from God at Sinai? The holy, perfect Law of God. What was the purpose of the Law? To give a glimpse into the holiness of God by showing man that he is a transgressor against God’s Law and to provide a schoolmaster that would point to the solution. 

      Man is declared a sinner by God’s Law, condemned to die in his sins in order to pay the consequences for the debt that has been incurred by sin (Romans 4:15; 3:23). The wages of sin is death (separation from God) (Romans 6:23).  It was clear that the children of Israel needed to understand the seriousness of being entrusted with the holy Law of God.

      The holiness of God is once again brought out in Exodus 33:18-20. Moses had stood in God’s presence on Mount Sinai and received the Law, but He wanted to look into the face of His glory. In verse 20, we read this, “And he said, Thou canst not see my face: for there shall no man see me, and live.

      God is that holy and man so unholy that God’s distinct holiness, which is a manifestation of His glory, would become a consuming fire. For man in his present state, God’s unveiled glory would become a point of great judgment that would completely purge the landscape of all that was profane and unsanctified. It is for this reason that God’s glory was hid in the darkness of Mount Sinai, and for those who did not show proper respect, their very existence was threatened. Only those who were called, prepared, and ordained could enter into the darkness of His presence and know in assurance that they would not be consumed in judgment by His glory. 

      There was clearly a separation between God and man. This brings us to a very important point, and that is God had to veil His glory in some way before He could interact with man. If He had not, His glory would manifest itself as a consuming fire. Hebrews 12:26-29 reminds us of this very fact.

      There was a problem, God wanted a relationship with man but man was separated from Him. God wanted to interact with man, but if the environment was not properly prepared it would end in judgment. It was obvious that man in his fallen state could not solve the problem; therefore, it became obvious that only God could solve the problem.

      What would God have to do to once again reach man, close the gap, and establish man in a relationship with Him? How could God veil His glory to ensure personal interaction with man, while at the same time inviting him to touch Him and look into His very face and not die? It was also clear that somehow He had to satisfy the requirements of His own Law that required the death of an acceptable sacrifice, the shedding of blood to provide a pardon for mankind. Where would He find such a sacrifice, for the blood of animals was a temporary fix?

      When the disciples were presented with the overwhelming reality of the impossibility of man being saved, it was then that Jesus reminded them that all things were possible with God. God was not broadsided by the problem plaguing man, nor was He unprepared to address it. In fact, before the foundation of the world was laid, a plan was already in place to redeem man back to Him.

      It would be God who would prepare and provide a perfect sacrifice, a sacrifice that would suffice the Law, serve as a ladder that pointed man upward and become a bridge that closed the gap between God and man. God allowed man to see into His plan. It was prophesied that the solution would come by the seed of a virgin woman who was from the lineage of Judah and the royal line of David (Genesis 3:15; 49:8-12; 1 Chronicles 17:11-14; Isaiah 7:14; 9:6-7). It was clear that this Promised One would have to be born a child, designated as a son, but this also meant that this man had to miraculously come into the midst of humanity, identified as being sent from above, but not born with the inherent condition passed down from Adam (John 1:12-13; Romans 5:12-15).

      Once again we see a problem. God could not just create some special man outside of the human race. It was clear from prophecies that this man had to come from the human race. There was only one solution to bring the glory of God to profane, lost man, God must veil His glory in human form. There was only one means that would be sufficient to silence the Law of God, God would have to bring deity and humanity together.  Deity clearly had to take on a human body to become an acceptable sacrifice, the Lamb of God (John 1:29). To fulfill prophecy the LORD would have to choose one from the tribe of Judah, associated with the royal lineage of David. In order to bypass man, there would have to be a miraculous conception in the womb of woman who fit the qualifications of inward purity towards God and was still physically chaste to ensure the sacrifice would be without sin, not subject to the claims of the world and left unblemished by the sinful inherent condition of Adam.   

      Once again we are reminded that all things are possible with God. From the beginning the mystery of this incredible union of God and man in human form was veiled in the Old Testament tabernacle. It was hidden in ordinances, sacrifices, and even the example of the High Priest. It could be found in the manna, the budding rod of Aaron, and the rock that provided water for the children of Israel. The reality of God in human form and the work that He would do on behalf of all mankind was erected and stood in the midst for physical eyes to see, but it would take the eyes of faith to recognize that mystery.

      The New Testament refers to this mystery as the mystery of godliness. We know this mystery points to the second person of the Godhead, the one who was the manifestation of deity in bodily form.  Granted, 2 Thessalonians 2 speaks of a counterfeit mystery, the mystery of iniquity, an incarnation of pure evil, but the Apostle Paul clearly speaks of the mystery of godliness in 1 Timothy 3:16. If you have not considered this mystery, I suggest you pray about it and ponder it so that your eyes of faith can be opened to the significance of it in greater ways. It will bless you and enlarge your faith and understanding towards God. Here is what Paul said about this mystery, “And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believe on in the world, received up into glory.”

      Consider Paul’s first statement, “And without controversy.” You know what Paul was saying, the matter of Jesus being the God/Man is not a matter of controversy. It has been confessed as being so; therefore, it is not a matter of debate FOR IT IS SO. It will not be understood on the intellectual level, nor will it be substantiated on an emotional level by fanciful, unrealistic sentiment. It is a truth of God that can only be embraced by faith. After all, faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God (Romans 10:17). The Word of God plainly declares that Jesus is both God and Man. A person can deny it intellectually, reject it on an emotional level, and mock it with his or her mouth, but it still stands as being so and will either justify or condemn a person in the end.

      Next we are told that great is this mystery that has been hidden in types, shadows, and patterns (Hebrews 8:5).  Although hidden, it was exceedingly loud and clear, but it required the eyes of faith to see it, ears to hear the revelation of it, and an open heart to receive it as so.

      And what was this mystery? GOD WAS MANIFEST IN THE FLESH. I do not know how much clearer Paul could have been about this matter. There are those who said Jesus never admitted that He was who He was, and for this reason I guess they can ignore John’s introduction in His Gospel of Jesus, and what Paul said about Him in this Scripture along with others. I do not know what Bible these people are reading, but in my Bible Jesus admitted this truth in ways that the Jews clearly understood. In fact in more than one incident they tried to stone Him because He was claiming to be equal with the Father. In other words, He was also deity and the Jews could not comprehend how the Father and Jesus could both be God since there was only one true God of Israel (John 5:16-18; 8:54-59). In the end, they crucified Him because He was who He said He was: God in the flesh.

      Jesus not only stated who He was, but the Apostle Paul stated that it was confirmed or justified by the Spirit at the Jordan when He was baptized for the sake of righteousness, and His miraculous entrance into the world and ministry was seen by angels (John 1:32-36). We see that His birth was proclaimed by the angel Gabriel to Mary. Angels declared who He was to the shepherds the day He was born. They ministered to Him in the wilderness and in the Garden of Gethsemane. The Apostle Peter gives us this insight about angels in 1 Peter 1:12, “Unto whom it was revealed, that not unto themselves, but unto us they did minister the things, which are now reported unto you by them that have preached the gospel unto you with the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven; which things the angels desire to look into.” (Emphasis added.)

       We are told that the truth about Jesus being God/Man was also preached. It took the power of God to raise Him and we know according to John 2:19-21, Jesus had the power of deity within Him to do so. (Refer to Romans 10:9, 10 about God raising Jesus from the dead. It lies at the heart of the Gospel.)

      The final part of 1 Timothy 3:16 is that He was raised up into glory. We serve a living Savior and Lord who was returned to His former glory as sovereign Yahweh as He requested in John 17:5. He ascended, and in like manner, He will also come back for His church. That is His promise and our blessed hope. What a glorious day that will be. His church will be taken back with Him, where He will rightfully be worshipped by those around His throne, honored by those who hold Him close to their hearts and have sincerely proclaimed Him with their lips.

      Who do you say Jesus is? Do you know Him as God and understand Him as Man? There are many like the Jews of Jesus’s time who refuse to see with the eyes of faith and believe with a child-like heart that He is GOD IN THE FLESH.

      Next month we are going to see why it is that Jesus' position as the Man in heaven enables Him to save us to the uttermost.