The Christian faith is a trinitarian faith. To our own peril do we neglect the doctrine of the Trinity. It is, in fact, the Christian doctrine of God.
Within the covenant of redemption, each person of the Trinity is co-equal and co-ultimate, but each person has his own work within the covenant. The Father plans redemption, the Son purchases redemption, and the Spirit applies redemption. But before we can describe Christ’s work in our redemption, we must be clear on the person of Christ.
Of the person of Christ, the Confession says, “The Son of God, the second person in the Holy Trinity, being very and eternal God, the brightness of the Father's glory, of one substance and equal with him who made the world, who upholdeth and governeth all things he hath made,
We need only to read the opening prologue of the gospel of John to see Christ’s pre-existence. He is of the same substance as the Father, equal in power and majesty. Hebrews 1:2-3 tells us that Christ is the final revelation of God, the appointed heir of all things, and the agent of creation. He sovereignly orders and guides all things to their appointed ends.
The Confession continues, “did, when the fullness of time was come, take upon him man's nature, with all the essential properties and common infirmities thereof, yet without sin; being conceived by the Holy Spirit in the womb of the Virgin Mary, the Holy Spirit coming down upon her: and the power of the Most High overshadowing her;
At a certain point in time, predetermined by the Father, God the Son descended to the earth, took on flesh, and experienced all of the common difficulties of the fallen human condition. Those difficulties were true and real. He was tempted in all the normal ways that we are, yet in the power of the Spirit, he never disobeyed his Father.
The virginal conception is not a nice accessory to the faith, something supernatural we can ignore if Enlightenment culture finds it appalling. The virgin birth was not just a miracle but a sign to direct people to Christ. We often talk about the mention of the virgin birth in Isaiah 7:14 at Christmas time, as we should. The whole point of talking about it is to confirm that 700 years before Christ was placed in the womb of a virgin by the Spirit, God said to be on the lookout for it. The virginal conception bears witness to the divine plan of God to redeem fallen humanity and bring glory to himself.
Christ fulfills his divinely appointed role, revealed to humanity through the Scriptures. “and so was made of a woman of the tribe of Judah, of the seed of Abraham and David according to the Scriptures; so that two whole, perfect, and distinct natures were inseparably joined together in one person, without conversion, composition, or confusion; which person is very God and very man, yet one Christ, the only mediator between God and man.”
Jesus Christ is the fulfillment of the promises made to Abraham. Paul says in Galatians 3:16, “Now the promises were made to Abraham and to his offspring. It does not say, ‘And to offsprings,’ referring to many, but referring to me, ‘And to your offspring,’ who is Christ. The promises of God made to Abraham find their fulfillment in Christ. And as he is the true Israelite, the church is now the Israel of God (Galatians 6:16).
The genealogies of the gospels matter immensely. They are instrumental in proving Christ’s rightful place as the offspring of Abraham and the rightful inheritor of those promises. Matthew begins his gospel making this very point. He could have begun with the birth of Christ, but it was crucial to see Christ as the fulfillment of the Abrahamic covenant and promises. These connections were crucial to understanding the person and work of Christ long before Paul put them down to paper. Jewish Christians accepted Jesus as the Messiah because they saw him as the fulfillment to the covenant made with their patriarch.
One critical note to make is how a human nature and the divine nature co-existed in one man. There have been those who said that Jesus would go between the human and the divine, depending on the moment. For instance, when Jesus was tempted, his human nature was in control. When he healed people or cast our demons, his divine nature was in control. Scripture makes no such distinction.
There have also been those that have said the human and divine nature co-mingled into a third nature. Again, the same problem shows itself. Does Scripture give any warrant for such a belief?
It seems best to take passages such as Philippians 2 at face value, where Paul says that Christ did not give up his divine nature nor abuse his divine nature by taking on flesh. He simply was. But Jesus also took on human flesh, which did no violence to his divine nature. He was “found in human form,” meaning more than he simply “appeared” as a man. He was 100% God, 100% man, from the point of the incarnation on.
As both fully man and fully God, Christ was uniquely able to mediate between fallen man and the righteous God. Priests were men who spoke to God on behalf of the people and vice versa. Christ was the true and better high priest, who entered the holy of holies once for all to atone for sins by the shedding of his blood (Hebrews 9:12).
Next week we’ll how the Son obeys the Father and is therefore worthy of inheriting all things.