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The Glorified Humanity of Christ

In the first chapter of Romans, there is a verse which some translations render, “declared the Son of God with power by the resurrection,” and which another renders, “by the resurrection, appointed to be the Son of God with power.”

I am not here interested in which is the more faithful translation of the Greek, for both emphasize different truths (if they are, indeed, different truths). The resurrection is the greatest proof of Jesus’ deity; it is the greatest proof that He is indeed, who He claimed to be, one with the Almighty and the Almighty Himself; the Son of God who will come on the clouds of heaven at the right hand of the Majesty; the one whose acknowledgement is eternal life and whose disregard and condemnation is everlasting death. When God raised Jesus from the dead, He proved to the whole world that Jesus is His beloved Son and said to humanity with a voice louder than that with which He spoke at Jesus’ baptism in the river Jordan and on the mountain of transfiguration, “This is My beloved Son in whom I am well-pleased: listen to Him!

(For, faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God, which is Jesus Christ, for, in the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God.) He said, “I have raised this Man, Jesus of Nazareth, from the dead. His miracles were My power. His words were My words, as He told you. He died by My will, as a sacrifice for sins, and I have raised Him from the dead, that all creation may know that He has triumphed over sin and death and I have accepted the sacrifice of His blood, and that you may look to Him and have life. He is My Son and My Anointed One. Kiss the Son with trembling, lest you perish from the way, for His wrath may flare up in a moment. How blessed are all who take refuge in Him!”

At the same time that the resurrection is the greatest declaration that Jesus, this same Jesus who was crucified, is the One and Only Son of God, begotten of the Father before all worlds, God of God, Light of Light, Very God of Very God, begotten not made, of one substance with the Father, and for the same reasons, it is also the supreme glorification of His humanity.

In His resurrection and ascension (for, are they not the same eternal reality, breaking on this world of time in two different points?) Jesus was glorified as a Man who still bears the wounds of His crucifixion. He came in the likeness of sinful flesh, in the very same weak and frail flesh, subject to temptations and suffering, that is ours, with just this one difference: His flesh was sinless. Nonetheless, He came as, with regards to His humanity, not yet perfected, though there has never been and can be no change in His perfect, eternal Godhead. He was innocent; He knew no sin; indeed, He was perfect, but His flesh was not yet perfected. He came in the likeness of us all. He entered the virgin’s womb and was born, an infant needed to nurse, unable to talk or walk, and gradually, as every human being, His manhood matured and He grew in wisdom and in favor; He grew into a man. His humanity was made perfect by His growing and living, by His suffering and dying, and by His resurrection and glorification. In Him, God condemned sin in the flesh not only by means of His sacrificial death, in which sin was righteously judged and cast as far as the east is from the west and trampled underfoot, but, God also condemned sin in His flesh as He lived the perfect life, fulfilling the entire Law and all righteousness (note, it is all righteousness, not just some righteousness and no unrighteousness) in the same flesh in which are we ourselves; only, in us this flesh is sinful, and in His it knew no sin. God condemned sin by the righteousness of Jesus Christ in His life and by His death on the cross. As is the lot of all men, He suffered. “He was made perfect in that He suffered,” we read in Hebrews, for otherwise He could not be a perfect man, for men suffer; He suffered perfectly; He suffered all there is to suffer, so that no suffering is left which He has not tasted, and He suffered in perfect love and obedience. He was tempted; when He was born His humanity was innocent, but not perfected, not proven, not yet in the fullness of that which it was and was to be. He was perfected in temptation. He was tested and stood the test. He was tried, and in Him the fire of purging found no impurities to clean, but proved that He was purest gold; in Him there was no lack. All of this contributed to the perfection of His humanity. When He died for our sins, and in His flesh atoned for all our impurities, when all our sins were taken away, then, indeed, did He perfect humanity; He perfected the flesh that He took from a woman, the same flesh that is in all men.

However, His work went beyond that. The perfection which He completed was a perfection even Divine. Having condemned sin in the flesh, having been found innocent and made perfect in the flesh and having purged and perfected the flesh, He rose from the dead. This is both the proof that He was indeed perfect and perfected and yet greater glory and perfection. He said, “I am going back to the Father,” and by this He did not mean that His Godhead had left heaven, had left the Father, and that now He was returning. God the Son cannot leave heaven: “the Word was with God and the Word was God.” His Divinity is the same Divinity that is the Father’s, and He is in closest relationship to the Father, always, without change, for the Godhead is eternal and cannot change, as the Name, YHWH: I AM WHO I AM. No, His humanity was going to the Father, henceforth to share in the glory of His Deity. His humanity, and in Him humanity, was to be glorified with the glory that was His before the world began. This glory – this glory that was the same glory He has always had, and also a new and greater glory, as it says in Philippians, “So God also highly exalted Him,” that is, gave Him a new and greater glory, for the same glory of God was now also the glory of Man – would be through His suffering, through His sacrificial death, and in His resurrection and ascension, as He tells us, “For them I sanctify Myself, that they too may be sanctified in Truth,” and He said, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life.” We also read in Hebrews, “but we do see Jesus, because of the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honor.”

In His humanity, He was appointed the Son of God with power by the resurrection, because He is the Son of God and in His resurrection that humanity was raised into the glory and power of His Godhead. Having risen from the dead and ascended, He sat down at the right hand of the Father as the Son of Man. (Some have said that the term, “Son of Man,” appearing as it does in the Book of Daniel, does not emphasize or speak of the humanity of Jesus Christ, but I believe that is mistaken: throughout the Old Testament, human beings are referred to as “the sons of man,” and the prophets are called, “son of man,” – thus pointing us to Jesus, the ultimate Son of Man, for as in Adam all die, so in Christ all shall be made alive, yet the trespass is not to be compared with the gift, for as the many died by the trespass of the one man, how much more abundantly, through the obedience of the one man the many shall be made alive, by the gift of grace in Christ Jesus. For the condemnation followed one trespass and brought condemnation to the many, but the gift came after many trespasses and brought justification to the many. Again, it says, “The first man, Adam, became a living soul. The second man, Jesus Christ, became a life-giving spirit.” As for the Son of Man in Daniel, specifically, I believe it points to the risen and glorified humanity of Jesus Christ – why else would the term be used? God lives in eternity, and the Son of Man who would be Divine that was shown to Daniel in the prophetic vision is the risen and glorified Jesus Christ. He was showing Daniel that there would be a Man who was God Himself.) Jesus Christ, in His very humanity that was crucified as a sin offering, has been raised again and the very humanity that suffered for our sins reigns over all the kings of the earth and knows all things. In the resurrection, His humanity was glorified with the glory of the Son of God, and in the flesh He was glorified with the glory of which He emptied Himself in taking on that flesh. The very flesh that was nailed to the cross is present with us and dwells in us everywhere. Just as God, and all of God, is present everywhere, so all Jesus’ humanity is present everywhere. In the same flesh that was pierced with a spear, every eye will see Him and He will judge the nations. In that same flesh, He is with us now. It is not only in His Deity, but in His perfected and glorified flesh, the very same flesh in which He was tempted and crucified, that Jesus Christ is everywhere and dwells within believers – and we in Him. In fact, it is through dwelling in His humanity that we dwell in His Deity, for the Deity and the humanity are of one person: the Son of God. It is in Him – in His humanity, in His resurrection – that we are perfected and glorified. His death is our justification, but His resurrection is our salvation.

Even so it is, that He promises in Revelations, “Just as I have overcome and sat down with My Father upon His throne, so to the one who overcomes will sit down with Me on My throne,” and we overcome because He was overcome! We share in His victory! “In all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.” “Take heart! I have overcome the world.” “Apart from Me, you can do nothing.”

 

Copyright 2018 Raina Nightingale

Celibacy, Hospitality, and Church Leadership

What is “Church Leadership?” What does it even mean?

Why do so many (at least in Evangelical circles of various denominations) consider lifelong dedicated celibacy so lowly? Why is it something almost no one considers, while marriage is lauded everywhere? Why is it something no one sees and no one is encouraged to consider?

Maybe the two questions are related? Maybe “Church Leadership” and celibacy, though not identical, should often be seen together?

What if “Church Leadership” is more than preaching sermons and getting to know “church members” and “counseling” people? What if “Church Leadership” should mean being an example to both the brethren and those who do not yet believe? What if, anyone who isn’t so, is by definition not a “Church Leader?” Continue reading “Celibacy, Hospitality, and Church Leadership”

Heaven: To See the Face of God in Christ and Be Like Him

“I shall see Thy face in righteousness; I will be satisfied when I awake after Thy likeness.”

“Little children, it is not yet manifest what we shall be, but we know that when He appears we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.”

“Thou hast made them to be a kingdom and priests to our God.”

“We who behold with unveiled faces the glory of the Lord as in a mirror are being transformed into that same image as from glory to glory.”

“Now we know in part; then we shall know in full. Now we see as in a mirror dimly; then we shall see face to face.”

“He predestined us to be conformed to the image of Christ so that He should be the firstborn among many brethren.”

Heaven is the fulfillment of our nature. It is to see Him whom we were created to see, and by seeing to be like Him. It is the Beatific Vision: the direct, immediate (not mediated) presence of God in and to the soul.

In Heaven, we shall be like Christ. Continue reading “Heaven: To See the Face of God in Christ and Be Like Him”

Ask Not About Assurance: Know the Son (Thoughts on 1st John)

“God has given us eternal life and this life is in His Son… this is the testimony He has given us concerning His Son: whoever has the Son has eternal life. Whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life. Little children, I am writing these things to you who believe in the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life.”

It is all about the Son. It is all in the Son, the Son who is the All in All. There is not and never shall nor can be any assurance of salvation that is separable from assurance of Christ: assurance that God’s testimony is truth, that His Son is who He claimed to be, the Savior of the world.

When the Apostle John wrote that he wanted us to know that we have eternal life, this is what he meant: not some test to determine whether we are in fact “saved” Continue reading “Ask Not About Assurance: Know the Son (Thoughts on 1st John)”

Loving Soldiers and All Men and Why Christians Cannot Go to War

We are made to love the Lord God with all our hearts, and to love our neighbors as our own selves. That means all of our neighbors – all fellow human beings are our neighbors, the children of Adam and Eve and our brothers and sisters, created in the image and likeness of God Himself, each one’s name known specially to God before the creation of the world.

Indeed, we are to love our neighbors as Jesus Christ Himself has loved us. He laid down His life for us.

We do not get to pick and choose who is our neighbor, whom we must love as we love ourselves, love as Jesus loved us. Continue reading “Loving Soldiers and All Men and Why Christians Cannot Go to War”

What It Really Means to Take the Name of the Lord in Vain

“You shall not take the name of YHWH your God in vain.”

“Father, hallowed be Your Name.”

God is Holy. His Greatness – His Truth – His Love – His Goodness, all these call us to approach Him and to speak His Name with reverence and with joy, not flippantly, not carelessly, but meaning what we say as nearly as we can, knowing that He of Whom we speak is so real and true we cannot grasp Him, so high and loving and beautiful we stand in awe of His supreme goodness. Continue reading “What It Really Means to Take the Name of the Lord in Vain”

Love’s Choice: A Story

I am Lavinnia. Somehow I found myself near the front of the crowd as all of us moving through the streets made way for the soldiers coming down the street. I saw the captive they dragged with them in irons. In a moment, I loved her. She was a fellow human being, and I saw and felt that in my heart, and loved her. It would not have mattered of what she was accused. I loved her. It would not have even mattered whether the accusations were true or not. I loved her. Continue reading “Love’s Choice: A Story”

Do You Want to Know Goodness and Love?

How many of you who deny or reject God would want, if it were possible, to know, love, and serve a Being who not only loves but was the very incarnation of Love, a Person who not only was good but was goodness itself?

If you’ve read other writings of mine, most of the time when I use the word ‘God’ I do not mean an exceptionally powerful creature with an ego problem or anything like that. Perhaps, it will make things clearer if, in this post, I don’t use the word ‘God’ or any words associated with that word at all to describe the thing of which I am thinking and which I am putting forward for your consideration, but I’m not sure how to do that. There’s only so many words in the world, or at least in any given language. Continue reading “Do You Want to Know Goodness and Love?”

The Wrath of the Love of God

God is Love.

The wrath of God is what His Love looks like from the vantage point of evil, of that which would threaten or destroy the beloved. Thus, there is no conflict at all between the wrath of God and the Love of God. God’s wrath demands nothing other than what His love demands. Justice demands the very thing which mercy demands. Indeed, one might say that the wrath of God is the demand and judgment of His Love that His beloved must be rescued, must be kept or re-made good and whole and perfect, the demand and judgment of His Love that all the imperfections and evils which threaten or mar His beloved must be destroyed. Continue reading “The Wrath of the Love of God”

Salvation: Atonement is Union

“You are heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, provided you share in His sufferings so that you may also share in His glory.”

“You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to our God and they shall reign upon the earth.”

“All things are yours, and you are Christ’s, and Christ is God’s.”

Salvation is union with God in the Incarnation of the Word. It is called salvation because we have fallen from that union, because being restored to that union for us now means being saved from sin, being healed from the disease of sin. Continue reading “Salvation: Atonement is Union”

Stop Wondering What It’s Like to Be Persecuted or if You Would Deny Jesus

I’ve never been able to understand the way in which many people in America think about persecution and martyrdom. I might literally shiver with fear, but the way of thinking about persecution I knew was that of the Apostles when they “went forth from the presence of the Sanhedrin, rejoicing that they had been counted worthy to suffer shame for the sake of the Name” or that with which the Christian writings from the era of the Roman persecutions seeps: the crown, the victor’s palm, the fulfillment of martyrdom. They counted torture for the sake of Christ a joy. There is a line, descriptive of the whole tone which meets one in their writings and in the accounts of their deaths, in the autobiography of St. Therese of the Child Jesus, about martyrs who watched their brothers die, “consoling themselves with the thought that perhaps they were being kept for greater torments.” Not that I understood all of this all, or even most, of the time. But it was the way Christians thought. I was an abnormal Christian when and because I didn’t think and feel this way, never when or because I did. Continue reading “Stop Wondering What It’s Like to Be Persecuted or if You Would Deny Jesus”