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Question #397

Was Jesus both God and man at the same time?

The Athanasian creed and the decision of the council of Chalcedon both declare that Jesus is both God and man. Even some Protestants agree with this. Yet I see in the Bible that sometimes Jesus is not a man. When he gave the gospel to Paul, and later made him apostle, he was not a man (Col. 1:12, 1:1). Later, when Paul wrote to Timothy, Jesus was a man again (1 Tim. 2:5). But later, when he appeared to John, he was only like a man (Rev. 1:13). So I think he makes himself sometimes human and sometimes not, as needed. Do you agree?

The Answer:

The first 28 "verses" of the Athanasian Creed deal with the deity of Christ, specifically as a part of the Trinity. Beginning in verse 29 it deals with his incarnation. The Council of Chalcedon affirms "This one and the same Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son [of God] must be confessed to be in two natures, unconfusedly, immutably, indivisibly, inseparately [united], and that without the distinction of natures being taken away by such union, but rather the peculiar property of each nature being preserved and being united in one Person and subsistence, not separated or divided into two persons, but one and the same Son and only-begotten. …"

The manhood of Christ did not begin until the incarnation, though it existed in God's eternal plan and was described in prophecy. See, e.g, Isaiah 52:13-53:12. Both the Athanasian Creed and the Council of Chalcedon confirm that Christ was both God and man, deity and human in his earthly sojourn. Neither of them separates the two so that in his earthly sojourn Christ was at one time deity without humanity and at another time humanity without deity.

Neither does the scripture separate the deity and humanity of Christ. He is not at one time Christ (Deity) and at another time humanity. He is not God or man; he is both (at the same time) God and man. Gal. 1:12 is not to the contrary. Paul's assertion there is the same as that found in 1 Cor. 1:1-13. Paul was not saying that Christ was not both deity and humanity. He was affirming that he did not receive the gospel that he preached from mere man or one who was only man, but from Jesus Christ. The contrast establishes that Paul knew that Jesus Christ was more than mortal man. Phil. 2:5-11 describes the eternal nature of Christ found in fashion as man. It was this unique combination of deity and humanity that led Christ to say "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). This statement could never be true of one who was only man.

1 Tim. 2:5 and Rev. 1:13 are not to the contrary. "The Son of man" is one of the favorite names of Jesus. It was in his capacity as "the Son of man" that he bought salvation. "The Son of God" was another name for the Christ. He was both at one and the same time. It was because of this unique nature that he could and does mediate between God and man – he can understand both because he is both. Any time any one of his names is used, while it may be used to emphasize one aspect of his nature, it cannot be and is not used to deny the existence of both aspect of his dual nature – both God and man.

God's Plan of Salvation

You must hear the gospel and then understand and recognize that you are lost without Jesus Christ no matter who you are and no matter what your background is. The Bible tells us that “all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23) Before you can be saved, you must understand that you are lost and that the only way to be saved is by obedience to the gospel of Jesus Christ. (2 Thessalonians 1:8) Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” (John 14:6) “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12) "So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God." (Romans 10:17)

You must believe and have faith in God because “without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” (Hebrews 11:6) But neither belief alone nor faith alone is sufficient to save. (James 2:19; James 2:24; Matthew 7:21)

You must repent of your sins. (Acts 3:19) But repentance alone is not enough. The so-called “Sinner’s Prayer” that you hear so much about today from denominational preachers does not appear anywhere in the Bible. Indeed, nowhere in the Bible was anyone ever told to pray the “Sinner’s Prayer” to be saved. By contrast, there are numerous examples showing that prayer alone does not save. Saul, for example, prayed following his meeting with Jesus on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:11), but Saul was still in his sins when Ananias met him three days later (Acts 22:16). Cornelius prayed to God always, and yet there was something else he needed to do to be saved (Acts 10:2, 6, 33, 48). If prayer alone did not save Saul or Cornelius, prayer alone will not save you. You must obey the gospel. (2 Thess. 1:8)

You must confess that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. (Romans 10:9-10) Note that you do NOT need to make Jesus “Lord of your life.” Why? Because Jesus is already Lord of your life whether or not you have obeyed his gospel. Indeed, we obey him, not to make him Lord, but because he already is Lord. (Acts 2:36) Also, no one in the Bible was ever told to just “accept Jesus as your personal savior.” We must confess that Jesus is the Son of God, but, as with faith and repentance, confession alone does not save. (Matthew 7:21)

Having believed, repented, and confessed that Jesus is the Son of God, you must be baptized for the remission of your sins. (Acts 2:38) It is at this point (and not before) that your sins are forgiven. (Acts 22:16) It is impossible to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ without teaching the absolute necessity of baptism for salvation. (Acts 8:35-36; Romans 6:3-4; 1 Peter 3:21) Anyone who responds to the question in Acts 2:37 with an answer that contradicts Acts 2:38 is NOT proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ!

Once you are saved, God adds you to his church and writes your name in the Book of Life. (Acts 2:47; Philippians 4:3) To continue in God’s grace, you must continue to serve God faithfully until death. Unless they remain faithful, those who are in God’s grace will fall from grace, and those whose names are in the Book of Life will have their names blotted out of that book. (Revelation 2:10; Revelation 3:5; Galatians 5:4)