E. L. Lovering, Ilfracombe
Preliminary. The stability of a building depends upon the reliability of its foundation, and we may well ask upon what foundation does the whole structure and fabric of the Christian faith depend.
Mark writes in the first verse of his Gospel, “The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God," and it is surely here that the whole Christian doctrine finds its source. The message of the angel to Mary was, " Thou shall call His name Jesus, for He shall save His people from their sins," and if there is to be a Saviour for mankind, there must be a ' man to die,' for God had decreed that without the shedding of blood is no remission of sins. But the Psalmist wrote that “None can by any means redeem his brother, nor give to God a ransom for him “(Psalm 49. 7), for the sacrifice must be as perfect as God Himself. Here then must be the basis of salvation, a Person who is perfect man and very God.
Job complained, “Neither is there any daysman betwixt us, that might lay his hand upon us both “(Job 9. 33). But when the fullness of the time came, " God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, that He might redeem them which were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons " (Gal. 4. 4, 5, R.V.).
Like the pillars of stability and strength, Jachin and Boaz, which in the days of Solomon stood before the temple, so the perfect Humanity and absolute Deity of the Lord Jesus stand upon the threshold of the glorious structure revealed to faith's vision. May we, therefore, consider first the perfect humanity of the Saviour, "and, in our next paper the absolute Deity of the Lord from heaven.
The mystery. Let it be said at the outset that " without controversy, great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh " (1 Tim. 3. 16), and on this declaration faith must rest where reason fails. When the angel announced to Mary the glad tidings of the Saviour's birth, she herself asked, " How shall this be ?" and, though reason could find no logical answer to the question, her faith found perfect repose as " the bondmaid of the Lord, and . . . according to Thy word " (Luke 1. 38, R.V. margin).
We quote here a well-known and loved expositor on this important subject: “The truth respecting Christ's humanity must be received with Scriptural accuracy, held with spiritual energy, guarded with holy jealousy, and confessed with heavenly power. If we arc wrong as to this, we cannot be right as to anything. It is a grand, vital, fundamental truth, and if it be not received, held, guarded, and confessed, as God revealed it in His Holy Word, the entire superstructure must be unsound."
Let us then beware of mystic theory in this subject and seek to abide by Scriptural accuracy.
Some heresies. There have been very ancient and numerous heresies in connection with the humanity of our Lord. The Docetist denied the reality of His body; some held (hat it was a body only in appearance; others that it was of a peculiar heavenly texture. The Apollinarians denied that He had a human soul. The Mono-physites held that there is only ' one nature ' in Christ. The Mono-thelites held that although our Lord had two natures, He had but ' one will '; thus they denied His perfect humanity, for His human nature must have had a human will.
Scriptural accuracy. When God sent forth His Son, He did not create an alliance of two persons. He who was born in Bethlehem, grew and waxed strong in spirit, suffered and died at Calvary, was the One who said, “Before Abraham was. I am “(John 8. 58). He it was who ' had glory by the Father's side before the world was ' (John 17. 5), and, though He was " in the form (i.e. possessed the manifested essence) of God," “took the form of a bondservant," and obeyed “even unto death” (Phil. 2. 6, 8); He is God, He became man. “And the Word became flesh, and pitched His tent among us (and we beheld His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father) full of grace and truth “(John 1. 14, R.V.).
Reality of His manhood. Christ's manhood is not a strange manhood alien to our own. He “was in all points tempted like as we are. Yet without sin “(Heb. 4. 15). “For verily not of angels doth He take hold, but lie taketh hold of the seed of Abraham. Wherefore it behoved Him in all things to be made like unto His brethren" (Heb. 2. 16, 17, R.V.). He becomes complete and perfect man, possessing body, soul, and spirit, for in the Garden of Gethsemane He said, “My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death “(Matt. 26. 38); and on the cross, " Father, into Thy hands I commend My spirit " (Luke 23. 46j.
Luke further portrays for us the fact that our Lord Jesus as a child (Gk. little child) " grew and waxed strong, becoming filled with wisdom; and the grace of God was upon Him " (Luke 2. 40, R.V.). He is asking questions, and receiving instruction; then from boyhood to maturity " Jesus advanced in wisdom and stature, and in favour with (by the side of) God and men “(Luke 2. 52, R.V.).
At the words of the centurion “He marvelled “(Matthew 8. 10) At finding such great faith outside Israel; at the death of Lazarus the Jews seeing Him weep said, “Behold how He loved him “(John 11, 35, 36). He knew real temptation and hunger in the wilderness ; real weariness as He sat and talked with the woman at Sychar's well ; and real thirst, pain, and anguish upon the Cross. He was both angry and grieved at the hardness of men's hearts (Mark 3. S) And rejoiced “in the Holy Spirit” because the profound things of the Kingdom of God were clear to “babes” though hidden from “the wise and prudent” (Luke 10. 21, R.V.).
Perfection of His manhood. Testimonies to the perfection of His manhood come from all quarters of society. The judicial Pilate beholds the man ' in whom is found no fault at all '; the hardened centurion witnessing before the Cross sees one who ' was indeed a righteous man,' whilst from the lips of the dying criminal comes the rebuke to his fellow, ' We indeed justly, but this man hath done nothing amiss.'
To us. He is “the chiefest among ten thousand and the altogether lovely One."
“Fullness Divine in Thee I see,
Wonderful Man of Calvary!"