I shared this in one of my responses to another blogger in “Christ didn’t come to help us, He came to INCLUDE us” but I thought this deserves a separate look because it’s so important in our understanding of what it means to be “in Christ.”
And my purpose here is to make a relational argument more than a theological one. You can get very good Scriptural treatments for the deity of Christ elsewhere from people a lot smarter than me.
Why does Christ’s divinity matter in our placement in Him?
To be “in Christ” means that we have been placed in divine union within the Godhead. More specifically, the Father and the Son have come to make their home in us through the person of the Holy Spirit (John 14:23). But we can only “partake in the divine nature” (2 Pet.1:4) if Christ is divine because we were placed in Him.
The early church fathers fought for this revelation of “Divine-togetherness” and established creeds to summarize this truth. This has been virtually lost on the Protestant Reformation that focused on the legal justification, much to the demise of the greater revelation of our adoption and inclusion in the Godhead. Here are a couple of examples of what the early church fathers said:
Irenaeus (c. 202 AD) “He became what we are in order to bring us to be what He is in Himself.”
Anthanasius (296-373 AD) “For that was the very purpose and end of our Lord’s incarnation, that He should join what is man by nature to Him who is by nature God, so that man might enjoy His salvation and His union with God without any fear of its failing or decrease.”
God IS love–which requires relationship within Himself
Love, to be love, must be expressed as an action in the context of relationship. And God could not be defined as love (1 John 4:8) if there were no other object of that affection. In other words, He would require something or someone outside of Himself. He could express love, but He could not BE love.
So…for God to be love, He must be more than one person within Himself. For God is love apart from His creation, apart from anything outside of Himself.
And before creation, the Father loved the Son (John 17:24).
You can only truly understand the nature of God’s love within the context of His triune nature as revealed in Scripture. The early church fathers understood this and fought to preserve this revelation.
God is a “Father” which requires being in familial relationship within Himself
When we say that God is a Father, we are saying He is, by His very being, in relationship. He did not become a Father, He was a Father from eternity. He was never alone, and never wants us to be alone as spiritual orphans either (John 14:18; Rom.8:15).
This is the key to understanding the heart of the Father for us. He came to include us in that fellowship. THAT is the GOOD NEWS! It’s not good news if these things aren’t true. It’s an orphan religion of men.
Three reasons Jesus must be fully God, fully man (C. Baxter Kruger)
Since I am not a theologian, I will borrow from a great theologian, C. Baxter Kruger (“The Great Dance”) briefly explain three additional points:
1. If Jesus is not fully divine, “very God of very God” as our Nicene Creed states, then He has given us less than the fullness and the life of God. He cannot give what He does not possess Himself. For eternal life is entering into God’s very own life.
2. The logic holds true on the other side. If Jesus is God of God, but has not become a real human being, then He may have the divine life, but it does not reach us. We cannot enter into the divine life of God, the fellowship, the communion that the Father, Son and Holy Spirit have enjoyed for eternity. We only become spectators, forever separated–God is “up there” and we are “down here.” Even in heaven, we are still separated. We could be with Him but could not be IN Him.
3. This speaks to the nature of God as a Father. For it was not just any God who became human, it was the SON of God. He didn’t come as an abstract, faceless, Omni-power who became human. It was the Father’s beloved Son, the One who was in fellowship with Him from the beginning, the One who lives in the fellowship of the Spirit with the Father. This also speaks of the love of God as a Father, that He would want to share His divine life with us in His family in both heaven and on the earth (Eph.3:14-15).
What about the humanity of Jesus?
When Jesus was on the earth, we see in the New Testament accounts that, while He was “equal to God,” did not use His divinity (Phil.2:5-8 NLT) but humbled Himself as a man. But He did not give up His divine nature or His fellowship with the Father. This is the whole point for us. He remained in this divine fellowship and showed us how to live in this “Divine dance” (as C. Baxter Kruger calls it) while living on this earth.
This is the whole purpose of His incarnation and the key to understanding our identity as a new creation, which is our “divine-togetherness.” We were placed in Him, seated with Him in heavenly places who is seated at the right hand of the Father (Eph.2:6; Heb.1:3).
Without this reality, we are left bewildered and confused, not knowing who we really are because the only place we find our true identity is in Christ in God.
This is the key to understanding everlasting life and true Christianity itself. As Paul said, we have the love of the Father, the grace of Jesus Christ and the communion of the Spirit (2 Cor.13:14). This is the Divine dance, if you will. In my view, if we don’t understand this, we understand nothing about why God redeemed us. We understand nothing about our own identity as sons.
And, yes, to say that God is one, yet three in one, is paradoxical. But if we cannot embrace paradoxes then we will have very little spiritual understanding of reality of God or His Kingdom.