Why Christ must be God for us to be in Him

UnionI 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.”

Simply put, God became us so that we could be in Him, in union with the fellowship He’s had from the beginning (John 1:1, 2, 14; 17:24).

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.

About Mel Wild

God's favorite (and so are you), a son and a father, happily married to the same beautiful woman for 41 years. We have three incredible adult children. My passion is pursuing the Father's heart in Christ and giving it away to others. My favorite pastime is being iconoclastic and trailblazing the depths of God's grace. I'm also senior pastor of Cornerstone Church in Wisconsin.
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13 Responses to Why Christ must be God for us to be in Him

  1. Cindy Powell says:

    Awesome. Love it all, but that last line is such a key: “But if we cannot embrace paradoxes then we will have very little spiritual understanding of reality of God or His Kingdom.”
    So, so true! We will never figure it all out, but we can still enjoy the dance. Thanks again for words of clarity and truth.

    • Mel Wild says:

      Thanks. Much appreciated. And,yes, just about everything about God and our relationship to Him is paradoxical. That’s why it’s better to just dance. 🙂

  2. When you say “To be “in Christ” means that we have been placed in divine union within the Godhead.” It seems you think Jesus is God. When we would become like Christ according to your reasoning we also would become God. As Jesus was like us created in the image of God, and we should come one with God, like Jesus was one with God, you seem to forget that by a trinitarian thought this also would mean we become God ourselves.

    The Bible shows it clearly that God is not a person but a Spirit, Who is eternal (has no beginning nor end, no flesh, blood and bones). Jesus was a man of flesh, blood and bones who really could be seen (God cannot be seen by man or they would fall death), could and was more than once tempted (God cannot be tempted nor sin) . Jesus could sin but did not and could follow his won wishes but only wanted to follow God His wishes. He is the only man who succeeded to do the Will of God until the end. He really died; He did not fake his death, but gave his life for the sins of many, he even did not know and where not yet born.

    What use would it be to get credibility if God would do something where He is against (incarnation) and why did He wait such a long time to do such a thing and what could He proof with it?

    What is the use of faking a death and doing if one can be tempted, doing if one does not know it. Is such a thing not called ‘telling lies’, though the Bible tells us God does not lie? In case Jesus is God would you not say he did not tell the truth when he said he did not know the places his followers would get, or he did not know when the end-times would come? God knows everything but Jesus even did not know when he himself would be coming back onto the earth?

    What reason would have such a charade of doing like he is talking to somebody else, when he is talking to himself? Would he not once more being a liar when he says God is greater than him and he can not do anything without God, when he himself would be God? Does it not sound schizophrenic when he prays to himself and says to people not to worship him but only to worship the Only One true God, when he would be that God? And how can he abandon himself and what is than the reason fro him crying out “God why have you abandoned me?”

    • Mel Wild says:

      “When you say “To be “in Christ” means that we have been placed in divine union within the Godhead.” It seems you think Jesus is God.”

      Yes, absolutely, I am saying that Jesus is God. I think I made my position very clear here. You have every right to your view and I respect that and I didn’t post this to start a theological argument about who Christ is. That’s been going on for centuries and probably won’t stop anytime soon. I am simply stating relational reasons why it’s important for Christ to be God for us to be in Him.

      As the early church fathers argued, contending against the heresies of their day, God became us so that we could be with Him in the Divine fellowship that has been going on between the Father and the Son from eternity. Their understanding of the fully God, fully man, “very God of very God” nature of Christ eventually found its way into the creeds.

      As I said, we cannot understand that God IS love if He cannot express it within Himself apart from His creation. Likewise, the New Testament revelation shows us that God IS a Father, He didn’t become a Father. He is a Father within Himself, apart from His creation.

      The confusion and seeming contradictions stem from understanding the eternal God and the mystery of the incarnation. Again, the early church fathers spent a lot of time on this. The eternal Son of God was “begotten” in human flesh. This is at the very heart of Christian theology. And as I said, if we don’t embrace paradoxes we will understand very little about the nature of God and who we are in Him.

      The Son was in the bosom of the Father from before creation (John 1:1, 18), the Word was with God and yet was God, and God the Son came in human form (John 1:14), while being “equal with God,” denying His divinity (Phil.2:5-8), which explains some of Jesus’ seemingly contradictory statements about His knowledge as the Son of Man. In all things, as the “Son of man” He had to become who He already was. For this reality of the incarnation was for our sakes, not for His. This is why He laid down His divinity while on the earth. But this is not true of Him now.

      This paradox is the very heart of the nature of God. We have trouble understanding this with our one-dimensional human logic in the West. But, over and over, this truth is revealed in New Testament Scripture.

      Yes, God is Spirit, but that is not the entire revelation of God. While Jesus denied His divinity in His incarnation (Phil.2:5-8), but He did not break His fellowship in the Godhead. He stated, “NO ONE has ascended to heaven but He who came down from heaven, that is, the Son of Man who is in heaven.” (John 3:13). Jesus was both in heaven and on the earth at the same time. The New Testament revelation is that He was the express image of God (Heb.1:2-3). And this seeming paradox shouldn’t be too hard to explain in human terms. As believers, we are a spirit who is seated with Christ in heavenly places right now (Eph.2:6), yet we can be seen, touched in this physical world.

      This “Divine-togetherness” doesn’t make us God, it places us in the Divine fellowship with God through Christ. We probably agree there, but my view is that if Christ is not God we cannot be placed in this Divine fellowship. We are partakers of the divine nature by being placed in Christ. Unlike Christ, we are “adopted” sons, being brought into this fellowship He had with the Father from the beginning. Jesus, who was the “ONLY begotten Son,” who was with God and is God from the beginning. Again, this is the ultimate revelation of the New Covenant. This was the eternal purpose of God (Eph.3:11) from before the foundation of the world. We have been placed in this Divine fellowship in Christ in God.

      So, that’s my position in a nutshell. You are free to disagree with it. I wish you all the best in God. Blessings.

      • Yes we do have a different opinion and I appreciate your version. But it leaves me in the cold about what God could proof by faking His death and why He waited so long and we still have to wait before the Kingdom of God shall be opened for humankind and humans shall not have to suffer any more because and end would have come to death.

        • Mel Wild says:

          Not sure what you’re asking. Jesus’ death was certainly not faked. It was real. As Son of Man, His blood was spilled and He was raised to life by the Holy Spirit on the third day. And like Him, we will be raised up on the last day. That is the anchor to our hope.

          Nevertheless, the Kingdom of God is open to humankind today through faith in Christ. The Kingdom is now through His Spirit. He has given us His Spirit as an earnest down payment to the full inheritance at our resurrection. As ambassadors, we are God’s “boots on the ground” to invite others to this Divine Dance that has been going on for eternity. It’s truly good news that brings great joy! Both now and the age to come.

          Blessings to you. You are loved.

  3. That’s just what we point our “Jesus death was real” Jesus did not fake like he was praying to somebody else or was questioning somebody else why he (God) had abandoned him. God can not die but Jesus could and did die. Those who say Jesus is God bring those persons their sayings in discredit and give the idea both are telling not the truth or telling lies. Like Jesus saying his Father is greater than him and that he can not do a thing without his Father. Jesus telling he does not know who is going to sit where in the Kingdom of God and even saying he does not know when he himself is coming back or when the end times will come. Though God knows everything. (is it not?)

    • Mel Wild says:

      Again, the seeming contradictions you point to is the paradoxical nature of the incarnation. That Jesus was fully God and yet became fully man. Again, this is what the early church fathers spent a lot of time addressing. I have researched some of their writings and have found that they had a profound understanding of this but much has been lost since the Reformation. The “human” statements by Jesus, His death, laying down His divinity (Phil.2:5-8) etc., are all Jesus as Son of Man. Which, admittedly is paradoxical to our Western mindset, but absolutely necessary for our redemption and inclusion in God. And again, my view is that we cannot fully understand the eternal purposes of God without understanding the triune nature of God. Maybe I will write a post on the incarnation and expound on this point more fully. For now, we will probably disagree. That’s fine. Be blessed.

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