Questions and Answers on Christ and the Incarnation

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These questions and answers are from the Student Catechism.

89.  Who is Jesus Christ?

Jesus Christ is God the Son, the second Person of the Trinity, the Savior of the world.

90.  What do we mean when we say that God the Son became incarnate?

For Christ to become incarnate means that the Second Person of the Trinity became a human being, without ceasing to be God.  Once he became a man, He was 100% God and 100% man.

91.  How did God the Son become incarnate?

He was conceived in His human mother Mary by the Holy Spirit, without the help of a human father.  This is called the virgin conception, which resulted in the virgin birth (Luke 1:35).

92.  What do we mean when we say that Jesus is the God-man?

For Jesus to be the God-man means that He is fully divine and fully human though He is one person.  Jesus is one in nature with God and one in nature with man.  Everything that it means to be God, Jesus is; everything that it means to be human, Jesus is.  Yet Jesus is only one person.

93.  What is proof that Jesus was a man?

Proof that Jesus was a man includes the facts that He was conceived in a mother’s womb, grew up, learned and developed as a human person.  He got tired, hungry, thirsty, and sleepy.  He was tempted, suffered emotionally and physically, and then He died. (Matt 4:2John 19:28Matt. 26:58Luke 2:52Mark 15:25.)

94.  What is the only difference between the humanity of Jesus and our humanity?

Jesus was not born with a sinful nature, and He never sinned (Hebrews 4:15).  We were born with a sinful nature, and we have sinned against God (Romans 3:23).

95.  How do the two natures of Jesus relate to one another?

The two natures of Jesus are unchanged, unconfused, indivisible, and inseparable. The two natures remain distinct though they contribute their attributes to the single Person of Christ.  Jesus lived and operated as one person though he had two natures.  Jesus lived and acted as God, while He lived and acted as man.

96.  Does the fact that Jesus operated as both God and man take anything away from either of His natures?

The fact that He functions as God does not take away from his humanity, neither does the fact that He functions as a man take anything away from His deity.  The Bible also, as a divine-human book, exhibits both human and divine characteristics.  The fact that the Bible exhibits divine characteristics does not make it any less a human book, and the fact that Bible exhibits human characteristics does not make it any less a divine book.  Likewise, Jesus can function in both His humanity and deity without lessening either his deity or humanity.

97.  What is cummunicatio idiomatum?

Cummunicatio idiomatum means that all the divine and human attributes are communicated fully to the single person.  “Idios” means self or one’s own.  Each nature communicates its own properties to the single person or hypostasis.

98.  What is perichoresis?

Perichoresis refers to the active intermingling of the two natures of Christ. Perichoresis means literally an embracing, a proceeding around.  The two natures of Christ indwell one another, but without either losing its distinctiveness.  The term ‘perichoresis’ can also be applied to the three members of the Trinity.

99.  What scriptural evidence do we have that Jesus is actually God?

Scripture tells us that Jesus claimed to be God, that He exercised divine works, that He possessed divine attributes, and that He accepted worship as God.

100.  What scriptures show that Jesus claimed to be God?

Scriptures that show that Jesus claimed to be God include John 8:58, where Jesus said, “Before Abraham was, I AM.”  In that verse, Jesus was identifying Himself with Jehovah, the I AM of Exodus 3:14.  In John 10:30, Jesus said, “I and my Father are One.”  According to the context of that verse, the Jews understood that Jesus was claiming to be equal to God the Father.  Jesus accepted that interpretation of His words.

101.  What scripture show that Jesus exercised divine works?

Scripture passages that shows that Jesus exercised divine works include Mark 2, which teaches that Jesus forgave sin; John 11, which shows that Jesus raises the dead; John 10, which teaches that Jesus gives eternal life; and John 1 and Colossians 1, which teach that Jesus created the world.

102.  What scriptures show that Jesus possessed divine attributes?

Scriptures that show that Jesus possessed divine attributes include Revelation 22:13, which says that Jesus is the Alpha and Omega, the Beginning and the End.  This means that He is eternal.  In John 16:30, His disciples told him, “Lord, now we are sure that you know all things.”  Peter said in John 21:17, “Lord, You know all things.”  The apostles believed that Jesus was omniscient. In Matthew 18:20, Jesus said, “Where two or three are gathered, there am I in their midst.”  In Matthew 28:20, He said, “I am with you, even to the end of the world.”  And Ephesians 4:10 says that Jesus fills all things.   These statements indicate that Jesus is not restricted by His humanity.   In His deity, He can still be everywhere.  He is omnipresent.

103.  What scriptures show that Jesus accepted worship as God?

Scriptures that show that Jesus accepted worship as God include Matthew 28, which says that the disciples fell down before Him and worshiped Him; and John 21, which says that Thomas fell down before Him, calling Him Lord and God.  Jesus can be contrasted with holy created beings, who refused worship (Revelation 22:8-9).  Instead, angels worship Jesus, according to Hebrews 1.  We need to remember that Jesus told Satan (Matthew 4) that only God was worthy of worship.  If He were not God Himself, He would not have accepted the worship of others.

104.  Why could no one else be the sacrifice for our sins?

Jesus had to be the sacrifice because He was the only one who was both God and man.

105.  Why did Jesus have to be God to provide the sacrifice for our sins?

Jesus had to be God because only deity could atone for sins against an infinite God.  Because God is limitless, our sins brought limitless guilt upon us.  Only an infinite being (God) could offer up an adequate sacrifice to deliver us from this guilt.

We can also say that Jesus had to be God so that the One giving his life would have the power in Himself to take it up again. The sacrifice was only adequate because of the power of the One who would destroy sin and death by His resurrection.

We can also say that the blood which was shed on the cross could only cleanse our sin and give us victory because it was the blood of the divine-human person.  No mere human, no matter how sinless, could have accomplished on the cross what the God-man did.

106.  Why did Jesus have to be man?

One reason Jesus had to be man (and not simply God) was in order to suffer and die.  God Himself was not capable of death.  God had to become one of His creatures in order for Him to actually give His life’s blood.   Jesus also needed to be man because he had to fully identify with the human race in order bring us back to God.  He had to become one of us to save us.  By going through every stage of our life as the perfect God-man, He (potentially) brings us back to Himself.

107.  Why did he have to be both God and man at the same time?

Jesus had to be both God and man at the same time because He came to reconcile two separated parties – God and man.  As our mediator, Christ had to represent both sides of these parties at the same time.  As God, he represented God to man.  As man, He represented man to God.  By fully representing both sides, Jesus brought man and God together.  It’s like He grasped God’s hand on one side and man’s hand on the other and pulled us back together.  He could not have done this without full identification with both sides.  This means that He had to have the abilities of both God and man to do what each had to do to bring about reconciliation.

108.  What do theologians mean when they say that Christ was twice begotten?

When theologians say that Christ was twice begotten, they mean that Christ was first begotten before all time from the Father.  This is an eternal non-physical begetting.  He was begotten again when he came down from heaven and was incarnate by His earthly mother Mary.

109.  Were the temptations of Christ genuine?

The temptations of Christ were real temptations clamoring for Him to abuse His real freedom.

110.  Could Jesus have sinned?

Jesus was not forced to be sinless, for He had true freedom, but His sinlessness was inevitable because of who He was.

Mark Bird
Mark Bird is Professor of Theology and Apologetics at God's Bible School and College.