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Statement of Faith III: The Lord Jesus Christ

His Preexistence and Deity (Jn 1:13)

“Before the world was created, the Word already existed; he was with God, and he was the same as God.” So begins John’s gospel (1:1, TEV). There was never a time that the Word did not exist; so he is coterminous with the Father and eternally loved by the Father.

John 1:1 is such a simple verse but with profound implications. Jesus is the same as God–it is so difficult to conceive of the easily described yet profoundly misunderstood mystery of the Trinity. Jesus is one in essence with God, yet a separate and distinct person. What does that really mean?

For our purposes here, it can mean only one thing: that Jesus is deity. There is only one deity, and that is God (Deut 6:4). Yet Jesus shares this divine essence, even though he is a distinct person from the Father and the Holy Spirit, who also share the divine essence.

Incarnation by Virgin Birth (Jn 1:14; Mt 1:18-23)

What separates the Word from the other members of the Trinity is the fact that he took on sinful flesh to become like us. Original sin, the sin of Adam, passes to the offspring by way of the father. Jesus had no earthly father; he was born of a virgin who had not yet known the touch of a man. Therefore, he was not tainted by original sin.

Sinless Life (Heb 4:15)

Though Jesus had sinful flesh, he remained in all ways free of the stain of sin. In fact, it is argued by many that it was impossible for him to sin because it would violate his divine nature. Either way, he accomplished a feat that none had done before, nor have any done since: he lived a sinless life. He, who would become the Ultimate Passover Lamb, was without blemish.

Substitutionary Death (2 Cor 5:21)

Of course, this is one of the cornerstones of Christianity. The next section discusses another cornerstone, that of the Resurrection. While Jesus conquered death through the Resurrection, it was important that he suffered death to begin with. Why? To appease God’s wrath for all time.

God’s nature demands that justice be meted out for sin. There are two possible alternatives: either the person who sinned suffers the consequences of his own sin, or a substitute takes the punishment for that person. The entire sacrificial system prefigured this penal substitution that was meted out on the Cross.

Jesus, who had no sin, became sin for us so that we can become righteous before God. He suffers the full penalty so that we don’t have to.

Bodily Resurrection (Lk 24:36-43)

The Resurrection is the cornerstone of Christianity. The apostle Paul wrote that without the Resurrection, we are above all to be most pitied (1 Cor 15:19). We are still in our sins (1 Cor 15:17).

Most of all, the Resurrection is a bodily Resurrection. What is common to the Resurrection appearances is that Jesus appeared bodily to the witnesses. They were able to touch him and he ate with them. He was not a Spirit; he appeared bodily.

Ascension Into Heaven and Present Ministry (Heb 4:14-16)

Jesus is the Great High Priest of our faith; he has lived on earth and was tempted in every way that we were yet remained without sin. He goes alone before the Father on our behalf (1 Tim 2:5). With such a high priest for us, we need no other.

Coming Again (Acts 1:11)

Jesus will return one day to set up a kingdom that will last forever. He will return bodily and visibly, and all creation will bow their knees to their Creator (Phil 2:10).

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About Cory Tucholski

I'm a born-again Christian, amateur apologist and philosopher, father of 3. Want to know more? Check the "About" page!

Posted on September 13, 2009, in God and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. 9 Comments.

  1. On the virgin birth, I challenge you to provide an exigesis of Isaiah chapters 7 and 8. The problem is that the sign the Lord is giving Ahaz and the then current house of David is related to their enemeis the kings of Samaria and Damascus and when these two men will go down. The birth of the promised child is to be a sign of the time of when the Lord will send the Assyrian king to defeat the kings of Samaria and Damascus and thus show that he is still with Judah, thus the child will be called Emmanuel because the event which his birth is a symbol for shows God favors Judah over Samaria. In chapter 8 we find the fulfillment, Isiah goes to the prophetess’ house and she conceives as a virgin, the child is born, and God tells Isaiah ewhat to name the kid and proclaims him to be the promised child be reiterating the terms of the prophecy. It has nothing to do with Jesus and was mutilated by the Catholics to elevate Mary. So also the Rachel weeping for her children prophecy in context is about her weeping because they are in captivity in Babylon not because Herod killed them which he did not or Jnosephus would have reported it. Another prophecy in the first two chapters of Matthew the calling my son out of Egypt prophecy is merely a reference in Amos to the histroical time when God called Israel the nation out of Egypt saying to Pharaoah “Israel is my fistborn” for the full ‘prophecy’ in Amos is “when Israel was a child, I called my son out of Egypt” clearly showing Israel is the inteded son here.

    • You have a severe problem with your conspiracy theory. The faithful transmission of Scripture is well-documented. With minor textual variations, it is the same as it was when first written. The Catholic Church as we know it, however, didn’t exist until almost 500 years after the fact. How did a church corrupt texts and their interpretation 500 years before it existed? Like it or not, the Virgin Birth has been with us since the formative years of Christianity. Irenaeus mentioned the virgin birth in Adversus haereses, Book III.XIX, which was written c. 175-185. Matthew, one of the two Gospels that mentions the Virgin Birth, has fragments recovered from as early as a.d. 50 (P64). These facts contradict your theory that the text was corrupted by the Roman Catholic Church in order to exalt Mary.

      I don’t have time to do a full exegesis of Isaiah 7 and 8 now, but I might do that some other time. Perhaps in-between semesters from school. I will point out that nothing in the text (NRSV, ESV, or your favored KJV) says that she conceived and bore a son in any way other than the natural course. If it was a virgin birth, I submit that two things would occur. First, the atheists of modernity would be all over it, claiming it as another parallel to Christ and thus in support of the Christ Myth. Secondly, the Bible, a graphic book in its own right, would have explicitly recorded the miracle. You have nothing here and you know it.

  2. That Ireneaus in 180 and Justin Martyr in 140 believe in the virgin birth of Jesus is true but that doesn’t mean Matthew originally contained it. Dating of fragments is sketchy at best and you will excuse me for not taking your say-so on it. Besides when it comes to fragments it is only assumed they come from books we currently know. This fragment could come from an apocryphal work whose contents were eventually melded into Matthew for all we really know. But the point is clear that if Matthew did write that Isa 7:14 refers to Jesus then he was really bad at interpreting the OT. The Jewish position is the one I have layed out, and it just so happens that Marcion picked up their interpretation, so that Tertullian responds to it twice, once in his Answer to the Jews and once in Against Marcion. All Tertullian can say against Mahershalalhashbaz being the fulfillment is that a baby cannot lead an army and take spoils by shaking his rattle so no mere child can be the fulfillment but only God Incarnate can take spoils as an infant. Yet by this all Tertullian proves is either his dishonesty or his illiteracy because the text does not say the child will lead an army or take the spoils but rather “before the child will be able to call for mother or father the spoils of Samaria and riches of Damascus will be taken under the command of the king of Assyria.” Tertullian fails to understand that the child is not involved in taking the spoils but is only a sign of the time of when the spoils will be taken. And as for his allegorical treatment making Samaria and Damascus refer to the gold and frankinscense of the magi, that is pueerile foolishness because the meaning of Samaria and Damascus is cemented in stone in Isa 7 when we are told “before the child learns to refuse evil and choose good, the land you abhor will be deserted by both her kings” which land and kings have been mentioned by name, Rezin king of Syria (Damascus) and Pekah king of Israel (Samaria) who are confederate against Ahaz king of Judah (Jerusalem). There is no way around this, and it is a shame that you don’t admit it, but in that you admit an exegesis of the two chapters would take you months you essentially admit that the Jews, Marcion, and now myself are right in our accusation that the Catholics have misunderstood the passage. Unlike the Jews and your own self I am charitable enough to not lay this error at the feet of Matthew. In my view both Matthew and Luke were originally without birth stories just like Mark and John, and that for whatever reason the spirit of the power of the air who animated men like Ireneaus chose to sow his tares on this point only in Matthew and Luke.

    • I hate long comments like this because I’m always bound to leave something out of my reply. Let’s give it a shot. Starting with P64, also known as the Magdalen Papyrus, it has been reliably dated to a.d. 30 to a.d. 70 by scanning laser microscope and handwriting analysis. As for your assertion that it could have come from an apocryphal book and later redacted into the document that we know today, it is your bare assertion with no evidence–the burden of proof is on you. I’m not touching it.

      The prophecy in Isaiah is loosely interpreted by Matthew. A proper Christian worldview need not rely on it. In fact, Luke’s account doesn’t mention the verse at all, but still insists that Jesus was born of a virgin. Glenn Miller discusses the topic at length here. The Church Fathers seem in agreement that Jesus was born of a virgin. One additional note: While the gospel of Mark doesn’t have a birth narrative, Mark 6:3 may be a veiled reference to the fact that Jesus’ parentage was in question. Instead of calling him the son of Joseph, the crowd calls him the son of Mary, which would be an insult in that day and age. Mark is likely the earliest gospel, with fragments existing before a.d. 70 (specifically 7Q5).

      I never said that an exegesis of the passage would take months. I only said that I don’t have time to do it right now. Saying this does not prove you right.

      Finally, I would love to hear some evidence for your assertion that Matthew and Luke were originally without birth narratives.

      • There was a long protracted debate over his birth for four centuries. Most of those labelled heretics by Rome were pursauded he wasn’t even born. And among our gospels, the two that we find were used exclusively by heretics do not include birth stories. The Marcosians used Mark alone, and the Valentinians John alone. Marcion and the Marcionites supposedly used Luke alone, a version of Luke without Luke’s preface and without birth narrative. Tertullian accuses the Marcionites of having subtracted from Luke but they accuse the Catholics of having added to Luke. Matthew was originally written in Hebrew according to Papias and the church fathers are constantly speaking of the gospel of the Hebrews, and Jerome once suggests it is the original Hebrew Matthew. We are told also by the church fathers that this Hebrew Matthew had no birth narrative in it. Tatian’s Diatessaron, the first ‘gospel harmony’ we are told by the church fathers, left out the birth narratives. So, thatd all the gospels were originally without birth narrative is rather obvious to an unbiased observer. And as far as Mark mentioning the Jews saying ‘is not this the son of Mary?’ There are two ancient interpretations on that, (1) they were mistaken (2) the Catholics added that when they added the birth narratives to Matthew and Luke. In admitting that ‘Matthew’ loosely quotes Isa 7:14 you have admitted that Isa 7 is not a prophecy of Jesus, yet you want the virgin birth story to still be true. But without being prophesied it isn’t necessary, nor does it fit with the evidence. The writer of Hebrews wouldn’t have had to argue against Jesus being an angel if Christians all believed he had been born at all. And it is odd for Jesus to proclaim John the Baptist “the greates born of women” if he was born. It seems obvious that Jesus’ incarnation was originally understood to have taken place without birth. We even have clues to this in the canonical gospels today. Is Jesus greater or is John? John is the greates born of women. So, if Jesus was born of a woman, John is greater than him! If Jesus was not born of a woman, Jesus can still be greater than John.

      • The Diatessaron did not leave out the birth narratives. The online text is here, and you can plainly read that it does include the birth narratives. If you have early church fathers who say that the Diatessaron doesn’t include the birth narratives, let me know.

        It is significant that you note it is heretics that disbelieve the Virgin Birth. There is a reason that those heretics are heretics, and I would direct you to 1 John 4:1-3:

        Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world. By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you heard was coming and now is in the world already.

        If Jesus was not born, he did not partake of sinful flesh (Heb 2:14) and therefore could not have been tempted in all the ways we were but remain without sin (Heb 4:15). Since you are denying that Jesus came in the flesh, you meet the definition of an antichrist. Why should I listen to anything else that you say?

      • I’ve been studying the Diatessaron for the past year. There are many texts that claim to be the Diatessaron but none of them is the original text. The original Diatessaron was labelled heretical due to its lack of birth narrative and has not made it down to today. It was destroyed. Just go look up patristic references to the Diatessaron in Eusebius, Jerome, etc. They state that it left out the birth narratives. That someone else tried to recreate the Diatessaron after it was eradicated and they added in the birth material is obvious. And I never said Jesus didn’t come in the flesh. Why do you have to be born to come in the flesh????

      • As far as denying that Jesus took on sinful flesh that’s why you maintain the virgin birth. You think you need it for him to avoid contracting original sin. But no flesh is sinful. Sin is an action not a nature. There is no difference between a sinful flesh and pure flesh. There is only flesh. When Paul says Jesus came in the “likeness of sinful flesh” that is a tare. Jesus came simply in the flesh. The word was made flesh.

  1. Pingback: Rey has the Spirit of an Antichrist « Josiah Concept Ministries

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