R. C. Sproul: The Natures of Christ

How can a person have a divine nature and a human nature at the same time in the way that we believe Jesus Christ did?

One of the great crises in evangelical Christianity today is a lack of understanding about the person of Christ. Almost every time I watch Christian television, I hear one of the classical creeds of the Christian faith being denied blatantly, unknowingly, unwittingly. And of course, part of the reason is that it is so difficult for us to understand how one person can have two natures. You are asking me the question “How?” I don’t know how; I know that Jesus is one person with two natures. How can that be? Long before there was a human nature, there was a second person of the Trinity. Here the second person of the Trinity, very God of very God, God himself, was able to take upon himself a human nature. No human being could reverse the process and take upon himself a divine nature. I cannot add deity to my humanity. It’s not as if Christ changed from deity into humanity. That’s what I hear all the time. I hear that there was this great eternal God who suddenly stopped being God and became a man. That’s not what the Bible teaches. The divine person took upon himself a human nature. We really can’t understand the mystery of how this happened. But it is conceivable, certainly, that God, with his power, can add to himself a human nature and do it in such a way as to unite two natures in one person. The most important council about this in the history of the church, whose decision has stood for centuries as the model of Christian orthodoxy and is embraced by Lutherans, Presbyterians, Methodists, Roman Catholics, Baptists— virtually every branch of Christendom—is the Council of Chalcedon. It was held in the year 451, in which the church confessed its belief about Jesus in this way: They said that we believe that Jesus is verus homus, verus Deus— truly man, truly God. Then they went on to set boundaries for how we’re to think about the way in which these two natures relate to each other. They said that these two natures are in perfect unity, without mixture, division, confusion, or separation. When we think about the Incarnation, we don’t want to get the two natures mixed up and think that Jesus had a deified human nature or a humanized divine nature. We can distinguish them, but we can’t tear them apart because they exist in perfect unity.

How can a person have a divine nature and a human nature at the same time in the way that we believe Jesus Christ did?  , Copyright 2009 by R. C. Sproul, Ligonier Ministries.

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