By: Tonya Parrott
When I got home the other evening, I checked my Facebook and a lady had tagged me in a post. So, I’m going to show you the post first:
Daily Spiritual Devotion
1. What Is the Incarnation? What Is the Substance of the Incarnation?
Relevant Words of God:
The first incarnate God lived upon the earth for thirty-three and a half years, yet He performed His ministry for only three and a half of those years. Both during the time He worked, and before He began His work, He was possessed of normal humanity. He inhabited His normal humanity for thirty-three and a half years. Throughout the last three and a half years He revealed Himself to be the incarnate God. Before He began performing His ministry, He appeared with ordinary, normal humanity, showing no sign of His divinity, and it was only after He began formally performing His ministry that His divinity was made manifest. His life and work during those first twenty-nine years all demonstrated that He was a genuine human being, a son of man, a flesh; for His ministry only began in earnest after the age of twenty-nine. The meaning of incarnation is that God appears in the flesh, and He comes to work among man of His creation in the image of a flesh. So, for God to be incarnated, He must first be flesh, flesh with normal humanity; this, at the very least, must be true. In fact, the implication of God’s incarnation is that God lives and works in the flesh, God in His very essence becomes flesh, becomes a man. His incarnate life and work can be divided into two stages. First is the life He lives before performing His ministry. He lives in an ordinary human family, in utterly normal humanity, obeying the normal morals and laws of human life, with normal human needs (food, clothing, shelter, sleep), normal human weaknesses, and normal human emotions. In other words, during this first stage He lives in non-divine, completely normal humanity, engaging in all the normal human activities. The second stage is the life He lives after beginning to perform His ministry. He still dwells in the ordinary humanity with a normal human shell, showing no outward sign of the supernatural. Yet He lives purely for the sake of His ministry, and during this time His normal humanity exists entirely in service of the normal work of His divinity; for by then His normal humanity has matured to the point of being able to perform His ministry. So the second stage of His life is to perform His ministry in His normal humanity, is a life both of normal humanity and of complete divinity. The reason that, during the first stage of His life, He lives in completely ordinary humanity is that His humanity is not yet equal to the entirety of the divine work, is not yet mature; only after His humanity grows mature, becomes capable of shouldering His ministry, can He set about performing His ministry. Since He, as flesh, needs to grow and mature, the first stage of His life is that of normal humanity, while in the second stage, because His humanity is capable of undertaking His work and performing His ministry, the life the incarnate God lives during His ministry is one of both humanity and complete divinity. If from the moment of His birth the incarnate God began His ministry in earnest, performing supernatural signs and wonders, then He would have no corporeal essence. Therefore, His humanity exists for the sake of His corporeal essence; there can be no flesh without humanity, and a person without humanity is not a human being. In this way, the humanity of God’s flesh is an intrinsic property of God’s incarnate flesh.
From “The Essence of the Flesh Inhabited by God” in The Word Appears in the Flesh
Do you see anything wrong with this? At first glance, I didn’t and almost ‘liked’ the post. But the Holy Spirit kept prompting me that something wasn’t right. This article is actually a heresy based on the doctrine of kenosis. I will explain further.
First, the issues I am about to discuss here are fundamental to Christian theology. My intent is not to offend anyone but to present the Truth in its biblical context. If you find that this teaching offends you, I would ask that you examine your church’s doctrine more closely. In my experience, MANY have fallen victim to the depth of the deceit found in some of these non-Christian doctrines without even realizing it.
John 8:32 Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.
There are two basic views regarding the Incarnation of Jesus Christ: Hypostatic Union and Kenosis.
Hypostatic Union is the union of the two natures (Divine and human) in the person of Jesus. Jesus is God in flesh (John 1:1, 14, 10:30-33, 20:28, Phil. 2:5-8, Heb. 1:8). He is fully God and fully man (Col. 2:9). Thus, He has two natures: God and man. He is not half God and half man. He is 100% God and 100% man. He never lost His divinity. He continued to exist as God when He became a man and added human nature to Himself (Phil. 2:5-11).
Therefore, there is a union in one person of a full human nature and a full divine nature. Right now in Heaven there is a man, Jesus, who is our Mediator between us and God the Father (1 Tim. 2:5). So, Jesus was fully God AND fully man. This is the correct view.
Kenosis is a theological error concerning Jesus’ incarnation. Kenosis is the renunciation of the divine nature, at least in part, by Christ in the incarnation. Kenosis is derived from the Greek word ‘kenoo’ which means ‘to empty.’
The kenosis maintains that God, when becoming a man, divested himself of some qualities of being a man. In a sense, the kenosis is God minus something; God subtracting some qualities of deity to become a man.
To incarnate means to become flesh. The incarnation of Jesus is when the human nature (Jesus the man) was added to the nature of God the second person of the Trinity. It is where God became a man (John 1:1, 14, Phil. 2:5-8). It was the voluntary act of Jesus to humble Himself so that He might die for our sins (1 Pet. 3:18).
The doctrine of hypostatic union is of vital importance to the Christian. By it we understand the true nature of God, the atonement, forgiveness, grace, etc. It is only God who could pay for sins. Therefore, God became man (John 1:1, 14) to die for our sins (1 Pet. 2:24) which is the atonement. Through Jesus, we have forgiveness of sins. Since we are saved by grace through faith (Eph. 2:8-9), it is essential that our object of faith be accurate. The doctrine of the incarnation ensures accuracy-the knowledge that God died on the cross to atone for sin and that the God-man (Jesus) is now in Heaven as a mediator (1 Tim. 2:5) between us and God.
Jesus came to reveal the Father (Matt. 11:27, Luke 10:22), to do His will (Heb. 10:5-9), to fulfill prophecy (Luke 4:17-21), to reconcile the world (2 Cor. 5:18-21), and to become our High Priest (Heb. 7:24-28).
Therefore, the Christian view of the incarnation is that Jesus was fully God and fully man conceived by the Holy Spirit; i.e., hypostatic union.
Matthew 1:18 This is how the birth of Jesus the Messiah came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be pregnant through the Holy Spirit.
Yahweh Elohim God is a plurality. In contrast, Yahweh Elohah refers to one person of the Trinity. The word ‘trinity’ is not found in the Bible. Nevertheless, it is a word used to describe one fact the Bible teaches about God: Our God is a Trinity. This means there are three persons in one God and not three Gods. Another way I like to explain it is one God manifesting in three realms. It’s one God in 3 different persons, one for each realm; Heaven, Earth and Spirit. They are all fully God, one God, and have existed eternally beginning to end. Jesus is God manifested in the flesh (Earth), God is God in Heaven, and the Holy Spirit is God in Spirit.
The person of the Father is not the same person as the Son. The person of the Son is not the same person as the Holy Spirit. The person of the Holy Spirit is not the same person as the Father. If you take away any one, there is no God. God has always been a Trinity from all eternity.
This is what the Scripture means when it says God created man in His image. A way for me to explain it is: I am one Tonya…body, mind and spirit all in one. But when I die, my body will be separated from my mind and my spirit until they are reunited on the Day of the Lord. This is how I somewhat can identify with the Trinity. Only in relation to God, it’s a much larger scale. All being one God, the Holy Spirit would identify with my soul, Jesus with my body and God my mind, per se’. But all of those are fully me and I’m still only one Tonya, just as all of those are fully God and there’s still only one God.
God is not one person who took three different forms one at a time (Modalism), i.e., the Father who became the Son, who then became the Holy Spirit; as this would mean that during these transitions, God was not God at some point. God is all of these at once and has always existed in this way, even before time (kenosis denies this truth). Biblical proof of this is found in:
Genesis 1:1-3 In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.
John 1:1-4 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men.
The Bible says that there is only one God. Yet, it says that Jesus is God (John 1:1, 14). It says that the Father is God (Phil. 1:2), and it says that the Holy Spirit is God (Acts 5:3-4). Since the Son speaks to the Father, they are distinct persons. Since the Holy Spirit speaks also (Acts 13:2), He is a distinct person. Therefore, there is one God who exists in three persons.
The kenosis theory is Modalism. It is the belief that God ‘transitioned’ from one to the other and it is taught today by the ‘Jesus Only Movement’ (also known as Oneness Pentecostalism). However, not all Pentecostal churches have the same doctrine. Oneness Pentecostals are the branch of Pentecostalism that denies the Holy Trinity, the largest denominations being the UPCI (United Pentecostal Church International) as well as Apostolic. They broke away from the Assemblies of God because Assemblies of God are Trinitarian Pentecostals (hypostatic union). But most people are not aware of this difference in doctrines. Nevertheless, kenosis is taught by the Oneness Pentecostals and is actually a cult because they only focus on Jesus and deny the other two persons of the Deity. Catholicism is also a supporter of the kenosis theory, however Baptists believe the hypostatic union.
God is also not only one person as the Jehovah’s Witnesses, the Way International, and the Christadelphians teach. These groups are classified as non-Christian cults because they DO NOT believe in the same Jesus, as in the Son of God manifested in the flesh because it is impossible to do so with their doctrine of kenosis. The kenosis jeopardizes the true incarnation because it puts in doubt the full indwelling of God among men in the person of Jesus.
John 1:14 And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.
Jesus is the ‘Logos,’ Koine Greek for Word. And this is where the Jehovah’s Witness especially twist the Scripture. The Jehovah’s Witness bible says in John 1:1 that “the word was a god.” It is here where they strip away the Deity of Jesus Christ.
There are also other errors concerning the nature of Jesus Christ:
Monophysitism is a theological error regarding the two natures of Jesus. It states that Jesus’ two natures are combined into one new one. The problem here is that neither God nor man was represented in Christ but a new third thing.
Eutychianism states that Christ’s natures were so thoroughly combined; in a sense scrambled together, that the result was that Christ was not really truly able to relate to us as humans. This is similar to Monophysitism. The problem is that this implies that Jesus was not truly God nor man. Therefore, He would be unable to act as mediator and unable to truly atone for our sins.
Nestorianism is a theological error concerning the two natures of Christ which states that the divine and human natures of Christ were so separated from each other that they were ‘not in contact.’ The problem here is that worship of the human Jesus would then not be allowed.
Others are more subtle in their teaching, but be mindful of those who ONLY give Deity to Jesus Christ and not the other persons of the Trinity. It’s not so much the focusing on one or the other persons of the Trinity but the denial of the other persons of the Trinity in relation to the doctrine of kenosis. Following this doctrine strips away the omnipresence of God, as well as other aspects of His deity. When you strip away the other persons of God, you are no longer worshiping the Creator.
(By the way, I commented on the post with information explaining the hypostatic union and kenosis and the lady deleted it…Not the post, just my comment.)
*Content taken in part from carm.org