Summary: Christ is as fully God as if he had never been man and as fully man as if he had never been God. Because of this we can approach Him with the assurance that He understands and can identify with us.
I Topic: The Deity and Incarnation of Christ
B If you study the religions of the world, most emphasize our need to reach out to God or to become a god ourselves. Christianity is unique in that it believes that God reached out to us when God became human. As John 1:14a states “…the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us,…”
We call this phenomenon of God becoming man the Incarnation, literally “in the flesh”. God embraced humanity. When I was in seminary, the Red Cross was enlisting volunteers to hold so called “crack babies” babies born of crack addicted mothers. They believed it was therapeutic. I remember hearing once that babies in orphanages who were not held by their caregivers died at a higher rate then those who were held. Here in prison you all know the value of an embrace since they are so rare. With the Incarnation, God literally embraces humanity by becoming a man.
Today we will study this truth of our faith, show its Biblical basis and it’s significance.
II “…Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God…” What does this mean?
A The English word “form” is confusing for us. Today the chow hall served something we like to refer to as “fakin bacon” it is in thin, flat strips like bacon but we know from the taste that it isn’t. We might say it is in the form of bacon, in that it looks like bacon but isn’t. In Greek the word translated “form” is “morphe” and it has a different meaning then our current usage of the word.
B The language of the text.
1 Vine’s Dictionary states regarding the Greek word “morphe” “…is therefore properly the nature or essence, not in the abstract, but as actually subsisting in the individual…” Regarding this verse in particular Vine’s further states “…it includes the whole nature and essence of deity…”
2 The New English Translation has this footnote for verse 6 “The Greek term translated form indicates a correspondence with reality. Thus the meaning of this phrase is that Christ was truly God.”
3 As John Chrysostom stated centuries ago “’Form’ implies unchangeableness, so far as it is form. It is not possible that things of one substance should have the form of another, as no man has the form of an angel, neither has a beast the form of a man. How then should the Son?” In other words only the Divine can have the form of God.
C The Early Christian Church:
1 ST. Basil of Caesarea (Letter 261) several centuries ago wrote “If, then, the sojourn of the Lord in flesh has never taken place, the Redeemer paid not the fine to death on our behalf, nor through Himself destroyed death’s reign. For if what was reigned over by death was not that which was assumed by the Lord, death would not have ceased working his own ends, nor would the sufferings of the God-bearing flesh have been rustle our gain; He would not have killed sin in the flesh: we who had died in Adam should not have been made alive in Christ; the fallen to pieces would not have been framed again; the shattered would not have been set up again; that which by the serpent’s trick had been estranged from God would never have been made once more His own.”
2 Another early church writer stated “That we worship one God in Trinity, and Trinity in Unity, neither confounding the Persons, nor dividing the Substance. For there is one Person of the Father, another of the Son, and another of the Holy Ghost. But the Godhead of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, is all one, the Glory equal, the Majesty co-eternal. Such as the Father is, such is the Son, and such is the Holy Ghost. The Father uncreated, the Son uncreated, and the Holy Ghost uncreated. The Father incomprehensible, the Son incomprehensible, and the Holy Ghost incomprehensible.The Father eternal, the Son eternal, and the Holy Ghost eternal”. (Creed of Athanasius)
D The Scriptures:
1 Genesis 3:15 “And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.” Seed is not normally associated with the female and implies the virgin birth prophesized in:
2 Isaiah 7:14 “Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.” (note: Immanuel means “God with us”).
3 Isaiah 9:6 “For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.” Here the child is actually called God even to the point of referring to him as the Father.