I have a problem. It is a very serious problem. It is so serious that I honestly fear it may cause me to stop going to any “Evangelical Christian Church”. I suspect there are some people with insight that may be able to help me with my problem, if they are willing. This is not a joke or an exaggeration. I am deadly serious! It has been years since I was able to invite anyone to join me in going to my church.
As far as I am able I believe what is written in The Word of God (The Bible). There is much that I am sure I do not understand. But in my study and visiting roundabout with other believers I have seen two important areas where my understanding is in diametrical opposition to what is called “Evangelical” teaching.
Please understand, I do not wish to argue this issue. But if I am wrong I would very much appreciate being shown where I have gone astray. I long for fellowship with believers who are sincerely seeking to follow Jesus and be changed into his image. (Romans 8:29 & 2 Corinthians 3:18)
In nearly every meeting that I attend the idea is expressed or the statement is boldly made and validated that “Jesus was wholly man and wholly God” when he was living among us as a man. This naturally leads to several other ideas that follow easily. Things such as “we cannot be perfect” (Matthew 5:48) and “he was God so of course he could resist sin.”
Allow me to share what I believe and why I have come to this understanding.
In John 1:1-4 it says;
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 came into being through Him, and without Him not even one thing came into being that has come into being. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men.
I need to begin by plainly saying that I believe absolutely what is said here. In the beginning Jesus, here referred to as The Word, was with God and he was God. By the word God created all things. (Ref Genesis 1:1-2:3)
But when we go further down to verse 14 something profound takes place.
And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us. And we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and of truth.
This is evidence of a profound change in nature, from one with God to being flesh. How complete is this change and what are the implications? Please consider a few more scriptures to see if you can at least understand how I have come to my conclusions.
Please take a look at Philippians 2:5-8
Have this mind in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: who, existing in the form of God, counted not the being on an equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being made in the likeness of men; and being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, becoming obedient even unto death, yea, the death of the cross.
First notice in verse 6; existing in the form of God, counted not the being on an equality with God a thing to be grasped, Jesus did not count equality with God as something to be grasped, therefore he (vs. 7-8) emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being made in the likeness of men; and being found in fashion as a man…This doesn’t seem to me to need explanation especially if you compare this to Hebrews 2:14 &16-17. First Since then the children have partaken of flesh and blood, He also Himself likewise partook of the same and then; For assuredly He does not give help to angels, but he gives help to the descendants of Abraham. Therefore, He had to be made like his brethren in all things so that He might become a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. Look at that again He had to be made like his brethren in all things. There is no question that we are not wholly god and wholly man, therefor if Jesus was made like us in all things, he must of necessity not be wholly God and wholly man. It just seems logical to me.
Of course there is the matter of Jesus living a sinless life so that he could be the perfect sacrifice for sin. Hebrews 4:15 gives us a place to begin to talk about Jesus and sin. That may be the whole point of this whole issue. According to the popular logic, Jesus had to be wholly God and wholly man to live apart from sin. If he was not wholly God he would have a sin nature like us. Well here the plot only thickens. I looked in several versions and even paraphrases of God’s word and nowhere did I find anything about “sin nature.” I don’t think it is there. (Kind of like other popular teachings that are accepted because of an inference.)
What I do find is in Hebrews 4:15-16.
For we do not have a high priest who cannot be touched with the feelings of our infirmities, but was in all points tempted just as we are, yet without sin. Therefore let us come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
To me this is an amazing scripture and an amazing reality. This says to me that Jesus was tempted just like I am tempted and yet he did not sin. I love thinking about that because it is such an encouragement for me. But how was Jesus tempted just like me?
Let’s look in James 1:13-15 and see what it says.
Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God; for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempteth no man: but each man is tempted, when he is drawn away by his own lust, and enticed. Then the lust, when it hath conceived, beareth sin: and the sin, when it is full-grown, bringeth forth death.
First observe that it says God cannot be tempted with evil. If Jesus were wholly God and wholly man these two passages would be in contradiction. No evangelical in his right mind would agree to scripture contradicting itself. Then there is the next problem for most “Christians”, “each man is tempted when he is drawn away by his own lust and enticed.” Someone will scream blasphemy but, did Jesus have lusts? Yes. Was he enticed? Yes. Was he drawn away to agree with the lust? No. How do I know? It says so in Hebrews 4:15-16.
For this to happen Jesus would have to have a flesh like ours. Jesus would have to have lust in his flesh. He would have to have a will that was different from his father’s. And by his own words in Matthew 26:39, Mark 14:36 and in Luke 22:42 Jesus is recorded as saying essentially the same thing. “Not my will but thine be done.” Clearly here I am confronted with two (2) wills; God the Father’s will and Jesus’ will. Yes absolutely Jesus had a will that was different from his father’s.
Someone will say that this understanding makes Jesus something less and we must not accept it. Let me answer with a couple of questions. Which is greater someone who could not be tempted not being tempted or someone who could be tempted overcoming temptation? 1 Peter 2:21 says
For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps
So how would it be possible for me to follow the steps of the God-man? Is it more conceivable that I might follow the steps of the man Jesus?
For me the man Jesus did what no God-man Jesus could ever do and that makes him so far better that there are no words to describe it fully. The man Jesus left me an example to follow. The man Jesus promises to not allow me to be tempted beyond my ability (1 Corinthians 10:13). Because Jesus was a man when I read 1 John 1:8-9 I can continue reading to the next chapter where it says “My little children, these things I write to you so that you may not sin…” I can have hope to overcome. I can have a hope to be transformed into His image (Romans 8:29, 2 Corinthians 3:19) if I will persevere (Galatians 6:9).
Finally on this matter I am compelled to mention the scripture in 2 John 1:7:
For many deceivers are gone forth into the world, even they that confess not that Jesus Christ cometh in the flesh. This is the deceiver and the antichrist.
My second major problem is a result of the first. Since Evangelical Christianity proclaims the God-man Jesus personal transformation is not possible. Therefore the message is reduced to the forgiveness of sins and behavior improvement. The absolutes of God’s Word are reduced to strong suggestions and the promises to wishful thinking.
Instead of saying we should speak evil of no one we are told to pray for them at least as much as we badmouth them (Matthew 12:37). If God were a man who heard all of our words that might be confusing for him. We sing songs pleading “remember me oh God” as if he might forget us. I have actually heard a paid pastor say that if someone tells you that ‘God won’t give you more than you can bear’, that’s just a cliché.
In the beginning God created all things by his Word (Genesis 1, John 1) and he upholds all things by his word (Hebrews 1:3). We were created in His image and it is his will that we be changed into his image, shouldn’t we be very careful with our words.
As I said at the beginning I believe these issues to be very serious. I would welcome any help to see how I am in error. I desire to be a disciple of Jesus. Please understand that I offer these words in humility and fear.