25 thoughts on “The God Man

  1. Marie

    He left His Godhood in Heaven to live fully as a Man. He only did what His Father told him to do. He lived as we are called to live – totally dependent on the Life of Another. I don’t believe He did anything empowered as God Himself, but lived the perfect life as a man who’s Faith was in His Father. Hallelujah! We have the same opportunity to live as Holy Habitations – dead to our own selves but alive to God, partaking of His Divine Nature as we abide in the True Vine. Amen!

    • Marie,

      But you believe that because you come from a Pentecostal background. The concept that Jesus’ miracles came about through the Spirit’s working through Him fully as a perfect, sinless, second Adam is not how a lot of people view Jesus’ earthly ministry. They lean more toward the divine explanation, that His miracles occurred because He was God.

      I think this is a major distinction that explains a great deal of the rift in the cessationist/charismatic battle.

      • Marie

        Actually, I believe that because God has given revelation in that area. I grew up Southern Baptist and remained SB (while God was changing and stretching me in so many areas in the past 10-15 yrs that are not even touched upon in the SBC) until about two years ago when we were forced to retire from a staff position.

        Sorry about the run-on.

        If Jesus had lived as God and lived out of His own divinity, my own hope in Him would be crushed. His humanness has everything to do with His story. He became flesh in order (among other significant things) to show us how to live the supernatural (KINGDOM) life – Christ in us – the Hope of Glory. Only He lived out of the Father in complete, perfect obedience.

        Great, thought provoking question. I LOVE thinking on these things, they are so remarkable.

      • jac9z

        Didn’t Jesus say that He only did what the Father told Him, where is your faith the disciples said that even the waves obeyed Him so surely this is the Son of God, why do we always have to explain away what God can do whether thru a man or Himself directly? I don’t think we should couch our beliefs by our learning, for it is only thru the revelation of God’s Spirit to our spirit that we can even have the ability to believe, it is a gift of faith that He has given us.

  2. I always looked to Christ as someone who came down here to live fully dependant upon the Holy Spirit and as such, lived every moment of His life as an example of what God desired us to live as.

  3. Uh … for me it’s a kind of “Have you stopped beating your wife” question. Fully human. Fully divine. Therefore a question which doesn’t make sense to me.

    A difference which makes no difference IS no difference.

      • Problem is that it doesn’t make NO difference. It makes a huge difference because two distinct and noncomplementary theologies come out of the difference.

        Believing that Jesus did His miracles as the Second Adam, as a man who was completely filled with the Holy Spirit, alters the way you view the atonement and the role of mankind in the continuing acts of the Church post-Pentecost. Such a belief elevates what is possible out of men and women filled with the Holy Spirit.

        If you believe that Jesus did His miracles by relying on His divinity, then your focus will more likely elevate the position that God does His work despite people and not as much through them. You will also more likely believe that the sovereignty of God trumps free will.

        As I mentioned before, this seems to be the big divider between major theological positions within the Church. The ramifications of it are huge, and the division, at least as I am beginning to see, comes down to which way your view of Christ leans on the question I posed.

  4. casey

    The divine and human nature of Jesus are not two different options. It is not either/or, but both/and. It would be difficult to distinguish which person of the Godhead is operational in many miracles when it is not specifically stated.

    Jesus was God. . .Jesus was man. Those cannot be separated in the incarnation. Was Jesus a man? Yes. Did he work miracles empowered through the Holy Spirit? Yes. But He was not just a man. . .he was divine. He was God. And so as such he acted as the 2nd person of the Trinity who sometimes intervened with a temporary suspension of natural law (i.e. worked a miracle).

    Whatever happened to a simple gospel received with childlike faith? Isn’t the most important question of the day how can I honor and serve the one who has done so much for me?

  5. GentleVoice

    I chose “man filled with Holy Spirit” because the apostles (etc) performed miracles…and they weren’t God by nature. No pentacostal background and no theology. Maybe I should have thought about it more!?

    Thanks so much for your site, I’ve been lurking:)

  6. Dave Block

    Yes, Jesus was fully divine and fully human, but He “emptied Himself” (Philippians 2:5-7) to live as a man, accepting the limitations of humanity. That’s why growth was possible — “Jesus kept increasing in wisdom and stature” (Luke 2:52.) Performing miracles through the Holy Spirit is consistent with this; performing them through His nature as God is not. The “power of the Lord,” not the power that he set aside, “was present for Him to perform healing” (Luke 5:17).

    Jesus lived a Spirit-filled life. He was led by the Holy Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil (Matt. 4:1). He “returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit” (Luke 10:14) and quoted the prophecy stating that “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me” (Luke 10:18). He “rejoiced greatly in the Holy Spirit” (Luke 10:21). God “anointed Him with the Holy Spirit and with power” (Acts 10:38). He gave instructions to His disciples through the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:1-2).

    That Jesus emptied Himself of His omniscience is further reason to know that He performed miracles through the Holy Spirit and not His divine nature. He learned things, such as the fact that John the Baptist had been taken into custody, which led Him on a particular course (Matt. 4:12). He marveled at the centurion’s faith (Matt. 8:10). While sometimes He asked questions as a rhetorical device, at other times He posed them to gain information. For example, when the woman who had suffered a hemorrhage for 12 years touched His garment, He asked who touched him and looked to see (Mark 5:30-32). He asked a father how long his demon-possessed son had been exhibiting such behavior (Mark 9:21). Also, He said that He did not know the day and hour when heaven and earth will pass away (Matt. 24:35-36). And He wouldn’t have needed to be led into the wilderness by the Holy Spirit if He were acting in omniscience.

    Jesus did incredible miracles through the Holy Spirit while maintaining the vulnerability of having emptied Himself of His omnipotence. When He fasted, He became hungry (Matt. 4:2). After being tempted by Satan, he needed angels to minister to Him (Matt. 4:11). He needed an angel to strengthen Him in the garden of Gethsemane (Luke 22:43). He experienced agony (Luke 22:43).

    The distinction is important regardless of whether you come from a charismatic or cessasionist background. If we understand that Jesus emptied Himself and worked through the Holy Spirit, we appreciate how He humbled himself and accepted the limitations of humanity in His incarnation. We also gain a sense of the power available through the Holy Spirit.

  7. David: Great post. It clears up this scripture for me.

    “Thomas said to him, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?”
    Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you really knew me, you would know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.”

    Philip said, “Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us.”
    Jesus answered: “Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? Don’t you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me? The words I say to you are not just my own. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work. Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the miracles themselves. I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father. 14You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.

    “If you love me, you will obey what I command. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever—the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be[c] in you. I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you. Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me. He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love him and show myself to him.”

    Then Judas (not Judas Iscariot) said, “But, Lord, why do you intend to show yourself to us and not to the world?”
    Jesus replied, “If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. He who does not love me will not obey my teaching. These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me.

    “All this I have spoken while still with you. But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” John 14:5-27

    I think this clearly shows theTrinity working together in our lives.

  8. brian

    Jesus = Son of God = The Father = The Spirit = God.

    I think its significant that Jesus didnt start miracles until after he was baptized and the Holy Spirit rested on him. But the Spirit decides what miracles and gifts are given to men, not the flesh.

    But what about the lack of faith of the people around him and their influence on his ability to do miracles?

  9. Dan,
    The comment stream has been excellent. I would have suspected a busy schedule kept you from writing anything of substance by just looking at the post! 😉

    Jesus most definitely operated as a man anointed with the Holy Ghost without measure. His explanation for his ministry was that he did what he saw the Father doing, and said what he heard the Father saying. In otherwords, he ministered in human dependence rather than divine autonomy, none of which occured until after his baptism and the Dove alighting upon him. He promised that we could do the same, even greater works, than he; certainly, he wasn’t promising us divinity!

    There were moments when the glory got out, like on the Mount of Transfiguration, but he walked emptied, and dependent upon God like humans do.

    Thanks Dave Block for some great words above!

  10. What more could be said than what’s already been said. SLW, Jesus did say that we’d to more than Him, didn’t He? And Dave did a great job of explaining what I believe too.
    Thanks for bringing this up Dan.

  11. The way I see it, Jesus didn’t have two separate natures, or a split personality. Yes, he was both God and man, but he was one undivided person. Thus to ask whether he did miracles through his divine nature or his human nature is a meaningless question.

  12. jeff curtis

    The enemy is still sowing discord among the brethern with questions that tempt us to deny the diety of Christ “was he truly God with us”
    if satan tempted Him was he attempting to get Jesus to use his Powers if it were not possible for Jesus to turn stones into bread. Of course this was after he was clothed with the Holy Spirit, but He only did what the Father told him to do. Also this would have been for his own personal benifit and Jesus never acted out of his own physical needs because he trusted the Father to provide for Him as proved by the fact that the Angel ministered to his needs when He completed His testing. So let us rely on our Father as He did by the Power of the Holy Spirit, to reveal truth and not fall victim to Satan’s devices.

  13. Wow! I never even really considered the question before.

    I guess I always assumed (and by “assumed,” I mean in a nearly subconscious way) it to be His nature as God, but now that I’ve been presented with the question… I have to lean more toward His nature as a man filled with the Holy Spirit. He did say that the Holy Spirit would do even greater things through us than Jesus did (John 14:12).

    Now I have mental whiplash. Thanks, Dan! 😉

  14. Valerie in CA

    I succumbed to charismatic teaching on this matter (Jesus was man, empowered by the Holy Spirit, that means we can be empowered likewise) for a while but have recently re-thought the matter. I used to be equivocal on this matter and thought it was only an academic debate, but after you’ve lived through charismatic excess for a few years (I have) you start to see the common thread emerging: self, self, self.

    This whole debate reminds me of the conversations I’ve had with Jehovah’s Witnesses at my door (which ought to give us all pause). The JW’s give some pretty compelling arguments for the Jesus was man view. But point by point, they’re wrong.

    Jesus was God. Period. The ’emptied’ passage is misused and misrepresented. He chose to limit His divinity, he did not leave himself behind up in heaven. Consider: he forgave sin and he received worship. Only God can do that. That’s why he asked (while dealing with the paralytic coming through the roof) which was harder: to heal or to forgive? Many can do miracles, only One can forgive. He asked questions of other people (‘who touched me?’) in order to have conversations with people and treat them with dignity and make a point to onlookers, not because he was clueless.

    If the ’empowerment’ and ‘greater things’ argument is true (as propagated by the charismaniacs) then can I forgive sin just like Jesus did? Can I die on a cross and see my blood made holy in the sight of the world? Should I receive worship because I have the Holy Spirit residing in me? The ‘greater things’ argument breaks down after a while. He meant some things with it, not anything we can possibly dream up. And He certainly was not trying to demote his strengths or position with the statement. These viewpoints are based on poor scholarship and a low view of Jesus. They help Bill Johnson sell books, but they’re wrong.

    Consider what the benefit of seeing Jesus as “man empowered” really is: it elevates us, lowers him, causes us to put our eyes on our own potentiality. The benefit of Jesus as God: it elevates Him.

    The hypostatic union is a mystery but as children we can accept Jesus for who is really is and always was and always will be: God. He did not stop being God; he simply limited his divinity like a father wrestles with a child. He spoke in parables and riddles and revealed the messianic secret slowly, and at his good pleasure. Most revealingly, he never taught that he wasn’t God. Think about it.

    The Trinity is a mystery, but the members are co-equal and eternal. Isaiah 9:6. John 1:1-14. Hebrews 13:8. Jesus never stopped being God; He is/was/always shall be God!

    • Valerie,

      The question here is not whether Jesus was human or divine. That’s a false question. Nor was my question about miracles intended to set up an either/or. Jesus was both the Son of Man AND the Son of God. My intention with my question was to get people thinking about the Son of Man part.

      If you come out of charismania, you’re going to have Son of Man drilled into you. But most people are not coming from that perspective. In my own life I can attest that I’ve heard very little about Jesus’ humanity and far more about His divinity. I think we need to understand Jesus as a man as much as we need to understand Him as God because the Father intended the incarnation to speak to us on more levels than we tend to teach about.

      As far as drawing distinctions between us and Jesus in our shared humanity, we are of the lineage of the first Adam, while Jesus is the perfect second Adam. So we are not like Him in that way. That alone is enough to discredit any ideas of us elevating ourselves to His level.

      On the other hand, some of us do a wonderful job of walking out our sinner side and give precious little attention to the fact that we are saints, too. What does that mean, and why do so few people in the Church ever pay any attention to what sainthood affords us?

      Excesses and errors exist on both sides of this issue primarily because Jesus as fully Man and fully God is a paradox to human minds. We will naturally gravitate to one side or the other, thus doing a disservice to Him in the fullness.

      You’ve been stuck on one side. So have I. Both sides are needful.

      • Valerie in CA

        Excellent, Dan. I think I largely agree with you and I know you posed the original question in the spirit of thinking about the duality/mystery of Jesus’ nature. I was more responding to the other comments that had been posted, some of which were leaning pretty hard towards the side that I’m coming out of. I normally don’t post replies on blogs but I wanted to throw out fodder for thought since a lot of the replies you’d gotten were veering towards the ‘man’ side. You’re right, what I’m coming out of is extremism… and that’s why I see so clearly only now how the errors are arrived at.

        Jesus was both Son of God and Son of Man. But Son of Man isn’t just a description; its a title from Daniel 7 that means very specific and alarming things… things that caused Jesus to be vilified and ultimately crucified.

        While I may not fit fully into the charismatic camp anymore, that’s okay with me. I think that Jesus was in his very nature God. I think he performed his miracles (including knowing the thoughts of others) out of his divinity, not out of relying on the Holy Spirit. I think he relied on both the Father and the Holy Spirit for comfort and companionship. I may be wrong about this, but I have studied and prayed over this pretty hard… so its where I stand.

        But I am content to disagree with brothers and sisters over this matter, recognizing that we can find unity if we cling to the tension. I can be a little bit on one side of the tension while another is a little bit on the other. But I am done with and have disavowed the extremists who emphasize one side for their own gain and manipulation of others; and sadly, the charismaniac camp is rife with them.

        I am weary of emotion-driven, ‘hungry’, Word-ignorant, well-meaning Christians who run from conference to conference, always looking for the big breakthrough, hoping for the prophetic word, and waiting for the great revival around the corner. Inside they are depressed and confused; without a compass, but they can’t admit it. They have been puffed up by the notion that they can be just like Jesus and will do ‘greater things.’ They’re even willing to settle for following teachers who seem to have ‘arrived.’ They’re waiting for the weight to drop off instantly and for the spiritual downloads and the trips to the third heaven. Sure, its a sad little corner of Christendom, but its a corner that I love. This overemphasis on Jesus’ humanity and our potential for ‘power’ is at the heart of this tragedy. Of course there are lots of other contributors to this sad state of affairs.

        Thanks for your blog, Dan. It was your ‘How Not to be a Charismatic Headcase’ that got me started here.

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