Robert A. Sabin
Christology, simply put, is the study of Jesus Christ. Who is Jesus Christ? We do not hesitate to reply "He is God," and he certainly is. Some however, emphasize his deity almost to the exclusion of his humanity. We believe Jesus is God in flesh, and we must emphasize his divinity, but not to the exclusion of his humanity. Should we do so, his humanity becomes just an impersonal robe. Jesus becomes a mere body, a carcass that God has put on and wears into the world.
Christology, the study of Who Jesus Really Is, reveals him to be a man who actually lived on this earth. Jesus was the "historical figure," a man with a definite place in human history. He has reached and occupies the highest place any creature has ever reached, the right hand place. That man will ultimately be exalted to the highest place in all the universe. Now he is just below the majesty in the heavens, or as he put it, "at the right hand of power." When Jesus is exalted to his ultimate place, the very throne itself, he has promised to take us with him and to share all his achievements with us (Psalm 110:1, Isaiah 53:12, Revelation 3:21). The glory he has, he will share with us. The honor he has, he will share with us. The position he has, he will share with us. The spoils he earned by his suffering, he will divide with the strong. Jesus is God in flesh. That is a glorious message. He is also a man, and that full message surpasses everything. It deals with creation, why and how God created us. It deals with the whole plan of redemption how we are redeemed. It deals with all that God foresaw and all that he predestinated. It deals with our eternal reward. It deals with the ultimate place of the child of God in heaven. The message of who Jesus is, and all that he is, is absolutely central to everything Christians believe. For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus (1 Timothy 2:5). It is a man who is our mediator, the man Christ Jesus. He is the mediator of the better covenant found in the New Testament. The Bible says the mediator is not the mediator of one but God is one.
Christ Jesus the man was born at Bethlehem. He did not pre-exist as the eternal son of God. The single greatest difference between what we believe and what Trinitarians believe relates to the pre-existence or non-pre-existence of the Son of God. The Trinitarian doctrine holds that Jesus pre-existed, that is, lived before Bethlehem, as the eternal Son of God, the second person in the Godhead. But we find no eternally existent Son of God in scripture. Certainly not in what God teaches us in the Old Testament. An Eternal Son and the corresponding eternal generation of the son are phrases coined by Origen. Walter Martin, former head and founder of the Christian Research Institute, stated on the nationally televised John Ankerberg Show that Origen's statements were heretical, even though they are believed by most Trinitarians. Jesus was not in Old Testament times, nor is he now the second person in the Godhead. He is simply God, the God of the Bible, who manifest himself to creation as a man. The word Godhead, "theotokos" in Greek, actually means "the deity." No one can be in the Godhead. There is nothing in scripture to support this. There is everything in scripture to support the truth that God is one, alone in his category. In Trinitarian thinking, and even in Oneness thinking carried over from Trinitarianism, the word godhead is made to seem as a corporate term. The Godhead is thought of as being some sort of a panel, board, or composite of persons. We determine to put God and man in the godhead in a certain way. Only God is the Godhead. Nothing can be in the Godhead and only God is Divine. To say that someone or something is in the Godhead is inappropriate and unscriptural terminology. What scripture does express is the the fullness of the Godhead is in Christ. "All the fullness of the Godhead dwelleth in him bodily" (Colossians 2:9). Jesus was never and is not now the second person in the Godhead. Hebrews 1:3 tells us Jesus Christ is the express image [NIV states "exact representation] of his [God's] person. God is a person, an individual, an identity, a unique being. Scripture does not support the statement that within God's being are three persons. God is one individual, one person who was imaged forth on earth as Jesus Christ. Hebrews 1:3 speaks of God and man, a visible image of an invisible God. It does not put forth the idea of a plurality of persons in the Godhead, nor does any other scripture.
When Jesus was born, God became a father and Jesus Christ was the Son (Hebrews 1:5). God was never a Father in a procreative sense before Jesus was born. Malachi 2:10 asks, "have we not one Father?" Yes, we have one Father, God who created us. But God was not a Father in a procreative sense until Jesus Christ was born. Hebrews 1:5 clearly indicates this, "I will be to him a Father, he shall be to me a Son." There was no father-son relationship prior to the Lord's conception and birth. There was not, back in pre-Marian times a relationship between a father and a son, certainly not a divine father and a divine son as eternal persons. The Bible emphatically declares I will be to him a father, he shall be to me a son, a future prediction of a reciprocally exclusive relationship.
Christ possessed two identities, two capacities. Jesus was both God and man. He could act in his capacity as God. He could act in the capacity of man. He could speak as God and he could speak as man. As a man he said, "I thirst." As God he could say to the blind man or to the leper, "I will, be thou clean, " without any reverence to being deity. In him were two genders, divine and human. Gender, as used here, does not refer to sexual differences but to differences of class or category of being. He occupied two classes, the only one who ever did. He was God and man, God manifest in flesh (1 Timothy 3:16).
Jesus was simultaneously both father and son, God and man. Thomas said "My Lord and my God" (John 20:28). My Lord, the exalted man, Lord and master of the church. My God, the creator of the universe. Jesus said, "I and my Father are one" (John 10:30). Jesus was the man in whom God was embodied with a will, a personality, a mind, a heart with which to love. The disciples knew him as a man, they did not know him as God. They knew the way he looked at them, the way he smiled, the way he talked, the aspects of his personality.
And yet the disciples knew much of what God was like from Jesus because he was the visible image of the invisible God as he subjected himself in all things to the Spirit of God. He behaved as God would behave. He said, "Lo I come in the volume of the book it is written of me to do thy will O God" (Psalm 40:7, Hebrews 10:7). The man Christ behaved as God because Jesus the man yielded his will, the will of the flesh, to the scripturally expressed will of the Spirit of God, saying, "Not my will, but thine be done" (Luke 22:42). Jesus personified the Spirit of God here on this earth in all things. Jesus was not simply a carcass or a robe. He was a man, willfully yielding to the Spirit of God.
The man was like other men in all ways except sinfulness. He prayed; he obeyed; he was subject in all things to God. He could not, and did not, use his divinity for his own benefit. When Satan said, "Command these stones that they be made bread," Jesus refused. He accepted human suffering, suffering even the death of the cross (Philippians 2:6-11).
The Father to Son, God to man, manner of speaking and relationship, is a temporary relationship for the purpose of redeeming mankind without human encroachment on divine prerogatives. The relationship began when the Lord was conceived, begotten. "I will be to him a Father, he shall be to me a Son." It will end when the mediatorial role of Sonship is completed. When every soul has had every opportunity to receive every benefit God made available to mankind as Jesus. Jesus will "Show us plainly of the Father" (John 16:25, 26). He will reveal himself as "God, all and in all" (1 Corinthians 15:28). We will learn that our brother (Hebrews 2:10, 17) is actually also our Father (Revelation 21:1-7 cf Revelation 22:13-16). He will always retain the identity of Jesus Christ, our Creator who became one of us in order to redeem us.