The Humanity of Christ
We welcome all our visitors. You will want to return to our little congregation again and again; for, you see, this church is founded on the Word of God. That makes it an old-fashioned church, the kind your grandparents used to attend.
Last week we began a study of the book of Hebrews. If you missed last weeks church service, we can supply you with copies of that sermon on Hebrews 1, either in an 8 x 11 reading format or a 5 x 8 sermon presentation format.
But, now, let us open the precious Word of God. The book of Hebrews, chapter 2. We will begin with verse 1:
It is the will of God that we earnestly study His Word. Communion with our kind Father, through prayer and the study of His Word, should be our chiefest delight. Indeed, Deuteronomy 4:9 should be written on the walls of our home. Turn with me to that beautiful passage:
Let us never forget the truths we have found in the Word of God, the sweet experiences we have had by obeying His rules for our life! The warning of Hosea 4:6 should ever be remembered.
The last part of Hosea 4:10 summarizes the terrible danger: "because they have left off to take heed to the Lord." May it be our diligent work, individually, that this is never said of any of us, never penned by the recording angel in our record.
Now, back to Hebrews, chapter 2, verses 2-3:
A world of warning is to be found in those words! We must examine them closely.
What is meant by the phrase, "the word spoken by angels?" It is obviously the key to both verses. It is also clear that continuing disobedience to it will bring eternal death.
Scripture explains Scripture, and Deuteronomy 33:2 provides the explanation:
There you have it! One of the most majestic experiences in the history of our world occurred on the day when God came down from heaven and spoke the Ten Commandments to the people! Clothed in clouds on top of Mount Sinai, prefaced by thunder and lightning, the Voice of God spoke! We know, from the above passage, that the Lord came down in the glory of ten thousand angels. Little wonder the Israelites shook with terror.
So Hebrews 2:2-3 is referring to the Ten Commandments, spoken on Mount Sinai! The fearful warning given in those two verses speaks of the fate of those who willfully disobey those commandments!
How very solemn is this life! How we must daily cling to Christ, our only Saviour, that we may be strengthened, moment by moment, to obey His holy law! Galatians 3:19 also speaks of the law and the angels, and mentions Christ:
The law was given in the presence of the angels. They agree to its principles, for they have always obeyed Gods laws. Through the enabling grace of Christ, our Mediator, it is written on our hearts. Only in His strength can we obey it.
Hebrews 2:2-3, which we have just read, is the first of several passages in the book of Hebrews which contain fearful threatenings. John Bunyan said they were the most fearful threatenings in all of Scripture. Yet the first of them, this passage here, reveals what they are all about: Obedience to the law of God is required from mankind, and it can only be obeyed through the help of Jesus Christ. So we find that the warnings contain a wonderful promise! Those who are Gods trustful, obedient little children will escape His wrath against sin and sinners. They are secure in the everlasting arms. The promise is given in Hebrews 7:25:
Returning again to Hebrews, chapter 2, notice the wording of the last part of verse 3:
From the beginning, those who have heard of the wonderful news of salvation, through Christ, have shared it with still others. Then, when Jesus was on the earth, His disciples heard His words and they too began to share the message. As they did so, God clearly showed that they had the right message, as we see in the next verse, verse 4:
This verse links with the previous two verses. There is a terrible threatening for those who willfully disobey, but there is a glorious promise of empowerment for those who will submit to the will of God. And that message must be carried to all the world!
Now, in arriving at verse 5, the Apostle Paul, the author of Hebrews, brings us to a new point. He had mentioned how the angels were present when the law was given on Mount Sinai. But he wants us to know that it is not the angels who are the important subjects in this matter of salvation.
Paul is telling us that the dominion of the earth made new will not be given to the angels, but to someone else.
Just as in chapter 1, we were told that Christ was more important than the angels; so now we are told that the key figures in the plan of salvation, and the future dominion, are men and Christ. Men must choose to accept what God provides, and Christ alone can give it.
That is the message of Hebrews 2:5-9. Let us read this passage and see what it tells us:
Do you see the beautiful progression here? It is not the angels who will inherit the new earth. It will be men, who seem so inconsequential. Yes, it is true they originally came forth from the hand of their Creator, only a little lower than the angels. And it is true that originally Adam and Eve were appointed to hold dominion over all the earth.
But it is clear that they no longer do. What has happened? How can mankind be restored to their Edenic home?
Oh, "but we see Jesus!" We see Jesus! This is where we receive the answer: as we see Jesus! Jesus, who earlier had been crowned with glory and honor,took human flesh, was made in the likeness of men, lower than the angels, and then stepping still lowerto the suffering of death, the tasting of death, that, by the kindness of God, He should recover man from the dark pit of despair.
After 22 verses of introduction, the Apostle has brought us to our Redeemer. And, in bringing us to our Saviour in verse 9, Paul has presented the steps down which Christ took.
This passage parellels that of Philippians 2:6-8, which also speaks about the steps down.
Jesus did all that for us! He went from the highest place to the lowest, to deliver us from sin. And, someday soon, to raise us up, from the lowest to a place by His side, a home in His kingdom.
There are those who deny those steps down. They say Christ did not go all the way to the bottom. They agree with us that Christ never once sinned, but they say He did not fully become like us. But Jesus did not pretend take the nature of man; He fully took the nature of man. This is clearly proven in the last part of the chapter we are studying today.
Jesus Christ, who was fully God, united His divinity with our humanity in a tie that is never to be broken. He gave Himself to the human race, forever to identify Himself with our needs. He who was fully God became fully man. And in our nature, He triumphed over temptation and sin. He did this to provide us with an example and assurance that, by faith in Him, we too can overcome.
Christ fully became a human being. He fully experienced our temptations, but never yielded to them. Christ was without sin.
In the next verse, we are told that it was through suffering that Jesus underwent this experience of taking humanity upon Him.
As we are told in Luke 24:46, "Thus it behoved Christ to suffer." It was part of the cup He must drink.
Christ became our Brother by fully taking our human nature. We become fully His brethren by accepting His sacrifice on our behalf, and by yielding our lives in obedience to Him and to the laws of His kingdom. He made this clear in Matthew 12:49 and 50:
Christ says to us, "Ye are My brethren, if you will do what I ask; if you will obey My laws." Oh, what a privilege it is to be counted as a brother, a sister to Jesus Christ our Lord and Saviour!
But there is an even closer relationship which we may enter upon. By faith, we can become His little children!
There is no relationship closer than a parent with his little child. It is an obedient, loving, trustful relationship on the part of the child. Experiencing it, in deepest happiness we sing our Fathers praise:
Hebrews 2:13 quotes Isaiah 8:18. In that verse we are told:
That is telling us it is astounding what Christ can do through His humble, believing earthly children. Oh, that we may submit fully to His molding influence!
But now, Paul takes us more directly to the nature Christ took when He was incarnated.
The question has been asked, To what extent did Christ take mans nature? The answer is clearly given in this chapter.
Fact number one: Christ fully took our flesh.
Verses 14-15 tell us that Christ took our flesh, all of it: our bodies, our brains, our emotions, the whole body. And in that nature, trusting in His heavenly Father for help, He overcame all the power of the wicked one. It is only by fully taking our nature that Christ could destroy the enemy of mankind and empower us to resist temptation and sin.
Fact number two: Christ did not take the nature of Adam; instead, He took the human nature of Abrahams descendants.
There are a number of other passages which show that Christ took, not the nature of Adam, but that of his descendants [Isaiah 11:1; Jeremiah 23:5; Matthew 1:1-17; Romans 1:3-4; Revelation 22:16; Psalm 132:11; Matthew 12:23].
That is why the heirs according to the promise are also said to be Abrahams seed. And we surely want to be among these heirs!
Those are the two points which are most strongly contested. First, it is argued that Christ did not really take human nature. But Hebrews 2:14 says He did. Second, it is argued that Christ only took the nature of Adam before his fall into sin. But Hebrews 2:16 says He took the nature of Adams fallen descendants.
If we say that Christ only took the nature of Adam before his fall, then we are saying that Christ only died for unfallen Adam! But, by saying that, we are cutting ourselves off from the hope of salvation.
Christ is our brother, not just Adams! Christ died for us, not just for Adam. In our nature, Christ resisted and overcame sin and died on the cross for us. He did not just die for unfallen Adam.
The truth is that there is no "unfallen Adam!" Adam sinned and Adam fell, and thus totally lost his unfallen state. From that point onward, "unfallen Adam" no longer existed! Christ did not die for unfallen Adam, because Adam before his fall needed no redemption. This whole idea that Christ took unfallen Adams nature is ridiculous.
The truth is that Christ took our nature, so He could reach us; minister to our needs; and, by His death in our nature, empower us in our nature to resist and overcome sin.
But there are other important facts in this chapter.
Fact number three: In every possible way Christ took our nature. He had to do this, or He could not have become our great High Priest!
Christ is not mediating today in heaven for unfallen Adam; he is interceding for fallen human beings, such as you and me. He can only be our High Priest because He connects earth with heaven; He is fully man and fully God.
Fact number four: Only one who has experienced our problems, our temptations, and our sufferings, can today help us in the midst of our problems.
Only one who has had our infirmities can minister to us as an effective priest. Here are three other passages which say this same thing:
We are told in Scripture that Christ was like us in yet another way:
While He was on earth, Christ suffered from temptation; yet never once, in thought, word, or action, did He, in the slightest, yield to temptation. Christ was made fully like us and is our perfect example. He wrestled for help from the Father, just as we must do. This is another reason why He is now our perfect High Priest.
Since this is such an important subject, here are several more passages which show that Christ took the nature that we have, not the nature of unfallen beings:
That would be the law of genetics. On His earthly side, Christ inherited chromosomes and genes from Mary, His mother.
We are required, by Scripture, to believe that Christ fully took our nature. Gods Word is clear that those who deny this great truth, that Christ fully took our flesh, are of antichrist:
But remember that, throughout the entire experience, He never once yielded to temptation or sin:
There are over a thousand passages in the Spirit of Prophecy which clearly affirm this great truth, that Christ took our fallen human nature and, in that nature, resisted all the temptations of the enemy and came off more than conqueror. We are told that, if He had not taken our nature, He could not be our High Priest and enable us to overcome sin as He did.
To simplify finding what you want to show others, simply memorize two quotes: Desire of Ages, 49 and 117. Then you will always be able to explain this truth about the human nature of Christ to others.
How thankful we can be that we have so much guidance from Heaven as we traverse the path to the Promised Land. vf