Systematic Theology 4: Christology

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Friday, January 27, 2023 0 comments

by Charlie Wolcott

Christology is the study of the second person of the Trinity, Jesus Christ. When you hear lectures and read articles about Christology, they typically center around what is called the “hypostatic union,” that Jesus is both full God and fully man at the same time. The studies go through Scripture to showcase the deity of Christ but also showcase how He was also just as any other man simply without the sin nature.

The other angle that many take when studying Christology is in the study of Scripture. When Jesus, after He rose, He caught up with two disciples walking to Emmaus trying to process what happened. He spent the trip explaining from Moses through the Prophets how all Scripture pointed to Him. Spurgeon cited an account of a young preacher and his mentor discussing a sermon the young preacher had just given. The mentor said it was a poor sermon despite all the correct exegesis, despite all the good analogies, and despite all the good practical applications. The mentor said it was a poor sermon because there was no Christ. Why? Even though the text did not specify Jesus, it was the pastor’s job to find Christ in any text and to search and even cut a road to get to the Master.

For this blog post, I want to emphasize on Christ as He relates to origins. A severe problem that people have today in their Christology is that many think that Jesus didn’t actually exist until 2000 years ago when He became a man, born of the virgin Mary. Yet, if we look through the Old Testament, we see Jesus all over the place. The “Angel of the Lord” often shows up in the Old Testament, and those are likely the “pre-incarnate” appearances of Jesus. It could be argued that any physical manifestation that God used to meet His people was Jesus. This is why Abraham could eat with God, Jacob could wrestle with God, Moses could speak with God face-to-face, Gideon had his requests met, and Joshua met the Commander of the Armies of Heaven. These are all very likely pre-incarnate appearances of Jesus.

Jesus existed before all of history began, and He is the reason and purpose for why we exist, for why the earth exists. ALL things were made for Him, by Him, and to Him. Jesus is the point and purpose for why anything exists and why anything happens. The Creation is about Christ. The Fall was about Christ. The Flood was about Christ. The slavery in Egypt was about Christ. The Exodus was about Christ. The list goes on; it is all about Christ. The entire Old Testament was not just to give 300+ prophecies about Jesus here on earth but also to give many examples of how Jesus would behave or what Jesus would overcome. The Exodos crushes Egypt and the conquest crushes Canaan. The Flood crushes all life outside the Flood. “What about all those innocent people?” One, who said they were innocent? Two, Jesus said it plainly: “Unless you repent, you too will perish.” Three, God has a plan for all that takes place, and everything is about fulfilling that plan. And that plan has Jesus at the center, not us. While we are part of that plan, it’s not about us. If our Christology is correct, we will know this. But each of these cases of the Egypt, Canaan, and the Flood showcase God’s wrath against sin and to help us see that we desperately need a Savior.

Jesus is an active agent in this entire plan. The Father made the plan, and the plan is for His Son, but the Son was active in the plan and still is active. God designed the entirety of Creation and He spoke it into existence, but Jesus is that Word that was spoken. Jesus was the creating agent in Creation. So, when we talk about Creation and when we talk about origins, we can zoom in on the specific details of what “day” means or what “whole earth” means; however, we must zoom out and look at the big picture. The big picture is to reveal Christ.

One image I have used when discussing the big picture is that the entirety of Scripture and all of our doctrine is creating a mosaic – a lot of little snapshots of individual pictures that when combined will produce the proper image of Jesus. If we get one of the doctrines wrong, it is going to impact and affect our view of Jesus. One of the reasons I emphasize origins so much is because origins isn’t just tied with the doctrines regarding Christ but to every other doctrine as well. If one believes that this universe came about over natural processes over billions of years old and is consistent with what that requires and what that entails, such a person will one day deny Christ as being Lord and Savior.

Jesus needs to be the center of the study of origins, as He should be with any study. There are two sermons that excellently address this issue: Eric Ludy’s “Christophany” and Voddie Baucham’s “The Supremacy of Christ and Truth in a Post-Modern Age.” Christ and the gospel need to be center, especially when debating with other believers. While I am an adamant believer that the Bible teaches a “young earth” and I do not waiver on this issue, there is ultimately no point or purpose to believing that, unless it had effect upon the point and person as to why Jesus had to come in the first place. Take note that the Old Earth crowd makes separation of the gospel, and their origins models a centerpiece argument. Their entire game plan is to say, “I can be a Christian and believe this,” as though it was a completely extraneous and irrelevant belief. To which I say, “Why believe that then?” And the answer ultimately boils down to trying not to look stupid before their non-Christian peers, or worse, their already compromised professing Christian peers. But Jesus is never center stage in such approaches. The Old Earthers may profess belief in Christ and some of them may be genuinely born-again, but when discussing the age of the earth, Jesus is never center stage. It’s always a side topic, and He is usually only invoked as a shield to protect their views from scrutiny.

Is Jesus center of our life? Is He center of our academics? There is not ONE of us where that is truly the case – even me. Too many times I battle over origins without making Christ the center. Too many times, I’ll battle over Scripture but not get to what Scripture points to: Christ. Christ must be center; however, one of the biggest problems we have is that so many of us have a false view of Christ and instead have a figment of our imagination. That is why Bibliology must be our foundation; only the Jesus Christ as described in the Bible is the One who saves. If we believe in a false Jesus, we aren’t getting in.

Is Jesus center? If so, that means we are not. It means our intellect is not. It means our emotions are not. It means our dreams are not. It means our pleasures, comforts, or family are not. It may even mean our preferred doctrines are not. It means Christ is. The Christian life is not about making things easy for us; it is about conforming us into the image of Christ and preparing us to be His bride. That requires a process that will cleanse and remove us from sin and false teachings and idols called sanctification. But if Christ is not center, and we put ourselves in the center, then Jesus becomes a means for our end. If Jesus is not center and master and lord over everything, He will not be your savior either. Jesus IS Lord regardless, but if we are not submitted to Him, then we can be sure we have not been born again. Let Christ be center, regardless of how painful it will be, and regardless of how isolated it will make us. Next week, we’ll look at the Holy Spirit.

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