Seeing the Humanity of Jesus
Belief and doctrines have far reaching implications. And thus, whether or not the Lord Jesus was part of a Trinity instead of a perfect representative of his Father is not simply a question to be dismissed. It is a question which impacts our understanding of numerous Biblical concepts, and, as emphasized in the last post, not only impacts how we think, but how we act.
So, let’s just consider an example of how an understanding of the Trinity can color other parts of our understanding:
Perhaps one of the most fundamental beliefs in Christianity is a belief in Christ’s death on the cross and his resurrection. And yet, have you ever considered the way in which this belief is thrown into confusion with the doctrine of the Trinity?
A belief in the Trinity is a belief that Jesus, God, and the Holy Spirit are co-equal and co-eternal––thus, by definition, Jesus was never born (since he could not have had a beginning), and he could not possibly have died. He was and always has been immortal.
How can this fit? Was Christ’s death on the cross simply an act? Or, since, according to the teaching of the Trinity, he was both God and man, did only the “man” portion of him die? Yet, if that is the case, then did he really die?
The Trinity simply throws confusion on one of the most basic and essential teachings of Christianity!
And yet, God manifestation presents the issue in brilliant clarity: God is immortal (1 Timothy 1:17). Jesus was not––thus, as a man, he was born and he died. Then, he was resurrected from the grave and given immortality, just as though who follow his steps expect to be given immortality (Romans 2:7).
Again, consider another example:
Throughout his life, the Lord Jesus was clearly tempted by sin. This is part of what makes him such an effective and empathetic high priest, as argued in the book of Hebrews:
“For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.” Hebrews 4:15 ESV
He was tempted in every way that we are––but he never sinned. Such is one of the things that simply makes him amazing. Whereas so many of us fall to temptation, he was tempted, but, through the power of the Spirit, he never gave in to the temptations.
But, once again, the doctrine of the Trinity turns the temptations of Christ into confusion––because the apostle James is very clear about God’s relationship to temptation:
“Let no one say when he is tempted, ‘I am being tempted by God,’ for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one.” James 1:13 ESV
God cannot be tempted with evil. There is no loophole in that verse, and there is no wiggle-room. It is simple and straightforward: God cannot be tempted.
So what should be done with Christ’s temptations?
Well, from a Trinitarian point of view, with a God and a Christ who cannot be tempted, all of Jesus’s temptations turn into a very strange event. Clearly, they happened, as Scripture relates, but they couldn’t possibly have happened––because God cannot be tempted with evil. The Trinity turns Christ’s temptations into an episode of contradictions.
But, with God manifestation, Christ’s temptations are plain. He was man who represented his Father. As a man, he could be tempted by sin. But, choosing to continue to perfectly represent God, he stood against those temptations––and thus, understood what it meant to truly be tempted, and what it meant to truly resist temptations.
Doctrines do not operate within a vacuum. Our beliefs are interconnected––with one hinging on the other, and when one belief in wrong, it begins to taint other beliefs until confusion results.
And yet, it isn’t just that wrong doctrines create confusion––they also lead to wrong actions. As noted previously, doctrines impact actions.
And that, we will demonstrate, Lord willing, in the next post.
- Jason Hensley