Brightly colored eggs were strewn all over Roosevelt Park this past Saturday, April 20, morning. A balloon artist, bouncy obstacles, face painting, a puppet show and a craft table of bracelets made with Cheerios were all part of the White Fields Community Church’s Easter Egg Hunt and Festival. (WFCC) Head Pastor Nick Cady of WFCC…
In this latest installment of the Longmont Pastor Video Blog, Mike and I discuss the origin of Easter Eggs and the Easter Bunny.
Many Christians are under the impression that Easter eggs and the Easter bunny – and even the word Easter itself are pagan in origin. Is that true? Where do these practices come from, and is it bad for Christians to participate in them?
We answer these questions in this video:
For more on this topic, check out: Does Easter Come From Ishtar?
In his book, Preaching and Preachers, Martyn Lloyd-Jones discusses the following benefits of studying church history:
Church History Guards Us Against Error
Most of the theological discussions that people have today, as well as most heresies that exist today, were already discussed, debated and settled within the first 500 years of Christian history. For example, Jehovah’s Witnesses are basically neo-arians, and their view of Jesus is the same one which led to the Council of Nicaea and the Nicene Creed. The modern heresies of today are really just rebranding and recycling older ideas which the church has already spent a lot of time addressing.
For more on Arius and Arianism, check out: Was It Necessary for Our Salvation that Jesus be God?
Lloyd-Jones says this:
The way to safeguard yourself…is to learn something about heresies—how they arose in the past generally through very good and conscientious men. History shows how subtle it all is, and how many a man lacking balance, or by failing to maintain the proportion of faith, and the interrelationship of the various parts of the whole message, has been pressed by the devil to put too much emphasis on one particular aspect, and eventually pressed so far as to be in a position in which he is really contradicting the Truth and has become a heretic. So Church history is invaluable… It is not the preserve of the academics. I would say that Church history is one of the most essential studies for the [believer] were it merely to show him this terrible danger of slipping into heresy, or into error, without realising that anything has happened to him.
Lloyd-Jones, D. Martyn. Preaching and Preachers (pp. 128-129).
Church History is a Source of Encouragement
Some people think about studying church history as being kind of like a visit to a sausage factory: the finished product might be great, but the way it was made wasn’t pretty. On the contrary, I would say that church history should cause us to be filled with wonder and amazement that in spite of human folly, errors, and mistakes, God has providentially guided and protected His Bride, because He loves her and is devoted to her.
Lloyd-Jones says this:
I know of nothing, in my own experience, that has been more exhilarating and helpful, and that has acted more frequently as a tonic to me, than the history of Revivals.
Take the time we are living in. What discouraging days they are, so discouraging that even a man with an open Bible which he believes, and with the Spirit in him, may at times be discouraged and cast down almost to the depths of despair. There is no better tonic in such a condition than to familiarise yourselves with previous eras in the history of the Church which have been similar, and how God has dealt with them.
The French novelist Anatole France used to say, whenever he felt tired and jaded with a tendency to be depressed and downcast, ‘I never go into the country for a change of air and a holiday, I always go instead into the eighteenth century.’ I have often said exactly the same thing, but not in the same sense in which he meant it, of course. When I get discouraged and over-tired and weary I also invariably go to the eighteenth century. I have never found George Whitefield to fail me. Go to the eighteenth century! In other words read the stories of the great tides and movements of the Spirit experienced in that century. It is the most exhilarating experience, the finest tonic you will ever know.
For a preacher it is absolutely invaluable; there is nothing to compare with it. The more he learns in this way about the history of the Church the better preacher he will be. At the same time let him, of course, during this training become familiar with the stories of the great men of the past, the great saints and preachers. It will not only act as a wonderful tonic to him in times of depression, it will keep him humble when tempted to pride and a spirit of elation.
Lloyd-Jones, D. Martyn. Preaching and Preachers (p. 129).
Where to Begin?
There are a lot of really great books on church history. If you know a good one, please feel free to post it in the comments section.
I think a great place to start, with a book that is accessible, substantial, and enjoyable to read, is From Jerusalem to Irian Jaya by Ruth Tucker.
Also check out this great free online lecture series on church history from David Guzik at Enduring Word.
Another great resource is Christian Theology: An Introduction by Alister McGrath, which doesn’t sound like a church history book by the title, but approaches theology by looking at it through the development of Christian beliefs over the course of history.
We also offer a class at White Fields on church history. Check out our School of Ministry page, and if you’re interested in the class, shoot us an email at the address listed on that page, and we’ll keep you posted on when we will be hosting that class again.
I have been in Israel for the past week with a group from White Fields and Calvary Chapel Brighton.
We spent the beginning of our trip on the coast, visiting Joppa and Caesarea, both important sites in the Book of Acts, and then headed up to the region of Galilee, where Jesus did the majority of his ministry. Then we drove to Jerusalem, following the Jordan River, and passing places such as Gilgal (see Joshua 4) and the site of Jesus’ baptism and the wilderness where he was tempted directly afterwards.
After seeing some important places in Jerusalem, including the Mount of Olives, the Garden of Gethsemane, the southern steps of the Temple and the Western Wall, we spent a day at the Dead Sea, visiting the place where Jesus was baptized in the Jordan River, seeing En Gedi where David hid from Saul in 1 Samuel 24, and going to Qumran where the Dead Sea scrolls were found and where John the Baptist was likely connected.
We will conclude the trip by visiting the Pool of Bethesda (John 5), following the way of the cross to Golgotha and seeing the garden tomb.
The trip has been incredible. I have particularly enjoyed getting the lay of the land and realizing the distances between places, and what they look like. Praying in the Garden of Gethsemane and standing where the church was born on Pentecost have been incredible experiences.
Why Should Christians Visit Israel?
Someone jokingly suggested that the benefit of visiting Jerusalem is that you can get the “before and after effect”: when the New Jerusalem comes (see Revelation 21), you will be able to compare it with the Old Jerusalem and see how much it’s improved! (Personally, I hope they clean up the Muslim Quarter a little bit…)
Interestingly, there is a neighborhood in Jerusalem called “New Jerusalem”. I went there, and it was nice, but not “streets of gold” nice. I’m looking forward to the real thing 🙂
All joking aside, there is one key reason why it is beneficial for Christians to visit Israel: Because, out of all world religions, what makes Christianity unique is that our faith is not based on abstract concepts, but on historical events which either happened or they didn’t.
What you learn from a tour of Israel, is that the New Testament accounts stand up to scrutiny. The New Testament talks about real places and real people and real events which had many witnesses, and which have been verified by archaeologists and historians. As Paul the Apostle said: “These things were not done in a corner!” (Acts 26:26)
In fact, because archaeology is a relatively young science, archaeologists are uncovering new findings all the time, and their findings corroborate rather than contradict New Testament accounts.
A visit to Israel is helpful for Christians, because it builds your faith in the historical events upon which Christian faith is based. This has been my first trip to Israel, but I expect it won’t be my last.
A few weeks ago I created a page where you can submit questions or suggest topics. A reader sent in this question:
In John 2:3-5, Mary asks Jesus to do a miracle in order to save a wedding feast where they have run out of wine.
How did Mary know to ask Jesus for help? Was she even asking for help?
Did she know who he was and what he was here to do?
Why are there no stories of Jesus’ childhood, except in the gnostic gospels?
I recently taught this section at White Fields, during our Advent series. In the sermon I talk about how this first of Jesus’ miracles points to the eschatological hope of the gospel. You can listen to that message here: From Shame to Joy
Let me answer each of your questions in order.
Was Mary Asking Jesus for Help?
Yes, I think that is clear from two things we see in the narrative:
- Jesus’ apparent frustration with the request.
- Mary’s instructions to the servants to do whatever Jesus tells them to do.
How Did Mary Know to Ask Jesus for Help? Did She Know Who He Was and What He Was Here to Do?
Yes, Mary absolutely did know that Jesus was the Messiah! This is the woman who got pregnant without having sex. I think that’s something that would be hard to forget.
This is the woman who had the angel Gabriel appear to her to announce that she was pregnant with the Messiah (Luke 1:26-38). This is the woman who sang the “Magnificat” (Luke 1:46-56). This is the woman whose cousin Elizabeth and her husband Zechariah also had a visitation from the Lord. Joseph also had a visitation to tell him the identity of the child (Matthew 1)
Lest we forget, this is the woman who also experienced:
- The visit of the shepherds who had heard the divine proclamation (Luke 2)
- The visit of the magi who came from the East following the star which proclaimed the birth of a new king (Matthew 2)
- Interactions with Simeon and Anna in the temple (Luke 2)
Furthermore, this is the woman who had to flee with her baby in the night to Egypt, where they stayed for several years as refugees until Herod the Great died, because he was committed to killing this one who was the rightful heir to the throne of David, i.e. the promised Messiah.
Mary and Joseph had an acute awareness of who Jesus was, and I would expect that they also talked about this with Jesus. One question that theologians debate is whether Jesus innately knew that he was the Messiah, or if it was revealed to him by the Spirit. I expect that his mother and father would have talked to him about it as well, recounting to him as a young child why they had to live as refugees in Egypt, and telling him stories of the angels’ visitations and all the crazy stuff that happened at his birth.
The word Messiah means anointed one. There were three people in ancient Israel who were anointed with oil as a symbol of the Spirit of God upon them to empower them for their ministry: Prophets, Priests and Kings. The eschatological Messiah was known to be one who would be the perfect fulfillment of all three of these offices: he would be the ultimate priest, the true prophet (remember Moses’ prophecy in Deuteronomy 18:15 of the prophet whom God would raise up… the Jews understood this to be a Messianic prophecy – see John 1:21), and the true king (for more on this, read: If Jesus is God, Why is He Called the Son of God and the Firstborn of All Creation?)
Being that Jesus is the true and greatest prophet, it would be expected that he would perform miracles, like the “wonder-working prophets” Elijah and Elisha. This is why one of the expectations of the Jews from Jesus was that he validate his ministry through performing miracles. Jesus pushed back at this, knowing their hearts – but the fact is that he did perform many miracles.
Why are there no stories of Jesus’ childhood, except in the gnostic gospels?
It says clearly in John 2:11 that this was the first of Jesus’ miracles, or rather “signs”, by which he manifested his glory. This, by the way, goes to show the dubious nature of the childhood narrative of the gnostic Gospel of Thomas, which purports Jesus doing miracles to heal birds.
My guess is that the reason there isn’t more written about Jesus’ childhood is because there wasn’t much to talk about. He spent his first several years in Egypt, then at age 12, his parents noticed that he had a keen desire to know the Father and study the Scriptures. Beyond that, Jesus and his parents would have always known that he was the Messiah, but he didn’t do anything in that role until his baptism at age 30.
Thanks for these great questions! Keep studying the Word, and feel free to send more questions to me by filling out this form.
Maybe you’ve heard of “the gospel of Jesus Christ”, but have you ever heard of “the gospel of Caesar Augustus”?
An ancient inscription which bears that phrase gives us understanding into what exactly the gospel of Jesus Christ is, and sheds light on the structure and content of the biblical “Gospels”, i.e. the books which tell the story of the life of Jesus of Nazareth.
What is a “gospel”?
In English vernacular, we have terms like “gospel-truth”, which means that something is absolutely true. However, in the Bible, the word “gospel” doesn’t mean truth.
“Gospel” is the English translation of the Greek word “euangelion” which means “news that brings great joy.”
When we hear this word today, our minds immediately tend to associate it with spirituality in general, or Christianity in particular, but originally, this word was political in nature.
In the Greco-Roman world, from the time of Alexander the Great and on into the Roman Empire, this word was used to refer to history-making, world-shaping reports of political, military, or societal victories.
Example 1: The Battle of Marathon
I am considering running a marathon this year, and one of the things that I always keep in the back of my mind is that the person who ran the first marathon ran 42.2 kilometers (26.2 miles) to deliver a message, and upon completing this run, he DIED!
I feel like I still have a lot to live for, hence my hesitation… I have run a few half marathons, and after those I felt half-dead, so we’ll see…
The setting of that first marathon was a battle in 490 B.C. when Greece was invaded by Persia. Despite all odds, Greece managed to defeat Persia, and after the battle, Greece sent heralds to take the euangelion (proclamation of good news) out into every town and village in the country, to tell the people what had happened, and declare to them that they were free! Those heralds were “evangelists”.
Example 2: The Emancipation Proclamation
In the United States, when Abraham Lincoln signed the document which set the slaves in the southern states free, that news had to be taken and proclaimed in every city, town and farm in the South. Heralds were sent out who proclaimed to those slaves that something had happened, which would change their lives forever. They declared to them that because of what someone else had done, they were set free!
The Gospel of Caesar Augustus
An inscription found in Priene, in modern-day Turkey, referring to Caesar Augustus says: “the birthday of [Augustus] has been for the whole world the beginning of the gospel (euangelion) concerning him.” (Priene 150.40-41)
This inscription is found on a government building dating from 6 B.C. Here is more of what it says, which gives us insight into how they understood the “gospel” concerning Caesar Augustus:
The most divine Caesar . . . we should consider equal to the Beginning of all things . . . for when everything was falling (into disorder) and tending toward dissolution, he restored it once more and gave the whole world a new aura; Caesar . . . the common good Fortune of all . . . The beginning of life and vitality . . . All the cities unanimously adopt the birthday of the divine Caesar as the new beginning of the year . . . Whereas the Providence which has regulated our whole existence . . . has brought our life to the climax of perfection in giving to us (the emperor) Augustus . . .who being sent to us and our descendents as Savior, has put an end to war and has set all things in order; and (whereas,) having become (god) manifest /PHANEIS/, Caesar has fulfilled all the hopes of earlier times.
The “gospel” of Caesar Augustus was what we call today the Pax Romana, the age of peace in the Roman Empire which came about during this time, into which Jesus was born.
Caesar Augustus in this inscription is declared to be: divine, savior, and the beginning of the good news for all people on Earth.
The Gospel of Jesus Christ: a Direct Challenge to the Gospel of Rome
When we understand this term “gospel” (euangelion), and how it was used in the ancient Greco-Roman world, we can begin to better understand the specific way in which the Christian gospels of Jesus Christ were written. They were written in such a way as to present Jesus as the true divine King, who had come to bring true salvation to the whole world, and they were written as a direct challenge to the so-called “gospel” of Rome and its peace which was enforced through brutality, and which did not provide any actual salvation.
“The beginning of the gospel (euangelion) about Jesus the Messiah, the Son of God” (Mark 1:1)
“Jesus went into Galilee, proclaiming the gospel (euangelion) of God. “The time has come,” he said. “The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the gospel! (euangelion)” (Mark 1:14-15)
And this gospel (euangelion) of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come. (Matthew 24:14)
For I am not ashamed of the gospel (euangelion), for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. (Romans 1:16)
The gospel is a message of a victory which has taken place, from which we benefit. We receive salvation, freedom and peace as a result of it.
The gospel, therefore, is good news, not good advice! It’s not about what you have to do for God, but it’s the news of what God has done for you in Christ to set you free.
Check out this article from Marianne Bonz of Harvard University called: The Gospel of Rome vs. the Gospel of Jesus Christ
Check out this video Mike and I filmed about whether the gospel is political (hint: it is), and what that means for us as Christians today:
Emma Stone and SNL put together a great skit on the nativity and how un-glamorous it must have actually been to have a baby in a barn.
My favorite lines:
Wise man: “We brought you gold, frankincense and myrrh.”
Mary: “Great! I heard ‘blankets, diapers and a crib…'”
“I’m sorry, I guess when I found out that I was going to give birth to the Savior, I just assumed it was going to be … nicer. There would be a real bed, and, I don’t know, like: a doctor. And no sheep poop on the floor.”
Check it out:
One of the most characteristic songs of the Christmas season is Joy to the World. It’s sung by carolers and played in instrumental pieces all over the world, and wherever its famous tune rings, it sets the tone of Christmas.
Except… this quintessential Christmas hymn isn’t actually about Christmas.
Written by Isaac Watts and first published in 1719, Joy to the World was a hymn Watts wrote based on Psalm 98, which describes the eternal kingdom which God promised to one day bring about via the Messiah.
Watts, in writing this hymn, considered Psalm 98 along with the New Testament writings about Jesus’ second coming, and wrote this song – which is all about what the world will be like when Jesus comes again.
In this sense, we can say that Joy to the World is an Advent hymn, even if it is not necessarily a Christmas hymn.
Advent is the four weeks leading up until Christmas, during which Christians have historically focused their hearts and mind’s on Jesus’ coming. The word Advent comes from the Latin phrase Adventus Domini, which means: ‘the coming of the Lord.’
During the Advent season we do two things:
- We look BACK to Jesus’ first coming and the incarnation (Christmas) – that act in which God took on human flesh in order to save us.
- We look FORWARD to Jesus’ second coming, when he will come again according to his promise, to judge the nations and rule over his eternal kingdom.
And so it is in this latter sense that Joy to the World is absolutely an Advent hymn, as it looks forward to the second coming of Christ, when nature will sing and Jesus will rule as King over all.
Another thing you may not know about the hymn Joy to the World is that it was originally set to a different tune than the iconic one that we associate with it today.
Over 100 years after Isaac Watts originally wrote the song, a composer named Lowell Mason, inspired by Handel’s Messiah, wrote the melody which we know today. He titled this musical piece Antioch, but it didn’t have any words to go with it.
For three years Mason searched for the right words to fit his melody, finally settling on Isaac Watts’ lyrics for Joy to the World, and the rest is history.
Joy to the World: An Advent Series
This Advent at White Fields Church in Longmont we are doing a series for the month of December, including Christmas Eve, called Joy to the World, in which we will be looking at how the gospel brings lasting, powerful joy into our lives which overcomes sorrow and cannot be taken away.
Yesterday was our first message in that series, which came from the Gospel of John chapter 16 and was titled “Your Sorrow Will Turn Into Joy.” For the audio of that message, click here.
We’d love to have you and your friends and family join us at White Fields this Advent and on Christmas Eve. Our services will be at 4:30 & 6:00pm at the St. Vrain Memorial Building at 700 Longs Peak Avenue in Longmont, Colorado. For more information and directions, click here.
In my recent post, Was it Necessary for Our Salvation that Jesus be God?, I mentioned that one of the issues that some people struggle with is regard to the deity of Christ is that the New Testament calls him the “Son of God” and Colossians 1:15 says that he is “the firstborn over all creation.”
If Jesus is God, why is he called the “Son of God”? And if Jesus was not created, as Christians claim, then why is he called “the firstborn over all creation?”
Let’s look at these two questions one at a time:
Why is Jesus Called the Son of God?
The long and short of it is that “Son of God” is a Messianic title, which means that Jesus is the long-awaited, promised king of Israel whom God had promised to send to save the people and set them free in an eternal and ultimate way.
The most important text for understanding this is Psalm 2, which is a “coronation psalm,” meaning it would be read at the coronation of a king.
It includes this line: I will tell of the decree: The Lord said to me, “You are my Son; today I have begotten you. (Psalm 2:7) This line is quoted and applied to Jesus in Acts 13:33 and Hebrews 1:5 & 5:5.
Most important is to understand the context of this phrase “Son of God” in reference to the king. In the Ancient Near East (ANE) kings were considered to have a special relationship with God. In many cases, like in Ancient Mesopotamia and Egypt, the king was considered to be deity themselves. Such an idea would be an abomination to the Jews and in complete contradiction to everything their Scriptures said about God. However, they too believed, as we see in Psalm 2 and other “royal psalms” that the king had a special relationship with God.
Thus, the term “son of God” spoke of the king’s special relationship with God, but throughout the Old Testament there is the hope of a true and better king, the one who will establish the throne of David forever and rule over an everlasting kingdom which will have no end (see: the Davidic Covenant in 2 Samuel 7). Then though there were many kings of Israel, none of them were the ideal, TRUE KING that God had promised and Israel waited for.
To call Jesus THE Son of God is a reference to him being THE king whom God promised to send to set the people free and save them ultimately and eternally, i.e.: the Messiah.
For more on the meaning of the term “Son of God” check out: What Does it Mean that Jesus is the Son of God?, or the related topic: If Jesus is the Son of God, Why Did He Call Himself “the Son of Man”?
Why is Jesus called “the firstborn over all creation”?
Does Colossians 1:15 imply that Jesus was the first creature whom the uncreated God created? If Jesus is the uncreated God, then why is a term like “firstborn” used of him – I mean, it actually contains the word “born” in it, which implies coming-into-being, does it not?
The word firstborn (prototokos) is also applied to Jesus in Colossians 1:18, Romans 8:29, Hebrews 1:6, and Revelation 1:5. In each and every case, when this word is used of Jesus, it refers to supremacy in rank.
All ancient culture had a practice called “primogeniture” – which meant that the firstborn son got all the wealth of the father and he got all the father’s status and power. From a legal standpoint, a firstborn son was equal with the father.
So when this title is used of Jesus, it in no way means that Jesus is less than God, or that he was created by God, rather it refers to supremacy of rank. To say that Jesus is the firstborn of all creation means that he holds the position of primacy over all of creation, i.e.: no one and nothing holds a candle to him; he has all the status and power of the Father and is equal to the Father, although still distinct from the Father.
Interestingly, John Lightfoot cites Jewish rabbis who sometimes referred to God as “the firstborn of the world,” meaning that God was supreme over all of the world — that there is none higher than him.
How do we know this interpretation of Colossians 1:15 is the correct one? By looking at the verses which immediately follow, which declare Jesus to be the uncreated creator.
Colossians 1:16-17 say: For by him (Jesus) all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together.
The Bible begins by telling us that God created all things, and here it tells us that Jesus created all things. The clear message is that Jesus is God in the same way that the Father is God. He is beginning-less creator, equal to the Father in substance, status and power, and yet distinct from the Father.
Thus, rather than undercutting trinitarian theology, Colossians 1:15-17 undergirds the foundation of trinitarian belief.
Advent is the time of year when we think and talk a lot about the incarnation, that event in which God took on human flesh and became one of us in order to save us.
Recently on the Calvary Live call-in show on GraceFM someone called in asking if it is necessary to believe that Jesus was fully God in order to be a Christian. He explained that he believes that Jesus was fully human, but not fully God.
Arianism: A Brief Background
Without knowing the name for it, he described his beliefs, which were basically Arianism: a belief popularized in the early 300’s by a man named Arius, who taught that – contrary to the generally-held Christian belief, Jesus was not fully God in the same way that the Father is God, but that he was a special created being, whom God created in order to bring about salvation for human beings. Arius was afraid that by saying that Jesus was God, Christians were slipping into polytheism, and that in Colossians where it says that Jesus is “the firstborn of all creation” (Colossians 1:15), it means that Jesus was the first creature whom the uncreated Father created.
Arius’ beliefs were condemned as unbiblical and incorrect at the Council of Nicaea, the first ecumenical council of the church, which gave birth to the Nicene Creed, asserting that Jesus was of one substance (ousia) with the Father and that Jesus is “very God of very God”, leaving no ambiguity whatsoever that Christians unanimously believe that Jesus is in fact God.
(For more on Arius, Nicaea and St. Nicholas of Myra, check out: Taking Back the Story of Saint Nicholas)
But still… why is it important that we believe Jesus is God?
Is it just because that’s who Jesus is and who God has revealed him to be (ontological/revelatory reason)? – OR – was it actually necessary for our salvation that Jesus be God (soteriological reason)?
Nicaea dealt with the ontological and revelatory side of this question, but my caller on the radio show asked the latter question: is there a soteriological reason why Jesus had to be God in order to save us?
My immediate answer was to point him to Romans 8:1-4, which says that Jesus fulfilled all of God’s righteous requirements on our behalf. In other words: Jesus lived the perfect life that I should have lived, and the good news of the gospel is that he then offers his perfect record to me. Jesus, having been the only human not born of the seed of a man – other than Adam – becomes the “new Adam”, who then fully obeys God whereas Adam disobeyed and sinned (see Romans 5:12-21 or listen to Who is Your Champion?)
He then asked, “Couldn’t God have created a perfect being, without a sin nature, in order to do that work of fulfilling God’s righteous requirements on our behalf in order to save us?”
Here’s Why Jesus Had to Be “Very God of Very God” in Order to Save Us:
The Scots Confession of 1560 addressed this issue directly. The answer it gave is that the full reality of Christ’s deity is essential for salvation because salvation must be an act of God, or else it is not salvation. The deity of Christ tells us that the action of Jesus in the incarnation and on the cross is identical with God’s own action.
The deity of Christ tells us that the action of Jesus in the incarnation and on the cross is identical with God’s own action.
Karl Barth explained that the full deity of Christ is essential because it is only God who can forgive sins. He refers to Mark 2:7, ‘who can forgive sins but God alone?’ It is equally necessary for atonement, Barth pointed out, that the one who makes amends for sin is human.
Salvation, in other words, is an act of God, but an act that must be done from within humanity – thus Jesus had to be fully God and fully man in order to save us.
The whole of our salvation depends on the fact that it is God in Christ who suffers and bears the sin of the world, and reconciles the world to himself.
T.F. Torrance discusses the terrible implications of denying the full deity of Christ:
If the deity of Christ is denied, then the cross becomes a terrible monstrosity. If Jesus Christ is man only and not also God then we lose faith in God, because how could we believe in a God who allows the best man that ever lived to be put to death on the cross? If you put Jesus Christ as a mere man on the cross and put God in Heaven like some distant god imprisoned in his own lonely abstract deity, such a god is monstrously unconcerned with our life as he does not lift a finger to help Jesus.
The validity of our salvation depends on the fact that he who died on the cross under divine judgement is also God the judge, so that he who forgives is also he who judges.
Thanks be to God for what He has done for us by becoming one of us!