Greg Strand is EFCA executive director of theology and credentialing, and he serves on the Board of Ministerial Standing as well as the Spiritual Heritage Committee. He and his family are members of Northfield (Minnesota) EFC.
This time of the year is a wonderful time to ponder the incredible truths of the incarnation: the time when the second Person of the Godhead, the Son, became incarnate in a man such that without ceasing to be what He always was, God, He became what He was not, man, so that he is now and forever the perfect God-man, fully God and fully man.
The incarnation is a biblical truth (Matt. 1:18-25; 2:1-12; Lk. 2:1-20; Gal. 4:4-5; Phil. 2:5-11; Col. 2:9; 1 Tim. 3:16; etc.). It is foundational to an orthodox doctrine of the Trinity. It is foundational to Christianity and the Christian faith. It is foundational to a right understanding of the Scriptures. It is foundational to a right understanding of salvation.
In addition to the biblical truth of this doctrine, there are also a number of statements affirming this wonderful truth, along with the heretical ways in which this truth of the God-man has been denied.
EFCA Statement of Faith
4. We believe that Jesus Christ is God incarnate, fully God and fully man, one Person in two natures. Jesus-Israel's promised Messiah-was conceived through the Holy Spirit and born of the virgin Mary. He lived a sinless life, was crucified under Pontius Pilate, arose bodily from the dead, ascended into heaven and sits at the right hand of God the Father as our High Priest and Advocate.
God’s gospel is made known supremely in the Person of Jesus Christ.
Evangelical Convictions: A Theological Exposition of the Statement of Faith of the Evangelical Free Church of America, pp. 98-99:
Jesus Christ is thus one Person in whom two distinct natures are united. Jesus Christ is truly God and truly man. He is fully and completely both at the same time, showing us the true nature of each. . . . The Son of God remained God – he never gave up being God, but he added to his divinity real humanity. As God incarnate, the divine subject made real human experience his own, and since the incarnation, the Son of God will forever be human.
There are three key statements/truths to understand Christology:
Jesus is the God-Man - Historical Statements of this Biblical Truth
A. The Nicene- Constantinople Creed (325 A.D., revised 381 A.D.)
And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God, begotten of the Father before all worlds, God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God, begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father; by whom all things were made; who, for us men and for our salvation, came down from heaven, and was incarnate by the Holy Spirit of the Virgin Mary, and was made man;
B. The Council of Chalcedon (451 A.D.)
'Therefore, following the holy Fathers, we all with one accord teach men to acknowledge one and the same Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, at once complete in Godhead and complete in manhood, truly God and truly man [Nestorius], consisting also of a reasonable soul and body [Apollinarianism]; of one substance [homoousios] with the Father as regards his Godhead [Arianism], and at the same time of one substance with us as regards his manhood [Nestorianism]; like us in all respects [Docetism], apart from sin; as regards his Godhead, begotten of the Father before the ages, but yet as regards his manhood begotten, for us men and for our salvation, of Mary the Virgin, the God-bearer [theotokos]; one and the same Christ, Son, Lord, Only-begotten, recognized in two natures, without confusion, without change, without division, without separation; the distinction of natures being in no way annulled by the union, but rather the characteristics of each nature being preserved and coming together to form one person and subsistence [hypostasis], not as parted or separated into two persons, but one and the same Son and Only-begotten God the Word, Lord Jesus Christ; even as the prophets from earliest times spoke of him, and our Lord Jesus Christ himself taught us, and the creed of the Fathers has handed down to us."
C. Key Phrases in the Chalcedonian Statement
It is interesting to note that this Statement attempted to address every Christological problem that had affected the church up to that time. Robert Reymond, (A New Systematic Theology of the Christian Faith [Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1998], 608-609), helpfully points them out, which I have adapted. He notes both explicit affirmations and implicit denials.