The Glory of the Person of Christ

As I was preparing a message on Psalm 139 last week I came across a passage in Calvin’s Institutes (II.xiii.4) (actually, I came across it in Robert Reymond’s Systematic Theology who quoted Calvin) which made my head hurt as I struggled to comprehend the two natures and one person of Christ:

Another absurdity…namely, that if the Word of God became incarnate, [he] must have been confined within the narrow prison of an earthly body, is sheer impudence! For even if the Word in his immeasurable essence united with the nature of man into one person, we do not imagine that he was confined therein. Here is something marvelous: the Son of God descended from heaven in such a way that, without leaving heaven, he willed to be born in the virgin’s womb, to go about the earth, to hang upon the cross, yet he continuously filled the earth even as he had done from the beginning!

The Westminster divines expressed the same idea in the following way:

The Son of God, the second Person in the Trinity, being very and eternal God, of one substance, and equal with the Father, did, when the fullness of time was come, take upon him man’s nature, with all the essential properties and common infirmities thereof; yet without sin: being conceived by he power of the Holy Ghost, in the womb of the Virgin Mary, of her substance. So that two whole, perfect, and distinct natures, the Godhead and the manhood, were inseparably joined together in one person, without conversion, composition, or confusion. Which person is very God and very man, yet one Christ, the only Mediator between God and man. (WCF VIII.ii)

Zacharias Ursinus and Caspar Olevianus also articulated this truth in the Heidelberg Catechism:

Question 48. But if his human nature is not present, wherever his Godhead is, are not then these two natures in Christ separated from one another?

Answer: Not as all, for since the Godhead is illimitable and omnipresent, (a) it must necessarily follow that the same is beyond the limits of the human nature he assumed, (b) and yet is nevertheless in this human nature, and remains personally united to it.

As I ponder in wonder the limitless glory of our Triune God, I am comforted by the fact that the same omnipotent God who “has measured the waters in the hollow of His hand, And marked off the heavens by the span, And calculated the dust of the earth by the measure, And weighed the mountains in a balance, And the hills in a pair of scales?” will also “tend his flock like a shepherd; he will gather the lambs in his arms; he will carry them in his bosom, and gently lead those that are with young.” (Isa. 40:11-12)

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1 Comment

  1. michael said,

    June 16, 2009 at 8:13 AM

    nice piece of work. I thank God for computer technology. As I read your article I am once again amazed at the greatness of God and how big and mighty he is. I realize that we cannot totally define Him or else He won’t be God. Our comprehension is limited but He is UNLIMITED. Again I thank Him to allow us to understand what we understand about Him and not fight over it but love one another. Thank you for a inspiring article.


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