On paper it seems so simple: “We believe in the Deity of the Lord Jesus Christ. As God’s Son, Jesus was both human and divine.” But trying to wrap our finite human minds around the concept of the full humanity and the full deity of Jesus is challenging!
First off, Jesus was fully human. Both Matthew and Luke record details about Christ’s physical birth, and the writer of Hebrews says that Jesus was made every bit as human as us (Hebrews 2:17).
But Jesus was also fully God. John records how God became flesh in the Person of Jesus (John 1:1-2, 14), and Paul tells us how Jesus chose not to use His deity when He came to earth as a human (Philippians 2:6-8).
I know that anytime we say, “God is like…” we’ve already sold ourselves short, but I’d like to try one analogy that’s been helpful for me.
Imagine a coin that has two distinct sides. While we are looking at one side (heads), we cannot see the other side (tails) but that doesn’t mean the other side has ceased to exist. In fact, if we were able to split that coin in half, so that there was only a heads and a tails, we haven’t cut the value of the coin in half, but we’ve made the coin of no value at all!
In the Greek language of the New Testament, there are a couple of words for “knowing”: one is gnosis and the other oido. Together these words combine head knowledge and heart knowledge, or knowledge by study and knowledge by experience.
C.S. Lewis captures the idea this way: “It is Christ Himself, not the Bible, who is the true Word of God. The Bible, read in the right spirit and with the guidance of good teachers, will bring us to Him.”
Just as Jesus was both God and Man, we are to use both our mind and our heart to know Him.
To focus on the “heads” side—the deity of Jesus—is to pervert gnosis into gnosticism, and deny the humanity of Jesus. To focus on the “tails” side—the humanity of Jesus—is to pervert gnosis into agnosticism, and deny the deity of Jesus. True gnosis keeps both sides in mind: Deity and humanity.
To truly know THE Word of God (Jesus) in all His humanity and in all His deity, we need to study the Word of God. We also need the help of the Holy Spirit. I like the Old English wording of this verse—Ye have an unction [charisma] from the Holy One, and ye know [gnosis] all things (1 John 2:20).
So read your Bible, but not just to read your Bible. Ask the Holy Spirit to make THE Word known to you. Live in the balance of gnosis as you get to know Jesus more deeply and personally.
This post is a part of our series studying our foundational beliefs. If you would like to read more about the first foundational beliefs we have discussed, check out this post on the inspiration of Scripture, and this post on the Trinity.