"Nor the Son"

A message given by Dan Musick in the fall of 1998 at Bethany Chapel in Wheaton, IL

"But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone." Matthew 24:36

  1. I will probably never live to see my hundredth birthday. For certain, I will never live to the age of 150.
  2. This morning I want to link my last statement with a second statement, and draw out some parallels with two statements in Scripture. But first, would you turn to John 8:23. After you find that verse, please hold your place and turn to Matthew 24:36.
  3. The second statement I want to make is, "Because of Christ's work on Calvary, I will never die."
  4. Before looking at these two texts, I would like to ask, Do you see any theological problems with the two statements I have made, The first, "For certain I will never live to the age of 150." And, the second, "Because of Christ's work on Calvary, I will never die."
  5. I doubt that either of these statements would raise an eyebrow. This is because as human beings we have bodies that will die (unless Christ returns during our lifetimes) and I can speak for certain that I will never live to the age of 150. But as humans we also have souls that will never die. Hence, it is just as appropriate to say: "I will never die."
  6. We allow nonspecific, unqualified statements such as these even though the first statement, "I will never live to the age of 150" would appear to be a direct denial of my eternal soul, and even though the second statement, "I will never die" would appear to be a direct denial of my human flesh. We allow these statements because we realize that sometimes we speak with reference to our mortal flesh, and sometimes we speak with reference to our eternal souls. They are safe assumptions that need no qualifications except maybe around non-believers.
  7. We find the same parallels when we read the words of Christ. In John 8:23 Jesus appears to directly deny His humanity: "And He was saying to them, (the scribes and Pharisees who had brought to him the woman caught in adultery) 'You are from below, I am from above; you are of this world, I am not of this world.'"
  8. In contrast to appearing to deny His humanity in John 8:23, we find in Matthew 24:36 Jesus appearing to deny His Divinity when talking about the time when He will return: "But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone." If Jesus were not omniscient, He could not be God.
  9. If we take these two statements out of the context of all of Scripture, if we do not learn from the way we talk about our own bodies and souls, and if we don't recognize that Christ spoke with reference to two natures - human and Divine, then we have between the two passages proof that Christ never existed - that He was neither human nor Divine.

But we affirm with the early fathers and all of historic orthodoxy that the human and divine natures of Christ were united into one Person "without any commingling or change or division or separation." During His 33 years here on earth as well as now, Jesus had a Divine intellect which transcends time and space to see you here this morning. He also had and has a human intellect that probably could not see us today.

Why is this important?

I would like to underscore three of many reasons. One has to do with His perfection. Christ never sinned, never said anything that was not true. What he taught was not confined to the cultural influences of his day. When we doubt or undermine His Deity we soon doubt the truthfulness of His teachings. These doubts, in turn, tempt us to esteem our own thoughts on the same level as His. And from there, we start to re-create Christ in our own image.

Re-creating Christ in our own image, however, is not an option. Seeing Christ only as we want to see Him causes us to distort the truth about His very nature and character. It is essential that we stick to the picture Scripture presents, not only regarding His incarnation, but also the things He said and did.

For example, Jesus, who was life, also holds the power of death and hell. In Luke 12:5 He says, "But I will forewarn you whom you shall fear: Fear him, who after he has killed has power to cast into hell." Jesus, Who is love, also said of Himself in John 3:18 "He that believes on Him is not condemned, but he that believes not is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God." Jesus, who was human, depended on the Holy Spirit and on the Father to perform His miracles. But He was also God, and as God He healed the sick, calmed the sea, and raised the dead, including Himself, by His own Divine power.

A second reason that our Christology must be kept pure is that acknowledging His full humanity and His full Deity is fundamental to saving faith. Our faith has content. The Jesus of John 3:16 is the Jesus of John 1-3:24; the Jesus of Romans 10:9 is the Jesus of Romans 1-10:8. The object of our faith is as critical as the exercise of our faith; faith in the wrong Christ has the same eternal consequences as no faith at all.

Thirdly, our view of Jesus is fundamental to our worship. Jesus said we are to worship in Spirit and in truth. Part of that truth is that Jesus was and is fully God and fully man, yet without sin. This truth is a mystery, but it is also a mystery that inspires worship.

As A.A. Hodge wrote, "How is it possible that the same Person can be at the same time infinite and finite, ignorant and omniscient, omnipotent and helpless? How can two complete spirits coalesce in one Person? How can two consciousnesses, two understandings, two memories, two imaginations, two wills, constitute one Person? All this is involved in the scriptural and church doctrine of the Person of Christ. Yet no one can explain it. The numerous attempts made to explain or to expel this mystery have only filled the Church with heresies and obscured the faith of Christians.... I adore a Christ who is absolutely one -- who is at the same time pure, unmixed, unchanged God, and pure, unmixed, unchanged man -- and whose Person, in its wholeness and its fullness, is available throughout all space and throughout all time to those who trust him and love his appearing."