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The Full Redemption of Humanity through the Full Incarnation of Christ

Landon Orr PHIL9550 Philosophical Theology Dr. Evans November 15, 2013

Redemption is a beautiful thing. Humanity, in the midst of sin, finds itself saved by the loving sacrifice of their creator God. Jesus Christ came as man, in order to set man free, to redeem them out of a state of enmity. In order to understand the fullness of redemption, one must understand the fullness of the incarnation. To accomplish this, humanity is defined and the need for a substitutionary sacrifice is established. Created in the image of God, an act of disobedience caused sin to enter the world and distort human nature. Humanity no longer has a perfect image of God and finds sin affecting every aspect of their humanity. In order to eradicate this sin, the Son of God had to assume total humanity. The incarnate Son of God, Jesus Christ, became a full man, displaying human rationality, emotion, spirituality, and physicality. The Son assumed these aspects in order to see them fully redeemed. Redemption, a present and future act, has an effect on believers now, through the Spirit, and later, through glorification. As believers look forward to glorified redemption, they cannot forget the now, neglecting aspects of humanity for which Christ came to die. To neglect one of these aspects is to belittle the full incarnation of Christ. Through the incarnation, the Son of God was born as a full human being for the purpose of the redemption of the whole man, motivating believers to not neglect any part of their human nature, working to see its present redemption achieved. Humanity and the Need for Incarnation In order to discuss the Son of Gods assumption of total humanity, one needs to define what it means to be human. Humanity, the pinnacle of Gods creation, is a created being set apart by God to fulfill a unique role in the created world. Unlike any other creature, God bestows humanity with his image, the imago dei, and commands them to have dominion over and subdue his earthly creation (Gen 1:26, 28). While some think of the imago dei in many

different ways, the imago dei is not limited to a human mind, soul, or human relations, but encompasses every aspect of humanity, including their physical existence. Theologians have developed three views to aid in understanding ways to understand the imago dei. These views are the substantive view, the relational view, and the functional view.1 Proponents of the substantive view isolate a particular part of humanity, like the ability to reason or the ability to be spiritual, and define the imago dei by these abilities. The abilities isolated are unique to humanity, and it is reasonable to conclude that any aspect of human nature that does not apply to other creatures is a result of the imago dei. The functional view defines the imago dei as the task of ruling over creation. Humanitys assignment to have dominion over creation is a task that God gave to no other creature. Humanity represents God on earth. Just as a king places a statue of himself in a distant town he rules over to remind his subjects of his authority, God places his image in his world to remind creation of his authority. Humanity is this image of God on earth. The third view, the relational view, ties the imago dei to an association between gender and the trinity. Male and female, God created humans to have interpersonal, intergender relationships with each other, just as the Godhead has interpersonal relationships between the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. While gender is not specific to humanity, the capability for intimacy within those interpersonal relationships is uniquely possible only for the Godhead and humanity, allowing for perceived and not real instances of intimacy within the animal kingdom. Of these three views, there is not one that is absolute. Instead, the imago dei is an interweaving of these three views together. As Gods image bearers, humanity is made in Gods likeness (Gen 1:26). Similar to how a parent passes their likeness to their children, Gods passes

Wayne Grudem, Systemmatic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrin,. ( Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan, 1994), 443

his characteristics down and imbeds them in humanity. Is God reasonable, moral, and spiritual? Yes. Humanity then would also be reasonable, moral, and spiritual. Is God relational among himself? When taking into account the trinity, yes, and therefore, humanity too would be relational among itself. Does God have authority over creation? Yes. Created in his likeness, Gods image bearers would also display some aspect of authority over creation. The interweaving of these views together produces an image that God places within the entire human being. Even a humans physical body is part of the imago dei. While God Himself does not have a physical body, there are characteristics of God that humanity can only represent through their body. Just as God can see, hear, and speak, the human body allows a person to see, hear, and speak. The physical human brain enables human intellect. Humanitys worship and praise of God primarily takes place through movement of the human body.2 God created the body to be the vehicle through which His image would exist on earth. To take away the body, is to take away humanity. While living, humans cannot exist without a physical, fleshly body. Additionally, God never intended for humanity to exist absent from the body. Humans have a physical body now, and after final resurrection, they will have a physical body for eternity. A result of sin, only death temporarily removes the human body. Waiting for God to reunite them with their body, the dead long for their resurrection, knowing that they are not fully human without their bodies. In relation to the incarnation, it is important to understand that the Son of God did not assume humanity only to redeem the non-physical, but to redeem the physical parts of humanity as well. Why the incarnation? Why did the Son of God have to subject himself and become human? The Son became incarnate man to counter the result of Adams disobedience in the

Grudem, 449.

Garden of Eden. The incarnation was necessary in order to eliminate the sin that unnaturally entered the world after the Fall. Was a total incarnation necessary? Could not the Son of God have come as part human in order to redeem only the parts of humanity in need of redemption or are worthwhile of redemption? To answer this question, one must understand the breadth of the effect of sin. When sin entered creation, an entirely good world was deeply deformed and distorted. Sin deeply deformed and distorted, but did not destroy, an entirely good humanity. After the introduction of sin into the world, God found his image bearers in a state of depravity; a state of depravity that had an effect on every part of their being from which they desperately needed to be rescued. John Calvin defines depravity as a hereditary, sinful corruption of human nature that encompasses all aspects of the person.3 According to this definition, all of humanity finds itself under the influence of sin. Though not lost, sin touches the imago dei in such a way that it distorts all aspects of humanity. The aspects commonly attributed to the image of God - reason, morality, spirituality, relationships, authority, and the body - are deeply influenced by sin. There is no aspect of humanity with which sin does not interfere. Unlike what various gnostic or ascetic heresies teach, sinful, human nature is not isolated in certain parts of the human, like the body, leaving other aspects of humanity, like the mind or the soul, unblemished. When Paul writes about waging war with the flesh (Rom 7:15), one cannot interpret it as if Christ saved Pauls pure soul only to leave him longing for the day when he would be able to throw out his sinful body entirely. There is not an inch of humanity that sin does not influence, leaving humans to wage continual war against the sinful nature of their mind, spirit, and body.

John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion, ( Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software, 1997), 2.1.8.

This total depravity does not mean that it is impossible for a human to make right decisions or be partially good while they live on earth, even apart from new life in Christ. God has bestowed on the earth a common grace that enables fallen man with the ability to make right choices and perform right actions. Though blinded by their sin, there still exists within man natural gifts from God that allow them to catch glimmers of truth.4 Through common grace, a human can be morally good, can think correctly, can have good relationships, and can honor their body, but this common grace will not remove the imprint of sin entirely from their life. Common grace allows the temporary conquest of sin, but does not allow its total eradication from human existence. In order to eradicate sin, humanity needs a special, salvific grace. Total depravity requires the full incarnation of the Son of God to provide the salvific grace that the world needs to see sin finally and completely conquered. This salvific grace requires that the Son of God be incarnate as a total human being. Hebrews 2:17 says that Jesus had to be made like his brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. Because sin affects every part of a human being, the Son of God had to take on every part as well. The purpose of the incarnation was to set humanity free from sin in all of the many ways that it effected creation. Humanity needed the incarnation to restore humanity back to the proper image of God. It is only through the incarnation that death brought on by sin is reversed and life restored. After the fall, man did not lose the imago dei, but rather now possesses an unnatural image. Man, recipient of the imago dei, found sin distorting that image. In order for the

Herman Bavinck, Calvin and Common Grace, Kindle Electronic Edition, Loc 244 of


restoration of this image, the Son of God came in mans sinful image. This does not mean that Christ had to come as a sinner in order to redeem sinful man, but rather that Christ had to come in the form of sinful man in order to save that man from himself. By living an obedient life in the image of sinful man, Christ was able to restore mans image back into the creational image of God. It is only after Christ lived as the creational image of God that he was able to act as the substitute and mediator for humanity. As God coming in mans image, the Son was able to bridge the gap between God and man. This reconnects a relational bridge between humanity and its creator, allowing mankind to have a right relationship with God. With this mediation in place, the Son could then act as a substitute sacrifice for mankind and willingly offer himself to pay the penalty for humanitys sins. This substitute would only have worked if Christ was incarnate as fully man and fully God. The Nature of the Incarnation The Great Commandment found in Matthew 22:37 is the central command of Christs earthly ministry. Christ instructs that the commandment of the most importance is to love the Lord God with all ones heart, soul, and mind. In this instruction, Jesus refers to Deuteronomy 6:5 in which Moses commands Gods people to love the Lord with all ones heart, soul, and strength. Placed together, these four areas of love have important significance for humanity. In essence, these areas cover over all aspects of humanity. The heart represents an emotional or relational aspect of humanity, the soul represents a spiritual aspect, the mind represents a rational aspect, and strength represents a physical aspect. If humanity were able to fulfill this one commandment, and fulfill it completely, they would defeat sin. Jesus Christ, in order to atone for humanitys sin, as mentioned earlier, was required to take up every aspect of humanity

revealed in the Great Commandment. Scripture shows evidence of the fullness of the incarnation by witnessing to how Jesus fulfilled this requirement. The assumption of reason, emotion, and spirituality has rarely been attested within the history of Christianity. However, the physical body is an aspect of humanity that many have tried to deny the Son represented in the incarnation. The first aspect of humanity that Christ assumed was the human mind. Luke chapter 2 provides the most evidence for this assumption. Luke 2:40 says, The boy grew up and became strong, filled with wisdom, and Gods grace was on Him. As Jesus Christ grew, his mental capacities developed and he became wise. Verse 52 of the same chapter says that Jesus increased in wisdom and stature. Again, these verses suggest that Christs physical growth accompanied his growing wisdom. Placed between these verses in Luke is the account of Mary and Joseph losing Jesus in Jerusalem and finding him three days later conversing with the teachers in the temple. These teachers, Luke tells his readers, were astonished at His understanding and His answers (Luke 2:47). Jesuss human mental capacities were present and well used. While yes, his awareness that he was God might have enhanced his understanding, this may not have been the primary point that Luke wanted his readers to see. The wisdom with which Jesus astonished the teachers was, as mentioned earlier, a wisdom directly correlated with the growing of his own physical stature. Christs divine wisdom would already have been complete and unable to grow any further. It must be the wisdom of Christs human nature that is being developed.5 It stands to reason that Christ grew in wisdom the same way any other human would grow in wisdom: aided by the indwelling and illumination of the Holy Spirit, Christ poured over scripture by reading Bruce Ware, The Man Christ Jesus: Theological Reflections of the Humanity of Christ, (Wheaton, Illinois, 2013), loc 706 of 2407.

and studying. If Christ was not born with an automatic understanding of scripture, which a growing wisdom suggests, then he diligently used his human mental capacities to their fullest capabilities, as is evidenced by his overwhelming understanding and knowledge of scripture throughout the gospels. Not only did Christ take on the human mind, but he took on human emotion as well. Again, as the gospels are surveyed there are a many instances where the gospel writers give account of raw human emotions portrayed in the person of Christ. While God himself does have some of these same emotions that Christ displays, the emotions displayed by Christ in scripture are not to be attributed to his deity, but rather to his humanity. Combined with the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, his human mind allowed him to have perfect rational emotions. He was able to emote without sin not because he was God, but because his human mind had a perfect understanding of God and sin. One of the most common human emotions displayed by Christ in the gospels is love. Christs emotion of love is the foundational emotion from which all of his other emotions extend.6 His compassion, anger, mercy, and desires are built upon his love. When Christ is moved to feed the hungry crowds, he is compassionately moved by his love for those people who he saw to be lost and helpless (Mark 6:34). When Christ saw the devastating effect of sin on the people, he felt pity for them because he loved them. When Christ watched Lazaruss family grieve over his death, Christs love moved him and he wept on their behalf, even though he was fully aware of Lazaruss pending resurrection (John 11:35). Anger is another human emotion attributed to Jesus in the gospels. Anger, which is most often sinful for fallen humans, was righteous for Christ because it was not fuel by selfish desires

B.B Warfield, The Emotional Life of Our Lord, Kindle Electronic Edition, loc 80 of


such as lust, jealousy, or pride, but was ignited by Christs love for God and for others. In Mark 3:5, Christ becomes angry with the scribes and Pharisees when they, hardened by their religious beliefs, do not show a disabled man compassion on the Sabbath, but rather use the man in an attempt to test Jesuss loyalty to their legalistic system. Christs anger rose against these Pharisees, whose hardened hearts prevented them from showing simple compassion to a man who needed it. Jesuss cleansing of the temple is an example of anger provoked by his love for God. Seeing the moneychangers greedy enterprise showing disrespect for his Fathers holy house, Jesus lashed out in anger. Johns gospel informs the reader that in this moment Jesuss disciples remembered that scripture clearly spoke of the zeal for the Fathers house consuming the Messiah (John 2:17; Ps 69:9), and they could only reflect on this as they saw their leader taking a whip and driving out man and beast. Any other man acting in Christs stead would have sinned in this type of anger, but because Christs love for God motivated his actions, they were both justified and proper. Christ also felt sorrow throughout his life. One such instance takes place in the garden of Gethsemane as Jesus prays out to God while he waits for the time of his arrest. In Matthews Gospel, Jesus takes three of his disciples aside and confides in them that he is swallowed up in sorrow (Matt 26:38). Overcome with emotion concerning the events that he knew were to come, he rightly experienced the human emotion of sorrow, just as his disciples would have if they too understood the events that were about to unfold. In his sorrow, his human body sweated drops of blood (Luke 22:44), a real, physical response to real human emotion. Jesus ability to feel and express human emotion is only the second aspect of humanity that Christ takes on.


The third aspect of humanity that Christ takes on is the human soul. When Christ became man, his deity did not take the place of the soul that embodied his flesh but instead assumed a human soul. Though he was God, he had a uniquely human spirituality that allowed him to have communion with his father. The gospel accounts of Christs prayer life give evidence for his human spirituality. Within the trinity, prayer would not have been needed for communication between the Father and the Son. With perfectly synced wills7, the Son would not need to spend time communicating with the Father in petition or supplication; the Son would automatically know the Father and the Father would automatically know the Son. This is not the case with humanity. Prayer is a specific action used to bring to God all of humanities requests, and is a tool given to humanity in order to fulfill the spiritual desires of their being. As a man, Christ approached his Father in prayer so that he might understand his Fathers will. A life of prayer led Christ to understand Gods will for His life, and his final prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane is a prayer of petition, asking God to aid his human will in one last difficult act of obedience.8 It was Christs human spirituality, total faith and trust in the father, coupled with a right understanding and right emotional response, that allowed him to become obedient even to death on the cross (Phil 2:8). The final aspect of humanity that Christ takes on differs from the first three in that it is not an attribute of God Reason, emotion, and spirituality are aspects of humanity attributed to the imago dei. They are aspects of humanity precisely because they were first aspects of God. God is ultimately reasonable, God is ultimately emotional, and God is ultimately spiritual. To Thomas F Torrance, The Christian Doctrine of God: One Being, Three Persons, (New York, NY: T&T Clark, 1996), 175.
8 7

Grudem, 534.


think of the divine Son of God becoming a man with these attributes is not difficult, nor does it pose any foreseeable threat to Christs divinity. It is only when looking at the fourth aspect of humanity, its physical body, that a problem poses itself. Physicality is not an attribute of God. God is spirit (John 4:24). To make any sort of physical representation of God is idolatry, and strictly forbidden in many places in Scripture (Exodus 20:5-8). To make matters more complicated, the human body has not been portrayed in the best of light throughout history. In many minds, the human body and its functions have been thought of as inherently sinful. This was the view of several early church fathers including Augustine and Tertullian,9 as well as other Christian groups including the Anabaptists. The view that the human body is bad opens the door to many heresies that downplay or cast aside the necessity of a physical nature of Christ10. Gnosticism, Docetism, and Asceticism, are just a few examples of these. Ironically enough, it is these same early church fathers who provided the best defenses against these heresies in support of the physical nature of Jesus Christ. Their arguments against these heresies show the importance of embracing the physical nature of the Son of Gods incarnation. In addition to these arguments, if we approach scripture looking for evidence of the physical nature of Christ we are overwhelmed with evidence. In two of the gospels, there are accounts of Jesuss physical birth. (Matt 1:18-25, Luke 2:1-7) If Christ was not physically human, then he could have found an alternative way to come into the world other than through the womb of a woman. When Satan tempted Christ in the wilderness, Satan appealed to Christs hunger, a very physical response, as an incentive to sin

Herman Bavinck, In the Beginning: Foundations of Creation Theology, John Bolt, editor, John Vriend, Translator, (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Books, 1999). Thomas F. Torrance, Incarnation: The Person and Life of Christ, Robert T. Walker, Editor, (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2008), 199.


(Luke 4:1-4). In addition to being hungry in the wilderness, Jesus became thirsty on the Cross (John 19:28-23). If Jesus were not physically human, he would not experience hunger and thirst, because he would not need food and water to survive. While on the cross, soldiers pierced Christs side and his physical body bled (John 19:34). If Christ was not physically human, he would not bleed. As Christ hung on the cross, he breathed his last breath and died. If Christ was not physically human, he would not be able to experience human death. There is also evidence that his resurrected body, though different than before, is still physical in nature. Yes, the gospels suggest that there was something different about his resurrected body (Luke 24:27), but any strangeness perceived by the disciples could be because they had never before seen an uncorrupted, incorruptible body.11 The problem then rests not in the fact that Jesus Christ was a man, for Scripture overwhelmingly proves this, but that the Son of God, Christs deity, also became man. It is the assumption of human flesh that causes the most problems in the thought of believers. Human rationality, emotion, and spirituality can be imagined in a state absent from sin by dwelling on the rationality, emotion, and spirituality of God. Human physicality, prior to Jesus Christ, could only be conceived in the form of sinful human nature. After the Fall, no physical being in Gods earthly creation can exist without sin. The inexistence of a human body without sin allows humans to associate sin with the physical being. This leads to the thought that the body is essentially sinful. If the body is essentially sinful, the incarnation of the Son of God into such a body becomes complicated. There are several approaches to solving this problem. The first approach is to separate the humanity and deity of Christ, as was the solution of the heresies previously referenced. N.T. Wright, Surprised by Hope: Rethinking Heaven, the Resurrection, and the Mission of the Church, (New York, NY: Harper Collins Publishers, 2008), 160.


Certainly, adopting heresy is not the best approach to solving theological issues. A second approach would be to suggest that somehow the Son came in the form of a pre-existent, neutral human body. This approach is taken up by the Anabaptists, who, in order to save their savior from the assumption of fallen humanity, say that Jesus Christ did not take his human flesh from his mother Mary, but instead brought into the womb his own perfected humanity.12 Did Christ then live a life without sickness or disease? Was he not subject to any of the other conditions of humanity caused by sins effect on nature? A third approach, and one that needs more attention, is that in the incarnation the Son of God did indeed adopt fallen humanity. He came as one of the condemned to defeat his own condemnation and offer to pay the penalty for the condemnation of others. This is the view of several recent theologians including Karl Barth, Wolfhart Pannenberg, and Thomas Torrance. It is Torrances explanation of this idea that will be interacted with more fully. According to Torrance, the Son of Man did not come in some sort of neutral human flesh, but instead came in the same human flesh that held the rest of humanity captive, in a state of enmity with God. 13 Quoting Gregory Nazianzen, Torrance states that the unassumed is the unredeemed. If Christ had not assumed fallen humanity then fallen humanity could not be redeemed.14 For Christ to redeem man, Chris had to be incarnate just as man truly exists. While humanity is ontologically good, the man God created is not a real man as the world knows him today. A real man exists in sin. Without the assumption of a fallen, sinful humanity, it would be incorrect to say that Christ took on real human flesh. Herman Bavinck, Our Reasonable Faith, (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1956), 325.
13 12

Torrance, Incarnation, 61. Torrance, Incarnation, 62.



There is a problem with this understanding of the incarnation. If Christ came as a one man substitute for all of humanity, he would have to be superior to all other human beings. Taking into account the eye for eye logic of the Old Testament, one mans substitutionary sacrifice would only be enough to pay for one other man, not an entire race. In addition, if Jesus came as a fallen man, then his death would not be a substitutionary sacrifice at all, but would instead be the just killing of a man condemned to death. The willing death of an enemy for another enemy does not provide the loving sacrifice redemption needed. Redemption needed the willing death of a loved one for his enemies. Torrance provides an answer for this problem by stating that in the assumption of fallen flesh the Word of God sanctified and hallowed it.15 Jesus Christs human flesh, while fallen, was redeemed in the process of the Word of God assuming it. This redemption allowed Christ to complete what was impossible to every other human being. Only with redeemed flesh was Christ was able to live a perfect, sinless life. It is with this in mind that the Apostle Paul could truly say, God made him who had no sin to be sin for us (2 Cor 5:21). The three approaches discussed above are solutions to the problem of Christ taking on essentially sinful human flesh. But what if human flesh was not in and of itself essentially sinful? What if the human body and its functions were essentially good, only marred by a hereditary, sinful condition? Following Calvins definition of depravity, hereditary corruption, that is exactly what sin is. If Christ was born without depravity, then Christ could still humble himself in order to take on human flesh that is effected by sin, but not take on a sin nature himself. Like every human being, Christ could still be subject to disease, death, sinful people, and temptation, but he would lack the hereditary depravity that made it impossible for him to live


Torrance, Incarnation, 63.


a sinless life in the midst of it. Without depravity, Christ could live the exact same life lived by man but not fall victim to sin. While depravity prevents other humans from perfection, for Jesus Christ, the absence of depravity makes perfection attainable. This would mean that Jesus Christ would have to be born without original sin. This is precisely why the Holy Spirit, apart from male participation, conceived Jesus Christ in Mary. Original sin is the hereditary disease that leads to human depravity. Just as Adam was responsible for the first sin, man passes down original sin to his offspring. Jesus Christ was born without a fallen male father, and therefore, he did not inherit a depraved nature. It is his lack of depravity that makes total redemption possible. The Total Redemption of Humanity Did the Son of God become incarnate for the sole purpose of redeeming humanity? No. Through the incarnation, the whole of creation is redeemed in Christ. This is known as cosmic redemption.16 When Christ became part of Gods creation, he provided the redemption that creation longed for as it groaned with moans too deep for words (Rom 8:22). Often, this idea of cosmic redemption is lost among an individualistic society that puts an inappropriate stress on Christ dying to save the individual. According to Leslie Newbiggen, Christians privatize this mighty work of grace and talk as if the whole cosmic drama of salvation culminates in the words For me; for me.17 When the redemptive work of Christ is reduced from cosmic redemption to individual redemption, then it is not difficult to reduce it further, removing certain aspects of humanity from redemption as well. If redemption is viewed properly as cosmic, then it becomes

Thomas F. Torrance, Atonement: The Person and Work of Christ, Robert T. Walker, Editor, (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2009), 169. Michael W. Goheen and Craig G. Bartholomew, Living at the Crossroads: An Iintroduction to Christian Worldview, (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2008), 56.



necessary for the whole of man to be redeemed, including his mind, emotions, spirituality, and body. Upon the death and resurrection of Christ, humanity was redeemed, this redemption will lead to an ultimate restoration of the entire human person. With the penalty of sin paid for, the human mind, soul, heart, and body, can long for a day when it will no longer be bound by sin. Redemption is a two-fold act. When the Spirit works and a person places their faith in Christ, they immediately experience redemption. The Spirit allows them to understand and reason more correctly about God. Emotions that are attributed to sinful natures are replaced by emotions that can only be attributed to Christ working in the believer. Christians have a mediator who aids them in their pursuit of God and they are able to worship the true God rather than man made idols. Christians begin a process of sanctification that leads to the defeat of sinful passions, which formerly controlled their bodies. In addition to this immediate redemption, Christians also look forward to an ultimate redemption, when their humanity is freed from sin entirely. The human mind is free to pursue God without hindrance, and is able to spend eternity doing so. Human emotions are freed from the sinful selfishness that causes incorrect emotional responses, and instead are able to emote as God intended for them to emote. The human soul is joined with God, worshipping Him without abandon. The human body still exists physically, but without any of the ill effects of sin. The incarnation of Christ serves to provide both an immediate and future redemption of Gods children, and this incarnation covers all aspects of human existence. This sense of immediate and ultimate redemption is known as the already-not yet Kingdom of God. Christians today live in a gap between the New Kingdoms inauguration and


its final consummation.18 Humans are made new in Christ, but they are still sinners. They are both sanctified, and in the process of being sanctified (1 Cor 1:2). Through Christs death and resurrection, the total incarnation of Christ proves to have significance on the human being in both the already and the not yet The Holy Spirit plays an important role in the process of already redemption. Though redemption is made actual through the incarnation of Christ, without the Holy Spirit, humanity would not find itself partaking in the restorative nature of redemption until final glorification. It will be seen that in all aspects of humanity, the Spirit plays a necessary role in restoring the already individual. It is because of this total indwelling of the Spirit in total humanity that Christians are able to experience a total redemption of their self while still awaiting a final, complete redemption. Before redemption, the mind is totally devastated by sin. It is only through the Spirits work that a believer is able to know God well, and to understand the things of God correctly.19 While general revelation, paired with common grace, makes it possible to know of God before redemption, it is redemption that allows the believer to understand special revelation, and to know of the saving work of God in Christ. This allows the believer to approach Scripture with the belief that they can walk away with a correct understanding and interpretation. However, until sin is purged from the human mind there will still be the ability to err in ones understanding and interpretation. Though the Spirit guides the believer, a full, absolutely correct understanding of God will not happen until after glorification and redemption are fulfilled. In the act of glorification, sin will be purged from the mind of Gods children and an eternity will be spent learning about God. Humanity will use its mind properly, to find pleasure
18 19

Goheen, 59 Torrance, Atonement


in continually learning about the infinite creator. New Heavens and New Earth will reveal things about God that were previously unknown, and the human mind will be able to process all of it without any fault. The Psalmist will rejoice in his request being fulfilled. He will dwell in the house of the Lord all of his life, gazing upon the beauty of God, and he will inquire in His temple (Psalm 27:4). Humanity will find true, pure joy in this endeavor because in addition to the redemption of their human mind, their human emotions are fully redeemed as well. Prior to redemption, human emotions are held captive by a selfish sinfulness which drives the human being to such emotions as lust, hate, strife, jealousy, unrighteous anger, selfish ambition, dissension, envy, and the like (Gal 5:19). Because of the incarnation, with the indwelling of the spirit these emotions no longer rule over the human heart but are replaced by the emotions of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, and gentleness (Gal 5:23-24). The believer is not totally freed from moments of sinful, emotional breakdowns, but they are encouraged by the Holy Spirit through the process of sanctification to see these wrong emotions replaced by those emotions that are right. Through Christ, humanity can strive to love God, and love their neighbor, unselfishly. Yet again, a Christian can look forward to a greater emotional hope. Glorification will replace the sanctification process and redemption will restore human emotions to its pure state. Humans will know of a pure love, pure joy, and pure peace that they can only know through the total eradication of sin from their humanity. They certainly will feel, but their feelings will be based on the true image of God in which they were created. They will feel just as God feels, and will understand His emotional response to Himself and will share in his pure joy. Finally able to approach God, humanity will find its longings to know perfect love, peace, and joy fulfilled.20


Grudem, 1164.


With a redeemed mind and a redeemed heart, Christians also find their soul redeemed and they are given the capacity to spiritually pursue after God. Just as the Spirit allows the believer to begin to know God correctly, the Spirit also allows the believer to begin to love God correctly. It is through Christs incarnation that final mediation is made. The veil was torn and humanity allowed to freely approach God through Jesus Christ (Matt 27:51). For believers, Christs death brought with it positional righteousness. They are justified, taking Christs righteousness on themselves as their very own. While believers still struggle with sin, they are no longer dead to their sin, but are instead alive in Christ, a new creation (Col 3:10). With the consummation of the Kingdom of God these Christian will be glorified. They will be made ultimately right with God, so that they are righteous in and of themselves. During their sinful, earthly existence, God gradually transforms believers spiritually, but in their eternal existence that spiritual transformation is complete. They no longer will need the Spirit to pray for them as they ought (Romans 8:26). They no longer need to pray for the Father to reveal his will to them. They will no longer need a mediator to step between them and their Creator God. (Heb 4:14) They will finally find ultimate spiritual satisfaction by fulfilling their creational task, having dominion over creation.21 They will live on earth as the pure image of God, and will do so with physical bodies. The full incarnation of the Son of God as Jesus Christ in a physical body means that human flesh will experience redemption as well. It is through the redemption of the flesh that Christs followers see true redemption and restoration. Pauls words, for I do not understand my own actions, (Rom 7:15) is the cry of every believer who lives in a fallen body. The body is


Wright, 161.


not to be considered a prison, from which escape is necessary. A Christian should rejoice in the redemption of their bodies, seeing their whole being finally set free from sins grasp. Of earthly creation, humanity alone sees sin affect their reason, emotions, and spirituality. However, all of physical creation experiences sins effect. The human body experiences sin twofold, though the sinful nature of the human and also through sins effect on creation. Death, disease, and deformity affect all of living creation. As creation groans under the weight of sin, human bodies groan with it, not only to escape from the physical sins of the individual, but also to escape from sins effect on creation (Romans 8:22-23). While final redemption of the body will take place in the not-yet, in the already Christians are able to begin the process of seeing their bodies made new. Bodily redemption begins in the already in the same manner as the other aspects of humanity. The Spirit of God empowers the believer to conquer their sinful cravings and desires. The Apostle Paul, in Colossians 3:5-15, contrasts the things that are earthly, that is, the things that are tied to our sinful bodies, and the things that are of God. Earthly, physical sins such as sexual immorality, fits of rage, slander, obscene talk are to be put to death and in their place Christians are to put on compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience. Living in Christ, while encouraging one another, enables the believer see their physical body sanctified. All sorts of physical sins - promiscuity, licentiousness, addiction, drunkenness, gluttony, and self-mutilation - are subject to being stripped away, in a redemptive process that will continue into the final consummation. The human body will shout for joy when creation is finally redeemed, for the human body has the most to look forward to in the consummation of the Kingdom. There are aspects of bodily redemption that cannot happen in the already but will only occur in the not-yet.


These transformations are to be looked forward to because it is through them that humanity will finally understand the blessing that God gave humanity in their body. In the Kingdom, believers will find themselves living in a physical world with a resurrected, physical body, a body that has passed beyond death and is no longer subject to sickness, decay, and death. According to NT Wright, none of these destructive forces will have any power over the new body.22 The very good( Gen 1:31) physical creation will be purified and made whole again. All the physical pleasures of this world will follow humanity into the new creation, where humanity, blessed with a perfect human body, will work in service of the Lord in dominion over his creation, just as Adam was originally tasked in the Garden of Eden.23 The Already Life of the Redeemed Believer In light of this already redemption, one must ask the question, how should one live? Is a Christian to live in the present, accepting their struggles as facts of life, or should a Christian live as if they are already in the Kingdom of God, fully redeemed before the Lord? How should a believer approach their own humanity? In light of the total incarnation of Christ and the total redemption of humanity, the Christian needs to live their life in pursuit of a total surrender of their humanity to the will of God. If a Christian lives as if the incarnate Son has not redeemed every part of their humanity then they are effectively denying the redeeming sacrifice Jesus Christ made on the Cross. The Christian must seek to love the Lord their God with all their heart, mind, soul, and strength by submitting their intellect, emotions, spirituality, and body before him.


Wright, 160. Ibid., 161



Unfortunately, loving God in any of these areas easily fall under the influence of sinful pride. There is therefore, a middle ground between total neglect and unyielding obsession that must be navigated as the redeemed believer works towards their sanctification. Christians must walk the line between intellectual ignorance and arrogant intellectual superiority, emotional muteness and ecstatic release, spiritual deafness and platonic emphasis, and bodily neglect and vain infatuation. Following Jesuss incarnate life as an example, Christians have a model from which to live their life in a way that loves God in every aspect of their humanity. Christians, then, should use their minds in ways that honor the Lord. Willing, intellectual ignorance should not be embraced by the Christian community, nor should arrogant, intellectual superiority. Those who see no value to the use of their mind are willingly accepting ignorance, and willingly setting aside an important part of their humanity for which Christ died. Christ was in no way willingly ignorant. Having already discussed his assumed human reason, it was shown that Christ was diligent in his study of God and the use of his mind. People were awed by his understanding, even at a young age. However, it is important to contrast Christs use of wisdom with the arrogant intellectual authority that was displayed by the Scribes and the Pharisees. These intellectual leaders found pride and self-worth in their mental abilities and were so offended by the thought of someone usurping them that they sought to have Christ put to death. Christians must avoid the pharisaical self-worth that is tied to their intellect. Like Christ, they are to use their mind diligently, but always for the glory of God. Sinful problems arise when intellect is used to raise up oneself in lieu of raising up ones savior. Christians also should avoid stiff, emotional muteness. They should feel, and they should feel continually, but they should not let their emotions control their being. When a person becomes overcome by their emotions, they are experiencing ecstatic release. Again, Scripture is


quite clear that Christ was emotional, but all of his emotions were properly motivated by a love for God and never overtook him in a way where he acted sinfully. Christ felt compassion, but he did not let his compassion prevent him from telling the truth. Christ felt anger, but his anger did not lead him to murderous fits of rage. Christ felt sorrow, but his sorrow did not lead him into fits of depression. The Christian living in the already world must embrace those emotions that come from Christ and cast off those emotions that are fueled by their sinful desires. Already Christians also have a tendency to fall into spiritual deafness. Through the redeeming justification of Christ, these Christian are not spiritually blind, but they find themselves isolated from God, no longer listening to his spiritual leadership. They are neglecting their spirituality, not seeking after God in the midst of a sinful world. This is not the pattern of Jesus Christ in the Gospels. Jesus prayed often, and sought out the will of His Father often. Christians must strive to do this as well. However, an emphasis cannot be put onto the spiritual aspect of humanity so much that Christians adopt a platonic emphasis of the spirit of a person over their physical body. Christians must constantly remind themselves that there is more to Christian living that spiritual wellness. If their spirit was the only eternal aspect of their humanity they could cast aside their body, but since their body will be with them forever they must not neglect it. Did Jesus give Christians an example of how to treat their physical body? Some would say that a calculation of the distance Christ traveled on foot would be evidence of his physical fitness level.24 While on the surface this might sound appealing, in a society where walking was a primary means of transportation, this is not really an example of Christ caring for his body. If anything, the example Christ gave in this category is not nearly as explicit in scripture as the Jay Dennis, Jesus Habits, (Nashville, Tennessee: Broadman and Holman Publishers, 2005), 180.


other categories. Christians cannot neglect their bodies nor can they become so vain that they elevate their own bodies over all other aspects of their humanity. Does Jesus give evidence that the human body is worth caring for? Yes. First, he came incarnate in a physical human body with the intent of seeing the human body redeemed. Second, two times he fed a large crowd of people when their bodies became hungry. He knew their bodies had a physical need, and instead of ignoring that need, he provided for it. Third, he healed many physical disabilities. During his earthly ministry, he restored sight to the blind, hearing to the deaf, made lame men walk and various other miracles. If Christ did not value the body, there would be no reason to perform these miracles. The evidence is that Christ loved the human body, and Christians living in the already time should as well. A Christian who is intellectually ignorant, emotionally mute, spiritually deaf, or neglectful of their body has forsaken the redemption offered by Christ through the incarnation. So also is the Christian who is arrogantly intellectual, ecstatically controlled, platonic in emphasis, and has vain infatuations. The Christian should live life, striving to keep from falling into any of these categories. Thankfully, between the Holy Spirit and the Christian community a believer has all the resources they need to navigate these sometimes murky waters. Conclusion God made humanity, the pinnacle of his creation, in his image and likeness. When humanity fell in disobedience, sin deformed this image through and through. The only resolution was for God to send a mediator, someone like humanity but superior to humanity, to pay the penalty for sin. The Son of God, incarnate as Jesus Christ, provided this needed mediation. He came as a full human, taking on humanitys mind, heart, soul, and body. By assuming all of these human forms, Christ brings redemption to every part of the human being. A two-fold


redemption, humanity sees its nature partially restored in the present and looks forward to the full restoration of the future. Motivated by this sacrifice, Christians look forward to the coming Kingdom of God by living a whole complete life, working to see current redemption in all areas of their life.


Works Cited Bavink, Herman. Calvin and Common Grace. Kindle Electronic Edition. Bavinck, Herman. In the Beginning: Foundations of Creation Theology. Bolt, John, Ed.Vriend, John, Trans. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Books, 1999. Bavink, Herman. Our Reasonable Faith. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1956. Calvin, John. Institutes of the Christian Religion. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software, 1997. Dennis, Jay. Jesus Habits. Nashville, Tennessee: Broadman and Holman Publishers, 2005. Goheen, Michael W. and Craig G. Bartholomew. Living at the Crossroads: An Iintroduction to Christian Worldview. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2008 Grudem, Wayne. Systemmatic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan, 1994 Torrance, Thomas F. Atonement: The Person and Work of Christ. Walker, Robert T. Ed. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2009. Torrance, Thomas F. Incarnation: The Person and Life of Christ. Walker, Robert T. Ed. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2008. Torrance, Thomas F. The Christian Doctrine of God: One Being, Three Persons. New York, NY: T&T Clark, 1996. Ware, Bruce. The Man Christ Jesus: Theological Reflections of the Humanity of Christ. Wheaton, Illinois, 2013 Warfield, B.B. The Emotional Life of Our Lord. Kindle Electronic Edition. Wright, N.T. Surprised by Hope: Rethinking Heaven, the Resurrection, and the Mission of the Church. New York, NY: Harper Collins Publishers, 2008.