Saviour of the World
by E.H. “Jack” Sequeira

Chapter 17 — Jesus Christ, the God-Man Saviour

We have already demonstrated that Christ’s divinity had to be united to our corporate fallen humanity that needed redeeming in order for Him to legally qualify to be mankind’s substitute and representative.  At the incarnation, these two distinct, opposite natures were united together in one person, and Christ became the second Adam.  This is the in Christ motif which is the central theme of Paul’s theology:

1 Corinthians 1:30-31
It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God — that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption.  Therefore, as it is written:  “Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord.”
Ephesians 1:3-6
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.  For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight.  In love he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will — to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves.

According to W.W. Prescott, one of the pioneer theologians of the Adventist Church, this truth constitutes the very heart of the Christian message — and it is a truth that Ellen White endorsed.  Note what he said, in one of the six sermons on the topic of the “Divine-Human Family” he presented at the 1895 General Conference session:

The Divine-Human Family, 1895 General Conference Bulletin, Pages 8-9
Now what does it mean to us that Jesus Christ became the second head of this human family?  It means this:  Just as, when Adam was created, all the members of the human family were created in him, so also when the second man was created “according to God in righteousness and true holiness,” all the members of that family were created in him.

It means that, as God saw in Adam all the members of the human family, so he saw in Christ, the second father of the family, all the members of the divine-human family; so he saw in him all his sons, all his daughters, all his descendants; all that belong to the family.

That is to say that Jesus Christ was the representative of humanity, and all humanity centered in him, and when he took flesh, he took humanity.  He took humanity and he became the father of this divine-human family, and he became the father by joining himself in this way to humanity, and the flesh which he took and in which he dwelt was our flesh, and we were there in him, he in us, just as what Abraham did, Levi did in Abraham, so what Jesus Christ in the flesh did, we did in him.

And this is the most glorious truth in Christianity.  It is Christianity itself, it is the very core and life and heart of Christianity.  He took our flesh, and our humanity was found in him, and what he did, humanity did in him.

Because Christ was both God and Man, He was not only unique (the meaning of “begotten”) but also a paradox.  What He was as God contradicted what He assumed as man.  This is the great mystery of the Incarnation, a mystery which our finite human minds cannot fathom, but which we accept by faith because the Word of God declares it so.

One of the great errors that the early leaders of the Christian church made was to try to reconcile Christ’s divinity with His humanity.  Many of them could not accept the fact that a holy God could dwell in sinful flesh, or the fact that one person could be both fully God and fully man at the same time.  Thus began the great Christological controversies that lasted almost four centuries.  In this battle over the twofold nature of Christ, some denied His real divinity, while others his real humanity.

Another error made by many of the church Fathers, including the great Reformers of the sixteenth century, was their failure to keep Christ’s divine nature distinct from the human nature He assumed at the Incarnation.  Thanks to the insights God gave Ellen White, the Adventist Church has correctly taken the position that the two natures of Christ — His divine nature and His human nature — were distinct yet united in one person:

Selected Messages, 1:408
In Christ, divinity and humanity were combined.  Divinity was not degraded to humanity; divinity held its place, but humanity by being united to divinity withstood the fiercest test of temptation in the wilderness.

It is extremely important that we keep the two natures of Christ distinct if we are to truly comprehend what kind of human nature He assumed, and also if we are to appreciate the paradox that existed between His two natures.  When we do keep the two natures distinct, many of the problems created by the post-Fall view of Christ’s humanity disappear.  Much of the difficulty the church Fathers had in the Christological controversies over Christ’s human nature would have been eliminated if they had kept the two natures of Christ distinct.

One of Ellen White’s favorite ways of expressing the dual natures of Christ was to point out how He reaches to heaven by His divine nature, while, by His human nature, He reaches down to the human race He came to redeem.  Here are two typical statements:

Selected Messages, 1:252
In assuming humanity Christ took the part of every human being.  He was the Head of humanity.  A Being divine and human, with His long human arm He could encircle humanity, while with His divine arm He could lay hold of the throne of the Infinite.
Review and Herald, 18 July 1899
But it is only through a correct understanding of Christ’s mission and work that the possibility of being complete in him, accepted in the Beloved, is brought within our reach.  His long human arm embraces the human family; his divine arm grasps the throne of the infinite, that man may have the benefit of the infinite sacrifice made in his behalf.  And to as many as receive him, he gives the power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe in his name.

The truths she expresses in these statements require us to believe and teach that there was no gap between our human nature which needs redeeming and the human nature Christ assumed in order for Him to be the Saviour of the world.  Apart from the fact that Jesus never actually sinned, any distinction we make between the human nature He assumed and our sinful nature, that separates us from God, destroys the ladder that links the fallen human race to God’s throne.

That is why I must emphasize the paradox between Christ as the Son of God and Christ as the Son of Man.  That is the only way we can understand how Christ could fully identify with the fallen human race He came to save and yet be sinless.  As God, He was sinless and one with the Father; as Man, He was made sin and became one with us in every way, assuming our sinful nature.  And because He chose not to participate in sin, even by a thought, but condemned our sin in His flesh on the cross, this Elder Brother of ours can not only sympathize with us and aid us with our struggles against the flesh, but above all, He can represent us and intercede on our behalf before the throne of God.

In examining Scripture, especially the New Testament, we will discover many paradoxes between Christ’s divine nature, which was His by native right, and His human nature, which was our corporate sinful nature that He assumed at the Incarnation in order to be the Saviour of the world.  Let’s look at some of these paradoxes.

As God, Christ is called the “Son of God”:

Luke 1:35
The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you.  So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God.”

As Man, He is referred to as the “Son of Man” by the same Bible writer:

Luke 19:10
“For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”

These Hebrew expressions — “Son of God” and “Son of Man” — simply mean Christ was both God and man at the same time.  Likewise the apostle Paul tells us that it was not robbery for Christ to equate Himself with the Father:

Philippians 2:6
Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage....

Yet, in the very next verse, he tells us that, in order to save the fallen race, Christ emptied Himself of all His divine prerogatives and was made in the likeness of man, totally subject to God:

Philippians 2:7
...rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.

He was equal with God the Father as the Son of God, and at the same time He became subservient to Him as the Son of man.

As God, Christ was self-existing; He had life in Himself:

John 1:4
In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind.

This was something some of the pioneers of our church had difficulty understanding.  But Ellen White solved the problem when she declared by inspiration:

The Desire of Ages, p. 530
In Christ is life, original, unborrowed, underived.

Yet as man, He had a beginning; He “was born of a woman”:

Galatians 4:4
But when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law....  [KEY PTS.]

His human life was mortal, subject to death:

Hebrews 2:14-15
Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might break the power of him who holds the power of death — that is, the devil — and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death.

It was this human life — our corporate condemned life — that died forever on the cross as the wages of sin.  In exchange, God gave us the eternal life of His Son:

1 John 5:11-12
And this is the testimony:  God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son.  Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.

This is the great exchange that took place in the death and resurrection of our Saviour and which we experience by faith in Him:

2 Corinthians 5:17
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come:  The old has gone, the new is here!

All this was possible because Christ, the God-Man, was a paradox.

Again, as God, Christ was Spirit:

John 4:24
“God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.”  [KEY PTS.]

But, in becoming a man, He “became flesh and dwelt among us”:

John 1:14
The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.  We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.  [KEY PTS.]

Here, again, is a paradox — two opposite natures united in one Person.  Because of this union, Christ has limited Himself so that He cannot be in two places at the same time.  He accepted this limitation in order to be our Redeemer.  Out of infinite love He not only united Himself to the fallen race while He was on this earth, but He will be one with the redeemed human race throughout eternity.

As God, Christ was equal with the Father, but, by becoming one with us, He not only gave up His divine prerogatives, but became a “slave” of God, totally dependent on the Father:

Philippians 2:6-7
Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.  [KEY PTS.]
John 5:19, 30
Jesus gave them this answer:  “Very truly I tell you, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does.  ...By myself I can do nothing; I judge only as I hear, and my judgment is just, for I seek not to please myself but him who sent me.”

It is hard for us sinful human beings to understand such condescension, but God’s ways are not like ours:

Isaiah 55:8-9
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord.  “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”

Unlike us, He is pure, unselfish agape love:

1 John 4:8, 16
Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.  ...And so we know and rely on the love God has for us.  God is love.  Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them.

This love not only led Him to give up His equality with the Father, but it caused Him to be clothed with the same nature we untouchable lepers are born with — this filthy humanity He came to redeem.  Such a paradox we can never fully understand.

Thus, Christ, who was by native right self-dependent...

John 10:18
“No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord.  I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again.  This command I received from my Father.”

...became totally God-dependent:

John 5:19, 30
Jesus gave them this answer:  “Very truly I tell you, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does.  ...By myself I can do nothing; I judge only as I hear, and my judgment is just, for I seek not to please myself but him who sent me.”

He who was immortal...

1 Timothy 1:17
Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory for ever and ever.  Amen.

...became mortal:

Hebrews 2:14-15
Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might break the power of him who holds the power of death — that is, the devil — and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death.

He who was a lawgiver...

James 4:12
There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the one who is able to save and destroy.  But you — who are you to judge your neighbor?

...was made under the law:

Galatians 4:4
But when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law....

These are the great paradoxes of our God-Man Saviour.  But the greatest and most glorious paradox is that the sinless Son of God was willing to be made sin for us so that we who are sinners may be made the righteousness of God in Him:

2 Corinthians 5:21
God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.  [KEY PTS.]

Unfortunately, some limit this glorious truth only to what happened to Christ on the cross.  Thus they limit, as well, God’s glory, His true self-sacrificing love, only to what took place at the cross.  On the contrary, however, Christ manifested the self-emptying love of God from the moment He united Himself to our filthy flesh.  Yes, the cross was the supreme manifestation of this love, but don’t limit His glory only to the experience of the cross He hung on.  After all, He was on the cross only for about six hours!  But He manifested the self-emptying love of God from birth to death and carried the cross of self-denial all His earthly life.  Otherwise, His admonition to His disciples, to follow Him and carry the cross daily by denying self, becomes meaningless:

Luke 9:23
Then he said to them all:  “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.”

We must ever keep in mind why Christ was willing to become one with us in spite of the fact that He was one with the Father and enjoyed all the privileges of the Deity.  The reason lies in God’s great love.  God so loved the world that He gave us His only begotten Son that all who receive Him as our God-Man Saviour may not perish but live and reign in eternity with Him:

John 3:16
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

That is why God has exalted the name of Christ above every other name:

Philippians 2:9-11
Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

When Jesus died on the cross, our condemned corporate life forever came to an end.  The race of Adam, which stood under the curse of the law, was executed in that one Man, Jesus Christ:

John 12:31
Now is the time for judgment on this world; now the prince of this world will be driven out.
Galatians 3:13
Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written:  “Cursed is everyone who is hung on a pole.”

But God did not leave us to remain in the grave in Christ.  The good news is that, by giving us His eternal life, the life He had submitted to His Father at the Incarnation and the cross, we were raised up with Christ.  And when He ascended into heaven and sat down at the right hand of God, so did we in Him:

Ephesians 2:6
And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus....

Thus, by His death and resurrection, Christ abolished death — the second death — and replaced it with immortality:

2 Timothy 1:8-10
So do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord or of me his prisoner.  Rather, join with me in suffering for the gospel, by the power of God.  He has saved us and called us to a holy life — not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace.  This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time, but it has now been revealed through the appearing of our Savior, Christ Jesus, who has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.  [KEY PTS.]
Revelation 20:6
Blessed and holy are those who share in the first resurrection.  The second death has no power over them, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with him for a thousand years.  [KEY PTS.]

All that we are, as a result of the Fall, Christ was made at the Incarnation, and the result is that through His life, death, and resurrection, we are made, in Him, all that He is.  This is what makes up the incredible, fantastic good news of the gospel.  I believe this is the good news God raised up the Adventist Church to lighten the world with before the end comes.

Thus, we who were spiritually dead were made spiritually alive in Christ:

Ephesians 2:5
[God] made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions — it is by grace you have been saved.

This renewal of the Spirit makes it possible for all who receive Christ to experience the new birth and become once again the temple of God:

1 Corinthians 3:16
Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in your midst?

But this new birth is only “the firstfruits” of the blessed hope we have in Christ:

Romans 8:23
Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies.

Only when Christ comes to take us believers to heaven will we fully realize the exceeding riches of His grace towards us sinners:

Ephesians 2:7
...In order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus.

Note how Peter expressed this wonderful hope that comes to all believers because Christ was willing to fully identify with our corporate humanity that needed redeeming:

1 Peter 1:3-6
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ!  In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade.  This inheritance is kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time.  In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials.

When Jesus did away with our sinful life on His cross and replaced it with His eternal and righteous life in the resurrection, He created a new humanity out of the old.  This is what Paul meant when he declared to the believers at Corinth:

2 Corinthians 5:17
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ [that is, accept by faith their new history in Christ], the new creation has come:  The old has gone, the new is here!

By birth we are born sinners, children of wrath...

Ephesians 2:3
All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts.  Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath.

...but in Christ we were made righteous:

2 Corinthians 5:21
God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

By nature we are indwelt by sin; our bodies are bodies of sin:

Romans 7:17,20,24
As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me.  ...Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.  ...What a wretched man I am!  Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death?

But in Christ we were made holy and blameless:

Ephesians 1:4
For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight.

In and of ourselves, we stand under sin and condemned to death:

Romans 3:9, 19
What shall we conclude then?  Do we have any advantage?  Not at all!  For we have already made the charge that Jews and Gentiles alike are all under the power of sin.  ...Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be silenced and the whole world held accountable to God.

...but in Christ we were justified to life:

Romans 5:18
Consequently, just as one trespass resulted in condemnation for all people, so also one righteous act resulted in justification and life for all people.

By nature we are the sons and daughters of men, but in Christ we were made the sons and daughters of God:

1 John 3:1
See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God!  And that is what we are!  The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him.

Left to our own, we are hellhound, cursed by the law of God:

Galatians 3:10
For all who rely on the works of the law are under a curse, as it is written:  “Cursed is everyone who does not continue to do everything written in the Book of the Law.”

But in Christ we are citizens of God’s kingdom, sitting in heavenly places:

Philippians 3:20-21
But our citizenship is in heaven.  And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.
Ephesians 2:6
And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus....

Because of the Fall, we are born with a mortal life that is doomed to death, but in Christ we have eternal life and will live forever:

2 Timothy 1:8-10
So do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord or of me his prisoner.  Rather, join with me in suffering for the gospel, by the power of God.  He has saved us and called us to a holy life — not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace.  This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time, but it has now been revealed through the appearing of our Savior, Christ Jesus, who has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.
1 John 5:11-12
And this is the testimony:  God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son.  Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.

Of ourselves, we are spiritually bankrupt, but in Christ we have been made spiritually rich:

2 Corinthians 8:9
For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich.

When we were created in Adam, we were created a little lower than the angels:

Psalm 8:5
You have made them a little lower than the angels and crowned them with glory and honor.

But, by putting us in Christ and rewriting our history, God has made us joint heirs with Christ, the King of kings:

Romans 8:16-17
The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.  Now if we are children, then we are heirs — heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.
Hebrews 2:6-12
But there is a place where someone has testified:  “What is mankind that you are mindful of them, a son of man that you care for him?  You made them a little lower than the angels; you crowned them with glory and honor and put everything under their feet.”  In putting everything under them, God left nothing that is not subject to them.  Yet at present we do not see everything subject to them.  But we do see Jesus, who was made lower than the angels for a little while, now crowned with glory and honor because he suffered death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone.  In bringing many sons and daughters to glory, it was fitting that God, for whom and through whom everything exists, should make the pioneer of their salvation perfect through what he suffered.  Both the one who makes people holy and those who are made holy are of the same family.  So Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers and sisters.  He says, “I will declare your name to my brothers and sisters; in the assembly I will sing your praises.”

This complete reversal of our history and status was made possible because Christ, the Son of God, was willing to become the Son of Man.  Everything that we are by nature He was made through the incarnation, when His sinless divinity was united to our sinful humanity.  Thus He took this ruined humanity of ours, fit only for the lake of fire, and refashioned us so that we may be elevated to the status of sons and daughters of God.  This is what Christ, our High Priest, will say to Satan, the accuser of the brethren, in the investigative judgment of the saints:

Zechariah 3:2
The Lord said to Satan, “The Lord rebuke you, Satan!  The Lord, who has chosen Jerusalem, rebuke you!  Is not this man a burning stick snatched from the fire?”

The only way this was possible was for Christ to take us unto Himself and remake us into what He originally meant us to be — and much more.  That is why His humanity is “everything to us” (Ellen White, Selected Messages, 1:244).  Surely, every believer who realizes this truth will join Paul in exclaiming:

2 Corinthians 9:15
Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!

Key Points in Chapter 17
• Jesus Christ, the God-Man Saviour •
  1. Thanks to the insights God gave Ellen White, the Adventist Church has correctly taken the position that the two natures of Christ — His divine nature and His human nature — were distinct yet united in one Person.  When we keep the two natures distinct, many of the problems created by the post-Fall view of His humanity disappear.

  2. There is a paradox between Christ as the Son of God and Christ as the Son of Man.  As God, Christ was sinless and one with the Father.  As man, He was made sin and became one with us in every way, assuming our sinful nature.

  3. As God, Christ was self-existing; as man, He had a beginning, “made of a woman” (Galatians 4:4).

  4. As God, Christ was Spirit (see John 4:24), but in becoming a man He “became flesh and dwelt among us” (John 1:14).

  5. As God, Christ was equal with the Father; as man, He not only gave up His divine prerogatives, but became a “slave” (see Philippians 2:6-7).  Christ, who was by native right self-dependent, became totally God-dependent.  He who was immortal, became mortal.

  6. The greatest paradox of all is that the sinless Son of God was willing to be made sin for us so that we who are sinners may be made the righteousness of God in Him (see 2 Corinthians 5:21).

  7. When Jesus died on the cross, our condemned corporate life forever came to an end.  Thus, by His death and resurrection, Christ abolished death — the second death — and replaced it with immortality (see 2 Timothy 1:8-10; Revelation 20:6).  All that we are, as a result of the Fall, Christ was made at the Incarnation, and the result is that, through His life, death, and resurrection, we are made, in Him, all that He is.  This is the incredible good news of the gospel.

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