The Baptist Faith and Message has important confessions about both the person of Christ and his work. “Christ is the eternal Son of God. In His incarnation as Jesus Christ He was conceived of the Holy Spirit and born of the virgin Mary. Jesus perfectly revealed and did the will of God, taking upon Himself human nature with its demands and necessities and identifying Himself completely with mankind yet without sin.” Friendship’s statement of faith discusses Christ’s person in terms of his incarnation and human nature.
The confession’s discussion of Jesus’ incarnation begins with a re-affirmation of Jesus’ eternal deity: “Christ is the eternal Son of God.” This contention was a major point in a previous blog post on the Trinity. Christ’s incarnation deals with how the eternal Son of God became a human being. God the Son became the God-Man, Christ Jesus. “He was conceived of the Holy Spirit and born of the virgin Mary.” Both Matthew and Luke begin their Gospels by teaching that Jesus is the eternal God the Son incarnate.
Matthew teaches that Jesus is Immanuel in fulfillment of the prophecy in Isaiah 7:14 (Matt 1:22-23). Jesus was virgin-conceived and virgin-born. The angel affirms Jesus’ conception in the virgin Mary by the Holy Spirit to Joseph (Matt 1:20-21). Matthew teaches that Mary was still a virgin when Jesus was born (Matt 1:25). Jesus perfectly fulfilled Isaiah’s prophecy, which was that not only would the Savior be born of a virgin but that the Savior would in fact be God incarnate.
Luke likewise opens his Gospel with an affirmation of Jesus’ identity as the incarnate Son of God. In perfect agreement with Matthew, Luke teaches that Jesus was conceived by the Holy Spirit (Luke 1:35). Gabriel told Mary that her son “will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end” (Luke 1:33). For his kingdom to be eternal, he must similarly be no mere man but the God-Man, even as prophesied by Daniel, “one like a son of man … was presented before [God]. And to him was given a dominion … an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away” (Dan 7:13-14). Jesus’ incarnation shows that he is the eternal Son of God, but his special conception in no way diminishes from his full humanity. As the second Adam, it is fitting that Jesus, like Adam, would have no human biological father. It is fitting that the offspring of the woman to crush the head of the serpent would be conceived and born of a woman without the biological help of any human man (Gen 3:15).
Christ’s Human Nature
Jesus Christ was both fully God and fully man. As a man, he had a full “human nature with its demands and necessities and identif[ied] Himself completely with mankind yet without sin.” Each part of this statement is important. Jesus took on the demands and necessities of human nature. He was fully human physically, intellectually, emotionally, and volitionally.
Fully human, Jesus was in his humanity constrained by space and time, even as God is spirit and omnipresent. As a man, Jesus experienced hunger that Satan strove to exploit (Matt 4:1-3). He got thirsty in the heat of the day (John 4:6-7). Jesus experienced the tragedy of homelessness (Matt 8:20). He needed sleep (Matt 8:24). As a human, Jesus “grew and became strong, filled with wisdom,” and he “increased in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and man” (Luke 2:40, 52). From the excruciating agony of the cross, Jesus thirsted (John 19:28-30).
Jesus as a man also knew the limitations of human knowledge. The most direct statement of the human limitation of Jesus’ knowledge, in addition to Luke’s statements that Jesus grew in wisdom as he grew from a child to an adult, comes late in Jesus’ ministry: “But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only” (Matt 24:36). As a human being, Jesus experienced the reality of Deuteronomy 29:29, “The secret things belong to the Lord our God.”
Fully human, Jesus had human emotions. He felt pity (Mark 1:41). He marveled at unbelief (Mark 6:6). He had compassion on people (Mark 8:2). He loved people (John 11:5). He got angry (John 11:33). His soul was greatly troubled on the eve of his crucifixion (John 12:27).
Finally, Jesus had a fully human will, as well as a divine will. As a boy, Jesus had to submit to Mary and Joseph as his parents, which he did (Luke 2:51). Even as an adult, his will is subservient to that of Father God (John 5:19, 30). Jesus’ submission of his human will to the divine will is most apparent in Gethsemane:
And they went to a place called Gethsemane. And he said to his disciples, “Sit here while I pray.” And he took with him Peter and James and John, and began to be greatly distressed and troubled. And he said to them, “My soul is very sorrowful, even to death. Remain here and watch.” And going a little farther, he fell on the ground and prayed that, if it were possible, the hour might pass from him. And he said, “Abba, Father, all things are possible for you. Remove this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.”Mark 14:32-36
As a man, Jesus very naturally did not want to die. As a perfectly righteous man, Jesus very rightly did not want to experience the cup of the wrath of God. But even at this moment of greatest temptation, Jesus submitted his human will to that of God the Father. Donald Macleod describes Jesus’ triumph over temptation most poignantly:
he was not being called upon to mortify a lust. He was being called upon to frustrate the holiest aspiration of which man is capable … We must be careful not to misconstrue the effect of Jesus’s sinless integrity at this point. Far from meaning a shorter, painless struggle with temptation it involved him in protracted resistance. … The very fact that he was invincible meant that he endured the full force of temptation’s ferocity, until hell slunk away, defeated and exhausted.The Person of Christ (Downers Grove: IVP, 1998), pp. 226-228
And Macleod’s quote gets at the truth of the last aspect of the Baptist Faith and Message’s discussion of Jesus’ human nature: his sinlessness. Scripture teaches that Jesus was both without a sin nature and that he never once committed a sin.
Numerous Bible verses affirm that Jesus did not have a sin nature. Paul calls Adam a type of Christ (Rom 5:14). Just as Adam originally did not have a sin nature, so did Christ not have a sin nature. His miraculous conception by the Holy Spirit also miraculously preserved his humanity from receiving a sin nature. Throughout his life, Jesus was in the position that Adam was in the Garden of Eden. But unlike Adam, Jesus never sinned. Both Paul and John explicitly state that Jesus was and is sinless: Jesus “knew no sin” Paul said (2 Cor 5:21), and John says, “in him there is no sin” (1 John 3:5). These statements not only affirm the sinless actions of Christ but also the sinless nature of Christ.
In addition to being sinless, Jesus never committed a sin. He was “like his brothers in every respect” and “suffered when tempted” (Heb 2:17-18). Because he never gave in to temptation, “he learned obedience” and was “perfect” (Heb 5:8-9). Because he was perfect, his sacrifice was acceptable to God (Heb 7:27-28). Peter teaches plainly, “he committed no sin” (1 Pet 2:22). Macleod’s comments are again helpful, “Nowhere in the structures of his being was there any sin. Satan had no foot-hold in him. … There was no affinity with sin. There was no proclivity to sin. There was no possibility of temptation from within. In no respect was he fallen and in no respect was his nature corrupt” (ibid., 222).
We at Friendship Baptist Church are so thankful that God became man in the person of Christ Jesus. We are so thankful that he was perfectly obedient in his full, human life. We are thankful for his sinlessness, which he credits to us through faith in him.