Theology 101 — Jesus: The Divine Wordcomment (0)
January 30, 2014
By Jerry Batson
This week we focus again on John 1:1, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” What the first two phrases imply clearly, the third clause makes clearly explicit, “the Word was God.” To declare that Christ the Living Word is both coeternal (eternal along with God) and coexistent (existing along with God) is to imply His divine nature. Not satisfied with even a clear implication, the verse ends with a straightforward declaration of the full divinity or God-ness of Christ. He was God. The theological shorthand for expressing this truth is to say that Christ is coequal with God.
At this point, the coming of Christ into the world takes on a hard to imagine condescension. In “being found in human form” (Phil. 2:7), Christ chose to put aside the independent use of His coequality with God in order to take up full humanity, in which form He was able to humble Himself “by becoming obedient to the point of death” (Phil. 2:8).
Only an all-wise and all-powerful and all-loving God could pull off combining coequality with Himself and full identity with humanity, without diminishing or compromising either God-ness and humanness. Faith becomes our valued ally when we cannot logically explain the dual nature of the Living Word. We confess our faith that the coequal Christ became human without ceasing to be divine.
We get glimpses of this coequality in some of the statements Christ made. For example, in John 10:30, He declared, “I and the Father are one.” In addition, other parts of the New Testament make statements about the coequality of Christ. In fact, Philippians 2:6 speaks of Christ, using the phrase “equality with God,” when it reads, “Who, though He was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped.”
In order to appreciate the coequality of God the Father and God the Son, we do well to distinguish a coequality in essence or being from coequality of function. Some divine functions are said to be the prerogatives of God the Father, such as loving the world and sending His Son. Other functions are said to be the prerogatives of God the Son, such as giving His life a ransom for many or of becoming sin for us.
One other word might be added, while their functions are often distinguished, each Person of the Godhead is cooperative and compatible with the work of the other two. No tension exists between God the Father and God the Son.
The humility of the coequal Word is an example and challenge to all of us. Though being equal with God, Christ willingly subordinated Himself to the Father, so much so, that we can say that the Father sent His Son into the world. At this point, Christ is an example for husbands and wives. Marriage partners are equal in essence and value, but for the sake of harmony and a meaningful life together, we submit ourselves to one another — a matter of equals submitting to equals (Eph. 5:21). In the church, we espouse the essential truth of the priesthood of all believers, hence, we are a spiritual body of equals. However, in order to function effectively and fruitfully, we are told to submit ourselves to those who are the leaders — a matter of equals choosing to submit to an equal (Heb. 13:17).
The highest use of a privilege or position is to surrender it willingly for good and godly purposes.