Tuesday, July 07, 2009

A very rough guide to Calvin's theology: Jesus

Next we focus attention Calvin’s teaching on the Son of God. His conception of the person of Christ was in full accord with historic Christian orthodoxy. We can benefit from the welcome clarity that he brings to this most important of subjects. Calvin stressed that when the Son became man, he did not stop being God. In his humanity, the Son was finite, subject to the restrictions of time and place. While in his deity the Son was infinite, eternal and omnipresent, upholding all things by the word of his power.

Calvin enables us make sense of certain Scriptures that speak of Christ in his suffering and exaltation in ways that at first glance seem to be a little baffling. Scripture sometimes speaks as if the Son’s divine nature suffered on the cross, 'Lord of glory' was crucified (1 Corinthians 2:8), or the church was purchased by God's blood (Acts 20:28). Also that the exalted Jesus “fills all in all” – Ephesians 1:23. What are we to make of such texts? Did the divine Son really die? Does the human body of the human Jesus really fill all things? Calvin discusses such Scriptures in terms of the communion of attributes in the Person of Christ. This does not mean that divine attributes are communicated to Jesus’ humanity or the other way around. His divine nature did not become human and his human nature did not become divine. The Person of the Son of God died in his human nature – that is why the Bible can say that the Lord of glory was crucified. The ascended Christ fills all things not because his humanity is now omnipresent, but because he is the exalted Son of God.

Calvin considers the work of Christ in terms of his biblically assigned offices of prophet, priest and king.

As our prophet, Christ gives us the saving knowledge of God as he speaks to us by his Word through the Holy Spirit. The prophetic Christ continues to instruct and guide the Church, Acts 3:22-22-23.

Jesus is our great High Priest, Hebrews 2:17. As both God and Man he is the only mediator between God and men. As our high priest Christ offered himself to God on the cross to atone for the sins of his people. We know forgiveness and peace with God by his blood. The risen Christ ever lives to make intercession for us. Through Jesus we draw near to God and enjoy fellowship with him.

Christ is our King, Revevaltion 19:6. As the risen Lord he is Head over all things for the Church, Ephesians 1:22 & 23. We are subject to his gracious rule.

As Prophet, Priest and King, Jesus is a complete Saviour. He deals with our ignorance of God as our Prophet. He atones for our guilt as our Priest. He subdues and conquers our sin as our King.

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