Friday, November 18, 2011

Diagram of Christ's Two Natures & Two States

In theology it is important to distinguish between Christ's two natures and his two states.

Jesus Christ's two natures relate to his deity and his humanity. He has a divine nature: He is eternally God. He takes on a human nature: he becomes truly man. He becomes truly man without ceasing to be truly God. To use the word nature we mean: Jesus has all the attributes of what it means to be a particularly being (that's my quick crass non-techinical definition). Anything basic and foundational to what it means to be God is something that can be described of Jesus.

So... Jesus has all the attributes of what it means to be God. Anything that can be predicated of the divine is a statement that can be made of Jesus. So for example, God is omniscient and so Jesus is omniscient. In the Bible, the Lord God has the name "I AM WHO I AM" --in John's Gospel Jesus is shown to be the "I AM". In the book of Revelation Jesus is the "Alpha and Omega--Beginning and End"--harking back to Old Testament descriptions of God. We could go on here but this should suffice.

Jesus has a human nature. Everything that is basic to humanity--can be described of Jesus. In his humanity, Jesus had weakness--he could die. Jesus did not have any sin because this was not basic to humanity in its creation. But Jesus could in his humanity bear our sin because he is just like us in all of our humanity.

That is the two natures.

The two states refer only to two states of the human nature. So while there are two natures (human & divine) only (and we cannot stress that enough) the human nature has two states. Jesus' human life experience goes through two stages. First he is humiliated--Second he is exalted. This echoes back to the Garden of Eden-- Adam was created in a state of lowliness but granted a kingship so that had he exercised it he would have been exalted in glorification. Creation was made for that eschatological moment.

This movement is basic to redemptive history: humiliation and exaltation. Of course, for Christ his humiliation entails (1) full obedience in humanity [as Adam should have done] but also entailed (2) paying for sin in his propitiatory sacrifice. The cross does two things: (1) pay for sin in the post fall world but (2) offers the obedience to the Father that humanity should have offered pre-fall. This is not to say that Adam's obedience would have been his death but rather that Jesus still must obey as a human being--because sons learn obedience. It is unique to Jesus' obedience that now the act obedience entails a redemptive end as well as the original eschatological end. His 'Adamic' obedience in post-fall took on the uniqueness of being a representative and substitutionary sacrifice--which Adam could never have done. So Christ is the Second  Adam or the Last Adam.

This brings Christ's exaltation where the Father sees the work of the Son and is satisfied. His exaltation includes his resurrection, ascension, session at the right hand of the Father and His return and judgment of creation. Christ's exaltation is his glorification.

I have often found this concept to be refreshing for meditation for is the core of the redemptive history that is the gospel. But I have also found that for people hearing for the first time there can be a bit of confusion about the distinction between natures and states. Not only that the fact that there are two of each can be confusing.

Here is a little set of diagrams I came up with years ago. Maybe you can benefit from it.

Christ's Nature &; States

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