Theology: CHRISTOLOGY – INTRODUCTION

Christology is the study of Christ, a study of all that pertains to Jesus Christ our Lord.

 

I would like to introduce our thoughts with some of the thoughts from Dr. Walvoord’s preface in his book on Christ:

 

“Eight hundred years ago Bernard of Clairvaux penned the beautiful hymn:

 

‘Jesus, the very thought of Thee With sweetness fills my breast; But sweeter far Thy face to see, And in Thy prescience rest.’

 

“Ever since the holy Babe was laid in the manger in Bethlehem of Judea, devout souls have found in Jesus Christ One who is the worthy object of their worship, whose ineffable person compels their love and obedience. As the Word of God expressed in human form, Jesus Christ has drawn all believing souls to Himself. Although no other person is the object of more scriptural revelation, human pens falter when attempting to describe Him.

 

“The poet, biographer, theologian and orator alike confess their inability to delineate the glories and perfections of our blessed Savior. Charles Wesley expressed the aspiration of those conscious of their limitations when he composed this great hymn:

 

‘O for a thousand tongues to sing My great Redeemer’s praise,

The glories of my God and King, The tripumphs of His grace.’

 

“The impossible task of circumscribing the glories of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ stems from the infinity of His person and the omnipotence and omniscience of all His works. From Genesis to Revelation Jesus Christ is the most important theme of the Bible and almost every page is related in some way to either His person or work. Christianity is Jesus Christ. No other subject is given more complete revelation and yet the half has not been told.”1

 

There are many reasons for making a study of Christ even if we were not vitally interested in knowing more about our Lord and Savior. Let’s examine some of the reasons.

 

THE IMPORTANCE OF STUDYING CHRIST

 

1. Christ Is The Center Of History. Our calendars reflect his presence on earth. The entire dating system of the western world centers on the appearance of the Lord in man’s history. Most countries celebrate His birth. Even though it is tied up with Santa Claus and commercialism, it is the birth of Jesus that is celebrated.

 

Even if we were to reject His claims to deity, if the man was this important we ought to at least study Him from a natural curiosity as to his power over history.

 

Bancroft mentions in his Elemental Theology:

 

“Jesus Christ is the central figure of the World’s history. The world cannot forget Him while it remembers history, for history is His story. To leave Him out would be like astronomy without stars, or like botany with the flowers forgotten. Horace Bushnell said, ‘It would be easier to untwist all the beams of light in the sky and to separate and erase one of the primary colors, than to get the character of Jesus out of the world.’

 

“The history of the race since its inception has been the history of the preparation for His coming. The Old Testament foretells His coming in type, symbol, and direct prophecy. The history of His people Israel is a story of expectation, of yearning, of preparation.

 

“The fact of Jesus Christ is not only firmly imbedded in human history and written upon the open page of Scripture, but it is also experientially embodied in the lives of millions of believers and interwoven in the fabric of all civilization worthy of the name.”2

 

2. Christ Is The Center Of Our Life. If we are to follow His example we must know why He is a proper example, and then know His life so we can imitate Him. (1 John 2:6; 1 Peter 2:21ff) Man naturally seeks a model to pattern himself after. Even in small children it can be observed that a child often takes a parent as a model. The model changes over time, and it is the believer’s responsibility to teach and preach the idea that Christ is the only person after whom believer should pattern his life after.

 

3. Christ Is The Center Of The Bible. All of Scripture deals with Him, His work on the cross and His future coming. He is seen from Genesis to Revelation. The Bible is called “christocentric” because of this fact. The book of Genesis in 3:15 prophecies for the first time, the coming One that will take care of Satan. The book of Revelation ends with the Lord bringing to a close all that God had planned for mankind.

 

Some references that relate to this thought: Matthew 5:17; Luke 24:27; Luke 27:44; John 5:39.

 

4. Christ Is To Be The Center Of Our Studies. We are told to grow in our knowledge of the Lord Jesus, and that this will bring glory to Him. The study will automatically, as we apply our learning, bring us into conformity with Him, and this will also bring glory to Him, for people will see Him in us rather than ourselves. 2 Peter 3:18

 

5. Christ Should Be The Center Of Our Revelation Of God. If we desire to know of God then we need to know of Christ. The Lord told the disciples that if they had seen Him they had seen the Father. We can know much of the character of God the Father if we study God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. John 14:9b; John 1:14.

 

6. Christ Should Be The Center Of Christianity. Christ is Christianity and Christianity is Christ. You can have all the religions of the world and their leaders, however if you remove their leaders, their religion can go on, indeed some have done so. Confusiousism, Islam etc. Without Christ Christianity cannot exist.

 

There seems to be many in our land that are trying to usurp Christ and His position in Christianity. It seems that many are trying to see how little of Christ they can present and still call themselves a part of Christianity. The liberal spectrum relegate Him to a mere man that some of them hope existed, yet they still call themselves Christians. The term Christian comes from the thought of Christ being the leader of the follower. If they hope that he existed then shouldn’t their religion be Hopechristianity?

 

7. Christ Should Be The Center Of Our Message. If we are to refute the isms and cults of our day we must know the Christ of the Bible for there are many other Christs being presented today.

 

There have been “Christs” that have come to complete the work that Jesus Christ our Lord supposedly failed to finish. Sun Myung Moon is one of these latter day LUNARtics that claims to be completing the work that the Lord had failed to accomplish.

 

THE PRE-EXISTENCE OF CHRIST

 

Is the pre-existence of Christ of concern to us? Is it really important to our study of Christ? Most Certainly, for if He be not pre-existent then He be not God. If He be not God then we waste our time in this endeavor called Christianity. It should also be very clear that if Christ was not pre-existent then He was not God, and that He WAS a liar.

 

An associated question is this, “Is pre-existence the same as eternality?” No. He could have existed before His birth but only have existed since say, creation. Thus, he would not be an eternal being. This is not an acceptable line of thinking. He is eternal as God the Father and God the Holy Spirit are eternal. All three members of the Godhead have always existed in eternity past and will always exist eternity future. Eternality is not pre- existence, however a denial of pre-existence almost always leads to the denial of eternality.

 

The following verses show both pre-existence and eternality.

 

1. John revealed this in the first chapter of his gospel. John 1:1.

 

2. Christ revealed this Himself. John 10:30; John 8:58; John 17:5, 24.

 

3. Paul revealed this. 1 Corinthians 10:4,9; Philippians 2:5-7; Colossians

1:17; (See also Matthew 23:37; John 3:13, 31; 8:42; 16:28-30; 2 Corinthians 8:9.)

 

 

CHRIST MINISTERED BEFORE HIS BIRTH

 

1. He Participated In The Decrees: He undoubtedly participated in the decrees and the planning of the ages since He is God. It would be ludicrous to suggest that the Lord Jesus was not consulted in the plan of the ages since that plan hinged upon His obedience to the plan. The Father did not require the Son to manifest Himself to man, the Father did not require the Son to become flesh and blood, and the Father did not require that the Son should submit Himself to the death of the cross. Christ did it voluntarily in response to His own personal love for His creatures that were lost and damned to everlasting torment with the Devil.

 

2. He Created All Things: Colossians 1:16 says all that needs to be said on this subject so we will just quote it.

 

“For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers — all things were created by him, and for him;” (See also John 1:3; Hebrews 1:2)

 

3. He Sustains All Things: Not only did the Lord Jesus create all things but He maintains all things. He is in the position of guaranteeing that all of creation will continue on until the time of the consummation. Colossians 1:17

 

CHRIST SEEN IN THE OLD TESTAMENT IN RETROSPECT

 

The Old Testament has much information relating to the Messiah to come, as well as general information about Christ. We might take note of something that Christ did as He was walking with two on the road to Emmaus.

 

“And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself.” Luke 24:27

 

Moses, being the writer of Genesis recorded two accounts relating to Christ. One was a look forward to the fact of His coming work in the spiritual realm, Genesis 3:15 and the second was on the occasion of three men appearing to Abraham just prior to the destruction of Sodom, Genesis 18:1-33. Moses goes on in Exodus 40:38 to mention the cloud of smoke and fire that was over the Tabernacle in the wilderness, and mentions that this was God. (See also Exodus 13:21; Exodus 33:9-23; Numbers 9:15.) We will see in a future study that these appearances of God were the Angel of the Lord and that the Angel of the Lord is none other than Christ Himself in pre-incarnate appearances.

 

THE NAMES OF GOD THE SON

 

1. Jesus: The term Jesus is found in the Gospels around six hundred times, while in the rest of the New Testament about seventy times. It might be an interesting side light to mention that outside the Gospels the name Jesus is normally, in fact usually linked to other names of the Lord, such as Christ and Lord.

 

It should be noted in Acts that there is an elevation or uplifting of the term Jesus, to a higher plain, if you will, by the linking of his earthly name with the titles that honor him.

 

“Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ.” Acts 2:36

 

We might want to, in response to this text, limit our usage of the name Jesus and concentrate of the Title that God Himself has given Him, Jesus Christ the Lord. I once had a college professor that regarded the Lord so highly that he never used the term Jesus without linking it with Christ the Lord.

 

Jesus is the primary name before the death, burial and resurrection. Cambron mentions of the name Jesus,

“Jesus is the personal name of the Lord. It is His earthly name, the name under which He was born, lived, and died. It is the name of His humiliation, of suffering, of sorrow. It is the name of the One who humbled Himself. The name Jesus, at the time of our Lord, was not uncommon, there were many who were named Jesus. Jesus is the Greek form for the Hebrew word Joshua, and both mean “Jehovah our Saviour.” This name, Jesus, was the one which was nailed over Him on the cross.”3

 

 

2. Christ: We see an interesting contrast in the number of times that Christ appears in the Gospels and the rest of the New Testament. The ratio seems to be about the opposite of the name Jesus. Christ is found in the Gospels about fifty times while it is found about two hundred and fifty times in the rest of the New Testament.

 

Christ is an official name which points to the fact that He was, and is, the anointed one of Israel. Indeed the name Christ means the anointed one.

 

The main distinction in the names is that Jesus was used before the cross and Christ was used after. Jesus is the name that much of the world believes in while it is the Christ that the believer places his trust in. Jesus is the name of the humanity of God while Christ is the name of God the Son’s exultation.

 

Is it incorrect to use the term Jesus? No, definitely not, however the overuse or overemphasis of the humanity of Christ will ultimately detract from the overall teaching about the Son of God.

 

3. Messiah: The Hebrew term for anointed one is Messiah. The Old Testament always looked forward to the anointed one and now the New Testament reflects back upon the anointed one that came and completed the work that His first appearing required, yet still looks forward to the second appearing which will tie all plans for mankind together.

 

4. Lord: This is the New Testament equivalent of the Hebrew term Adonai or master. This is the term for Christ’s Deity. As we progress through the study of the Lord Jesus we will see that He truly was almighty God come in the flesh and that this term is quite appropriate for Him.

 

5. Jesus Christ: Cambron mentions that this combination of terms sets forth His humanity but that He now is exulted, while the combination “Christ Jesus” depicts His present position contrasted with the fact that He was once humiliated.4 This is a good distinction in the terms.

 

The fact that Jesus is his earthly name should lead us to desire to be like Jesus in our everyday life, for He certainly set forth the prime example for man to follow in his own humility.

 

6. Christ Jesus: This arrangement of the terms should lead the believer to realize that He is now exulted and that He once was humiliated, but that He now is fully and eternally exulted to His rightful place in Heaven. To constantly use His earthly name Jesus and to constantly dwell on His humiliation seems to be a great disgrace to who He really and truly is today. He is the very Son of God, and always has been, but for thirty some years of His life He walked as we walk in the world that He might provide for the likes of us the salvation that His love brought down to us. He had no intention of remaining in that humiliation for the rest of time.

 

7. The Lord Jesus Christ: This is the fullest title given to the Lord and should be considered for our usage in this day in which many are concentrating only on His earthly “Jesus” ministry.

 

Ephesians 1:3,

 

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ.”

 

What a declaration we make when we use the term. We realize and admit to the humiliation, the deity and the Lordship of the One that gave His life for our sin.

 

8. I Am: Exodus 3:13,14 mentions this term in the Old Testament. “…I Am That I Am….” Jesus mentions that He is the I AM in John 18:4,5.

 

What a bold declaration, and should we wonder why the Jews were out to kill Him? He was laying clear claim to being the God of Abraham and Moses — Him, the carpenter from Galilee. Absurd.

 

The term “I Am That I Am” depicts one of the attributes of God in that He is conscious of Who and What He is. This is called the self-consciousness of God. Christ was most certainly conscious of the fact that He was God in the flesh.

 

9. The Son Of God: Luke 1:35,

 

“The angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.”

 

Christ is no mere man as many of the isms and cults of our day suggest, but He is God in God’s complete form. He is the Son of God as well as the Son of Man which we will see next. He was as much God as if he had never been man, and He was as much man as if He had never been God. I do not know with whom that quote originated, for I heard it from a college professor many years ago and he has long since gone to be with the Lord, so I cannot ask. I have never run across it in any of my research so assume that it might have been his own statement. At any rate it is a good description of the total deity and the total humanity of Christ in the flesh.

 

10. The Son Of Man: This was a title that the Lord used of Himself. It is of interest to note how people like to be identified. I once had an employer that was known as “Dick” by most people, yet those who knew him well, knew that he preferred his given name “Richard.” Richard was the preferred name, yet he allowed others to call him by the less formal name.

 

In my first years of teaching one of the students felt a little overburdened with calling me Mark Derickson and began a long standing tradition of calling me Mark D. It was not a name of derision, but one of great respect. They felt that they wanted to be close to me with a familiar name while still giving the respect that they desired to convey by using the Mr.

 

Son of Man seems to be the preferred name of the Lord for Himself. Knowing the Lord and how He lived and how much He loved us, I suspect He liked the term because it identified Him very closely with those that He came to save.

 

“Jesus said unto him, Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head.” Luke 9:58

 

Cambron observes that this is a title for the Kingdom which He was offering to the Jewish people.

 

“The title, the Son of man, is found eighty-eight times in the New Testament: once in Acts; once in Hebrews; twice in Revelation; and eighty-four times in the Gospels; not once in the Epistles. The Epistles concern the Church, not the coming kingdom of the Millennium.”5

 

(He goes on to mention that Ezekiel’s use of the title is in conjunction with Second coming information.)

 

 

11. Son Of Abraham: Matthew 1:1 shows a direct link between the father of the Jews, Abraham, and the Lord Jesus via the king of Israel, David. The genealogy of Christ in Matthew was very important to the Jewish mind. It was a bold declaration that this Jesus was the descendant for whom all of Israel had been waiting.

 

12. Son Of David: Mark 10:47,

 

“When he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to cry out, and say, Jesus, thou son of David, have mercy on me”

 

13. Son Of The Highest: Luke 1:32,

 

“He shall be great, and shall be called the son of the Highest and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David”

 

Still another bold declaration to the Sonship of Christ and the Fatherhood of God.

 

14. Second Man: Paul uses this term in 1 Corinthians 15:47 to tell the believer of what we will one day be when God is finished with His work in him.

 

15. Last Adam: Adam was the being by which sin entered into the human race, and Paul relates this thought to the idea that Christ is the last Adam in that Christ was the being by which sin exited mankind, that is as we, mortal man, respond properly to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. (1 Corinthians 15:45)

 

16. The Word: John 1:1, “In the beginning was the Word….” In that great passage of John one we see all of the glory and pre-existance of the Lord Jesus Christ. He has always been here, He has always been with the Father, and He always has been God.

 

17. Emmanuel: Matthew 1:23,

 

“Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.”

 

18. Savior: Probably one of the most meaningful of names is this. The Savior. A very simple term that has so many ramifications for the lost as well as the saved. It is Christ that came to save man, it is Christ that provided access to God, and it is Christ that allows our entrance into God’s presence.

 

Yes, a very important term. It is of interest that in Luke 2:11 the Savior is used in relation to the terms Christ and Lord. The message was concerning a Savior, the Christ and soon to be Lord. The earthly name of Jesus seems to be of little importance even at the announcement of His birth.

 

19. Rabbi: John 1:38 relates this term to the realization of some of his followers that Jesus was their Rabbi or Master. The thought of master or teacher in later Jewish writings is that of one that is to be highly respected. In many cases the teacher is to have preferred treatment over all others including parents. The respect seems to be evident even in Christ’s own time. Vine mentions that the term translated Rabbi stands in contrast to servant. This shows the relationship between student and Rabbi.

 

20. Master: Matthew 9:11 uses this term of Christ’s relationship to His followers. It is the same Greek term that is translated Rabbi in the above reference. It is the term “didaskalos” which means master or teacher. This is the term that is used of teachers in the Ephesians 4:11 text which speaks of the men that God has gifted for the equipping of the saints.

 

CONCLUSIONS

 

1. We are about to enter into a study of the One that has given most to save us from our miserable selves. I trust that we will not only see the Jesus of Nazareth, but also the Christ of our salvation in a new and powerful manner.

 

2. The information already given should bring the sinner to their knees before the savior for salvation, and the believer to their knees in regret for their feeble view of the Savior and their service to Him.

 

END NOTES

 

1. Taken from: “JESUS CHRIST OUR LORD”; Walvoord, John F.; Copyright 1969, Moody Bible Institute of Chicago; Moody Press. Used by permission. p 7-8.

 

 

2. Taken from the book, ELEMENTAL THEOLOGY by Emery H. Bancroft. Copyright 1977 by Baptist Bible College. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. p 121.

 

3. Mark G. Cambron, D.D., “BIBLE DOCTRINES”, Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1954, pp 60,61.

 

4. Cambron; p 66.

 

5. Cambron; p 68.

 

CHRISTOLOGY AN INTRODUCTION HANDOUT

 

 

 

I. PURPOSE

 

Reasons For Studying Christ:

 

1. Christ Is The Center Of History.

 

2. Christ Is The Center Of Our Life.

 

3. Christ Is The Center Of The Bible. Matthew 5:17, Luke 24:27, Luke 27:44, John 5:39

 

4. Christ Is To Be The Center Of Our Studies. 2 Peter 3:18

 

5. Christ Should Be The Center Of Our Revelation Of God. John 14:9, John 1:14

 

6. Christ Should Be The Center Of Christianity.

 

7. Christ Should Be The Center Of Our Message.

 

 

II. PRE-EXISTENCE

 

The Pre-Existence Of Christ

 

1. John 1:1

 

2. Christ Revealed This Himself. John 10:30, John 8:58, John 17:5 John 17:24

 

3. Paul Revealed This. 1 Corinthians 10:4,9, Philippians 2:5-7,

Colossians 1:17 (See also Matthew 23:37; John 3:13, 31; 8:42; 16:28-30; 2

Corinthians 8:9)

 

III. PRE-INCARNATION

 

Christ Ministered Before His Birth

 

1. He Participated In The Decrees

 

2. He Created All Things John 1:3; Hebrews 1:2

 

3. He Sustains All Things Colossians 1:17

 

Christ Seen In The Old Testament In Retrospect

 

1. Genesis 3:15

 

2. Genesis 18:1-33

 

3. Exodus 40:38

 

4. The Angel of the Lord

 

 

 

 

 

His Names

 

1. Jesus Acts 2:36

 

2. Christ

 

3. Messiah

 

4. Lord

 

5. Jesus Christ

IV. PROPER NAMES

 

 

6. Christ Jesus

 

7. The Lord Jesus Christ Ephesians 1:3

 

8. I Am Exodus 3:13,14; John 18:4,5

 

9. The Son Of God Luke 1:35

 

10. The Son Of Man Luke 9:58

 

11. Son Of Abraham Matthew 1:1

 

12. Son Of David Mark 10:47

 

13. Son Of The Highest         Luke 1:32

 

14. Second Man 1 Corinthians 15:47

 

15. Last Adam 1 Corinthians 15:45

 

16. The Word John 1:1

 

17. Emmanuel Matthew 1:23

 

18. Savior Luke 2:11

 

19. Rabbi John 1:38

 

20. Master Matthew 9:11

 

CONCLUSIONS DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

1. Why Is A Proper Understanding Of Christ Important:

 

To the believer? To the lost?

2. Why Is Christ’s Pre-Existence Important To: The believer?

The lost?

 

 

3. Just how do you relate personally to the Lord in the area of each of these names?

 

1. Jesus

 

2. Christ

 

3. Messiah

 

4. Lord

 

5. Jesus Christ

 

6. Christ Jesus

 

7. Lord Jesus Christ

 

8. I Am

 

9. The Son

 

10. The Son of Man

 

11. Son of Abraham

 

12. on of David

 

13. Son of the Highest

 

14. Second Man

 

15. Last Adam

 

16. The Word

 

17. Emmanuel

 

18. Savior

 

19. Rabbi

 

20. Master

 

4. Attempt to describe Who Jesus is in twenty-five words or less with the thought in mind of trying to communicate that description to a lost person.

 

 

5. What changes in your life are needed to bring you into a proper life that would be honoring to Christ? Jot them down and make some commitments to work on those areas of your life.[1]

 


[1] Stanley L. Derickson Ph.D. B.A. (n.d.). DERICKSON’S NOTES ON THEOLOGY: A STUDY BOOK IN THEOLOGY.

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