The Necessity of Christology
“This is eternal life, that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.”- John 17:3
During our study of John 11, we noted that our Lord’s emotions are manifestations of His humanity. Since, as historic Christianity teaches, Christ has a true human nature, He experiences what human beings experience, albeit without sin. We see evidence of this in His emotional life. He wept at the death of His friend Lazarus and was angry when He confronted the grave (vv. 33–35).
Observing the humanity of Christ, however, forces us to deal with the clear evidences of His divine nature, of His deity (see 1:1–14). According to orthodox Christian teaching, the two natures of Christ, human and divine, are perfectly united in the one divine person of Jesus. Issues related to the natures and person of Christ fall under the heading of Christology, which we will now study in more depth with the help of Dr. R.C. Sproul’s teaching series The Doctrine of Christ Part 1.
Christology is an age-old discipline. Since the beginning of church history, theologians have sought to summarize what the Scriptures tell us about the person and work of our Savior. These discussions are complex and can often seem far too abstract to us. As a consequence, recent years have seen a de-emphasis on the study of Christology even among professing evangelicals. We are told that it is more important to know Jesus than it is to know the specifics of how He is both God and man.
Of course, we must know Jesus personally in order to be saved. Yet, we will not be saved unless we know the right Jesus. Most people in Western culture have heard about Jesus and have some belief about who He was. Around the world, other religions such as Islam and Hinduism also have distinct understandings of who Jesus was. These views all contradict one another. The Jesus of Islam cannot be the Jesus of Hinduism, who cannot be the Jesus of modern secularism, who cannot be the Jesus of the Bible. Which Jesus is the real one? The discipline of Christology helps us answer that question.
Christology is also necessary so that we do not create Jesus in our own image. All too often in the history of the church, thinkers have sought to discover who Jesus is, only to end up finding that He is exactly like them. He turns out to be very different from how the Bible portrays Him, having more in common with popular modern thinking than anything else. By studying biblical Christology, we are better equipped to recognize when we have discovered the real Jesus and when we have found the Jesus of our imagination.
The church has engaged in the study of Christology in order to make sure we are worshiping the true Son of God and not an idol. Not all of us are called to be full-time theologians, but all of us are called to know the true Son of God and to avoid idolatry. As we look at key issues of Christology, let us pray that God would help us know and remain steadfast in our trust of the biblical Jesus.
Passages for Further Study
1 Corinthians 2:2
2 Corinthians 10:5
1 John 5:21