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Doctrine of Christ: Two Natures in One Person

November 7, 2021 Series: Great Doctrines of the Christian Faith

Scripture: John 1:1–14, Philippians 2:6–11

Scripture -> John 1:1-14/ Philippians 2:6-11


For the last two weeks, Sandy has addressed the deity and the humanity of Christ how Scripture supports the understanding of both natures of Christ.

Lord willing, today we will look at why our mediator must be both man and God – two natures in one person. And then we will look at the Doctrine of the Atonement.

By way of review, let us remember that the two natures of Christ are distinct.

  • God
  • Man

They are united together in one person yet they are separate and not mingled together.


Each nature of Christ retains its set of personal properties.

  • Christ, as fully God, had all the fullness of God
    • Having nothing in common with mankind
  • Christ, as fully man, was made in all things like man, clothed in attributes of humanity
    • Yet without sin
    • with a body that was born of a woman, that was seen and felt
      • that increased in stature and knowledge and wisdom
      • that also was ignorant of certain things (Mark 13:32)
    • with a reasonable and true soul
      • that was troubled, joyful, and sorrowful
    • He grew hungry and tired
  • Christ had all knowledge and power in His being as God (John 21:17)
    • In the other, He was finite, knew only by learning
  • Christ had a sovereign will as God (John 5:21)
    • In the other, he had will like that of man (Luke 22:42)
  • Yet, in this separateness, there was unity God intends and requires that we should believe that He was a true man and fully God.

This is what is reinforced by Q.# 36 and Q. #40 of the Larger Catechism

36. Who is the Mediator of the covenant of grace?

A. The only Mediator of the covenant of grace is the Lord Jesus Christ, who, being the eternal Son of God, of one substance and equal with the Father, in the fulness of time became man, and so was and continues to be God and man, in two entire distinct natures, and one person, for ever.

Doctrine of the Christ: Two Natures, One Person

40. Why was it requisite that the Mediator should be God and man in one person?

A. It was requisite that the Mediator, who was to reconcile God and man, should himself be both God and man, and this in one person, that the proper works of each nature might be accepted of God for us, and relied on by us, as the works of the whole person.

What are the proper works of each nature?

  • In His human nature, the plroper works are
    • He was to perform everything which required/ related to subjection, obedience, or suffering.
    • None of these could be performed by His divine nature; yet an infinite worth, value, and dignity, was added to them, on account of the union of the human nature with it.
    • On this account, the obedience he performed had, in a relative sense, the same value as if it had been performed in his divine nature. 
      • ‘God purchased the church with his own blood. Acts 20:28
  • In His Divine Nature, the propers works are
    • erecting a church and appointing her officers
      Heb 3:3,14; Eph 4:11-12; Matt-16:18; Matt 28:18-20
    • instituting sacraments and other ordinances
      Matt-28:19; 1 Cor 11:23-29
    • redeeming sinful men
      Hos-01:7; Isa 45:17,22,24-25; Matt-20:28; Acts-20:28; Titus-02:14
    • sending the Holy Ghost to apply his redemption
      John-14:26; John-15:26; John-16:7
    • the effectual calling of rebellious sinners to himself
      John 5:21,25; John-10:16; John-15:16
    • justifying guilty sinners
      Matt-09:6; Isa-53:11;1 Cor-06:11; Col-03:13; Rev-01:5
    • adopting men into the family of God
      John-01:12; Jer-03:19; 2 Cor-06:18
    • sanctifying their nature and life
      Eph 5:26,29; Heb-02:11; Heb-13:12; Heb-09:14
    • raising himself and other dead
      John-02:19; John 10:17-18; John 5:21,28-29; Rom-01:4; 1 Pet-03:18
    • Judging the world, bestowing eternal glory upon his saints, and executing everlasting punishment on his wicked enemies
      John 5:22,28-29; Acts-17:31; Heb-02:10; Heb-07:25; Rev-03:21; 2 Thess 1:6-10; Rev 14:9-11
  • Those works which were performed by him in each nature, are to be relied on by us as the works of the whole Person.
  • We are to rely on the works performed by him in his human nature, as He is God and man in one Person.
  • We are to rely upon Him, as a divine Person for salvation, as He is God and man in one Person.

It is necessary that these two natures should be united in one Person.

  • Each nature does, performs, and accomplishes that which it would not be appropriate – nor possible – with the other nature.
  • In all of this, we are to adore our Mediator.
  • In all of this, we are to adore Christ.
  • In all of this, we are to find our redemption through the atonement of Christ.

In that adoration, we must be careful to remember that we are not to separate the natures of Christ concerning that adoration.

  • Some say the “The humanity or flesh of Christ is adorable”
    • as if it were proper that adoration should terminate on itself
  • The flesh of the Word and the worship which ought to be paid to Christ is not to be separated into various parts.
  • This was formerly done by the Nestorians (two persons, one body, Council of Ephesus, 431)
    • who professed to reverence Christ with one adoration as God
    • who professed to reverence Christ with another as man.
  • This is done by the Romanists by icons and images and the different “levels” of worship given to the Deity and to the humanity of Christ

Doctrine of the Atonement: It’s Necessity

Let’s move now to the Doctrine of the Atonement, which was the fulfillment of the coming of Christ and His sacrifice on the cross.

Read -> the Westminster Confession of Faith Chapter 8, Articles 5, 6, 8

The basic concept is substitution; i.e. God allows someone or something to stand in for the punishment due to our sin.

It is, according to the Westminster Bible Dictionary, the bringing about of the reconciliation of two who are at variance.

  1. Because God is holy and pure, and cannot abide sin -> Hab. 1:13
  2. Because of sin, man is separated from God
    1. Our sin has separated us from God -> Isa. 59:2
    2. We are, by nature, children of wrath -> Eph. 2:2
    3. We are utterly indisposed, disabled, and made opposite unto all that is spiritually good, and wholly inclined to all evil, and that continually Rom 3:10-19
  3. Because we are guilty and that God will, by no means, clear the guilty
    1. Exodus 34:7 / Romans 1:18 / Romans 3:25
  4. Because the justice of God must be maintained, He cannot pass over or ignore justice and the recompense for our sin.

Doctrine of the Atonement: It's Cause

Therefore, the atoning work of Christ was necessary so that God might be able to justify the sinner ---- through Christ.

Some will tell you that Christ died for your sins

  • Because you are worthy
  • Because of the overwhelming and supreme love of God
    • That God the Father was intent upon punishment
    • That Christ, instead, was intent upon love and salvation

But both of those are wrong.

  • It ends up introducing a schism in the Trinity
  • It denies perichoresis
  • It glorifies Christ
  • But robs God of His honor

The true motivation behind the redemption of God's chosen people

  • the good pleasure of God to save sinners by substitutionary atonement
    • Isaiah 53:10
    • John 3:16
    • Galatian 1:4
    • Col 1:9-24
  • The motivation for the Atonement
    • is found only in God
    • is not found in man

God designs all things to bring glory to himself according to his plan

God is the cause of the atonement of Christ, & thereby fulfills His good pleasure.

Conclusion & Uses

We give all glory and honor to God

  • We rely upon the work done by Christ as man
  • We rely upon the work done by Christ as God
  • We rely upon the person of Christ for our salvation and not in ourselves

Understanding the two natures of Christ are distinct yet unified

  • We grow in our adoration of the condescension by God in taking upon a human nature, in His suffering, in His obedience, in His sacrifice
  • We grow in our adoration of the Mediator
  • We grow in our determination and commitment to obedience
    • Knowing that we have a mediator who was tempted in every way yet was fully obedient

Therefore, when we are tempted

  • We know we have helper sent by Christ to help us escape and not sin

Therefore, when we are confronted with the law

  • We know that whatever obedience we are commanded
    • whatever sacrifice that might require from us
    • whatever inconvenience that might introduce to us
    • whatever comfort that might be taken from us
    • It is nothing compared to what Christ – as fully God and fully man – suffered so that we might be reconciled unto God to whom we have offended and sinned against in our rebellion.

Therefore, we are willing to be obedient and we are thankful and grateful that God, in His good pleasure, did everything necessary for reconciliation.

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