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Kenosis:

Our Lord's Self-Limitation during the 1st Advent

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Question #1:  

Dear Professor,

Another question.

1. I have already asked you questions about Our Lord Jesus Christ and your response clarified some of my doubts. Nevertheless, I still don't understand many things it is pivotal that I do, as this is one of the most important aspects of our faith. Jesus is Our Lord and God, who humbled himself to become a human. I don't know how specifically was Jesus human and how specifically was he God during His earthly ministry. You wrote:

'As to Matthew 24:36, Jesus is speaking from His humanity to a human audience; in His divinity it would be impossible for Him not to know everything (He is omniscient), else He would not be divine. That is really the departure point for all such discussions'.

Does that mean that during his earthly ministry not only he became limited physically, but also lost his omniscience? What do you mean when you say that he was 'speaking from His humanity'? I have read several commentaries on this passage and on Mark 13:32 and the differences in interpretations are very significant, leaving me confused. These are interpretations that I found:

1. http://carm.org/christianity/

christian-doctrine/if-jesus-god-then-why-did-he-not-know-time-his-return

2. http://bible.org/article/

when-did-jesus-know-translation-aorist-and

-perfect-participles-verbs-perception-gospels

3. http://servetustheevangelical.com/doc/

Is_Jesus_God_If_He_Didn't_Know_the_Time
_of_His_Return.pdf

4. http://bible.org/article/textual-problem-oujdev-oj-uijov-matthew-2436

5. http://bible.org/question/

does-jesus-now-know-when-he-coming-back-or-still-

only-gods-knowledge-stated-matt-2436-and-m

6. http://www.biblebanner.com/articles/deity/
jes_omnic.htm

As evident, different people interpret these passages differently. Perceptions of who Jesus was vary greatly and although some are complete nonsense, some require greater understanding of the scripture to be recognized as true or false and I certainly lack this knowledge at this stage. I focused on Matthew 24:36 and Mark 13:32, but there are other controversial passages that have been debated. Hopefully knowing our Lord and his nature better will allow me to discern the meaning of other passages more successfully.

I have got other questions I wanted to ask you, but this one is so much more important.

In Jesus,

Response #1: 

Always good to hear from you. The key to this issue is the doctrine of kenosis (please see the links: in BB 4A: "The Hypostatic Union and the Doctrine of Kenosis", and "Kenosis"):

(5) You too should have this attitude which Christ Jesus had. (6) Since He already existed in the very form of God, equality with God was [certainly] not something He thought He had to grasp for. (7) Yet in spite of this [co-equal divinity He already possessed], He deprived Himself of His status and took on the form of a slave, [and was] born in the likeness of men. (8) He humbled Himself, becoming obedient to the point of death, even [His] death on [the] cross [for us all].
Philippians 2:5-8

Paul explains that Jesus' taking on of true humanity was a self-imposed limitation – but a limitation nonetheless. In order for mankind to be saved, all sin had to be atoned for. God cannot be judged for sin, and no ordinary mortal man could stand judgment for a single sin, however small, nor, after the fall, would any of us be acceptable as a sacrifice to God even if we could. For mankind to be saved God had to become man. The incarnation is key to the Plan of God and history, and the judgment of all sin on the cross is its cornerstone – everything is built upon Jesus' sacrifice which was necessitated by the creation it underpins (for more on all this please see the link: BB 4B: Soteriology, part I, "God's Plan to Save You").

The parameters of Jesus' kenosis, literally, "emptying", are often misunderstood and wrongly expressed. But the quote from Philippians above spells things out clearly enough (n.b. the translation which is my own): Jesus deliberately and voluntarily "took on the form of a slave, [and was] born in the likeness of men", and in doing so He "deprived Himself of His status" – not in His divinity but only in His humanity. Jesus is God. And being God, it was impossible for Him to die physically or spiritually (i.e., the judgment at the cross), and likewise impossible for Him "not to know" anything. Whenever our Lord in His humanity suffers from the limitations of humanity (and from time to time we are given to see Him hungry, thirsty, tired, etc.), these limitations apply only to His humanity, only during the first advent (since at present He has been glorified and this temporary, functional wall of separation between His divine and human natures has been removed), and only because this temporary regime of limitation was necessary to accomplish salvation: Jesus had to be a "high priest like unto us" (Heb.2:17; 4:15) to "fulfill all righteousness" (Matt.3:15):

For this reason He had to be like His brothers in every way, in order to become a merciful and faithful High Priest in the things relating to God in order to propitiate the sins of the people (i.e., through the sacrifice of Himself).
Hebrews 2:17

For we do not have a High Priest who is not able to sympathize with our weaknesses, since He too was put to the test in all things just as [we are], [only] without sin.
Hebrews 4:15

(7) [Jesus our High Priest] who in the days of His flesh[ly life] (i.e., while He was on earth prior to the resurrection), having offered up prayers and petitions with powerful shouting and with tears to the One who was able to save Him from death, and having been hearkened to on account of His devoutness, (8) although being [God's one and only] Son, nevertheless came to understand [firsthand in His humanity] from what He suffered [what] obedience to God [truly is] (i.e., what it takes for a human being to be obedient to God), (9) and, once He was perfected (i.e., perfectly completed His course), became the source of eternal salvation for all who are obedient to Him (i.e., believers).
Hebrews 5:7-9

One might think that perhaps God could forgive sin just by virtue of being God, but while His love finds a way to save us, His righteousness demands that someone pay the full price of our sins. And if Jesus had to die in the darkness for all our sins, it is not so hard to see that in order to be qualified to do so He had to live a perfect life prior to His sacrifice, one that included running the full gamut of human suffering – and beyond. For that qualifying testing to be legitimate, for it involve the sort of genuinely free human choice of the sort we are all here to demonstrate, having His deity "help out" His humanity unnecessarily would have been "unfair" (cf. His refusal to listen to Satan and turn the rocks to bread), and for this reason our Lord had to live a most difficult life prior to the cross (not to mention the gauntlet immediately preceding His crucifixion and certainly not to mention His suffering the judgment for our sins in the three hours of darkness – His "blood" or spiritual death through which we are saved; see the link).

So I take this verse (Matt.24:36) to be explainable by the doctrine of kenosis: in His deity, Jesus is incapable of "not knowing" anything – only in His humanity during the first advent were certain things withheld from Him as part of the self-imposed limitation necessary for Him to get to the cross and be an acceptable Sacrifice for our sins. Some of these commentaries you quote seem to be hitting around this point, but it is typical of such works that they often fail to give an adequate explanation. Perhaps you will find that true of the above as well. If so, please do feel free to write back about any of this – it's a very important point.

Yours in our dear Lord Jesus who died that we might have life eternal,

Bob L.

Question #2:  

Hello Dr. Luginbill,

When Jesus told Satan, "thou shall not tempt the Lord thy God", was Jesus referring to Himself as God ("thy God" when responding to Satan? Satan tried to tempt Jesus and Jesus said not to tempt his (Satan's) God. Or was Jesus referring to His Father?

God Bless,

Response #2: 

In Matthew 4:7 (and Luke 4:12) our Lord is quoting Deuteronomy 6:16. While it is true that Jesus is LORD, that is, YHVH (just as the Father and the Spirit are), He took on the role of the Suffering Servant in order to fulfill God's plan. Indeed, His death for all sin on the cross the is the foundation of the plan and more important to an infinite magnitude than everything else that has or will happen in time. As the obedient Son of God, our Lord Jesus responds to the Father's WILL in all things, "even unto death on the cross" (Phil.2:8). Satan's three temptations of our Lord were designed to get Him to follow Satan rather than the Father; all three of our Lord's responses use scripture to show where everyone's true allegiance ought to be directed, namely, to God and not to the devil (no matter what he falsely promises). So I would say that our Lord in all of these three rebukes is speaking of His intention to follow the Father's will come what may – and in doing so He is giving us the perfect example for all the testing that comes our way as well: we need to be ready to choose God's Word (Matt.4:4), God's WILL (Matt.4:7), and worship Him alone (Matt.4:10), while having nothing to do with the false and empty promises of this vain and temporary world and those of its perfidious present ruler.

In Jesus our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #3:  

Deuteronomy 18:18

I would like to know your point to point response to the attached article.

regards,

Response #3: 

Dear Friend,

With apologies, I am not in the habit of opening unsolicited attachments. If you wish to put your specific questions into an email, I would be happy to address them.

As to the fact that Jesus Christ is the Prophet whom Moses discusses in Deuteronomy 18:18, there is no doubt, and you can find out more about that at the following links:

Gospel Questions IV: The Prophet

In BB 4A: "Christ's taking on of true humanity was necessary for fulfilling God's prior promises and prophecies"

In Jesus our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob Luginbill

Question #4:   

G'Day Brother

Hope your doing well.

I use the KJV. Which translation renders this verse best.

2 Corinthians 5:21

For he hath made(1) him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made(2) the righteousness of God in him.

In the Greek:

made(1)- poieo: to make, to produce

which is the correct translation in the English

However,

made(2)- ginomai: to become, to come into existence, begin to be which is incorrect

Should the verse read like this:

For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we may become the righteousness of God in him.

1 John 3:7 supports the above translation, is this all correct?

Love In Christ

Response #4: 

The Person "who knew no sin" is Jesus. This is a good example of how Greek makes things clear which may be ambiguous in translation. Literally, this is a participial phrase: "the One who did not know sin". The definite article and the participle are both singular and cannot refer to the plural "us" (and the word order also makes it clear that this phrase goes with the first part of the verse).

Good to hear from you!

In Jesus our dear Savior,

Bob L.

Question #5: 

Hi Brother

What I was trying to ask you was; which is the better translation for 2 Corinthians 5:21; 1 or 2 below.

1. For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.

OR

2. For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we may become the righteousness of God in him.

God Bless

Response #5: 

#2 is impossible for the reasons given in the last email. It makes it sound as if "us" and "knew no sin" go together which would be incorrect. #1 is "better" in that it is not outright wrong.

Hope this helps!

In Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #6: 

Hello Dr. Luginbill,

Can Jesus truly be separated from His Father if they are of one essence? I see Jesus as being one with His Father like a triangle with three sides. Each side isn't a triangle in itself, but has the properties of a triangle. Somewhat like saying a couch is red. The couch isn't a color, but has the properties of the color red. Each side of the triangle is not a God, but has the divine properties of God, or sharing the same nature. In this way, I can't see the Son being truly separate from His Father. When God forsook Jesus on the cross, what does the word forsaken mean in the Greek? Does this mean that Christ still retained the nature of God but at the same time had sin placed on Him? And because of this, the Father had to look away? Thanks!

God Bless,

Response #6: 

From the point of view of Jesus' divinity, you are certainly correct. This the main reason why Jesus had to become a human being to save us: only a human being could be judged for sins (that is what being forsaken refers to), but only a human being who was also God could endure such a judgment of the sins of the entire world. There is much more about this at the links in BB 4A: Christology under "Christ's taking on of true humanity was necessary in order to provide our salvation", "The Hypostatic Union and Kenosis", "Kenosis and the Cross", and "The Spiritual Death of Christ".

Yours in the One who gave up everything for us, the Lord Jesus who is our all in all,

Bob L.

Question #7:  

Can you help me with some material on the deity of Christ; as I am trying to help a new Christian understand the trinity & that Jesus is God in the flesh. I've had such questions as, "how can Jesus be God & still pray to the father?" Also, "how can Jesus be God & the father is speaking to them from heaven?" Hence when Moses & Elijah appeared to Jesus on the mountain and John & Peter were with him.

Response #7: 

As to your questions, there is a lot of material at Ichthys on this issue of Christ's two natures, being God and (since the incarnation) a true human being, along with His voluntary subordination during the first advent in order to die for the sins of the world: He had to act and be restricted in this way otherwise His sacrifice would not be acceptable. Please see the links:

The Doctrine of Kenosis

Jesus is God

Jesus is God and Man

The Person of Christ

Kenosis and the Cross

In a nutshell, Jesus, who is God, took on the form of a suffering Servant in becoming a human being (in addition to His divinity). He "learned obedience through what He suffered" (Heb.5:8), meaning that He had to suffer what we do (and so much more) in order for His life and sacrifice to be a fair test and an acceptable offering. That meant being obedient to the Father (even though as God He is equal to the Father) in assuming the role of the One who saves mankind.

(5) You too should have this attitude which Christ Jesus had. (6) Since He already existed in the very form of God, equality with God was [certainly] not something He thought He had to grasp for. (7) Yet in spite of this [co-equal divinity He already possessed], He deprived Himself of His status and took on the form of a slave, [and was] born in the likeness of men. (8) He humbled Himself, becoming obedient to the point of death, even [His] death on [the] cross [for us all].
Philippians 2:5-8

Yours in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #8: 

I have a question. When Jesus came to earth in His humanity, did He leave His place in Heaven where there are the Trinity, leaving the Father and the Spirit? It says in Phil.2:5-8 that "He made Himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men".

Would so like your feedback on this...

Very many thanks and love in the Lord Jesus

Response #8: 

On our Lord's first advent, Jesus has always been God, even before He created the universe in the blink of an eye at the Father's behest in the power of the Spirit. Being God by nature, He cannot ever not be God. What is unique about Him within the Trinity is that from the point of the virgin birth Jesus has possessed two natures, one human and one divine. He is still One Person, but, having cast His lot with us (and how amazing is that?!), He is now a genuine human being in addition to being God. During the first advent, He voluntarily limited His divinity in restricting it from aiding His humanity. That is because if He had in His human nature enjoyed full access to all of His divine attributes, then His human experience would have been nothing like ours (and if anything it was in reality more intense than ours: cf. Heb.2:9; 2:17-18; 4:15), with the result that His life of sacrifice and, much more to the point, His sacrificial death would not have been acceptable as a substitute for the judgment that was due us, those He came into this world to save. His spiritual death on the cross (see the link), that is, His standing judgment in the darkness for the sins of the world being punished in our place for all we have done, was "efficacious" because He allowed His humanity to suffer. This self-limitation or the "fire-walling" off of His deity from His humanity in terms of helping it is called in theology the doctrine of kenosis (see the link).

So in terms of His deity, Jesus is omnipresent: as God, like the Father and the Spirit, He exceeds the spatial and temporal limitations of the universe to an infinite degree, and within the universe He is everywhere and cannot fail to be everywhere at once; as a human being (as He has been since the virgin birth and will now be forever), He is limited to one time and place. That place has been the third heaven since His ascension.

Please do feel free to write me back about any of the above.

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #9:  

Dear Professor, 

Another set of questions. Please take your time, your responses always arrive very promptly and as I have said before - I don't feel I can strike a good balance between satisfying the interest, curiosity and hunger to know the Word of God and not being a nuisance. I need to say that your support and patient and detailed guidance helped me discover what 'church' really means.

But [Jesus] was speaking about the temple of His body (i.e., two elements here: Him [i.e., His spirit] and His body).
John 2:21

I would like to understand why you explain this passage as referring to both His spirit and His body - the passage only seems to refer to the body of Jesus.

Response #9: 

Hello,

Thank you for your patience too. And thank you for your prayers! Your continuing support in this matter is much appreciated.

On John 2:21, the point (admittedly not well explained in the parenthesis) is that just as the temple the house of God, so a body houses a spirit. It is the totality of the phrase "temple of the body of HIM" (Greek autou) where the pronoun HIM is brought into the mix. Perhaps I should translate it that way, but it's not the clearest possible English that way and would require additional explanation.

Question #10:  

You have called Our Lord Jesus a perfect example of faith. Although, why can the faith of Jesus still be called faith, if He has seen the Father and is One with Him? Is it about God being able to do things we have faith in, as in Luke 8:22-25?

Response #10: 

Our Lord's faith was perfect as ours is meant to be in emulation of Him. Here we are talking about His humanity (for, yes of course, in His deity there is no question of faith). During the time of His sojourn on earth, in His humanity He deprived Himself of full access to His deity, "He took on the form of a slave" and "humbled Himself becoming obedient even unto death" (Phil.2:7-8). This the doctrine of kenosis. After the resurrection, there is no such "fire wall" between Christ's humanity and His deity, but during the first advent He allowed Himself to be "tempted/tested in all ways as we are" (Heb.4:15; cf. Heb.2:10; 2:18). This meant having to have faith as we do. Your example, Luke 8:22-25, does demonstrate the perfect faith He had and the wide gulf between His perfect faith and our "little faith" which, were it only the size of a mustard seed, would be able to move mountains.

Question #11:  

Could you please clarify Isaiah 11:2-3: 'And the Spirit of the Lord will rest upon Him (i.e., the Messiah), the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord, and the fear of the Lord will be to Him a sweet fragrance'.

Why would Our Lord have to be filled with the Spirit of the fear of the Lord, particularly in light of His unity with the Father?

Response #11: 

This is another example of the kenosis of Jesus Christ, that is, His voluntary restraint of His deity in aiding His humanity during the days of His first advent. In order for the sacrifice of Jesus Christ to be valid, He had not only to be a true human being but also to come to the cross at the right time having lived a perfect life as a true human being, and that included "for the sake of fulfilling all righteousness" enduring what we all have to endure. He was given the Spirit "without measure", but as this passage and the situation indicates – and as we all know very well – the Spirit helps when we are willing to be helped and to the degree that we are willing to be helped. We still have free will and have to respond to the Spirit to benefit from His ministry. Jesus did this to a perfect degree.

Question #12:  

Could you please clarify 2 Corinthians 5:21: "He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him."

What is meant by 'He made Him who knew to sin to be sin on our behalf'? If I remember well, in previous texts you added sin 'offering' and that can easily be understood, but without it the meaning isn't clear to me. Please explain what Paul means here and why does he chooses the words he chooses.

Response #12: 

Yes, "sin offering" is a valid expansion in that it essentially explains it. The Father "made Him sin" in that "He considered Him as the One who though innocent was to be judged for sin", i.e., sin in the sense of the target for judgment needed to forgive sin, the "Substitute" for sin. This phrasing is a very emphatic and powerful direct statement which sums up in a very graphic way what Jesus did for us.

Question #13:  

Before I started reading your website, I had almost no understanding and appreciation of who our Lord Jesus Christ is. This speaks volumes about the 'spirituality' in which I was raised. All the readings and numerous questions you answered made a difference in my life and on more than one occasion I shared my happiness with you - my life has now got purpose and direction and with God's help I have got rid of many 'weeds' and continue to do so.

Nevertheless, the relationships between the Members of the Trinity are not yet entirely clear and one matter that still bothers me is the authority in the Trinity and hence the co-equality of Its members. Some of the questions I asked you about the co-equality of Son and the Father were answered with the doctrine of kenosis. Although, I don't think kenosis applies in this particular case, please clarify:

John 17:24 New American Standard Bible (NASB): 24 Father, I desire that they also, whom You have given Me, be with Me where I am, so that they may see My glory which You have given Me, for You loved Me before the foundation of the world.

The Father gives the Son the glory, as He and loved Him (the Son), before the foundation of the world. So the glory was given to the Son by the Father and He was loved by the Father before the time began, could you please explain how does this conform to the co-equality of the Trinity? I read the following explanation: 'not the simple abstract glory of his deity; which, as it was not given to him, is not to be seen by them; but his glory as Mediator'. If this is correct and the 'glory given' is not the glory of Jesus' deity, then why anyway did our Lord had to be given any other glory? Please clarify. One sentence I found on your website shed the light on this matter: In some sense, both are right (the issue turns on the Father's role as possessing original authority and the Son's role as receiving delegated authority - note the stress on the word "role"). Would you thus say that (please correct me where required):

1. Although Trinity consists of co-equal Members, the authority is not equal, as more is assumed by the Father than the Son.

2. This difference in the authority does not in any way contradict the co-equality, as it refers to the roles that the members assumed and not to some being more important (hence invalidating the gradation of members of the Trinity). But this is the point at which I need the clarification of 17:24.

Unlike it was the case in the past, I do understand that all three members of the Trinity have got their roles that only They could fulfill and that the fulfillment of these roles is inevitable. Understanding this really made a difference for me (as now I'm even starting to wonder whether working out the equality of the Trinity is proper for me to do at all - what is the point in arguing whether it's food, light or air that we need to live, if in fact we need all of these? That makes all gradation nonsensical anyway). Nevertheless, I will, as I always do, very much appreciate your insights on the above questions, as this obviously is a very important matter.

Response #13: 

As always, thank you for your kind comments. Jesus Christ is our all and our everything. He is the One who created us and the One who died to redeem us from death so that we might have eternal life with Him. He is the one we love and esteem more than life itself. Indeed, we only put up with this life as those who have complete faith that what we are doing here is what He wants us to do. He is our joy, our courage, our song in the night. He is our Savior. For us, to live is Christ – and to die is gain. In my view it is impossible to live a mature Christian life, to pass the tests that come our way successfully, and to minister to others with out being deeply occupied with Jesus Christ, His marvelous Person and His gracious work in dying in our place: we love Him because He loved us first and gave Himself up unto death to save us from death.

On the Trinity, I think you understand it much better than most. The one point of clarification I would add to all this is that – at least in my view – all talk of authority and roles etc. applies only to this creation. God exists in one essence and in three Persons, and He has always existed in this way even before He created the universe. While God is "three" in terms of being three absolute and distinct Persons, God is also "one" in a complete way which is beyond human ken (just as really trying to imagine Him outside of time and space is impossible for us since we only know existence in time and space). God is glory, and so Jesus' words – the operative phrase of which for our purposes is "before the foundation of the world" – apply to the present situation inside of time and space. That is to say, only in the sense of being now a true human being could Jesus possibly receive back the glory that was previously His before He became a true man as well as God – and only in His humanity. In His deity, Jesus always had glory, for He is glory and always was in perfect harmony and unity with the Father and the Spirit before God made the world.

Question #14:   

One more question on the Trinity - indeed, your addition to what I wrote regarding space and time is valuable and key to my considerations - they have always been limited in their scope by not taking into account that deity cannot really be 'fitted into' these two concepts, and if it does - this is only for the duration of human history. Another question I would like to ask regarding this (and I'm sure that you have a lot to say on this topic in the studies which I haven't yet read, so I will appreciate just a brief explanation), is the nature of existence of our Lord in eternity. He humbled Himself and emptied Himself voluntarily - but how is He going to exist in eternity in heaven? Is He going to be like other humans there? Has He abandoned His existence beyond space and time forever for our benefit and even in heaven He will exist 'within' these dimensions? So is Jesus' sacrifice, in a sense, eternal in its nature? He 'emptied' Himself during His first advent, but will He, in eternity to come, 'come back' to His pre human history existence beyond space and time, or will He still be somewhat limited to be with us? So when you write: 'all talk of authority and roles etc. applies only to this creation', do you consider heaven a part of the creation, even if different from the world we live in?

Response #14: 

The doctrine of kenosis through its name may imply "emptying" but God is God and cannot ever not be God. Jesus is God, has always been God, and could not possible cease to be God, even for a moment (and of course God is not subject to time and space). By kenosis we mean that in His humanity Jesus was not benefitted by His deity during His time of sacrificial service in His first coming. So in Philippians 2:7 when Paul says that our Lord "emptied Himself" he means that by taking on non-glorified humanity He was "empty" of deity in His humanity (in the sense of not having unfettered access to His deity from His humanity). The human nature of Christ was, so to speak, functionally "fire-walled off" from His divine nature during the first advent. Otherwise His sacrificial life would not have been sacrificial and His human life would not have been genuinely human and His death on the cross for sin being judged in the darkness during those three hours would not have been possible. This is explained somewhat in the very next verse:

And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death–even death on a cross!
Philippians 2:8 NIV

He "appeared" as just a man, and He lived a life of complete humility and suffering (cf. Heb.2:9; 2:17-18; 4:15), in order to be able to die for the sins of the world. Jesus becoming a human being therefore was not subtraction but addition. He has always been one Person, but now He has two natures. Before the incarnation, He was God. After the incarnation, He is the God-man. After the resurrection, ascension and glorification, moreover, there is no longer any restriction between His deity and His humanity. That is no longer necessary now that the victory of the cross has been won. You can find out more about all this in BB 4A: Christology section I, "The Person of Christ" and especially section I.5.e "The Hypostatic Union and Kenosis".

As to heaven et al., we human beings and the angels can only exist in time and space. In biblical terms, time-space consists of three areas 1) "the world" (aka. the cosmos or kosmos, and "this creation"), 2) a zone of sanctification (i.e., the "third heaven" or sometimes simply "heaven"), 3) a zone of sequestration (i.e., "Hades", which has numerous parts such as the Abyss, Torments, [Abraham's] Paradise; this is where the lake of fire is also found). See the chart at this link in CT 2B: "The Waters Above". The world is also called "the heavens and the earth", but this world is not permanent. It has been defiled and will not endure after the process of history is completed. At the end of human history, the old world will be destroyed:

But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything in it will be laid bare. Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming. That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat. But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, the home of righteousness.
2nd Peter 3:10-13 NIV

The New Heavens and New Earth are the place of eternity. This is where the New Jerusalem will be – on the New Earth (Rev.21-22), and it is to this New Earth that the Father will return (see the link in CT 6: "The Advent of the Father"). Therefore "heaven", meaning the third heaven, is merely a temporary "H.Q." for God during the presently raging conflict with Satan so as to maintain separation from the presently corrupt world – but such will not always be the case once the conflict is over. Once history is completely resolved at the end of the Millennium, Jesus will reign forever with the Father in the New Jerusalem. In His humanity, He is of God's time-space universe, but in His deity He cannot be contained to or defined by it. The thing I find so wonderful about all this is that Jesus' taking on of true humanity weds Him to us and our existence here in space-time forevermore. This proves unequivocally that we, our experience, our existence, this universe, this process of history, is absolutely unique – just like He is unique. We are not some experiment. We have always been in the mind of God and this process of history which is founded upon the cross and Jesus' death for all sin could not be more important, more permanent, or more fundamental to all God has done, is doing, and will do for us in time to come.

However, as it is written: "No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him"
1st Corinthians 2:9 NIV

And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus.
Ephesians 2:6-7 NIV

Question #15: 

Regarding the existence of the Father - I find it difficult to understand. Our Lord became a human being, hence limited to time and space, but how about the Father? If, as you said, the third heaven is His current 'H.Q.', then he must somehow 'fit' into it - and this is what I struggle to comprehend. Somewhat linked to this is the question about the following sentences from your response:

After the resurrection, ascension and glorification, moreover, there is no longer any restriction between His deity and His humanity. That is no longer necessary now that the victory of the cross has been won.

How can there be no restriction between His deity and humanity? Doesn't the latter always impose a limitation? Or do you mean here that Jesus, after the cross, will always be both and exist in eternity in the form of a human being (so that we can see Him in eternity, which still is subject to time and space, and, as you said, we can only exist in time and space), while at the same time, apart from time and space, He will exist forever with the Father?

Response #15: 

As God, the Father exceeds the universe to an infinite degree in terms of time and space and in ways we are as yet incapable of comprehending, and the same is true of our Lord Jesus in His deity. However, while the Father is omnipresent in fact, He is certainly free to represent Himself in any form He may wish and in any place where He may wish to do so. The form He has chosen is human form and the place He has chosen (since the devil's initial revolt) is the third heaven:

"As I looked, "thrones were set in place, and the Ancient of Days took his seat. His clothing was as white as snow; the hair of his head was white like wool. His throne was flaming with fire, and its wheels were all ablaze. A river of fire was flowing, coming out from before him. Thousands upon thousands attended him; ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him. The court was seated, and the books were opened."
Daniel 7:9-10 NIV

At once I was in the Spirit, and there before me was a throne in heaven with someone sitting on it. And the one who sat there had the appearance of jasper and carnelian. A rainbow, resembling an emerald, encircled the throne.
Revelation 4:2-3 NIV

Before the incarnation, the Son on multiple occasions took on a very similar appearance for the purpose of representing the Father to humanity:

Above the expanse over their heads was what looked like a throne of sapphire, and high above on the throne was a figure like that of a man. I saw that from what appeared to be his waist up he looked like glowing metal, as if full of fire, and that from there down he looked like fire; and brilliant light surrounded him. Like the appearance of a rainbow in the clouds on a rainy day, so was the radiance around him. This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the LORD. When I saw it, I fell facedown, and I heard the voice of one speaking.
Ezekiel 1:26-28 NIV

In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord seated on a throne, high and exalted, and the train of his robe filled the temple.
Isaiah 6:1 NIV

We know that Jesus is meant because in referring to this second passage above John at John 12:41 says "Isaiah said this because he saw Jesus' glory and spoke about him" (NIV). Since the incarnation, however, Jesus only appears in His humanity. In His deity, He continues to be omnipresent; only His humanity is restricted from being in more than one place at a time – as He is a genuine human being (albeit resurrected) in addition to being God. By "restriction" in referring to the first advent, I am speaking about the doctrine of kenosis (cf. Phil.2:5-8), that is, the voluntary self-limitation on our Lord's part whereby He refrained from using His deity to aid His humanity so that His human experience would be absolutely genuine in every way and His suffering and sacrifice acceptable and beyond approach. During the first advent, for example, Jesus had to learn everything about God's revealed truth in the same way we must do it (though He did it perfectly to a degree we cannot really imagine); now Jesus' humanity knows everything His deity knows. During the first advent, for example, Jesus prayed to the Father for certain things to happen just as we have to pray and do not possess any inherent power to, say, make a few loaves and fishes expand miraculously to feed a crowd. Now, Jesus deity and humanity operate without this self-imposed compartmentalization – and beyond His humanity being in one place at a time and within this universe as all of us must be even after resurrection, I cannot think of any other "restrictions". So it is perhaps easier to understand the situation now than the unique situation during the first advent. It is, however, important to emphasize that Jesus' deity has not changed and could not ever change. He is the unique Person of the universe because of His taking on of true humanity in addition to His deity, an astounding development which demonstrates the importance of the human race to God: while on the earthly level none of us is important though we may imagine ourselves to be, on the divine level each of us is far more important than we have at present any idea – and Jesus' wedding of Himself to us His Bride for all eternity demonstrates that fact undeniably.

Question #16: 

Although I'm making progress in understanding the character of our Lord's first advent, there are still things which I would like you to clarify. Despite limiting Himself to a human being, our Lord did not sin and performed many miracles. The former can be explained by the lack of sin nature, the latter - by his perfect faith, if I'm correct.

a) I still find it difficult to understand the mechanics of our Lord's first coming and I arrived at the following point - through the lack of sin nature, our Lord's will could have been fully tuned in with the will of the Father. Sin is what always separates us from our Father and because our Lord did not sin, He could fulfill everything He needed to fulfill without fail. So there was an element of perfection in our Lord's life and we know that perfection is not to become our fate until after judgment. Can this perfection be explained through lack of sinful nature and perfect faith, and again how much was this perfect faith something that our Lord had to achieve and how much was it something He was born with? Please clarify and correct where necessary.

b) What I would like to understand better is the relationship of our Lord with the Father during His first advent. When did our Lord become aware of what He came to accomplish? Since He Himself allowed the 'emptying' to take place, the mind and heart of our Lord, even at birth, probably cannot be considered to be 'tabula rasa' - He must have known His purpose. It's this 'connection' with the Father that I would like to understand - yes, our Lord did not use His deity to gain advantage in His trials, but through the awareness of His role He seems to have been in a position slightly different to other human beings. How much did our Lord 'know' about the fact that He has emptied Himself, how aware was He of these things - was He fully aware from the start? I'm trying to establish where His humanity and deity interact, where and when one finishes and the other starts.

Response #16: 

As the Son of God sent to accomplish God's most important mission, Jesus was given many miracles to do in order to, among other things, fulfill the prophecies about Him and give proof of His Messiahship. Yes, His faith was perfect (as He was and is perfect in every way), but the miracles are the result of God's particular purpose for Him. The apostles were given to do many miracles, and apparently more than our Lord did when considered from the standpoint of volume (cf. Jn.14:12) – and they were certainly not perfect.

a) Jesus was sinless, and sin does complicate our lives. But all the great believers of the past were sinful human beings, and yet they are recorded as great nonetheless (e.g., Heb.11). Jesus grew up spiritually as we all are meant to do – only He did it perfectly. He is our role model. He was completely spiritually mature and had a perfect understanding of the scriptures by the age of twelve (cf. Lk.2:42ff.), and continued to grow until perfectly tested and complete, the "final exam" being His 40 days of temptation in the desert. He did it perfectly and wasted no time or effort. If we could be 1% as good as He was in the process of spiritual growth, we would do well – but we are nowhere close even to that. I suppose one could consider His sinlessness "an advantage", but that would certainly have to be weighed against 1) the need to maintain that sinlessness perfectly (something neither Adam nor we could do) and 2) the fact that He was the #1 target for the devil bar-none. For more on our Lord's spiritual development please see the link: "Early Life of Christ and Preparation for Ministry".

b) See the preceding link. We find this in Isaiah:

(2) And the Spirit of the Lord will rest upon Him (i.e., the Messiah), the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord.
Isaiah 11:2

(4) The Lord God has given Me a tongue of those who have been [fully] instructed [in the truth], that I may know the right words [of truth] to encourage (lit., "re-string" them like an unstrung bow) the weary. He arouses His Word [within Me]. [And] every morning He awakens Me. He awakens My ear[s] to listen like [the ears of] those who have been [fully] instructed [in the truth]. (5) The Lord God has opened My ear[s], and I have not refused [instruction] (lit., "rebelled" against it). I have not turned away [nor gone] backward.
Isaiah 50:4-5

Both passages describe Jesus' learning directly from God through a process of instruction that must have started from the very beginning of His earthly life. None of us is a tabula rasa in that we all have human spirits with distinct individuating characteristics. Jesus, as a true human being, is no exception. What is exceptional is the degree to which He took advantage of the ministry of the Spirit, of natural revelation, and of the truth of the Word of God.

Question #17:  

Could you please clarify Hebrews 12:2: "fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God."

When Paul calls Jesus 'the author and perfecter of faith', does he refer to Jesus in His humanity (kenosis, as in the case of any other passages referring to the faith of our Lord) that required faith, as His access to deity was restricted?

Is the meaning of ' who for the joy set before Him endured the cross' ironic?

Response #17: 

I take "'the author and perfecter of faith'" to mean "the One without whom we would have nothing and no one to believe in" (author = "originator") and "the One who made our faith possible and effectual through His death in expiating our sins" (perfecter = "completer"). As to "the joy", we are the joy, His Bride (see the link), His prize with which He motivated Himself throughout the first advent and especially during His ordeal and death for us.

Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her
Ephesians 5:25 NIV

Question #18: 

Could you please clarify Philippians 2:5-6: "Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, 6 who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped,"

What does Paul mean by 'did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped'? What is the meaning and in your view the best translation of the Greek word that has been here translated as grasp?

If it's translated 'grasp' (NASB) it sounds as if Jesus deprived Himself of the equality with God. If it's translated ' to be used to his own advantage' (NIV) it sounds as if He did have it, but decided not to use it. You have translated: 'He thought He had to grasp for', which is again slightly different.

Response #18: 

Here is how I render the context:

(5) You too should have this attitude which Christ Jesus had. (6) Since He already existed in the very form of God, equality with God was [certainly] not something He thought He had to grasp for. (7) Yet in spite of this [co-equal divinity He already possessed], He deprived Himself of His status and took on the form of a slave, [and was] born in the likeness of men. (8) He humbled Himself, becoming obedient to the point of death, even [His] death on [the] cross [for us all].
Philippians 2:5-8

Jesus' becoming a human being was an incredible sacrifice – but how much more His death for us was such we cannot fully understand at present. Paul's point is that this was not something Jesus, being God, was compelled to do. We need to understand the entirely voluntary nature of His sacrifice of Himself (and of the Father's sacrifice of Him) in order to begin to understand the depths of the love of God. There is more about this passage and the doctrine of Kenosis at the link.

Question #19:  

You wrote:

In broad terms, since God's perfect justice demands satisfaction for all sin, and since we human beings are without any means of providing that satisfaction short of suffering eternal condemnation, God Himself in His inexpressibly great mercy and kindness provided us with a substitute, His own dear Son our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

You also wrote in your texts that we are unable to pay for even the smallest of our sins.

I wanted to know why that's the case - is it because every sin makes us 'imperfect' (and that imperfection comes through sin nature at birth anyway) and God cannot accept the 'payment' from a less than perfect source? Why is it, as you wrote, 'a debt which we could not pay'? I understand the need for a Saviour, I would like to know why specifically we cannot pay even for the smallest of sins.

Response #19: 

It's a good question and one which in my view is insufficiently understood in theological circles. In my view, sin, any sin, comes with a penalty: death. And the death in question is not oblivion or the termination of physical life on earth but painful, fiery retribution while separated from the presence of God. To "pay" for a sin requires two things: 1) a perfect sacrifice; 2) the ability to endure the divine punishment. The first requirement disqualifies all human beings apart from our Lord: the very fact that we have committed a sin means we are not qualified to expiate or pay for that sin; so we are not qualified to pay for a single sin we have ever committed or ever will. The second requirement explains in part why Jesus had to be God and man in order to pay for all of our sins. No human being is capable of bearing the punishment of a single sin. The suffering of the lake of fire, terrible as it will be, will not actually "pay" for a single sin throughout all eternity. Not only are those who will be placed in it unqualified to bear sin, but the suffering they endure will not be as severe as the punishment required to expiate sin. If a human being other than Christ were to be subjected to the penalty for sin, my guess is that he/she would be immediately destroyed. As it is, of course, no spirit created by the Lord will be destroyed in the sense of being rendered non-existent; all who refuse to accept Jesus Christ will be consigned to the lake of fire, a horrible eternal "existence" apart from God forever, but not oblivion, and not anything like payment for sin. Christ, on the other hand, because He was a sinless human being, was qualified to bear our sins; and, because He was God as well, His humanity could be subjected to the full punishment for sins, all sins, and yet not be destroyed. What that cost our dear Lord, dying in the darkness for all human sins, paying the full price for every one of them, the smallest of which would destroy the greatest of us, we cannot know – other than to realize that those three hours were the pivot of the entire plan of God, the foundation of all that is and every will be, the end of death and darkness and the exploding forth of life and light in the love of God through the inexpressibly exquisite suffering of Jesus on our behalf. It was not just a wonderful thing; it really is the only thing.

Question #20:  

I took a look at Barnes' Notes on the Bible regarding Hebrews 10:5:

He saith - That is, this is the language denoted by his great undertaking; this is what his coming to make an atonement implies. We are not to suppose that Christ formally used these words on any occasion for we have no record that he did - but this language is what appropriately expresses the nature of his work. Perhaps also the apostle means to say that it was originally employed in the Psalm from which it is quoted in reference to him, or was indited by him with reference to his future advent.

Sacrifice and offering thou wouldest not - This is quoted from Psalm 40:6, Psalm 40:8. There has been much perplexity felt by expositors in reference to this quotation, and after all which has been written, it is not entirely removed. The difficulty relates to these points.

(1) to the question whether the Psalm originally had any reference to the Messiah. The Psalm "appears" to have pertained merely to David, and it would probably occur to no one on reading it to suppose that it referred to the Messiah, unless it had been so applied by the apostle in this place.

(2) there are many parts of the Psalm, it has been said, which cannot, without a very forced interpretation, be applied to Christ; see Psalm 40:2, Psalm 40:12, Psalm 40:14-16.

(3) the argument of the apostle in the expression "a body hast thou prepared me," seems to be based on a false translation of the Septuagint, which he has adopted, and it is difficult to see on what principles he has done it. - It is not the design of these notes to go into an extended examination of questions of this nature. Such examination must be sought in more extended commentaries, and in treatises expressly relating to points of this kind.

Could you briefly relate to the points made in this commentary? This is admittedly a passage difficult to understand, and author's statement that apostle's writing 'seems to be based on a false translation of the Septuagint' is rather strange.

Response #20: 

Yes. Let me start with the last observation. The idea that "Paul got it wrong" somehow in one of his doctrinal epistles is not only absurd but dangerous thinking (for Bible-believing Christians, that is). I have studied out this issue of Old Testament quotations at some length. Sometimes NT authors quote the Septuagint (or LXX), sometimes they paraphrase it, and sometimes they "do something else"; what that "something else" is when it occurs, is a matter of some debate, but in my view it involves direct quotation from the Hebrew or the use of another Greek version no longer extent or some combination of the four (i.e., LXX, other Greek, their own translations, paraphrasing). If you or I were writing an email or a letter or conversing with someone about the Bible, we might very well paraphrase a scripture in a way that was not a direct quotation of any version but which might be informed by many (including the original) and might still be a good/faithful rendering. If that is true of us, how much more is not true of Paul and the other writers of the New Testament who were being guided in every way by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit? So "the solution" in such cases is never "the writer made a mistake or didn't understand". It is amazing to me whenever I see such a low view of biblical inspiration coming from a supposedly conservative source (something that happens far too often). I suppose it just goes to show the lengths people will go to avoid admitting they don't know the answer.

As to the interpretation, the main difficulty Barnes is struggling with is his inability to understand that Old Testament prophecy was designed by God to have personal and prophetic applications. This is a common problem:

The eunuch asked Philip, "Tell me, please, who is the prophet [Isaiah] talking about, himself or someone else?"
Acts 8:34 NIV

David is a "type of Christ", that is, as the king whom God loved, he and his life and words are in many ways analogous to and prophetic of his greater Son, Jesus. So there is much in the Psalms which is more applicable to our Lord than David (and some passages are applicable to both; see the link: "Typology and Sequence in Old Testament Prophecy").

(6) You have taken no pleasure in sacrifices and offerings, [but instead] You have pierced My ears (i.e., "given Me a body and marked Me as a voluntary Servant"; cf. Ex.21:5-6; Deut.15:16-17). You have not asked for burnt offerings or sin offerings. (7) [But] then I said, behold, I have come [into the world (i.e., as the true sacrifice)]. In the scroll of the Book it has been written about Me. (8) It is My good pleasure to do what pleases You, My God. For your Law is in My inmost parts.
Psalm 40:6-8 (cf. Heb.10:5-10)

Therefore as [Jesus Christ] was coming into the world (i.e., at His birth) He said, "You [Father] did not desire sacrifice or offering, but you have prepared a body for Me".
Hebrews 10:5

In my estimation, Christ spoke these words from His deity at the moment of the virgin birth – that is what the text of Hebrews says – and we are blessed to have them as part of scripture both in the Old Testament and the New.

Question #21:  

Could you please clarify Hebrews 2:18: "For since He Himself was tempted in that which He has suffered, He is able to come to the aid of those who are tempted."

Since God can come to the aid regarding of His sufferings and experiences, why is this argument used here? In His omnipotence He didn't have to go through this experience in order to help others.

Response #21: 

The "He" in the second half of the verse (Heb.2:18) is Jesus: Jesus was tested "in that which He suffered"; as a result He is able to help us. That is to say, without the suffering of the cross, there is no help to be had, since it is only through our Lord's sacrifice for sins (what He accomplished as High Priest in the preceding v.17) that we have access to salvation. Here is how I render the verse:

For in that He Himself has suffered under [all the] testing [of His first advent], He is able to help those who are being tested.
Hebrews 2:18

Question #22:  

You translated Hebrews 10:5-10:

(5) Therefore as [Jesus Christ] was coming into the world (i.e., at His birth) He said, "You [Father] did not desire sacrifice or offering, but you have prepared a body for Me. (6) In burnt offerings for sin you have taken no pleasure. (7) At that time (i.e., His birth) He [Jesus Christ in His deity] said, 'Behold, I have arrived (i.e., been born) – in the scroll of a book it is written of Me – to do your will, O God'". (8) Above when He speaks of sacrifices and offerings and burnt offerings for sins [as things which] "You did not desire nor take pleasure therein", [these are the things] which are being offered according to the Law. (9) [But] "Then", He has added, "Behold, I have arrived to do your will". [God the Father] is [thereby] taking away the first [covenant] in order to establish the second one, (10) [and it is] by [His] will [in this matter] that you have been sanctified, through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once and for all.

You add: [Jesus Christ in His deity]. Does that mean that Jesus did have some access to His Deity? How were these words spoken if they were said in His deity (children are unable to speak right after being born)? Please clarify.

Response #22: 

Jesus' spoke these words from His deity, not from His humanity. We are blessed to have them as prophecy before the fact and also reiterated after the fact in Hebrews, no doubt because they are so important in giving us insight and understanding into the nature of the hypostatic union (i.e., the wedding of Jesus' humanity to His deity at the point of the virgin birth).

Question #23:  

A couple of questions on Hebrews 2:10-13: "For it was fitting for Him, for whom are all things, and through whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to perfect the author of their salvation through sufferings. 11 For both He who sanctifies and those who are sanctified are all from one Father; for which reason He is not ashamed to call them brethren, 12 saying, "I WILL PROCLAIM YOUR NAME TO MY BRETHREN, IN THE MIDST OF THE CONGREGATION I WILL SING YOUR PRAISE." 13 And again, "I WILL PUT MY TRUST IN HIM." And again, "BEHOLD, I AND THE CHILDREN WHOM GOD HAS GIVEN ME."

a) Firstly, what does Paul mean by 'to perfect the author of their salvation through sufferings' - wasn't the author of our salvation perfect already?

b) Secondly, Paul mentions how our Saviour 'is not ashamed to call them brethren, 12 saying', and then mentions three citations. The first and third one very clearly relate to our Saviour 'not being ashamed', but how is the second one ("I WILL PUT MY TRUST IN HIM.") related?

Response #23: 

a) The problem is with the translation "to perfect". This is the Greek verb teleioo, the same verb Jesus uses to express His victory after completing the bearing of our sins: "It is finished!" Paul means here "to bring to completion to", that is, "to bring completely and successfully through the entire process of the plan of God so that salvation was completed perfectly": that is how Jesus is "completed", namely, He completes His course and we are saved.

b) Good question. This is a seldom understood passage. These three quotations represent a progression wherein Paul sums up the whole process of Jesus' winning His Church: 1) "I will proclaim your Name" = Jesus washed His Bride with the water of the truth (Eph.5:26); having won our salvation He ensures it for us by giving us the gospel; 2) "I will trust in Him": Jesus is the example we are to follow; as He had complete trust in the Father, after we receive the truth we too are to believe so as to be saved, following our Master's example; 3) "Behold, I and the children whom God gave to Me": as a result of His sacrifice which brings us the good news and our consequent faith in Jesus following His example of trusting the Father, we have become Jesus' own blessed possession which God the Father gave to Him (cf. Jn.18:9).

Question #24:   

Could you please explain Matthew 4:2: "And having fasted for forty days and forty nights later (i.e., since being led into the wilderness by the Spirit), [Jesus] was hungry."

The fact that Jesus was hungry is a confirmation that He was human, but then isn't the fact that He managed to fast for 40 days supernatural?

Response #24: 

I don't think so. Moses fasted for 40 days too (Ex.34:28). In Moses' case, I do think that this would have been impossible without special divine support. In our Lord's case, all the indications are that this was an incredibly difficult thing to do, one which is beyond the rest of us, but which is not in conflict with what a perfect Person walking perfectly with the Lord may accomplish in His humanity.

Question #25: 

You wrote: And He is in His humanity the heir of all things as a result of His victory at the cross, having won the battle over Satan

Do you say 'in His humanity the heir of all things' here because as a human being Jesus was crucified or because as a human being He will rule in the times to come?

Response #25: 

Both these things are involved; however, I said it this way because it is to the victor that the spoils belong: Jesus has won the victory and earned by that victory the "Name which above every name" (Phil.2:9; cf. Heb.1:1-4). All He has He has won through the cross; all that we have we have through our unity with Him in salvation by grace through faith.

Question #26: 

I wanted to ask about how was our Lord forsaken by the Father during the 3 hours of darkness. Since it's God the Father who judged His own Son for our salvation, one could think that our Lord was not handed over for someone else to be judged, but was judged by His own Father, hence the difficulty - our Lord was forsaken by His father and judged by His father - could you please clarify? Is it forsaken in the sense of being, for the 3 hours on the cross, forsaken by the Father's love?

Response #26: 

In my view, Christ's being forsaken was something that could only apply to His humanity. Only in His human nature could He be separated from God and bear the punishment for the sins of the world. The "standoff" of His deity from His humanity ("kenosis and the cross"; see the link), is parallel to the kenosis we see operating throughout the first advent. The Father does seem to be the One who inflicted the judgment upon Him (that is certainly the imagery we receive in Abraham's offering of Isaac). The Spirit is the One who facilitated the judgment (Heb.9:14). Much more about all this at the main link: "The Spiritual Death of Christ". Being forsaken is being separated and placed under punishment. God is Love and cannot change. What He did to His Son He did for us that we might not die but have eternal life – that is the love of God.

Question #27:  

About our Lord's words 'why did You forsake me?', you wrote:

Therefore Jesus' use of this quote is really not even a question in the true sense. He is not asking for an answer or an explanation of what has happened – He knows very well why He was allowed to suffer on the cross. Rather these words are an explanation for us: "Do you want to know why God allowed Me to be crucified? It was to save you!" This interpretation is confirmed by Jesus final statement on the cross which comes almost immediately after the Psalm 22:1 quote and is recorded in Luke 23:46: "Father, into Thy hands I commit my spirit".

You write that these words are not said since our Lord expected an answer; you rather write that it's an explanation for us. You wrote: "Why hast Thou forsaken me" looks back to Jesus' successful endurance of the cross, His victory over sin for us', but our Lord could have said 'This is why You did forsake me'. I would like to understand why does our Lord give us this explanation in the form of a question? And secondly, in what sense is this interpretation by our Lord's final statement from Luke 23:46?

Response #27: 

a) The reason is twofold: 1) this is a direct quotation of scripture which would be recognized as such; 2) our Lord gave all such communication of truth to the world at large in parable form, specifically avoiding direct statements of that sort in order that the true purposes of each individual heart might play out without undue interference (cf. Matt.13:10-17).

b) Luke 23:46's "into Thy hands I commit My spirit" is also a quotation: of Psalm 31:5. And that verse ends with "You have delivered Me, Lord God of truth!".

Question #28: 

Regarding the 'empathy' question you wrote:

We find the empathy of Christ for our suffering in chapter four (vv.14-16), but here the emphasis is on "help" given which can only be given through having paid the price for sin. As it says in v.14, "so that by */his death/* he might destroy him who holds the power of death". And it is through His spiritual death that He "put death to death" (2Tim.1:10).

I can understand the points you make, my final question would be the structure of Hebrews 2:18: "For since He Himself was tempted in that which He has suffered, He is able to come to the aid of those who are tempted."

Based on what you said and the key to 'coming to aid' being the cross, should we understand the first part of the passage as referring to the three hours of suffering on the cross ('He has suffered'), as opposed to the empathy? If so, what does Paul mean by 'tempted in that which He has suffered'? Was our Lord tempted on the cross?

Response #28: 

I am glad to see that you have asked me about these passages again, as they have been on my mind since you first brought them up. In the book of 1st Peter, the apostle compares our suffering to Christ's suffering at some length, and there are several places where the text is questionable as to whether Peter wrote that Christ "suffered" or Christ "died" (the two words being very similar in spelling in the past or aorist tense; see 1Pet.2:21 and 3:18). This certainly shows that the way Peter described this issue – and the way his readers were thinking about it – was with no sharp distinction between the cross and the actual judgment for sin. Given the fact that many Christians today do not understand the difference between the crucifixion and the spiritual death of Jesus in the darkness when He was actually judged for our sins, it certainly would be understandable if Paul, in addressing a congregation which by his own words had fallen into spiritual immaturity (cf. Heb.5:11 - 6:3), conflated the two ideas or at least did not wish to draw a sharp distinction between Christ's suffering generally and His inestimably greatest suffering in the darkness where He expiated our sins. We can share His sufferings up until that point; we cannot even truly understand how great they were after that point until all sin was atoned for. So Jesus can certainly sympathize with us as to what we are going through, and He also knows all about our weaknesses to sin – since He died for them all. After some consideration, while I do think the that emphasis at Hebrews 4:14-16 is more one of empathy with our suffering and Hebrews 2:16-18 is more about His expiation of sin as a basis for that empathy, I would now be loath to take either aspect of our Lord's suffering completely out of the picture in either passage.

Question #29:  

Regarding the empathy, to summarize your points:

1 - our Lord's suffering on the cross is not always clearly distinguished in the epistles. Peter doesn't clearly draw such distinction and neither does Paul, as he is dealing with immature believers, perhaps not ready to understand this point.

2 - empathy might be more emphasized in Hebrews 4:14-16, whereas expiation as a basis for empathy more in Hebrews 2:16-18, but, as you point, neither should be taken out of the picture in either passage, so empathy and the source of it are critical on both occasions.

Based on these, I draw following conclusions (please correct where appropriate):

3 - the source of empathy for our Sins is binary for our Lord - 1. His own experience in the world, where he suffered, and 2. His expiation of the sin on the cross during the three hours of judgment - this allows Him to know all our sins, since He paid for them all, so, it could maybe be said, He knows our sins by dealing with the consequences of these sins.

4 - despite having this binary source of empathy, our Lord didn't need either to empathize with us in His omniscience. God the Father also understands our weaknesses, which often result in sins, so the 'empathy' arguments are simply given to us for our own benefit. They also have the benefit of proving false any potential claim that 'God doesn't understand us and our suffering because He is God' - God can understand our weaknesses, suffering and tests (because He is God and is omniscient, because His Son went through the crucible Himself, and because He dealt with the consequences of our failures).

5 - In Hebrews 2:18 Paul's words refer mainly to our Lord being tempted/tested during the suffering on the cross, through which we receive our aid (expiation being the main theme, which is also suggested by previous verses of the chapter, but as you say, the empathy cannot be ruled out). The passage refers to the tempting/testing on the cross as opposed to the testing during the earthly ministry, as the testing is used by Paul as argument why we receive our aid, and the testing necessary to help us was the one on the cross, as the testing of our Lord's earthly life was not necessary to give us this help, since our Lord did not need it to be able to help us.

My question regarding the conclusion from 5 would be what specifically is the mechanism of this aid. Cross is the source of salvation, since our sins have been expiated which makes the salvation possible - but how specifically does it refer to our aid in fighting temptations?

6 - Hebrews 4:14-16 refers to the empathy (for our benefit as opposed to needed for our Lord to obtain) which our Lord has through His own life, which was full of temptations, only our Lord went through them without the sin.

Response #29: 

You have put all this far better than I have! Nicely done. The one caveat I would have would be at the end of point #5 where your conclusion is absolutely logical: "as the testing of our Lord's earthly life was not necessary to give us this help, since our Lord did not need it to be able to help us". However, since scripture does not actually put things in this way, I would be somewhat leery of making these last statements at all.

Question #30:  

I'm still struggling to fully understand the nature of our Lord's sacrifice. You wrote:

The need to take on true humanity might possibly be argued as not theoretically necessary for a glorious appearance of God's Messiah to rule the world, but our Lord most certainly could not die for our sins without a human body in which to bear them (1Pet.2:24; 4:1; cf. 2Cor.5:21; Heb.9:26-28).

On the one hand our Lord needed a human body in which He bore the sins, on the other hand the death was not physical, but spiritual, and it was this spiritual death that was the payment, so I'm not clear why our Lord needed the body to die for our sins.

Response #30: 

I use the term "spiritual death" – one I did not invent – to distinguish between normal human death wherein the spirit leaves the body on the one hand and the death our Lord died in the darkness on our behalf on the other. This latter death was different from "physical death" because our Lord was still physically alive at the conclusion of it and had need of dismissing His spirit in order to die physically. But just because I/we use the term "spiritual death" does not mean that the physical body of Christ was uninvolved in the process of atoning for all of our sins. Indeed, Peter tells us that "He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree". One analogy to keep in mind here is that angels are "spirits" but are still subject to the laws of time and space and are confined to a "sphere" of existence which is very much the same in these respects as the limitations of a body (even though they have no body per se). So it is always a good idea to keep in mind that only God in His divine essence is "spiritual" in the sense of complete distinction from anything "physical". I/we also use the term "spiritual death" for the condemnation upon Adam and Eve as a result of eating of the tree of knowing good and evil, and we see a similar (and to some degree parallel) difficultly in making the traditional distinction between "spiritual" and "physical" in that case: Adam and Eve's bodies changed physically as a result of their spiritual death; in a loosely parallel way our Lord bore our sins in His body, taking the punishment we were unfit and unable to take, in order to expiate all sin. That horrific experience was not physical death but it was so horrible as to be termed a death in scripture (plural "deaths" in Isaiah 53:9 in the Hebrew for emphasis), a large and perhaps most difficult part of which, the separation of His humanity from God in the process of this judgment, is also loosely parallel to what spiritual death means for mankind: a separation from God in spiritual terms in which we are dead to Him and only become alive to Him again through the rebirth of salvation (otherwise our spiritual death leads to physical death and then to eternal death).

Question #31:  

You wrote:

While the fact of Jesus' divinity, humanity, and uniqueness in combining the two natures since the incarnation may be relatively easier to understand now that He has been glorified (see for example the description of Him as He appeared to John at Revelation 1:12-20)

a) Do you mean here that Jesus' deity is easier to recognize after His glorification?

For while from the resurrection forward there is no limitation, compartmentalization, or separation of His divine and human nature

b) By that do you mean that both natures can be fully expressed at the same time?

But in addition to preserving the perfection of His body, our Lord was also required to demonstrate and preserve the perfection of His human spirit as well, and that required complete integrity in the exercise of His human free will from the moment of physical birth to the moment of physical death.

c) What do you mean by 'preserving the perfection of His body'? Does it mean to preserve it from sin? If so, how is it different from 'the perfection of His human spirit'?

In order to be an acceptable substitute for us, our Lord would have to do more than "merely" refrain from sin: He would have to exercise His human free will in this world just as we do, but do so in an absolutely perfect way; then, having done so throughout His life, He would have to go to the cross for us, suffer and die for us, all from that same, genuinely human free will.

d) Somewhat similar to the previous question - you differentiate between refraining from sin and exercising His human free will in absolutely perfect way. Am I correct to understand here that what you mean is the difference between what you call the 'defense' (abstaining from sin) and 'offence' (bearing fruit for God)? Another reason why I'm asking this question is that I would assume that these two can be considered interrelated in 100%, meaning that they are essentially the same thing - is it not a sin not to do the good things that we could have done?

Response #31: 

a) Yes, because His glory is now fully on display.

b) Yes, as there is now no need for the kenosis of the first advent.

c) Yes – and you are correct that there is essentially no difference between the two since we are integrated persons in this regard. I felt this point was necessary to make it clear that our Lord had to think perfectly as well (and policing/directing our thoughts is perhaps one of the most difficult hurdles of the Christian life).

d) Yes, you are exactly right, and I wanted to make the point that our Lord had to behave perfectly in every way and that this perfection was not limited to refraining from what we see as sin: He also had to "do" everything He was called upon to do at every point without fail. Our Lord answered every "trumpet call" perfectly.

Question #32:  

In my view, Christ's being forsaken was something that could only apply to His humanity. Only in His human nature could He be separated from God and bear the punishment for the sins of the world. The "standoff" of His deity from His humanity ("kenosis and the cross" see the link), is parallel to the /kenosis/ we see operating throughout the first advent.

One more thing which I would like you to clarify - our Lord, as you say, could only in His human nature be separated from God and bear the punishment for the sins of the world. But then no human being could endure what our Lord endured during the 3 hours on the cross?

Response #32: 

Yes. That is precisely my position on this important matter.

Question #33:  

a) You wrote:

And it must also never be forgotten that the "testing" He underwent was in every way and on every level far more intense than we can even conceive, right down to the gauntlet of the cross and of His death on our behalf (things the like of which we will never be called upon to endure).

Could you explain how specifically was our Lord's testing more intense than ours, what was the reason why that was the case? Apart from enduring temptations that we didn't endure, when it comes to the ones that are of the same 'character' as the ones the we go through, was it the case of Satan being given more freedom with regard to how powerful his temptations were? Later you write:

He endured and suffered even before the gauntlet that led up to the cross is beyond our ken, even without figuring in the strain of knowing He was God and yet refraining from making use of His divinity.

Since you write 'even without figuring in the strain of knowing He was God and yet refraining from making use of His divinity', I assume that even the other temptations, known to other human beings, must have been of a far greater magnitude.

b) We can ascertain that the only thing standing between Jesus' humanity and the full use of His deity on behalf of that humanity . . .

I'm not sure I can fully understand the expression 'the full use of His deity on behalf of that humanity'. When you say 'on behalf of', could it be understood as 'in the aid of'?

c) We may therefore further discern that the "barrier" between the two natures which we are calling kenosis was not something imposed "from above" by His deity. Rather it was a conscious limitation undertaken by His humanity in consonance with His deity, a fact which makes our Lord's successful completion of His life without violating the restrictions of kenosis all the more amazing.

I understand it when you say that kenosis was not 'imposed' - it was a free will choice by our Lord, what I cannot understand is the source of this decision - you write that it was 'a conscious limitation undertaken by His humanity in consonance with His deity'. I'm struggling to understand (and inevitably this is something probably never to be fully understood by a human being anyway) how this decision came from His humanity. If we assume that He emptied Himself because He 'so desired' or because He 'so willed', wouldn't this 'desire' or 'will' be an attribute which is so deeply His, that it's impossible to make a distinction between His humanity and deity? Or would you say that because He had to 'show this desire' or 'show this will' while being a human, this can be attributed to His humanity?

d) By becoming human Jesus subjected Himself to time and eschewed the use of His omniscience in that humanity. And by becoming human Jesus limited Himself to finite space and eschewed His omnipresence in that humanity.

The relationship between limiting to finite space and omnipresence is obvious, but could you explain why you link limiting to time and omniscience?

Response #33: 

a) Yes, I would say so. For one thing, He was the prime and exclusive target of Satan in a way none of us could ever be (no special powers rather special attention). For another, He had the burden of saving all of humanity on His shoulders: one slip up and we were all damned. For another, He had to prepare perfectly for the perfect ministry which meant not wasting a single moment or a single breath, even as He had to fulfill perfectly all of His family and other worldly obligations. I think it is fair to say that in any area of life where we are tempted or tested or weighed down or suffering, we can look to the Lord's life and extrapolate – considering the satanic attacks He was under and the load and burden He was bearing – and see that He had it far more difficult that we can really imagine.

b) Yes, the phrases are synonymous.

c) That is why I use the word "consonance". These matters are, as you rightly discern, difficult to understand and also to express. Remember, Christ is one Person with two distinct natures, divine and human. To use a crass and very loose analogy, if I have been handicapped in a race and required to wear twenty-five pounds of extra weight, I may very well be tempted to shed that weight in the course of the race when I'm having difficulty keeping up. I am only wearing that extra weight because "those are the rules" so that my "decision" not to throw off the restricting weight is one of obedience in order to win "fair and square" according to the rules under which I have agreed to compete.

d) Because part of the burden we have as human beings which was shared by our Lord is our ignorance of many things, especially regarding the future. Our Lord studied God's truth from His earliest years and knew all that any human being can know about God's truth; He was also given to know many particular things as the Prophet; but He actually did live a human life and in His humanity was not omniscient the way He is in His deity (and now of course is in His unified Person following the resurrection).

Question #34:   

Could you please explain Matthew 4:1: "Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil."

Why was Jesus led by the Spirit to be tempted? Was it a test of His faith? Why is it the Spirit leading Him into this?

Response #34: 

This is a very important detail of scripture. Jesus did not torture Himself or undertake hard things just because they were hard (as some ascetic show-offs do). Everything He did was entirely in the WILL of God and done out of perfect obedience in order to fulfill the Father's Plan. He endured the 40 days not out of some self-testing but because God willed it. Why did God will it? No doubt as the "final exam", so to speak, before His three and half year long earthly ministry began, a difficult time from the start, followed by the final "year of opposition", followed by the troubles of passion week, followed by the day of crucifixion . . . followed by His spiritual death for us all in Calvary's darkness. The fact that this "dry run" entailed suffering, necessitated endurance, and involved temptation all far beyond what any of us could ever have endured makes it very clear that everything that followed was much worse, building into a crescendo of trouble right up to and into His death for the sins of the world. It is a very sobering thing to realize that these forty days were the "easy part" of what our Lord did for us.

Question #35: 

You wrote:

And Jesus could indeed have called upon His deity to do what the devil suggested. We know from our Lord's words and actions here, however, that to do so would have been wrong. For He was clearly not authorized to use His deity to aid His humanity even under these abnormally stressful and trying circumstances.

I just wanted to ask about the expression 'not authorized' which may seem as not being in full harmony with the fact that it was our Lord's choice not to use it?

Response #35: 

This is again a question of obedience. We have free will and make many choices, but even in instances where a potential choice may not be a sin (or may not seem to be), it may be apparent to us that it really is not what God wants us to do. On the face of it, eating of the wrong tree in the garden doesn't seem to be so terrible – and Satan played upon that fact in tempting Eve. The problem was that God had forbidden it. If we are trying to please Him in truth, that attitude of love and obedience which Christ always held to will lead us down many a road of self-sacrifice – as for example all of the sacrifices you are making for the sake of the Word of God. The main distinction between our situation/experience and that of our Lord is that He perfectly made every choice "for the good", whereas if we were anywhere near 5% on this we would no doubt rank with the "superstars" of the Bible.

Question #36: 

You wrote: But in this case, had our Lord allowed the crowd to throw Him down the cliff, the prophecies of the manner of the Messiah's death would be negated – as would our eternal salvation.

Just a hypothetical question - wouldn't any type of death of our Lord caused by people unwilling to believe in Him translate into for us?

Response #36: 

Jesus had to be judged for our sins – everyone of them (which He did in the three hours of darkness on the cross). These premature attempt on His life, if successful, would have resulted in His physical death but not His spiritual death which is what has expiated our sins.

Question #37:  

It links to the question previously asked, but I wanted to ask about why you state here that the decision to be forsaken was taken 'in His humanity': in order that we might know that He of His own free will in His humanity had voluntarily given Himself over to be forsaken and to be judged in the darkness for our sins in order that we might have eternal life.

The role that the Son played as our redeemer was (I assume) planned before the time began, and if that is the case, then wasn't this decision made in His deity? Or do you here mean more the fact that He 'adhered' to it while a human being?

Response #37: 

That is an excellent point. However, Jesus still had to adhere to the decision, as you put it, as a human being, and that is the point of His statement about being forsaken (made for our benefit: He was forsaken that we might not be). So during the first advent there is still the issue of Christ's (human) free will – although of course there would not have been a creation if the Trinity had not decided on the cross, because the cross if the foundation of everything.

Question #38: 

You wrote: As can be adduced from all three of these quotes, while the conception of our Lord's human body was supernatural, as in the case of all human beings it is His birth rather than His conception which marks the beginning of His human life, the beginning, in His unique case, of the incarnation.(25)

Am I correct to assume that the passage listed in the footnote (1Cor15:45) you link to the point on the basis that Adam could only have become 'a living soul' having already been created and put into Eden (rather than only existing in God's plan), and similarly our Lord could have become a life-giving spirit after birth (rather than existing in His deity with the Father before the advent)? I'm not sure whether my interpretation is fully compatible with what you add in the footnote: 'This is the point where He becomes a "life-giving spirit" (1Cor.15:45), since the human spirit is given at birth'. Please explain.

Response #38: 

At birth our Lord received His human spirit (as well all do; exception Adam whose body was created fully mature). This is the point at which He "becomes a life-giving spirit" (small "s"). God is spirit and Jesus in His deity has always been spirit (as opposed to "having a [human] spirit").

Question #39:  

You wrote: For one thing, we see immediately the load and the difficulty that our Lord had to bear just in terms of His normal family life.

Could you briefly explain why you believe that the normal family life of our Saviour was difficult? I believe it will be to an extent caused by the material status of His family?

Response #39: 

There are a number of reasons. Four will suffice here to make the point. First, his step-father Joseph seems not to have been around by the time of the wedding at Cana, and we may posit that as the eldest our Lord was the "man of the house" and responsible for the well-being of the rather large family from what may have been a fairly early age (mid teens?). Secondly, from the age of twelve at least He certainly knew He was the Messiah – not an easy burden to bear to say the least. Thirdly, He had to be perfect in all of His dealings with His family, and of course because of kenosis He had to be so without any help from His divinity. But, fourth, perhaps the heaviest responsibility on Him was the need to prepare perfectly for His coming ministry – even as He lived the perfect life of fulfilling all of His considerable earthly responsibilities at the same time.

Question #40:  

You wrote: This meant obeying His parents when they were right – and when they were wrong. That is an interesting point and one I wanted to enquire about - do you then believe that every child should follow this pattern of obedience to parents, regardless of whether what they require the child to do is right or not? Also, when would you say would be an appropriate time for the child to start making their own decisions? Would this moment be associated with some relative maturity, with regard to spiritual growth and maturity of the conscience? I'm aware that no specific age may be the answer here, I would just like to know what would be the ways to recognize that moment.

Response #40: 

As long as parents are not demanding anything sinful or illegal, even if they are wrong in their assumptions or in their approach, children should definitely obey. For example, "Johnny, you made this mess and now you're going to have to clean it up" (when Jill really made the mess, not Johnny, Johnny should obey anyhow even though it is patently unfair). "Johnny, we're short of cash, so go rob a liquor store" (no justification for crime so this trumps parental authority and Johnny is right to refuse). As long as we are under our parent's roof, we owe them an extra measure of deference even as adults. As children grow, good parents usually will allow an increasing level of autonomy in order that the children may learn how to make good decisions (often by making bad ones) and take responsibility for their own actions. If we live with our parents after we are adults, there will have to be some accommodation. Our parents will always be our parents (and worthy of honor and respect), and if we are still dependent on them as adults, we must "play by their rules" as long as that is true.

Question #41:  

You wrote: This would have been difficult enough for anyone to bear, but considering that He was aware of His status as the Son of God, and that He had to prepare with every spare moment and ounce of energy for what was to come, what for the rest of us would constitute mere "daily" life must have been for Him a gauntlet which intensified with every step forward. Would you say that the reasons behind Jesus' awareness of His own status making the daily life difficult, and increasingly so, were:

1. Temptations unknown to us.

2. Maybe a sense of responsibility too ('I cannot fall, otherwise my emptying and preparation to be the sinless, perfect Lamb for sacrifice is for nothing'), which could have resulted in immense pressure?

Would you include any others?

Response #41: 

I think that's good, if I am understanding your question. Jesus had to do what He had to do; there were no other options and no alternative because He understood every issue entirely and completely. The rest of us learn by trial and error; Jesus made no errors. He "answered the bell" every day, and walked a perfect walk every day, whatever that entailed, including making the correct decision every time on all sort of issues the rest of us often see as problematic.

Question #42:  

Hopefully final questions on Hebrews and empathy:

1. Hebrews 4:15: "For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin."

Is my understanding correct that Jesus could have been tempted because He became a human being? Since God the Father cannot be tempted (in His omniscience He still knows what it means, but this is not something that He is subject to). So what Paul is saying here is that our Lord was tempted and knows our weaknesses experientially, which is again, something that happened for our benefit.

2. You wrote: The one caveat I would have would be at the end of #5 where your conclusion is absolutely logical: "as the testing of our Lord's earthly life was not necessary to give us this help, since our Lord did not need it to be able to help us". However, since scripture does not actually put things in this way I would be somewhat leery of making these last statements at all.

I understand that going beyond what is written is always a bad idea, I was just trying to put all the pieces together and God's omniscience (even if our Lord emptied Himself of it for a limited time) and Paul's arguments about empathy I've found very hard to put together and I think I will need some more understanding for everything to click.

3. Hebrews 2:18: "For since He Himself was tempted in that which He has suffered, He is able to come to the aid of those who are tempted."

Some exegetes don't limit the meaning of theses sufferings to the ones endured at the cross - what is your take on this? Since you said that it's the cross thanks to which our Lord helps us, are only the sufferings on the cross (the three hours) meant here, or also all the crucible during the first earthly ministry?

4. And one more question on the same verse, which I probably didn't word clearly in the last email: Hebrews 2:18: "For since He Himself was tempted in that which He has suffered, He is able to come to the aid of those who are tempted."

Whether it's the sufferings on the cross that are meant here or not, could you outline the specific mechanism in which these temptations make our Lord able to 'come to the aid of those who are tempted'? I'm struggling to understand this. If the sufferings on the cross are meant, and by these our sins have been paid for, then this could have an adverse effect (of course on someone with an incorrect understanding of the word of God), as someone could fall into the trap of thinking: 'I'm tempted, but then all the sins have been paid for, so I can give in to the temptation'. We of course know this is incorrect and Paul clarifies this in Romans, but then I'm still unsure why ' He is able to come to the aid of those who are tempted' for the reason that 'He Himself was tempted in that which He has suffered'.

Response #42: 

1) Yes. After all, Satan tempted our Lord with human-style temptations (there are no other kind). The fact that Jesus "has been here" and "has had to put up with that" is a great comfort to us, not because being God He doesn't know everything perfectly, but because having become a man we understand better how it is that He understands perfectly.

2) That sounds fine. I am not comfortable with saying that Jesus "emptied Himself". That is a traditional way of putting it (based on the meaning of the Greek verb kenoo), but I think it misreads what Paul says in Philippians. Our Lord voluntarily restricted the free access of His humanity to His deity which deprived Him of many things with the result that He lived His earthly life in most basic respects as we all do in human terms.

3) In the whole prior context of Hebrews chapter two, the help and aid is salvation which is made possible through our Lord's atonement for sin – something which required His taking on of true humanity to achieve. It is clearly the case that when Paul refers to us in the last part of the verse he is talking about temptation and trial, so you do have a point. Let me paraphrase then what I think this means: "You can rest assured when you are under pressure in this world that Jesus understands full well what it means for a human being to be under pressure – after all, He endured the ultimate pressure on the cross in being judged for you (not to mention what He endured to get to the cross)". Caveat: this is a paraphrase.

4) If I am understanding this one correctly, your question is about what all this has to do with our Lord's "ability" to aid us based upon what He suffered (so we can leave out the hypotheticals for now and come back to them if this doesn't answer the underlying question). In my view, this is just the way Paul is putting things here. Obviously, as God, Jesus is capable of aiding us. Obviously, as God, He knows what we need. And He has always known. Not only that, all of our needs have already been entered into God's divine decree, so the Trinity not only knew exactly what and who we are and what we would need and when, but also provided for it in eternity past before the creation was inaugurated in the first place. Therefore this phrasing is for our benefit, to let us know that while we may have a hard time understanding how someone not human can know what we are feeling and know what we need (so as then to be "able" to help us in what we really need), this fear/worry/concern is relieved by considering that Jesus not only went through the same sort of things we are going through and to a much more intense degree in every way – He also endured the judgment for our sin on the cross as a human being, something totally beyond our capacity to understand. And not only does our Lord's experience with the pain and trouble and suffering of this world mean that He knows what we are going through and therefore has the complete perspective on our weakness and needs in an intimate way, but it was actually by the primary example of His endurance, namely, the judgment in the darkness, that He is free to save us, forgive us, and treat us as what we have become, part of His own Body, the Church.

Question #43:  

Just one question on kenosis and the cross from the last email: One more thing which I would like you to clarify - our Lord, as you say, could only in His human nature be separated from God and bear the punishment for the sins of the world. But then no human being could endure what our Lord endured during the 3 hours on the cross?

Response #43: 

Jesus could only bear and be judged for sin because His deity supported His humanity. The Holy Spirit also played a role in making this judgment possible (Heb.9:14; discussed at the link: "The Baptism of Christ: The Role of the Holy Spirit").

Question #44:   

John 11:33: "When Jesus therefore saw her weeping, and the Jews who came with her also weeping, He was deeply moved in spirit and was troubled, 34and said, "Where have you laid him?" They said to Him, "Lord, come and see." "

Was our Lord 'moved in spirit and troubled' in his humanity, or is it an example of anthropopathism?

Response #44: 

He was genuinely grieved. And this is something we can certainly all relate to and something very telling. For example, if we have rock-solid faith, when a dear loved one dies who is saved we know absolutely that they are happy and much better off than we are. Their time of trouble is now over and they are enjoying bliss in heaven with the Lord. We should have a party. But instead we cry and grieve and mourn. Our Lord is a genuine human being, in addition to being true God, and He has emotions just as we do. So we can take from this that our Lord knows when we hurt and why we hurt. We can also learn from this that if we hurt we still have to carry on with the truth and in the truth, not allowing our emotions to rule us or guide us or dominate us, even in difficult times when we cannot completely govern them or suppress them. We should not therefore feel any guilt if we mourn for losses of any kind; but by the same token we need to do what Jesus did and persevere in the correct course regardless of how we may feel.

Question #45: 

Regarding the difficulties of our Lord preparation for His ministry you wrote:

Thirdly, He had to be perfect in all of His dealings with His family, and of course because of kenosis He had to be so without any help from His divinity.

My understanding of the nature of the first advent is increasing, but it's still far from perfect. The doctrine of kenosis is becoming clearer to me as well, without yet being fully comprehended. With regard to kenosis, would you say that our Lord was not getting any help from His divinity? Or were there instances when He had a limited access during His earthly life? For example, the instances of 40 days fasting, or the Spiritual death on the cross, or the fact that He escaped out of the grasp of the people on occasions (as He was to die on the cross and not through stoning) - was our Lord not accessing His deity to a degree on these occasions?

Response #45: 

The distinction I would make here in my understanding of the matter would be that our Lord, in His humanity, had to refrain from accessing His deity to do anything that was not in the Father's plan. That meant that for most purposes at most times He had to endure life precisely as we do. Naturally, being the Messiah and having the unique mission of saving the world, there were things that had to take place for Him that required special divine intervention, and also things which could not be allowed to take place. I would put the special support of the Spirit in allowing Him to be able to endure the cross into the former category and the special protection against attempts to stop Him against His will from fulfilling His mission into the latter category. In all such instances it seems to me that our Lord was making use of the ministry of the Spirit which He received "without measure" – and this shows us just how truly wonderful the indwelling presence of the Spirit we all enjoy really is. We only need to respond to the Spirit more like our Lord did in order to be able to appropriate the power He offers to do the will of God.

Question #46: 

Coming back to my previous question:

This would have been difficult enough for anyone to bear, but considering that He was aware of His status as the Son of God, and that He had to prepare with every spare moment and ounce of energy for what was to come, what for the rest of us would constitute mere "daily" life must have been for Him a gauntlet which intensified with every step forward.

Would you say that the reasons behind Jesus' awareness of His own status making the daily life difficult, and increasingly so, were: 1. Temptations unknown to us. 2. Maybe a sense of responsibility too ('I cannot fall, otherwise my emptying and preparation to be the sinless, perfect Lamb for sacrifice is for nothing'), which could have resulted in immense pressure? What I meant here is that when you write that His daily life 'must have been for Him a gauntlet which intensified with every step forward', I wanted to understand the reasons why that's the case, why it was so difficult for Jesus. I know that this was caused by the fact that He was tempted in ways unknown to us (point 1) and that He must have felt the responsibility and pressure associated with being aware that He needs to be the perfect sacrifice, hence any sin would make all of it pointless (point two). I wanted to ask if you would list any other reasons here.

With constant prayer for you and your ministry and in Our Lord Jesus,

Response #46: 

I think these two sum it up nicely: He had to run a perfect race (and that entailed perfect preparation and perfect application in all things at all times!), and He was opposed in doing so by the evil one to a greater degree than has ever been the case with anyone else in ways we will only learn of on the other side.

Thank you for your patience and for your great persistence in pursuing God's truth! Apologies in advance for all the typos in the above text – but you are getting pretty good at interpreting through them, after all!

Your friend in Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

 

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