What kind of Christ do you have? I’m afraid many Christians’ Christ is merely historical, someone they appreciate from the past and to whom they are indebted. Other Christians’ Christ is futuristic and apocalyptic, soon to come to earth as the triumphant King. These are both equally true aspects of Christ, but I want to discuss what Jesus is doing today and how we ought to view and experience Him.
No Longer Flesh
So then we, from now on, know no one according to the flesh; even though we have known Christ according to the flesh, yet now we know Him so no longer (2 Corinthians 5:16).
When God incarnated to become the man Jesus, He assumed flesh and became a God-man: 100% God and 100% man. He possessed two natures, but He existed as one person. This is the cardinal, fundamental, orthodox truth of Christology.
After Christ resurrected, what happened? Did He lose His humanity? Absolutely not! Stephen saw Him as “the Son of Man” in the heavens right before he was martyred (Acts 7:56). But what was the nature of His flesh, His body? This is truly a mysterious question that I warn any reading not to answer too quickly. Let’s look at a couple of verses:
Jesus came, though the doors were shut, and stood in the midst and said, “Peace be to you.” Then He said to Thomas, “Bring your finger here and see My hands, and bring your hand and put it into My side; and do not be unbelieving, but believing (John 20:26b-27).
This is very mysterious. Christ’s resurrected body was such that it could be seen and touched, yet it could appear in a locked room without having to knock! He could eat fish with the disciples (Luke 24:42-43), yet He could disappear on command (v. 31).
If there is a soulish body, there is also a spiritual one. So also it is written, “The first man, Adam, became a living soul”; the last Adam became a life-giving Spirit (1 Corinthians 15:44b-45). (see vv. 35-50 for more detail)
Christ’s resurrected body was not the exact same as that which He lived and died with. It was raised as a spiritual body (though not invisible or merely phantasmal). This means Christ’s resurrection was actually a transfiguration, in which His flesh underwent a drastic change.
Christ’s New Birth
That God has fully fulfilled this promise to us their children in raising up Jesus, as it is also written in the second Psalm, “You are My Son; this day have I begotten You” (Acts 13:33; c.f. Hebrews 1:5).
Who was designated the Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness out of the resurrection of the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord (Romans 1:4)
Don’t forget the cardinal truth from above. Christ possessed two natures: that of a man and that of God. As the Son of God, He existed as the only-begotten Son from eternity past and continues as such for all of eternity (c.f. Jn. 1:18; 3:16). However, in His humanity as the Son of Man, He was begotten on the day of resurrection (see Acts 13:33 above) to be the “Firstborn from the dead” (Col. 1:18).
Christ’s resurrection is explicitly likened to a birth in the Scriptures (c.f. Jn. 16:20-22). This is not the eternal procession of the Son from the Father that has always existed in the divine Godhead, rather this is the begetting, transfiguration, glorification (Lk. 24:26) and even deification of Jesus, the Son of Man. It was the man in the flesh from verse 3 of Romans 1 that was “designated the Son of God.” He in His humanity entered into divinity, just as when at the incarnation divinity entered into humanity. God entered into man in John 1:14, but man entered fully into God in Romans 1:4. This was the bringing of Christ’s humanity into the divine sonship.
Why This Matters
All of this might sound rather technical, theological, and somewhat confusing. I understand, because it’s been confusing me for years now! But this is really something spectacular and has everything to do with us and our experience of the present Christ.
To sum up and simplify what I said earlier, the man Jesus has been glorified and thus pneumatized, i.e. He is the “life-giving Spirit” (1 Cor. 15:45) –
And the Lord is the Spirit… (2 Corinthians 3:17a) (“Lord” refers to the Lord Jesus – c.f. 4:5)
…the Spirit of Jesus did not allow them (Acts 16:7b).
Yet if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not of Him. But if Christ is in you…(Romans 8:9b-10a).
So Jesus, the wonderful Nazarene we read about in the 4 gospels, is the Spirit! We no longer know Him according to the flesh (2 Cor. 5:16). We can actually know Him as the Spirit indwelling us! The Holy Spirit is not simply a representative of Christ who is here to comfort us, He actually is Christ in reality (c.f. Jn. 16:13; 1 Jn. 5:6b).
I appeal to everyone reading this post to give up your tritheistic notions of God, picturing Him as existing as three separate persons. That is heretical. God exists as three, but those three all mutually coinhere or indwell one another (c.f. Jn. 14:10-11). That means that when you see the Son, you see the Father (v. 9). When you experience the Spirit, you experience the entire Triune God!
So back to my point, the man Jesus that we read about in the gospels is included in this wonderful Spirit. It’s the Spirit of Jesus Christ Who indwells us (Phil. 1:19). So now we can boldly say that Jesus lives inside of us! As we experience Him, His history becomes our history. As we enjoy Him as grace, all that He is saturates our very being, making us the same as He is! The Spirit of God is not some power or force that enables us to do miracles, He’s our wonderful Lord Jesus in a form now that makes Him experiential and even edible (Jn. 6:57, 63).
So I ask the question again, “What kind of Christ do you have?” If you have merely a historical or futuristic Christ, I’m afraid that while you might be saved, you are very poor. But the gospel is the gospel of the “unsearchable riches of Christ” (Eph. 3:8)!
So I beg you, set aside this blog post, go to a quiet room or a place, get alone with the Lord, and rejoice! Tell Him, “Jesus, thank You that You live inside of me! I do confess, my experience of You up until now has been quite poor, but I open to You right now. Lord Jesus, enrich my experience of You! I want to have a present Christ! By your mercy, I’d like to give up my pursuits of everything else and count them as nothing ‘that I may gain Christ’ (Phil. 3:8b).”