When I was ordained to the ministry in 1988, I had to write a paper stating my views on a number of areas of theology—Scripture, God, Christ, Holy Spirit, Man, Salvation, Church, Future Things, Angels & Demons, Spiritual Gifts—as well as several current issues—Marriage & Divorce, Homosexuality, Abortion, Social Drinking, and the Role of Women in the Church. When I transferred my ordination to the Evangelical Free Church in 2005, I had to rewrite the paper. Since people periodically ask me questions about these areas, I think it is time to restate my convictions about what Scripture says on these issues.
Here are my convictions about what Scripture says about Jesus
Jesus Christ is the Second Person of the Trinity, the Son of God (Matthew 28:19). He is both fully God and fully man (Colossians 2:9). He pre-existed from eternity past (John 8:58). He willingly left the riches of heaven to take on human poverty (2 Corinthians 8:9). When he did this, he voluntarily chose not to use his prerogatives of deity. Rather, he took on the form of a servant (Philippians 2:6-7) so that he might identify with man. He was conceived by the Holy Spirit (Luke 1:35) and born of a virgin (Matthew 1:23). Though he was tempted in all things, he was completely sinless (Hebrews 4:15).
Jesus Christ came to take away the sins of the world (John 1:29). Through his death, he paid the penalty of our sins and satisfied or propitiated God’s wrath (1 John 2:2). His sacrifice was vicarious (1 Peter 2:24) and completely satisfied God’s righteous requirements for sinners (2 Corinthians 5:21). The resurrection is proof that Christ is indeed God (Romans 1:4). It also gives the believer confidence that God has accepted Christ’s sacrifice (Romans 4:25), and it also provides a sympathetic High Priest in heaven (Hebrews 4:14-16).
Jesus Christ came to the earth in order to save mankind (John 3:17). He was born of a virgin (Matthew 1:23), in Bethlehem (Luke 2:15), was baptized in the Jordan River (Matthew 3:16), and was tempted by Satan in the wilderness (Matthew 4:1-11). While his temptation was real, he was not able to sin (Hebrews 4:15). He was anointed with the Holy Spirit and with power, and went about doing good, healing people, and casting out demons (Acts 10:38). His death was by crucifixion on a Roman cross (Matthew 27:38). He rose bodily and personally from the grave three days later (Matthew 28:5-6), just as he had earlier predicted (Matthew 16:21). After the resurrection, he appeared to more than 500 people (1 Corinthians 15:5-6), and then was ascended into heaven (Acts 1:9-11). He is presently in heaven, interceding for believers (Romans 8:34), and preparing a place for them there (John 14:3). At a future time, he will return to the earth personally and visibly (Revelation 1:7), in order to establish his kingdom and to reign over it (Revelation 20:4-6).
In regards to the kenosis problem of Philippians 2:7—“(He) emptied himself”—the critical question is: “Of what did Christ empty himself?” I believe that Christ emptied himself of retaining and exploiting his status in the Godhead and took on humanity in order to die. The context of Philippians 2:7 provides the best solution to the kenosis problem. The emptying was not a subtraction but an addition. Four phrases found in Philippians 2:7–8 help explain what took place: “(a) taking the form of a bond-servant, and (b) being made in the likeness of men. And (c) being found in appearance as a man, (d) He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death.” The “emptying” of Christ was taking on an additional nature, a human nature with its limitations. His deity was never surrendered.