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Christology - Chafer

Christology is the branch of theology dealing with the nature, person, and deeds of Jesus Christ.  In Lewis Sperry Chafer's Systematic Theology, he depicts seven positions for Christ in the Bible:  

1) Jesus Christ is the Pre-Incarnate Son of God.  

In the Bible, Christ is called God's "One and only Son (John 3:16)," the "exact representation (Hebrews 1:3)," God's "Firstborn (Revelation 1:5)," "Elohim," and "Jehovah."  Christ is eternal (Micah 5:2), immutable (Hebrews 1:11-12; 13:8), omnipotent (1 Corinthians 15:28; Phil. 3:21), omniscient, and omnipresence.  Christ's works include creation (Romans 11:36, Colossians 1:15-19, Heb. 1:2-12), preservation, forgiveness of sin, raising the dead, and execution of all judgment.  

Jesus Christ is name as one equal to the others in the Trinity.  In all references to the members of the Godhead, Christ the Son shares equally with God the Father and the Holy Spirit. In all revealed purposes of God, Christ assumes those parts which only God can assume. By this we know that He is before all things.  

The eternal Messiah of the Old Testament is God, and Jesus Christ is that eternal Messiah.  Jesus Christ is also the Angel of Jehovah--again, eternal.  Christ has existed forever (John 1:1-2, Philippians 2:5-11, Heb. 1:1-3).  Since Christ is God, then He has existed from all eternity.  

2) Jesus Christ is the Incarnate Son of God.  

About 40% of the Bible is devoted to the theme that Jesus Christ is the incarnate Son of God.  In the Old Testament, prophecies anticipate His coming.  The New Testament records His birth and childhood which is the basis for much Christian doctrine.  Christ is the divine Son of God; the racial Son of man; the human son of Mary; the Messianic and Jewish Son of David; and, the redemptive Son of Abraham.  

The hypostatic union is the theological term for Christ's being both divine and human.  In this union, the Bible describes Christ's role as mediator, in His incarnation and His death; His earthly ministry to Israel as Messiah, Immanuel, and King; His ministry to the Gentiles as Savior, Judge, and Ruler; and, His ministry to the Church as Head, Lord, and Bridegroom.  His earthly ministry was first to Israel and the covenant of the kingdom and later to Jews and Gentiles when He instituted the Church.  In His ministries, Christ held the roles of Prophet, incorporating all His teaching ministry; Priest, incorporating the sacrifice of Himself for the world; and, King, which incorporating the whole Davidic covenant together with the predictions and its fulfillment in His future reign.  

The baptism of Christ was, of course, a significant event in His earthly life.  His baptism consecrated Him to the office of Priest, which endures forever.  

Likewise, the temptation of Christ was very important.  It was the crucial attack of Satan against the humanity of Christ, and the result showed that Christ remained impeccable, staying true to His Father's will.  His actions were in line with His very nature as God, as determined in eternity.  

The transfiguration of Christ was a declaration of the power and coming of Christ in His kingdom (Matthew 16:28, Mark 9:1, Luke 9:27).  It pictured the glory of the coming kingdom, at a time when Christ was about to turn from the kingdom ministry to the new heavenly purpose concerned with a people qualified for glory through His death and resurrection.  So, it was essential to illustrate that the future of the kingdom endured since He had been rejected as king.  

Christ's scope and purpose in His incarnation was clearly displayed by His teaching, in both his ministry to Israel and to the Church.  Likewise, His miracles proclaimed that He was indeed the Messiah (John 15:24), so he was obviously rejected unjustly.   

3) The Efficacious Sufferings, Death and Burial of the Son of God

The actual bearing of the judgments of sin fell upon Christ in the hours of His suffering which resulted in death (John 19:28).  He said, "It is finished," knowing that all things were now accomplished, so that the scripture would be fulfilled.  

Christ's efficacious sacrifice required the shedding of blood and His death.  Christ's death Christ is the anti-type of every typical sacrifice such as those found in the Old Testament.  His death determined the nature of that particular type.  The very reason that these Old Testament sacrifices required bloodshed and death were because of the truth that Christ would be sacrificed in this way.  The Bible records the account of Christ's death in types; prophecies; historical declarations of the Synoptic Gospels; declarations of the Apostle John in his Gospel, Epistles, and Revelation; declarations of the Apostle Paul; testimony of the Apostle Peter; and, the Epistle to the Hebrews.  

Christ was offered in sacrifice by God the Father (Psalm 22:15, John 3:16, Romans 3:25); of His own free will (John 10:17, Hebrews 7:27, 9:14, 10:12); by God the Holy Spirit (Hebrews 9:14); and, by men, including Herod, Pilate, the Gentiles, and Israel (Acts 2:23; 4:27).  Also, Satan contributed to His death (Genesis 3:15).  The death of Christ achieved the many objectives necessary for man's salvation by grace through faith.  By His burial, He carried away the burden of sin, going into the grave as a sin-bearer, and being resurrected as the Lord of glory.  

4) The Resurrection of the Son of God

The Old Testament records the resurrection in types and prophecies.  In the New Testament, this theme is declared by the predictions of Christ and by the historical fact that He rose from the dead.  He was raised by the Father (Psalm 16:10, Acts 2:27, 31-32, Romans 6:4, Ephesians 1:19-20); by the Son Himself (John 2:19, 10:17-18); and, by the Holy Spirit (1 Peter 3:18).  

The apostle John places the resurrection of Christ in a central and all-important position of Christianity.  Where the death of Christ provides, His resurrection constructs.  Through Christ's death, all penalty of sin is cancelled, and the merit of Christ is made available.  However, by the resurrection of Christ, the new Headship over a perfected New Creation is established forever.  The importance of His resurrection, and the reasons for it, cannot be overstated.  Christ arose because of what He is (Acts 2:24); i.e. it is impossible that the Son of God should be held in the place of death.  He arose because of who He is (Romans 1:3-4).  The resurrection proved His position as the "Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness."  He arose to be Head over all things to the Church (Ephesians 1:22-23).  He arose in order to give resurrection life to all who believe (John 12:24).  He arose to be the source of resurrection power in the lives of His own who are in the world (Matthew. 28:18, Romans 6:4, Ephesians 1:19-20).  He arose because His work which provided the ground for justification was completed (Romans 4:25).  He arose as the pattern or first-fruits of all who are saved (1 Corinthians 15:20-23, Philippians 3:20-21, 1 Timothy. 6:16).  He arose to sit on David's throne, so as to fulfill all of the covenant promises to Israel (Acts 2:30).  

5) The Ascension and Session of the Son of God

The ascension was Christ's departure for heaven, and there are two important aspects to it.  One ascension occurred immediately after the resurrection when Christ returned into heaven as First-Fruits and as Priest presenting His blood.  The second ascension was that of His final departure from the earth to assume His present ministry in heaven.  

The theological term for Christ's present ministry in heaven is His "session."  It guarantees the eternal security of all who are saved.  The aspects of His current session include the exercise of universal authority, as He said of Himself, "All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth" (Matthew 28:18); Headship over all things to the Church (Ephesians 1:22-23); His giving and direction of the exercise of spiritual gifts (Romans 12:3-8, 1 Corinthians 12:4-31, Ephesians 4:7-11); His ministry of intercession where He contemplates the weakness and immaturity of His own who are in the world (Psalm 23:1, Romans 8:34, Hebrews 7:25); His ministry of advocacy where He appears in defense of His own before the Father's throne when they sin (Romans 8:34, Hebrews 9:24, 1 John 2:1); The building of the place He has gone to prepare for believers (John 14:1-3); and, His expectation of the moment when the Father will decree the kingdoms of this world to become the kingdom of the Messiah--not by human works, but by the resistless, crushing power of the returning King (Hebrews 10:13).  

6) The Second Coming and Kingdom of the Son of God

Christ's Second Advent will transform the world.  (This is separate and distinct from His coming into the air to gather the Church to Himself.)  His second advent concerns the Jews, the Gentiles, and angelic hosts including Satan and his angels.  

The long-promised, earthly, Davidic kingdom of Christ was offered to Israel at His first advent, but it was rejected and postponed in the counsels of God until His second advent.  Christ will return as the Messiah, and he will literally fulfill all prophecies of the Kingdom.  

7) The Conclusion of Mediation, and the Eternal Reign of the Son of God

After the 1000-year reign of Christ on His earthly kingdom, in His last form of mediation, prophecy assures that other transforming events will occur.  Satan will be released from the abyss (Revelation 20:3); armies will be formed to revolt against God again (Revelation 20:7-9); the old heaven and the old earth will pass away (Revelation 20:11); unbelievers will be judged before the great white throne (Revelation 20:12-15); the new heaven and the new earth will be created (2 Peter 3:10-14; Revelation 21:1); the bridal city will descend out of heaven (Revelation 3:12, 21:2, 9-10); and, mediation will be surrender of mediation.  However, Christ will not surrender His reign (1 Corinthians 15:25-28).  1 Corinthians 15:27 indicates that Christ receives the kingdom and its authority from God the Father, and, after the mediatorial reign of a thousand years, Christ will continue reigning forever by the same authority of the Father.  It is the testimony of the Davidic covenant that He shall reign on David's throne forever and ever (2 Samuel 7:16; Psalm 89:20-37, Isaiah 9:6-7, Luke 1:31-33, Revelation 11:15).  

Owen Weber 2012