Welcome Cody Hamilton, Youth Minister
Cody Hamilton is 26 years old and is a recent graduate of Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. Since his graduation in May 2021, he has been assisting in planting a church in Missouri.
The Hypostatic Union
Jesus Christ, the second Person of the Godhead, took upon Himself humanity. This is what Brother Keith was talking about this past Sunday. This, in many ways, is mysterious and we shall never have a complete understanding of how this works in all of its details. However, we can say something about this.
When we speak of Christ, the Son of God, taking upon Himself humanity, we are discussing what is known as the hypostatic union. Jesus is truly God and truly man. How does this work? Our brothers in the 5th century help us here. In 451 the council of Chalcedon was held. It is from this council that we receive the Chalcedonian definition which reads:
“ Following the holy fathers, we all unite in teaching that we should confess one and the same Son, our Lord Jesus Christ. This same one is perfect in deity, and the same one is perfect in humanity; the same one is true God and true man, comprising a rational soul and a body. He is of the same essence as the Father according to his deity, and the same one is of the same essence with us according to his humanity, like us in all things except sin. He was begotten before the ages from the Father according to his deity, but in the last days for us and our salvation, the same one was born of the Virgin Mary, the bearer of God, according to his humanity. He is one and the same Christ, Son, Lord, and Only Begotten, who is made known in two natures united unconfusedly, unchangeably, indivisibly, inseparably. The distinction between the natures is not at all destroyed because of the union, but rather the property of each nature is preserved and concurs together into one person and subsistence. He is not separated or divided into two persons, but he is one and the same Son, the Only Begotten, God the Logos, the Lord Jesus Christ. This is the way the prophets spoke of him from the beginning, and Jesus Christ himself instructed us, and the Council of the fathers has handed the faith down to us.”
You may be wondering what the importance of this is. Other than impressing your friends and family around the table at Thanksgiving by using big words, this has massive consequences for the Christian faith. If Christ is not truly man, “composed of a rational soul and body,” then He is not a fitting substitute to be sacrificed, nor is He fit to be our Mediator. Conversely, if He is truly man, but not truly God then He cannot pay for the sins of the world. Jesus must be both truly God and truly man.
The study of the hypostatic union could last a lifetime. To say that we have even touched the tip of the iceberg here would be an overstatement. Entire lives have been devote to the study of this doctrine. Mountains of books and tomes have been written as well. While we will never plunder the depths of this topic, it is good to consider the words that our brothers labored over so long ago as we rest assured in who Christ is.
The Bedrock of Conviction
When we consider Christian conviction, we must first come to a consensus as to the foundation of that conviction. For if conviction is nothing more than mere opinion, then by all means believe what you like. However, if there is a foundation upon which conviction lies, then we have a truth claim. For the Christian, the foundation of conviction must be the Word of God. Scripture alone is our sole authority of faith and practice. Therefore, where our convictions do not line up with the Word of God, we must give way and conform to God’s standards.
This becomes especially important when we begin to discuss nonessential issues. Needless to say, we stand firm upon the doctrines of orthodoxy. But when it comes to topics that are beyond this, we must ground ourselves in the Word just as we do with the most important maters.
Consider tobacco, alcohol, and dancing. The dreaded trio of every hardened Baptist. For whatever reason, Baptist’s are know as the people who don’t dance, drink, or smoke. To do any of these would be cataclysmic. Perhaps you would agree with this. Perhaps not. The question is why? Upon what foundation do these convictions lie? Do our convictions regarding these topics have Scriptural support, or are they mere opinion? Move beyond these topics and consider divorce and remarriage, the type of language we use, modesty, and more. Do we simply have opinions about these things, or do we have conviction based upon the Word of God?
These things are not the most important. Yet, they are not unimportant either. As we read God’s Word more and more, you will come to see what God has said about these things. By God’s grace, we will all strive to have Bible saturated conviction on even the smaller issues of life. We are certainly bound to disagree with someone at sometime. When that time comes, especially if it is a brother in Christ, I pray that we would be able to graciously and kindly explain our conviction from the Word. For, it is the Word that is our foundation for conviction.
Honing the Edge
“Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another” (Proverbs 27:17). If you have ever used an axe to split wood then you know that it is important for an axe to be sharp. It needs to have a good edge on it. Over time the edge of the axe will get dull as it is used. Eventually, the time will come when it must be sharpened. To begin you would probably profile the cutting edge of the axe with a file and then go on through the sharpening process until you have a sharp edge on your axe once again. For the edge to be sharp, material had to be shaved off. The file had to grind a portion of metal off of the axe head to make it possible to become sharp and effective again.
Proverbs tells us that just like iron sharpening iron, so is one man to another in the sharpening process. Living the Christian life means that we encourage, hold accountable, exhort, rebuke, and comfort one another. As we strive to see our brothers and sisters grow in holiness, there will be a sharpening that happens. As we are sharpened, certain things may indeed need to be taken off and tossed aside so that we might be useful. The sharpening process may even be a bit uncomfortable. Yet, at the end, you have a honed edge. In discipleship, a sharpened Christian is one who is mature in the faith.
If one man is to sharpen the other, then it makes clear that the company we keep is of the utmost importance. Paul makes this exceedingly clear in 1 Cor. 15 when he says, “Do not be deceived, ‘bad company corrupts good morals.’” Show me your closest friends and I will show you exactly who you are, or who you are on your way to becoming. Certainly, our closest friends must be those who point us again and again to Christ Jesus. They must be those who love our soul and desire our greatest good.
So, as you run the race that is the Christian life, find the greatest Christian among you and befriend them. Be honed by them. Have a friend that loves your soul and desires to see you grow more and more into the image of Christ. In return, do the same. Sharpen others, point them to Christ time and time again. Earnestly desire the best for your brothers and sisters.
The Protestant Reformation and Us
On October 31, 1517 Martin Luther nailed his ninety-five theses to the Wittenburg church door. This would, in short time, set ablaze what had already begun to smolder all around the known world. The Protestant Reformation would come into full swing and certain men would be mighty tools in the hand of God. Men like Martin Luther, John Knox, John Calvin, and Ulrich Zwingli. These men would, quite literally, risk their lives for the sake of recovering the gospel that had been veiled for so long.
One of the things that we can all take from the Reformation is the role Martin Luther played. Luther was gloriously converted when he read through Paul’s letter to the Romans. In this he began to compare the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church to the Scripture that he was reading and saw that much was out of order. So, he wrote his ninety-five theses, or complaints, and posted them publicly so that the church might correct its errors.
We ought to be of the same mind as Luther in this matter. Too often we simply carry on the traditions that have been passed down to us because that is all we know. We should always be ready to compare what we do and why we do it to the text of Sacred Scripture and conform to it. Scripture is that which norms us. We conform to it.
May God be pleased to do a work in His church during our day. May we always be ready to conform ourselves to the Word of the Lord and not to the traditions that we have grown fond of. “Wilt Thou not revive us again, that Thy people may rejoice in Thee” (Psalm 85:6).
Grace and Peace,
C. R. Hamilton
Sunday Morning Bible Study, 9:15 am
Sunday Evening Classes (when in session), 5:30 pm
Wednesday Worship, 6:30 pm