Good Question: "What Did Jesus Say About It?"
by Tim Haile
May 15, 2000
In the March 2000 issue of the bulletin mailed out by the Northwest Church of Christ in Evansville, IN, Harry Lewis wrote an article entitled "What Did Jesus Say About It?" In this article Harry had several things to say about the humanity of Christ. I do not receive Harry's bulletin, but saw this particular copy while staying with friends during a gospel meeting I was conducting.
Concerning the Humanity of Jesus
Harry Lewis wrote:
"Take, for instance, the question concerning the humanity of Jesus. Many claim, with a straight face, they believe in the humanity of Jesus, and, with the same breath, deny that Jesus has a human spirit. We need to learn to be very careful when telling God what He can and cannot do! Jesus either has a human spirit or He is not human and never was. Please try this!
1. All humans have human spirits.
2. Jesus is/was a man.
3. Can YOU draw the conclusion? You cannot have it both ways. Jesus either has a human spirit or He is not human."
I noticed that Harry reminded us of our need to "be careful when telling God what He can and cannot do." Harry is correct, but has he considered the possibility that he may be the one limiting God! Harry, wasn't God capable of coming to the earth and assuming a fleshly body without it changing His spirit? (Mal. 3:6; Heb. 1:10-12; 13:8). Aren't you the one telling God that He cannot do something when you say His spirit had to change as a result of it being joined to flesh? Isn't Harry Lewis the one telling God what He can and cannot do?
Harry's syllogism reveals his basic misconception regarding the incarnate deity of Jesus Christ. I realize that we often use accommodative language to describe things, but such language is sometimes confusing. In the above quote Harry makes a distinction between a "human spirit" and a divine spirit. He says Jesus was not a human if He did not have a "human" spirit. It is interesting that even though Harry clearly distinguishes Jesus' so-called "human spirit" from His preexistent divine spirit, yet he denies that Jesus possessed two distinct spirits while in the flesh. Some people obviously forget that Jesus was already a spiritual being before His coming to earth. Being God, Jesus is fundamentally "a spirit" (Jn. 4:24). This describes His intrinsic form and this fact presents a problem for those of Harry's persuasion. If Jesus already possessed a spirit, but had to have a different kind of spirit in order to be human, then Harry is forced into a two-spirit position. He is forced to say that in order for Jesus to continue to be God He had to have a "divine spirit," and in order for Him to become man He had to acquire a "human spirit." Of course, Harry could adopt the Jehovah's Witness position that Jesus was entirely a created being in "body, soul and spirit" (actually, this view has already been articulated by some of Harry's friends). Surely Harry will not take this position for it truly denies the deity of Christ. This view states that in coming to the earth, Jesus ceased to be the person of God that He was, and became something entirely different.
Certain passages of scripture make it clear that the "spirit" Jesus had during the flesh was the same spirit He had previous to the flesh. Remember that the spirit is the source and seat of the intellect. It is that which animates flesh. We know this for "the body without the spirit is dead" (Jas. 2:26).
Hebrews 5:7 refers to Jesus by saying, "Who in the days of His flesh..." The words "who" and "his" refer to the person or spirit of Jesus. His days "in the flesh" are distinguished from His days out of the flesh. This verse recognizes no difference in the person of Christ regardless of His being either in or out of the flesh. He was the same person regardless of where He was. His spirit remained unchanged.
In Hebrews 10:5 the prophecy is quoted where Jesus was speaking in the first person about how he would integrate with humanity. He said, "a body you have prepared for me." The "Me" of this verse refers to the person of Christ. His person remained the same even after assuming a fleshly body. Like John 1:14, Hebrews 10:5 teaches that the divine spiritual being known as God, the Word, assimilated human flesh and became a man (Heb. 2:14). The fact that "He" spent certain days in the flesh in no way changed His spirit. Jesus was identically the same person in the flesh that He was out of the flesh.
Long before the coming of Christ in the flesh, He prophesied, in first person, of what the Father would do for Him while He was in the grave. He said, "You will not leave my soul in hades, neither will you allow your Holy One to see corruption" (Ps. 16:10; Acts 2:27). It is important to note that this "Holy One" who spoke of the certainty of His resurrection in Psalm 16:10, was exactly the same being who was raised from the dead according to Acts chapter two. Peter asserted that Jesus Christ was the true author of the words in Psalm 16:10. The fulfillment was in Christ, not David (Acts 2:29-32). The Jesus who predicted His own resurrection in Matthew 16:21 was the same Jesus who predicted His own resurrection in Psalm 16:10! He knew as much about His divine purpose in Matthew 16 as He did about it in Psalm 16. There was no difference in His spirit. He was God. He was the "Holy One" in Psalm 16:10 and He was the "Holy One" in His mother's womb (Lk. 1:35).
Perfecting Harry's Syllogism
Harry Lewis' syllogism needs a little refining. A more accurate syllogism would be as follows:
1. A human is a dual being, composed of a fleshly body and a spirit (Matt. 10:28).
2. The incarnation connected Jesus' spirit to a fleshly body (Jn. 1:14).
3. Conclusion: The incarnation allowed Jesus to become human.
Harry Lewis and others make a terrible mistake when they teach that Jesus did not possess human spiritual attributes before coming in the flesh. Their doctrine is foreign to scripture. It has God being made in the spiritual image of man, rather than man being made in the spiritual image of God (Gen. 1:26-27). The fact that this passage uses the plural word for "God" means that Jesus was included in it. Thus, we received our spiritual attributes from Him; He did not receive His from us. The person of God who was "grieved" by the hardness of people's hearts in Mark 3:5 was one of the same persons of God who was "grieved" by man's wickedness in Genesis 6:6. There was no change in His spirit. The person of God who was "angered" by the corrupt attitudes of His day in Mark 3:5 was one of the persons of God who was "angered" by the corrupt attitudes displayed by the Jews at Sinai (see Ex. 32:9-10). There was no change in His spirit. The person of God who pronounced and executed judgment against the city of Jerusalem in Matthew 24 was one of the persons of God who executed judgment against the cities of the plain in Genesis 19. There was no change in His spirit.
Paul accused the Gentiles of changing "the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man..." (Rom. 1:23). Men cannot stand the thought of Jesus being fully divine. They feel better about themselves when they view Jesus as being as potentially dumb as the dumbest and as vile as the vilest. They want Jesus to be just like them in His knowledge, abilities and powers. When people attempt to redefine the nature of Emmanuel they behave just as the pagans of old. They are striving to recreate their God so that He is just like them. This does not constitute belief in God; it is unbelief.
Since Harry accuses people of denying the humanity of Christ when they teach the spiritual and essential unchangeableness of Christ, we are forced to conclude that Harry still believes just as he did when he moderated for John Welch in debate. That is, Harry Lewis believes the personal nature and spiritual being of Jesus changed in several different areas as a result of His coming in the flesh. Since Jesus demonstrated knowledge and other abilities and qualities while in the flesh, Harry and others must explain their origin. Thus they reason that He acquired them from man and began His earthly life just like all other humans. He sees Jesus as acquiring human spiritual attributes from us, rather than we from Him.
Harry Lewis' Jesus is not a Jesus who spoke deliberately of what He would do, then came to the earth and accomplished such. The Jesus Harry portrays is one who sort of got up one morning, stumbled and fell out of Heaven and landed on the earth, striking His head against one of the rocks He had earlier created. This blow was so hard that Harry's Jesus forgot everything He knew. In fact, He would have even forgotten that He was the one who had created that rock to begin with! The Jesus Harry Lewis depicts was an amnesiac. The Bible says Jesus told people about His personal experience of Heaven. He told people what He had "seen and heard" in Heaven (Jn. 3:32). This means He did retain His personal divine knowledge. He was not as John, who had to be guided by the spirit into the truths he taught. Jesus spoke from personal experience.
This view of a debilitated, crippled Christ who was bereft of His divine qualities, properties, privileges, powers, prerogatives, glory, holiness, abilities and attributes is foreign to scripture. It depicts "another Jesus" whom the apostles never preached (2 Cor. 11:4). Harry's Jesus is a concocted Jesus designed using the same reasoning processes employed by first century pagans. Such a Jesus must be rejected along with all of the misconceptions that produced him. Soul-saving faith is not placed in a lustful, ignorant and powerless savior, yet that is exactly the Jesus some have constructed. Such a Jesus must not be preached. Let us leave the christological heresies to the cultists and denominationalists. If they want to believe in a Jesus who was created in "body, soul and spirit," let them do so. We should take no part in such blasphemous productions.
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