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Ask the Pastor

† Theological musings and answers to selected questions by a confessional Lutheran pastor.






22 October 2005

The Humanity and Deity of Christ


Christ CrucifiedQ: Why is it vital to Christianity to believe in the deity of Jesus Christ? I am aware that the Scriptures plainly teach the deity of Christ and for that reason alone I believe Jesus to be God (2nd person or eternal subsistence in the Godhead). My question is why was it necessary that the Redeemer be God? I have read it repeatedly “salvation required that Jesus be both fully God and fully man.” Regarding the “fully man,” I have found detailed explanations for why. As for “fully God,” it never seems to be much more than the statement itself.

A: God demands perfection. He did not find this in man; He had to supply it in and of Himself. Also, the Scriptures tell us that we cannot pay for another’s sins. We can’t even pay for our own sins. Thus, the value of the sacrifice had to meet or exceed the worth of those being ransomed. There’s also the need for the strength and stamina to carry the burden of being Messiah on earth for over thirty years, to wrestle with and win against Satan and his temptations, and to remain absolutely committed to obeying the Father’s will. For these reasons and others, no man could have possibly been Savior.

Yet as you noted in your question, it was also necessary that He be man, since God cannot die, since it was man’s sin and man must pay the price, and the like. These reasons meant that God could not be Savior.

It was only through the God-man Jesus Christ, the Suffering Servant foretold by Isaiah, that our salvation was accomplished.

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Walter Snyder is the pastor of Holy Cross Lutheran Church, Emma, Missouri and coauthor of the book What Do Lutherans Believe.

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