This book is an explanation of that "stupendous event." My prayer when I began to write it was that the Father would help me to present to you his Son, not as a life less doctrine, but as a living Saviour. I hope you will find in these pages a Person, not a polemic; a Reality, not a creed.
Another way to describe this book, would be to say that it is a commentary on the four great affirmations about Christ that John makes at the beginning of his gospel, where he declares Christ's:
- Eternity: "in the beginning was the Word."
- Equality: "and the Word was with God"
- Deity: "and the Word was God"
- Humanity: "and the Word became flesh."
In those four sayings, there is almost a complete Christology!
But the problem I have had to struggle with on almost every page is staying simple and related to life. It is so easy to yield to the temptation to become learned, but quite unlively.
I would not dare say whether I have managed to defeat that temptation. You must decide for yourself. Still, my desire has been to stir your imagination and your emotions rather than merely to instruct your mind. Could there be anything more incongruous than a coldly intellectual discussion, void of fire, empty of dreams, about the Man of Nazareth, who strides with such energy and drama across the pages of the Bible?
Yet there is a profound mystery, both in the gospel and in our personal experience of Christ, and any attempt to clarify this mystery must tread along difficult paths. I can only hope that I have handled scripture with proper reverence while avoiding the kind of tortuous and abstruse writing I have found in many books on this subject.
Finally, some explanation of the reason for this course. All debate about Jesus our Lord, where he came from, who he is, eventually comes to three matters: (1) Was Christ human, or divine, or both? (2) If he was both human and divine, how real were these two natures? (3) How were these two natures brought together?
Some deny either that Jesus was human or else that he was divine. Others, who allow that he was both human and divine, still question either the fulness of his humanity or the fulness of his deity. And there are those who deny that the two natures were united in one person, saying either that he had two natures and was two persons or that his two natures were mingled together so as to form a new third nature.
Orthodox belief, which fills the following pages, argues that we must neither sacrifice the humanity of Christ to his deity nor his deity to his humanity, nor may we merge deity and humanity together to form a new hybrid nature, neither divine nor human; and we dare not divide Christ into more than one person. There is but one Saviour, Jesus, and in him, the God-man, lies all our hope of eternal life and of inheritance in the kingdom of God.