The Incarnation of the Son

We are glad to be able to publish this letter received from Mr. James Boyd. We are sure that it will be helpful to many of our readers, especially in view of the widespread denial of the full and eternal Deity of our Lord Jesus Christ, and also in regard to questions that have arisen as to His incarnation and full and perfect manhood

All who love the Lord must feel how important, how vital it is that the truth should be maintained as to His holy and blessed Person, as it is revealed to us in the Scriptures, all true knowledge of God depends upon this and consequently all true spiritual growth.

 “You cannot be right in the rest,
  Unless you think rightly of Him.”—Editor (J.T.M.).

My Dear Brother,

I can assure you that it has always been with the greatest reluctance and timidity I have penned anything on this sacred subject, and for various reasons. First, the incarnation of the Son is beyond the ability of any human being to fathom. The sense of my own inability to touch even the border of that sphere from which we are all warned off is in itself a terrible deterrent. Second, I have a shrinking from any discussion of the person of our Lord, because of the readiness of the human mind to intrude with its faulty, ignorant and pernicious reasonings. Third, because I do not consider it a fitting subject for debate. Fourth, because I gather from Scripture, that to confess Jesus as the Son of the living God; Creator; come in flesh; dead for our offences; raised for our justification; seated on the right hand of God; Lord of all; to be confessed as such with bended knee, is sufficient for Christian intercourse. On all this the Scriptures are luminous, requiring no clearing up from us.

It may be that in seeking to maintain the truth of Christ, one may stumble over the narrow boundary between truth and error, and that without any sense that he has done so. This gives occasion for those who see the error to come in with light from the Word, not with their human reasonings on the text, but in the application of the text itself, bringing it in grace to bear upon the conscience of the one in error.

Regarding the subject we had under consideration, I entirely object to the notion that the blessed Son of God consists of two persons so distinct from one another that one can be said to know all things, and the other knowing scarcely anything more than other men. Omniscience is ascribed to one, and human limitations to the other. This unholy and conceited analysing of this mysterious Person cannot be otherwise than ruinous to the saints.

In the way in which He is presented to us in Scripture He is ever one distinct and unique personality, never is there the slightest hint of duality. Of course, He was made to know what human weakness was. He felt the pangs of hunger, but He who suffered thus could have made the stones of the desert bread. Thirst and weariness He knew for He was here in flesh and blood. In His practical life He was made like unto His brethren, that He might be a merciful and faithful High Priest. But He who suffered all those evils that belong to man’s present condition was the living God; God and Man in eternal unity.

In Philippians 8:6-8, it is the One who was in the form of God who descended to the death of the cross. In Psalm 102 it is the One whose strength was weakened in the way, and whose days were shortened to whom the work of creation and the change of all things is ascribed. The One who seems to despair of life is the Creator. It was the same Jesus that went back to the Father who had come from Him. He was the living bread that had come down from heaven, which He says was His flesh to be given for the life of the world. And when they were upset by such a statement, He says: “What and if ye shall see the Son of man ascend up where He was before.” None of these statements could have been made concerning Him had He not been God, and none could have been said had He not been Man.

He was here in manhood, seen to be a Man, a Man that was called Jesus, come of a woman, born into this world. He says to Pilate: “To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world”; and to the Jews who were determined to take His life: “Ye seek to kill me, a man that has told you the truth.” And in the same chapter: “Before Abraham was I am.” What a glorious mingling of the divine and human. “A Man among men, yet in all that He said and did Godhead comes to light.”

  “There see the Godhead glory
    Shine thro’ the human veil,
  And willing hear the story
    Of love that’s come to heal.
  “We cling to Thee in weakness,
    The manger and the cross;
  We gaze upon Thy meekness,
    Thro’ suffering, pain, and loss.”

He was a Man here before the eyes of men; Man in the whole texture of His bodily and spiritual being, but God and Man in the complex and inscrutable unity of His adorable person; as truly God as Man; nothing lacking as to Godhead, for its fullness was there; and nothing lacking as to Manhood, for perfection characterized Him in whatever way He may be viewed. How the human and divine were from the moment of the conception of this glorious Person formed in unity and mysteriously blended, so the two were not separate existences, but intervolved and combined in the most perfect oneness, no one knows but He who could say of Him: “The Man that is my Fellow” (Zech. 13:7).

I say all this to emphasize the fact that the various ways in which the perfect life of this heavenly Man is portrayed in the Gospels, shows, not the activities resulting from a dual personality, though we see the divine and the human perfectly blended, but those activities flowing forth from one spring; their overwhelming testimony carrying conviction to heart and mind, that the One from whom those actions flow is both God and Man, but in one person.

He did nothing as God only, neither did He anything as man only. It is likely to be replied that He ate, drank, rested and slept. But these things were only the accompaniments of flesh and blood, which He had taken in order that He should be able to die and redeem us to God by His blood. It might be said that He prayed, and that God does not require to pray, but in the midst of His prayers thoughts like these are sharply rebuked by “Father, I will.” Then He claims glory with the Father on the ground that He had glorified the Father; but what creature could claim reward from God on the ground of his faithfulness? Jesus says to His disciples: “When ye have done all these things that are commanded you; say, We are unprofitable servants; we have done that which was our duty to do.” But when our Lord took the place of a servant it was His own act, and altogether voluntary: “He took upon Himself the form of a servant.”

At the grave of Lazarus, when He saw the distress of Mary, and the Jews that had come with her, He was deeply moved in spirit, and shed tears. Perhaps it will be said that this was the expression of His human sympathies, and I do not say that it was not; but how could it be this apart from the divine? The one could not be without the other, unless they proceeded from different sources, and there was but one source from which they could come, and that source was the heart of Jesus.

Has the living God no compassions or sympathies? Can He not be moved by the sight of human woes? The presence of Him who was sent here by the Father is a sufficient answer to that. And is not the cross of the Son the great manifestation of that love and pity with which He looked down upon a world dominated by sin and Satan? Even as to the sorrow of His earthly and rebellious people He could say: “In all their afflictions He was afflicted, and the angel of His presence saved them: In His love and in His pity He redeemed them; and He bare them, and carried them all the days of old” (Isa. 63:9).

But I must bring this long letter to a conclusion. Some speak of the man Christ Jesus as a creature—some speak of His limitations as a man—this is that into which Christendom is drifting today; and it is really but a step toward the denial of His Godhead. May His people prayerfully watch against this snare.