Knowing Christ: Growing Up In Christ
In his helpful (and for me “much used”) Dictionary of Theological Terms, Alan Cairns defines “Christology” as follows:
“The Department of Systematic Theology which deals with the doctrine of the Person of Christ the Redeemer. It covers the following subjects: His Theanthropic Person, His Deity; His Humanity; His Unipersonality; and His Impeccability.”
Theologians understand it. Seminary students love to use the high sounding technical terms. A pastor, however, needs to make it “accessible” and “practical”. Why should the average child of God care about “Christology”? Isn’t “knowing Jesus as your personal savior and LORD” enough?
Besides the fact that any study of our redeemer and LORD should excite the heart of one of God’s children, to ignore Christology is to ignore the practical ends of salvation. Consider with me the following thesis:
Christology is the end goal of your salvation.
The gospel goes beyond deliverance from the penalty of your sin and subsequent eternal life (as central and beautiful as these things are), it brings to you nothing less than the promise that you, a fallen sinner, will be remade in the image of Christ! The limitations of this format will prevent a full presentation of the argument, but let’s see if we can kick the ball down the court! Open your Bible to Paul’s letter to the Ephesians and follow along.
Many of you will find chapter 1:3-14 with an editor’s label (not part of the inspired text) that reads something like: Spiritual Blessings in Christ. In these verses, Paul lists the things that God predestined to give us, or do for us, as a result of Christ’s redemptive work. Look now specifically at Chapter 1, verse 12: “So that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory.” (ESV).
The NAS uses slightly different language: “to the end that we who were the first to hope in Christ should be to the praise of His glory.” The pre-destined plan and purpose of Christ’s work is that believers would be to the praise of Christ’s glory! This begs the question: “What is Christ’s glory?” The lexical definition of the Hebrew word for "glory" starts with the root concept of “heaviness”. Heaviness becomes a metaphor for importance. So, to rephrase the question: “What is important about God?” Well now, that is a question that can only begin to be answered… Let’s start with Question #4 in the Westminster Shorter Catechism: What is God? A. God is a Spirit, infinite, eternal, and unchangeable, in his being, wisdom, power, holiness, justice, goodness, and truth.
Theologians call the first three descriptors God’s incommunicable attributes (infinity, eternality, and immutability), that is, humans cannot share in them. The final six (wisdom, power, holiness, justice, goodness, and truth) are communicable attributes, that is, humans can share them. Are the communicable attributes of God “important”? Is wisdom important? Is justice? Is truth? God’s predestined goal in the gospel is that you will be to the praise of Christ’s glory, that is, you will demonstrate truthfulness, justice, wisdom, etc. I believe that this is a central theme in the book of Ephesians. Continue by considering the following verses:
- Ephesians 3:19: and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.
- Ephesians 4:13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ,
Here the same concept is found using the term “fullness”. God’s goal is that we would be “filled with all the fullness of God” and that we would attain “to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ”. The first lexical definition of “fullness” (Greek) is “that which fills”.[i] The “fullness of Christ” is “that which fills Christ and … we are to be filled with this, we are to attain to this measure or standard. If we are to be filled with Christ does it not follow that we need to know who Christ? Can there be any greater reason to study “Christology”?
Martin B. Blocki has served as the Associate Pastor of the Reformed Presbyterian Church of North Hills in Pittsburgh, PA since 2002. He is also a counselor at the Biblical Counseling Institute in Pittsburgh. He graduated from Indiana University, Bloomington (BME), Arizona State University (MM), and the Reformed Presbyterian Theological Seminary (MDiv). Martin and his wife, Kathy, have two married sons, one daughter, and 2 grand children.