Question 12: Why Christ Must Be the God-Man

Gospel Dialogue, CFP white covers, Watchman Nee


Why is it that in God’s plan of redemption Christ must be simultaneously God and man?


Suppose there are three persons, A, B, and C. C has sinned, and A asks B to die for C. In so doing, A is able to express his love for C, and C is also able to answer the demand of the law, but all this will be rather unjust to B. I have sinned, and God causes Christ to die for me. Thus is manifested the love of God toward me, and in addition I have met the requirement of the law. Yet will it not be highly unrighteous to Christ? Only when Christ is both man and God at the same time can it be truly just.

First of all, then, we need to know what is forgiveness. To forgive presupposes a loss to the forgiver through the offense of the forgiven. For instance, if someone owes you ten dollars and you forgive him, it automatically means that you suffer the loss of ten dollars.

In God’s plan of redemption, Christ should not be a third party. If He be a third party, God would be being unjust to Christ since Christ has no sin and hence is not subject to death. The Bible tells us that men have sinned and God is offended. So what is involved is the relation between God and men. To ask a third party to die as a substitute may perhaps fulfill the law’s demand on men as well as fulfill God’s righteousness, but this will be most unjust to that third party. Only because Christ is simultaneously God and man can this substitution be termed just.

“Wherewith shall I come before Jehovah, and bow myself before the high God? shall I come before him with burnt-offerings, with calves a year old? will Jehovah be pleased with thousands of rams, or with ten thousands of rivers of oil? shall I give my first-born for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?” (Micah 6.6,7) Here it is stated that if we sin against God, it is futile to offer calves and rams. All kinds of offerings are of no avail, not even the firstborn ones of our bodies. Christ, therefore, must be God who is himself being offended. For only in this way will He not become a third party. Because Christ is God, the work of redemption is justified. Stating it conversely, since the work of redemption is just, Christ must be God, since only the offended can ever forgive the offender. Who can ever then say that forgiveness is unrighteous? Because Christ is God and He is the One being sinned against, He is therefore able to forgive us.

Consider these two verses: “The commandment, which was unto life, this I found to be unto death” (Rom. 7.10); “The wages of sin is death” (6.23). These passages cause us to see that unless a person keeps all the laws perfectly he must die. In order to make us live, the Lord himself needs to suffer the penalty of sin, which is death. Nevertheless, it is said in 1 Timothy 6.16 that God “[alone] hath immortality”; and hence, for Christ to die as our substitute He must simultaneously be man. And in His body as a man He died for us. So that we can rightly say this: He is God, therefore He has the possibility of saving men.