The Creed of Chalcedon
…and consubstantial with us according to the Manhood
Referring back to the Nicene Creed again, after the Creed speaks to the Son being of the same essence as the Father—homoousios in Greek, “consubstantial” in Latin (all of which we spoke about yesterday)—it then proclaims that the Son “came down from heaven, and was incarnate by the Holy Spirit of the Virgin Mary, and was made man.” It then speaks to his condemnation under Pilate, crucifixion, burial, resurrection, and ascension. But it is to this coming down from heaven and incarnated (in-fleshed) from Mary’s own humanity that must concern us now.
The Creed of Chalcedon says that not only was our Lord Jesus Christ, the man from Nazareth, of one and the same nature as the Father (and so God) but also of one and the same nature as a man (and so a living, breathing human being). It is this teaching that separates the Christian faith from all others. Oh, even the ancient pagans spoke of gods visiting the earth to work their mischief, taking human or animal form. But our faith speaks to God being “born of woman, born under the law” (Galatians 4:4), and who lived a full human life as God in the flesh. And it is this teaching that offended the Jews then and Muslims today.
If we will be honest with ourselves, we must admit that the idea that Almighty God took human form while still remaining God for our salvation some two-thousand years ago, does sound far-fetched. That’s why salvation is a miracle; only those born of the Spirit can believe it. But the doctrine is at the heart of our faith. I said yesterday that only God could save us—that a mere man could not do so. That is true. But as God would have it, in His eternal decree, He would not save us without us—meaning that it would take not only God but a God-man to save us. And that is what the Incarnation is all about. God takes human form that God may offer Himself and be the sacrifice for our sins. Salvation was the work of God BUT through the humanity he assumed from the Virgin’s womb. This was the specific task of the Son who was sent by the Father and empowered by the Holy Spirit to complete. He must be God to save us, and he must be man to take our place and receive the just punishment for our sin.
God is not some far off deity in the sky watching to see how we shall finish ourselves off down here. God took upon Himself our humanity to save us—and under no obligation to do so. This is what Scripture calls, Grace. Read the Gospels again and see how the God-man lived among and loved us.