IV. CHRIST BEING GOD ESSENTIALLY
AND HAVING THE SPIRIT ECONOMICALLY
Heretical teachings about Christ come from having an inadequate understanding of the Bible’s description of Him. One verse that has especially confused people is Matthew 27:46. On the cross, right before His death, the Lord cried out, "My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?" People have wrongly used this verse to say that Christ was not God since God forsook Him on the cross. They might also point out Matthew 3, where the Holy Spirit descended upon Jesus at His baptism. They ask, "If Jesus were God, why did He need the Holy Spirit to come upon Him?" This kind of question can be properly answered with what the Bible says.
Because the Lord was conceived of the Holy Spirit, He possessed the divine essence (Lesson Fourteen). You can say that He had the Holy Spirit as His essence, as part of His being. He was essentially God. Why then did the Holy Spirit descend upon Him at His baptism? This was necessary in order for the Lord Jesus to carry out His work. His baptism was the beginning of His three and a half year ministry on the earth. During that time He did many wonderful works such as preaching and performing many miracles. In the four Gospels He healed the sick and the crippled; He fed five thousand people with five loaves of bread and two fishes; He cast demons out of people and calmed the raging winds and seas; He even raised the dead. To do all those things He needed the authority and power of the Holy Spirit. We call this aspect of the Spirit "the economical Spirit." This is the Spirit that Jesus received at His baptism. He had the Spirit essentially for life at His birth and He received the Spirit economically for power at His baptism.
When Jesus was crucified on the cross, the sins of the human race were put on Him; He was made sin on our behalf (1 Pet. 2:24; 2 Cor. 5:21). The righteous God judged Jesus for man’s sins. At that moment, God saw all the sins of the world on Jesus. The Holy God had to turn away, and the economical Spirit left Jesus. Thus Jesus cried, "My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?"
Then we read in 1 Peter 3:18 that, on the cross, Christ was "being put to death in flesh, but made alive in spirit." When Jesus died on the cross for sinners, God left Him economically. But, according to this verse, God passed through crucifixion with Him essentially. This God-man was put to death in His human flesh, but made alive in His divine spirit. He had the essence of God from birth to death. His essential being never changed; in His essence He was still God and still man.
This should help us understand who Christ was on the cross: He was both God and man. We should have no doubt that the Lord Jesus was fully and uniquely qualified to die for mankind. Praise Him for His wonderful death as the God-man! Because of His accomplishment on the cross we are saved and are being saved. Hallelujah!
- Explain the significance of Christ dying as a man. As God.
- Discuss the consequences of the heretical teachings which state that Christ is God but not man or man but not God.
- Explain the meaning of the Lord’s last words, "My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?"
Quoted Portions from (Lee/LSM) Publications
- Life-study of Mark, pp. 413-419, 422-423.
- Life-study of First John, pp. 69-70.
- Concerning the Person of Christ, pp. 5-12.
(Lesson Book, Level 2: The Triune God—The Triune God and the Person and Work of Christ, Chapter 18, by Witness Lee)