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Trinity, Incarnation and Redemption (Part 3)

In the name of the Fr., and the Son, and the Holy Spirit, One God, Amen.

Is Christ God or The Son of God?

Once a ten year old Sunday School girl came to me saying that in school they asked her, “Is Christ God or the Son of God? Sometimes you say He is the incarnate Word of God and sometimes you say the only begotten Son of God.” I asked her, “Is not every Prince a king?” When we say that he is king it is correct. At the same time, when we say that he himself is the son of the king it is also correct, since he is of the royal family.

Our Lord Jesus Christ is God because He has the same divine essence with the Fr., and is the Son of God because He is the Word of God, begotten from the Fr. before all ages.

Is Christ A Deified Man?

Others ask if Christ is a man who became God. Our response is that we reject the idea of deifying a man. Christ is incarnate God not a deified man. Consequently, we say in the creed of faith, “We believe in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son of God, begotten of the Fr. before all ages”.

“Before all ages,” means before the creation of the world, the angels, and man. “Light of Light,” as the delivery of rays from the sun. “True God of True God, begotten not created, of one essence with the Fr.”.

“Begotten not created,” means that the Fr. did not create Him. Therefore we call the Son, the Word of God.

The Generation of the Son from the Fr.:

A perfect analogy is the mind and the thoughts. The mind generates thoughts; however, there is no mind devoid of thoughts. If the mind does not think, then it is not a mind. The mind begets the thought but does it have to get married in order to generate the thought? Of course not! Light generates rays and it does not get married to do so. Fire also generates heat and does not have to get married. Therefore the generation of the thought from the mind and the generation of rays from light is a natural generation.

Furthermore, the mind generates thought, but does this mean that the mind exists before the thought. Of course not, because a mind that does not think is not a mind. Mind and thought are one thing that can never be separated from one another. Likewise, if I separate the Word of God from God, God will loose his divinity.

Moreover, if the mind has no beginning, then the thought will have no beginning. Likewise, if the Fr. is eternal, then the Son is eternal. The Fr. and His Word are one; we can never separate them from one another. The Lord Jesus Christ said, “I and My Fr. are one” (Jn 10:30). Not only the Fr. and the Word are one, but the Fr., the Word and the Holy Spirit. This is why we say ‘In the name of the Fr., the Son, and the Holy Spirit, one God Amen’.

We believe that God is one because it is impossible to have more than one God, but God the Fr. could never be God, unless He is the Fr. of the Word, His Son. There is no father without son, and no son without father.

A perfect example for this would be a fountain of water and its stream. The fountain generates the stream. The fountain generates and the stream is generated, but can we ever find a fountain with no stream of water? If the fountain had no stream, then it does not exist. Likewise, could there be a stream without a fountain? From where would the water spring? The fountain should have a stream, and the stream should originate from a fountain.

Consequently God said, “They have forsaken Me, the fountain of living waters, And hewn themselves cisterns — broken cisterns that can hold no water.” (Jer 2:13). Furthermore, the Lord Jesus Christ said, “I am…the life” (Jn 14:6). The Fr. says that He is the fountain of living water; so the living water that comes forth from the Fr. is the Son, since the Son says, “I am the life”. The Fr. is the begetter, the Son the begotten, but this is definitely excluding marriage.

The Birth from Saint Mary:

The birth of our Lord Jesus Christ from Saint Mary is unlike His generation from the Fr.. In the Orthodox Creed of Faith we say, “Begotten of the father before all ages”.

He was born of the Fr. before all ages and before the creation of the entire world. His generation from the Fr. is according to His Divinity, a spiritual generation, without a mother. When He wanted to save us, “…God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons.” (Gal 4:4-5). “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Fr., full of grace and truth.” (Jn 1:14). The eternal Word of God is in the bosom of the Fr. forever as it is written, “…The only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Fr., He has declared Him.” (Jn 1:18). When the Word became incarnate we saw God, accordingly He said, “…He who has seen Me has seen the Fr.” (Jn 14:9).

How Was He Incarnate:

With no marital relation, the Holy Spirit came upon Virgin Mary, sanctified, purified and filled her with grace. He formed, from her body and soul, a human nature that the Word of God assumed, and through it He was incarnate in order to be born as a man. Through His birth of the Fr. He was called the Son of God, and through His birth from Saint Mary He was called the Son of Man. The Son of God is Himself the Son of Man, no one else.

Even after being born of Saint Mary, He continues to be called the Son of God, therefore the angel told her, “…that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God.” (Lk 1:35). Even the Lord Jesus Christ Himself sometimes used to call Himself the Son of Man, and sometimes the Son of God.

Just as He generates from the Fr. before all ages, a divine generation, without a mother, He was born of Virgin Mary in the fullness of time, a human generation, without a father. We should not confuse the two births.

Some simple lecturers ask, ‘who is the father of Christ’? When the listeners answer that He has no father, they conclude that His father is God. This is an incorrect explanation.

Christ our Lord does not have a human father because He was born of Saint Mary without a father; on the other hand He does not have a divine mother because He was born of the Fr. according to His divinity without a mother.

The Trinity:

We already learned that Christ is the only begotten Son of God who was incarnate to save and redeem us. We also learned that the Holy Spirit teaches us, guides us, and leads the entire church. The Holy Spirit conducts us towards repentance, works in the sacraments of the church, and grants the priestly authority. This authority was granted to the apostles from our Lord Jesus Christ who breathed the Holy Spirit in their face after His resurrection. Now, we want to understand how the Fr., the Son and the Holy Spirit are one.

This concept of the Trinity can best be illustrated by Fire. Fire consists of flames from which light and heat proceed. If we ignite a fire in a dark cold room, it will generate light and heat to that room. We call each of the three: the flames, the light, and the heat, fire. I can say that I lit the flames, or I lit the fire. I can say, the heat warms me, or the fire warms me, meaning the heat of the fire. So, we can call heat fire. The flames, the light, and the heat, the three are one fire. They are not considered three fires. However the flames are different from the heat and from the light.

In spite of the fact that the flame is different from the light and from the heat, if the flame did not generate light and emanate heat it would not be a fire. From a distance, an artistic drawing of flames might look real, but upon close inspection it would become evident that it is not a real fire, since neither its heat nor its light could be felt or observed. Does anyone ask why the fire generates light and emanates heat? This is common knowledge concerning the nature of fire.

Some people ask why should God be a Fr., a Son, and a Holy Spirit? The Fr. is God, the Son is God, and the Holy Spirit is God. God the Fr. is the Fr., God the Son is the Son, and God the Holy Spirit is the Holy Spirit. We do not need to constantly say God the Fr., we can simply say God, similar to the illustration of the fire. We do not need to constantly say the flames of the fire, the light of the fire, or the heat of the fire. These are only appellations but we know that if there is no Son, there is no God. Similarly if there is no heat, then there is no fire. Even if there were flames there would be no fire, because flames without heat are useless. Similarly, the mind without thought is useless.

Why is it so difficult to conceive that God generates? An apple produces a nice smell, a generator generates electricity, the mind generates thought, and the fire generates light and flames? Everything in the world generates except stones and dead matter. Do we think it is too much for God not to be stone?

It is God’s nature that He generates and He declared that being One God: He is Fr., Son, and Holy Spirit.

How Can the Incarnate Logos Die?

Some ask, ‘How can the Lord Jesus Christ, the incarnate Word of God, die’? The answer is that the Lord Jesus Christ died according to His humanity, but not according to His divine nature.

To clarify this concept we give the following illustration: man has a soul and a body, certainly the soul does not die, but the body of the same person dies. After the body dies, the soul remains alive since Christ said about the Fr., “I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob? He is not the God of the dead, but the God of the living.” (Mk 12:26-27).

Man’s body could die while his body and soul are still united. Both the human soul and body of our Lord Jesus Christ were united to His Divinity, while the body died on the cross, and the soul remained alive. Thus, concerning His Humanity, Saint Peter wrote, “…being put to death in the flesh but made alive by the Spirit” (1Pt 3:18). The incarnate Logos could die in the flesh, while neither His human soul nor His divine nature die, since both are immortal.

How Can God be Put in a Grave:

Others ask, ‘How can God be put in a grave? Who was managing the world during that time?’ The answer is that it was the body of the Lord Jesus Christ, united to His divinity, which was put in the grave, but simultaneously He was omnipresent according to His divinity.

Still others ask, ‘How can He direct the entire world while in the womb of Saint Mary?’ For an answer we give the following illustration: your television generates a picture because there is a power of transmission. This transmission fills the whole atmosphere around the world, so that anyone in any other county can watch the same thing at the same details, incidents, colors, and words, in spite of the remoteness.

When the Lord Jesus Christ became incarnate in the womb of Virgin Mary, a complete unity between the divinity and humanity took place, yet simultaneously, He was omnipresent according to His divinity. If it is normal for a TV to transmit anywhere in the world, how can we feel it strange that the divinity of our Lord Jesus Christ occupies the entire world while incarnate in the womb of Virgin Mary in an unutterable and glorious mystery?

The same applies to His presence in the grave: He is omnipresent according to His divinity. He Himself told Nicodemus, “No one has ascended to heaven but He who came down from heaven, that is, the Son of Man who is in heaven.” (Jn 3:13). While the Son of Man was speaking to Nicodemus on earth, He was explaining to him that He was also in heaven at that moment, and that His divinity fills both heaven and earth: because He Himself is the Son of God. How can God become incarnate?

Some people ask how God can be incarnate? The answer to this is that becoming incarnate is not an evil deed or a sin. God is devoid of sin. It is said about Christ the Lord that He was “without sin” (Heb 4:15) and “holy” (see Mk 1:24, Lk 1:35, 4:34 Act 4:27 etc.). Everyone confesses that He is the only One without sin. Becoming incarnate is not a sin.

God can never change, as we say in the Saint Basil liturgy, “His humanity was united to his divinity without mingling, confusion or alteration.” Incarnation did not change any attribute of His divinity. The proof is that we say that Christ died according to His humanity, not His divinity. His Divinity continued to be immortal even after the incarnation, in other words no change occurred to His divine nature, therefore, His divine nature did not change.

Consequently, the incarnation is neither a sin nor an alteration introduced to His nature. The purpose of incarnation however was saving humanity and declaring God’s love.

God appeared to Moses in the burning bush in the wilderness. Both Christians and non-Christians accept and confess this incident. He spoke to him and told him that He was God, but Moses only saw a burning bush that was not consumed. This means that God can manifest Himself in different ways. Is it not more valuable and superior to manifest Himself as the savior and redeemer, in order to declare His love for us on the cross, than to manifest in the shape of flames of fire?

The inflamed bush symbolizes the incarnation in the womb of Saint Mary where humanity was not burned due to its unity to the Divinity; similarly it symbolizes the cross, because on the cross the blaze of God’s justice was inflamed. The bush is the cross; hence the scene of the crucifixion reminds us of the scene that Moses saw in the wilderness.

Now, we understand that the Lord Jesus Christ is the Only Begotten Son of God Who became incarnate for our salvation in order to redeem us. He gave us His life so that we can live through it, as Saint Paul the apostle says, “He died for all, that those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again.” (2Cor 5:15) So, do we live and realize that we are not for our desires and ourselves but for Christ who bought us with His precious blood. May the Lord make these words a cause of blessing and salvation for the hearers.

Glory to God forever, Amen.

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