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New City Catechism 21.3

Question 21: What sort of Redeemer is needed to bring us back to God?

Answer: One who is truly human and also truly God.

Jesus Christ is fully God and fully man. He has two complete natures. But it is also important to maintain that he is not two distinct persons, but he is one Person with two complete natures. This is what theologians have called the “hypostatic union,” or the union of a fully divine and fully human nature in the one Person of Jesus Christ.

This view is opposed to the view that says Jesus of Nazareth was a fully personal human being who was then taken up into some kind of close union with God the Son, resulting in a union between two distinct persons, Jesus the man and God the Son. This false teaching, often called “Nestorianism,” does not really include an incarnation at all. It’s more like an adoption of a human being who already existed into a relationship with God. In this way of thinking, Jesus is not God the Son but rather a mere man who is uniquely empowered by God.

Contrary to Nestorianism, we must maintain that the human nature of Jesus has no independent, personal existence apart from the incarnation. The Person of Jesus Christ is God the Son, who has taken on human nature to himself. As one Person, he is equipped to be our Redeemer.

Suggested passage for family or personal reading: Philippians 2:1-11. What does this passage teach us about who Jesus was before the incarnation? What does it teach us was the purpose of the incarnation? What is the ultimate result of the incarnation for Jesus? How is Jesus an example to us in this passage?

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