Incarnation—Hypostatic Union of GOD & Man
A cardinal doctrine, if not the cardinal doctrine, of the Christian faith is that God became flesh in Jesus Christ of Nazareth. The term incarnation (Lat. in carne) literally means “becoming flesh.” While the term is not in Scripture per se, the Greek equivalent (ensarki) is in 1 John 4:1: Jesus Christ has come in the flesh. The doctrine of the incarnation is at the core of the biblical message, for it reveals the true person and nature of the Lord Jesus Christ.
The doctrine of the Incarnation, in which the nature of God unites with the nature of man in one person, is an unfathomable mystery to the human mind. It is in fact the most profound mystery that can face man during his time on earth. While the Incarnation is incomprehensible to the finite mind, it cannot be rejected as incoherent or absurd, not if one believes in an omnipotent (all-powerful) God. Divine truth may indeed be above and beyond reason, but never against reason, for God is the source and ground of true rationality.
There are legion (religions of various ilk and unbelievers of every stripe) that deny this basic truth of the Christian faith, even some so-called “Christian” groups, which are actually cults, attempt to refute it. For instance, an article by the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society (Jehovah’s Witnesses), entitled “Should You Believe in the Trinity?” published in 1989, has this to say: “The Bible is clear and consistent about the relationship of God to Jesus. Jehovah God alone is Almighty. He created the pre-human Jesus directly. Thus, Jesus had a beginning and could never be coequal with God in power or eternity.”
Mormonism, another cult, with its convoluted and heretical doctrines, rejects the Trinity for a belief in henotheism, the worship of one principal God (Elohim) among many. This cult is also tri-theistic, stressing three primary earth gods, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and it is polytheistic, accepting endless additional gods of other worlds. Such cults and others deny the Incarnation as part and parcel to their denial of another cardinal Christian doctrine, the Trinity.
Christian Theistic View of God
The doctrine of the Incarnation can only be properly understood within the broader theological framework of the Christian theistic view of God, i.e. that God is triune, existing eternally and simultaneously as three distinct and distinguishable persons, though not separate, autonomous individuals: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. All three persons of the Godhead share equally and completely the one divine nature, and are therefore the same God, all-equal in attributes, nature, and glory.
The one true God (in essence or being) is also three (in subsistence or personhood). God is one in essence who manifests Himself in three distinct persons. To put it another way, God is one What (essence) and three Whos (subsistence). It is not contradictory to attribute deity to all three members of the Trinity (predication), while simultaneously asserting that they possess distinct personal identities: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit (identity). God is truly one in trinity and trinity in unity.
The biblical doctrine of the Trinity, also rejected by all cults, was set forth by the Athanasian Creed, the longest and most philosophical of the ancient ecumenical creeds, in the following words:
That we worship one God in trinity and the trinity in unity, neither blending their persons nor dividing their essence. For the person of the Father is a distinct person, the person of the Son is another, and that of the Holy Spirit still another. But the divinity of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit is one, their glory equal, their majesty coeternal. . . .
Thus the Father is God, the Son is God, the Holy Spirit is God. Yet there are not three gods; there is but one God.
Thus the Father is Lord, the Son is Lord, the Holy Spirit is Lord. Yet there are not three lords; there is but one Lord.
Just as Christian truth compels us to confess each person individually as both God and Lord, so catholic religion forbids us to say that there are three gods or lords.
Hence, historic Christianity affirms belief in one infinitely perfect, eternal, and personal (or super-personal) God—the transcendent Creator and sovereign Sustainer of the universe—who is triune. He exists eternally and simultaneously as three distinct and distinguishable persons (though not separate).
Even so, the doctrine of the Trinity, progressively developed in church history as seen in its various creeds, is not a doctrine invented by the church. Even though the word Trinity does not appear in the Bible (just as is true of Bible, canon, omnipotent, omniscient, rapture, inerrancy and other terms that describe definite Bible doctrines), the concept or doctrine that it represents is clear in Scripture, Holy Writ that precedes all “creeds” and is the ultimate standard of proof.
The student of the Word may acquire a suitable grasp of the Trinity doctrine by “connecting the dots” of Scripture in a separate study of the following five propositions:
There is one, and only one, God.
Deuteronomy 4:35, 39; 6:4; 32:39; 2 Samuel 7:22; Psalm 86:10; Isaiah 43:10; 44:6-8; 46:9; John 5:44; 17:3; Romans 3:29, 30; 16:27; 1 Corinthians 8:4; Galatians 3:20; Ephesians 4:6;
1 Thessalonians 1:9; 1 Timothy 1:17; 2:5; James 2:19; 1 John 5:20, 21; Jude 25
The person of the Father is God.
John 6:27; Ephesians 4:6; Colossians 1:2, 3; 2 Peter 1:17
The person of the Son is God.
John 1:1, 14; 5:17; 8:58; 10:30; 20:28; Philippians 2:6; Colossians 2:9; Titus 2:13;
Hebrews 1:8; 2 Peter 1:1
The person of the Holy Spirit is God.
Genesis 1:2; John 14:26; Acts 5:3, 4; 13:2; 4:28; Romans 8:11; Ephesians 4:30
The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are distinct and simultaneously distinguishable persons.
Matthew 28:19; Luke 3:22; John 15:26; 16:13-15; 2 Corinthians 13:14
The listings of the three persons of the Godhead together are common in the New Testament. The three are especially linked in unity with regard to the creation and to the work of the redemption of man, e.g., Genesis 1:1, 2, 26 (John 1:3, 10; Ephesians 3:9; Colossians 1:16; Hebrews 1:2; Revelation 4:11); Acts 2:33, 38; Romans 15:16, 30; 1 Corinthians 12:4-6; 2 Corinthians 1:21, 22; 3:3; Galatians 4:6; Ephesians 2:18: 4:4-6; 2 Thessalonians 2:13, 14; Jude 20, 21; Revelation 1:4-6.
In fact, the Bible is replete with references that support the doctrine of the Trinity. All three persons of the Godhead are referred to as God, possess divine attributes (qualities), and are engaged in the works of God. See the following scriptures:
All are referred to as God (F=Father; S=Son; HS=Holy Spirit)
F (1 Peter 1:2); S (Hebrew 1:8); HS (Acts 5:3, 4)
All possess divine attributes (same abbreviations as above)
Self-existence: F (Acts 17:25); S (John 5:26); HS (Romans 8:2)
Eternal existence: F (Psalm 90:2); S (John 8:58); HS (Hebrews 9:14)
Immutability: F (James 1:17); S (Hebrews 13:8); HS (2 Corinthians 3:18)
Omnipresence: F (Jeremiah 23:23, 24); S (Matthew 28:20); HS (Psalm 139:7)
Omniscience: F (Isaiah 40:28); S (Colossians 2:3); HS (1 Corinthians 2:10)
Omnipotence: F (Jeremiah 32:17); S (Colossians 1:16, 17); HS (1 Corinthians 2:10, 11)
Truth: F (John 7:28); S (John 14:6); HS (1 John 5:6)
Holiness: F (Leviticus 11:44); S (Acts 3:14); HS (John 16:7, 8)
Wisdom: F (Psalm 104:24); S (Colossians 2:3); HS (1 Corinthians 2:10, 11)
All are engaged in the works of God (same abbreviations as above)
Creation of the world: F (Genesis 2:7); S (John 1:3); HS (Genesis 1:2)
Incarnation of Jesus Christ: F (Hebrews 10:5); S (Hebrews 2:14); HS (Luke 1:35)
Resurrection of Christ: F (Acts 2:32); Son (John 2:19); HS (Romans 1:4)
Regarding the Trinity, the student of God’s Word should be aware of the major Trinitarian heresies:
Arianism—advocated by Arius of Alexandria who argued that Christ’s nature or essence is inferior to the Father’s and that Christ is a created being (many present day cults follow this path).
Monarchianism—emerging in the second and third centuries AD, it stressed the absolute unity of God so as to exclude any possibility of God’s genuine plurality of persons, i.e., three distinct persons (Unitarianism subscribe to this and they also deny the deity of Christ).
Modalism—a type of Monarchianism popular in the third century that taught that God is one divine person who appears in three different forms or modes, thereby denying that the three persons of the Godhead are distinct and simultaneously distinguishable (modern-day “Oneness Pentecostals” reflect a type of Modalism with their “Jesus Only” view, as well as some evangelical Christians).
Polytheism—the ancient view that there are many gods, thereby denying biblical monotheism (Mormonism affirms this concept with its teaching about humans progressing to godhood).
Tritheism—a type of polytheism that asserts that God exists as three equal and independent beings; thus as separate gods (Islam falsely accuses the doctrine of the Trinity as being this).
Needless to say, if one rejects the doctrine of the Trinity, a rejection of the deity of Jesus Christ must follow (and vise versa); therefore, a person who rejects the doctrine of the Trinity will not subscribe to the doctrine of the Incarnation. Yet both doctrines are absolute essential to the Christian faith. But even while one may adhere to the Trinity doctrine, he may be hard pressed to explain the Incarnation.
One of the cornerstones of the triune Godhead is the hypostatic union, the union of the two natures, one divine and the other human, in the person of Jesus Christ. As the incarnate Son of God, Jesus Christ is one person with two natures (divinity and humanity); which natures remain distinct, whole, and unchanged, without mixture or confusion so that the one person, Jesus Christ, is truly God and truly man. The two natures are perfectly united (hypostasis) forever in the one person of Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ is therefore “two Whats (divine nature and human nature) and one Who (single person).”
Probably the most renowned and earliest creedal statement of the developing church concerning the Incarnation is the Creed of Chalcedon. The Council of Chalcedon (the fourth ecumenical council, AD 451) stipulated the basic boundaries for the orthodox view of Christ’s person and nature. This creed became, and continues to be, the established (normative) standard for the orthodox doctrine of Christ. All of Christendom (Protestant, Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox) affirms the Chalcedonian formula that Christ is both God and man. This creed enunciates the doctrine of Christ’s two natures in the following manner.
We all with one voice confess our Lord Jesus Christ to be one and the same Son, perfect in divinity and humanity, truly God and truly human, consisting of a rational soul and a body, being of one substance with the Father in relation to His divinity, and being of one substance with us in relation to His humanity, and is like us in all things apart from sin. He was begotten of the Father before time in relations to His divinity, and in these recent days was born from the Virgin Mary, the “theotokos” [God-bearer], for us and for our salvation. In relation to the humanity He is one and the same Christ, the Son, the Lord, the Only-begotten, who is to be acknowledged in two natures, without confusion, without change, without division, and without separation. The distinction of natures is in no way abolished on account of this union, but rather the characteristic property of each nature is preserved, and concurring into one Person and one subsistence, not as if Christ were parted or divided into two persons, but remains one and the same Son and Only-begotten God, Word, Lord, Jesus Christ; even as the Prophets from the beginning spoke concerning Him, and our Lord Jesus Christ instructed us, and the Creed of the Fathers was handed down to us.
The Gospel of John especially depicts the unity and co-equal nature of the Father and the Son, as seen in the following:
Father and Word (Son) are together in fellowship from eternity (John 1:1)
Father and Word (Son) are distinct persons but both divine (John 1:1)
Father creates the world through the Son (John 1:3)
Father sends the Son into the world (John 14:24)
Son becomes incarnate (John 1:14)
Son is equal to the Father (John 5:18)
Son is the great “I AM” (John 8:58)
Father and Son are one (John 10:30)
Son shares glory with the Father (John 17:5)
Son is the Way, the Truth, and the Life (John 14:6)
Knowing the Son is to know and see the Father (John 14:7, 9)
Son is in the Father and the Father is in the Son (John 14:10)
Son’s words are the Father’s words (John 14:10)
To have the Son is to have the Father (John 15:23)
To love the Son is to love the Father (John 14:21)
The Holy Spirit is sent by both the Father and the Son (John 14:16; 15:26)
All things belong both to the Father and the Son (John 16:15)
Kenosis, a concept that is indeed helpful in understanding the hypostatic union (God and humanity in one person), is well presented by Kenneth Richard Samples in his book entitled Without a Doubt, Baker Books, 2004, as follows:
The concept of kenosis (from Gk. “ekenosen”: Phil. 2:7 “made Himself nothing,” or “emptied Himself”) is an attempt to explain just how the two natures of Christ related to each other in God becoming man. While there have been many so-called kenotic theories in the modern era, two models are briefly considered here.
The first contemporary model states that in order for Jesus to have been truly human he must have divested Himself of such divine attributes as omnipotence, omniscience, and omnipresence. This kenotic theory interprets “emptied Himself” in Philippians 2:7 as meaning that Christ relinquished divine attributes. Thus the incarnate Christ is someone less than God, and therefore not truly equal to God.
This position must be regarded as heresy, however, for if God the Son is deprived of any divine attribute then He is obviously not deity. Christian theologians Bruce Milne identifies the equation for this heretical kenotic theory as “Incarnation = God minus.” This position runs contrary to Scripture, not to mention contrary to the creeds, and is therefore rejected by theologically orthodox Christians.
The second model suggests that instead of Christ divesting Himself of divine attributes, Jesus retained all divine attributes through His divine nature. However, in union with His human nature He could freely choose not to exercise certain attributes (or exercise them only intermittently) in His earthly sojourn as a man. According to this position, Jesus’ deity remains undiminished. This view understands Philippians 2:7 as not a literal emptying of attributes but as a sign of Christ’s humility in which He voluntarily gave up the status and glory that were His in heaven. This act involved a surrendering of divine position rather than of divine power. Milne identifies the equation for this approach as “Incarnation = God Plus,” for Christ retains His deity and yet takes to Himself a truly human nature. This second model has biblical support and holds consistent with creedal orthodoxy.
The union of the two natures in the person of Jesus Christ was not simply an “indwelling,” i.e., occupancy of space. It was and remains an interpenetrating union of God and man, so perfect and complete that the human is never without the divine or the divine without the human, yet they do not mix or mingle. This difficult-to-comprehend (to man) hypostasis union in the person of Jesus Christ is not a “hybrid.” These two natures are distinct, but inseparably united—the human nature is not deified, and the divine nature is not humanized, or subject to human limitations. They reflect a unity of person and a duality of natures; therefore, the historic person of Jesus of Nazareth is the God-man.
The Bible thoroughly supports both the deity and humanity of Jesus Christ, as may be seen in the following scriptural breakdown:
Biblical Support for Christ’s Deity
Divine titles proclaimed by or attributed to Christ
God (John 1:1, 18, 18; 20:28; Romans 9:5; Titus 2:13; Hebrews 1:8, 2 Peter 1:1)
Lord (Mark 12:35-37; John 20:28; Romans 10:9-13; 1 Corinthians 8:5, 6; Philippians 2:11)
Messiah (Matthew 16:16; Mark 14:61; John 20:31)
Son of God (Matthew 11:27; Mark 15:39; John 1:18; Romans 1:4; Galatians 4:4)
Son of Man (Matthew 16:28; 24:30; Mark 8:38; 14:62-64; Acts 7:56; cf. Daniel 7:13, 14)
Prerogatives or actions of God in the Old Testament proclaimed by or attributed to Christ
Worship of God (Isaiah 45:23/Philippians 2:10, 11)
Salvation of/from God (Joel 2:32/Romans 10:13)
Judgment by/of God (Isaiah 6:10/John 12:9-41)
Nature of God (Exodus 3:14/John 8:58)
Triumph of God (Psalm 68:18/Ephesians 4:8)
Divine names, actions, or roles proclaimed by or attributed to Christ
Creator (John 1:3; Ephesians 3:9; Colossians 1:16; Hebrews 1:2, 10, 12)
Sustainer (1 Corinthians 8:6; Colossians 1:17; Hebrews 1:3)
Universal Ruler (Matthew 28:18; Romans 14:9; Revelation 1:5)
Forgiver of sins (Mark 2:5-7; Luke 24:47; Acts 5:31; Colossians 3:13)
Raiser of the dead (Luke 7:11-17; John 5:21; 6:40)
Object of prayer (John 14:14; Acts 1:24; 7:50-60; 1 Corinthians 1:2; 2 Corinthians 12:8, 9)
Object of worship (Matthew 28:16, 17; John 5:23; 20:28; Philippians 2:10, 11; Hebrews 1:6)
Object of saving faith (John 14:1; Acts 10:43; 16:31; Romans 10:8-13)
Image and representation of God (Colossians 1:15; Hebrews 1:3)
Divine attributes or qualities proclaimed by or attributed to Christ
Eternal existence (John 1:1; 8:58; 17:5; 1 Corinthians 10:4; Colossians 1:17; Hebrews 13:8)
Self-existence (John 1:3; 5:26; Colossians 1:16; Hebrews 1:2)
Immutability (Hebrews 1:10-12; 13:8)
Omnipresence (Matthew 18:20; 28:20; Ephesians 1:23; 4:10; Colossians 3:11)
Omniscience (Mark 2:8; Luke 9:47; John 2:25; 4:18; 16:30; Colossians 2:3)
Omnipotence (John 1:3; 2:19; Colossians 1:16, 17; Hebrews 1:2)
Sovereignty (Philippians 2:9-11; 1 Peter 3:22; Revelation 19:16)
Authority (Matthew 28:18; Ephesians 1:22)
Life in Himself (John 1:4; 5:26; Acts 3:15)
Biblical Support for Christ’s Humanity
References to Jesus Christ as a man
During His earthly ministry (John 8:40; Acts 2:22; 1 Corinthians 15:21; Philippians 2:7, 8)
After His resurrection (Acts 17:31; 1 Corinthians 15:47; 1 Timothy 2:5; Hebrews 2:14)
Christ was conceived supernaturally, but born naturally
Matthew 1:25; Luke 2:7; Galatians 4:4
Christ experienced normal human growth and development
Luke 2:40-52; Hebrews 5:8
Christ was subject to human limitations
Weariness (John 4:6)
Hunger (Matthew 21:18)
Need for sleep (Matthew 8:24)
Thirst (John 19:28)
Sweat (Luke 22:44)
Temptation (Matthew 4:1-11)
Lack of knowledge (Mark 5:30-32; 13:32)
Christ experienced human pain and death
Mark 14:33-36; Luke 17:25; 22:63; 23:33
Christ manifested a full range of human emotions
Joy (Luke 10:21; John 17:13)
Sorrow (Matthew 26:37)
Friendship Love (John 11:5)
Compassion (Mark 1:40, 41)
Weeping (John 11:35)
Astonishment (Luke 7:9)
Anger (Mark 3:5; 10:14)
Loneliness (Mark 14:32-42; 15:34)
Christ possessed the essential qualities of a human being
Body (Matthew 26:12)
Bones (Luke 24:39)
Flesh (Luke 24:39)
Blood (Matthew 26:28)
Soul (Matthew 26:38)
Will (John 5:30)
Spirit (John 11:33)
Specific Biblical Declarations of the Incarnation
And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth. ((literally translated: “The Word [the preincarnate Christ] became in-fleshed [Heb. sarx egeneto] as a man and pitched His tent temporarily among us.”))
Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. ((literally translated: “Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who [in His preincarnate state], being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made Himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.”))
For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily. ((literally translated: “For in Christ all the fullness [essence, nature] of the Deity lives in bodily form.”))—It should be noted that in context, Paul was responding directly to the Gnostic heresy, which categorically denied that Christ had come in the flesh.
1 John 4:2
By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God.—as with the apostle Paul, the apostle John was responding to the Gnostic heresy; in fact, he is saying that the Incarnation is a test of Christian orthodoxy (correct belief).
Apparent Subordination Passages in the New Testament
There are groups that have always rejected the deity of Christ, and therefore the doctrine of the Trinity, holding that Christ was and is subordinate (inferior and subject) to God the Father in nature or essence. They appeal to a few verses within the New Testament that at first examination appear to teach just that. But when understood in theological context, they do not teach it; rather, they confirm the truth of the Incarnation as depicted in the second chapter of Philippians.
Kenneth Richard Samples in his book, Without a Doubt, provides a masterful explanation of these “subordination verses,” as follows:
Before examining some of these passages, two points of theological qualification must be understood.
First, during His earthly sojourn Jesus Christ humbled Himself, taking the role of a servant. As a man, Jesus chose not to retain the status and glory of deity. Therefore, in His role as servant, He submitted to the Father and could say that the Father was greater than He. However, the Father was greater only in position, role, or “rank” (function), but not greater in nature (essence).
Second, as a man (through His human nature) Jesus Christ always honored His Father as His God. The Athanasian Creed states that Christ is “equal to the Father as touching His Godhead and inferior to the Father as touching His manhood.”
Four so-called subordinationist verses, and responses to them, follow:
1. “The Father is greater than I” (John 14:28). When Jesus uttered these words to the disciples during His upper room discourse (John 14), He wasn’t implying an inferior nature or essence. On numerous occasions recorded in the Gospel of John, Jesus had clearly placed Himself on Yahweh’s level (John 5:17; 8:58; 10:30). Rather, He spoke in this instance of the Father being greater because in becoming incarnate, Jesus had humbled himself in service to the Father for the sake of fulfilling the divine plan of redemption. By relinquishing the prerogative of deity and veiling His divine glory, Jesus accepted a role or position as a man, below the Father in rank, but never in essence.
2. “My God and your God” (John 20:17). After Jesus rose from the dead and appeared to Mary, He subsequently declared: “I am returning to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God” (John 20:17). How could Jesus call the Father “my God” if He was Himself God?” The answer is quite simple. Jesus Christ also possessed a human nature, and as a man was capable of referring to the Father as His God. The Chalcedonian and Athanasian Creeds state with respect to Christ’s humanity, He was less than the Father in nature. This passage need not pose any challenge to historic Christianity’s designation of Jesus Christ as God the Son.
3. “The firstborn of creation” (Col. 1:15). The apostle Paul, speaking of Jesus Christ proclaimed: “He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation.” Some interpret this verse as an assertion that Jesus Christ had a beginning in time and was thus a “creature” made by God. However, careful examination of this verse shows such an interpretation to be erroneous. The word “firstborn” (Gk. “prototokos”) in this context doesn’t mean “first child born.” Rather, firstborn is a reference to first in rank, the heir, or preeminent one. Like the firstborn heir in a Jewish family, the Son (Christ) is the heir of all creation.
4. “The head of Christ is God” (1 Cor. 11:3). The apostle Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 11:3, “Now I want you to realize that the head of every man is Christ, and the head of the woman is man, and the head of Christ is God.” This verse does not teach that Christ is subordinate in essence to the Father. The passage teaches about appropriate functional authority, not an inferiority of being. Paul says the head (authority) of woman is man even though men and women are exactly equal in terms of being, for both are made in the image of God (Gen. 1:26-28) and thus equally possess inherent dignity and moral worth. However, this verse indicates that functional and/or voluntary submission is consistent with an equality of being, Christ is subordinate to the Father, but the submission is voluntary and a feature of Christ’s role as servant while on Earth.
The Crux of Christianity
If Jesus Christ is not the center and heart of the Christian faith, both historically and theologically, then Christianity is no better than mere “religion.” But Christianity is not, nor has ever been, “religion.” Whereas “religion” is man attempting to achieve the approbation (approval) of God through self-effort (good works), Christianity is all about the gospel message of the person, nature, and work of Jesus Christ in bringing man and God together in redemption apart from any human merit.
In contrast, if Buddha or Confucius or Mohammed (who all claimed no deity), for examples, were taken away from their respective religions, their religions would continue in respect to their doctrine. But if the “person of Christ” is taken from Christianity, nothing distinctive remains. If Jesus Christ is indeed a mere man—not God—then the Christian faith is no better than religion; even worse, it is a fraud, a hoax, an elaborate scam fostered upon the world. But Jesus Christ is God, and it is precisely this that makes the Christian faith totally different from all religion, for Christianity is Christ!
The person (dual-nature), or identity, of Jesus Christ is the center of all Christian doctrine. Without a proper understanding of both His divinity and humanity, one cannot properly understand and/or accept the biblical doctrines of the Trinity, the Atonement, the Resurrection, Justification and others; in fact, the doctrine of the Incarnation impacts every area of Christian theology.
Kenneth Richard Samples (in his book previously mentioned) puts it this way:
To change or distort the identity of Jesus Christ is to distort and destroy the essence of the Christian faith (2 Cor. 11:3-4; Gal. 1:6-9). Jesus specifically instructs His disciples and others to consider and reflect upon His true identity (Matt. 16:13-16; 22:41-46, cf. Psalm 110). Jesus warned some of the Jewish leaders of His time that their eternal destinies rested on whether they would acknowledge and accept Him for who He really was (John 8:23-24, 28, 52-53, 57-58). Jesus and the apostles also warned the church about the ever present danger of counterfeit Christs (Matt. 24:4-5, 11, 23-24; 2 Cor. 11:3-4, 13-14; Gal. 1:6-9; 1 Tim. 4:1-2; 2 Tim. 4:3; 2 Pet. 2:1-2; 1 John 2:22-23; 4:1-3; Jude 3).
True, the Incarnation is a mystery beyond the comprehension of man. But this too argues for its truth. For God alone, in all his essence and attributes, is unfathomable to the mind of man. God is beyond space and time. He exists in multiple dimensions far in excess of the few (four) that impact mankind. If God could truly be understood by man, then He would not be God—the Creator. The fact that the God-man relationship of Jesus Christ is also unfathomable to the mind of man is in itself assurance that it is indeed a truth that comes only from God.
Finally, if man is to be saved by God’s grace, which is by faith alone in Christ alone, he must accept Christ as truly God. There is no other way!