Dr. R.C. Sproul has a new book out this past June with David C. Cook. It’s called The Work of Christ: What the Events of Jesus’ Life Mean for You. I was honored by the opportunity to interview Dr. Sproul on this subject. Due to its length, I’ll publish the second half tomorrow. Keep reading to learn about a chance to get a free copy.
What motivated you to write The Work of Christ? Was it an area in which you perceived a lack of theological understanding among Christians? Was it motivated by pastoral concern?
Well, the very first series that I did in the field of adult education was in 1969 at a church in Philadelphia, and the series was on the work of Christ. That was such an exciting time for me. It really was pivotal because I acquired a taste, indeed a passion, for adult education as a result of that experience of working with the laity in the church. I saw how they responded when they gained a deeper understanding of all the things that Jesus did in His ministry. So that passion was born in 1969. It’s never really left me.
Recently we did that series in a new setting with a new audience, and out of that grew the inspiration for this book. I think it’s extremely important, because at the heart of the Christian faith is Christ—who He is and what He has done. This is so often overlooked in the church. It’s amazing to me, but yet it’s of critical importance for us as Christians to come to a deeper understanding of what Jesus has done.
In the four gospel accounts, at times we see Jesus astonish people with His supernatural knowledge. At other times He seems to lack information regarding the time of His return.
This has been something that has baffled many theologians and has provoked quite a bit of theological mischief. We see in the Roman Catholic Church historically all kinds of gymnastics to account for Jesus’ saying to His disciples that He didn’t know the day and hour of His return. Even Thomas Aquinas stumbled upon this one and he said with his so-called accommodation theory that Jesus surely did know the day and the hour of His return but that knowledge was too high, too wonderful and was privileged knowledge He couldn’t communicate to them so He accommodated by telling them He didn’t know, which is a huge accommodation because now He’s bearing false witness.
It may be a little white lie that He tells His disciples, but that’s enough to disqualify Him from being our Savior. So I think we have to look elsewhere for our information.
The Roman Catholic Church developed a doctrine called the Communication of Attributes that said in the incarnation, the divine attributes were communicated to the human nature. So the divine attribute of omniscience was communicated to the human nature. Luther carried that same concept forward after the Reformation, which I think was a ghastly mistake. In the incarnation, as the Council of Chalcedon said, the two natures are without mixture, division, separation or confusion, each nature retaining its own attributes, meaning that the divine nature retains the attributes of omniscience, the human nature does not gain the attribute of omniscience.
Touching His human nature, Jesus was not omniscient. Touching His divine nature, of course He was. Now, what was communicated from the divine to the human nature was information. Touching the human nature of Jesus, He is not all knowing. He doesn’t know the day and the hour, but there are times when He manifests His supernatural knowledge. That’s not because He’s drawing from His bank of knowledge from His humanity, but rather the divine is communicating that information to Him.
Just by way of analogy, in the Old Testament you have the prophets who were completely human, and God communicated to them information of a supernatural sort. They didn’t get it from their own inherent ability. So I think that solves the problem as long as you understand and distinguish between the two natures of Jesus. The human nature is not omniscient. The divine nature is.
Read part two of this interview…..leave a comment to be entered into a drawing to receive a free copy. We have a few to give away. (We’ll contact you later if you win.)