Biblical Answers to Challenging Questions
Question: Our adult Bible class teacher says Jesus was half God and half man. He insists that God can only act in response to our prayers and that when the one prayed for isn’t healed it’s because there hasn’t been enough prayer and fasting. Are these ideas biblical?
Response: No. Until evidence to the contrary arises, however, let’s give the teacher the benefit ,of the doubt and assume that he believes what is right but is having difficulty expressing it. Yes, God is Jesus’ Father and Mary is His mother, but that doesn’t make Him half God and half man. That error is similar to the Roman Catholic teaching that Mary is “the mother of God.” Jesus existed as God from all eternity and thus eons before Mary was born. Obviously, then, she is not the mother of Jesus as God but only of the human body by which He was born into this world.
Mary was a virgin when Jesus was born. Conse-quently, as the Bible tells us, the baby she gave birth to was conceived by no man but by the Holy Spirit. It is impossible for us to understand fully what that means, but we know what it doesn’t mean. The virgin birth is not like having an Irish father and French mother and thus being half Irish and half French.
Jesus is fully God and fully man: “God manifest in the flesh” (1 Timothy:3:16), not half God manifest in half flesh. The same verse calls this a “great . . . mystery.” Isa-iah called the virgin-born child “Emmanuel,” which means “God [not half God] with us” (Isaiah:7:14; cf. Matthew:1:23) and “the mighty God [not half-God], the everlasting Father” (Isaiah:9:6). If this were not the case, Jesus could not be our Savior.
Throughout the Old Testament God says that He is the only Savior (Isaiah:43:11; 45:15, 21; Hosea:13:4). Obvi-ously, this must be true because salvation is an infinite work, including as it must the full payment of the infinite penalty for sin required by God’s infinite justice—some-thing that only God could accomplish. Consequently, for Jesus to be our Savior, He must be God. Paul called Him “God our Savior” (1 Timothy:1:1; 2:3; Titus:1:3–4; 2:10, 13; 3:4), as did Peter (2 Peter:1:1) and Jude (verse 25).
Yet the Savior must be man as well, because it is man who is the sinner, not God. The penalty for sin is pro-nounced against man, not against God; therefore it must be paid by a man. But no finite man could pay that penalty. Thus, God, in His infinite love and grace, became a man through the virgin birth so that He, as a man, could take the judgment we deserved and make it possible for us to be forgiven.
To be our Savior, Jesus had to be fully God (Isaiah:43:11) and fully man (Romans:5:12–21), not a hybrid composed of half of each. Ask your teacher if this is what he means.
That God doesn’t need our prayers to act is obvious. He managed to exist for an eternity and to create the uni-verse and angels and mankind without our prayers. Cer-tainly our prayers didn’t cause Christ to be born into the world and to die for our sins. Nor is it our prayers that will usher in a new universe, though God gives us the privilege to pray, “Thy kingdom come.”
If God could act only in response to our prayers, He would be at our mercy, His hands tied most of the time, unable to do what He in His infinite wisdom and knowl-edge knows ought to be done but that we in our lim-ited understanding were ignorant of or hadn’t thought about. Moreover, He couldn’t meet emergencies that we didn’t know would occur and thus hadn’t prayed about. The idea that God “can only act in response to our prayers” is unbiblical and illogical.
To say that failure to be healed results from too little prayer and fasting is equally false. That teaching im-plies that we can cause God to do whatever we pray for if we pray and fast long and hard enough—in other words, that we can impose our will upon Him. What about God’s will? It also suggests that God’s will is to heal everyone every time. On the contrary, He has something better for us than perpetuating our lives endlessly in these bodies of sin.
— An excerpt from In Defense of the Faith (pp. 52-54) by Dave Hunt