Greetings to you, Sir Dangerous of Dangeroushire.
A very reverent and sombre SMASH to you.
I guess there’s a sense in which we will never fully know the full detail of how the Godhead fits together. All throughout our discussions I am aware of the Apostle Paul’s words: ‘we see through a dark glass…’ This sounds like a bit of a cop-out, but if it is true that God’s ways are higher than ours, it is inevitable that we won’t be able fully to grasp some of the deeper truths. Without being able to technically define it, I am convinced, like you, that a.) Jesus was God b.) he pre-existed his coming on earth and c.) his existence was in some way irrecoverably changed through the incarnation. As you said, ‘the Word became flesh.’ In the same way, it is clear from the Gospels that Jesus’ post-resurrection body bears the scars (probably forever) of his death on the Cross. So you’re right that his earthly ministry defined and changed who he was. Now the book of Revelation describes Jesus as the ‘Lamb of God slain from the foundation of the world.’ So perhaps, amazingly, Jesus has always, in some way, existed as God’s chosen sacrifice for us. But in another sense, when he became a man, he walked down a path and there was nowhere back.
This leads neatly onto another of your points about how we are ‘flawed Jesuses.’ I frankly think that the most neglected truth in the modern Evangelical church movement is that we are ‘in Christ.’ All he has is ours because we are ‘in Him.’ Jesus has all authority on heaven and earth and he gladly passes it to us. In the same way, because we are in Christ, God sees us as his loved, accepted, holy children and his chosen vessels for his will on earth. I think there is lots of needless agonising (mostly in my own life haha) because we don’t have the faith to see how much God has done for us. As you said, Paul and the other apostles were able to do amazing things in Jesus’ name, not because they were morally stronger than us, but because they had the faith to see that they had everything in Christ. Read Paul’s statement in Ephesians 1.
I liked your point about Hades and I think you’re basically correct that Jesus acts as the go between, allowing us to interact with God. In our politically correct culture, where we love to focus on God’s love for us, we tend to neglect the numerous passages in both the OT and the NT, which basically teach that ‘it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God’ (Hebrews 10). The Israelites really copped it if they got it wrong, when they were walking through the desert with God. This is not because God is harsh, capricious or because he automatically burns with wrath for us. It is because he is holy, he is above us and as you say, in his holiness he cannot be in the presence of sin. For me (and this is for me a precious personal conviction as well as a theological point) the only solution is Jesus’ death. Before we know God, we are his enemies (Ephesians 2), although the hatred is on our side, not his – he still loves us and seeks reconciliation with us. When we accept Christ, we are ‘adopted’ as his children and enjoy the full blessings of his Father love. And what makes this transition possible is Jesus’ blood…again, it’s all over the OT and the NT. In the same way that the Israelites sheltered under the blood on their doorposts, while God’s Angel of Death and Judgment passed over them, we can shelter from the ‘coming wrath’ (1 Thessalonians 1, Colossians 3), as we trust in Jesus’ death for us.
Anyway, SMASHY old bean, I look forward to your response!