Incarnation continued-Dec. 12, 2012

Incarnation continued

December 12, 2012

The purpose of Jesus’ incarnation was fulfilled when, just as promised, he suffered and died in the place of sinners though he himself was sinless, was buried in a rich man’s tomb, and rose from death to make righteous the unrighteous.  Jacob Neusner, a scholar of Judaism, defines incarnational as “the representation of God in the flesh, as corporeal, consubstantial in emotion and virtue with human beings, and sharing in the modes and means of action carried out by mortals.”

The incarnation does not teach that man became God.  From the time the Serpent told out parents, “You will be like God,” there has been an ongoing demonic false teaching that we can be gods (e.g., Mormonism) or part of God (e.g., pantheism, panentheism, and New Ageism).  Simply, the incarnation teaches the exact opposite, namely that God became a man.

At the incarnation a person didn’t come into being, he already existed as the second person of the Trinity.  Jesus Christ has not been changed into a man; it is this eternal Person who has come in the flesh.

Divinity:  God the Father said Jesus was God.  Demons said Jesus was God.  Jesus said he was God.  The Bible plainly says Jesus is God.  Jesus is given the names of God.  Jesus possessed the attributes of God.  Jesus did the works of God.  People worshiped Jesus as God.  Colossians 2:9 says it perfectly, “in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily.”

Humanity:  There are some theories that Jesus was not fully human. This is simply not true, not only did Jesus have a physical body, but he also suffered and died “in the flesh.”

How Could God become a man?

451 AD, the Council of Chalcedon struggled with this question, and after intensive study this is what they came up with.  Jesus Christ is one person with two natures (human and divine) who is both fully God and fully man.  Theologically, the term for the union of both natures is Jesus Christ is hypostatic union, which id taken from the Greek word hypostasis for “person.”

  1. Christ has two distinct natures:  humanity and deity
  2. There is no mixture or intermingling of the two natures
  3. Although he has two natures, Christ is one person

In keeping with the biblical position of Chalcedon, we must retain both the full divinity and full humanity of Jesus Christ.  To accomplish this, we must conclude that when Jesus became a man, he did not change his identity as God but rather changed his role.  According to the church father Augustine, “Christ added to himself which he was not, he did not lose what he was.”  He who was and is God took the likeness of humanity.  God became the “image of God” for the sake of our salvation.

What, then, does all this mean?  It means that there was no change in His deity, but that He took human nature to Himself, and chose to live in this world as a man.  He humbled Himself in that way.  He deliberately put limits upon Himself.  Now we cannot go further.  We do not know how He did it.  We cannot understand it, in a sense.  But we believe this:  in order that He might live this life as a man, while He was here on earth, He did not exercise certain qualities of His Godhead.  That was why…He needed to be given the gift of the Holy Spirit without measure.  ~Martin Lloyd-Jones

Two wrong ways of thinking in regards to Jesus’ humanity and divinity:  the first is to deny the full divinity of Jesus in favor or his humanity; the second is to deny the full humanity of Jesus in favor of his divinity.  Jesus is not a blending of the two natures He is God becoming man.

Jesus is the only God who gets off his throne to humbly serve us and give us grace and mercy.  Subsequently, Jesus can both sympathize with and deliver us.  Practically, this mean that in our time of need, we can run to Jesus our sympathetic priest who lives to serve us and give us grace and mercy for anything life brings.

Jesus alone can mediate between God and us because he alone is fully God and fully man and thereby able to perfectly represent both God and man.

In most religions the holiest men are those who are most separated from culture and sinners.  Conversely, Jesus Christ came into the mess of human history and spent time in community with believers and unbelievers alike.  Subsequently, religious people who separated themselves from sinners and cultures were prone to denounce Jesus for the kind of company he kept.

Jesus’ incarnation is our missional model.  From the missional life of Jesus we learn five great missional truths for our own life.  First, an incarnational missional life is contextual and crosses cultural barriers.  Second, an incarnational missional life is evangelistic.  Third, an incarnational missional life is humble.  Fourth, an incarnational missional life is one devoted to the church.  Fifth, an incarnational missional life is global.

Indeed, the world is our mission field, and Jesus is our model incarnational missionary who went before us and now goes with us as we continue in his work by his Spirit as his church for his glory and our joy.

Personal Thoughts and Comments

The quote from Rev. Dr. Gardner C. Taylor was an excerpt from an interview.

Doctrine:  What Christians Should Believe by Mark Driscoll & Gerry Breshears, Published by:   Crossway 2010

 

Second Sunday of Advent-Prepare the Way of the Word-Dec. 9, 2012

Second Sunday of Advent-Prepare the way of the Word-December 9, 2012

Scripture:  Luke 3:1-6

God speaks in specific times and ways just as Christ being born in Bethlehem was specific.  Isaiah mentions that the weight of the government will be upon his shoulders, and so as it is mentioned the heavy political forces at work, as well as the religious leaders who had a stake in what was going on at the time.  The word of God came to the one who was seeking Him.

After receiving the word John didn’t remain in the wilderness to avoid God, but rather to connect with God and then re-engage the world.  Bringing a message of repentance or turning our lives around.  I would also offer turning our lives around requires turning them over to Him, because salvation is the work of God.

Our challenge as believers is the same as that of John, to seek the Lord, and when He speaks be ready to move.  We must make ready the path of the Lord, both in our heart and then in the world around us.  It is much like road construction, but begins in the human heart and in our daily lives.  As we encounter the Word of God it builds up that which is low, humbles that which is puffed up, straightens the crooked, and makes smooth the rough spots.

Once we receive the Word, and respond, shall we and all flesh see the salvation of God in Jesus Christ.

Incarnation: God Comes-Dec. 5, 2012

Incarnation:  God Comes

December 5, 2012

When speaking about Jesus, Rev. Dr. Gardner C. Taylor said, “He is in time, as God is in eternity.  He is the clearest portrait we have of God.  Without this visible portrait of God in Christ the picture would unclear and incomplete.”

J. I. Packer has described the incarnation as the “supreme mystery” associated with the gospel.  The incarnation is more of a miracle than the resurrection because in it somehow a holy God and sinful humanity are joined, yet without the presence of sin:  “Nothing in fiction is so fantastic as is this truth of the incarnation.”  In Jesus, God enters the human realm; He walks on water, calms storms, heals the sick, feeds the hungry, raises the dead, and conquers the grave.

Incarnation (from the Latin meaning “becoming flesh”).  One prominent theological journal explains:  The English word “incarnation” is based on the Latin Vulgate, “Et verbum caro factum est.”  The noun caro is from the root carn– (“flesh”).  The incarnation means that the eternal Son of God became “flesh,” that is, He assumed an additional nature, namely, a human nature.

To the Hebrews, the Word of God was the presence and action of God breaking into human history with unparalleled power and authority.  God’s Word indicated action, an agent accomplishing the will of God.  Some examples include God bringing things into existence by his Word and God’s Word being sent out to accomplish his purposes.  For the Hebrew, God’s speech and action were one and the same.

For Heraclitus, the creation of the world, the ordering of all life, and the immortality of the human soul were all made possible solely by the word (or logos) that was the invisible and intelligent force behind all that we see in this world.  He went so far as to say that truth could be known and wisdom, the great aim of Greek existence, found not by knowledge of many things but instead by a deep and clear awareness of one thing-the word, or logos.

Logos-is from the Greek meaning “word,” or “reason.”  As we have seen, it was used by the ancient Greeks to convey the idea that the world was governed by a universal intelligence.  However, John used logos differently from other writers, that is, to refer to the second person of the Trinity, Jesus Christ.

Jesus Christ was born of a virgin as the one true God who became man, living at a time and place in which the Hebrew and Greek worlds collided.  John begins with a declaration that both Hebrews and Greeks would have agreed with, that before the creation of the world and time, the Word existed eternally.  He then scandalizes both groups by stating that Jesus is the Word and was with the one and only God and, in fact, was himself God and was face-to-face with God the Father from eternity.  This thundering declaration would have been stunning to both Jews and Greeks who had vigorously argued that a man could never become a god, though they may never have considered that God had become a man, as John’s eyewitness testimony revealed.

Five aspects of Logos referred to by John

  1. The Logos is eternal
  2. The Logos has always been with God, face-to-face with the Father as an equal relationship.
  3. The Logos is a person distinct from yet equal to God.
  4. The Logos is the creator and therefore eternal, self-existent, and all-powerful.
  5. The Logos became flesh. John clearly taught that matter is not inherently evil and that God does involve himself with the material.  Implicitly, we are told that the Logos that was present in the sanctuary became physically present in the space-and-time world.  As George Eldon Ladd observes, the Logos became flesh to reveal to humans five things:  life, light, grace, truth, glory, and even God himself.

Logos is one of the strongest arguments for the deity of Jesus as the personal, eternally existing creator of the universe, distinct from yet equal with God the Father, who became incarnate (or came in the flesh) to demonstrate his glory in grace and truth to reveal life and light to men.

Around 4,000 BC, after Adam and Eve sinned, God prophesied to them that the Messiah (Jesus) would be born of a woman; he makes no reference to a father, which intimates the virgin birth.  Around 700 BC Isaiah prophesied:  “Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign.  Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.  God became a man at the incarnation of Jesus.

They argue that the Hebrew word almah (which is used in Isaiah 7:14) typically means “young woman,” that does not mean that she was not a virgin.  The word almah is used elsewhere in the Old Testament to refer specifically to a young virgin woman.  Furthermore, two centuries before Jesus was born, we find that the Jews understood exactly what almah means:  the Septuagint, the Jewish translation of the Hebrew Bible into Greek, translates almah as parthenos, which unambiguously means “virgin.”

Concerning Jesus’ birthplace, in roughly 700 BC Micah prophesied that Jesus would be born in the town of Bethlehem, saying, “But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, who are too little to be among the clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler in Israel, whose coming forth is from of old, from ancient days.”