Incarnation

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He Never Stayed Aloof

Posted by on 15 May 2012 | Tagged as: Incarnation, John Stott

For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.

Heb.4:15

“How do I know that God loves me and that he even cares about about my pain, suffering, and trials?’ This question has been asked of me many times over the years by many a hurting soul. My pastoral work takes me in and among the grieving, discouraged, and stricken on a constant basis. They often struggle with doubts over God’s love and care in the midst of their unexpected loss and sudden tragedies.

I remind the hurting that we know that God loves us for he did not remain aloof in heaven. God does not look at our pain from a distance and send us “well wishes.” No, God the Father sent his Son to take on our human flesh, saturate himself in our struggles, and bear our pain. God the Son entered our fallen, tragic world and experienced all our suffering while bearing our sin and shame.

Jesus came among us “miserable failures” to display, reveal, and release the love of God in our lives. God never stayed aloof.

The Son of God did not stay in the safe immunity of his heaven, remote from human sin and tragedy. He actually entered our world. He emptied himself of his glory and humbled himself to serve. He took our nature, lived our life, endured our temptations, experienced our sorrows, felt our hurts, bore our sins and died our death. He penetrated deeply into our humanness. He never stayed aloof from the people he might have been expected to avoid.

He made friends with the dropouts of society. He even touched untouchables. He could not have become more one with us than he did. It was the total identification of love . . . Yet when Christ identified with us, he did not surrender or in any way alter his own identity. For in becoming one of us, he yet remained himself. He became human, but without ceasing to be God.

Now he sends us into the world, as the Father sent him into the world. In other words, our mission is to be modeled on his. Indeed, all authentic mission is incarnational mission. It demands identification without loss of identity. It means entering other people’s worlds, as he entered ours, though without compromising our Christian convictions, values or standards.

John Stott, The Contemporary Christian (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1992), 357.

The Logos of God

Posted by on 23 Apr 2012 | Tagged as: Incarnation, Tim Keller

In the beginning was the Word (Greek: logos), and the Word (logos) was with God, and the Word (logos) was God. He was in the beginning with God.

John 1:1-2

Incarnation means enfleshment: Jesus Christ is God in human flesh. The great act of God: the second person of the Trinity, the Son of God, took upon himself our human nature. Incarnation means that God is with us, near us, transforming us. The incarnation means that God cared and came among us to deliver us from ourselves. The Apostle John describes the Son of God as the Divine Logos who came among us, not just to show us how to live, but to be life itself (John 1:15).

To the Greeks the ‘logos’ was the purpose or meaning of existence. To the Jews the ‘logos’ was God’s Word — the truth or moral absolutes at the foundation of all reality. In the beginning of his gospel John addresses both world-views when he speaks of a divine ‘Word’ that was the source and foundation of all creation.

But then he says something that floods the banks and bursts the boundaries of all human categories. He tells Jews that the truth and self-expression of God has become human. He tells Greeks that the meaning of life and all existence has become human.

Therefore, only if you know this human being will you find what you hoped to find in philosophy or even in the God of the Bible. The difference [between any other great figure and Jesus] is the difference between an example of living and one who is the life itself.

Charles Williams, quoted by Timothy Keller in Gospel Christianity, Course 1 (Redeemer Presbyterian Church, 2003), 49-50.

HT: Of First Importance

“We Lepers . . .”

Posted by on 22 Dec 2011 | Tagged as: Christmas, Incarnation, Roman Catholic Church

 

For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.

Hebrews 4:15 ESV

God did not stay aloft in heaven, look down on our pain, and say, “All the best to all of you. Work life out the best way you can.” No, the Lord sent his Son, who took upon himself our weaknesses, temptations, battles, and pain. Jesus did something about our suffering world and our embattled lives; he entered our world. Jesus became fully human to God’s glory and for our salvation.

Father Damien was a priest who became famous for his willingness to serve lepers.

He moved to Kalawao – a village on the island of Molokai, in Hawaii, that had been quarantined to serve as a leper colony.

For 16 years, he lived in their midst. He learned to speak their language. He bandaged their wounds, embraced the bodies no one else would touch, preached to hearts that would otherwise have been left alone. He organized schools, bands, and choirs. He built homes so that the lepers could have shelter. He built 2,000 coffins by hand so that, when they died, they could be buried with dignity.

Slowly, it was said, Kalawao became a place to live rather than a place to die, for Father Damien offered hope.

Father Damien was not careful about keeping his distance. He did nothing to separate himself from his people. He dipped his fingers in the poi bowl along with the patients. He shared his pipe. He did not always wash his hands after bandaging open sores. He got close. For this, the people loved him.

Then one day he stood up and began his sermon with two words: “We lepers….”

Now he wasn’t just helping them. Now he was one of them. From this day forward, he wasn’t just on their island; he was in their skin. First he had chosen to live as they lived; now he would die as they died. Now they were in it together.

One day God came to Earth and began his message: “We lepers….” Now he wasn’t just helping us. Now he was one of us. Now he was in our skin. Now we were in it together.

John Ortberg, God Is Closer Than You Think

HT: Darryl Dash

Fully Human & Fully Divine

Posted by on 21 Dec 2011 | Tagged as: Incarnation, Pope Benedict XVI, Virgin Birth

 

Behold, the virgin will conceive and bear a son, who will be called Emmanuel

Isaiah 7:14

The doctrine of the virgin birth states that Jesus was conceived in the womb of his mother Mary by a miraculous work of the Holy Spirit without a human father. He is both fully human and fully divine in one person and will be so forever. The virgin birth guarantees the divinity of Christ for through the Holy Spirit, Mary conceived.

This ancient promise found an overflowing fulfillment in the Incarnation of the Son of God. In fact, not only did the virgin conceive but she did so by the power of the Holy Spirit, that is, by the power of God himself. The human being who begins to live in her womb takes flesh from Mary, but his existence comes totally from God.

He is fully man, made from the earth — to use a biblical symbol — but comes from above, from heaven. That Mary conceives while remaining a virgin is essential for knowing Jesus and for our faith, because it shows that the initiative is God’s and above all it reveals who it is that is conceived. As the Gospel says: “For this reason he who will be born will be holy and will be called Son of God” (Luke 1:35). In this sense, the virginity of Mary and the divinity of Jesus are reciprocally guaranteed.

Pope Benedict XVI, “The Virginity of Mary and the Divinity of Jesus are Reciprocally Guaranteed”

Wriggle and Make Noises

Posted by on 13 Dec 2011 | Tagged as: Christmas, Incarnation, J. I. Packer

She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.

Matt 1:20-21

The doctrine of the incarnation means that Jesus Christ, the eternal Word, is God in human flesh. The great act of God: the second person of the Trinity, the Son of God, took upon himself our nature (Phil. 2:6-7). The incarnation is the miraculous bringing together of humanity and divinity in a single person, the Lord Jesus Christ. As Wayne Grudem stated so succinctly, “Jesus Christ was fully God and fully man in one person, and will be so forever” (Systematic Theology, 529). Meditate on these thoughts: God in all his glory, came down from heaven and took on the all vulnerabilities and weaknesses of a newborn child: crying, wetting, hungry, and pooping.

The divine Son became a Jew; the Almighty appeared on earth as a helpless human baby, unable to do more than lie and stare and wriggle and make noises, needed to be fed and changed and taught to talk like any other child . . . The more you think about it, the more staggering it gets.

J. I. Packer

 

He Understands Everything

Posted by on 06 Jun 2011 | Tagged as: Helmut Thielicke, Incarnation, Jesus Christ

For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.

Hebrews 4:15 ESV

As a pastor, folks ask, “How do you know that God cares?” We know God cares because Jesus came among us, he experienced our suffering, and he knew all our temptations and trials. God in Christ did not remain aloof, cast an disapproving eye, and remain indifferent to our desperate plight. Out of love, Jesus set aside his heavenly status and was rejected, betrayed, and humiliated. Jesus understands every life struggle that we have ever experienced or will ever face. Jesus understands everything.

Jesus Christ did not remain at base headquarters, receiving reports of the world’s suffering from below and shouting a few encouraging words to us from a safe distance. No, He  . . . came down where we live in the front line trenches  . . . where we contend with our anxieties and the feeling of emptiness and futility, where we sin and suffer guilt, and where we must finally die. There is nothing that he did not endure with us. He understands everything.

Helmut Thielicke, Christ and the Meaning of Life, trans. John W. Doberstein (New York: Harper, 1962), 18.

 

Why a Virgin Birth?

Posted by on 23 Dec 2010 | Tagged as: Christmas, Incarnation, Virgin Birth, Wayne Grudem


The Incarnation

Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.

Isaiah 7:14

Could there have been another way for the Son of God to come to earth and be both fully human and fully divine in every way? If Christ was born of both parents, it is hard for us to believe he is fully divine, God in all his glory and perfections. If Christ descends to earth and takes upon himself a human body without birth, then it is hard for us to believe he is fully human. Something unique, something beyond the imagination of humankind must take place. The Virgin Birth is the divine solution to this perplexing dilemma: Jesus was conceived in the womb of his mother Mary by a miraculous work of the Holy Spirit without a human father (Matt. 1:23). Reformed theologian, Wayne Grudem, provides a fuller explanation:

The virgin birth made possible the uniting of full deity and full humanity in one person. This was the means God used to send his Son (John 3:16; Gal 4:4) into the world as a man. If we think for a moment of other possible ways in which Christ might have come to the earth, none of them would so clearly unite humanity and deity in one person.

It probably would have been possible for God to create Jesus as a complete human being in heaven and send him to descend from heaven to earth without the benefit of any human parent. But then it would have been very hard for us to see how Jesus could be fully human as we are, nor would he be a part of the human race that physically descended from Adam.

On the other hand, it probably would have been possible for God to have Jesus come into the world with two human parents, both a father and a mother, and with his full divine nature miraculously united to his human nature at some point early in his life. But then it would have been hard for us to understand how Jesus was fully God, since his origin was like ours in every way.

When we think of these two other possibilities, it helps us to understand how God, in his wisdom, ordained a combination of human and divine influence in the birth of Christ, so that his full humanity would be evident to us from the fact of his ordinary human birth from a human mother, and his full deity would be evident from the fact of his conception in Mary’s womb by the powerful work of the Holy Spirit.

Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1994), 530.

The Incarnation Means . . .

Posted by on 22 Dec 2010 | Tagged as: Christmas, Incarnation

God Came in Human Form

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.

John 1:14

Incarnation means that Jesus Christ the eternal Word of God is God in human flesh. This is the great act of God: the second person of the Trinity, the Son of God, took upon himself our human nature (Phil. 2:6-7). The incarnation is the miraculous bringing together of humanity and divinity in a single person, the Lord Jesus Christ. As Wayne Grudem stated so succinctly, “Jesus Christ was fully God and fully man in one person, and will be so forever” (Systematic Theology, 529).

Incarnation means Jesus is Emmanuel, God with us, near us, transforming us. The incarnation means that God cared and came among us to deliver us from ourselves. The incarnation means that God has experienced our pain, disappointment, and suffering. The incarnation means  . . .

The incarnation shows us how weak we are: After all, how much power and influence does an infant have? And yet, He’s the Savior we needed.

The name of that incarnate baby, “Jesus” shows us our true need: We need a Savior from our sin, not moral reform. We need a Rescuer, not a self-help guru (Matthew 1:21).

The incarnation shows us that in every way He’s just like us. He suffered as an infant. He’s been tempted in every way just as we have, yet without sin. He knows what it is to be cold, to be dependent, to die…yes, even to live again.

The incarnation tells us that Christmas isn’t ever over. When we’ve packed up all the decorations and taken back all the mistaken gifts, he’ll still be the God/Man, interceding for us, bearing our flesh. Christmas will never end for Jesus: He’s eternally transformed.

The incarnation means that the only person who is qualified by His nature and life to pay for our sins has done so. The incarnation was always meant to lead him, to lead us, to the cross.

The incarnation means that we have fulfilled all the Law. Because we are united with him and he with us, we have loved God and our neighbor perfectly, because he has. We’re righteous because the God-Man has already done everything that needed to be done. We’re justified.

The incarnation means that when we enter heaven we’ll be greeted by Someone who is just like us, but with nail-scarred hands and feet. He’ll be the only one there with scars.

Elyse Fitzpatrick, “God Becomes Man” . . . What ?

HT: Crossway Books

Enfleshment

Posted by on 12 Dec 2010 | Tagged as: Christmas, Incarnation, Oswald Chambers

God Became Actual

Though he was God, he did not think of equality with God as something to cling to. Instead, he gave up his divine privileges he took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being. When he appeared in human form, he humbled himself in obedience to God and died a criminal’s death on a cross.

Phil. 2:6-8 NLT

Incarnation means enfleshment: Jesus Christ is God in human flesh. The great act of God: the second person of the Trinity, the Son of God, took upon himself our human nature. Incarnation means that God is with us, near us, transforming us. The incarnation means that God cared and came among us to deliver us from ourselves.

Jesus Christ is God-Man. God in Essence cannot come anywhere near us. Almighty God does not matter to me, He is in the clouds. To be of any use to me, He must come down to the domain in which I live; and I do not live in the clouds but on the earth. The doctrine of the Incarnation is that God did come down into our domain. The Wisdom of God, the Word of God, the exact expression of God, was manifest in the flesh. That is the great doctrine of the New Testament—dust and Deity made one. The pure gold of Deity is of no use to us unless it is amalgamated in the right alloy, viz. the pure Divine working on the basis of the pure human: God and humanity one, as in Our Lord Jesus Christ.

Oswald Chambers, Shade of His Hand: Talks on the Book of Ecclesiastes (Hants UK: Marshall, Morgan & Scott, 1936).