The Incarnation: The Best Present Ever

Written by Josh

The Incarnation: The Best Present Ever

The greatest gift ever given came as a baby, and we would do well to reflect and remember who He is and why coming as a baby was necessary.

“For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.”

(Luke 2:11-12 ESV)

This week, the Carolers at my local grocer filled the air with holiday cheer by singing “Away in a Manger.” We sing songs about him, but who is the baby with ‘no crib for a bed?’ They don’t include scenes of Jesus crying or pooing in the church plays, but we have manger scenes, not ‘inn scenes.’ Jesus situation was very human, gritty and Real.

Most Christians will say Jesus is God (note the activetense of the verb) while most non-Christians say Jesus was just a man. In my experience, we in the church have responded to the doubt around us by stressing the divinity of Christ to the exclusion of his humanity. While we should stress the divinity of Christ, we must not ‘throw the baby out with the bath water’ as it were and conceptually sacrifice His humanity to protect His divinity.

When we sing about Jesus’ birth, it’s very easy to think of Jesus as either a man or as God only. But Scripture holds these two ideas in tension without apology so we must as well.

Simply put, the Incarnation is a key tenet of Christianity. If you don’t believe it, you give up the entire enchilada of the faith. Why? First, without the Incarnation you do not get the Jesus of the Bible. Secondly, you lose the Savior of infinite worth but human identity.

Without being God, Jesus’ death would be of limited value, but being God, his death is of infinite value, so there’s no internal limit to its saving power (he can cover our bill). But, without being human, Jesus’ life could not fulfill the Law Adam broke for us nor could his death on a cross take our place. Only a human could be a propitiation or substitute for us. So it is precisely the Incarnation that empowers Jesus’ victory over sin and death in the cross and resurrection. For as Hebrews says he took on flesh and blood like us so he could intercede on our behalf as our propitiation (Hebrews 2:9, 17).

Who does scripture say Baby Jesus is?

He is Immanuel, God with us. He is the Eternal Logos and maker of all things, yet he is also a man who grew in wisdom and stature before both men and God, who got tired, was tempted, suffered true anguish in Gethsemane, and was crucified and died.

Only by permanently shouldering true humanity could God the Son stand in our place as the Second Adam. (That’s right, the Incarnation is permanent.)

What is the Incarnation?

The Eternal Word (Logos), i.e. the 2nd Person of the Trinity, took on flesh (permanently became human) and is forever now the God-Man, fully God and fully Man, joined together in a union comprised of two distinct natures (human and divine) neither of which being confused or blended, but distinct and yet somehow together in a way we can better describe than understand.

The boys back in the day called this the “hypostatic union.” It is a mystery, kinda like gravity. We can describe gravity, and tell you about its results, but truly master it? Nope. But what would you expect from the Trinity?

So, as you prepare to celebrate Christmas, mull over how the greatest gift given came without a gift receipt: the giving of the Son by the Father in the Incarnation.

If you really want to get into the Spirit of the Season, find the nearest baby and cuddle it. Be gentle, they’re fragile, but hold that baby close and contemplate how Jesus was like that: small, weak, frail, in a real sense dependent. He ate, slept and pooped just like you and I did when we first showed up. Yet, in the mystery that is the Incarnation, he was at the same time still fully God, somehow through his divine nature, still upholding the universe (Heb 1:2-3 and Col 1:16-17). Wild—Strange—Real.

This should humble and encourage us: God the Father, gave us his Son who willfully became human forever altering himself to honor the Father’s will, so as to make all things New. We can move through our day with a kind of courage that comes from knowing God the Son loved us so much he was willing to endure what we do and more, just to rescue us while we were still his enemies.

That kind of love does not abandon or quit on a person, it can and should propel us as we go through whatever providence brings our way, because if He would do that for us, we can trust Him in it with assurance and hopefulness no matter what comes. That doesn’t mean we like it or even enjoy all that life brings for life brings thorns and thistles. Still, we can deal with such knowing knowing we are not being abandoned to be cut by them. God the Father took the Evil of His Son’s crucifixion and used it to redeem the world and the resurrection is our proof.

Merry Christmas. This week I invite you to the following passages about Baby Jesus, why he came and how his unique status as the God-man made possible what he accomplished in his life, death and resurrection.

Virginal Conception Predicted:

  • Isaiah 7:14
  • Isaiah 9:6-7

Jesus Humanity:

  • Matt 1:22-23
  • Luke 1:68-69
  • Luke 2:29-32
  • Luke 2:40
  • Luke 2:52
  • John 1:1-18
  • John 4:6
  • John 10:30

Purpose and Result of His Coming:

  • John 1:1-18
  • Galatians 4:4-5
  • 1 Peter 1:10-12
  • Philippians 2:5-8, 9-11
  • Hebrews 2:9, 14-15, 16-17

 

Avoiding a Lukewarm Life part 1 – Sacrificing it all

Laodicea, a city in Asia which is known for having a lukewarm church because of a letter written to them in Revelation 3.  I wonder if America will go down in history known for being the modern day luekwarm church?

Revelation 3:15-16 says “I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I could wish you were cold or hot. So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth.”

God wants you to be hot, to be on fire for him, if not you are so distasteful to him that he wants to vomit you out of his mouth!  Why would God have such a severe reaction lukewarmness?  Because God is so holy, and so worthy of every bit of worship and praise we can give him, and when we take our eyes off of Jesus just to focus on the things of the world, it is disgusting to God.

Jesus, a treasure worth sacrificing for

Jesus told a parable of a man who found a treasure in a field, and was so excited to get the treasure that he went and sold everything he had so he could buy the field and get the treasure.  (Matthew 13:44)  This, Jesus says, is how we need to seek the kingdom of God.  We need to seek Him so fervantly that we are willing to sacrifice anything to get Him because we know He is worth it.

Imagine you being this person, following a map that is promised to lead to riches.  You get to a clearing in the trees and you see an obscure X on the ground. So you dig, and you find a stock pile of bars of gold worth billions of dollars.  And then you burry the bars of gold, and you go off to live your life. You could buy that plot of land and take ownership over the treasure, but to do that you would have to sell your car, your tv, or even your house.

If any one of us saw a person give up this treasure we would try to knock some common sense into them, say “come on, that treasure is worth so much more than all of your measly possessions combined!”  But this is us!  We are satisfied with knowing Jesus exists and maybe even going to look at the treasure every Sunday, but we refuse to take any action that could give us possesion of this treasure.

A rich man once came go Jesus and asked “Good Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” and Jesus responded “Sell all that you have and distribute to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.” (Luke 18:18-23) What did the guy do? “But when he heard this, he became very sorrowful, for he was very rich.”  This guy let his earthly possessions stop him from having eternal life, from having a relationship with Jesus.  And this is disgusting to God! 

But we do the same thing…

Your head fights that idea instantly by saying “but I’m not rich, I live pay check to pay check and sometimes can’t pay my utility bill.”  Don’t be blind to what you do have.  Most of the world lives off of $2 per day.  Your brain is smart and fires back “but the cost of living is so much more here, it is impossible to live off of $2 per day.”  Well yes, it is true that two dollars will get you more in other countries than in the U. S. but think about this.  If you have a roof over your head, a form of transportation (even a public bus), and food on your table every day, you are richer than 80% of the world.  If you make just $50,000 a year you are in the top 99% of the richest people in the world.  We have so many posessions we cannot even name them all, and we think we are poor?  It was after this that Jesus said it is impossible for a rich man to get into heaven.  Billions of people live in slums and have to live off a diet of rice to survive and we consider ourselves “poor” because we can’t afford to go out for a steak dinner this weekend.

Are your riches getting in the way of you coming to God?  Would you be willing to sell everything you have to follow Jesus?  Instantly your mind races for a reason to hold on to what you have.  You think “God has not asked me to give away my posessions” or “God wants me to enjoy this life and has given me my money to enjoy, not to live in poverty so I can give it all away.”  My question to you is, have you ever asked Him what He wants from you?

But that is legalistic!

The common defense for the church in America when they are told to do something hard.  Throw down the Legalism card as a “get out of conviction free” card.  But is what I am saying  legalistic, or is it Biblical?  Reading the passages above it seems pretty clear that we are to sell everything we have and give to the poor, to get rid of everything that could be standing in the way of you being on fire for God.

There are many places in the Bible where Jesus gives very hard commands that show us that being a Christian involves more than going to church, singing a few songs and hanging around Christians when you play games or spend time on the computer.  “No one, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God” (Luke 9:62).

If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even their own life—such a person cannot be my disciple. – Luke 14:26

And whoever does not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple. – Luke 14:27

In Luke 14 Jesus commands people to consider the cost to following Him before you begin, becasue it is costly.  Does not a builder consider if he can afford to build a tower before he starts? Does a king not consider if he is able to defeat an army before he goes to war?  “In the same way, those of you who do not give up everything you have cannot be my disciples.” (Luke 14:33)

As Christians we are the salt of the earth, but if we are lukewarm then we lose our flavor and Jesus says that salt that has lost its flavor is not even fit to be thrown in the manuer pile. (Luke 14:34)

Revelation 3:17 God says “Because you say, ‘I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing’—and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked.” Wretched, miserable, are these words you want God to use when describing you?

Do you get it yet?

Do you understand?  God does not want people sitting around being holy couch potatoes.  God wants people that are so devoted to serving him they are willing to sacrifice everything, money, power, family, even their own life.  These are the people God wants to follow Him!

Notice who had joy and who did not in Jesus’ parables.  The man that sacrificed everything to buy the field with the treasure “in his joy went and sold all he had” while the rich man “became very sorrowful.”  Who has more joy, the one holding on to the things of earth or the one reaching for the treasure?

So I must give away everything?

I’m not saying you have to give away everything, but why not?  What is keeping you from doing it?  Is it because it is an idol?  I know my money has been an idol to me many, many times and I still struggle with this, but I know in the end it is worth whatever sacrifice I give, and more.

What I am trying to say, is that you need to seek God, but not in a casual way, in a way where you are willing to sacrifice everything for Him!  I guarantee the instant you enter into eternity you will wish you had sacrificed more!

So what makes God so great to deserve this kind of all-in sacrifice?  I will answer that in part 2.

Leave a comment below telling us how God has asked you to sacrifice to serve Him!

Theistic Evolution

A huge debate going on right now is on the topic of Naturalistic Evolution (also known as Neo-Darwinism) and Intelligent Design.

Advocates of evolution seem to have the popular view, or at least they are the loudest, since if you ask most people they assume that evolution is the only theory on the origin of species. According to the movie Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed, even mentioning another side of the argument can cause many to lose their job, which continues to promote the idea that evolutionary theory is the only theory out there.

But there is another theory, Intelligent Design (I.D.). Intelligent Design is often times viewed as a “religious” or “theological” view, but it isn’t. It is a scientific theory that states that certain things in nature are so complex that it is impossible for them to come to where they are in a fully natural way. This tends to be a common belief among Christians as Christians believe that the God is the designer.

One other theory, called Theistic Evolution. This theory states that God used evolution in the creation of the world. This is mainly a way to try and merge what the mainstream scientists believe with what the Bible says.

Theistic evolution however, is nothing more than an attempt to harmonize God’s perfect Word with man’s imperfect thoughts. Let’s look at what the Bible states on this issue.

Origin of Man

Genesis 1:26-28

Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. Then God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”

According to this passage man is an intentional creation from God, made in a distinct way different than the rest of the animal kingdom. None of the other animals were ever created with the description of being made in the image of God.

Another interesting point, is that when God created every animal, He spoke them into existence, but man, God formed man with His hands, and then breathed the breath of life into them.

Genesis 2:7

And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.

According to evolutionary theory:

Human evolution, or anthropogenesis, is the part of biological evolution concerning the emergence of Homo sapiens sapiens as a distinct species from other hominansgreat apes and placental mammals.

Where the Bible says that Adam is a specific man created by God distinct from all the other animals where evolution says that man emerged from other animals in the animal kingdom and eventually became a distinct species. These views are completely in contradiction. Jesus mentions Adam as being a specific individual, so if we say that Adam was not an actual created person then we say that Jesus is lying.

So when your world view challenges what the Bible says, which will you decide is right?

Origin of Death

Pay careful attention to this point, because it involves one of the basic fundamental beliefs of Christianity.

1 Corinthians 15:21-22

For since by man came death, by Man also came the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive.

Romans 5:12

Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned—

The Bible is clear that Death is a product of sin, a product of one man breaking God’s laws. This world was intended to exist without death, and one day we will return to the perfect state of the world.

The theory of evolution states something quite different. According to evolution, death has been around for millions of years, and it is necessary for natural selection to take place. Death is a natural process a part of the natural world.

Don’t miss that point, according to evolutionary theory, death is a natural process necessary for life to evolve, but according to the Bible death is unnatural, it is a product of our sin. If death is a natural product that God created from the beginning for the process of evolution then Jesus’ death would be in vain, because it would not be a penalty for sin it would be a natural process.

Jesus knew no sin

Hebrews 4:14-15

Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin.

Romans 6:23

For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Isaiah 53:5, 12

But He was wounded for our transgressions,
He was bruised for our iniquities;
And He was numbered with the transgressors,
And He bore the sin of many,
And made intercession for the transgressors.

2 Corinthians 5:21

For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.

So if you believe in Theistic evolution, then Jesus’ death was for nothing, it couldn’t have been a penalty for sin, it couldn’t be Him paying that penalty for us, and we are lost still. This whole concept is deeply important to our salvation. In the old testament it was the slaying of a lamb that would be sufficient as a sacrifice, again, the death of an innocent would cover the sins of man.

So when your world view challenges what the Bible says, which will you decide is right?

7 Days of creation is in the wrong order

Day 1: God creates the world and light
Day 2: God creates the sky, and separates it from the ocean
Day 3: God creates dry land and plants
Day 4: God creates the sun and moon
Day 5: God creates sea creatures and birds of the air
Day 6: God creates land animals and man
Day 7: God rested

Some say that God used evolution but that each day was really a representation of a long period of time, thousands or millions of years per day. But we have a problem here, plants are created before the sun is, and we all know plants can’t survive and reproduce without sunlight. Also, Birds of the air are created before land animals, and according to evolutionary theory birds evolved from land animals.

So does this mean that man lived with dinosaurs? Just read the last two chapters of Job where God talks about 2 “prehistoric” creatures that Job is actually looking at, or search or lake beds where we find men’s footprints along side dinosaur footprints.

Also, when God created the plants, and each animal, He commands them to reproduce according to their kind. According to neo-Darwinism each animal reproduces and eventually creates a different kind, this is completely against what the Bible says.

So we have a big discrepancy here, these two accounts of creation cannot mix at all.

Biblical Age of the Earth

Genesis 5 gives us a detailed account of how old the age of the earth is. This gives us 2 important pieces of information. For one it shows that the Bible considers these people to be literal humans, giving them specific dates that the were born and died on. Neo-Darwinism blurs the line of when the first human appeared, there are several stages of advancement and there is no distinction of when the first human appears in history.

Also this tells us clearly how old the earth is. We know that Adam was created on Day 6, “And Adam lived one hundred and thirty years, and begot a son in his own likeness, after his image, and named him Seth” (Genesis 5:3).

Seth was born when Adam was 130 years old, so he was born in the year 130. “Seth lived one hundred and five years, and begot Enosh.” (Genesis 5:6). Enosh is born when Seth is 105, since Seth was born in the year 130 we can easily calculate the year that Enosh is born (130 + 105). Enosh is born in the year 235.

This process can be repeated, Genesis 5 goes all the way to Noah, and then you can continue through other chapters of the Bible such as Genesis 10 and Matthew 1. Not all chapters give an exact date, but you can easily estimate the life of one person. Through this process you can estimate that the Earth is aproximately 6,000 years old. Obviously not long enough for macro-evolution to create life.

If the Bible meant for the Genesis account to be taken as an analogy or a symbol, then it wouldn’t give such details. Doing this research is very interesting, you can see how the lifespan of people was much larger before the flood, so we can assume that something major happened in the flood that changed the climate so humans couldn’t live as long. These are all interesting topics to consider and research but they are outside the scope of this blog.

The point is that the Bible is clear on the creation account, it gives specific details and the gospel message itself is founded on the very beginning, that God created us unique and different than the animal kingdom, making us with souls where other animals don’t have souls. It is because of our sin that death is in the world and it is for that very reason that Jesus was able to come and live a sinless life, and die taking our place on the cross, He took our place under God’s wrath.

Conclusion

Theistic evolution however, is nothing more than an attempt to harmonize God’s perfect Wordwith man’s imperfect thoughts

The main reason people do try to mix these theories is because evolution is popular right now, but the popular scientific theories are not always correct. We need to rely on God and not man.

For those who think that this means we check our brains at the door and follow the Bible blindly, you couldn’t be further from the truth. There are many websites on Intelligent Design that talk about the science that proves that there must be an intelligent force behind the creation of everything. We as Christians know who that intelligent force is.

Check out some other resources such as http://apologetics.org, or subscribe to a podcast called Darwin or Designwhere they discuss these issues and interview some top scientists on a weekly radio show. If you have questions feel free to ask us at http://www.EternalTruthMinistry.com

Don’t compromise your beliefs just because someone says they have evidence to the contrary, we know from courts that both sides have evidence, but both are not correct, just because you have evidence doesn’t mean you have all the facts about the evidence. Look into all sides for yourself, know the facts for yourself. God gave you a mind, use it.

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