Thursday, December 23, 2004

The Mystery of the Incarnation

Matthew 16
13When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, "Who do people say the Son of Man is?"
14They replied, "Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets."
15"But what about you?" he asked. "Who do you say I am?"


Jesus’ question to His disciples is the same question asked of us—and how we answer has eternal consequences. At the heart of Christianity is the claim that Jesus is God in the flesh. As Paul says, “in Him dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily” (Col. 2:9). Mohammed was just a prophet, and Moses and Confucius were mere mortals. But if what Christians believe is true, than isn’t it a travesty to say that Jesus is equal to others?

With Christmas approaching, we ought to spend a few moments considering the mystery of the Incarnation. That God became flesh, and revealed Himself in the person of Christ is central to our faith. Though His conception was a miraculous work of the Holy Spirit, He was conceived in the womb of a flesh-and-blood Jewish woman (Matt. 1:18-20; Luke 1:35). Luke also indicates that as a boy Jesus had normal human development. After amazing the teachers at the temple, we read, “Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men” (Luke 2:52). So He increased intellectually, physically, socially, and religiously. The author of Hebrews also wrote, “He learned obedience by the things He suffered” (Heb. 5:8). Though Jesus never sinned, and could not do so, He grew to shoulder more responsibility. As a young man, He continued to grow into maturity.

It is also evident from the Scripture that Jesus had real, human, physical limitations. Jesus hungered (Matt. 4:2), thirsted (John 19:28), and became physically tired (Mark 4:38). Additionally, Jesus had real human emotions. At various points, Jesus is described as troubled (John 12:27), sorrowful (Matt. 26:38), and compassionate (Mark 1:41).

Jesus was also tempted in a very real way. As the Second Adam, Jesus had to face and overcome the temptations and machinations of Satan (Matt. 4:1-11; Mark 1:12-13; Luke 4:1-13). The author of Hebrews also says that, “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” (Heb. 4:15). Jesus had to face and conquer temptation on behalf of His people as a man, to win victory where Adam had fallen.

Jesus is also called a man by John the Baptist (John 1:30) and referred to Himself as a man (John 8:40). But nothing more dramatically demonstrates Jesus’ humanity then the fact that He died on the cross (Mark 1:41). His death was witnessed (and recorded) by John (John 19:25-27), a group of women followers and a mocking crowd (Luke 23:48-49), as well as Joseph of Arimethea and Nicodemus (John 19:38-41).

Why was it necessary for Jesus to be fully human? There are several reasons. First, Jesus was our representative in obedience. Just as Adam’s sin allowed sin into the world, so the obedience of Christ, Paul tells us in Romans 5, “leads to acquittal and life for all men.”

Second, we needed a substitute sacrifice. Jesus had to be a man, and not an angel, for instance, because God was concerned with saving men. Thus, the writer of Hebrews says, “he had to be made like his brethren in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God.” (Heb. 2:16-17).

Third, man needed a Mediator between man and God (I Tim. 2:5), but in order to fill that role, Jesus had to be both God and man.

Finally, He had to be a man to serve as an example to us. Scripture says that we are “being changed into his likeness” and being “conformed to the image of the Son.” Likewise, Peter tells us that with regard to suffering, Christ is our example—“Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps” (I Peter 2:21).

God showed compassion and love by sending His Son to die for us. Martin Luther tells this story:

There was a no-good lout who was sitting in the congregation and heard again and again, "God became man for you." He heard the sermon, the singing, the recitation of the creed, and he remained unmoved. An angel came to him and struck him such a blow so as to render the man almost senseless. "You ungrateful wretch—here you hear that God became man for you and you sit here like a stick or a stone. If I had heard that God had become an angel for me, I would have fallen down and wept for gratitude. But here you sit, senseless and dull, while the whole universe marvels at Christ's love." (Works, vol. 22, on John 1:14)


May we take time from the shopping, travel, and gift-giving of the season to reflect on the wonder and power of God’s grace, and may it stimulate us to faith and repentance.

And may you all have a Merry Christmas!

3 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Moses was a prophet. He spoke to God and God spoke to him.

11:11 AM  
Blogger Darrell said...

You are correct. My language was imprecise at best. That is one of the pitfalls of not having an editor.

12:18 PM  
Anonymous Ben Simmons said...

Darrell, please read this with an open heart. The following is not secular, therefore it is not common.
-Ben

WHEN GOD BECAME A MAN (MYSTERY OF ALL MYSTERIES)
(From the tract published by the late Pastor A.T. Surratt in the 1950's)


GOD BECAME A MAN.
Mystery of mysteries


One day a little baby was born in a very rude and obscure place, in a small and humble city. His expected arrival was not announced to the world. His mother was not widely known.


Finding no room in the crowded inn the lowly couple retreated to a stable. And, there in the dark hours of the night, while the city was sleeping, the little stranger arrived.


No one suspected anything out of the ordinary. But, the birth of that little baby set all the bells of heaven ringing. A bright, new star appeared in the heavens. An angel hastened to a group of shepherds to announce the glad tidings of great joy, while the illuminating light of heaven encircled the astonished shepherds, dispelling the darkness of the night. Suddenly the lone angel was joined by a whole multitude of the heavenly host chanting the joyful refrain: "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth, peace, good will toward men."


When the angels had gone, the shepherds sped to Bethlehem to see the new-born Babe. From the East came wise men with costly gifts to present to Him. Soon, all Jerusalem was stirred. Even the king was troubled. The birth of the humble child had moved heaven and earth!


Who could He be? Why all this commotion about His birth?


It was a mystery, a GREAT mystery. But that new-born babe was none other than the Mighty God, the Lord, the Creator of heaven and earth, who was born of a virgin, and came into the world in the likeness of a man to dwell among us. "They shall call His name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, 'GOD WITH US.’" Matt 1:23.


The angel announced unmistakably who He was. Said the angel: "Unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the LORD." Luke 2:11.


Many times in the Old Testament God is spoken of as the LORD God, the LORD Jehovah, the LORD thy God, etc. And, now the angel announces that the Babe of Bethlehem is Christ the "LORD".


Since both the Old Testament AND the New Testament emphatically declare that there is only ONE LORD, then it is very evident that the LORD Jesus of the New Testament and the LORD God of the Old Testament is the SAME LORD.


The following scriptures taken from the Old AND New Testaments will prove conclusively that the Lord God of the Old Testament "IS" the Lord Jesus Christ of the New Testament ... NOT TWO SEPARATE LORDS:


The Lord God created heaven and earth.- Isa. 42:5.
Jesus created heaven and earth.- John 1:10; Col. 1:16.
The Lord God is the only Saviour.- Isa. 43:10 & 11.
Jesus is the Saviour.- Tit. 1:4.
The Lord God is the First and the Last.- Isa. 44:6.
Jesus is the First and the Last.- Rev. 1:8.
The Lord God said: "I am He".- Isa. 43:10.
Jesus said: "I am He."- John 8:24.
The Lord God will reign forever.- Psa. 146:10.
Jesus will reign forever.- Luke 1:33.
The Lord God is King of Israel.- Isa. 43:15.
Jesus is King of Israel.- Matt. 27:37.
The Lord God is Lord alone.- Neh. 9:6.
Jesus is Lord.- Acts 9:5.
The Lord God is the Almighty.- Gen. 17:1.
Jesus is the Almighty.- Rev. 1:8.


The following Scriptures will further prove beyond the shadow of any doubt that the Babe of Bethlehem was the Lord God Almighty:


The Child -a Son- shall be called the "Mighty God" and "Everlasting Father" Isa 9:6.
He who was born in Bethlehem was from ever­lasting. Micah 5:2.
Jesus lived BEFORE Abraham. John 8:56 & 58.
Thomas acknowledged Jesus to be God. John 20:28.


Now that it has been fully established by scripture that Jesus "IS" God, the next step is to examine the "Son-ship" aspect of God.


WHEN DID THE SON-SHIP BEGIN?


Was Jesus a son in eternity with God before His birth in Bethlehem? If so, when did He become a Son? Was He as old as the Father? Who was his mother then? What became of His body when He was born in Bethlehem? Was He born twice ... once in eternity and AGAIN in Bethlehem? Did He have two fathers and two mothers?


No, no! That is not the right understanding of God and the Son. In eternity, God was an invisible spirit without flesh and bones, who ALONE created the heavens and the earth, Isa. 37:16; Isa. 44:24; Job 9:8. He declared, Himself, that there was no one else with Him, and that He created the earth by Himself, Isa. 45:5; Isa. 44:24. There is no Saviour, He said, but Himself, Isa. 43:11.


It was He, the ONLY Lord God and ONLY Saviour, who came into the world in the form of man to become man's salvation. The name "JESUS" is the English equivalent of the Hebrew name given to the Messiah. And, it means, "Jehovah-Saviour" or "Jehovah has become Salvation."


That is when the Son-ship began, when God became a man - the Babe of Bethlehem - a Lamb of sacrifice for sin. It was God in the flesh who died for the sins of the world, Acts 20:28. There was no Son before Jesus was born in Bethlehem. Although, God -He who BECAME a Son- existed as the invisible Spirit of Deity from Everlasting.


JESUS WAS "BOTH" GOD AND MAN


Jesus was a man, a perfect man. As a man He slept, He ate, and He grew weary. But all of His mighty works prove that He was MORE than just a man. Who else could raise the dead, walk on water, open blind eyes, multiply bread and fish, or speak the word and calm the wind and waves?


Jesus was BOTH God AND man united in ONE image. That is the reason He could say to Philip, "He that hath seen me hath seen the Father," John 14:9. And did not He say, I and my Father are ONE?" John 10:30. And did He not also say, "If ye believe not that I am He (speaking of the Father) ye shall die in your sins? John 8:24 & 27.


Indeed, it was a marvelous mystery. But, Jesus was the God-man. His birth was NOT after the fashion of ordinary man. He had no earthly father. His Father was the Holy Ghost and His mother was the virgin Mary. Therefore, He was BOTH God AND man. The Spirit begat the flesh!


As a man, Jesus ate. As God, He multiplied bread and fish. As a man, He slept in the boat. As God, He arose and calmed the stormy waves. As a man, He prayed at the tomb of Lazarus. As God, He raised Lazarus from the dead. As a man, He died. As God, He raised Himself from the dead. John 2:19. He was BOTH God AND man - Father and Son - Spirit and Flesh ... in ONE IMAGE.


God speaks of things that are not yet, as though they are. Therefore, when He said "Let us make man in our image (not images), He was speaking in the presense of angels of the two-fold relationship of Father and Son in ONE Image. We read: "So God (by Himself) created man in HIS OWN IMAGE (not images), Gen. 1:26-27. What, then, is God's Image? Jesus is the IMAGE of the INVISIBLE GOD. Col. 1:15.


The children of Israel had never seen their God. He was always invisible to them. But, when Jesus came, the Invisible God was made visible. At the same time God was manifest in flesh on earth, He remained Spirit in heaven. For that reason Jesus could speak of the Father that dwelleth in me," and also speak of the Father "in heaven."


RIGHT HAND.


Jesus at the right hand of God does NOT mean that God and Jesus are two persons sitting side by side on a throne in heaven ... "both of them" sitting there stationary for centuries. That is a ridiculous AND unscriptural idea of God. A preacher once said that Jesus had stood up only one time since He ascended into heaven, and that was when He stood up to welcome Stephen, because Stephen saw Him "standing" at the right hand of God.


But, that is NOT the correct meaning of the "right hand". The right hand is a symbolic term meaning a place of "acceptance, power and authority" not a physical location. Jesus said: "All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth." When God became Incarnate Man on earth He did all of His mighty works through the power and authority of that Man. And now that Jesus has ascended to heaven He has ALL the power in heaven. Matt. 28:18. Therefore, Jesus at the right hand of God, means that Jesus has all the power. It means that Jesus "IS" the power of God. 1 Cor. 1:24. HE IS GOD!


It must be remembered that the Lord Jesus Christ is MORE than just a man. He is BOTH God and man. He is God manifest (revealed) in the flesh, I Tim 3:16.


The following is a few symbolic uses of "right hand":


My "right hand" hath spanned the heavens, Isa 48:13.
The Lord is at the "right hand" of the poor. Psa 109:31.
God led the children of Israel by the "right hand" of Moses, Isa. 63:12. The Lord was on David's "right hand", Psa 16:8
Sheep on His "right hand", goats on His left. Matt. 25:33


THE HOLY SPIRIT.


The Holy Spirit is NOT a third, separate and distinct person from the Father and the Son. The Holy Spirit "IS" God. In John 4:24 we read: "God is a SPIRIT." And, God is HOLY. Therefore, God is the HOLY SPIRIT. No further evidence is needed to prove that the Holy Ghost is God than the scriptural fact that the Holy Ghost is the Father of Jesus. Matt. 1:18 & 20. It must be remembered that Jesus was the Incarnation of God ... or God in human form.


JESUS IS THE HOLY SPIRIT.


Jesus called his disciples together one day and told them He was soon going away. But, that, He would send another Comforter, who would abide with them forever.


Who, then, is this other Comforter? What is His name? Is He someone else other than Jesus? If the Comforter is someone else, then Jesus is not here. He is not "IN" us. But, Jesus said, "Lo, I am with you alway, even to the end of the world."


Jesus did not leave His disciples in the dark. He told them very plainly who the other Comforter is. Said He: "I will not leave you Comfortless, ‘I’ will come to you."John 14:18


What He told them about the "other" Comforter was, He was dwelling "with" them, and would be "IN" them. Jesus was WITH (and comforting) them while in the flesh. He went back to heaven in the flesh, but returned in another (Spirit) form on the day of Pentecost to be "IN" them. So, we may rightfully sing: "Since Jesus came into my heart." Therefore, the name of the Comforter - who is the Holy Ghost - is "Jesus". John 14:26. There is NO other name.


THE TRINITY THEORY.


Through the confusion of the dark ages, and the TRADITIONS of men, the vision of the greatness and the glory and majesty of the Lord Jesus Christ has become dimmed. He who said: "I am the First and the Last" has been relegated to second place.


After a raging discussion of centuries concerning the Godhead, a doctrine was finally emerged, known as the doctrine of the Trinity, namely: that God consists of three separate and distinct, co-equal, co-eternal, co-existent, "persons". Thus, making Jesus Christ a "junior partner", instead of Him being LORD OF ALL, as the Bible states.


God, no doubt, has winked at the ignorance of the people as they have piously chanted hymns to the "blessed holy trinity - God in three persons". But, now the mists are being cleared away. And, the doctrines, as taught by the Apostles, are again being revealed - that Jesus Christ is God, the Spirit, manifested in the flesh - NOT one of three "persons" in one position, but one person in all 3 positions.


The trinity doctrine is man's feeble attempt to solve the great mystery of the Incarnate God. But, in thus disposing of the mystery, they have only added absurdity to mystery.


People in Jesus’ day were continually asking: Who art thou? Whom makest thou thyself? What manner of man is this? Whence hath this man this wisdom? Art thou, then, the Son of God? Art thou the king of the Jews? Whence art thou? How knoweth this man letters, having never learned? Who is this that forgiveth sins, also?


And, still, today, the world is puzzled. No wonder. He is great and marvelous! The name "Jesus" is above all other names. No tongue of man has ever proclaimed His worth.


ANTI-CHRIST.


The devil has done his best to conceal the identity of Jesus Christ -to hide Him from the people. And, so well will He have succeeded, until, at the end of the age, the entire world will reject Jesus Christ, and will worship the anti-christ as God (all except those whose names are written in the book of life).


John warned of this when He said: "Every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God; and this is that spirit of anti-christ." I Tim. 3:16 says God was manifest in the flesh. And, I John 4:2 says Jesus Christ is come in the flesh. Harmonizing these two scriptures we find that Jesus Christ was God who came in the flesh. And, to attempt to place Him on a lower plane than the Mighty God, who is "LORD OF ALL", is to join ranks with the anti-christ forces.


In the Incarnate Christ dwells ALL the fullness of the Godhead "BODILY" ... in human form. Col. 2:9; Acts 2:38; Acts 8:12,17; Acts 10: 44-48; Acts 19:1-6; Col 3:17.


* * * -END- * * *


A NOTE FROM BOBBY G. RICHARDSON: Since 1986 I’ve been offering the following $10,000.00 REWARD to any priest, clergyman, layman or "professing" Christian in an effort to provoke serious, but "independent", Bible study and research. As a former trinitarian, myself, I am convinced many people have been so effectively indoctrinated that they've accepted this man-made theory, which evolved from the 325 A.D. Roman Council of Nicaea, without being aware that it has absolutely no specific Bible authority. But, instead, is based, and built, upon a handful of carefully selected Scriptures which have either been interpreted quite "literally" and/or have been given "implied" interpretations - which clash with the vast "preponderance" of Scriptural evidence that is found written VERBATIM upon the pages of God's Holy Word ... thus adding to or taking from.


$10,000 Reward.
Offered to anyone who can find ONE scripture in the authorized King James Version of the Holy Bible TEXT as follows:


(1) with the word "trinity" in it;
(2) where the term "persons" (plural) was ever used to describe God or the Godhead; OR
(3) where anyone was ever baptized with the TITLES* "Father, Son and Holy Ghost" pronounced over them.


(*These "titles" are quoted by virtually every religious denomination today among BOTH Catholic and Protestants, regardless of whether they baptize by sprinkling or by immersion).


I use the following questions to provoke study, thought and prayer regarding the logically, Scripturally and historically flawed "theory" of a trinity ...


1. How many "persons" are in the Godhead?


2. How many "LORDS" are in the Godhead?


3. How many "Spirits" are in the Godhead?


4. How many "Spirits" dwelled between the cherubims in the Most Holy Place?


5. How many "Saviours" are in the Godhead?


6. In what form did Jesus exist prior to the Incarnation?


7. How far back have you been able to find documentation which refers to Almighty God as "three persons" or as a "trinity?"


8. Are you aware that, long before the concept of a "triune" God evolved, pagans in ancient Rome worshipped what is known as a "triad" of three gods, which was symbolized by an equilateral triangle?




Below, is a listing of some of my web pages ...


$ 10,000.00 Reward.
http://www.impact-ministry.com/acts2/reward.html


On Line Non-Denominational Bible Study
http://impact-ministry.com/acts2/


50 Reasons why the Bible does not mention a trinity or refer to God as "persons" (plural).
http://www.impact-ministry.com/acts2/trinity.html


Grammatical Explanation of Matthew 28:19 concerning the correct NAME ...
http://hometown.aol.com/actschap2bgr/myhomepage/business.html


Have you received the Holy Ghost since you believed?
http://www.impact-ministry.com/acts2/believed.html


An open letter to any Mormon, requesting info.
http://www.impact-ministry.com/acts2/mormon.html


An open letter to any Jehovah's Witness, requesting info.
http://www.impact-ministry.com/acts2/witness.html




What God has led (and allowed) me to do has touched the lives of people, not only here in the United States, but also in Australia, Austria, Bahrain; Belarus; Belgium, Botswana, Brazil, Canada, France, Ghana; Germany, Greece, Hungary, India, Indonesia, Israel, Italy; Japan, Jamaica, Latvia, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Malaysia, Mexico, Moldavia, Peru, Philippines; Poland; Portugal, Romania, Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia; Singapore, South Africa, Slovenia; Sweden, Switzerland, Uganda; United Arab Emirates; United Kingdom, and Zimbabwe. And, I give all the praise, the glory, and the honor to Almighty God! It humbles me to think that God would actually call, forgive, transform, qualify and use this former, rowdy, red neck, dirt farming, hick kid from Mississippi to touch the lives of people all over the world. What would the men, who turned their world upside for Christ, have done if they would have had today's modern day tools and equipment?




It is my most earnest and sincere prayer that, if you haven’t done so already, you will come to understand and embrace the Apostles’ One God Monotheistic Doctrine AND accept and comply with Acts 2:38-39 ... "Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized EVERY ONE of you in the NAME of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call."


In the movies, the humble newspaper reporter, Clark Kent, often spoke, and acted, as if Superman was someone, other than himself. But, in real life, the "real" Superman did come to this earth ... and He name was called Jesus!


I wish you much success in doing what God leads you to do. The fields are truly white to harvest. God bless!




Bobby G. Richardson
Non-denominational layman
acts2@impact-ministry.com




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11:09 PM  

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