Thursday, January 26, 2006

Word of the Week: Incarnation, Part I

Incarnation means to ‘become flesh.’ In Christian doctrine, it relates to the fact that the eternal Son of God, God the Son, took on flesh and lived among men as a man. On the one hand it is a simple concept – one that a child can understand. To know anything about Christianity is to know that God incarnated as man in the person of Jesus Christ.  On the other hand, the Incarnation is arguably the deepest, most profound mystery in the universe – harder to understand than the doctrine of the Trinity.

Like the word Trinity, Incarnation does not appear in the pages of Scripture. Also like the Trinity, there is abundant biblical evidence for this doctrine. For example, John 1:14 provides a biblical definition of the word incarnation And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us . . . A classic passage regarding the Incarnation is Philippians 2:6-11. Christ, eternally in the form of God was found in the form of a man for the purpose of enduring the cross for the sake of God’s people. This voluntary humiliation – the greatest step down in the history of the universe – led to Christ’s exaltation, at which He received a name that is above every name.

Have you ever wondered how Jesus could be more exalted after His time on earth than He was before? Christ is God – how can you improve upon that glorious position?
  • Christ is eternally God the Son, . . . God over all, blessed forever (Romans 9:5).

  • He is the Creator of all that exists according to the plan of the Father (John 1, Colossians 1)

  • He is the object of unceasing worship in Heaven (Isaiah 6, compare John 12; Revelation 4, 5)

No one can exalt his divine nature any higher; it just won’t go any higher! However, Christ’s glory was hidden when he came in human form. The contrast here is between His humiliation when he came in flesh and His exaltation by the Father. At His exaltation, was he more God? No. Was he more worthy, or pure or mighty or wise after His death and resurrection? No. After Christ’s Ascension into heaven, is he more highly exalted? Yes, that’s what the Philippians 2 passage tells us. What was it about Christ that was more highly exalted? Take note of Philippians 2:10, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow …. Our Lord took his earthly human name, nature and body into heaven. That is what is new about this exaltation. Jesus Christ took his complete identification with human beings into Heaven. Angels fall in adoration at the feet of a man in Heaven. This is a first!

This is also a wonder. This is the mystery of the Incarnation – God became man, and for us died on the cross, rose bodily and ascended into Heaven. Christ is the first fruits of all of those who will die in hope, trusting that He will raise us up to heaven and give us a resurrection body, fit for all eternity in the presence of God. Christ ‘led captivity captive’ (Ephesians 4:8) achieving an impossible victory in the face of an utterly hopeless situation for Adam’s offspring. We were dead, done, defeated, and running willingly away from God to Hell, until our new Champion, the Captain of our Salvation appeared in flesh to reconcile men to God through His blood. What a victory! What a Saviour!

Christ is far greater than pre-fall Adam. He is inconceivably greater than the most super superman ever imagined. The wonder of it all is that He calls us – the sheep that hear His voice and come to Him in faith – his Bride! We inherit what He has earned – eternal glory and the joy of Heaven with Him as His beloved.

Fallen, dead humanity only has hope because of Christ’s Incarnation, death, resurrection and glorious Ascension. He has poured out the Holy Spirit upon everyone who believes. The Holy Spirit is our seal, our guarantee that we receive the inheritance that Christ has bought for us (Ephesians 1:13-14).

Glory to God for His Amazing Grace in the gift of His Son!

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