The Incarnation and My Top Ten Passages
The most historically disputed and most important Christian doctrine is concerning the nature of Christ. In the history of the ancient church, many theologians believed Jesus was just a special man, but not God. Others wrote that Jesus was God but only appeared as a man. Still others like Arius of Alexandria in 325 AD, claimed Jesus was neither 100% God nor man, but was a higher form of spirit being or a lesser god. Even today, the one issue that distinguishes all cults from biblical Christianity is the nature of Christ, therefore the doctrine of the nature of Christ is all important. After Constantine became the Emperor of Rome and professed Christianity in 311-312 AD, Christian leaders could come out publically and discuss doctrine with other leaders around the Mediterranean world. The popular Arius wrote that Christ was created by God the Father and thus had a beginning and was a lesser god—greater than man but less than God the Father. There arose such a dispute that Constantine ordered a church council for all the Bishops in the world to attend and decide the issue. About 318 Bishops and leaders attended and unanimously voted against Arius and two of his pals in 325 AD. Thus the first creed of the universal church was agreed to—the Nicene Creed, which said, “We believe in one God the Father Almighty maker of all things visible and invisible, and in one Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, begotten of the Father, the only begotten, that is the essence of the Father, God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God, begotten not made, consubstantial with the Father; By whom all things were made both in heaven and on earth, Who for us men and for our salvation, came down and was incarnate and was made man…” Jesus, the Son of God, took on human flesh and was born to Mary, who was a virgin. Jesus is both fully God and fully human. In the later Council of Chalcedon in 451 AD, the unanimous belief was expressed that the divine nature of Christ was united but not mixed with human nature so that Jesus was both truly God and truly man. Without diminishing His deity, Christ added to it all that is involved in being human. As a man, Jesus was hungry (Matt.4:2), thirsty (John 19:28), tired (John 4:6), bled, anxious (Luke 22:44), and He suffered pain and death. As God, He was omniscient, did miracles, created, raised the dead, and revealed truth that only God could reveal.
Why Was it Necessary That Jesus be 100% God and 100% Man?
Incarnation is a word that comes from the Latin meaning “the act of being made flesh” or God taking on the flesh of man. The Son of God came in the flesh to be the Savior of mankind. God’s plan required that an innocent blood sacrifice of a sinless man be made that would have infinite value to atone for the sin of all people who would believe. Without the incarnation, Christ could not have died and the sacrifice on the cross would have been meaningless. As First Peter 1:19 put it, “you were not redeemed by perishable things…but with precious blood…the blood of Christ”.
Isaiah Predicted the Incarnation 700 Years Before
In Isaiah 7:14 we read, “the Lord Himself will give you a sign, Behold a virgin will be with child and bear a son, and she will call Him Immanuel (meaning God with us). Critics today try to say Isaiah meant a young maiden, not a virgin at the time of Isaiah, but when the Hebrew scholars translated the Bible into Greek about 250BC, they used the Greek word that was plainly virgin. Also Matthew 1:22-23 confirms that the prophet meant a literal virgin. Luke’s account of the conception in Mary’s womb is “The Holy Spirit will come upon you (Mary), and the power of the Most High God will overshadow you, and for that reason the holy child shall be called the Son of God”. Obviously no virgin could be with child unless God miraculously accomplished it, therefore Jesus was truly “the only begotten from God the Father”. In Isaiah 9:6, the prophet predicted, “For a child will be born to us, a son will be given us…and His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.” The Christ would be born a baby as a gift to us from God. As God, He would be the wisest counselor and revealer of the truth, and He would bring peace between God and man. As the everlasting Ruler of the Kingdom of God, He will bring everlasting peace.
2 Corinthians 8:9
Writing to the Church at Corinth, Paul wrote a concise statement of the position of Christ before the incarnation and after the incarnation. Christ was in the position of God in the glory and perfection of heaven being worshipped by all the heavenly host having all the power and prerogatives of the all powerful Creator-God. No one could be any richer in every sense of the word, yet He voluntarily gave that up to take on the flesh with all its limitations of pain and suffering, rejection, humiliation, along with the worst kind of death. Therefore, the great gift of our Lord was to give up all His riches in heaven to be in a relative sense poor in a fallen miserable world. His sole motivation was out of love for us He did what was necessary for us to become spiritually rich. Without His sacrifice, we were poor, but now we are spiritually rich.
While Paul was in prison in Rome, he wrote this letter to the Church at Philippi, and he encouraged them to have the same humility and love for each other that Jesus Christ had for them. Jesus preexisted the creation as God in heaven. He was not created, but is eternally God. Yet, He did not selfishly hold on to all His rights as God, but “emptied” Himself of His divine prerogatives to take on the physical form of a human being. He not only was born a baby boy, but also was in a sense a servant instead of a ruler. He had every right to be served and worshipped, but he gave that up to humbly serve and sacrifice for us. The incarnation does not mean He surrendered any attributes of deity, but that He took on the limitations of humanity. He was obedient to God’s plan of the redemption of mankind even though it meant the worst kind of death. Did His service please God? Did he accomplish the redemption of all those who believe? Absolutely, and God exalted Him to the right hand of the throne of God in heaven, where He waits until at the perfect time He will return and set up the Kingdom of God. Through His voluntary sacrifice for the redemption of mankind, Christ won sovereignty over all of creation.
John’s Gospel opens by introducing Jesus Christ as “The Word”, or in Greek the Logos. The revelation of God and the truth and wisdom of God became personified in Jesus. He did not cease being God, but became God in the flesh. God took on a human nature and lived among humanity as a person who is both God and man at the same time. Just as Jesus told Philip when the disciple asked to see God, “He who has seen Me has seen God the Father”. Jesus is the Son of God not in the sense of being created, but in the sense of being exactly like His Father in all attributes. “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.” By saying John saw His glory, He may mean he, Peter, and James witnessed the Transfiguration when Jesus’s face shined like the sun and His clothes became super white. The Apostles also witnessed God’s glory in Jesus as He displayed God’s attributes of love, wisdom, mercy, power, and holiness.
John 3:15 says that whoever believes in Jesus will have eternal life. Then he explains this in John 3:16, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” This is the greatest summary of the Gospel message in one verse. God was motivated to take on the flesh purely out of love. The implication is that we needed Him to do that since we are all sinners who fall short of the glory of God. Jesus is totally unique as the God-Man, and the only person who could atone for our sins. A sinless man had to die, and the sacrifice had to have infinite value, therefore only Christ could accomplish it. God’s love was not just some mushy sentiment, but to the specific action that would solve our problem.
In the Old Testament, God spoke to people through the Patriarchs like Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph; and also through the prophets. But “in these last days”, meaning since Jesus began His ministry, God has spoken to us through His Son Jesus Christ. As God, the preexistent Christ created the world and all that’s in it. Jesus is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of God’s nature. As God, Christ not only made everything but He “upholds” everything, meaning He keeps everything together and going. Jesus made purification of sins by His atoning sacrifice on the cross, and having accomplished it, He has seated Himself at the right hand of God.
Psalm 2:7, Galatians 4:4-5, 1 Timothy 1:15-17, Titus 3:4-7, John 10:3
These verses and many more reveal more information about the incarnation of Christ. It was God’s plan from the beginning to beget His only son, and all who believe in and worship Him would be saved. At just the right time God sent His son who was born of a woman (virgin). Jesus, out of love, came into the world to save sinners. The kindness and love of God our Savior appeared in the person of Jesus who saved us. Jesus is God in the flesh, the exact essence of God the Father.