Class Notes: 12/21/2008
John 1:14 Christmas is a celebration of the Incarnation of TLJC
Last time we concluded a brief look at the prophecies regarding the incarnation of TLJC and began a study on the doctrine of the incarnation itself that is the focus of the celebration of Christmas.
Previously God had revealed himself through the stars and through is word but in the Incarnation, God revealed himself in the person of TLJC. John 1:14;
To refuse to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ as God incarnate is to reject all of God's divine revelation that is found in both Old or the New Testament Scriptures John 5:39-40; John 6:45,68; John 8:26, 31-32,42-47; Matt 22:29;
Another purpose for the incarnation was to redeem fallen mankind from the slavemaket of sin.
Nothing is more clearly documented in the Scriptures than the fact that the principle purpose of the incarnation was to save men from their sins.
Luke 19:10;"For the son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost” Matt 9:13; Mark 10:45; 2Cor 5:21; Rom 5:8;
Gal 4:4-5; But when the fullness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law, in order that He might redeem those who were under the Law, that we might receive the adoption as sons
1Tim 1:15; It is a trustworthy statement, deserving full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, among whom I am foremost of all
Scripture tells us that TLJC is the propitiation for our sins. 1John 4:10; 1John 2:1-2;
Regarding this, Dr. B. B. Warfield stated..."Eliminate sin as the proximate occasion and redemption as the prime end of the Incarnation, and none of the other relations in which it stands, and none of the other effects which flow from it, will be fulfilled, at least in the measure of their rights."
The inseparable relationship of the incarnation of Christ and the atonement can be seen at the communion table. The bread and the cup of the communion are used to represent the work of Christ on the cross for all mankind.
Both these elements are evidence of the necessity of the incarnation.
The bread is a symbol of the body the human body of our Lord which was given to receive the imputation and judgment of the sins of the world. 1Pet 2:23-24;
The bread reminds us that His body was without sin that was the result of the incarnation of our Lord through virgin birth.
And the cup symbolizes "the blood” or more precisely the substutionary spiritual death of our Lord that was given for the forgiveness of our sins. Rom 5:8-9;
The substitutionary spiritual death could not have occurred if TLJC was not true humanity, body, soul and spirit.
So the atonement, which our Lord purchased for us on the cross, was dependent upon the incarnation.
The writer of the book of Hebrews puts it more directly when he explains the superiority of the once and for all sacrifice of TLJC on the cross to the Jews, Heb 9:22b; apart from the" shedding of blood" there is no remission of sins" Heb 10:5-10; apart from a human body, there could be no" shedding of blood"
If the doctrine of the incarnation is set aside, then Christianity has no special or exclusive claim to redemption, salvation and eternal life.
The problem that the world's religions have with Christianity is that if Jesus is literally God incarnate as scripture states and as we celebrate at Christmas, and if it is only by through his death alone that men can be saved, and that only by faith in him alone that salvation can be appropriated, then the only doorway to eternal life is the Christian faith.
The entire matter of eternal salvation rests upon the argument found in Rom 5; the question underlying this chapter has to do with how the righteousness of one man, Jesus Christ, is able to save the many.
The answer is that it was through the sin of the one man, Adam Rom 5:12,14; that the entire human race was characterized as sinful before God and consequently worthy only of God's eternal condemnation.
The solution that God has provided is Christ, the 'second Adam’ Rom 5:15; 1Cor 15:45-47; whose righteousness will save all who are "in Him" by grace through faith alone.
Rom 5:17-18; describes the situation: For if by the transgression of the one, death reigned through the one, much more those who receive the abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ. So then as through one transgression there resulted condemnation to all men, even so through one act of righteousness there resulted justification of life to all men...
Satan seeks to deceive and cause people to reject God's provision for salvation by attacking the truths of Romans 5 from both sides.
On the one hand he seeks to deceive men so that they will not believe there was any Adam with lies such as the theory of evolution that if true means that there is no God and there is no sin which condemns the entire race, man is no longer a sinner by nature.
If man is not a sinner, under and under Divine condemnation then he does not need salvation.
Satan also seeks to deceive mankind regarding the "last Adam," Jesus Christ.
By corrupting the Biblical Doctrine of the incarnation Satan can bring mankind to a conclusion that since Jesus Christ was not God manifested in the flesh, He was not the one and only means of receiving salvation therefore one person's belief regarding the way of getting to heaven is just as good as any another's.
Once the doctrine of the incarnation is set aside, the whole matter of redemption by Grace through faith alone in the person and work of Christ alone can be rejected.
This is why there is a deal of controversy surrounding the doctrine of the Incarnation.
Another of God's' purposes for creating man, is that man will reign over his creation.
When man was created and placed in the Garden of Eden, he was created in the image of God for the purpose of ruling the creation. Gen 1:26;
When Adam fell, all mankind, and the entire creation fell Rom 8:20:22; and chaos ruled. Man's rule is at best, distorted. God's promise, both to Israel and to the church, is that His people will be a "kingdom of priests" who will reign with Him Exod 19:6; 1Pet 2:5,9; Rev 1:6; Rev 5:10;
This reign will be established when the Messiah returns to the earth to subdue it and to rule over it.
As we have seen in the prophecies, The Messiah was to be of the offspring of Abraham Gen 12:1-3; of the tribe of Judah Gen 49:8-12; and of the seed of David 2Sam 7:12-16;
In the gospels we find the genealogy of our Lord establishing Him as the descendant of Abraham, David, and Judah, and as the legal, but not biological, son of Joseph Matt 1:1-16; Luke 3:23-38;
In the accounts of the birth of our Lord there is a clear emphasis upon the promises that God had made to Israel especially those that are related to the righteous reign of Messiah in the Kingdom. Luke 1:30-33; Matt 2:2,6; Luke 1:49-54, 68-75;
And the angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary; for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb, and bear a son, and you shall name Him Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the "Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David; and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever; and His kingdom will have no end"
It was not sufficient that the second person of the Godhead was truly God He must also be true humanity in order to fulfill God's purposes and His promises to man.
The reason is that God's purposes and promises were made to mankind. It was mankind who was made in God's image, and was destined to rule over His creation consequently it must be a man who would fulfill God's purposes and promises.
Mankind in their fallen state could not and would not fulfill God's purposes, because of his depravity and inability from the sin that resulted in the fall.
A new man, aka "the second Adam" must come into human history. This man must be free from all sin and to fulfill the scriptures He must also be divine.
This means that in order for God's purposes and promises to be fulfilled, the incarnation must occur. When the incarnation did take place, those who witnessed the event were assured that God's reign and the reign of the faithful would be established on the earth forever.
The importance of the humanity of Christ through the incarnation is underscored by the writer to the Hebrews in Heb 1:1-7;
He is writing of the superiority of Christ to the angels. In Heb 2:6-8; he turns to Psalm 8, applying the verses which speak of the dignity and glory of man, in that he has been appointed to "rule over the works of Thy hands" Heb 2:7b;
Not only is the writer using this psalm to speak of Christ, but to speak of Him who will reign as man.
In Heb 2:4-5; the author goes on to show that it was necessary for the Lord Jesus Christ to take on human flesh in order to minister to His brethren. The Messiah, who was to reign, would do so as man.
In the 10th chapter of Hebrews the point is clearly made that the Lord Jesus, of necessity, had to add humanity to His deity.
Therefore, when He comes into the world, He says, "Sacrifice and offering Thou hast not desired, But a body Thou hast prepared for me" Heb 10:5;
The incarnation was necessary for the future hope of both Israel and the church.
The return of the Lord and the establishment of His kingdom will only occur for men when God in the person of TLJC returns in perfect glorified humanity.
When our Lord added perfect humanity to His undiminished deity, He did so for all eternity. This is referred to as the hypostatic union.
He will return as the God-Man, He will reign, and we will reign with Him. If the incarnation is not true then, God is a liar and both the purposes and the promises of God are worthless.
It is also true that The Present Ministry of Christ to the Church is has Greater Meaning Because of His Incarnation.
Our salvation accomplished in the past by the death of Christ on the cross and fully realized in His second coming and reign is contingent upon His humanity.
TLJC is presently an advocate for church age believers at the right hand of the father.
1Tim 2:5-6; For there is one god, and one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself as a ransom for all, the testimony borne at the proper time.
At the present time, while the Son waits for the Father's word to return to the earth and subdue His enemies 1Cor. 15:20-28; Rev. 5; the Lord Jesus is our advocate with the Father 1John 2:1;
His present role as high priest has special relevance to us because He has come to the earth as man, making Him a compassionate and understanding advocate and source of strength and encouragement.
Heb 2:17-18; Therefore, He had to be made like His brethren in all things, that He might become a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. For since He has suffered, He is able to come to the aid of those who are tempted.
Heb 4:14-16; Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heaven, 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 one who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and may find grace to help in time of need.
As we have seen, the consequences of denying or rejecting the incarnation of our Lord are substantial.
This is partly due to the fact that because our Lord's incarnation is eternal.
What He became in the manger on Christmas centuries ago, is what He shall forever be...the God-Man.
To deny the incarnation is to deny the virgin birth, the miracles of our Lord, His substitutionary atonement, and His bodily resurrection.
In effect, to deny the incarnation is to deny all that TLJC was and is and to accept the incarnation is to believe in all that TLJC was an is.
It is from misbelief, or at least inadequate belief, about the incarnation that difficulties at other points in the gospel story arise. But once the incarnation is grasped as a reality, these other difficulties evaporate
Once we grant that Jesus is divine, it becomes unreasonable to find difficulty in any of this; it is all of a piece, and hangs together completely. The incarnation is in itself an unfathomable mystery, but it makes sense of everything else that the New Testament contains.
If, indeed, the Bible is correct in teaching us that our destiny is inseparably linked to the person of the Lord Jesus Christ as established in Romans 5 and many other passages, then to deny the incarnation is to undermine the very core of our doctrine.
The Incarnation is not just a debate about something, which took place 2,000 years ago in history. The issues at hand in the incarnation of our Lord are matters of principle, which have very practical ramifications.
The broader issue of the incarnation is the relationship between the divine and the human, between the sovereign working of God through the divine decree and man's responsibility through volition.
This can be illustrated by referring to the issue of the inspiration and authority of the Scriptures. The real question lying behind the issue of the inspiration and infallibility of the Scriptures is whether anything which is dependent upon human participation can be said to be divine and without error.
To deny the incarnation is to deny either the deity or the humanity of TLJC or both.
Such a denial concludes that it is impossible for our Lord to be both undiminished deity and sinless humanity at the same time.
To conclude this about the living Word of God (TLJC) is to do the same with the written word of God (the Bible).
The underlying principle here is the relationship between the divine and the human.
One of the most pressing problems for the Christian is how can God (the divine) indwell and manifest Himself in the human (the church age believer).
To deny that the divine and human can be joined together in any practical or personal way is to deny the essence of our salvation and sanctification, for when we are born again we become one with God and He with us.
To live the spiritual life is to be joined with Him in whatever we do. The Christian is urged to exert himself because of the divine enablement which God has provided, thus merging divinity and humanity, divine power manifested in human weakness Rom 12:1-2; 2Pet 1:3-11;
The doctrine of the incarnation also implies several truths which the Bible verifies elsewhere.
So we will conclude by considering what the incarnation of our Lord implies to us, which we must not ignore.
The Doctrine of the Incarnation informs us of the Depravity of Man and of His Desperate Condition Apart from Divine Intervention.
Hopefully it has become clear that the incarnation involved a great condescension on the part of the second person of the Godhead. While there was much humiliation in His death, there was also humiliation in His incarnation 2Cor 8:9;
The fact that God was willing to lower himself in identifying with man in the incarnation of our Lord is evidence to the complete inability of mankind.
God would never have considered the incarnation unless there was no possible means by which man could save himself. The incarnation implies what the first three chapters of the Book of Romans boldly asserts--that man was totally, irreversibly and impossibly lost, if left to himself. Man neither could, nor would, choose to save himself.
The point is that God's solution required such drastic measures, because the situation was so severe.
No one would conceive of allowing the doctor to remove a limb to cure an infection that could be treated by antibiotics, but if the ailment were a cancer that would kill the patient, then a limb is gladly sacrificed to preserve the life.
No cure is more drastic than God's provision of the incarnation and the cross. Man's problem of sin is so fatal that required the greatest of measures. Rom 8:32;
The Doctrine of the Incarnation informs us of God's Desire and His ability to save all of Fallen Mankind.
We see a glimpse of the love of God for fallen man, when we consider the wonder of the incarnation that we celebrate at Christmas.
While it is usually to the cross that we look to regarding the love of God, we must recognize that, "the wood of the cradle and the wood of the cross" are the same.
The cradle was the first step to the cross, and it is by that cradle that we must consider the willingness and the ability of God to save men from their sins.
The Doctrine of the Incarnation warns us of the folly of rejecting salvation by grace through faith alone in TLJC alone and substituting our own "good works" in its place.
If man were not hopelessly lost, God would not have sent his Son to the cradle and then to the cross.
If the salvation of man takes such drastic measures as a cradle and a cross, then there is absolutely no way that anyone can satisfy the justice of God in their own efforts to save himself because they have rejected the person and the work of God's uniquely born Son.
Because God has chosen to save sinners by sending His uniquely born Son, surely God is righteous to demand that men find salvation only through His Son. How foolish it is to seek to stand before God in any righteousness, which rejects Jesus Christ as God incarnate.
During this Christmas season it is wonderful to celebrate, and reassuring to view God through the cradle and the cross.
But those who refuse to believe the gospel message and refuse to believe that the TLJC is the Son of God and that they are saved by Grace and Through Faith Alone in him will face that same TLJC that is described in the Revelation as his enemy and at that time he will destroy His enemies and cast them into the lake of fire forever.
The most important question that each of us ever answers for ourselves is the same question the Philipian Jailer asked in Acts 16:30-31;
Because of the Incarnation, "Believe in TLJC and you will be saved" is the message of Christmas.
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