Category Archives: Incarnation

Veiled In Song, Good Teaching See God’s Incarnate Deity

Few Christmas hymns are as beloved as Hark! The Herald Angels Sing. Featured in A Charlie Brown Christmas and It’s A Wonderful Life, this hymn reaches millions of people each year, enjoyed by Christians and non-Christians alike.

The almost universal love for this hymn delights me because it teaches a boatload of Biblical doctrine easily and in a pleasurable manner. In particular, it proclaims with incredible clarity that God came to earth as Jesus, the newborn King.

The various repercussions of His Incarnation dance throughout the song, teaching us so many glorious truths about the Lord. How many doctrines can you find?

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Christmas For Bloggers: Christ’s Example Put To Practice When There’s Nothing Original To Say

Bethlehem Green tintSometimes familiarity does breed a sort of contempt. Boredom is, when you really think about it, a type of contempt for the blessings of life and the opportunities to serve the Lord and people with the talents and abilities He gives us. Boredom loses the sense of wonder, yawning at events that should overpower us with awe.

Even the most devout Christians can approach the Christmas account with boredom, and therefore with contempt. We’ve heard it all so often, from the Holy Spirit causing Mary to conceive to the wise men following the mysterious star. We know about the Old Testament prophecies of Messiah, the angels appearing to lowly shepherds and Christmas making Easter possible.

Sadly,  even the amazing truth of God coming to earth as a helpless infant can lose its impact over time.

Bloggers can struggle at this time of year, feeling pressure to come up with fresh angles to the story. What can we say that hasn’t already been said? How can we capture people’s attention and lead them to a renewed sense of awe? And really, how can we rekindle our own sense of awe?

Several of my fellow bloggers have managed to write essays that have given me insights into Christmas that I’d never had before this year. I appreciate those insights, and have grown in my understanding of the Incarnation because of their blog posts. Thank you, ladies, for teaching me more about the glories of God in human form, and His plan of redemption.

But the things I’ve learned during this Christmas season are only mine to ponder this year — not mine to write. Perhaps next December, when I’ve lived with those concepts for twelve months, I can relay them with my own passion, but right now I’d do little more than parrot what my sisters have written. I fear I’d be flirting with plagiarism.

So what can I contribute to the Christmas conversation in 2017? Nothing particularly novel, I’m sorry to say. Although my fellow bloggers have graciously nudged me out of my boredom with the familiar (praise God), I don’t feel equipped to do the same for my readers without impinging on bloggers that I deeply respect.

Jesus came as the obedient Son of our Heavenly Father. Paul, in this passage so frequently quoted at this time of year, describes the Lord’s humility as both a wonder in itself and an example for Christians to follow.

Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. ~~Philippians 2:3-11 (ESV)

I could have taken ideas from my fellow bloggers, reworded them cleverly and passed them off as my own.  Only a few people would have noticed, and several readers might have been impressed with my supposed originality. I would have essentially stolen other people’s work to gain attention for myself.

Instead, I shared one article on Twitter and Facebook (both my personal page and The Outspoken TULIP page). You’ll find the rest on last week’s and tomorrow’s Saturday Sampler. These bloggers did outstanding work, and therefore deserve full recognition.

Meanwhile, may I remember that God Himself became a Man in order to die a humiliating death so that He could bring salvation to those who believe in Him. Any sacrifice I   could purport to make obviously pale in comparison to His humility, but the magnificent example encourages me to avoid selfish ambition.

So, even though other bloggers roused me out of my boredom with Christmas, I come to you empty handed this year. And perhaps my inability to offer any unique perspective can remind all of us of our wondrous Savior Jesus Christ Who emptied Himself for our salvation. O come, let us adore Him!

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A Familiar Christmas Hymn With A Wonderful Surprise

When I first started playing this version of O Come, All Ye Faithful on YouTube, I didn’t really like the sound quality. As my husband will attest, I’m finicky about the hymn videos I post each Sunday.

They must, of course, contain sound doctrine, but they also need to include certain verses, have specific wording, be pleasing to the ear and have good graphics. I also avoid artists that I know represent bad theology (like Hillsong).

I can’t always meet all my criteria. While I never compromise on doctrine or artists, sometimes I settle for boring graphics or slight updates in lyrics. Rarely will I tolerate poor sound quality.

So, as verse 1 played on YouTube, I began moving my mouse cursor up to the “Back” button in order to search for a version I would like better. But before I could reach it, verse 2 startled me. I’d never heard it before.

I love its bold pronouncement of Christ’s deity.  What could possibly get to the heart of Christmas more than an unashamed declaration that God Himself was born in that manger? Listen to this familiar Christmas hymn and enjoy the wonderful surprise of verse 2.

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Nothing Is As Fair

This week, I want to post a hymn that completely exalts the Lord Jesus Christ. I didn’t want one celebrating what He’s done for wretched sinners like me, although I love those hymns. Nor did I want one expressing my desire to serve Him, although I love those hymns as well. I wanted something that said nothing about me and everything about how wonderful He is.

One hymn came to mind. This magnificent hymn contrasts Jesus with the beauty of His creation. As fair as the various elements of creation are, none of them compare to Him.

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In Praise Of The Trinity

In these past few weeks, I’ve been thinking a lot about the Trinity. Actually, my prayers increasingly celebrate all three Persons, focusing on each of their respective offices and functions. It’s been kind of exciting, and kind of fun, to pray with such a view of God in His various Persons.

The hymn I have chosen for today gives a vivid portrayal of God in each of His Persons, and I simply love the rich theology! As you listen, I pray that you will grow in your appreciation of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.

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For Us, But For His Father

Cross and Bible 4Having introduced the concept of Christ’s deity as an important fact to understand in relation to the Gospel, I now turn to the equally important fact of His humanity. He is 100% God, certainly, and He is equally 100% Man. In this discussion, I won’t try to explain how He can fully possess both natures simultaneously, knowing that theologians much more learned than I scratch their heads in bewilderment over that question. Instead, I want to show you a glimpse of how His humanity plays into the Gospel.

The writer of Hebrews gives us a picture of Jesus’ purpose in coming as a Man.

14 Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, 15 and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery. 16 For surely it is not angels that he helps, but he helps the offspring of Abraham. 17 Therefore he had to be made like his brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. 18 For because he himself has suffered when tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted. ~~Hebrews 2:14-18 (ESV)

Jesus, unlike either God the Father or God the Holy Spirit, experienced all the frailties, difficulties, limitations and temptations that you and I face. As a result of His intimate identification with all the weaknesses intrinsic to humanity, He has compassion for us. That compassion motivated Him to take the punishment  that properly belongs to us by suffering a brutal execution on the cross.
Of course, there’s a great deal more to the Incarnation than the Lord’s willingness to identity with human experience, and I don’t want to do you the disservice of implying that it was primarily about us. The latter portion of verse 17 says very plainly that he took on His humanity in service to God, not in service to us. He died a human death, shedding human blood, to satisfy the wrath of God. Nothing less would atone for our sins!
Without question, those who believe in Him derive eternal benefit from Christ’s death on the cross, but that benefit remains a glorious by-product of His sacrifice to the Father. We rightfully rejoice that His service to God results in His identification with our frailties as we marvel at how completely He does all things.

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God Himself As Our Christ

1-co-15When we say that Jesus died for our sins, we need to first establish Who Jesus actually is. A “Jesus” of our own making certainly couldn’t provide any real atonement since, essentially, He would be a figment of our imagination. So I must begin this exploration of the Gospel with the doctrine of Jesus, firm in my conviction that everything begins and ends with Him.

Obviously, I can’t fully explain Jesus in a few short blog posts, especially when true scholars have written volumes about Him. It should go without saying that I’d be arrogant to think that I could compose a couple short essays and cover all of Who He is. But I hope that, as I report basic information about Him, my readers will search the Bible to gain a more comprehensive understanding of each point I make.

Today, I want to emphasize Christ’s deity, which He claimed using words and idioms that First Century Jews completely understood. As a 17-year-old girl, I found John 8:48-59 riveting. Here’s the passage in the ESV:

48 The Jews answered him, “Are we not right in saying that you are a Samaritan and have a demon?” 49 Jesus answered, “I do not have a demon, but I honor my Father, and you dishonor me. 50 Yet I do not seek my own glory; there is One who seeks it, and he is the judge. 51 Truly, truly, I say to you, if anyone keeps my word, he will never see death.” 52 The Jews said to him, “Now we know that you have a demon! Abraham died, as did the prophets, yet you say, ‘If anyone keeps my word, he will never taste death.’ 53 Are you greater than our father Abraham, who died? And the prophets died! Who do you make yourself out to be?” 54 Jesus answered, “If I glorify myself, my glory is nothing. It is my Father who glorifies me, of whom you say, ‘He is our God.’ 55 But you have not known him. I know him. If I were to say that I do not know him, I would be a liar like you, but I do know him and I keep his word. 56 Your father Abraham rejoiced that he would see my day. He saw it and was glad.” 57 So the Jews said to him, “You are not yet fifty years old, and have you seen Abraham?” 58 Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am.” 59 So they picked up stones to throw at him, but Jesus hid himself and went out of the temple.

Notice verse 58. When Jesus said, “I AM,” He referred back to God’s words to Moses from  the burning bush:

13 Then Moses said to God, “If I come to the people of Israel and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ what shall I say to them?” 14 God said to Moses, “I am who I am.” ~~Exodus 3:13-14 (ESV)

The Pharisees, having great knowledge of this passage in Exodus, instantly caught Jesus’ reference, as evidenced by their attempt to stone Him  in verse 59. They had no difficulty recognizing the fact that Jesus had very openly claimed to be God.

His deity should cause us to marvel at the crucifixion. Think about the amazing humility He showed in taking the punishment for sins that His own creatures commit against Him! I feel tremendous awe at the realization that the Creator of heaven and earth would actually come and die as a common criminal in my place. Yet, His sacrifice only had the effect of redeeming those who believe in Him because of His deity.

We like to get caught up in so many “Christian” issues, and several of those issues legitimately deserve attention. But we must take care  never to lose focus on the wonderful fact that our Creator and Lord shed His precious blood to cleanse us from our own sin. What better reason could we have to worship Him?

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