Monday, November 30, 2020

God Was In Christ: The Doctrine of the Incarnation, An Advent Journal Introduction

God was in Christ. This truth pierces my soul and floods my heart. What if not for the wonderful and mysterious incarnation of Christ? This is the claim of Christianity; that Jesus of Nazareth was the Son of God, fully divine, and took on human nature, fully man, for the salvation of mankind. 

The doctrine of the Incarnation is that Jesus is God, and all the divine attributes of God are contained within Him, according to the Scriptures, and have been a part of Christian orthodoxy and tradition for centuries. He was in the beginning with God. He left the glory of heaven and came to earth in the form of a man; was born in a stable in Bethlehem and redeemed the world. The Gospel of John tells us who Jesus is: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God...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” (Jn. 1:1-2,14 NASB). 

Christ is the Second Person of the Trinity or Godhead, the Son of God, and the Logos. Saint Athanasius of Alexandria, a Christian theologian, Church Father, and chief defender of Trinitarianism, wrote in his On The Incarnation, “All the attributes usually only applied to the one God—wisdom, truth, light, righteousness, virtue—the Son is, not as properties that he has acquired outside himself nor as if he were himself merely an attribute of God, but he is these things in himself.”[1] The prolific author of the book of Hebrews says that Christ is what it is to be God and the very imprint of the Father. This has been the Christian tradition for over 2,000 years.

For by the sacrifice of His own body He did two things: He put an end to the law of death which barred our way; and He made a new beginning of life for us, by giving us the hope of resurrection. ~Athanasius

Some depart from the doctrine because they cannot grasp the hypostatic union of Christ {the joining of both natures}. Some diminish the deity of Christ while others diminish His humanity. The most prominent argument against the Incarnation is that it is not in Scripture. However, during this Advent journey, we will walk through the Old and New Testaments, and see for ourselves that the Incarnation is embedded throughout the Bible. Not only is Christ God Incarnate, but He is the glorious pre-existent Second Person of the Godhead. Jesus fulfilled prophecy through the Incarnation for He had to come, it was necessary for our salvation.

Sweeter sounds than music knows,
Charm me in Emmanuel’s Name;
All her hopes my spirit owes
To His birth, and Cross, and shame.

When He came the angels sung,
“Glory be to God on high”
Lord, unloose my stammering tongue;
Who shall louder sing than I?

Did the Lord a man become,
That He might the law fulfil,
Bleed and suffer in my room,
And canst thou, my tongue, be still?

No; I must my praises bring,
Though they worthless are, and weak;
For, should I refuse to sing,
Sure the very stones would speak.

O my Saviour, Shield, and Sun,
Shepherd, Brother, Lord, and Friend—
Every precious name in one!
I will love Thee without end.
~ John  Newton

[1] Athanasius, On The Incarnation (Yonkers: St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press., 2011), 33. 

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Saturday, November 28, 2020

God Was In Christ: The Doctrine of the Incarnation, An Advent Journal

 Advent is upon us once again; I am not sure where this year went. On one hand, it seemed sluggish, and on the other that it slipped away like a gust of wind. During this Advent season, I am praying for a fresh wind of the Holy Spirit to awaken a dry and weary soul; A dry and weary land. We need the Lord now more than ever to sweep over us and refresh our weariness. What a wonderful time to draw near to Him and to seek Him like at no other time.

I have mulled over what to write in the space during Advent. The traditional liturgy is to go through the four themes of Advent, along with the Advent wreath of hope, love, peace, and joy. Depending upon one’s tradition, the four themes fall in different order. I wrote about them here the last Advent season. I have also previously written about the prophecies of Christ in the Old Testament and how He fulfilled them in the New Testament. I encourage you to read them and see how beautifully intertwined the two glorious Testaments are to each other.

I love the Old Testament. Sadly, I have heard several teachers of God’s Word admonishing people to “detach” themselves from the Old Testament and that breaks my heart. One would not have the New Testament if not for the Old Testament; they fit hand-in-glove. I love how Lockyer states this truth:

 “A devout Hebrew scholar has pointed out that the Old Testament is a book of consonants without vowels, as Hebrew students know. But Christ came as the Alpha and the Omega, the initial and final vowel of the New Testament Language, to all the vowel points to the old revelation; to be the interpreter of difficulties and the filler of gaps. And so, as Luther exhorts, ‘In the Word thou shouldest hear nothing else than thy God speaking to thee.’[1]

I have also recently learned that many of Christ’s followers do not fully understand the doctrine of the Incarnation—that Christ preexisted in the Old Testament. He did not begin at Bethlehem, for God has no beginning and no end. Psalm 90:2 declares, “Before the mountains were born
 or you brought forth the whole world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God
” (NASB). This is but one verse but there are many that support God’s claim. This is going to be my Advent theme—God Was In Christ: The Doctrine of the Incarnation.

Now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation, namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their wrongdoings against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making an appeal through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.” {2 Cor. 5:18-19 NASB emphasis added}.

I may be revisiting some of the prophecies in the Old Testament concerning Christ, but I want to walk you through the Scripture—the Old and New Testaments—to show you Christ, the Second Person of the Godhead, and how God, who was in Christ, came to be God in man.

This is not the conventional Advent devotion, but I pray that you will follow along through His Word and that by gaining a full understanding of the Incarnation, that you will embrace this season of Advent with a fresh zeal to draw near to Him and to await His presence.

Last year during Advent, I also read the Gospel of Luke each day and journaled what Scripture burned in my heart (you may find them here). I am going to repeat that devotion this year; A chapter of the gospel of Luke every night leading up to Christmas Eve. Luke’s Gospel account has twenty-four chapters one for each night of Advent. Will you read along with me? I will post a reminder each day along with a few insights as to what touches my heart in each chapter of this beautiful, glorious story of the Christ child. I pray you will join me in this Advent Journal. Though Advent begins tonight, start reading Luke on Tuesday evening to end on December 24th {unless of course you wish to begin tonight}.

Happy Advent to you. I pray the presence of the Lord Jesus Christ fills you to overflow with His hope, love, peace, and joy, that only He can give.  


One Single Name:

Who is this child whom the prophets foretell

And over whose birth heaven and earth exult?

Only in stammering can one speak his name,

Can one try to describe

What is encompassed in his name.

Words pile up and pour out in a rush when they are to say

Who this child is.

Indeed, strange combinations of words, otherwise unknown to us,

Come into being

When the name of this child

Is to pass human lips:

“Wonderful Counselor,” “Mighty God,”

“Everlasting Father,” “Prince of Peace.”

Every one of these words has endless depths,

And all of them together try

To express only one single name: Jesus. [2]



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[1] Lockyer, Herbert, All The Messianic Prophecies (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1973), 25-26.

[2] Dietrich Bonhoeffer, The Mystery Of Holy Night (New York: Crossroad Publishing Company, 1996), 36.