Perspective

Advent series: The central mystery of the Christian faith

Although we live in a pluralistic culture that tells us that Christianity is just one option in a whole cafeteria of equally valid spiritual choices, a closer look at the Bible reveals its profound uniqueness.

By Ken Boa, Reflections Ministries

Its claims about God, humanity, and the way of salvation set it apart from other religions, and this uniqueness is especially evident in the person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ.

All praise to Thee, Eternal Lord,
Clothed in a garb of flesh and blood;
Choosing a manger for Thy throne,
While worlds on worlds are Thine alone.
–Martin Luther

Who could have imagined that the transcendent Creator of the universe would have personally visited our planet, even in splendor and majesty? But the Gospels go far beyond this: they reveal that the King of Creation came in the weakness and vulnerability of a little child – a child who would grow up to be spurned and rejected by his own people – a Man of Sorrows whose suffering and death would purchase the gift of divine forgiveness and eternal life.

As the decisive revelation of the transcendent God in human history, the Incarnation is the central mystery of the Christian faith. Through it, the eternal Word took on human flesh and experienced the limitations, sorrows, joys, and temptations of humanness, yet without any sin or imperfection.

As the decisive revelation of the transcendent God in human history, the Incarnation is the central mystery of the Christian faith.
–Ken Boa


The God-Man

The Scriptures affirm that, far from being part God and part man, Jesus Christ is wholly God and wholly man.

His Deity

Christ’s full deity is evident in the divine titles that are used of Him, in His direct and indirect claims, and in His divine attributes and works. He claimed:

  • To know Him is to know God (John 8:19)
  • To see Him is to see God (John 12:45; 14:9)
  • To hear Him is to hear God (John 14:24)
  • To confess Him is to confess God (Matthew 10:32)
  • To hate Him is to hate God (John 15:23)
  • To reject Him is to reject God (Luke 10:16)
  • To receive Him is to receive God (Mark 9:37)
  • To honor Him is to honor God (John 5:23)

Jesus claimed to be the I AM (John 8:24, 28, 58), the unique Son of God (Matthew 16:1517; John 10:36), the fulfillment of the Old Testament promises concerning the Messiah (Luke 24:2627, 44) and the one who will raise all people from the dead and before whom all will stand in judgment (John 5:2529). He is eternal (John 17:5; Hebrews 1:1112), omnipresent (Matthew 28:20), and omnipotent (Hebrews 1:3). He is the Creator of all things (John 1:3; Colossians 1:16; Hebrews 1:2) and holds all things in the universe together (Colossians 1:17).

He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities – all things have been created through Him and for Him. He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together. (Colossians 1:1517)

His Humanity

The Bible builds an equally clear case in support of Christ’s full humanity subsequent to the incarnation. Several passages indicate that He had a human birth (Matthew 1:1825; Luke 2:421; 1 John 4:13), and that He also experienced human development (Luke 2:52). He had the human elements of a body (John 2:21), a soul (John 12:27) and a spirit (Luke 23:46) as well as human names such as “man” (1 Timothy 2:5), “Son of Man” (Luke 19:10), and “Son of David” (Mark 10:47). Jesus possessed all the human limitations except sin. He got tired, hungry, thirsty, and sorrowful, and He died.

Jesus possessed all the human limitations except sin.

The great passage that describes the kenosis (self-emptying) of Jesus Christ is Philippians 2:5-11. The kenosis is related directly to Christ’s nature as God and man, and verses 58 portray what was involved:

Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bondservant, and being made in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.

–Philippians 2:5-8

Jesus did not surrender His deity in becoming a man, but condescended to be united to unglorified humanity out of his compassion for us. He veiled his resplendent glory and chose not to exercise his divine powers and prerogatives on most occasions while his was on earth.

This season, as we celebrate the birth of this mysterious God-Man, set aside some time before Christmas to pray and think about what it means that the Holy God took on human flesh. Share your thoughts with your family, and, even better, with someone who may not know the extraordinary uniqueness of the God the Bible reveals to us in the Gospels.

 


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