The Incarnation of Christ Part One :
Declaring God to Man

Several years ago I taught a series for our church at Christmas on the Incarnation of Christ, which covered such challenging subjects as the Trinity, and Jesus being both God AND Man.

To better appreciate the astonishing message of Christmas,
which is "God with Us!"...
we must first attempt to better understand
(better, but not fully, of course) the Trinity.

Notes on Part I will address the Trinity,
and how Jesus represents God to man.

Part II-His representation of Man (Adam II) to God
Part III-Son of God And Son of Man
Part IV- Christ in You, the Incarnation Continues!

"...He who has seen Me has seen the Father." John 14:9

In seminary, students are taught how to interpret the Word of God; that is, to explain and bring forth clearly the meaning of the text-- line by line, precept upon precept.

John 1:18 says that Jesus Christ has "declared God the Father".

The Greek word "declared" is exegeomai, related to our word exegesis. We have seen the love, holiness, and goodness of the Father animated and demonstrated directly for our benefit in the Person of Jesus Christ  (1 John 4:9)!

Therefore...Jesus Christ is the "line by line, precept upon precept" of God--the full and perfect exegesis (declaration, revelation).

"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word WAS God".  John 1:1

John testified about Him and cried out, "This was He of whom I said, 'He who comes after me has priority over me, for He was before me. (He takes rank above me, for He existed before I did'...)". John 1:15 (Amplified Version)

"Jesus said to them, "Most assuredly, I say to you, before Abraham I AM." John 8:58

Dr. Thomas Oden puts it beautifully: "God cannot be fully comprehended, but He can be apprehended."

Aren't you glad? Would you really want to trust your well being and eternity to a deity that you--being finite and fallen--had totally dissected and understood?

Dr. Oden offers this helpful analogy as we approach a study of the Trinity:

"Imagine a scale with at the bottom, no life; then, ascending on the  scale, organic life moving from plants toward lower animals, invertebrates, then vertebrates, and finally, human existence.

"It is a scale of increasing complexity of intelligence, from life without motion to life with motion, then life with motion and intelligence, and then finally, in human beings, life, motion, intelligence, and spirit.

"At each of those levels of consciousness, once can talk about some form of communication with the other levels, for there are many points of contact. In the communication between vastly different spheres of being, the higher form is always more encompassing that the lower form.

"We know more about our goldfish than they do about us. The family dog or cat knows more about how a family member feels than does the tomato plant. But how explicitly or accurately does that animal grasp or understand how one really thinks or what one specifically wishes to say?

"There is knowledge, but it is radically limited. So is ours of the Triune God. There is a sense in which the dog cannot ever truly grasp the complexities of human language and consciousness, although the dog certainly can be directly in touch with human language and consciousness and can respond meaningfully to what it knows." (Systematic Theology, Vol. I, Living God)

Although the word, "Trinity" is not in the Bible, the doctrine is taught from the beginning in the first chapter and verse of the Bible and continues throughout. The early church had to grow in its understanding of this majestic truth. Church Father Tertullian was the first to use the word "Trinity" (three in one)  in the first century in reference to the Godhead.

Here are two amazing verses:

Job 33: 28, 29: "He redeemed my soul from going down to the pit, and I will live to enjoy the light. God does all these things to a man--twice, even three times--to turn back his soul from the pit, that the light of life may shine on him."

Proverbs 22:20: "Have not I written to thee excellent (In Hebrew--"three-fold") things in counsels and knowledge, that I might make thee know the certainty of the words of truth...

Indeed, God has communicated to us throughout creation with the counsel and knowledge of "three-fold" things!

Objects have three dimensions--length, breadth, and height--that are distinguishable, but inseparable, unified in a single object, yet three-dimensional.

We live in three dimensions--time, space and matter--unified, yet distinguishable.

Humans are body, spirit, and soul.

Created in God's image, we possess memory, understanding and will, which Augustine pointed out was the imprint of the triune dialogue.

Our "soulish realm" is the mind, emotions, and will.

Our world is full of "three's" in God's symbolism and instruction:

He created time with a past, present, and future.
"The Spirit, the water, and the blood," is the divinely perfect witness to the grace of God on earth (1 John 5:7).

In Hebraic tradition, a blessing is recited THREE times.
Jesus was made a Prophet, Priest, and King.
The Tabernacle had THREE compartments.
The Ark of the Covenant contained three objects--a jar of manna, Aaron's rod that budded, and the Ten Commandments on stone.

Heaven is divided into THREE realms (Paul went to the THIRD Heaven).
There is also Gehenna, Hades, and Sheol.
The angels cry, "Holy, Holy, Holy!"
Jesus was tempted three times: the lust of the eyes, lust of the flesh, and the pride of life.

The husbandman gives the plant three years to bear fruit (Luke 13:6-9).
It was an Old Testament law to not eat the fruit of a tree for the first three years.
Spiritual man is fed with manna, milk, and meat (of the Word) .
The three gifts of grace are faith, hope and love.

God expressed Himself in the Old Covenant as the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
Three Major Jewish Feasts: Passover, Pentecost, and Tabernacles
Three parts to the Feast of Tabernacles: Unleavened Bread, Weeks, and Tabernacle

Jesus was raised on the THIRD DAY.
Jonah was in the belly of the great fish three days.
The Christ Child was given three gifts-gold, frankincense and myrrh.

When God said, "Let US make man in our image" (Gen. 1:26),God was speaking in the first person in plural form!

In fact, God clues us in from the beginning!

In Gen. 1:1, at the beginning of creation, Elohim (God) is a plural noun, oddly linked to a singular verb.

Genesis 3:22: "And the LORD God said, 'The man has now become like one of us, knowing good and evil. He must not be allowed to reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life and eat, and live forever.'

Genesis 11:6-7: "The LORD said, 'If as one people speaking the same language they have begun to do this, then nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them. Come, let us go down and confuse their language so they will not understand each other.'

Isaiah 6:8a: "Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, 'Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?'"

Look at the Shema: "Hear, O, Israel, the Lord is our God"-literally "our Gods" is " Lord! (Deuteronomy 6:4)

"Remember your Creator in the days of your youth (Ecclesiastes 12:1) is literally "Remember your Creators" (Eth-bor-eka).

John 1:3 tells us "All things were made by him (God, the Son); and without him was not anything made that was made."

"He (Jesus) is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation.  For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him.

"He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy.

"For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the Cross." (Colossians 1:15-20)

2 Corinthians 4:6 tells us that God created the world by direct address.

The Holy Spirit was hovering (brooding) over the face of the waters, dark and deep.

Then, God the Father released His Son (The Word-Divine Logos) over the void and empty waste.

God, as one Being, expresses Himself through three Persons who have never changed, ceased, been divided or diminished in any time or space.

All three Persons of the Trinity are represented in Scripture as:

being addressed by name
possessing divine attributes
engaging in actions that only God can accomplish
being worthy of divine worship

God, wholly and simultaneously presents Himself as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, yet meets us in human history as Creator, Redeemer, and Sanctifier.

The Son fulfilled the Father's plan of Redemption for all of mankind; the Holy Spirit now continues to work conviction in the earth in order to impart Salvation to willing hearts.

At Jesus' Baptism, the Holy Spirit descended from above and the Father spoke from Heaven.(Matthew 3:16)

Jesus is called God: Matthew 1:23, Romans 9:5, Titus 1:3, 2:13, Hebrews 1:8

Thomas Cried, "My Lord and my God!" (John 20:28)

The Holy Spirit is called God: Acts 5:3, 4:1 Corinthians 2: 10b, 11

Our baptismal formula, commanded by Jesus, is to baptize in the NAME (not names) of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. (Matthew 28:19)

Beliefs against the Trinity that were rejected in the early church:

1)  that Jesus was an ordinary man who, through obedience and devotion, became the Christ at his baptism, having been adopted by God

Other adherents believed Jesus became the Christ at His resurrection. This belief, called "Adoptionism", was rejected church-wide by the third century.

2) that only one being is presenting himself in different aspects or roles

This is the most common error regarding the Trinity that still exists today in some components of Christianity, despite the fact that Sabellius, who first suggested the concept, was quickly excommunicated from the undivided church in A.D. 220.

"Modalism", as it's often called, fails to account for greater than 70 passages in Scripture where the Father, Son and Spirit are mentioned together as distinct persons interacting with one another.

3) that the Son is not God, but like God...existing before creation, but still a creature and different from God in essence

A man named Arius first promoted this idea. His solution proposed that the Son (Jesus) was somewhere between God and man.

Two major religions confused with Christianity today believe Jesus was a created being, not God incarnate.

In overcoming this particular heresy, the undivided Church in A.D. 325, in the Nicene Creed, says, "He (the Son) is begotten, not made...of one being with the Father.

Dr. Thaddeus Irvine, in "Jesus Christ: Begotten or Created?", explains accurately the meaning of the word 'begotten'.

The Greek word for '(only) begotten' is 'monogenes'.

'Mono' translates 'single, unique, sole, singular' and speaks of nature, not birth.

'Genes' (genos) translates clan, offspring, house, genus, class, kind, family, progeny, sort, species, direct/collateral descent, tribe, race, stock, kin, and speaks of nature, not source.

In both words, we see that reference is to nature. The Son was God in nature (homoousios - being of one substance);

Benjamin Warfield stated in his work The Person and Work of Christ:

The adjective 'only-begotten' conveys the ideas, not of derivation and subordination, but of uniqueness and consubstantiality: Jesus is all that God is, and He alone is this."

This is reinforced in John 10:30, making it very clear that the Father and the Son are a monad who have been there from the very beginning, Micah 5:2; John 1:1, 18; 17:5.

Jesus has been set up from "everlasting" Proverbs 8:23, with His belief in the total unity and uniformity of Himself and the Father. John Walvoord, in his work, "Jesus Christ Our Lord"  stated that, "the thought is clearly that Christ is the Begotten of God in the sense that no other is".

Jesus spent forty days instructing His Apostles in the "things of the Kingdom of God" (Acts 1:1-3).

They pastored the early church with this knowledge and the help of the Holy Spirit.

Their protégés were the men who encountered, confronted, and judged these early heresies-- based upon the Apostles' doctrine rooted in the instructions from Jesus.

Since a spring is clearer at its source, we must study what the early Church, who sat at the feet of the original Apostles, had to say about these seductions that attempted to diminish the unified Lordship of the Godhead.

Beware! These ancient anti-Trinitarian doctrines are still around under different names!

"Whoever denies the Son does not have the Father either."  1 John 2:23

Jesus was God BEFORE, DURING and AFTER the Incarnation!

The Trinitarian unity (substance) of the Godhead continued without interruption...even when God, the Son assumed human flesh, entered earth's history, and was given the name Jesus.

Read what Jesus said while conducting His ministry on earth:

"If I have told you earthly things and you do not believe, how will you believe if I tell you heavenly things? No one has ascended to heaven but He who came down from heaven, that is, the SON OF MAN who IS in heaven." John 3:12, 13

He is God NOW as He sits at the right hand of the Father, while the Spirit dispenses grace in the Church and convicts the world of sin, righteousness and judgment.

He has chosen to enrich (not add to) the Trinity by remaining in His human body--the God/Man Jesus Christ.

One day He will physically return to earth in that glorified body to rule and reign!

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