Puritan Gems

Friday, December 12, 2008

On the Incarnation

“But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting.” (Micah 5:2)

As the trees light up and the sounds of Carols resonate through the cold night air, millions worldwide will reflect upon a baby boy in a manger, a cultural icon of peace and good will towards men.

However, the real miracle of Christmas goes way beyond a mere human baby boy who was born in Bethlehem. The real miracle surrounds the hypostatic union of very God and very man. This is the ONLY orthodox Christology, that Christ was the very God (100%) and the very man (100%) in one person. To err in this area is to err to the destruction of your soul, for “...if ye believe not that I am he, ye shall die in your sins.” (John 8:24). The word “he” does not appear in the original Greek. Therefore the MKJV rendering of this passages correctly reads, “…if you do not believe that I AM, you shall die in your sins”, with the phrase “I AM” being a claim to Deity (Exodus 3:14). The temptation to worship Christ’s human nature is one of the most deceptive forms of idolatry.

Jesus Christ was the very God, and was also very man. He was not “God changed into a man”, nor was He some mixture of God and man. Christ did not relinquish any of His Divine Attributes during his Incarnation (Colossians 2:9). Christ’s divine nature was “been from of old, from everlasting” (Micah 5:2), for “before Abraham was, I AM.” (John 8:58).

Christ’s human nature was born of a virgin (Isaiah 7:14), the seed of a woman (Genesis 3:15), “God…manifest in the flesh” (1 Timothy 3:16). The idea of “celestial flesh”1 is an Anabaptist morbis mentis. Christ was not a created being, as the ancient Arians and modern Jehovah’s Witnesses teach, nor was He a “mode” of God, as the ancient Socinians and their modern Oneness deceivers would proclaim. Christ is one person with two natures, divine and human, being distinct from each other, yet clearly united to each other. Wilhelmus a’Brakel reflects the importance of meditating on the Incarnation of Christ.

“…let the incarnation of the Lord Jesus also be the frequent subject of your meditation, for the manifestation of God in the flesh is a “mystery of godliness” (1 Tim. 3:16). All true godliness proceeds from the knowledge of, and a believing union with, the Lord Jesus. This generates love and all that proceeds from love. Whatever does not proceed from this source cannot be called godliness. Even though nature may give us an impression of God and religion, it does not reveal this mystery. He who has only been illuminated outwardly is also ignorant of the frame of heart which proceeds from knowing Jesus (that is, as both God and man).” (Wilhelmus a’Brakel – The Christian’s Reasonable Service, pp.512-513.)

This Christmas, let us not fall into the idolatry of worshipping a human baby, but let us wonder at the miracle of God, in all of His Glory, being united to human flesh.

Related Article – The Orthodox Doctrine of the Trinity


1 “Celestial Flesh” is the belief among Mennonites and certain Brethren groups that Jesus did not derive his humanity from Mary, but from Heaven. The results are that Christ’s deity and His redemptive work become less important than His humanity, thus the focus is on Jesus as a good example as opposed to a Savior. The question for the Christian is not so much “What Would Jesus Do?” as opposed to “What Has Jesus Done?”


Turgonian said...

It is better to say that Christ's natures were distinct than to say that they were separate.

The Council of Chalcedon proclaimed that there was 'no confusion, no change, no division, no separation' undergone by the Two Natures.

Puritan Lad said...

I guess that would be a better term. They cannot be combined too closely, nor can they be totally separated. They are two distinct natures, yet united in one person.

Puritan Lad said...

I liked your terminology better, and thus made the change.