David Platt – Incarnation Wonder of Grace (Part 3 of 4)

God's grace Philippians 2:5-11 

Verse 8 – And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death— even death on a cross!

Why is the incarnation important? Why did it happen?

What belief, if any, separates Christianity apart from the world religions? Is there anything that is completely and totally unique to Christianity? That was the subject of debate and discussion, at a british conference years ago, on comparitive religions. And they were discussing, „Is there anything that makes Christianity unique? And while they were in their heated discussion, all these experts and religious scholars, a guy named C. S. Lewis wanders in. And he says, „What’s the fuss all about?” They say, „Well, we’re debating, trying to figure out if there’s anything unique about christianity”. And he responded immediately, „Well, that’s an easy one. One word: Grace”.

Grace is the why of the incarnation. It is incomprehensible to think about Christ becoming a man, because of the purpose for which He came. We should never cease to be a people that are not amazed about grace.

Three moves that Christ makes that helps to give us a picture of incomprehensible grace:

  1. He goes from exaltation to humiliation so that we might be exalted. His incarnate position as the Son of Man makes possible our eternal privilege as sons of God. 
  2. He goes from life to death, so that we might live. The reality: He was born to die a shameful, painful, cursed death. And even 2000 years later we are rejoicing at His mastery over death, because through Him we have life. You and I don’t walk around captive to our sin, we are freed to live. To live now, and for all of eternity. His shame on the cross becomes our honor. All that is shameful about us, our sin, our wickedness, the things we think, the things we do, the things that not even those closest to us don’t even know about, the things that would be exposed before God are transferred to Him (Christ). And He’s transferred to us His righteousness, and His beauty and His holiness, and His redemption. a)His humiliation becomes our honor. b)His pain becomes our joy, and c)His curse becomes our blessing. He left life to go to death, so that you and I might find life. We are not worthy of this kind of grace. May we never become numb, and tired and sleepy in the face of grace. This (grace) is a mammoth truth.
  3. He goes from rich to poor, so that we might be rich. The richness of all that He is, His divinity, His deity, His greatness, His majesty, and all that He owns, all the resources in the world belong to Him. Everything is His. For your sake though, He became poor. He entered a world of humiliation and depravation and poverty. The Creator of the world became homeless, so that we might become rich. See His poverty in the world: He gave up His rights, He gave us His resources and now, we are His people in the world. We are followers of Jesus Christ, who became poor so that others might become rich. And how can we ever show Christ if we don’t give up our rights and we give others our resources?

We talk glibly of the „Christmas Spirit,” rarely meaning more by this than sentimental jollity on a family basis.  But what we have said makes it clear that the phrase should in fact carry a tremendous weight of meaning.  It ought to mean the reproducing in human lives of the temper of him who for our sakes became poor at the first Christmas.  And the Christmas spirit itself ought to be the mark of every Christian all the year round.

It is our shame and disgrace today that so many Christians-I will be more specific: so many of the soundest and most orthodox Christians – go through this world in the spirit of the priest and the Levite in our Lord’s parable, seeing human needs all around them, but (after pious wish, and perhaps a prayer, that God might meet them) averting their eyes, and passing by on the other side.  That is not the Christmas Spirit.  Nor is it the spirit of those Christians- alas, they are many- whose ambition in life seems limited to building a nice middle-class Christian home, and making nice middle class Christian friends, and bringing up their children in nice middle-class Christian ways, and who leave the sub-middle-class sections of the community, Christian and non-Christian, to get on by themselves.

The Christmas spirit does not shine out in the Christian snob.  For the Christmas spirit is the spirit of those who, like their master, live their whole lives on the principle of making themselves poor- spending and being spent-to, enrich their fellow men, giving time, trouble, care, and concern to do good to others-and not just their own friends-in whatever way there seems need.

Excerpted from Knowing God by J.I. Packer.  Copyright 1973 by Intervarsity Press.

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