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.

David Platt – Incarnation (2) Marvel of Nature

God in the Flesh

Philippians 2:5-11  (NIV)

  5 In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:6 Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; 7 rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. 8 And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death— even death on a cross! 9 Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, 10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

He made Himself nothing. Taking the very nature of a servant.

What makes Jesus so unique?

  1. He is the sovereign Creator, yet He becomes a slave to His creation. Sometime when people read ‘He made Himself nothing’ or in other translations ‘He emptied Himself’ they picture Him taking off some of His divine qualities. But that’s not true. Jesus is fully God, He is in nature God. He exists as God. You can’t take off some things of who you are. So He didn’t empty Himself by taking off divine characteristics, instead, He emptied Himself by bringing something on to Himself. By taking the very nature of a servant. Jesus had 2 natures: The nature of God and the nature of servant.  They are not in contradiction to each other. Picture it with Jesus coming to earth. It’s not God minus something, it’s God plus something. It’s God taking on human likeness. By emptying Himself, Jesus perfectly reveals both deity and humanity to all creation.
  2. He is perfect, yet He pays the price for sin. Why did God become a man? Why is it important that Jesus become man- fully God and fully man, united together in one person? It’s important for the very meaning of our salvation. We have so salvation, no Christianity without the incarnation. As a man, He alone can substitute for human sin.
  3. He is transcendent over His people, yet He identifies intimately with His people. If you’ve grown up in a christian family, or in church, and you’ve not had interaction with other religions in the world, it’s hard to grasp what an incredible truth this is. This is the truth that sets Christianity apart. It sets Jesus apart. The major religions of the world are all grounded in, whether it’s a god called Allah or a higher being, or ultimate reality in the universe, it’s all based on this alternate reality of being completely different from us, above us, over us. And we’re down here. But, the beauty of Scripture is that His greatness is not just in His transcendence over us. His greatness is pictured in His intimate involvement with us, in us, a part of our lives. That’s Jesus, and that’s what sets Him apart. That He was made in human likeness. He took on the form of a man. The nature of a man. He became like us. He displayed the nature of God by taking on the nature of the servant. (v 7)

David Platt – Incarnation – Why Christ had to Come (Part 5)

Fall of Man and the Entering of Sin –  The entire Old Testament culminates in CHRIST. And in the end, the Fall of man becomes the Fall of Satan.

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Fall of Man and the Entering of Sin, posted with vodpod

Genesis 3 is a good study of how Satan deceives through the serpent in getting Eve to question the character of God. In this chapter sin enters the world for the very first time.

What is at the core of sin?

  1. Questioning God’s character. The serpent cunningly changes the name ‘Lord God’ (Jehovah Elohim) used in chapter 2 to just ‘God’ (Elohim) used in chapter 3. He takes away the Jehovah (the goodness of God) and calls Him Elohim (powerful). By separating God’s goodness from His Power it allows Eve to distrust  God’s goodness in wanting what is good for her.
  2. Questioning God’s word.As Satan questioned whether God really meant what He actually said, he all of a sudden elevated man’s interpretation above what God commanded.

What are the consequences of sin ?   1) Guilt   2) Shame 3) Fear

Yet, the MERCY of God – seeks the guilty and He restores them; covers the shameful and protects the fearful

And then, the PROMISE of God –

  1. we will have a clash with our environment (by the sweat of your brow…)
  2. we will have a clash with each other (painful birth, painful relationships)
  3. we will have combat with sin (like Paul in Romans 7:19- For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do
  • God puts enmity between the serpent and the woman (seed of- work of Satan would continue to expand) and the woman’s offspring (Eve would obviously continue to bear offspring
  • There would be a constant battle in mankind with sin. We will have constant battle with sin, but in the end 2 things:
  • The offspring whose heel would be bruised, but He will crush the serpent’s head:
  1. Satan will be trampled
  2. Jesus Christ will triumph

In the end, through JESUS CHRIST, the fall of man becomes the fall of Satan.

Daniel Akin – A Life Like No Other: Jesus The Incarnate Word – 1 John 1:1-4

Daniel Akin is president of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary.

Christianity stands or falls on the person and work of Jesus Christ. It stands or falls on whether or not there’s a true and genuine incarnation. Most of us would be familiar with the doctrine of the incarnation as it is embedded in the prologue of John’s Gospel, where we read, „In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God”. And then, verse 14: „The Word became flesh, and dwelt among us”.

But. many of us would not be familiar equally with the fact that the doctrine of the incarnation is also clearly taught and affirmed in the Epistle of John. So, instead of going to the prologue of John’s Gospel, join me in the prologue of John’s first letter- Chapter 1:1-4, where we’re going to see a life like no other. Jesus, the incarnate Word.

 1 John 1:1-4 The Word Became Flesh

1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men.

Preaching from 1 John 1:1-4, Dr.  Akin emphasizes Christianity’s dependence on the doctrine of the incarnation.

Daniel Akin – A Life Like No Other: Jesus The Incarnate Word – 1 John 1:1-4 from Southeastern Seminary on Vimeo.

…some Church history – Athanasius (defending orthodoxy)

From 131 Christians Everyone Should Know (P. 17-19):

Athanasius was a theologian (296 A.D.-373 A.D.) who was exiled five times

for fighting „Orthodoxy”. He once said „Those who maintain ‘There was a time when the Son was not’ rob God of his word, like plunderers”.

„Black Dwarf” was the name his enemies gave him. And the short, dark-skinned Egyptian bishop had plenty of enemies. He was exiled five times by four Roman emperors, spending 17 of the 45 years he served as bishop of Alexandria in exile. Yet in the end, his theological enemies were „exiled” from the churches teaching, and it is Athanasius’ writings that shaped the future of the church.

Most often the problem was his stubborn insistence that Arianism, the reigning „orthodoxy” of the day, was in fact a heresy.

The dispute began when Athanasius was the chief deacon assistant to Bishop Alexander of Alexandria. While Alexander preached „with perhaps too philosophical minuteness” on the Trinity; Arius a presbyter (priest) from  Libya announced, ‘If the Father begat the Son, then he who was begotten had a beginning in existence, and from this it follows that there was a time that the Son was not.” The argument caught on, but Alexander and Athanasius fought against Arius, arguing that it denied the trinity. Christ is not of a like substance of God, they argued, but the same substance.

To Athanasius this was no splitting of theological hairs. Salvation was at issue: only one who was fully human could atone for human sin; only one who was fully divine could have the power to save us. To Athanasius, the logic of New testament doctrine of salvation assumed the dual nature of Christ. He said:”Those who maintain ‘There was a time when the Son was not’ rob God of his word, like plunderers”.

Alexander’s encyclical letter, signed by Athanasius (and probably written by him), attacked the consequences of Arians’ heresy: The Son [then] is a creature and a work; neither is he like in essence to the Father;neither is he the true and natural Word of the Father; neither is he his true wisdom; but he is one of the things made and created and is called the Word and Wisdom by an abuse of terms…Wherefore he is by nature subject to change and variation, as are all rational creatures.”

The controversy spread, and all over the empire, Christians could be heard singing a catchy tune that championed the Arian view: „There was a time when the Son was not.” In every city, wrote a historian, „bishop was contending against bishop, and the people were contending against one another, like swarms of gnats, fighting in the air.”

Statue of Constantine - the first Christian Emperor of Rome (285-337 A.D.)

Word of the dispute made it to the newly converted Emperor Constantine the Great, who was more concerned with seeing church unity than theological truth. „Divisions in the church,” he told the bishops,”is worse than war.” To settle the matter, he called a council of bishops.

Of the 1,800 bishops invited to Nicea, about 300 came–and argued, fought, and eventually fleshed out an early version of the Nicene Creed. The council, led by Alexander, condemned Arius as a heretic, exiled him, and made it a capital offense to possess his writings. Constantine was pleased that peace had been restored to the church. Athanasius, whose treatise On the Incarnation laid the foundation of the orthodox party at Nicea, was hailed as „the noble champion of Christ.” The diminutive bishop was simply pleased that Arianism had been defeated. But it hadn’t.

Within a few months, supporters of Arius talked Constantine into ending Arius’ exile. With a few private additions, Arius even signed the Nicene Creed, and the emperor ordered Athanasius, who had recently succeeded Alexander as bishop, to restore the heretic to fellowship.

When Athanasius refused, his enemies spread false charges against him. He was accused of murder, illegal taxation, sorcery and treason–the last of which led Constantine to exile him to Trier, now a German city near Luxembourg.

Constantine dies two years later, and Athanasius returned to Alexandria. But in his absence, Ariansim had gained the upper hand. Now church leaders were against him, and they banished him again. Athansius fled to Pope Julius I in Rome. He returned in 346, but in the mercurial politics of the day, was banished three more times before he came home to stay in 366. By then he was about 70 years old.

While in exile, Athanasius spent most of his time writing, mostly to defend orthodoxy, but he took on pagan and Jewish opposition as well. One of his most lasting contributions is his Life of St. Antony, which helped to shape the Christian ideal of monasticism. It became a „best seller” and made a deep impression on many people, even help lead pagans to conversion: Augustine is the most famous example.

During Athanasius’ first year permanently back in Alexandria, he sent his annual letter to the churches in his diocese, called a festal letter, Athanasius listed what he believed were the books that should constitute the New Testament.

„In these [27 writings] alone the teaching of godliness is proclaimed,” he wrote. „No one may add to them, and nothing may be taken away from them.”

Though other lists had been and would still be proposed, it is Athanasius’s list that the church eventually adopted, and it is the one we use to this day.

Click below to read more on :

Athanasius’ Doctrine of the Trinity and Doctrine of Incarnation.

The Nicene creed


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