Category: Columns

Key passages about the Incarnation

This is another in a series of excerpts from “What Every Christian Should Know About the Trinity,” available through Amazon and other booksellers.

Let’s look briefly at six key passages of Scripture that help us understand what it means when the apostle John writes, “The Word became flesh” (John 1:14).

John 1:14 – “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us. We observed his glory, the glory as the one and only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.”

The eternal Son of God has always possessed a divine nature. He is with God in the beginning, and John makes it clear that Jesus was (and is) God (John 1:1). In the Incarnation, Jesus adds a real human nature and thus becomes the God-Man.

The word “dwelt” may be translated “tabernacled.” Just as the divine presence is with ancient Israelites in the pillar of cloud and fire, as well as in the tabernacle and the temple, Yahweh now manifests Himself in the person of Jesus Christ.

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Ten truths about the Incarnation

This is another in a series of excerpts from “What Every Christian Should Know About the Trinity,” available through Amazon and other booksellers.

In previous columns, we sought to establish that the Incarnation means the eternal Son of God took on human flesh in the person of Jesus of Nazareth. As such, Jesus is one person in two distinct but undivided natures: human and divine. In addition, we explored how these two natures work together as the eternal Son of God adds sinless humanity to His deity via the miracle of the virgin birth.

Now, it may prove helpful to summarize essential truths about the Incarnation. These truths help us form a framework for better understanding the person and work of Christ. They also help establish a foundation for exploring the thornier issues related to the Incarnation.

The following 10 truths are drawn from a number of sources, including the systematic theologies of Wayne Grudem, Charles Hodge, and Lewis Berkhof, and are summarized in God Among Sages by Kenneth Samples.

1. Jesus Christ is one person possessing two distinct natures: a completely divine nature and a completely human nature. Thus, Jesus of Nazareth may rightly be called the God-Man.

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The doctrine of the Incarnation

This is another in a series of excerpts from “What Every Christian Should Know About the Trinity,” available through Amazon and other booksellers.

Lorenzo Snow, fifth president of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, once claimed the Spirit of God fell upon him and revealed a principle that has become an apt summary of Mormonism: “As man now is, God once was; As God now is, man may be.”

In other words, the LDS god of this world once was a mere human who attained deity, showing us the path to our own godhood. This principle of “eternal progression” is a stunningly unbiblical doctrine that sets Mormonism outside the boundaries of historic Christianity. At the same time, it raises questions, not only about God, but about the Son of God: Who is Jesus? Where did He come from? Why and how did He become human?

The doctrine of the Incarnation – God becoming a human being in Jesus of Nazareth – is central to Christianity. Get it wrong and many other non-negotiable doctrines of the Christian faith quickly veer into counterfeit territory.
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Jesus as the God-Man

This is another in a series of excerpts from “What Every Christian Should Know About the Trinity,” available through Amazon and other booksellers.

Christians often find it necessary to defend the deity of Christ, especially in conversations with those who vigorously deny this biblical truth.

For example, Muslims hold Jesus in high regard as a virgin-born, miracle-working, sinless prophet, but they draw the line at His divinity.

Jehovah’s Witnesses grant Jesus the status of “mighty god,” a created archangel who is transformed into Jesus the man, and then, after dying on a torture stake, is spiritually resurrected as an exalted archangel.

To their credit, Muslims and Jehovah’s Witnesses admire Jesus. Unfortunately, they proclaim “another Jesus” than the one revealed in Scripture (2 Cor. 11:4).
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Jesus as the only begotten

This is another in a series of excerpts from “What Every Christian Should Know About the Trinity,” available through Amazon and other booksellers.

In the previous column, we showed how Jehovah’s Witnesses twist the use of “firstborn” in Scripture to deny the deity of Christ. They also misuse the term “only begotten,” which appears several times in the Gospel of John, most notably in John 3:16: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (KJV).

Many modern translations render the term “one and only Son,” emphasizing Christ’s uniqueness.

Jehovah’s Witnesses argue that “only begotten” means Jesus is the only direct creation of Jehovah, who then created all other things through His Son. The key is the Greek word monogenes. James White explains how linguistic studies and the discovery of ancient papyri in the Egyptian deserts within the last century have clarified a proper understanding of this term:

“It was assumed that the term was made up of two parts: monos, which means ‘only,’ and gennao, which is a verb meaning ‘to beget, give birth to.’ The assumption was half correct. Monogenes does come from monos but not from gennao; rather, the second part of the word comes from a noun, genos, that means ‘kind’ or ‘type.’

“Therefore, monogenes means ‘one of a kind, unique’ rather than ‘only begotten,’ and, accordingly, the term was used of an only son, a unique son. The importance for Christology is clear: No one can base a denial of the Son’s eternal nature upon this term, for it does not refer to a ‘beginning’ at all but instead describes the uniqueness of the object.”

The apostle John, who takes great care to establish the deity of Jesus, wants us to know that while Jesus is the Son of God, His Sonship is an eternal, one-of-a-kind relationship with God the Father. Believing sinners are “begotten” in the sense that we are born again, or made spiritually alive through the regenerating work of the Holy Spirit. Our sonship is through adoption; Christ’s Sonship is by the very nature of His eternal relationship with the Father.
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