Tagged: Trinity

The mystery of the Incarnation

This is another in a series of excerpts from “What Every Christian Should Know About the Trinity,” published by the MBC’s High Street Press and available at Amazon and other booksellers.

In previous columns, we explored the Incarnation – God becoming human in Jesus of Nazareth. While Jesus shares all the divine attributes of God the Father and the Holy Spirit (Col. 2:9), He is unique among the persons of the Godhead in that only He has taken on human flesh. 

That is so Jesus could experience the full range of humanity, including every form of temptation, on our behalf. Having lived a sinless life, He laid it down voluntarily on the cross, satisfying the wrath of God for our sins and securing everlasting life for all who call upon His name. Truly, the God-Man is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world (John 1:29).

It is difficult to wrap our finite minds around the mystery of the Incarnation. Yet this much is clear: sinful, fallen, and finite people can never repay the debt owed a holy, transcendent, and eternal God. So, in the wake of Adam’s sin, the triune God unveils a plan to rescue wretched people from sin and its consequences. 

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Incarnational heresies

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

In recent columns, we explored the Incarnation – God becoming flesh in the person of Jesus of Nazareth. Before moving on in our study of the Trinity, we should note a number of heretical views that have plagued Christianity throughout its history. 

The church has effectively countered some of these false teachings, while others continue to rear their ugly heads and cause people who sincerely seek the truth to embrace “another Jesus” (2 Cor. 11:4).

In God Among Sages, Kenneth Samples highlights eight historical heresies with respect to the Incarnation:

Docetism. This was an early form of Gnosticism, a heresy that threatened the fledgling church throughout its first three centuries. Docetism advanced a type of dualism, expressing the belief that spirit is good and matter is evil. 

Docetics argued that Jesus only appeared to be human. In fact, their name comes from the Greek word dokeo, which means “to seem.” They asserted that Jesus had a “phantom-like body.” 

Docetism denied the true humanity of Jesus, which undermined the reality of His death on the cross, burial, and physical resurrection – all necessary elements in the gospel message. The apostle John confronted Docetism in 1 John 4:1-3.

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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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