Issues, Etc.

Articles and book excerpts used in and referred to on Issues, Etc.
The Results of the Incarnation
by Dr. Ken Schurb

1. The Incarnation (i.e., "enfleshment") of God's eternal Son, very God of very God. John 1:1, 14 : In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God...And the Word becam flesh and lived among us, and we saw His glory, the glory of the Father's one-and-only Son - He is full of grace and truth.

(has the divine nature)
(has the divine nature)
Holy Spirit
(has the divine nature)
human nature One Person of Christ
(two natures united)

The Child Whom the wise men sought out in Matthew 2:1 - 12 is both God and Man. The church father Cyril of Alexandria said, "The connecting link in our union with God is Christ. He is united to us as man and to God the Father as God by nature."

Col. 2:9: In Him dwells all the fulness of the Godhead bodily.

1 John 1:1: That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched, this is what we are speaking about, namely, the Word who is the Life.

John Calvin criticized the idea that "The Word of God became visible and capable of being handled." But his basic idea (and that of Protestantism in general) was that the finite is not capable of the infinite. Thus, he not only had problems with Bible passages which speak of Christ's incarnation, but still more with those which deal with the results of the incarnation.

2. Results of the Incarnation. We will consider three, all of which answer the question, "How could the wise men (of Matthew 2) worship a Child?"

A. The wise men could worship this Child because He is Divine and Human, and any property belonging to either of these natures is ascribed to His whole person.

We might think that the Christ Child is to be worshipped as God, but not as Man. But since the incarnation, where can we find Christ as God but not Man? Nowhere! The church father Athanasius said, "When we worship, we do not separate God from the flesh for we know God was made flesh. Therefore, who would say, 'Stand aside from the flesh that I may worship you'?"

In Christ, the divine and human natures are united just as body and soul are united in a living person. We say, "Jim weighs 200 pounds," not just "Jim's body weighs 200 pounds." So we have and recognize one Christ with 2 natures.

"Where is the Child . . . we have come to worship Him" is like other passages:
"You killed the Author of life" (Acts 3:15).
"they . . . crucified the Lord of glory" (1 Cor. 2:8).

B. They could worship this Child since within the Person of the God/Man, the divine nature communicates majesty, glory, and attributes to the human nature.

"All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth" (Matt. 28:18).
Here Jesus was not speaking according to His divine nature (according to which He always had all authority), but His human nature which received all authority (and the power to be present everywhere, Matt. 28:20) at the incarnation, by virtue of being united with the divine nature in the Person of the God/Man.

An illustration: The human body by itself is dead. The soul imparts life to the body of a living person. Now, the soul is in no way diminished, nor does the body give anything back to the soul, nor do body and soul somehow become confused with each other. So with the divine and human natures in the person of Christ: the divine nature imparts qualities to the human nature, but it is not thereby weakened or diminished. Nor does the human nature have anything to give the divine nature. Nor does the human nature become essentially divine.

Another illustration: Fire and iron.

Other passages in which, according to His human nature, Christ does something which shows divine power:
John 5:25 - 27: Jesus according th His human nature ("man's Son") has authority to judge.
John 6:39 - 40: Jesus according the His human nature (that is, as the One Whom the Father "sent" into this world) has power to raise the dead.
John 13:3: Jesus knew that the Father had placed everything in His hands according to His human nature (for according to His divine nature He always had such authority)
Eph. 1:22: Jesus according to His human nature ("feet") is Head of all (see also Heb. 2:7, 8)
1 Cor. 10:16: When we eat and drink the bread and wine of the Lord's Supper we also receive the human body and blood of Christ, even though we are miles and years removed from the Supper's institution.
John 20:19: Protestant interpreters have turned somersaults to avoid this passage's point, namely, that the human body of Jesus was able to do something extraordinary like not being kept out of a room by a wall or a locked door. Recall that for Calvin and other Protestants the finite is not capable of the infinite, so the human nature of Christ cannot do thing like this. Calvin said that the divine nature of Christ must have performed a miracle and made an opening, so then the human (limited) body of Christ could enter the room. Others say that no miracle at all was involved, and the Christ must have had to crawl through an open window or something. (The same reasoning has lead commentators on the Easter account to say that the angel rolled the stone away so the finite body of Christ could get out of the tomb!) Note the lengths people will go to in an effort to keep for themselves a Christ in Whom the divine and human natures are not truly united in one Person! This is wha's at stake when Lutherans disagree with Protestants over the Person of Christ.

In short, in the words of Athanasius, "How could the body of the Lord not be worshipped, since in strectching forth His bodily hand He healed the sick, in speaking with a human voice He raised Lazarus, whith His hand outstretched on the cross He laid low the prince of the power of the air?"

C. The wise men could worship this Child because, throughout His work, He would act for our salvation in and through both natures, each operationg together with the other. Think of the words of the hymn: "The Virgin mother lulls to sleep Him Who rules the cosmic deep."

When a person leaves the house and goes to the grocery store, it is not only his soul acting or his body acting; both act together, each doing what is appropriate to it. So it is with the Person of Christ. For our salvation required that the Savior be both God and Man.

1 John 3:8: The reason that the Son of God appeared [in the flesh] was to undo the works of the devil.

Heb. 2:14: Now, since all these children share flesh and blood, He also took on flesh and blood to be like them, so that by His death He might take away all the power of him who had the power of death (that is, the devil).

We have seen 3 results of Christ's incarnation, 3 answers to the question why the wise men could worship the little Baby to Whom the star lead them. All three are summed up in 1 John 1:7: The blood of Jesus Christ, His Son, cleanses us from all sin. On the basis of this verse, every Christian believes (and these are the same 3 points as above):

A. The blood of Christ (the blood of the human nature) is the blood of the Son of God;
B. The blood of Christ (that is, of Christ according to His human nature) has the divine power to cleanse from sin; and
C. That the divine and human natures therefore work together in the Person of Christ as He acts for our salvation.

This is the teaching which we stand for and proclaim in the world. When people reject it, the problem is not that they are disagreeing with us and our pet theories (for who are we?), but rather the problems is that they are rejecting the very Gospel of salvation.

Taking the Biblical teaching about Christ the God/Man seriously will help us:
1. Thank God for the great Savior and salvation He has given us poor sinners.
2. Rejoice that the Creator did not stand aloof from creation but came into it.
3. Get involved in the world as people who God has sent, and so be like Jesus.
4. Quit disconnecting "spirituality" from "real life."
5. Be comforted that our Lord is flesh or our flesh and bone of our bone.

Scripture References

Matthew 2:1 - 12 - After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, "Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star in the east and have come to worship him." When King Herod heard this he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him. When he had called together all the people's chief priests and teachers of the law, he asked them where the Christ was to be born. "In Bethlehem in Judea," they replied, "for this is what the prophet has written: "`But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for out of you will come a ruler who will be the shepherd of my people Israel.' " Then Herod called the Magi secretly and found out from them the exact time the star had appeared. He sent them to Bethlehem and said, "Go and make a careful search for the child. As soon as you find him, report to me, so that I too may go and worship him." After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen in the east went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold and of incense and of myrrh. And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route.

Matthew 28:20 - ". . . and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age."

John 5:25 - 27 - "I tell you the truth, a time is coming and has now come when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God and those who hear will live. For as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son to have life in himself. And he has given him authority to judge because he is the Son of Man."

John 6:39 - 40 - "And this is the will of him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all that he has given me, but raise them up at the last day. For my Father's will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day."

John 13:3 - Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God;

Eph. 1:22 - And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church

Heb. 2:7, 8 - ". . . You made him a little lower than the angels; you crowned him with glory and honor and put everything under his feet." In putting everything under him, God left nothing that is not subject to him. Yet at present we do not see everything subject to him.

1 Cor. 10:16 - Is not the cup of thanksgiving for which we give thanks a participation in the blood of Christ? And is not the bread that we break a participation in the body of Christ?

John 20:19 - On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, "Peace be with you!"

Management Techniques Incorporated has provided this article archive expressly for Issues, Etc. The articles in this archive have been formatted converted for internet use, by Management Techniques, Inc.
Contact MTI webmaster