The Mystery of The Divine Incarnation (The word of God)
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The incarnation was accomplished. By the overshadowing of the Holy Spirit the union of the two was already done. And the second reason is that the Incarnation was a Trinitarian occurrence, in which each person of the Trinity, not only the Logos, was active. The willing Logos became incarnate in order to do the will of his Father, and his human nature was imbued with the Holy Spirit. So, far from the relationship between the human and the divine being restricted to the Logos, the work was the will of the Triune God entire, each Person playing a characteristically different role in the work.
Putting the point more abstractly, the Logos is a person of the Godhead, and fully divine. For each is the eternal God, and such involvement is sufficient to ensure the involvement of the Godhead, and thus of the three persons of the Godhead. Nevertheless we may think with John that the glory that Christ had with his Father was transformed for us by the glory of the Son as the Suffering Servant, full of grace and truth and of his humbling to the death of the cross. This concurrence of the three persons of the Trinity in the incarnation of the Logos can only be ensured by a classical understanding of the Trinity, each person being wholly the one God.
On a social trinitarian understanding, where a generic idea and not a numerical identity of divinity is understood, then the divinity of the Son is distinct from the divinity of the Father, and of the Holy Spirit. The three persons are not one God, but three instances of divinity in the way your humanity is a different instance of humanity than mine. The two movements are quite different. Of course if my right arm is numb through paralysis or for other reasons, say, then it may be that the only way I can move it is in the indirect way, by using my left arm to move it, or by asking someone else to move it.
It is not as if the body of Jesus is at a distance from him, or dislocated in some way, rather the reverse. And similarly with his thinking. There are occasions when his growing up involved learning, listening and questioning Luke , and that learning by experience was an important aspect of his ministry. Moreover, he learned obedience by the things that he suffered Heb There are times when his knowledge is distinguished from that of his heavenly Father Matt Such occasions seem to have been rare, but sufficient to indicate that the knowledge that Jesus had was limited.
Though he undergoes and expresses a variety of emotions, we are given no inkling in the four Gospels what it is like to be a person having both an eternal mind which is all-knowing and a human mind which is temporal and limited in knowledge, except that Jesus meekly accepted the fact, which does not seem to have had particularly disruptive consequences for him. An exception to this is the temptation in Gethsemane. Here, nevertheless, his activity is always through his humanity, localized in time and place as we all are.
Another example which might seem to be an exception to this is the Transfiguration Matt , and also the appearance of the risen Christ to Saul on the road to Damascus Acts How one might discern whether the emotion was an expression of his divine nature, other that being told by Christ himself or by an Evangelist, Warfield does not say.
But it is pretty clear that no one could tell by knowing what it was like to have the divine nature, or to have direct access to it, by knowing what it was like to be the God-man. The creature-Creator distinction presents an insurmountable barrier to anything like that.
But the point to be stressed here is that the relationship of Jesus to his humanity and his relationship to his divinity is another case of asymmetry. Jesus does not behave as if he were a man who was unique in that he had access to the mind of God, but as God who had taken on, and so access to, human powers and limitations as his own powers and limitations.
But once again we are given no inkling from the inside of what it was like to be such a strange Person, a Person who is necessarily divine and who voluntarily takes on human nature. In summary, so far I have been indicating three ways, all having to do with the asymmetry between the divine logos and human nature, that enable us to have some apprehension of the mystery of the Incarnation.
This is as the result of a number of different factors; we already have some understanding of asymmetrical relations in our everyday experience, as we have been seeing; the scriptural claims about the nature of the Incarnation bear these out. And in view of what we know about the nature of God as this revealed in Scripture this ought not to be surprising. For this is what lay behind the Chalcedonian Definition and was routinely stated by Augustine, for example. Supposing that God freely but as befits his divinity eternally wills to be incarnate, being our Mediator, incarnate in Jesus Christ.
There was no time when the Son of God was not willing himself to be incarnate in our history. That is, God eternally wills that he becomes incarnate in as far as we can tell BC. Given such willing there is no other life story of God than the one that includes the Incarnation. However, from the perspective of the creature the Incarnation was an event in time that occurred around that time.
This means that we must think about time and eternity from two standpoints. From the eternal standpoint, God has timelessly in his mind all that he wills to come to pass in time and so, in the Incarnation, all that is involved in the Logos taking on human nature and as the Mediator, being the person of Jesus of Nazareth whom the Logos assumed.
That willing condescension is an aspect of the eternal life of the Godhead, and so of the Logos who is God. But this does not mean that the Incarnation or any other events in creation are themselves timeless. That is, at the point when his human history as the God-man on earth came to an end. From the eternal standpoint there was no time when the Incarnation was not, for the simple reason that the eternal standpoint does not have temporal change.
Yet it is not easy to determine what is being stretched and what is left un-stretched. So the problem of understanding is being addressed by stretching the ordinary senses of the terms being used in the account. This is of course a standard and time-honored way of approaching using language to characterize God, to appeal to metaphor, analogy and the like. It is helpful when considering individual features or attributes of God, but less so in the case of God himself and his relation to what is ad extra.
The problem becomes truly acute with the case of God being in union with an aspect of the creation, human nature. Part of the discipline of thinking about God and his relationship to the creation or any part of it is the strong tendency we possess, almost an intellectual reflex, to think of God in spatial terms.
So is it in character; a world much more than half filled with people trying to pass themselves off for something greater and better than the reality, for wiser, richer, more learned, and more beautiful than they actually are.http://staging.burrells.co.uk/voduv-how-can.php
Through this icon, let us contemplate the Mystery of the Incarnation - Emmanuel Community
But look at the Christ! He is real, genuine, solid to the centre. He is at the heart what He is at the surface. We shall never find Him different from that which we see Him now. The zeal of God burns in an inextinguishable flame in the deepest recesses of His spirit. He means all that He says. His acts are exactly parallel with His words.
His passions move by the same rule as His thoughts. We never know any man thoroughly until we see him under excitement. Jesus when excited is animated by the same inspiration as in repose. Truthfulness in his eyes was the cardinal virtue, without which no stable society can exist. The frank and penetrating beam of His holy eye rests on every one who contemplates Him in the mirror of the gospel history.
The goodness of His nature was a pledge of His honesty. Perhaps no warmer encomium was ever passed upon faulty man than this of Mrs. He was full of truth in being full of Instruction. He made human life in its moral aspects seem an arena where issues of infinite importance are at stake. He made the soul of man seem an awfully real existence within him. He made right and wrong seem as distinct as noon and midnight.
He made the Almighty appear a Being real and near, overshadowing the earth with His excellent glory. His countenance blazed like the sun with the splendour of God. Aforetime the Deity had been faintly revealed in events, in descriptions, in institutions, in nature; but in Him God became visible. He was in manifest communion with the unseen. He opened the Scriptures, and the world of the present, and the realms of the dead, and the future eternity, and compelled men to feel that these bursts of supreme inspiration were but the first outbreakings of a fountain which would flow through eternity.
White, The Mystery of Growth, But its grand, pillared front is too high, its wide doors too rich and ponderous; her form as she moves within is too fair and proud and queenly for common men to dare to come and enter her great gates and ask to learn of God and Nature and their own humanity from her lips.
Rather will they stand without for ever, looking from far away upon the towers of her wondrous home and see the great Mistress walking with a few bold scholars through the greenness of her trees, deeming it all a thing in which there is no part for them. It is the sun which shines within our souls.
It is the truth which we divine when, our eyes being too feeble, or too suddenly opened, we are afraid to look it in the face. It is none other than God Himself, in His changeless perfection. So long as we persist in seeking to satisfy our thirst elsewhere than at this fountain, we must admit that we have not attained our proper goal, and therefore, though God be for us, we are neither wise nor happy.
Complete satisfaction of soul, the truly happy life, is to know purely and fully what Truth itself is, what conducts in the search after it, and by what relations it connects us with the supreme perfection. These three demonstrate to purified souls the one only God, the one only Reality, in distinction from the self-contradicting fables of superstition. Augustine, Soliloquies, xxxvi.
Rejected by the priest-led roar Of the multitude!
The Mystery Of Christ, The Incarnate Word Of God
The imperial purple flung About the form the hissing scourge had stung, Witnessing naked to the truth it bore! True Son of Father true, I Thee adore, Even the mocking purple truthful hung On Thy true shoulders, bleeding its folds among, For Thou wast king, art king for evermore! I know the Father: he knows me the truth. Truth-witness, therefore the one essential king, With Thee I die, with Thee live worshipping! O human God, O brother, eldest born, Never but Thee was there a man in sooth, Never a true crown but Thy crown of thorn!
There are critical considerations which give a graduated value to its materials. Some portions are more near the centre than others. Some passages and sections are relegated to the fringe. Some may have a doubtful claim. There is a certain variance in tone: a certain growth: a certain personal element. All this can be allowed for, and rationally examined and classified and estimated. But the main bulk is there, as the record of the impression which was made on those who came within that incomparable and authoritative experience. This is what they said who saw and touched and handled and proved the living Presence of the Christ.
This is what it came to. This is the thing that happened to them, and this is the language in which they came to express it. They could not say what they had passed through in any other way. They could not find any other type of terms that would adequately convey to themselves or to others the fact which experience had pressed home upon their innermost being. And how would they express it? What are the words in which they present it? Well, they could not stop short of an ultimate verdict, which became quite inevitable to all those who came under the supreme experience.
They might tremble to say it; or wonder how it came to be so inevitable; or brood over it before they said it; or find it break from them in a single outburst of irresistible inspiration. But one and all come to it. One and all say it. One and all feel that nothing short of it will adequately signalize their inward conviction.
It was impossible to be inside that experience of living with Jesus, or of seeing Him in His Risen Reality, without letting their belief culminate and crystallize in a simple victorious expression. The Word had been made Flesh. God had sent forth His Son. That is the heart and core of the whole matter. That is the joy and the fellowship into which believers are invited by those to whom the Life was manifested—the Eternal Life which was with the Father.
I know the Sabbath afternoons; The light asleep upon the graves; Against the sky the poplar waves; The river murmurs organ tunes. I know the rapture music gives, Its mystery of ordered tones: Dream-muffled soul, it loves and moans, And, half-alive, comes in and lives. On fair-browed bride Fair pearls their fairest light afford; So, gathered round Thy glory, Lord, All glory else is glorified.
John is telling us what of his own immediate knowledge he knows—testifying what he had heard, what he had seen with his eyes, what he had beheld and his hands had handled. Nor must we fancy that he gives us merely a subjective opinion of his own, as if he were telling us only that the man Jesus was so full of grace and truth in His daily walk that he, looking upon Him admiringly, had been led to conjecture that He was more than man. He testifies not to subjective opinion but to objective fact. And precisely what St. John witnesses is that the Word did become flesh, and dwelt among men, full of grace and truth, and that the blaze of His glory was manifest to every seeing eye that looked upon Him.
There would be several facts which would stand out with peculiar prominence before St. Peter, St. James, and himself, when the Lord was transfigured on the Mount. He might remember how the blind had received their sight, how the deaf had been made to hear, how the sick had been healed, and the lepers cleansed, nay, how the dead had risen up as if from sleep when bid to do so by the voice of Christ; he who had witnessed for the space of three years and more such works as these must have been blind indeed if the veil of human flesh had quite prevented him from recognizing the glory which was ever manifesting itself forth in acts of Divine goodness and power.
John had reference to those two great events to which the mind of any disciple who was taunted with worshipping a crucified Lord would instinctively turn, namely, the Resurrection and the Ascension. We can easily understand how the patent fact of the crucifixion should have appeared, to those who knew no more of Christ, to have reduced His claims to an absurdity, how the Cross should have proved a stumbling-block to one class of minds and folly to another,—there is nothing to surprise us in this,—but the death of their Master would imply to His disciples no destruction of the faith, because they knew that He who was dead and buried rose again from the dead, and ascended into Heaven.
And how could St. John above all, who had been first of the disciples at the empty sepulchre, and had been one of the company from whose presence the Lord was taken up,—how could he fail to testify that, however much the weakness of human flesh, the acknowledged truth that Jesus Christ had died, might seem to Jews and Greeks a fatal obstacle to the faith, it was very different with those who had beheld the glory of Christ, declared to be the only begotten Son by the Resurrection from the dead and the Ascension to the right hand of God?
The Apostles had had no brief and unsteady sight of the Master. They had had time given them to rest their gaze upon Him, and to continue looking, as He moved, as He spoke, as He went up and down with them. In many moods and varied scenes, in hope and in fear, in exaltation and in depression, by day and by night, alone and in a crowd, as a Prophet in the glare of the public sun, as a Friend in the secrecy of confidence, in a thousand incidents unforeseen and surprising—in all they had been close, very close, to Him, and had looked with all their eyes, and had hung upon Him with all their souls, and had meditated over all that they saw, and had pondered and had brooded, and had done this slowly, by degrees, habitually, moving forward step by step to this great conclusion.
So they had seen; in this sure and tested study of Him, they had lived and walked; and what was it they found by so looking? Of one thing they were convinced. That which they found in Him was something that had not been in the world at all before Jesus came. It was not merely a higher form of that which had been already in others, even in the highest—in the Baptist, or in Moses.
As they had known all that the Baptist could do, so, too, they had felt all that Moses could bring them. He had brought them a great gift. He had given them a law from God. But this peculiar grace and life which they now had received came into the world in Jesus Christ, and in Him only. So strange, so new, so marvellous, so incomparable was this deep secret on which they had found themselves gazing.
And what was it, then, this secret? How could it be told, this discovery? It was and we, as we waited and watched, became more and more certain of it —it was the disclosure, the unveiling of God Himself. Whatever men have found God to be, whatever our fathers of old time felt God to be, as He shone in upon their hearts through the splendour of the Shekinah in the Tabernacle of Moses, that same thing Jesus showed Himself to be to us who so closely studied and loved Him.
We saw Him, saw Him long, saw Him very near, saw Him very carefully; and what we saw in Him was the glory of God—the glory as of the only begotten Son of the Almighty Father. Was it simply one character among many? Was it a superlatively good man side by side with whom there were the Caiaphases and the Pilates, the weak men and the desperately wicked men? Was it simply one out of many? No, it had dawned upon them more and more that here He had not only one human character, He had something which drew from deeper depths than that, and covered an infinitely wider area.
True, He was very Man, the Word was indeed made flesh, but that which they saw here in the reality of human nature was nothing less than the Divine Being, no other than the Eternal Son. Verily, it is God made man! And here in the intelligible form of a human character we have disclosed to us the great secret of God. No man has seen God at any time, but the only begotten Son—God only begotten—He declared it.
In the rays of the sun, the topaz surpasses in splendour all precious stones; and even so does the humanity of our Lord Jesus Christ excel in glory and in majesty all the saints and all the angels because of His union with the eternal Father. And in this union the reflection of the Divine Sun is so clear and glorious that it attracts and reflects in its clearness all the eyes of saints and angels in immediate vision, and those also of just men to whom its splendour is revealed. So likewise does the topaz attract and reflect in itself the eyes of those who behold it, because of its great clearness.
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But if you were to cut the topaz it would darken, while if you leave it in its natural state it will remain clear. And so, too, if you examine and try to penetrate the splendour of the eternal Word, that splendour will darken and you will lose it. But leave it as it is, and follow it with earnest gaze, and with self-abnegation, and it will give you light. The Word was Divine in essential being.
It was a faith which had power to propagate itself; it knows not how to die. The first preachers of the gospel were aware how the language they used about Jesus would strike the ear, how it would startle men to be told that Jesus had come from heaven to earth; that the Father had singled Him out from all others, had watched and guarded and glorified Him as the Son of His begetting and His love.
This point we must touch reverently, yet firmly. It has a certain significance. God shares in every experience of the race and lives His life in every individual. The Hegelian philosophy declares that creation is the result of a process in which the Deity realizes Himself. To say less would be to affirm that man purchases in the school of pain an experience of which God is in possession without pain. A nobler thought is that which represents humanity as living its life with God, in God, and for God; and God as living His life in company with men, through men, and by men.
That God has a deeper life than humanity can ever touch is certainly the case, but that the life of humanity has immediate value for the life of God is also an indispensable truth. God is the Universal Consciousness within whom are many separate centres of consciousness.
God is immediately conscious of all that enters into our individual consciousness; He is, indeed, more conscious of us than we are of ourselves. Yet something more is needed even for Deity than this general consciousness of the flux of creation. God knows being in general; He needs to know human nature in particular. Here, perhaps, is a key to the purpose of the Incarnation. It was fitting that the Captain of our salvation should be made perfect through sufferings. God thus knows Himself through incarnation in a human life, and returns to Himself through humanity. Previous to His Incarnation, Christ knew, as a Divine person, what was the condition of man on earth—not only knew it, but regarded it with tender interest.
The sad music of humanity entered His ear and touched His compassion. It was because of the pitying love He felt for us, that He visited and redeemed us. But it is one thing to look on suffering, and another thing to suffer; and when Christ not only pitied the miserable, but came down and took up His abode among them, clothed Himself with their nature, lived among them, felt with them, wept with them, suffered with them, was made in all points like them, sin excepted, He acquired a new experience, which suffused the infinite compassion of His Godhead with the glow of a human tenderness.
Then He knew the state of man as a sinner by making it His own, and through this personal acquaintance with evil He qualified Himself to be a merciful and faithful High Priest. Thus, instead of jarring against our idea of God, the Incarnation seems not only natural but delightful to conceive. How often have we ourselves, when affection for the lower creation has been kindled in us, desired in idea to enter into their life for a time, and then to return into ourselves again with a new consciousness of a lower life than our own, and with increased ability and desire to help.
And if we have felt this towards a nature not kindred to our own, how much more may God have felt it towards a nature in direct kinship with Himself? It is a noble thought: it ought to commend itself to all who have ever loved purely and passionately, and desired to become at one with the being of those they loved.
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Robinson Gregory. He became man in order that He might give to the world a fuller revelation of God. Nature has in all ages and in all lands spoken of God and taught men to worship Him, but nature has never been able to get beyond a mere declaration of the existence of a Supreme Being, and her disciples must, perforce, erect their altars to the Unknown God, and worship Him in ignorance and through the medium of symbols.
Nature is powerless to expound the attributes of Deity. She cannot even, in the face of so much sorrow and suffering on every hand, go so far as to assert His unchanging and unchangeable goodness. She proclaims to us, with her ten thousand voices echoing through earth and sea and sky, that there is a God, but she can tell us no more.
Here, then, is the province of revelation. If a friend visits you, you like to show him your most valued possessions. If you are a gardener you take him to see the loveliest flower in your conservatory. If you are an author you place your favourite volume in his hand. Now God wishes man to know what He glories in, what He deems His best possession, what affords Him more joy than anything else. He wishes to give us the knowledge of His glory.
What does He glory in? What does He wish us to know above everything else? Does He wish us to know His power? Certainly not. That might impress some. But He placed our first parents in the Garden of Eden. Great loveliness was there, but no special manifestation of power. I notice that when kings and other potentates visit one another they are taken to see the arsenal, or the army, or the fleet.
The host is very anxious to give the guests a great idea of his power. This is one of the many particulars in which the King of kings is essentially different from all other kings. He put our first parents in the Garden of Eden where there was no great display of power. He might have placed them on some solitary island, around which great oceans leaped and rolled. But He has never gone out of His way to impress men with His power.
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Neither has He ever sought to overwhelm them with His wisdom. It is only lately that He has begun to unfold to us, on a large scale, the marvels of His knowledge. The physical sciences are exceedingly modern. It is only in our own lifetime that God has permitted us, by the use of such modern inventions as the microscope, the telescope, and the spectroscope, to find out the wonders of His skill. He was in no hurry to impress us with that.
Nothing can be more absurd, or wicked, or degraded, than the idolatrous worship of mere cleverness. We may be as clever or as powerful as Satan himself, and yet as odious and degraded. God does not glory either in power or in wisdom. But what God does glory in, what He has been trying to reveal to us from the beginning, what He wishes us to know more than anything else, is that His nature is love! He wishes to persuade us that He attaches an immeasurably higher value to love than to power or to wisdom.
One of the most delightful passages in human biography is in the life of Henry Ward Beecher. He was brought up in a narrow, hard, Calvinistic school. For a long time he groped in darkness and misery. The name of God was to him a name of terror. But with glowing eloquence and delight he tells us how on one memorable day it dawned upon him that God is love.
At once the whole universe was radiant with new beauty. Everything was changed. He was changed. He passed from hell to heaven, and the light of that rapturous moment never passed away. But neither to him nor to us could that vivid and full knowledge of the love of God ever have come except in the face of Jesus Christ. All previous revelations are summed up, supplemented, and completed in Christ.
Price Hughes, Essential Christianity, But the grand reason why God became man in Christ, the New Testament tells us, was that He might make propitiation or atonement for sin. This is the great reason which Anselm discusses in his own way in his book. The law had something to say in Court, as it were, with regard to the bestowment of an absolutely gratuitous pardon, and the right to claim that its principles and requirements should be duly conserved and satisfied.
Thus it follows that while pardon is freely given, the law is duly honoured, maintained, and even fulfilled. As St. And this brings new life into the world. Christ is the propitiation for His people through whom they recover their lost place in the Divine favour. But besides this, He is their life, and is made to them a quickening spirit.
To Him they are indebted for their new existence; in His likeness they are renewed; on Him they depend; and in Him they find their unity. The Incarnation of the Son of God has not left human nature where it was, but imported into it a new Divine splendour. Wonderful as man was in his created likeness to God, the entrance of the Son of God into the vital body of humanity has raised human nature to a higher point than it ever attained before.
This, like the Incarnation itself, is as difficult to define as it is clearly a fact. For the life diurnal Waxeth old and dim; Love and life eternal Rest alone in Him! Taylor, The Doorkeeper, 5. The Son of God not only came as man, but He grew as man grows. He consecrated not our nature only, but our life. Even so it was with Christ. He tabernacled with us, and the faithful beheld His glory. He marked out the path of life. He hallowed each resting-place upon the way. The material splendour of the fiery pillar was changed into a spiritual beacon; but it was still clear with the light of heaven—clear to the loving.
But even here, as of old time, that which is the light of the Christian is the thick gloom which enwraps the unbelieving—the thick gloom or even the consuming fire. We know, we feel, we value all that He gave up. We know how He passed through that life of man on earth, which He accepted from its beginning to its close. We know that there is nothing so mean and scorned, so rough and dangerous in what the poor of this world have to put up with that did not fall to His lot when He came among men.
That we might not feel Him to be in lot and condition above any of us, He chose to be below most of us—on a level with the meanest and the most helpless. He asked for no privilege as the Son of God; He refused nothing appointed to man to go through; He desired not to be spared any burden of our mortal state.