We saw last week that we can have 100% confidence in the accuracy, reliability, and trustworthiness of the Bible. From Genesis through Revelation, we can absolutely sure than what we have in our hands when we open the Bible is the very voice of God on the printed page.
The Scriptures give us God's inerrant and infallible truth about His nature, about morality, sin, forgiveness, eternal judgment, heaven, hell. And precisely because it tells us God's unchangeable and irreducible truth, Satan does not want us to trust what it says because he wants to seduce us into sin. He knows very well that sin will destroy our lives now and bring us to eternal destruction later. To that end, the devil and his servants – often even pastors in pulpits – they have convinced huge swaths of humanity that the Bible is full of errors, myths, and fables fit only for small children.
Among the seductions Satan spews from his mouth and the mouths of his human servants regarding the truth about God's nature, the Incarnation tops the list. Why? Because the incarnation is the biblical bedrock upon which ALL of Christian faith rests. Break apart the foundation and everything else crumbles.
But first, let’s take a moment to define that theological term, ‘Incarnation.’
The title ‘God’ is defined by the whole of Scripture as a Triune Being, meaning, God is the Father, God is the Son, God is the Holy Spirit. Not three gods, but one God in three Persons, with three natures. Each Person of the Holy Trinity is coequal, coexistent, and coeternal. There never was a time when either the Father, or the Son, or the Holy Spirit did not exist.
So, the incarnation means that God took on human flesh and lived as a man on earth. He was fully human, as you and I are fully human. He got hungry and thirsty. He got tired. He perspired. He needed to bathe or He’d smell badly. And – (and not wanting to be offensive) He needed to toilet Himself as everyone else needs to do. Fully. Human.
But the incarnation means more than that Jehovah God took a human body. It also means Jesus REMAINED God while He also was human. Here is how the apostle Paul taught it: “Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” (Philippians 2:5-8)
What the New Testament writers tell us about God becoming flesh has a technical term. Some of you might have heard of it. It is called the ‘hypostatic union. Simply defined, the hypostatic union means Jesus Christ is both fully and perfectly God and at the same time fully and perfectly human. It means Jesus has two complete and distinct natures at once.
A fourth century Christian creed stated it this way: "He is God from the essence of the Father . . . and he is human from the essence of his mother . . . . completely God, completely human, with a rational soul and human flesh; equal to the Father as regards divinity, less than the Father as regards humanity. Although he is God and human, yet Christ is not two, but one. . . For just as one human is both rational soul and flesh, so too the one Christ is both God and human."
Jesus. Fully God, coequal, coeternal, and coexistent with the Father and the Holy Spirit.
Here also is what the apostle John wrote under the divine inspiration of the Holy Spirit: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being.” (John 1:1-3
Here also is Hebrews 1:3, speaking of Jesus: “And He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature . . ..” (Hebrews 1:3)
Last week we asked why it is so incredible to think that God – who simply spoke the universe, the world, and all it contains into existence – why is it so incredible that this same Almighty God could ensure His words to us have remained intact and unchanged over the millennia.
This week, let’s ask something similar: Why is it so incredible to believe that the same God who spoke everything in creation into existence took on human flesh to achieve His divine and love-driven purpose for humanity?
To the honest observer, there is no rational reason to think God could not or WOULD not become human to achieve His purposes.
And what are those purposes? That question now brings us to the crux of my message today.
Purpose number one: In the incarnation, the Almighty came so near to us that we could touch Him. Physically TOUCH Him. As John wrote in his first epistle: “What was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we have looked at and touched with our hands, concerning the Word of Life” (1 John 1:1)
In Old Testament times, God revealed Himself primarily through the Scriptures of the prophets. But in the incarnation, God revealed Himself through His Son. As John again tells us: “No one has ever seen God, but the one and only Son, who is himself God and is in closest relationship with the Father, has made him known.” (John 1:18, NIV)
Further, the incarnation shows us precisely who the Father is – not in some abstract way, but we can know exactly who the Father is because the incarnate Son of God IS God.
You might remember the apostle Philip’s question. He asked Jesus, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us.” Jesus *said to him, “Have I been so long with you, and yet you have not come to know Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; how can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father is in Me? (John 14:8-10)
And so, because God made Himself flesh, if you want to know if God loves the you – that means YOU – if you want to know if God loves you, then look at Jesus who told us the Shepherd leaves the ninety-nine safely in the fold and diligently seeks for the one who’s gone astray. The incarnation of Jesus forever answers the questions of the hurting, the lonely, the burdened, the weary – “Does God know what I am going through?”
Yes, we know intuitively that God ‘knows’ all things because He is omniscient. But because of the incarnation, WE CAN KNOW without a moment’s hesitation that God actually, physically, emotionally, psychologically knows what it’s like to be you and me – because He became a flesh-and-blood human.
The incarnate God can entirely identify with us when we experience various and sometimes heart-rending struggles. He knows from personal and actual life EXPERIENCE what it’s like to feel abandoned or betrayed by friends and family. He knows from experience what it’s like to lose someone you love to death. He knows what it feels like to be tempted to do wrong.
Yes! Almighty God personally knows what it is like to be human.
Incarnation purpose number two: If we want to know God's view of sin, ANY sin, even so-called, ‘little’ sins. then look at the incarnation.
Consider the staggering truth that the almighty CREATOR of all the universe, and everything in the universe, humbled Himself to take on human flesh so that He could DIE for our sins! Oh, think how that demonstrates for us in the most graphic detail not only His view of sin, but ALSO of His incomprehensible love for the sinner.
The incarnation was God's plan from the beginning of creation because He set down the unchangeable rule that only blood can take away or ‘expiate’ sin. That was the whole point of the Levitical sacrificial system. But the Scripture also tells us, “It is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins. Therefore, when Christ came into the world, he said: “Sacrifice and offering you did not desire, but a body you prepared for me; (Hebrews 10:4-5)
Let’s say that again because it is so critical to this point of the incarnation of God in human flesh. The blood of sacrificial animals under the old covenant could never take away sin. It was simply a PICTURE of what He was going to do through the incarnate Christ.
And THAT is why He promised to establish a new covenant, as He tells us in Jeremiah 31: “Behold, days are coming,” declares the Lord, “when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah, not like the covenant which I made with their fathers in the day I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke. (Jeremiah 31:31-32)
But – and this is important, especially as it relates to the incarnation – as with any covenant, the one who makes the covenant MUST DIE for it to take effect. Just as a Last Will and Testament does not go into effect until the one who made the Last Will dies, so also the Covenant God made with humanity could not go into effect until He – God – died. And, of course, BECAUSE of the incarnation, God-in-the-flesh DID die on that cross and brought into effect the New Covenant.
But, why did God have to die? That question brings us to the third point of the incarnation. The incarnation makes the way for the holy and just God to forgive the sinner, while at the same time unleash His wrath against the sin.
ONLY the incarnate God, because of His humanity AND because of His holiness and sinlessness, only the incarnate God could be the sinner’s substitute. Only the incarnate God could satisfy the holy requirement of Judgment against sin and the unrepentant sinner by receiving that wrath on Himself. A mere man could die only for his own sins. But the sinless Son of God did not need to bear the penalty for His own sins. He had none.
BUT He could and did pay the complete, full, and total penalty for our sins.
And so, we read the prophecy of Isaiah: “But He was wounded for our transgressions; He was bruised for our iniquities. The chastisement of our peace was upon Him, and with His stripes we are healed. 6 All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on Him the iniquity of us all.” (Isaiah 53:5-6)
Let me say it again, it is because of the incarnation of God in Christ, the penitent sinner not only receives God's complete, total, and irreducible forgiveness of his or her sins, but also receives God promise to FORGET those sins were ever committed.
Here again is the prophecy of Jeremiah: “But this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days,” declares the Lord . . . “I will put My law within them and on their heart I will write it; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people . . . [and] I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more.” (Jeremiah 31:33-34)
And the Psalmist: “As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us.” (Psalm 103:12).
Because of the incarnation, because God the Son took on Himself the full wrath of God for ALL of our sins, the penitent sinner can have complete, total, remission of our sins. I know I keep repeating those words – complete, final, total – and I do so purposely. Listen to what Jesus said at the Last Supper: “Then He took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you. For this is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.” (Matthew 26:27-28)
As we have seen in earlier messages and Bible studies, the Greek word translated ‘remission’ essentially means God wipes out our sins. He obliterates our sins. Not even a shadow remains. It means God treats the confessed sin as if it was NEVER committed.
A fourth purpose – and the last we will consider today because of time – the fourth purpose of the incarnation of Christ was to open the door of God's very throne room for every man, woman, and child who comes to Him by obedient faith in Christ’s substitutionary atonement for their sins.
When Jesus took His last breath on that cross, God tore the veil of the Temple – the huge curtain that separated Him from the people. Only the High Priest could enter behind that curtain, and only that once a year.
But the death of the incarnate Son of God opened FOREVER the door for ANY child of God because of their obedient faith in the Promises of God. That means ANY child of God – whether clergy or laity, rich or poor, popular or unknown, scholar or illiterate, across races and nations and cultures – the death of the incarnate Son of God opened forever the immediate access into God's very throne room.
That is why the writer to the Hebrews tells us: “Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” (Hebrews 4:16)
God took on human flesh so that you and I and all who call on Christ with obedient faith can know that God really DOES know from personal experience what it is like to be ‘me.’
He took on human flesh so that you and I should have no question about God's inevitable judgment of sin – any sin, big or small or in-between.
God was incarnate in Christ so that He, as the fearful, righteous, and utterly holy Judge could pour out His wrath against sin on the God-Man, Christ Jesus, whose precious sacrificial blood obliterates all traces of the penitent’s sin.
Is it any wonder Satan wants to delude humanity into thinking the incarnation is false? Without the inerrant, infallible, and wholly inspired truth of the incarnation, humanity would have every good reason to NOT know for sure what awaits him or her after death.
Without the incarnation, none of us could have utter confidence that our sins are obliterated, washed thoroughly through and through by the precious blood of God Himself.
Without the incarnation, who could have a rational expectation that any of us can enter boldly and confidently into God's very throne room?
Thanks be to God for the incarnate Son.