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The Mystery Of The Incarnation

As we consider the great mystery and truth of the Incarnation, two issues are pertinent; there is an offense to the human mind regarding the Incarnation and there are three possibilities as to just how it was brought about.The Offense Of The Incarnation.Long ago in a very important meeting of church leaders it was proclaimed that in Jesus Christ there is a union of two distinct and separate natures united in one Person forever. These two natures are his divine nature, He is God, and his human nature, He is also A man, a human being. A wise man has said that the idea of a God has never offended anyone. All societies recognize some sort of a God, be it a good god or a bad god.

What is offensive to the human mind is the idea of a man who claims to be God. Jesus is exactly that. And this Person with two natures that is Jesus is at the same time difficult to understand and the most wonderful thing that there is to know. As Christians we are not excused from considering who He is. In this lies all of our salvation. Now, if we wish to avoid offense and still retain a belief in God the easiest thing to do, and this is in fact what has been done widely in the church for centuries, is to affirm His divine nature loudly and forget his human nature.

When we do this, however, the entire wonderful mystery of "the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us"(Jn. 1: 14) is forgotten.Believers will easily accept His divinity and even fight vigorously to defend it.

But if you try to "flesh out" a true understanding of Christ's humanity, a humanity that was just like our own, the sparks begin to fly. This is because the humanity of Jesus offends people. And it offends precisely because of his divinity. Remember, it is the idea of a MAN who CLAIMS TO BE GOD that is offensive! Then He is no longer remote.

He is no longer apart from us. He is no longer far away. He is not avoidable. This offended religious people in Jesus' day. It still offends religious people. They can not keep him at bay.

It should not be offensive, however, to anyone who really wants to know Jesus and walk with him as a way of life. To that person his humanity is good news indeed.It is good news because he has walked in our shoes. He has felt our limitations and lived with them. He has felt our helplessness, the helplessness that we feel when a beloved relative or friend dies like Lazarus. If not for the shortest verse in the New Testament we might be tempted to think that Jesus was clinically detached from Lazarus' death because he intentionally let him die so that he could raise him back to mortal life.

But, "Jesus wept." How many times have we been told that he was weeping because of the unbelief of Mary and Martha and the other Jews. Or that he was weeping because he knew that this miracle would target him for eventual crucifixion by the leaders of the Jews. But what is wrong with the most obvious meaning? Does God indeed give us the scriptures to confuse us? Or are they a revelation? Jesus wept because his good friend went through the pain and suffering of being sick and dying. And Jesus was helpless to stop it because the Holy Spirit hindered him from doing anything. Now he would raise Lazarus but Lazarus would have to die yet again to wait the final resurrection into a glorious body.

Jesus identified with us so that we could identify with him. So he could represent us before the Father as a faithful high priest. So that we could have what he has.

The man Jesus is an eternal part of the life of Almighty God. And he is our big brother. We are related by blood, natural and redeeming blood.Basically There Are Three Possibilities.Sometimes it helps to think about possible alternatives.

In considering the incarnation basically there are three possibilities; either Jesus had two minds or consciousness' in one body, or he was God in disguise, or he emptied himself of his divine powers before he came. Let's consider each of these possibilities.The First Possibility: God the Son, the second person of the Trinity, came to our world to inhabit a human body. In doing this he was actually two persons in one body, God and a man. He had two consciousness', two intellects and two wills in one body.

He was continually torn between acting as the Almighty and acting as a man. His divine self and his human self lived together inside of him and if there was a conflict, the divine side which was stronger would win.The Second Possibility: God came to earth in a human body disguised as a man.

So it was really simply God in a human body. He would purposely act human in the appropriate manner at every stage of his human life. When his body was an infant he acted like an infant. When his body was twelve years old he acted as if he were twelve years old. Even when he became grown he would act like he did not know things so that he would fit in better.

Essentially he was putting on a act for our benefit and having the experience of living in a human body. Strangely enough this belief is the one that has dominated the church for centuries.The Third Possibility: He emptied himself. This is true humanity. He is no less a God for doing it.

As a matter of fact, he is proven to be even more loving and merciful because he voluntarily laid aside his Godly powers in order to become one of us. His character is still the character of God. He is love and goodness and truth and holiness and without sin. "He took on Himself the nature of man, with all the essential qualities and ordinary frailties of man ? except that He was sinless." (The Westminster Confession Of Faith; An Authentic Modern Version, Signal Mountain, Tennessee, Summertown Texts, Revised E.P.

C. Edition, 1985, Chapter 8; Concerning Christ The Mediator, Section 2, p.15.).

Therefore, he is subject to our weaknesses and has to rely on the power of the Holy Spirit to perform supernatural acts. He exercises faith as a man in order to do these things. The Son agreed with the Father to become a man and to submit to the limitations of a man. He did not change his character.

But he did give up his powers; he did not know everything, he did not have all power and he could only be in one place at one time in his human body. Since Jesus in this self-limited state was completely dependent on the Holy Spirit to have supernatural knowledge and power he functioned as he expects us to function. In things not told to Jesus by the Holy Spirit he had to learn and grow just as we do.

He matured as a person. Also, due to the agreement that he had with the Father before coming in the flesh, he could not change the rules once his human life started. He was locked in until after he died when he got back all of his power and glory and more. Yes, more because he has special honor as a man which he did not have as God before he came.

Resurrected he is Lord both as God and as a man.This third view is definitely the best one. Not only because it sees God as more honest, but it enables Jesus to truly understand us and to show us how to function. The first two views are both wrong. The first view is wrong because no being can function with two personalities or wills in one body. It is inconsistent with any healthy view of existence.

In the second view God is essentially deceiving us in the incarnation. Our God is not a God of deceit. He always says and acts the truth in revealing himself to mankind.

.David J. Keyser, Ph.

D. has served in a variety of capacities including a high school teacher, church planter and pastor, personnel director, international Bible and theology teacher in Kenya and Mexico, college adjunct faculty in Bible and theology and drug treatment counselor. He has a B.

S. in secondary education from The Citadel, Charleston, SC., an M.Div.

from Columbia Theological Seminary, Decatur, GA., an M.S.

in personnel administration from Loyola University, Chicago, IL., a Th.M. in Systematic Theology-Christology from the University of Edinburgh, Scotland, and a Ph.D.

in Systematic Theology-Pneumatology from the University of Saint Andrews, Scotland. He is ordained in the Evangelical Presbyterian Church. His theological and biblical interests at this time include the true humanity of Christ, the study of the Holy Spirit and biblical based fiction and future history.

By: David Keyser

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