RAISING GOD'S ARMY
Merry Christmas!! Welcome back to “Raising God’s Army” where we’re training Christian soldiers for spiritual battle. It’s been about six months since my last episode. I apologize for the time away – just a whole lot of things happening and planning the direction of this podcast for 2022. I thought it important to come back online today. Today’s podcast is about “The Incarnation”. That is, the birth of Jesus Christ, God incarnate. He is the Son of God, “true God from true God, begotten, not made”, and the Son of Man, “born of the virgin, Mary.” (The Nicene Creed)
When we talk about “The Incarnation”, we are specifically talking about how God became man, and why. If you are a Christian, then you have heard and believed that Jesus became man to bring Salvation to the world, but there is more to the incarnation than Christmas and Easter. That’s what I am talking about today. Jesus came to us in the form of man for several reasons:
- To reconcile us with God
- To show us the love of God
- To be a model of holiness
- To make us partakers of the divine nature
The first thing to note is how God became man. Again, if you are a Christian then you have already accepted the story of Christ’s birth, but I want to note it here anyway. It could be that someone listening is not familiar with how it all happened.
Throughout the scriptures we see prophesies of the Messiah – the chosen one that will free God’s people from oppression. In the book of Isaiah, the prophet wrote:
“For a Child will be born to us, a Son will be given to us; And the government will rest on His shoulders; And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.” – Isaiah 9:6 (NASB)
In the first chapter of the Gospel of Luke, we see the annunciation of Jesus’ birth:
“26 Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city in Galilee named Nazareth, 27 to a virgin [a]betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the [b]descendants of David; and the virgin’s name was [c]Mary. 28 And coming in, he said to her, “Greetings, favored one! The Lord [d]is with you.” 29 But she was very perplexed at this statement, and was pondering what kind of greeting this was. 30 And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. 31 And behold, you will conceive in your womb and give birth to a son, and you shall name Him Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David; 33 and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and His kingdom will have no end.” 34 But Mary said to the angel, “How will this be, since I [e]am a virgin?” 35 The angel answered and said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; for that reason also the [f]holy Child will be called the Son of God. 36 And behold, even your relative Elizabeth herself has conceived a son in her old age, and [g]she who was called infertile is now in her sixth month. 37 For nothing will be impossible with God.” 38 And Mary said, “Behold, the Lord’s bond-servant; may it be done to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her.” – Luke 1:26-38 (NASB)
This was the moment that the fruition of God’s plan was revealed. We see more detail in the Gospel of Matthew. He wrote:
“18 Now the birth of Jesus the [a]Messiah was as follows: when His mother Mary had been [b]betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be pregnant by the Holy Spirit. 19 And her husband Joseph, since he was a righteous man and did not want to disgrace her, planned to [c]send her away secretly. 20 But when he had thought this over, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife; for [d]the Child who has been conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. 21 She will give birth to a Son; and you shall name Him Jesus, for [e]He will save His people from their sins.” 22 Now all this [f]took place so that what was spoken by the Lord through [g]the prophet would be fulfilled: 23 “Behold, the virgin will [h]conceive and give birth to a Son, and they shall name Him [i]Immanuel,” which translated means, “God with us.” 24 And Joseph awoke from his sleep and did as the angel of the Lord commanded him, and took Mary as his wife, 25 [j]but kept her a virgin until she gave birth to a Son; and he named Him Jesus.”– Matthew 1:18-25 (NASB)
He was God Incarnate, the Word made flesh, as we see in the Gospel of John:
“1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 [a]He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him [b]not even one thing came into being that has come into being. 4 In Him was life, and the life was the Light of mankind. 5 And the Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not [c]grasp it.
9 [h]This was the true Light [i]that, coming into the world, enlightens every person. 10 He was in the world, and the world came into being through Him, and yet the world did not [j]know Him. 11 He came to His [k]own, and His own people did not [l]accept Him. 12 But [m]as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who [n]believe in His name, 13 who were [o]born, not of [p]blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of a man, but of God.
14 And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us; and we saw His glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.” – John 1:1- 5, 9-14 (NASB)
Jesus was the Messiah that had been prophesied.
I could go on and on with scriptures that reveal the truth of Jesus’ nature. He was 100% God and 100% Man. Now I know that math doesn’t add up, but that is part of the Mystery. There are several mysteries of the faith that we will not truly understand until the Day of the Lord. I look forward to that day, but until then I will continue with my faith, because it is the evidence of things unseen (as we learned from Hebrews 11:1).
To Reconcile Us With God
Having well established that Jesus Christ is the incarnation of God, the question becomes, “Why?” Why did God the Son lower himself to become like his creation and walk among us? Well, first and foremost, he did it to reconcile us with God. He did it to become the once-for-all sacrifice for our sins so that we may never be separated from God the Father ever again. You see, the Old Testament describes the blood sacrifice required to cover the sins of man. It was required by the Law given to Moses by God himself as a way for Man to be considered righteous in His sight. However, the sacrifice of bulls and goats was imperfect. The sacrifices had to be perpetuated because the blood of innocent animals was not enough to wash away the sin of man permanently. That would require the blood of a righteous man – a perfect man – and as Romans 3:10 says, “there is none righteous, no, not one.”
In Romans 5, Paul describes how sin and death entered into the world by one man – Adam, but he goes on to say that by one righteous man, the free gift of justification of life came upon all men. It was the blood sacrifice of a perfect man, Jesus – the last Adam, that reconciled sinful man with God.
“6 For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. 7 For one will hardly die for a righteous person; [a]though perhaps for the good person someone would even dare to die. 8 But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. 9 Much more then, having now been justified [b]by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him. 10 For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved [c]by His life. 11 And not only this, but [d]we also celebrate in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation.” – Romans 5:6-11 (NASB)
Now that was a mouthful, but the main point of the passage is that Jesus was that righteous man, without sin, to fulfill the requirement of The Law once-for-all.
“10 By [a]this will, we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all time.
11 Every priest stands daily ministering and offering time after time the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins; 12 but He, having offered one sacrifice for [b]sins for all time, sat down at the right hand of God, 13 waiting from that time onward until His enemies are made a footstool for His feet. 14 For by one offering He has perfected for all time those who are [c]sanctified.” – Hebrews 10:10-14 (NASB)
Jesus, God incarnate, reconciled us with God by his sacrifice. This is the reason that many a pastor has said, “He was born to die.”
To Be a Model of Holiness
Jesus was born to die. Paul told the Philippians:
“5 Have this attitude [a]in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, 6 who, as He already existed in the form of God, did not consider equality with God something to be [b]grasped, 7 but [c]emptied Himself by taking the form of a bond-servant and [d]being born in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death: death [e]on a cross.” – Philippians 2:5-8 (NASB)
But he was also born to live. God came down, incarnate as the man, Jesus, to be a model of holiness. It wasn’t just about the Cross. He walked among us, as one of us, to understand firsthand our triumphs and our tribulations. The author of Hebrews says,
“16 For clearly He does not [a]give help to angels, but He gives help to the [b]descendants of Abraham. 17 Therefore, in all things He [c]had to be made like His brothers so that He might become a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make [d]propitiation for the sins of the people. 18 For since He Himself was [e]tempted in that which He has suffered, He is able to come to the aid of those who are [f]tempted.” – Hebrews 2:16-18 (NASB)
He came to live with us. He suffered all of the trials and tribulations that we can suffer. He bore our griefs and he carried our sorrows so that when we pray to the Lord, we can know that he hears us – not as some deity on high that couldn’t possibly understand us, but as our brother who has lived with us. No matter the struggle you face, he’s been there. I know it’s hard to fathom, but he knows what you’re going through.
You may be thinking, “Sure he experienced life like us, but he’s still God. He knew what to do.” I’ve said it myself, but consider Jesus’ prayer in the garden of Gethsemane. He could have said, “No, I’m not doing it!” He prayed to the Father, “if there is any other way…”. Nevertheless, he chose to follow the Father’s will to go to the cross. He was obedient, Paul tells us, even to death on the Cross. He could have been disobedient, but in those moments, he kept his eyes on the joy of eternity with you and me. Hebrews 12:2 tells us, “…who, for the joy that was set before him, endured the cross…” Trust him. He’s been there, and he made it through to be our model of holiness.
To Show Us the Love of God
God’s efforts to know the human situation from our perspective shows just how much he loves us. We are loved with an everlasting love, as Kay Arthur would say. (If you don’t know who Kay Arthur is, she is a well-known Bible teacher and author. One of her common sayings is, “You are loved with an everlasting love.” She wrote a book called “Israel, My Beloved” which I highly recommend.) John the Apostle records Jesus as saying,
16 “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish, but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but so that the world might be saved through Him…” – John 3:16-17 (NASB)
Jesus, God incarnate, came as an expression of God’s love, but he also came to teach us how to love like God. There are so many scriptures encouraging us to love one another. 1 Corinthians 13 is called the chapter of love. In it, Paul describes the transcendent nature of love, and how it trumps all things. Indeed, Jesus told us to love our neighbors as ourselves, and he didn’t just teach it, he lived it. All through the Gospels, you will find where Jesus had compassion for people. It’s recorded over and over, and the reason being, is that God is love. Yep, that’s right. John the Apostle wrote:
“7 Beloved, let’s love one another; for love is from God, and everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. 8 The one who does not love does not know God, because God is love.” – 1 John 4:7-8 (NASB)
If we know God, then we must love one another. Jesus came to show us how to do that, and as we focus on him, clothe ourselves in him, then we will naturally love others as He loves us.
To Make us Partakers in the Divine Nature
Clothing ourselves in Christ, as I’ve described in my teachings on the Armor of God, covers us with His righteousness. Because of his sacrifice, we are able to stand before God by the righteousness of Christ. We are partakers of his divine nature.
“2 Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus [d]our Lord, 3 for His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us [e]by His own glory and [f]excellence. 4 Through [g]these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, so that by them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world on account of lust.” – 2 Peter 1:2-4 (NASB)
It is this divine nature that makes us worthy to be in the Father’s presence. When the Father looks at us, he no longer sees our sin or our old sin nature. He sees us as his children, redeemed by the blood of Jesus the Incarnation, cleansed and justified to be partakers of everything pertaining to life and godliness.
This Christmas, take some time to thank our Heavenly Father for giving us his son, the Word incarnate. Meditate on what it means to be a partaker of his divine nature, and ask the Holy Spirit to guide you in understanding what that means in your life. I pray you have a wonderful Christmas.
May the Lord bless you and keep you, my friends!