The Incarnation—Tough Stuff

Serious Christians take the Bible seriously. Taking the Bible seriously is a dangerous thing. It’s dangerous because there are things in the Bible that are hard to understand. There are also commands to Christians in the Bible that are hard to carry-out (see Matt. 5:44 and 5:48 just as two examples).

The fact that we live in a time in which reason reigns highlights the difficulty of the Bible. Reason is a wonderful, wonderful gift from God that isn’t to be discarded. In fact, reason itself tells us that by nature the very idea of God must transcend reason. God, if He’s God at all, cannot fit inside of our heads! This is precisely why it makes sense that there are things in the Bible that are just hard to understand. If we could explain everything away in the Bible, it would hardly be a book from heaven (hence the nature of faith)!

But why am I mentioning all of this now? I’m mentioning this now because, in the words of that famous Charlie Brown Christmas song, “Christmas time is here.” Christmas is the time of year that Christianity gets a lot of press. This is good, but at the same time, there are some downsides. That Christianity gets a lot of press this time of year is good in that as people who take the Bible seriously, we love to see the truth of the gospel go out into the world.

At the same time, this is dangerous because there is a lot of wrong teaching out there about Christmas and Christianity. It’s even possible that folks mistake Christmas for the gospel. Christmas is not the gospel.

So, once again, this season begs the question that our old friend Charlie Brown himself asked, “Can anyone tell me what Christmas is all about!?”

Well, here it is Charlie Brown, Christmas is all about the fact that God himself became human (we call this the doctrine of incarnation). Yes, that’s right, the Bible teaches that Jesus is God. In the words of John, the author of the fourth Gospel, “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth” (Jn. 1:14; also see Jn. 1:18, 3:16, 18; 8:28; 20:28; Rom 9:5; Phil. 2:6; Col. 1:19; 2:9; Tit. 2:13; Heb. 1).

That the Bible clearly teaches that Jesus is God infuriates hundreds of millions of people in the world today. “God cannot become a man! That’s blasphemy!” some cry. Others object to this teaching on the basis that the whole idea of God becoming a human being it just isn’t reasonable.

From an entirely human perspective, I can sympathize with these objections! However, if the Bible clearly teaches that Jesus is God, then Jesus is God. Period. For the Christian, revelation reigns, not reason.

But does it matter? The obvious answer is YES! The follow-up question is, “So what?” What difference does it make if Jesus is or isn’t God? It makes all the difference when it comes to salvation and right thinking about God; and if our thinking about God is slanted, then all of reality will be slanted with it.

Over the next couple of weeks (the time leading up to Christmas in the Christian calendar is known as “advent”) we will be exploring the so what of the incarnation (the doctrine of God becoming flesh), because that is what Christmas is all about—the wonderful, redeeming reality that God became human in order to reconcile between us.

[Click here for more posts on Christmas.]

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