Incarnation

C.S. Lewis loved the Incarnation. Not so much the Christmas holiday

"It wasn’t just the commercialization of Christmas that Lewis disdained. It was the trivialization of the historical event of Christ’s birth. Lewis thought the commercial racket should be detached from the remembrance of what the angels celebrated nearly 2,000 years ago." - Christianity Today

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The Light still shining in the Darkness

"Ever since ‘the lights went out in Eden’ with Adam’s fall this world and our race have been living in darkness both morally and spiritually....How striking, therefore, that John should give us the words that most aptly sum up the significance of the story of redemption that is embedded in the history of our world and incarnated in the Person of Jesus of Nazareth.

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A Key for Christmas

A sermon preached at Calvary Baptist Church in Simpsonville, SC in 2016.

Isaiah 22, Revelation 3:7-13

Imagine with me that on Christmas morning, one of the gifts you receive is a small box. You hold it in your hands, and it isn’t very heavy. You shake it and it rattles a little. You know that good gifts come in small packages, so you tear off the paper with anticipation. Inside you find a key. Would you be excited?

What thought goes through your head? “What does this key fit?” It could be the key to a car. That would be a nice gift, wouldn’t it? It could be the key to a boat, or a Wave Runner, or a four-wheeler, or maybe a snowmobile. (That wouldn’t be so exciting in South Carolina, more so in Iowa where I live now.)

The point is, you know that the key itself is not the gift. The key represents the gift, and it gives you ownership of the real gift and the ability to use the gift, whatever it is.

The Bible talks about a key that is associated with our celebration of Jesus Christ’s birth. Three different people are said to have this key. The key represents authority and control. Each person uses the authority and control that comes with the key differently.

As we look at what the Bible says about this key, see if you can think of how it connects to Christmas. No Googling!

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Theology Thursday – Anselm on the Incarnation

Anselm published the final version of Why God Became Man in 1094. It’s a stunning achievement, structured around a fictional dialogue between himself and a curious student, named Boso. It’s popular among many Christians to assume the medieval period was a “dark age” for the church; a time of intellectual bankruptcy and stagnation. Anselm’s work proves that theory wrong.

Step by step, like a Terminator after his prey, Anselm remorselessly and relentlessly proves the necessity and purpose of the incarnation. This book is one of the most important theological works you can read on the incarnation, sin and atonement.

In this excerpt, Anslem discusses whether Christ’s death was truly willing and voluntary:1

Boso: How it is that, even granted that the lowly things of which we speak with reference to Christ do not pertain to his divinity, it may seem to unbelievers that it is inappropriate that they are said of him even with reference to his humanity. How it is, consequently, that it may seem to them that this same man did not die voluntarily?

Anselm: When God does something, ‘the will of God’ ought to be sufficient explanation for us, even if we do not see why it is his will; for the will of God is never irrational.

Boso: That is true, supposing it is agreed that God’s will lay behind the action. The fact is that many people in no way accept that God wishes something, if reason seems to conflict with it.

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Theology Thursday - Athanasius on the Incarnation

This is an excerpt from Athanasius’ work, entitled On the Incarnation of the Word. Here he describes one of the reasons for the incarnation:1

§ 6. The human race then was wasting, God’s image was being effaced, and His work ruined. Either, then, God must forego His spoken word by which man had incurred ruin; or that which had shared in the being of the Word must sink back again into destruction, in which case God’s design would be defeated. What then? Was God’s goodness to suffer this? But if so, why had man been made? It would have been weakness, not goodness on God’s part.

For this cause, then, death having gained upon men, and corruption abiding upon them, the race of man was perishing; the rational man made in God’s image was disappearing, and the handiwork of God was in process of dissolution.

For death, as I said above, gained from that time forth a legal hold over us, and it was impossible to evade the law, since it had been laid down by God because of the transgression, and the result was in truth at once monstrous and unseemly.

For it were monstrous, firstly, that God, having spoken, should prove false—that, when once He had ordained that man, if he transgressed the commandment, should die the death, after the transgression man should not die, but God’s word should be broken. For God would not be true, if, when He had said we should die, man died not.

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What Child Is This?

"Adoration of the Shepherds" by Caravaggio (1609)

Jesus’ birth was the beginning of the end for Satan and his kingdom of darkness. That old serpent, the devil, tried his best to stop Christ from coming into the world. He knew if he failed, his fate would be sealed. Over and over again, Satan tried. 

In the wicked man Haman, he came near to pulling off a mass genocide of Israelites – cutting off Christ before He could come. Through Herod, he slaughtered untold numbers of young children in the region around Bethlehem (Mt 2:16-18).

The Apostle John summed up the matter in his vision of the dragon and the woman (Rev 12:4b-5a).  Satan tried to stop His own Creator, God’s unique and one and only Son, from coming into the world. He failed. Instead, Jesus completed His work, then “was caught up to God and to his throne.”

Why did Christ come? He came to save us from ourselves.

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