4 Sep 2014

Message Audio: Incarnation

Submitted by Paul Brown

I originally gave this message at the Regen gathering on January 25, 2009 in our "What Christians Believe" series. (If you like, read why I'm posting these old sermons now.)

Sermon Audio

For those who may be interested in the formal formulation of the incarnation, here is the text of the Definition of Chalcedon, from the Council of Chalcedon in 451 AD. This has been the standard of orthodoxy since that time:

Therefore, following the holy fathers, we all with one accord teach men to acknowledge one and the same Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, at once complete in Godhead and complete in manhood, truly God and truly man, consisting also of a reasonable soul and body; of one substance with the Father as regards his Godhead, and at the same time of one substance with us as regards his manhood; like us in all respects, apart from sin; as regards his Godhead, begotten of the Father before the ages, but yet as regards his manhood begotten, for us men and for our salvation, of Mary the Virgin, the God-bearer; one and the same Christ, Son, Lord, Only-begotten, recognized in two natures, without confusion, without change, without division, without separation; the distinction of natures being in no way annulled by the union, but rather the characteristics of each nature being preserved and coming together to form one person and subsistence, not as parted or separated into two persons, but one and the same Son and Only-begotten God the Word, Lord Jesus Christ; even as the prophets from earliest times spoke of him, and our Lord Jesus Christ himself taught us, and the creed of the fathers has handed down to us. (Source, including the original Greek wording)

One of the difficulties that I felt in preparing this message was in not being able to adequately express the glory and mystery and greatness of God that the Incarnation demonstrates. I can only pray that God will take the words of Scripture and press them into our hearts through the Holy Spirit so that we will embrace Jesus as Lord and Christ with all that we are.

The other difficulty that I felt was in not being able to draw out all of the implications of the incarnation for us as believers in Christ. The three implications that I highlight in the message are the following:

  • We can worship Jesus
  • We can know God
  • We can live a new life

What do you think? What are some other implications of the incarnation for the way we think or live?

Comments

First, thanks for posting these. I have enjoyed hearing these messages again.

Second, to answer your question, I find that the implications of the Incarnation affect every day life more and more as I learn about life and God through being a parent. Scripture says to teach our children as we are going out and coming in (or something close to that).

I am sure that it is common to have conversations with children about God, especially if you are raising them with an understanding of Christ. My son lived the formative part of his life in a traumatic environment and is now trying to reconcile that as a teen. It is terrifying, in some ways, to think that Grace is available. Our conversations are not about "The Bible says you should so you should" like they were when I was growing up with my parents. Our conversations center around heart condition, how we know there is a heart condition, and what can be done about it. There is no person who can transform another from the inside out. We can only work with behavior modification. But Jesus can transform from the inside out. Anyone can be transformed. My kid. Your kid. The guy next door. That bully down the street. The crooked politician. Boko Haram. Anyone.

It changes my answer to the every day questions like, "Oh, there is an accident scene. What should we do?" Pray for that person. Pray for them to know Jesus and pray for their healing.

It changes the way I think about my co-workers. If I think of them not in terms of who I naturally get along with and who drives me crazy but in terms of "Who needs Jesus?" I am more likely to practice grace in my work. (This has had led to some totally unexpected conversations with those who don't know Jesus and to folks who otherwise wouldn't reveal their faith, to do so.)

Thanks for your comments, Crystal! Sorry I didn't see them sooner!

One other comment regarding not the question but the sermon. I have been struck more in the last year than ever before with the concept that Jesus gave up his life willingly. He was crucified by men, but only because He let them. And He gave up his life at his own will, after commending his Spirit to the Father. He died like a human but he did it willingly because He was God. At any point, He could have stopped it all. But He did not. He laid His life down and He took it up again of His own power. It's pretty mind-blowing that GOD, Creator of the Universe, cared enough to take the wages of my sin and that of the whole world on His own shoulders.