North Anderson Baptist Church
The Greatest Mystery, Part 2
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  • North Anderson Baptist Church
    2308 N Main St, Anderson, SC 29621, United States
    Sunday 10:30 AM
A month ago, we began a journey through The Greatest Mystery of the Christian faith based on a chapter in JI Packer’s book “Knowing God.” The greatest mystery, we concluded is the message of the incarnation.

Plurality of persons within the unity of the Godhead

Unity of God and Man in the person of Jesus

We took time to explore scripture to see if Jesus’ claims and the Christian proclamation that Jesus is indeed YHWH are indeed true. The answer… A profound yes!

Jesus of Nazareth was none other than the ETERNAL, DIVINE WORD OF GOD

God’s Agent In Creation

“Through whom all things were made” Hebrews 1:2

But… That is only HALF the story.

Yes, the Baby born in Bethlehem Was God
But scripture also tells us that the Baby born in Bethlehem was:
1. God Made Man (John 1:14;18)

The Christmas narrative gives us the wonderful truth that THE WORD HAD BECOME FLESH- a REAL human baby.

It is important to lay out at the very front of this message that “The Word Became Flesh” does not mean:

That Jesus had ceased to be God; He was no less God than before, but He had begun to be man

Jesus was NOT now God minus some elements of His deity, but God PLUS all that He had made his own by taking on manhood.

Flesh

Bone

Blood

Biology…

He who made man was now feeling what it is like to be man

He who made the angel who became the devil was now in a state in which he could be tempted

The truth is, Jesus COULD NOT avoid being tempted by the devil because of the flesh that He had taken on.

In fact, the perfection of Jesus’ life was achieved only by conflict with the devil

We should all draw great comfort from this fact!
As stated before, the mystery of the incarnation is unfathomable. Packer quotes the Athanasian Creed in His book:

“Our Lord Jesus Christ, the son of God, is God and man… perfect God and perfect man… who although he be God and man: yet He is not two, but one Christ; one, not by conversion of the godhead into flesh: but by “taking of manhood into God.”

Incomprehensible… We should be wise to remember this fact, to stay away from pride or speculation, and be content to adore God for this mystery.
2. Born to Die

How should we view the incarnation? The New Testament does not encourage us to puzzle our heads over the physical and psychological questions it brings forth, but to WORSHIP GOD for the LOVE that was shown in it!

The incarnation gives us the greatest act of condescension and self-humbling
Packer quotes James Denney in his book:

“The New Testament knows nothing of an incarnation which can be defined apart from its relation to the atonement… Not Bethlehem, but Calvary, is the focus of revelation, and any construction of Christianity which ignores or denies this distorts Christianity by putting it out of focus.”

The CRUCIAL significance of the cradle at Bethlehem lies in its place in the sequence of events that lead the Son of God to the cross of Calvary

Until we see it from this context, we will never fully understand it.

Therefore, the key text in the NT for interpreting the incarnation is not the bare statement in John 1:14, “The word became flesh and made His dwelling among us,” but rather, the more comprehensive statement of 2 Corinthians 8:9
Here, in this verse, is stated not just the fact of the incarnation, but also its meaning. The taking of manhood by the Son is shown to us to be not just simply a marvel of nature, but an act of wonderful grace!
3. Made Less Than God?

Here again, some differing opinions/questions arise with the phrases that Paul uses in the texts that we have cited in 2 Corinthians and Philippians.

The statement “made Himself nothing” in Phil. 2:7 literally means “Emptied Himself.”

Does this not, many ask, together with the statement in 2 Cor. 8:9 that “Jesus became poor” shed some light on the nature of the incarnation? Do these statements not imply that there was some REDUCTION of the Son’s deity in becoming man?

This is known as the “Kenosis theory.”

The idea behind it is that in order to be fully human, the Son had to give up some of His divine qualities, otherwise He could not have shared the experience of being limited in time, space, knowledge, and consciousness which is essential to human life.

This theory IS NOT Biblical, rather, it is highly speculative, and there is no text in scripture that supports this theory.

When Paul mentions Jesus emptying himself and becoming poor, in each context, it is shown to mean Jesus laying aside not His divine powers but laying aside His divine Glory and Dignity.

Jesus’ own words in His high priestly prayer (John 17:5) back this up.

“The Glory I had with You before the world began.”

This theory also raises GREAT problems of its own:

How can we say that Jesus was fully God, if He lacked some qualities of deity?

How can we say that He perfectly revealed the father, if some of the Father’s attributes were not in Him?

***Where this theory is done away with is with this truth:***

If true manhood on earth was incompatible with UNREDUCED deity, then it must be so in heaven as well.

This would mean that our High Priest (Hebrews 6:20, 7:25) stands at the right hand of the Father, interceding for us, with some attributes lost.

The High priest of the order of Melchizedek

In order to be a priest, Jesus has to be a man.

The Gospel narratives themselves show evidence against this theory as well.

It is true that Jesus’ knowledge of things, both human and divine were sometimes limited

He asks occasionally for information

“Who touched my clothes” (Mark 5:30)

“How many loaves do you have?” (Mark 6:38)

He declares that he shares the ignorance of the angels as to the day appointed for His return

Mark 13:32

But at other times He displays supernatural knowledge:

He knows the Samaritan Woman’s past (John 4:17-18)

He knows when Peter goes fishing that the first fish he catches will have a coin in its mouth (Mt. 17:27)

He knows without being told that Lazarus is dead (John 11:11-13)

Similarly, from time to time Jesus displays supernatural power in miracles of healing, feeding, and resurrecting the dead.

The picture that the Gospels give us is not that Jesus was lacking in divine power or power, but that He drew on both intermittently, while being content for much of the time to not do so.

The impression is not that Jesus’ deity was reduced, rather that Jesus chose to restrain His divine capacities at certain points.

So how do we account for this restraint? The answer is found in the Trinitarian doctrine.

Part of the revealed mystery of the Godhead is that THREE DISTINCT PERSONS stand in a fixed relation to each other.

The son appears in the Gospels not as an independent divine person, but as a dependent one, who thinks and acts only and wholly as the Father directs.

“The son can do nothing by Himself”
It is the nature of the second person of the Godhead to acknowledge the authority and submit to the will of the first. That is why Jesus claims himself to be the Son of God and the First Person to be His father.

Though coequal with the Father in Eternity, power and glory, it is natural for him to play the Son’s part and to find all his joy in doing the Father’s will.

Just as it is natural for the 1st person of the trinity to plan and initiate the works of the Godhead, and natural for the 3rd person to proceed from the Father and the Son to do their joint bidding.

***This relationship was not brought about through the incarnation, rather a continuation of the ETERNAL relationship between the Son and Father in heaven***

If this is the case, these questions are answered fully!

Jesus did not know independently any more than He acted independently.

Just as He did not do all that He could have done, because certain things were not his Father’s will (Mt.26:53-54)

His knowing, like the rest of His activity was bounded by His Father’s will

Therefore, the reason he was ignorant, for instance, of the time of His return was not that He had lost or given up the power to know all things at the incarnation, but that the Father had not willed that He should have that particular piece of knowledge while on earth, prior to His Passion.

Packer quotes John Calvin on this issue:

“Until He had fully discharged His mediatorial office, that information was not given to Him which He received after His Resurrection.”

So Jesus’ limitation of knowledge is to be explained, not in terms of the mode of the incarnation, rather, the will of the Father for the Son while on earth.
4. He Became Poor

We now can see what it meant for the Son of God to empty Himself and Become Poor.

It meant laying aside His Glory (the real kenosis)

A voluntary restraint of power

An acceptance of hardship, isolation, ill-treatment, malice, and misunderstanding.

Finally, it meant a death that involved such agony, spiritual even more than physical, that His mind nearly broke under the prospect of it. (Lk. 12:50)

***It meant love to the uttermost for unlovely human beings, that through His poverty, might become rich!***

The Message of the Incarnation is that:

There is hope for ruined Humanity

Hope of pardon

Hope of peace with God

Hope of Glory

Because of the Fathers will:

Jesus Christ became poor

Was born in a stable

So that 30 years later he might hang on a cross.

It is the most wonderful message that the world has ever heard or will hear.

Invitation

Dear friend if you are reading this by way of the internet please know that you are loved and cared for. If you have no relationship with God the Father through Jesus Christ His Son, then I invite you to trust Him by faith and receive Him as your personal Savior. Jesus Christ died on the cross for the sin of everyone in the world that they may have eternal life. All of us have sinned and all are guilty before Almighty God who made us to have fellowship with Him. But sin broke that ability to have a relationship and Jesus has restored the possibility to know God personally through His sacrifice. Please know that if you will seek God and turn from your sin and pray He will respond with His love and give to you a personal relationship through your belief in His Son and the sacrifice He made just for you. He will call for a change in your life too. He wants you to follow Him, not the world, not your own desires, but to follow Jesus. That brings a life change when you turn from sin and self and by faith believe in Jesus Christ as your Savior and Lord. There is no Savior without Him being Lord of your life. Your willingness to change by following Him daily in your life will be the proof of your faith. When life throws its curves your way and you have found yourself broken by others or by the world let us introduce you to the only One who can help you…Jesus! You can write or call the office and we will follow up by contacting you. Office phone number is 864-225-2575 and the website address is www.northandersonbaptist.com and the physical address is 2308 N. Main St., Anderson, SC 29621. Dear friend if you are a believer and you have been touched by the Lord and you would like to talk to someone at the church just contact us in one of the ways you see above. If you are a believer and would like to talk about the church and your interest in being a part, please call and we can set up an appointment for you and get to know you. It would be a great pleasure to share our Lord’s love with you. This is a loving church and you are important to us, so please let us know what we can do for you in the Lord.

http://www.northandersonbaptist.com