Category Archives: Incarnation

Incarnation

The word “incarnation” means “to be made in the bodily flesh of man.” This word can only be applied to God coming in the flesh of man, for God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit have always existed eternally in the spirit. In reference specifically to Jesus, the Son of God, that which was in spirit in eternity was revealed in this world in the flesh of man, whom Joseph and Mary named “Jesus” (Mt 1:21).


The Holy Spirit gave us a commentary on this gospel journey of the Son of God in Philippians 2:5-11. This commentary begins with the following statement: “Let this mind be in you that was also in Christ Jesus” (Ph 2:5). Before He explained the incarnational journey of the Son of God, the Holy Spirit first stated that everyone who would be a Christian must think and behave after the example of the incarnational sacrifice of the Son of God. The Spirit emphasized the importance of this thinking and behavior in reference to the continued transformation of our lives in response to the grace of God (See Rm 12:2).


In Philippians 2:6, the Spirit continued to explain, “Who [that is, the Son of God], being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God” (Ph 2:6). Jesus was previously in the nature of God. However, He did not consider this equality with the Father, Son and Holy Spirit as the one God in spirit something to be continually grasped. He did not because all people of this world would continue dead in their sins if there were no incarnational offering for them (See Rm 3:10). Therefore, through His incarnational sacrifice, the Son of God was willing, on our behalf, to give up His eternal equality in spirit with the Father and Holy Spirit.


The Holy Spirit, through the apostle John, further informs us what happened through the incarnation of the Son of God into the flesh of man: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” (Jn 1:1). The preceding Philippian 2:6 statement revealed that the Word initially “existed in the form of God.” So as one with God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, the Word—this was Jesus in the flesh before He was born into this world—was God. He was one with God, and thus existed in the nature of God.


However, the Holy Spirit continued to explain through John, “He was in the beginning with God. All things were made by Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made” (Jn 1:2,3). The Holy Spirit revealed this work of the Son while He was in spirit with God before the creation: “For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him” (Cl 1:16). In order words, the world and all mankind were created for the purpose of the Son of God. We were created in order that the love of God eventually be manifested in history through the incarnation of the Son of God (See Gl 4:4).


In the beginning when all things were created, God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit said, “Let Us make man in Our image, after Our likeness” (Gn 1:29). In this statement God was not saying that the image of God before creation was physical as that which we see in man. If the Son of God were in any way physical in eternity, then there would have been no such thing as an incarnation of the Son of God into the flesh of men. We must remember that God is Spirit (Jn 4:24). He is not flesh. Therefore, the extent of the incarnation of the Son of God is in the fact that He, in the spirit, had to be revealed in this world in the same flesh into which He originally created humanity from dust of the earth (Gn 2:7).


The preceding is exactly what the Holy Spirit continued to reveal in the context of Philippians 2: “But He [the Son of God] made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant and being made in the likeness of men” (Ph 2:7). And in the incarnate form of the flesh of man, “He humbled Himself and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross” (Ph 2:8). If there were no incarnation, therefore, then there would have been no cross, for a spirit cannot be crucified. And if there were no incarnational offering for our sins, then all of us would be without any hope in this world.


Incarnation means that the Son of God took upon Himself that which would be able to suffer crucifixion. We would indeed have a shallow understanding of the cross, if we did not first comprehend the magnitude of the incarnational suffering of the Son of God on the cross.

The incarnational crucifixion of Jesus’ body on the cross was His destiny. It was His destiny from the time the very first word was spoken in reference to creating humanity in the beginning. Even before the Son of God created Adam and Eve, He knew that all people would sin (See Rm 3:10). Therefore, we would assume that before He spoke the first word to create, He had already planned to be incarnate in the flesh in order to suffer crucifixion for our sins.


We must keep in mind that we cannot fully understand the extent of the cross until we understand to the best of our ability the extremity of the incarnational sacrifice of the Son of God coming into the flesh of man. The extremity of the incarnation reveals the extreme love that Jesus has for us.


When we consider our own response to the gospel, therefore, we must understand that our obedience is not a matter of conforming to laws of obedience in order that we might legally, according to law, justify ourselves before God (See Gl 2:16). On the contrary, our obedience must be the result of our gratitude for what the Son of God did for us through His incarnation into our flesh in order to go to the cross for us. The Spirit explained this in the following statement of the apostle Paul: “For all things are for your sakes [that is, all things in reference to our salvation], so that the grace that is reaching many people may cause thanksgiving to abound to the glory of God” (2 Co 4:15). It was by grace that God extended to us His Son who was destined to suffer on the cross. It is this grace that motivates us to respond with thanksgiving to our crucified Savior.


It was because of the love of God that the Son of God was incarnate into the flesh of man for our salvation (See Rm 5:8). This revelation of God in the flesh came as a result of the fact that “God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son” (Jn 3:16). When we understand this tremendous amount of love that was revealed through the incarnate Son of God for our behalf, then we are compelled to respond to Jesus’ gospel journey into this world.


Jesus’ love offering for us in His crucifixion for our sins inspires our love response to Him in preaching the message of the gospel to others: “For the love of Christ compels us, because we judge that if one died for all, then all died” (2 Co 5:14). All of us must be compelled by the love and grace of God that was revealed through the incarnate Son of God. We cannot appreciate the gospel of the crucifixion, resurrection, ascension and sovereign reign of the Son of God, if we do not understand His incarnation into the flesh of man.

Incarnation (E,F)

E. A call for incarnational living:

We must confess that it is quite incomprehensible to consider the eternal Word in the spirit “materializing” into a single cell in the womb of a woman in order to become life in the flesh. But what other answer do we have for the Savior being such before He was born into this world? When Paul wrote, “Let this mind be in you what was also in Christ Jesus,” the ramifications of such a statement are certainly unsettling to all of us who would seek to reverse the incarnational order of the One after whom we call ourselves disciples (Ph 2:5). But when John the Baptist considered such a thing, he continued to eat grasshoppers and lay down his head at night on a stone pillow (Mt 3:4). He incarnationally lived in order to introduce into the world the incarnational Savior. Paul likewise discarded all his advancements in religion, considering even his own life a minimal sacrifice to pay in gratitude for the incredible sacrifice of the one-cell God who eternally paid the incarnational sacrifice to bring him also into eternity (Ph 3:6; see Rm 9:1-3).

After Paul’s introductory statement in Philippians 2:15 concerning our transformation into the mind and behavior of the incarnate Christ, he carried on in his explanation of the incarnational journey of God the Son. He reminded the Philippians of the gospel sacrifice of the eternal Spirit who impregnated the seed of woman (See Ph 2:5-11). If our Savior could humble Himself to this extreme, then certainly there is absolutely no occasion for those who claim to be His disciples to exalt themselves above one another. We can now better understand the rebuke that the incarnate Word levelled against some of His disciples while they were still comprehending the incarnate God who stood in their midst:

“Whoever desires to be great among you will be your servant. And whoever of you desires to be the first will be the bondservant of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many” (Mk 10:43-45).

F. A call for belief:

If our postulations concerning the incarnation of God the Son are anywhere near to being the truth of the matter, then we are brought to some inevitable conclusions. If the incarnation began with a single cell in the womb of a woman, then God is calling for us to have faith in what may seem quite impossible to believe. But then we recall what the Holy Spirit said of such matters: “Without faith it is impossible to please Him” (Hb 11:6).

To those who have no desire to believe, then these matters possibly sound like a fictitious fairy tale that was written to entertain the fantasies of men who have imaginary minds. If we desire to believe, however, no matter how difficult it may be to comprehend any aspect of the incarnation, we still conclude that it is more reasonable to believe.

It is more reasonable to believe because it is quite unreasonable to conclude that our existence is the result of “creative” matter in motion. We thus believe that the incarnation was also for the purpose of sifting out of eternal existence those who have no desire to believe, and thus no desire to live by the gospel of the incarnation.

It is not that we must understand all the specifics that occurred in the incarnation. It is only necessary to believe that it happened and that the result thereof was that the saving Son of God was born into the world He created in order to be a prepared sacrificial body that would be offered for the atonement of our sins.

Because we have realized the hopelessness of our predicament in this world of sin, we want to believe. We cry out for deliverance from this wicked and painful world of suffering. Because of His love for us, He responded to our desperate cries. Out of love, therefore, He paid the price for our redemption from this world by making an incarnational journey into this world. He desired to be in the form of our humble flesh by which He could fellowship with us His brethren. The nail-torn flesh of the cross, therefore, measured the extent of His love for us.

We are simply held in awe at such a thing as this. We realize that the magnitude of the incarnation is overwhelming. It is so overwhelming that it could have only been in the mind of a God of love who so loved us. Not even in the wildest imagination of the most devout monk could such a thing have been conceived. For this reason, we can only conclude that the incarnation of God the Son to be only that which the one true and living God could do.

[End of series on the incarnation. Wait for the book announcement on Facebook.]

incarnation (D)

D. The one-cell beginning:

Since there was an incredible sacrifice on the part of the Son of God to become man in the flesh, then we must allow our assumptions concerning the impregnation of Mary to proceed to the beginnings of human life. We must assume something that is quite incredible, if not incomprehensible, but indeed true. When the Son of God gave up being in the form of God in the spirit, He humbled Himself to the minute flesh of a single-celled egg in the womb of Mary.

God the Son who created every living cell became that which He created. In His incarnational journey, He started with a single cell. In order to begin His journey, He joined with the single Spirit-chosen cell of a woman in order to begin the nine-month gestation period of woman. The incarnation began with God the Son connecting with one human cell in the flesh in order to create something wonderful for eternity.

In order to create that which was awesome and eternal, the Son was willing to begin with that which was small, and the most humble of presentations in order to come into the world He created. We see the power of the Son of God in this marvel of the minute. He in the size of only one human cell was far more powerful than billions people who are composed of trillions of collective cells in human bodies throughout the world. He was God in a single cell.

We might suppose that at the moment God the Son was ready for His incarnational journey into this world, the Holy Spirit signalled to the Son in heaven, and said, “The fullness of time has come. Therefore, come on. I have a single cell of flesh selected for You.”

We could then suppose that God the Son would have responded from heaven, “If all I get to begin My incarnational ministry is only one single cell of flesh in the womb of a woman, then that is all I need.”

Since this is our speculative summation of what may have occurred, then we can now understand the announcement nine months later by an angel to some shepherds in the middle of the night:

“Do not fear, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy that will be to all the people. For to you a Savior is born this day in the city of David, who is Christ the Lord” (Lk 2:10,11).

It was not simply a body that was born from woman, and then Christ the Lord indwelt the body at the time of birth. On the contrary, He was already “Christ the Lord” at the time of birth. Our assumption, therefore, has moved on to the reality that “Christ the Lord” waited nine months in the womb of woman in order to come forth as the Savior of the world. He was not born to be the Christ. He was already the Christ at the time of His birth.

We now better understand the following words of John: “The Word was with God, and the Word was God” (Jn 1:1). And then, “the Word was made flesh” in the womb of Mary (Jn 1:14). The incarnate Word was already in the flesh for nine months, waiting to be born into this world as the Savior of the world.

After Mary and Joseph had made the strenuous journey from Nazareth to Bethlehem, “the days were completed for her to give birth” (Lk 2:6). The unborn Savior had carried Mary safely for nine months until the time of His entrance into this world. Though she was many months into her pregnancy at the time when her long journey to Bethlehem began, Mary was able to ride a donkey the great distance from Nazareth to Bethlehem without having a premature birth along the way. It was the unborn Savior in her womb who carried her safely to His place of birth. The prophecy of Micah 5:2 had to be fulfilled. The Savior would be born in the chosen city of Bethlehem.

But we would speculate of things before the journey of Mary to Bethlehem. We would go back to the initial incarnation of the Word in the single cell of the Spirit-impregnated Mary. The unborn Son of God would surely not have allowed anything to happen to Mary throughout her nine-month pregnancy. It is for this reason that we must surmise that He carried her all the way from conception “by the Holy Spirit” to the city of Bethlehem and His very birth in a manger.

[Next in series: June 17]

Incarnation (C)

C. Birth into this world:

We must now go to the very beginning of the incarnation, back to the moment that God the Son came into the flesh of man. We are back to what the angel announced to Joseph. The One who was “conceived” “of the Holy Spirit” now resided the seed that was in the womb of Mary.

In the natural conception of a human being in the womb of a woman, the single cell egg (seed) of the woman is sparked into life by the fertilization of the sperm of a man. The process of cell replication then begins which results in the birth of a person.

Before the birth, and in the case of the incarnation of the Savior of the world, the process of the one cell splitting into two cells marked the beginning of His life. Though the spark of life that ignites the beginning of a human being comes from the sperm of a man, in the case of Mary, we must bypass the sperm of man on earth. Joseph had nothing to do with the beginning of the incarnation. The birth of the Savior of the world would come from a virgin, that is, from a woman who had had no sexual intercourse with a man (See Is 7:14; Mt 1:23; Lk 1:27). Therefore, we must search for another answer as to how the seed of Mary began the process of cell replication that eventually resulted in the birth of the Savior as a person into this world.

The statement “of the Holy Spirit” was spoken to Joseph in order to inform and settle his nerves. The angel wanted to spare him from any guilt or questions concerning the fidelity of Mary. It was a statement of reassurance. In this “miraculous conception,” the Holy Spirit had taken the impregnation of Mary into His own hands. Joseph was only a bystander to witness the marvel of the Holy Spirit at work in the womb of Mary in order to prepare the incarnate Savior to the world through birth. From the time of the incarnational impregnation by the Holy Spirit, therefore, Joseph and Mary could only behold and wonder at what was transpiring in her womb.

And now we are left in wonder concerning the impregnating miracle of the Holy Spirit that set in motion the multiplying of the single seed of woman that resided in the womb of Mary. The body of Mary produced the seed when the fullness of time came for the Christ and Savior would come into the world through birth. An angel explained to Mary what would happen to begin the process: “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you” (Lk 1:35).

Assuredly, many eggs in the womb of Mary had passed through the natural menstrual periods of Mary’s early life. But there was one Seed that was special and chosen and begotten “by the Holy Spirit.” It would be this chosen Seed who would take all of us into eternity. It would be this chosen Seed who fulfilled the prophesied Seed of woman who would crush the head of Satan (See Gn 3:15).

So our wonder goes deeper into the process of what transpired during the impregnation. We come to the conclusion that that which was “of the Holy Spirit” could only have come from the direct touch of the Spirit on the single-cell seed of woman. It could have been that the Holy Spirit created the sperm that fertilized the seed of woman. This postulation would still remain true to the revelation of the phrase “of the Holy Spirit.” The Holy Spirit would have been the creator of the sperm, and thus the fetus that was now in the womb of Mary was fertilized “by the Holy Spirit.” We must also assume that the Holy Spirit simply set in motion the chosen seed that was provided by Mary. He then allowed the natural process of human development to continue from there.

What is important to remember is that there was more in what transpired in the womb of Mary than just the natural fertilization of the seed of a woman. The selection of the chosen male seed of Mary was not a random choice. The DNA genetics of the chosen egg of Mary was specific and intentional. We would conclude, therefore, that the Holy Spirit Himself sparked the process of the natural multiplication of the single egg cell of Mary, whether by a created sperm or directly through His own power to intervene in the natural process of the fertilization. We will never know for sure.

[Next in series: June 15]

Incarnation (B)

B. From spirit to flesh:

If we would allow ourselves to wonder beyond the definition of our words and our understanding of natural childbirth, then we must consider the Gnostics of the third and fourth centuries who found it most difficult to believe that God in the light could touch the material world that they considered to be all evil. In the birth of the Son of God, the Gnostics affirmed that a body was presented to the world by Mary through natural birth, a body in which the spirit of Christ indwelt at the time Jesus began His ministry until His death on the cross. But the Gnostics could not imagine beyond this material world. They simply concluded that Deity infused Himself into the body of Jesus when the man Jesus began His ministry. The Christ then forsook the body at the cross when Jesus “gave up His spirit” to the Father (Jn. 19:30).

The Gnostics’ conclusions end up in a theological quagmire that leads to nonsense that contradicts so many clear statements in Scripture, particularly those statements wherein Jesus said, “I and My Father are one” (Jn 10:30). “He who has see Me has seen the Father” (Jn 14:9).

The Son of God and the body of flesh were so connected that Jesus in the preceding statements used the material to represent metaphorically the spirit that was beyond the physical flesh. The Gnostics, as so many today, found it quite difficult to believe in a God who could so embody Himself on earth in a manner that He would remain one with God the Father in heaven. Nevertheless, through the incarnation, the embodiment of God the Son would be so complete that we would conclude that the Son of God had come on an epic journey from heaven. From being in the light with God the Father, God the Son journeyed into the flesh of man in a world of darkness. The Gnostics simply concluded that gods do not do such things.

In the John 10:30 and 14:9 statements above Jesus was not indicating that the Father was also flesh as Jesus at the time He made the statements. If this indeed were what Jesus meant, then He Himself would have denied His own incarnation. His “incarnation” would have simply been a parallel transfer from a heavenly appearance in bodily form to an earthly appearance in the form of a man. But this thought is infinitesimally far beyond the truth of the incarnation. All those who believe that God the Father in heaven has a nose and eyes simply deny the incarnation of God the Son into the flesh of man, which flesh included a nose and eyes.

On the contrary, the Son of God, “being in the form of God [in the spirit], did not consider it robbery to be equal with God. But He made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant and being made in the likeness of men” (Ph 2:6,7). At the beginning of the incarnation, the Son did transfer out of the realm of the heavenly. However, it was a transfer of spirit into the flesh of man.

The Son of God in eternity was not in eternity in the form of flesh, and then became the flesh of man on earth. Therefore, at the time of incarnation, God the Father did not exist in a fleshly form in heaven. When we see Jesus through the written record of the New Testament Scriptures, we see the character of the Father who is spirit, not the appearance of some god we would create after our own fleshly image. That which the Son of God revealed in the person of Jesus was the personality of the eternal God the Father, in whose presence He was before His incarnation into the flesh of man. God in the spirit simply embodied Himself in the flesh of man.

[Next in series: June 13]

Incarnation (Intro & A)

If we are allowed to take your minds on an adventure into that about which we know little, then bear with the speculations that follow. When we discuss those things concerning the interaction of God with His creation, we feel quite inadequate to explain such with the words of our dictionary. We thus understand the possible frustrations on the part of the Holy Spirit when He was restricted to search through our dictionary in order to reveal to us those functions of God that were and are far beyond our comprehension.

For example, Paul was once “caught up even to the third heaven” (2 Co 12:2). He “was caught up into Paradise and heard inexpressible words which it is not lawful for a man to speak” (1 Co 12:4). The words were not lawful to speak simply because they were heavenly words that had no earthly definitions of the things that were revealed to him. We feel the same in using earthly words to explain the heavenly in reference to the incarnation. Therefore, we must know from here on in our discussions of this subject that we are confined to the definitions of our finite words that the Spirit used to excite our minds to the fact that God in the spirit indeed came in the flesh of man.

A. Conceived of the Holy Spirit:

Our understanding of the incarnation begins with the Holy Spirit recording the following words for us: “His mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found with child by the Holy Spirit” (Mt 1:18). The Holy Spirit wanted us to know that the unborn children in the womb of Mary was “by the Holy Spirit.”

The Spirit’s narrative of the subject then continues with the pronouncement of an angel who came in a dream to Joseph, the betrothed husband to Mary: “Do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit” (Mt 1:20). The Greek word in both statements is ek, meaning “from.” The miraculous conception was the result of the direct work that came from the Holy Spirit.

Now we must stumble into the realm of speculation concerning the “materialization” of God in the spirit into the flesh of man. We reserve our dogmatism on this matter for other subjects. But at the same time, that which happened in incarnation must in some way be explained in order that we be humbled by the overwhelming sacrifice that was made on the part of the Son of God. It was not just a body that was torn with nails on a cross outside Jerusalem. It was the destiny of a Creator who agonized at the end of a sacrificial journey in order to collect us for Himself for eternity. He was the One who originally created the flesh through which nails could be driven (Cl 1:16). And it was in flesh and blood that He agonizingly suffered on our behalf.

The angel’s words, “of [by] the Holy Spirit,” will take our minds on a journey of marvelous wonder that is most incomprehensible for finite minds. As soon as the angel said, “of the Holy Spirit,” our thinking must disengage from the natural processes of birth in order to focus on the supernatural. Therefore, we begin our quest to understand what was embedded in this utterance by reflecting on the Hebrews 10:5 statement: “A body You have prepared for Me.” How was this body prepared? How can we ever connect the dots between “of the Holy Spirit” and “a body You have prepared for Me”?

[Next in series: June 11]