by Mike Ratliff
14 Καὶ ὁ λόγος σὰρξ ἐγένετο καὶ ἐσκήνωσεν ἐν ἡμῖν, καὶ ἐθεασάμεθα τὴν δόξαν αὐτοῦ, δόξαν ὡς μονογενοῦς παρὰ πατρός, πλήρης χάριτος καὶ ἀληθείας. (John 1:14 NA27)
14 And the Word became flesh and tabernacled among us. and we gazed upon his glory, glory as of the only one from the Father, full of grace and truth. (John 1:14 Possessing the Treasure New Testament V1)
Some may question why we are going over these fundamental truths again. My brethren, it is our presuppositions which are the fruits coming from roots embedded in the foundation of what we really believe. If our presuppositions are based upon incorrect theology then it means the foundation in which they are rooted is rotten. It is of this world and contaminated with the man-made philosophies rather than God’s truth. For our presuppositions to be right they must be rooted and grounded in the right foundation, that is, Christ and God’s Truth with no wiggle room for compromise at all. Why is this important? If a person coming from a “so-called church” or “religious” group attempts to convince you to that your “faith” is not equal to his or hers and then attempts to engage you in some form of one-sided debate in which they have all the pat answers to your questions or statements while you are not prepared at all to do so, you can come through this both embarrassed and also, if others witness it, the source of their falling into the clutches of a false religious system.
Therefore, to always be ready to give a defense of the hope that you have within you, you should also know the truth of incarnation of the Son of God. It is amazing how just taking an apostate to these truths will thwart all of their arguments and cause them to flee. Several years ago I heard someone say that all heresy will be based on some form of attack on the Orthodox Christian doctrine of the Holy Trinity. Some of those attacks will be against the Doctrine of the Holy Spirit while others will be against the Doctrine of the Jesus Christ the Son of God. Modalism is an attack on the Doctrine of the Trinity itself.
Foundational to the Doctrine of the Gospel is the Doctrine of the Incarnation of the Son of God. In our time, the Gospel seems to be fair game for everyone who perceives themselves as a “Christian leader.” They honestly believe it is within their purview to redefine the Gospel according to culture or their own whim of ministry. For instance, we see this within those who are Dominionists. They have redefined the Gospel to mean a conquering and purification of the world to create a “Christian Dominion.” That is defined nowhere in the Word of God as the mission of the Church. How does the incarnation of the Son of God fit into this?
What was Christ’s primary mission? Was it to create a group of Christians who would conquer the world for him as these Dominionists say? No, for they have taken a command to evangelize, which is called the Great Commission (Matthew 16:20), changing it from evangelism of souls (spiritual) to redemption of countries (temporal). This is not the same thing at all.
In our Lord’s incarnation, did he cease being God? I had a very short “debate” with someone not too long ago in which this actually became the crux of his argument. Those who taught him are advocates of a kenotic Christology, which says that the Son of God set aside certain divine attributes when He became incarnate. In other words, He had a sin nature just like you and I. However, the crux of my argument was that this was impossible for then my Lord Jesus would not be fully God and then could not save us.
5 Τοῦτο φρονεῖτε ἐν ὑμῖν ὃ καὶ ἐν Χριστῷ Ἰησοῦ, 6 ὃς ἐν μορφῇ θεοῦ ὑπάρχων οὐχ ἁρπαγμὸν ἡγήσατο τὸ εἶναι ἴσα θεῷ, 7 ἀλλὰ ἑαυτὸν ἐκένωσεν μορφὴν δούλου λαβών, ἐν ὁμοιώματι ἀνθρώπων γενόμενος· καὶ σχήματι εὑρεθεὶς ὡς ἄνθρωπος 8 ἐταπείνωσεν ἑαυτὸν γενόμενος ὑπήκοος μέχρι θανάτου, θανάτου δὲ σταυροῦ. 9 διὸ καὶ ὁ θεὸς αὐτὸν ὑπερύψωσεν καὶ ἐχαρίσατο αὐτῷ τὸ ὄνομα τὸ ὑπὲρ πᾶν ὄνομα, 10 ἵνα ἐν τῷ ὀνόματι Ἰησοῦ πᾶν γόνυ κάμψῃ ἐπουρανίων καὶ ἐπιγείων καὶ καταχθονίων 11 καὶ πᾶσα γλῶσσα ἐξομολογήσηται ὅτι κύριος Ἰησοῦς Χριστὸς εἰς δόξαν θεοῦ πατρός. (Philippians 2:5-11 NA27)
5 Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, 6 who though in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but he poured himself out, taking the form of a slave being born in the likeness of men, and having been found in appearance as a man, 8 he humbled himself, having become obedient unto death, and that death by a cross. 9 Wherefore also God exalted him and gave to him the name above every name 10 that in the name of Jesus, every knee should bend of those in heaven and on earth and under the earth 11 and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father. (Philippians 2:5-11 Possessing the Treasure New Testament V1)
Christ’s existence as true God and true man, as the reality of the transcendent Lord of glory entering into history to save his people, are both profound mysteries yet they are given to us in the Word of God plainly and so we can understand them as they are written and so, as part of our presuppositions, we can stand firm against all those corrupting influences that are bent on taking the Christian faith into man-centered darkness. Christ did not lost the form of God in his incarnation. Just as God is unable to sin, so Jesus was able to not sin even though tempted in every way that we are. He kept God’s Law perfectly. His perfectly obedient life and perfect righteousness is what is imputed to all who believe the Gospel, believe in Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour, turning to Him in repentance. In this justification, the Father declares them righteous.
In this, I pray you see that this lines up perfectly with our presupposition that God is Sovereign of all things. In fact, the very existence of theological inconsistencies in all this is the result of holding to doctrines that can only be supported by extra-Biblical sources, not exegetically. There is a very well known “Christian writer” who wrote a review of my review of one of his books, which I panned. He said that I could not tell the difference between the Truth and Biblical Exegesis. I took that as a complement even though he certainly did not mean it that way.
In our Lord’s incarnation, he humbled himself and so became our example. We should humbly love one another, serving them self-sacrificially. Even in debate, we should do this seeking those who disagree to believe and repent.
Soli Deo Gloria!