Wrestling with the Incarnation

Just the word Incarnation is intimidating isn’t it? Why do theologians always have to choose these humongous words to describe theological truths?  Are they trying to intimidate us, because it’s working [on the other hand be glad we’re not talking about sublapsarianism].

The word incarnate means “embodied in flesh” according to the dictionary, and no, incarnate is not in the Bible.  Now before you jump on your high horse [an idiom! I need that idiom for something else in this passage.  Sweet!] and start complaining about theologians making up stuff, incarnate may not be in the Bible, however, “in the flesh” is. Here is indisputable visual proof:  “By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God,”(1 John 4:2 ESV).  Incarnate is merely translating the concept of “in the flesh” into English.

What is the Incarnation?  John explains pretty clearly.  In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God (1.1).  And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us (1.14).  In the Incarnation, Christ who was God became flesh.  Paul explains what that means, “For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell,”
(Colossians 1:19 ESV). Christ was the fullness of God as a man.  I like how Vincent points out the implications: “He became that which, first became through Him.”

The New Bible Dictionary points out three aspects of Christ in the incarnate state, or in the flesh:

  • “It was a state of dependence and obedience, because the incarnation did not change the relationship between the Son and the Father.”
  • “It was a state of sinlessness and impeccability, because the incarnation did not change the nature and character of the Son.” [Here we go again…theologians and their words.  Impeccability means the absence of sin, my apologies to the Marines out there]
  • “It was a state of temptation and moral conflict, because the incarnation was a true entry into the conditions of man’s moral life.”

A. W. Pink points out that the Incarnation accomplished three great ends:

First, it was now possible for him to die.  Second, He can now be touched with the feeling of our infirmities.  Third, He has left us an example, that we should follow His steps.

Be glad, dear (2) reader(s) for the Incarnation, even if the word is intimidating.  We would not know God intimately apart from The Word becoming flesh (but that is a topic for another post).


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One Response to Wrestling with the Incarnation

  1. Pingback: Jump Down off that High Horse! | On Eagles Wings

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