Tuesday 17 May 2011

The Incarnation of the Lord Jesus Christ

Jonathan Edwards describes the incarnation in ‘The History of Redemption’ in these terms: ‘Christ's incarnation was a greater and more wonderful thing than ever had yet come to pass. The creation of the world was a very great thing, but not so great as the incarnation of Christ. It was a great thing for God to make the creature, but not so great as for the Creator himself to become a creature.1

To hold a wrong view of the incarnation is to err regarding the atonement. Therefore in contemplating our subject, great care is needed, great joy is to be expected, and great shall be the praise of the redeemed, when they worship the risen and glorified Lamb of God in the New Jerusalem.

We must not regurgitate the same familiar phrases concerning our Lord week after week in the ministry of preaching. Paul the apostle said that he determined to know nothing among the Corinthians except Jesus Christ and him crucified. Could the same be said of us among our flocks and in our preaching? Do we search the scriptures to gain fresh insights into Christ’s person and his work? This is why Christology is so vital to health of the church and the work of the gospel.

Matthew’s Gospel makes it irrefutably clear that the incarnation of Christ Jesus did not produce ‘a diluted form of God’. 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 (this is a quotation from the Creed of Chalcedon).

Matthew introduces our Lord to be the Son of David and the Son of Abraham: He is God’s appointed king to fulfill all the biblical covenants and our Lord’s favorite title in speaking of himself is probably ‘Son of Man’. In healing the paralytic (Matthew 9:1-8), Jesus openly explains his authority, in that he can do what God alone can do. Namely to forgive sins. The Son of Man is fully God and fully man. Again we meet the doctrine of the hypostatic union of the two natures of Christ as Chalcedon states.

[The] 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.

The Incarnation and Preaching

Our aim must be to fill the hearts and minds of the worshippers of the Triune God with a rich knowledge of Christ Jesus. Paul reminds us in Colossians 1:18:
And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent.

Preaching is the high point of worship in the reformed tradition and therefore we need to study hard to ensure that Christ Jesus is centre stage but it must be Jesus without confusion, without notions that lead to error, without division from the Triune God. This is why the Creed of Chalcedon is so helpful and why our historic creeds and confessions must not be neglected.


Jonathan Hunt said...

Hi Kevin, great post, thanks. I neglected to say 'hi' at Banner. Some other time!


Kevin Bidwell said...


I had to deliver a paper at the Yorkshire Reformed Ministers Fraternal on Monday and the title was: The Incarnation of Christ:What can we Learn from the Creed of Chalcedon?

Through the preparation I found that there was some confused thinking in my own mind concerning the person of Christ. Often I have so wanted to defend the deity of Christ, I think that I have wrongfully neglected the humanity of Christ; who was and is fully God and fully man.

I suggest that all ministers of the gospel and others, read through the Creed of Chalcedon two or three times afresh.

Thanks for the encouragement,

Kevin B