Arminian Today

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Posts Tagged ‘Incarnation of God

The Beauty of Christmas

I love Christmas.  I really do.  I was listening to an interview with Dr. John MacArthur in which he stated that he has a love/hate relationship with Christmas.  On the one hand, MacArthur said that he loves that December is focused on the Lord Jesus Christ especially by the Church.  The Church celebrates the birth of our Lord but we also recognize that the Word became flesh (John 1:14).  We recognize the mystery of the incarnation of God (Isaiah 7:14; 9:6-7; 1 Timothy 3:16).

Yet, like MacArthur, I also share in his hatred of Christmas because how this celebration has become associated with getting stuff.  I enjoy giving and receiving presents but the world has made Christmas synonymous with stuff.  Where is the joy of the birth of Christ?  Where is the realization that Christmas is about God giving His Son (John 3:16) and not about our greed and desire for stuff.

When I was a boy, I loved Christmas because of the stuff.  My parents raised me to believe in Santa Claus and I believed that I could ask him for anything I wanted and he and his elves would work hard in the north pole to grant me my wishes.  In the midst of this, my dad would read the Christmas story to my sister and I on Christmas morning while I sat starring at my stuff that I would forget about in a week or two.  While I understood that Christmas was vaguely about Christ and His birth, I believed it to be more about Santa Claus and getting kids more toys (and mainly toys that were too expensive to ask for throughout the year before).  Christmas was about Christ but more about my greed than about His birth.  Santa Claus made sure of that.

When I became a Christian, this all changed.  I sit here now having been a Christian for over 20 years.  Through the years my love for Christmas grows.  I love the theology behind Christmas.  I love that we celebrate our Lord’s birth despite my own judgments that He was not born on December 25.  I love that twice in a year (this and Resurrection Sunday or Easter as it is commonly known) we celebrate the Lord Jesus Christ like no other times.  The world despises both holy days.  The world wants to rob Christ of Christmas but they can’t.  Christmas remains with Christ in Christmas. The fact that Christ was born of the virgin, that He lived a sinless life, that He did great miracles, that He taught the people, and that He suffered, was crucified, killed, buried, and then rose again flies in the face of the lost world that would like to keep Christ out of Christmas.

The mystery of Christmas is not that it endures despite the world trying so hard to take Christ away from this day.  The mystery is the incarnation of God.  While people will forget about Jesus after December 25, for the child of God, the mystery remains and one that I rejoice in all year.  I remember someone wrote a song called “Like Christmas All Year Round” and for the disciple of Christ, it is just that.  For me, the joy that I have at my Lord’s birth is not just felt on December 25 but all year long.  I rejoice that Jesus has come.  I rejoice that Jesus is coming again (Acts 1:11).  I rejoice that Jesus is now praying for me before my Father in heaven (Hebrews 7:25).  I marvel at His perfect life that He lived for me (2 Corinthians 5:21).

For me, Christmas is the mystery of the God of glory coming down to His people.  The light of the world (John 8:12) has come to bring us who are in darkness the true light (Matthew 4:16; John 1:9).  The Shepherd who will shepherd His sheep has come (Matthew 2:6; John 10:11; Hebrews 13:20).  God has become a man (John 1:14, 18).  This is the joy of Christmas.  This is the mystery of Christmas and one that I gladly rejoice in.

Merry Christmas to all and may the God of glory fill you with His love by His grace this Christmas season.

Written by The Seeking Disciple

12/24/2015 at 12:40 PM

Merry Christmas!

I love Christmas for the simple reason that the Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us (John 1:14).  I love the incarnation of God!  I love that Christmas represents the time when the Church celebrates the fact that Jesus is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation.  I love that He who created all things became part of His creation (Colossians 1:15-20; Hebrews 1:1-3).  I do not care about the debates over whether Jesus was actually born on December 25.  The point is that He was born of the virgin Mary (Matthew 1:18-23), lived a sinless life (1 Peter 2:22), performed might miracles for God was with Him (Acts 10:38) , He died (John 19:30), rose again on the third day(1 Corinthians 15:1-4) and ascended to the right hand of God on high (Acts 1:11).  Jesus will come again (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18; Revelation 22:20).

Written by The Seeking Disciple

12/24/2013 at 10:24 AM

Arminius on the Divinity of the Son of God

X. The divinity of the person of the Son is evident, from the names which are attributed to him in the scriptures.

(1.) Because he is called God, and this not only attributively, as “the Word was God,” (John i, 1.) “Who is over all, God blessed forever;” (Rom. ix, 5;) but likewise subjectively: “God manifested in the flesh.” (1 Tim. iii, 16.) “O God, thy God hath anointed Thee with the oil of gladness.” (Heb. i, 9.) Nay, he is likewise called “the great God.” (Tit. ii, 13.)

(2.) The word “Son” stands in proof of the same truth, especially so far as this name belongs to him properly and solely, according to which he is called “God’s own Son,” (Rom. viii, 32,) and “his only begotten Son,” (John i, 18,) which expressions, we affirm, are tantamount to his being called by nature, the Son of God.

(3.) Because he is called “King of kings and Lord of lords;” (Rev. xvii, 14; xix, 16;) and “the Lord of glory.” (1 Cor. ii, 8.) These appellations prove much more strongly what we wish to establish, if they be compared with the scriptures of the Old Testament, in which the same names are ascribed to him who is called Jehovah. (Psalm xcv, 3; xxiv, 8-10.)

(4.) Pious antiquitity established the same truth from the name, of Logos, “the Word;” which cannot signify the outward word that is devoid of a proper subsistence, on account of those things which are attributed to it in the Scriptures. For it is said to have been “in the beginning, to have been with God, and to be God,” and to have “created all things,” &c.

XI. The essential attributes of the Deity which are in the Scriptures ascribed to the Son of God, likewise declare this in the plainest manner.

(1.) Immensity: “My Father and I will come unto him, and make our abode with him.” (John xiv, 23.) “That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith.” (Ephes. iii, 17.) “I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world.” (Matt. xxviii, 20.)

(2.) Eternity: “In the beginning was the Word.” (John i, 1.) “I am Alpha and Omega, the first and the last.” (Rev. i, 11; ii, 8.)

(3.) Immutability: “But thou, O Lord, remainest; thou art the same, and thy years shall not fail.” (Heb. i, 11, 12.)

(4.) Omniscience is also attributed to him: For he searches the reins and hearts;” (Rev. ii, 93.) He “knows all things.” (John xxi, 17.) And he perceived the thoughts of the Pharisees. (Matt. xii, 25.)

(5.) Omnipotence: “According to the efficacy whereby the Lord Jesus Christ is able even to subdue all things unto himself” (Phil. iii, 21.) But the Divine nature cannot, without a contradiction, be taken away from him to whom the proper essentials of God are ascribed.

(6.) Lastly. Majesty and glory belong to Him equally with the Father: “That all men should honour the Son, even as they honour the Father.” (John v, 23.) “Blessing, and honour, and glory, and power, be unto Him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb, forever and ever.” (Rev. v, 13.)

XII. The divine works which are attributed to Him, establish the same truth.

(1.) The creation of all things: “All things were made by Him.” (John i, 3.) “By whom also, he made the worlds,” or the ages. (Heb. i, 2.) “One Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things.” (1 Cor. viii, 6.) But what are these “all things?” Exactly the same as those which are said, in the same verse, to be “of the Father.”

(2.) The preservation of all things: all things by the word of his power.” (Heb. i, 3.) “My Father worketh hitherto, and I work.” (John v, 17.)

(3.) The performing of miracles: “Which He works by the Holy Spirit, who is said to “have received of the things of Christ, by which he will glorify Christ.” (John xvi, 14.) “By which, also, he went and preached unto the spirits in prison.” (1 Pet. iii, 19.) This Spirit is so peculiar to Christ, that the Apostles are said to perform miracles in the name and power of Christ.

Written by The Seeking Disciple

12/20/2013 at 10:58 AM

The One True and Living God

Christianity is a monotheistic religion.  We believe that there is one God.  We reject the Muslim view of Christianity that says that we are polytheistic or tritheistic and they say that we add Mary to the Godhead.  This, of course, is simply false.  Christianity has always been a monotheistic faith.  We believe that we worship the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.  The same God who called His people out of Egypt through His servant Moses is the same God who sent His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, to die for our sins.  We believe the same God of Genesis 1 is the same God of Revelation 22 and all in-between.  We believe the same God who was the God of David is the God of Paul the Apostle of Jesus.

So how do we then understand the doctrine of the Trinity in regard to the monotheism that is taught in the Bible?  How can it be that the Father is God, the Son is God, and the Holy Spirit is God yet there is only one God?  The mystery of the Trinity is indeed a profound doctrine.  Yet despite the mystery of the Trinity, I don’t believe that we should reject the Trinity because our minds cannot grasp it.  To me, the doctrine of the Trinity proves that our God is the one true and living God because we can’t grasp Him.  If you can figure your god out, how are they God?  Isaiah mentions the foolishness of false gods made in our image in Isaiah 40:18-20.  A false god is a god who can be understood by our minds.  But not the true God.  Even Paul said in Romans 11:33-36 that God’s ways and God’s thoughts are beyond our understanding.  Who can fathom a God as we find in the Bible?  This God who created all things.  This God who does miracles.  This God who saves sinners.  This God who loves us with an undying love.  This God who hears our prayers and answers them for His own glory and purposes.  This God who sovereignly controls all things by His power and even upholds the universe by His word (Hebrews 1:3).

Yet as we begin to study the doctrine of the Trinity it is important to first establish the reality of God and the oneness of God.  The Bible makes a basis assumption about God and His existence and that is that God does exist.  Genesis 1:1 simply opens with God creating the world.  The Bible doesn’t spend a lot of time trying to give evidences for the existence of God.  In fact, Hebrews 11:6 says, “And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him” (NASB).  Faith in the existence of God is by no means a “blind faith” meaning that God has not given us evidence of His existence but certainly we do need faith (and God requires faith) in order to approach God.  I believe that this applies to studying God as well.  An atheist might begin to read the Bible but until faith begins to build and the person begins to look for the living God (who does exist), they will always read and study God with a notion that He does not exist.  But when a person says honestly before God, “I don’t know if You exist but I want to find You if You do”, I believe God responds to such a heart.

Scripture gives us three basic ways that we can know God exists.  First, creation.  Secondly, the Bible.  Third, the Lord Jesus Christ.

Creation – Psalm 19:1-6 and Romans 1:20 both teach that nature itself speaks about the glory and existence of God.  The wonder of creation causes us to look behind the creation to the One who created it.  Even today scientists are always looking for the creator behind the creation.  How could one look at human DNA for example and believe that it happened merely by chance?  How can one look out at the vastness of space and believe that a “big bang” simply threw creation into order?  When one looks at a newborn baby in their arms, how can they ignore the fact that we are created in the image of God (Genesis 1:26-27)?  Creation cries out to us, as Psalm 19:1-3 points out, to the glory of God.  Creation causes us to stop and question, “Who created all this?”

Bible – The fact of creation should in turn lead us to the Bible.  The Bible reveals who created all things.  We can open the Bible to Genesis 1-2 and read how God created all things and how all that we see, including ourselves, came to be.  While we must accept Genesis 1-2 by faith, there is evidence that there is a creator in His creation.  How can one look at a glorious painting and ignore the painter who painted the painting?  Yet we do this all the time in secular science.  We ignore the fact that creation points to the existence of God.

Yet to just acknowledge a creator is not enough.  Some agnostics acknowledge that a creator is probably out there but they reject that the creator is the God of the Bible.  Most of the time, I have found, this rejection is not based on knowledge but upon the refusal of people to submit to the authority of God.  If God did create all things and if the Bible is true then we must submit to Him and do what He has said for us to do according to His Law (1 Timothy 1:8-11).  To simply say that we believe in God or in a creator is not enough.  There is a yearning within us to know this creator.  We don’t want to simply say that He is there but we want to know who He is and what He is like.  That is a basic human element.  To know our creator.  This mark, along with many others, raises us up above animals and plants.  We want to know our creator.  We want to learn about Him who created.

This happens in the special revelation of the Bible.  The Bible reveals God faithfully though not fully.  Nothing can fully capture who God is.  His ways and His thoughts are so much higher than ours.  But the Bible does reveal enough about God that we can know Him.  Jesus said in John 17:3 that eternal life is found in knowing God.  Paul said in Acts 17:24-27 that God created all things but through His Son, we can know Him (Acts 17:30-31).

The Lord Jesus Christ – The reality of God becoming flesh (John 1:14) is found in Jesus.  The God who created all things in Genesis 1-2 was born of the Virgin Mary in Luke 2.  The God of Job, the unseen One, is now seen in the person of Jesus Christ walking in the land of Israel (John 14:9).  Jesus was God in the flesh (John 1:1).  He was fully God and fully Man.  How can this be?  Certainly there is mystery in the incarnation of God but the reality is that God came down and walked among us (Isaiah 9:6-7).  Jesus was God (Romans 9:5).  In Colossians 1:15-17 we read, “He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation.  For by him all things were created , in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities – all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together.”   What a wonderful view of the Lord Jesus we get from Colossians 1:15-17.

In Philippians 2:5-11 we read of the incarnation of our Lord.  We read how He left eternity and equality with God the Father in order to become man.  We read in Philippians 2:7 how Jesus emptied Himself and became a man.  He became the suffering servant of Isaiah 53.  Jesus became a man fully dependent upon the Father (Hebrews 5:8-9).  Jesus lived fully to the glory of God and lived a sinless life so that He could bear our sins (1 Peter 2:21-24).

Jesus reveals God to us.  If you want to understand God, study Jesus.  In John 14:8-11 Jesus tells His disciples to look to Him for who God is and what God is like.  Some try to paint God in the image of man, that He is a harsh judge or an evil dictator.  But the reality is that God is best seen in Jesus who loved us and died for us (1 John 4:10).  The love of 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 is nothing else but God incarnate in the Lord Jesus Christ, the perfect Son of God.

Written by The Seeking Disciple

08/15/2011 at 1:18 PM

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