Skip to comments.Christmas: Why is it important that God became Flesh?
Posted on 12/24/2001 8:05:12 AM PST by xzins
The Bible says, "The Word Became Flesh".....God became flesh, human. The incarnation.
Why is this important to the average joe? Any opinions, reflections, stories are welcome.
God had to become like one of us...tempted by everything we are and yet He couldn't sin...not even once. That's why Satan tried to tempt Jesus with everything that he could.
Jesus is our Passover Lamb. If you're aware of the Passover story. He had to die as a spotless Lamb without a flaw or blemish. In order that we might be saved.
Without Jesus's shed blood there couldn't be forgiveness for our sins. When God looks at a saved sinner all He see's is Jesus's blood covering us.
One of the lessons I take from Him is that all else passes, love alone endures.
While I believe that Christ was the sacrifice for our sins, I cannot completely follow the logic of it. Why did He have to die, for example, just because I sinned? Why is it logical for God to forgive me because Jesus sacrificed himself on the cross. It seems like God would've been really pleased with Jesus, but that I'm still standing there looking pretty dirty.
It's like if my brother came to the Judge to offer to take the penalty for my reckless driving conviction. The judge might be impressed with my brother's love, but he'd still have to consider that I was THE ONE WHO had broken the reckless driving law. Not to mention that I would need retraining in driving.
Firstly thank you for the thread, as someone who sometimes struggles with such things and has arrived at my search rather late in life I find the questions and answers helpful.
But it raises a point that I've not been able to resolve nor have I found anyone who can.
If indeed Jesus died for our sins so that if we believe in him we will go to heaven when do we go to heaven? When we die?
I find this at odds with things like the various creeds that proclaim that Jesus will return to judge the living/quick and the dead/raise the dead (depending on the creed). If we're in heaven (or hell) who is going to be /judgedraised?
Any references, clarifications, discussions etc. would be greatly appreciated.
The conclusion that St. Thomas reached was that the Incarnation had a secondary purpose, and that purpose was to provide an example for mankind of supreme humility and compassion. From a human perspective, nothing could be more "humiliating" than for an all-powerful, immortal God to assume a mortal body and become a part of His own creation.
Interestingly, I find that the story of Satan's temptation of Christ is the most compelling evidence in Scripture of this view. Satan offers three distinct temptations, and in every instance Christ refuses them in a manner that does not require him to "use" any supernatural powers.
That is why Christ was required to be born, die, and live again.
It's figurative. The Kingdom of Heaven is the issue. The 8 Beatitudes explain this to some degree.
Well, we know from the Bible that "the wages of sin is death." So apart from Christ, all men are sinners deserving of death and eternal punishment. The reason Jesus had to come as God incarnate is so that he could be our substitute. On the cross, Jesus willingly took on every single individual sin that his people have ever committed...he took on every sin nature....and in those moments, he took upon himself God's judgment of US. This is the miracle of the incarnation and the cross. It was both a supernatural and a human act that broke the power of sin and satisfied God's justice. This is part of Jesus' cry from the cross, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" At that moment, God turned his back on his own son because of the sin he took upon his own sinless person...in this, Jesus endured God's wrath and God turning away from him, so that God could turn his face toward us.
By the life that he lived, we are clothed in His righteousness (because he fulfilled the law we were unable to) and in His sacrifice, our sins are washed away.
This is a gift that could only come through someone who was perfectly human and perfectly God, both at the same time.
The reason that Christ HAD to be both God and man was so that his humanity could "stand in" for us and could satisfy God's justice. God cannot go against his own nature and righteousness, so Jesus satisfies God's justice on our behalf, but he also mediates God's mercy and grace to us. Mercy, grace and justice all meet at the cross of Christ.
Amazing Grace indeed!!
By re-alligning man's relationship with the all powerful "god in the sky", we radically alter all our notions of the individual's relationship to earthly authority--and vice versa, of course.
Which is why Christianity will, inevitably become the targetted enemy of the New World Order. It has to be. This is also why you find that global capitalists, left-wing radicals and bureacratic/mangerial functionaries have an affection for Islam. When you see all those men with their foreheads on the ground you should meditate upon the underlying assumptions about authority and the individual human's place in the hierarchy of the universe that such a physical posture betrays.
And all because Christians were able to fashion a brilliant melding of Jewish, classical Greek/Roman, and European pagan practices around the person of Jesus and his followers.
We also see, as the visigoth Ruling Elite tears us further and further away from our cultural heritage, certain loathsome Christian heresies have taken root. A sort of de-naturing of the faith is taking place--the anti-intellectual demands of a commercialized, democratic society--and the person of Jesus is subtly downplayed in favor of the Old Testament psycopath who is so beloved to so many "law and order" types.
Consequently the American people are much more bovine and complacent in the face of the grotesqely huge Imperial interventionist police/welfare state that now "protects" them from "evil" at home and abroad.
As Montiverdi so brilliantly puts it in "Christe, Redemptor Omnium":
"Christe, Redemptor omnium,
Quem lucis ante originem,
Parem paternae gloriae,
Pater supremus editit,
Memento, rerum Conditor,
Nostri quod olim corporis,
Sacrate ab alvo Virginis,
Nascendo, formam sumpseris...."
When a human being can stand upright under the sun and adress his "god" in this fashion it has revolutionary implications....
Merry Christmas. On to the barricades...
During the Great Tribulation, you will come back with Jesus as his army to fight against the un-Godly...And of course, you and Jesus will prevail, mightily...
When you get to heaven, you will be judged by Jesus on "what you did for Him as a Christian"...The Bible says that what you did on earth that didn't produce good for God, will be burned...What you did that was good, you will be rewarded for...
At the White Throne Judgement, everyone WILL confess that Jesus is Lord, before they are cast into outer darkness to the lake of fire....The two are not the same...
Many will disagree with what I just said...My only advice to you or anyone is, Don't let someone "educate" you out of the Bible...
He assumes our form for no other reason than to be the atoning Sacrifice for the sin of the world, the Lamb of God. Not for angels or spirits did He do this. Nor did He become a giraffe or dog. Whatever righteousness one may lack, it is found in Him. What ever punishment we deserve was born by Him. And He lives and rules eternally for the good of all, even our enemies.
Truly remarkable, and good reason to rejoice depsite the temporary woes of this life.
From what I can read in the Bible, Heaven exists (the Bible states that it does), but when we die we do not go directly to Heaven. We must all be judged first (Judgement Day), hence the Revelations scripture of raising the sleeping (dead) to be judged before the living and that Heaven is rebuilt.
Some believe that when we die, everyone sleeps until the final judgment, and then at that point those who are in Christ go to heaven.
Many believe that those who are in Christ go immediately to heaven upon their death--that's what I believe. There are a couple of proof texts that come to mind. One is Paul's statement regarding whether or not it is better to be alive and here on earth or present with the Lord (if someone has a Bible and knows the passage, you could clean up my paraphrase 'cause it's really awful). The other proof text that really convinces me is Jesus' declaration to the thief on the cross when he says, "Today you shall be with me in paradise."
Thanks for saying that. I woke up this morning with a situation in my head concerning a nasty neighbor who has caused me incredible grief over the past several years with his antics. Dunno why it popped into my head since thankfully nothing has happened in several weeks but it did, and I started the day angry and frustrated over how someone could be so obtuse.
Your simple statement has given me a new perspective. I think I'll pray for that nasty old neighbor. God works in many ways.
God has complete metaphysical control of the indebtedness incurred in sin -- something which cannot happen with mere human justice. Perhaps a more understandable analogy would be that of a business in good financial condition which takes ownership of a second business which is heavily in the red, then it pays off the second business's debts.
There was once a man who didn't believe in God, and he didn't hesitate to let others know how he felt about religion and religious holidays, like Christmas. His wife, however, did believe, and she raised their children to also have faith in God and Jesus, despite his disparaging comments.
One snowy Christmas Eve, his wife was taking their children to a Christmas Eve service in the farm community in which they lived. She asked him to come, but he refused." That story is nonsense!" he said. "Why would God lower Himself to come to Earth as a man? That's ridiculous!" So she and the children left, and he stayed home.
A while later, the winds grew stronger and the snow turned into a blizzard. As the man looked out the window, all he saw was a blinding snowstorm. He sat down to relax before the fire for the evening. Then he heard a loud thump. Something had hit the window. Then another thump. He looked out, but couldn't see more than a few feet. When the snow let up a little, he ventured outside to see what could have been beating on his window. In the field near his house he saw a flock of wild geese. Apparently they had been flying south for the winter when they got caught in the snowstorm and couldn't go on. They were lost and stranded on his farm, with no food or shelter. They just flapped their wings and flew around the field in low circles, blindly and aimlessly. A couple of them had flown into his window, it seemed. The man felt sorry for the geese and wanted to help them. The barn would be a great place for them to stay, he thought. It's warm and safe; surely they could pend the night and wait out the storm.
So he walked over to the barn and opened the doors wide, then watched and waited, hoping they would notice the open barn and go inside. But the geese just fluttered around aimlessly and didn't seem to notice the barn or realize what it could mean for them. The man tried to get their attention, but that just seemed to scare them and they moved further away.
He went into the house and came with some bread, broke it up, and made a bread crumbs trail leading to the barn. They still didn't catch on. Now he was getting frustrated. He got behind them and tried to shoo them toward the barn, but they only got more scared and scattered in every direction except toward the barn. Nothing he did could get them to go into the barn where they would be warm and safe. "Why don't they follow me?!" he exclaimed. "Can't they see this is the only place where they can survive the storm?" He thought for a moment and realized that they just wouldn't follow a human. "If only I were a goose, then I could save them," he said out loud. Then he had an idea. He went into barn, got one of his own geese, and carried it in his arms as he circled around behind the flock of wild geese. He then released it. His goose flew through the flock and straight into the barn--and one by one the other geese followed it to safety.
He stood silently for a moment as the words he had spoken a few minutes earlier replayed in his mind: "If only I were a goose, then I could save them!" Then he thought about what he had said to his wife earlier. "Why would God want to be like us? That's ridiculous!" Suddenly it all made sense. That is what God had done. We were like the geese--blind, lost, perishing. God had His Son become like us so He could show us the way and save us. That was then meaning of Christmas, he realized.
As the winds and blinding snow died down, his soul became quiet and pondered this wonderful thought. Suddenly he understood what Christmas was all about, why Christ had come. Years of doubt and disbelief vanished like the passing storm. He fell to his knees in the snow, and prayed his first prayer:"Thank You, God, for coming in human form to get me out of the storm!"
Sorry about the length...
I Corinthians 6:19-20 Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body.
I Corinthians 7:23 You were bought at a price; do not become slaves of men.
Acts 20:28 Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers. Be shepherds of the church of God, which he bought with his own blood.
And a similar idea here.... I Peter 1:18-19 For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect.
I have my share of grievances and angers over some of the slights and harm others have done to me, and thinking of His request always reminds me that those who sin against us usually have no understanding that they are hurting us.
And, I am always afraid that I have done the same or worse to others without understanding the impact of my words or actions.
So, when I say the Lord's Prayer, I concentrate very hard on how much I need to forgive others if I want to be forgiven.
What gave him the right to purchase me? Was it some kind of old law of the universe that God had established? Sort of like, "if you give your life for someone, then they belong to you?"
God wants a close relationship with man, John 3:16
Our sin separates us from God, Isa. 59:2
Justice requires that our sins be paid for, Rom. 5:23
God provided a sacrifice to pay for our sins, 1 John 4:10
Jesus Died on the Cross voluntarily
Jesus had the choice, Matt. 26:53, 54
He was sinless, 1 Pet. 2:22
Jesus had the power, John 19:11
Jesus had the will, Matt. 26:39
pleased not Himself, Rom 15:3
He loved us, Eph 5:2
for you you have nothing to offer that isn't God's already, Luke 17:10
the Father wants a close relationship so He paid your cost, John 3:16
so that you could choose to be close to Him, James 4:8
He still doesn't force you to, Mark 16:16
The Jews had to make many specific sacrifices to God. Jesus serves as our sacrifice.
To make this an object lesson, We'll give xzins a dollar bill.
Say we all went out to a restaurant to eat. We all eat til we're stuffed but xzins eats nothing.
Then the waiter delivers the bill. We're broke.
Only "xzins" has any money. Who will pay the bill?
xzins's the only one with money.
Who should pay the bill? We should. But we can't.
If xzins pays, is that fair? No. Is it merciful of him? Yes!
Jesus paid our bill for us. We could never have enough to pay for our sins.
Should we be grateful? Yes!
The right to purchase comes from His role in Creation:
13 For he [God] has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves,
14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.
15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation.
16 For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him.
17 He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.
It's not a universal application, because Jesus is BOTH man AND God together in one person. So the rights and privileges that he has come from his standing as God, whereas his representation of man before God comes from his human nature.
Also, the Father has given us to the Son to be redeemed, as the following passages talk about:
38 For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me.
39 And this is the will of him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all that he has given me, but raise them up at the last day.
40 For my Father's will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day."
It gave me "Goose Bumps"
God made it very simple for us...man has tried to make our salvation hard.
The sacrifice is that Christ already had the benefits and glory of being God. God has no need of man for anything, He could have simply let man be destroyed by his own wickedness and sin. Yet instead, he chose to show His mercy through Jesus. And Jesus' sacrifice was one not just of dying, though that was horrific in and of itself, but his sacrifice was also in taking on the sin of the world--all that ugliness and wickedness that God hates, he put upon Himself. It was a spiritual sacrifice, not just a physical one.
The glorification that came later was a result of that sacrifice, but that doesn't mean the sacrifice wasn't a sacrifice. For example, if a parent "sacrifices" by working long and hard hours, foregoing certain material blessings, in order for their child to go to college and have a better life, it doesn't undo the sacrifice if his peers then praise him for those sacrifices and it doesn't undo the sacrifice if the child then provides great benefits for the parent.
The glory that came to Christ in response to that sacrifice vindicated the sacrifice, and proved that the sacrifice was acceptable to God.
If you're a Christian (accepted Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior) at the moment of your death you are in Heaven with Him.
You just don't have your physical flesh & bone (resurrected) body yet
It's put a huge smile on my face!!! :)
Answered by others but here's my answer.
Suppose your fine for Reckless driving was a million dollars or hanging and there was no way in your entire life you could ever pay the million dollars. However, your long-lost brother was an early investor in Microsoft and had a million to give you. He willingly gave it and so you were released. You were still guilty but the price was paid by another who loved you.
That would be called 'grace' - an unwarranted favor, not earned and not deserved. Love personified by Jesus Christ. God in human form, dying for us, his beloved children. Paying the price we could not pay and with His resurrection three days later, defeating death and showing us that death is not the end. We live on, in a different form, for eternity.
If we accept the gift of salvation through Jesus Christ, we are promised a home in heaven - with God. If we chose to reject Christ's fee gift, we will spend it outside of heaven, in hell, away from God forever and we will know that we made the choice - not God. That will be part of the punishment; separation from God and the full understanding that we put ourselves in hell, forever, with no appeal or reprieve.
That's the reality that we are free to accept or reject (free will). Hard to believe that hundreds of millions chose to reject the gift but they do, and with wonderfully intellectual reasoning and articulate arguments why God does not exist, the bible is a collection of lies and fantasy and Christ was a figment of someones imagination. Tragic.
They scoff and sneer at the very suggestion that they might need a savior (ala Ted Turner). Science is all, man is supreme and God is dead, a victim of man's superior intellect. Humanism. Arrogant and self-serving but very, very popular in these parts. Be warned.
The deed to the land was rolled into a scroll and wax was affixed to it to hold it closed. If a man could not afford to get his land back, he might go to a more properous kinsman and ask him to buy it back for him. He was called the Kinsman Redeemer, he would pay the price, take the scroll and break the wax seal, only he was allowed to do this. In Revelation, Jesus is breaking the wax on the scroll and reclaiming dominion over the earth and all that it in it, our Kinsman Redeemer.
God the Father, allowed God the Son, to become flesh, no longer are we just created in His image, no longer are we just a creation like a bird or a cow, we are actually related to Him now in the flesh bond. We needed a Kinsman Redeemer to redeem us from death, and now that is accomplished.
The punishment for sin is death, the only attonement blood, God's justice, mercy, wrath, grace, to me is like lightening flashes of pure emotion, man use to receive the full dose of whatever was turned to him, Jesus seems to me the prism that blends them into compassion from experience, and He is the only way to God.
MAPie, I think you're onto what I'm looking for.
Let's say that I'm hopeless, helpless, and without God in my life. That's bad, right? But let's say it's worse than that. Let's say I'm destructive, that I'm prone to destroying things, causing them to either directly or indirectly die. I'm messing up the whole scene. By all appearances, I'm an active enemy against God's creation. If an analogy would fit, pretend I'm a corn borer in the cornfield. I'm destroying the crop that the farmer worked so hard to plant. The farmer needs to spray to kill me off, 'cause all I'm doing is bringing death to what he's trying to grow.
That'd make me not just lost, but also deserving of extermination; in fact, it'd make my extermination a necessary thing.
So Jesus comes along and dies for a seriously destructive me AND that gives him the right to purchase me and go to God and say, "Look, he belongs to me. He's one of the ones I bought. I'm gonna rehabilitate this one, so none of this "go to hell" stuff with this guy. He's one of mine."
Now, at this point, why doesn't God say, "No dice, Jesus! How in the world did you get the idea that dying for that destructive little twerp would give You the right to purchase him? Where'd you get that idea? He's a blight on creation and everything he touches seems to die, decay, or rot. We gotta get rid of him."
At this point, I need Jesus to reply with, "I had the right to purchase him based on X and Y of Code Z "Law of the Universe" subsection 7.111."
MA Pie, your stuff about the year of jubilee and the redeemer getting to take back what was family property gets in the direction of what I'm looking for. But let's say I go to that farmer with the corn-borer problem and say, "Hey, Mr Farmer, I became a corn-borer and died for them, so I want you to stop spraying now. That gave me the right to purchase them, so they're all mine now." The farmer will say, "Says who? What law says you get to own them if you die for them?"
Also, there does need to be a rehab program that Jesus would mention that would convince the Judge that I'm going to somehow be rendered non-destructive. How does just believing in Jesus convince God that I'm going to be a good candidate for the rehab, not just now but for eternity. See what I mean? Otherwise, I might go on some tear in the spiritual world like Satan did, who was a former Angel, and start more destruction in that realm and need to be brought to an end.
I'd appreciate any thoughts on this question that you might have. I hope I'm not wasting your time.
A young man came to Jesus telling him how respectful he was of him. Jesus said, "Follow me", and the young man replied, "First let me go and bury my Father". Jesus said to him "Let the dead, bury the dead". To understand what Jesus meant you must have a grasp on what being a human or any other animal entails. Everything has a soul, your personality as it were, just the fact that your alive means you have a soul, but this does not distinguish you from any other animal, except for the fact that you were made in the image of God. So we all walk around with our souls and our distinct personalities, but the soul we have is "apt to die" to perish.
Jesus stands at the door of your heart and gently knocks, he doesn't barge in, he doesn't demand you follow him, he is offering you eternal life as his companion, a member of the family of God. When you understand that he has created a bridge between you and God that sin had blocked and you accept what he did for you, you are given the "Holy Spirit", a part of God comes to live inside you.
It begins as a little seed, like a mustard seed, it is YOUR will that waters and makes it grow. It is many people's experience that when you first make that decision to accept what Jesus did for you, Satan becomes furious, many people's lives are hit with so much trouble causing so much anger, that is usally directed towards God, it's like, "See what happens when I try to come to God? If this is what my life will be like, forget it". The Bible warns in Matthew 13:19 that Satan will try to snatch that seed from you by blind siding you, it is your will that keeps it. It must be such a pearl of great price to you that you will go through anything to keep it.
Once you have set your will you find one of two things happens, it is different with different people, one set will find that they are suddenly transformed into a new person, but most of us find out slowly, little by little, that we are no longer alone inside ourselves, we begin to recognize there is another voice that speaks to our decision making. That is the Holy Spirit, and you can follow it, or ignore it, your choice. The more you follow it, the more you are transformed into the image of Christ, you are still yourself, but your mind changes about alot of things.
You are no longer only human, your soul is not "apt to die", you have become enternal and on the road to eternal adventures that other's will gnash their teeth in anguish over have missed, much to their sorrow and God's.
I hope this helps your understanding, if you follow the new person inside you, follow his voice, then you no longer are the destructive insect you mentioned, but a blessing to God, and a tool for God to bless others. Merry Christmas xzins, I hope if you have anymore questions you will honor me with a question. God bless and keep you until that day when we meet in His presence full of joy and anticipation.
Ever hear of crypto-marcionism?
Great answer, and a good hint that the theory of substitutionary attonement is inadequate to an understanding of how God transforms and redeems time and matter through his intervention therein.
I have recently been thinking about prayer. Now, we all know that prayer is chiefly a means of conforming ourselves to God, but how are we to understand petitionary prayer if we also understand God as unchanging? I don't yet have an answer to this, but I have a hunch: God's receptiveness to prayer is somehow caught up with the Incarnation -- with his own entry into time. Perhaps this is part of what's meant when we see Christ referred to as the high priest through whom all must come to have access to the Father.
This is the kind of message that they have the "private reply" button for.