Faith Basics: The Incarnation

Faith Basics: The Incarnation
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In this episode Brian Sayers joins Dan Jarms to discuss the glorious mystery of God becoming a man—known as the incarnation. This doctrine is uniquely Christian, and sets historic Christianity apart from all other religions and cults.

  • Automated Transcription
  • Dan Jarms 0:00
    Today on faith matters, we're going to continue our series faith basics. And we're going to be talking about the doctrine of Christ. Today we're talking about the incarnation.

    Dan Jarms 0:15
    I'm Dan Jarms. And you're listening to faith matters a podcast to help update you on matters of faith Bible Church, as well as equip you in matters of the Christian faith.

    Dan Jarms 0:35
    We're in the studio with Brian Sayers. Hey, Brian, Hello, we are in the faith Basics series in and I talked about the Old Testament preparation for Christ. Today we're talking about the incarnation. And Brian is going to help us think through what this means and the significance of it. But But let me just say at the outset, why does the Incarnation matter? It is the uniquely Christian feature of the Bible, this sets Christianity apart, and it paves the way for some important thing. So let's, let's start talking about Brian with just what it is. When we say incarnation, what do we mean?

    Brian Sayers 1:16
    Well, the incarnation is God becoming man. Its God in the fullness of His deity taking on a human nature, so that now and forever, for all eternity, he exists, the person of the Son of God exists as unblemished deity, and fully sinned less humanity at the same time, the God man,

    Dan Jarms 1:41
    the god, man, the way that people have described that the ancient church fathers have described that as fully God fully man 100% God 100%, man, so you have 200% How does that work? We're not gonna worry about the math. Yeah,

    Brian Sayers 1:53
    on one person, they always distinguish, right? So both nature's coexisting in one person,

    Dan Jarms 2:00
    in one person, Jesus Christ. Yes. And, again, some descriptions that I think are really helpful for it when we think of Jesus taking on human flesh, human flesh is is corruptible, it dies. And so when Jesus took on human flesh, he took on the frailty of human flesh and in taking on human flesh, He is the only human to have ever chosen to do that everybody else was born into it. He, second person of the Trinity, God, the Son, eternal son chose to take on a corruptible, killable decodable, human flesh. There's some aspects to it. So there's virgin birth. hypostatic union do want to walk us through the significance maybe of those two things, the virgin birth and the hypostatic union, which is kind of a fancy term, but it's important like your we need some theology, to understand what's going on. Sure.

    Brian Sayers 2:56
    And we would think of the virgin birth as a fundamental doctrine, meaning, if you don't believe in the virgin birth, you really can't believe in the true nature of, of Jesus Christ. And so to deny the virgin birth is essentially to deny the incarnation to deny the incarnation is to deny the reality and the truth of the Godhead. So we think of it as a fundamental doctrine, and the Bible just says it, it's very clear the virgin birth of Jesus was born of the Virgin Mary, before she knew a man the Holy Spirit overshadowed her, and she became with child, by the Holy Spirit. And so it would call them to question the integrity of the text of Scripture as well to doubt the virgin birth because it's, it's stated so clearly, as was predicted by Isaiah, the prophet, Isaiah 714, The virgin will be with child, and she'll, she'll bring forth a son,

    Dan Jarms 3:51
    and, and we have Isaiah nine, six also where you have this son who's going to be born, is going to be called Everlasting Father, Prince of Prince of Peace, God, Almighty God, so whoever was coming was going to be a Son, and God,

    Brian Sayers 4:09
    right? The virgin birth is also what allows for the person of Jesus Christ to be a pre Existent One, right? Every, every birth that happens in a human way, doesn't involve a pre existent soul. But Jesus was forever God, right. So John, one one, in the beginning, was the Word and the Word was with God, and the Word was God and the Word became flesh, John 114, and dwelt among us. He was pre existing and only a virgin birth, in the manner in which it took place would guarantee that the child Jesus was pre existent and so the virgin birth is critical to that. Of course, being God in the flesh, it's the virgin birth as well that guarantees his sinlessness if He were just a man, if he had a human mother and a human father, then he would have also had only a human nature, which would have been corrupted. And so the only way to be born into the world without a corrupted nature is to be God Himself. And so the virgin birth guarantees, having a divine nature that he could be sinless, which is obviously critical for the atonement, as well. So

    Dan Jarms 5:26
    yeah, we'll get to the significance. That leaves us with some questions like, How does this work? How do you get to be fully God fully man? And theologians have talked about this idea of the hypostatic? Union?

    Brian Sayers 5:39
    Yeah, that's the fancy term, that these two natures, I think that means they stand together. But I would call this one of those mysteries, right? How does one person have two natures? We don't know that by experience. And so it's, it's one of those doctrines that you just have to accept by faith. I think that the Bible says it's true. He was fully human and fully divine, the God man, as Paul said in First Timothy, two, five, so yeah,

    Dan Jarms 6:08
    so let's talk about importance of it. Okay. So it's amazing theology. It's mind bending, it's beyond human imagination, just like the doctrine of the Trinity, in some ways, is thoroughly biblical, very difficult to describe other than by scriptural terms. What's the significance though, of the Incarnation?

    Brian Sayers 6:27
    Well, I would say the first thing is, maybe we go back to God created a world in which he gave a creation mandate, that, that mankind would rule over the earth, exercise dominion over the earth. And of course, Adam, as the representative head of the human race, failed at that when he rebelled, sinned against God exercised his own will, not the will, of the true King of the universe. And so Jesus, becoming a man now enables him to become the second atom, the second representative, head of the human race, both to accomplish our redemption and to fulfill that Dominion mandate that a man would rule over the earth, which he'll do when he returns.

    Dan Jarms 7:18
    Yes, so Romans, Romans five, as in Adam, all die, and as in the second atom, as in Jesus Christ, all will be made alive. So we have the creation mandate fulfilled, I was thinking about it, that this this very world, Jesus is going to come and lay claim, fully man is going to lay claim to his world as its king. And he has right to do that as God because all things are his, but he is now going to take that place that Adam had failed. And so that's a an incredible picture.

    Brian Sayers 7:52
    Yeah. So his his right to reign as a representative head of the human race is certainly a critical aspect of the Incarnation, as is his ability to represent us as a sin substitute. So if Jesus were not fully human, he could not stand in the place for human sinners and pay the wages of our sin, which is death, if he were not fully human, he, he couldn't fully pay that price. Yeah, if he weren't fully God, he wouldn't have the power, moral authority to stand before God and make that claim, to stand before God and, and represent us as our, our, basically our, our High Priest, in terms of being redeemed. And that's, that's exactly what the writer of Hebrews says, Since the children this is Hebrews 214, since the children that God has given to be redeemed, share in flesh and blood, it says he himself likewise also partook of the same, that through death, he might render powerless him who had the power of death, that is the devil, and might free those who through fear of death were subjected to slavery, all their lives. And he does that through his work on the cross.

    Dan Jarms 9:08
    The Nicene creed has this pithy, compact set of lines, about Jesus's who for us human beings, and for our salvation came down from heaven, and was incarnate from the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary. So he took on that flesh for our salvation to secure the substitution. Now, the Incarnation work is intimately connected to the atonement and the resurrection, because all of them, you know, are you have to play all the cards. And so, resurrection won't mean the same thing. If there is not an incarnation, incarnation won't mean anything if there isn't a death and resurrection, and the Scripture lays them all out together, but this is fundamental to it.

    Brian Sayers 9:54
    I think. Paul refers to him as in when speaking of the resurrection First Corinthians 15 read he calls him the first fruits of those who will be raised from the dead. Yes, he was the first the representative, he was the example and sample. Yes, what is to come? And so yeah, it is resurrection was the guarantee of our resurrection.

    Dan Jarms 10:16
    Right. So incarnation, ultimately is going to lead to our resurrection and exaltation. And the incarnation is, maybe another key significance is doxa. Logical, in that God has always been demonstrating all of his work for all of his glory. And there is no more glorious thing than Jesus, humbling work and cross work. And Philippians two talks about that, where it gives us a moral example to follow, which we'll talk about in a few minutes. But it talks about Jesus like this. It says, Have this mind among yourself, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who though he was in the form of God, that is the very substance essence form of God. It's not form like as in battle. Yeah, it's like he was very God. This this form is substance, did not count, count, equality with God a thing to be grasped, that is sinfully held, I could understand it. It's not a grasping of understanding. It's the grasping of holding on to it, but emptied himself by taking the form of a servant. People often wonder about what does that emptying mean? But he he takes on the form of a servant. This is all about his humbling being born in the likeness of men, and being found in human form this word likeness, this word form, these are not appearances, like angels appeared as men. Jesus was really man. So what it leads to is that his cross work and then his exultation, God bestows on him the name of every name. So ultimately, the incarnation is Doc's illogical. It's about us praising and worshiping God, who was so humble to come and save us. Sometimes we have a hard time with this idea of emptied himself. What is Paul talking about? Emptying himself?

    Brian Sayers 12:11
    Yeah, I think he's, he's talking about Christ emptying or or nullifying himself in terms of his role, His glories. He emptied Himself of having that position, that position that he wasn't clutching on to, right that he wasn't grasping onto he emptied himself of the worship of angels and the saints in heaven and the glories and the majesty of sitting on the throne in order to become one of us, in order to take on the likeness of, of sinful flesh, not himself being sinful, but he took on all of the weaknesses and the experiences of humanity on our behalf. It isn't just that God came down and he was close to us, or that he encountered humanity or even that he closely observed, our frailty and our sin and our problems that are suffering and our pain and our sorrow. He didn't just come down and look at it closely. He took them all on, he's experienced them all. And having taken on that, and experiencing, it's what allows him to be our faithful high priest. But it's also why in his cross work, he can say that day is coming, because of redemption, will there be no more sin and no more sorrow, and no more shame? That all these former things are going to be passed away because he's, he's born them. He's experienced them. And he's died, so that we will never have to experience in them again and in heaven. So it's, in that sense, it's it's God, how, how, and you know, why would you humble yourself to that extent, to rescue us, and that's extremely, Doc's illogical.

    Dan Jarms 13:55
    And that's why the end of Philippians two ends with Therefore God is all highly exalted him and bestowed on him in the name above every name, that at the name of Jesus, there's just his human name. At the name of Jesus, every knee should bow in heaven and on earth, and under the earth and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father, it is, it is for the purpose of, of worship, questions that the people have about the incarnation? Did he empty Himself by what did he stop being God? Is he was he less God? How does that work?

    Brian Sayers 14:33
    Well, again, you're talking about the nature of a hypostatic union to nature standing together and in one person, which in in one sense, is not explainable, but he did not empty Himself of any essential attributes of deity. But it seems there are indications in the scripture that he willingly submitted his attributes of deity to the will of God the Father, so there were times when he laid aside, maybe the exercise of His omniscience for greater purposes for the purposes of redemption, the purposes of ministry to the human race while he was here, but then you'll see him other times he has omniscience right? He knows what's in the heart of man. Right? So that's how theologians have explained it is that he's he's willingly laid aside the independent exercise of those attributes and submitted them to the will of the Father. And so that's another sense in which we say he, he emptied himself.

    Dan Jarms 15:36
    Yeah, the summary I heard a long time ago setting aside the rights and privileges. Although he is fully God, he did not use those rights and privileges as he wished. At all times, he submitted into a human form. I think when in the end, when it comes to our salvation, God solves the problem of our sin himself. If we consider sin, not only missing the mark, but rebellion, if we are rebels, eventually rebels need to be snuffed out. If God is eternally raining, so death snuffs rebels out, somebody's got to pay for that rebellion. And God chose to pay himself in the person of Jesus. So Jesus took on human flesh, so that when it says God is the Justin justifier, he is saying he, he not only demanded justice, but he satisfied the demands of justice himself, and he had to he had to become human to satisfy those demands. Finally, let's talk about some applications to us. Why, why is this so important to us? Why is this important for our worship?

    Brian Sayers 16:41
    Yeah, Hebrews two says, He had to be made like his brother in verse 17, in all things, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God. And the first thing he mentions is what you just said, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. So being able to stand in our place, and, and bear our sin. But also, later, in chapter four, it says, He can sympathize with our weaknesses. And so we can, we can go to him with confidence to the throne of grace, and may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. So him, him having experienced the weakness of the flesh, him having experienced the fullness of temptation, yet without sin, right, like we were tempted, but eventually we give in, since we're so weak, but he experienced the fullness of temptation, the full strength of temptation all the way to the end. And so he understands it even more deeply than we do. And he's our sympathetic high priest. Because of that,

    Dan Jarms 17:51
    I think of another one out of Hebrews is that he becomes the once for all sacrifice. So because he was the God man, his, his propitiation is full final. All all payment has been made, all things necessary have been done. Otherwise, if it was just a man, Hebrews says, Every man needed to keep offering sacrifices for himself over and over and over again, one man would have just a plain man would have just offered for the redemption of one man, right. And

    Brian Sayers 18:24
    the sacrifice of one finite human being for sin would only pay the penalty for one finite human being. But the sacrifice of Christ that once for all, sacrifice wasn't just a finite human, it was also the eternal God, offering his life on the cross, and therefore it could pay this eternal infinite penalty for mankind's sin. She's amazing. It

    Dan Jarms 18:50
    is it is I alluded to it out of Philippians. Two, where I started reading Have this mind among yourselves, but there was an issue and in Philippi, and there was this disunity. A couple of guys weren't getting along the audience into key, there were other issues of disunity. And he says, you you need to prefer others wants over yourself, don't don't just merely have your own interests in mind, but the interests of others, then he gives the example of Jesus. So one of the issues is about atonement and high priest and somebody we can always go to, he understands because he's lived fully human. But another is because he was willing to be so humble. God Himself was willing to humble himself so much, should we also not be humble. So he's, he's our example.

    Brian Sayers 19:36
    And you certainly wouldn't want to reduce the incarnation or the atonement to follow Jesus example, but it's an obvious implication according to Paul or it would I brought it up in that context, right?

    Dan Jarms 19:49
    We love like he loves. Paul flushes that out in in this way. So as we think about incarnation, it's a vitally important doctrine, and then the implication Christians are far reaching for atonement, for example, for our hope in life and death. All right. Thanks, Brian. This has been helpful if you have more questions and there will be lots of questions about the incarnation. There are lots of places to go. I love jazz packers chapter on the incarnation and knowing God it is a heartwarming, compelling chapter. There's great, great things in some systematic theologies, we use the biblical doctrines book a lot or the moody Handbook of theology and there's some crisp statements there. And the the Nicene Creed is the first that gets at the clearest presentation of that and, and that's been understood by the church for 1800 years, 1700 years, about how Christ Christ took on human flesh. If you have any questions, feel free to email us we can do a future podcast on it.

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Brian Sayers

Brian is the Pastor of Counseling & Equipping at Faith Bible Church. He is passionate about the local church, and equipping the saints to effectively serve one another. Before coming to Spokane, he spent 14 years serving God's people as a pastor in rural New England (Vermont & New Hampshire).

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Dan Jarms

Dr. Dan Jarms is teaching pastor and team leader at Faith Bible Church in Spokane Washington, as well as associate dean at TMS Spokane. He has been married for over 30 years to Linda, and has three adult children. He earned his B.A. in English at the Master’s College, B.Ed. at Eastern Washington University, M.Div and D.Min in Expository Preaching at The Master’s Seminary. His other interests include NCAA basketball, gardening, brick oven cooking.

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