To all those, for whom Christ hath purchased redemption, he doth certainly and effectually apply and communicate the same; making intercession for them; and revealing unto them, in and by the word, the mysteries of salvation; effectually persuading them by his Spirit to believe and obey; and governing their hearts by his word and Spirit; overcoming all their enemies by his almighty power and wisdom, in such manner and ways as are most consonant to his wonderful and unsearchable dispensation. (Westminster Confession of Faith, VIII.VIII)
Tuesday, December 16, 2014
A definite Incarnation
Do remember what really happened in the Incarnation. God in the person of the Logos came into this world of time and space and fallenness, taking our nature, with a definite propose, which he is achieving. If at this time of the year you are inclined to peruse the chapters of the Gospels that give us their various accounts of the events, or bear them in mind, remember first of all that these events came to use already interpreted.
Beginning with Matthew -
Why is the baby to be called Jesus? Because ‘Jesus’ means Saviour. And who is he to be the Saviour of? ‘His people.’ And what is he saving them from? ‘their sins.’
He will save his people from their sins. (1.18)
Herod’s chief priests and scribes knew this from the Scriptures. They tell Herod that
Jesus is to be ‘a ruler who will shepherd my people Israel’ (2.6. citing Ezekiel 34.23)
The wise men rejoiced at this news. But what did it have to do with them?
Mary was also told that her child was to be called ‘Jesus’
‘He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most high. And the Lord will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob for ever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.’ (1.32-3)
The king of Israel, king of an endless kingdom.
‘And his mercy is for those who fear him, from generation to generation’. (1.50)
That we should be saved from our enemies and from the hand of all hate us. (1.71)
And the Angels said
Glory to God in the highest, and among earth peace among those with whom he is pleased. (2.14)
And Simeon said
‘A light for revelation to the Gentiles, and for glory to your people Israel. (2.32)
And Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother,
‘behold, this child is appointed for the fall and rising of many in Israel’ (2.34)
‘coming up at that very hour she began to give thanks to God and to speak of him to all who were waiting for the redemption of Jerusalem’. (2.38)
The great thing about Luke’s account (by far the most detailed) is how it shows the piety and conceptuality of those who waited for the redemption of Jerusalem, rejoiced at Christ’s coming is expressed on OT terminology. Jesus is a ruler, a shepherd, he sits on the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob. He is a light for revelation to the Gentiles, epitomised by the rejoicing, worshipping, Wise Men. Here the world of the godly remnant of Israel explicitly overlaps with that of the NT such that we, who have the benefit of these later writings, have been given further light to interpret what the spokespeople for the remnant had to say.
‘To all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.’ (1.12-3)
The incarnate Saviour and the new birth.
The work of the Saviour was not some vague thing, mere ‘good will’, but a precise redemption, embracing Jew and Gentile, for some Jews are not true Jews, and some Gentiles are.
‘For no one is a Jew who is merely one outwardly, nor is circumcision outward and physical, But a Jew is one inwardly, and circumcision is a matter of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter. His praise is not from man but from God.’ (Rom 2 28-9)