Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Stand for the Rule of Faith, Part 4

Christians are called to stand for the uniqueness of the Gospel message. That message is a message of hope because in it God invaded human history in the person of Jesus Christ. Yesterday I looked at the line which reads "And in Jesus Christ his only begotten Son our Lord." The sentence continues, explaining that he "was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary."

Jesus of Nazareth was fully human, but he was no ordinary human. His conception and birth were the result of a miraculous work of the Triune God. Matthew's Gospel states clearly that Mary and Joseph had not "come together" (had sexual relations) prior to her conceiving Jesus (Matt 1: 18). Matthew further states, as does Luke, that this conception was by the work of the Holy Spirit who "overshadowed" her (Luke 1: 35; the same Spirit who "hovered over the waters" in Genesis 1: 2). Some have tried to discount the virgin conception on the basis of the Hebrew reading of Isa 7: 14, the basis for Matthew and Luke as the prophecy of the birth of the Messiah, but the reality is that the Greek text of Matthew and Luke (as well as the Greek translation of Isa 7: 14 in the Septuagint, made before the time of Christ), can only be read as "virgin". Biologically, Jesus had no human father. Just as in his deity he is the eternally begotten Son of God, so in his humanity is he God's Son. In his virgin conception the cycle of original sin was broken. Jesus came as the "second Adam" (Rom 5: 12ff; 1 Cor 15: 22--45), sinless, holy and filled with the power to be all that God intended for humanity to be. In this way he was suited to offer the perfect sacrifice for the sins of fallen humanity.

What does a real man look like? He looks like Jesus. To the extent we are not like Jesus we do not live up to what it means to be truly and fully human as God intended. The predetermined goal of salvation for every believer, then, is the restoration of the fallen image of God in each of us--"to be conformed to the image of His Son" (Rom 8: 29). Model your life after the life of Jesus--a life committed to Scripture, prayer, personal holiness, knowing and sharing God in sacrificial love for others, and you will know what it means to stand for Jesus. A word of warning here: you can't do this without the indwelling power of the Holy Spirit (Rom 8: 1--11).


  1. Do you think God has a body? Kenneth Hagin said he saw God on his throne, but Jesus told him not to look into his face

  2. No, God does not have a body. God incarnate as Jesus Christ has a body (Paul says that "in him all the fullness of the Godhead dwells in bodily form" Col 1: 19), but "God is Spirit" (John 4: 24) and so has no material parts (see Col 1: 15; 1 Tim 1: 17; John 1: 18). This is also essential to his omnipresence. One problem with Mormon doctrine is that there god has a body and is temporally located in a specific place and time because he was once a man. God's immutability, his omnipresence and his eternality necessitate that he not have a body.

  3. Thank you. As a former Charismatic, we believed that God still gives revelation. Does He?

  4. I don't think so. I believe in a closed canon. Wayne Grudem might argue with me on that one. Certainly anything that poses as "revelation" must be tested against the written word, which is why it is called the "canon"--the rule by which all things are measured for accuracy. The Spirit is not going to lead someone to do or teach something that is contrary to the revealed will of God given in Scripture. God never told anyone to leave his/her spouse.

    I believe the Spirit illuminates--sheds light on existing revelation, but I don't believe he now gives new revelation on par with sacred writ. Many through the centuries have claimed this ability, and none have measured up to the standard of scriptural revelation (popes, Joseph Smith, Quakers, Shakers, Montanus, medieval mystics, just to name a few). That's not to say that God may not give special insight into a particular situation in a church or the life of a believer (note the Covenanter, Peden the Prophet, in 17th century Scotland). But to put those events on par with Scripture I think is the height of arrogance. We are commanded to "test the spirits" for a reason (1John 4: 1--6). There are many lying spirits in the world today who, like Jannes and Jambres, can imitate the real thing up to a point (2Tim 3: 8). Even Satan disguises himself as an "angel of light" (2Cor 11: 14).