Tuesday, December 24, 2013

My Thoughts on the Incarnation

In the beginning God existed entirely in spirit form as three persons, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. All things that now exist were created by the Son (John 1:3). He created man from the dust of the ground, but made him in the image of God (Genesis 1:27; 2:7). When God breathed into him, he became a living soul (Genesis 2:7). The Scripture often uses the same word for spirit and wind. So it appears to me that when God breathed into Adam He was giving him spiritual life as well as physical life. Several things seem apparent to me. First, man is a spiritual being living in a body made of dust and second, God is not against the body as those with a gnostic viewpoint believe. God created the physical world, including our bodies and He pronounced it good.

Adam disobeyed God and the result was both physical and spiritual death as well as a curse on all of the surrounding creation. In the plan of God to remedy this situation, the Son, also known as the Word became flesh and dwelt among us (John 1:14). He is the image of the invisible God; the express image of His person (Colossians 1:15; Hebrews 1:3). Because of His virgin birth, Jesus was spiritually alive and yet He was in a very human body that was itself subject to the curse. His body felt pain, wept tears, became weary and ultimately bled and died.

During His life, Jesus was tempted in all point as we are and yet never succumbed to the point of sinning (Hebrews 4:15). In living this kind of life, He condemned sin in the flesh. He defeated it on its own turf, the human body! (Romans 8:3) Even though He had not sinned, He died on a cross as the punishment for our sins, since He didn't have any of His own to die for (1 Corinthians 15:3).

The Bible tells us that by believing in Christ, we've been given life through His name (John 20:31). That means spiritual life has been restored to us, but we are still in a body that is dying and living in a world that is cursed. Paul says it this way, “And if Christ is in you, the body is dead because of sin, but the Spirit is life because of righteousness” (Romans 8:10). The same Spirit that gave life to Jesus' body will give life to our mortal body (Romans 8:11). He will transform our lowly body so that it conforms to Christ's glorious body (Phillipians 3:21).
What was Jesus' glorious body like? For one thing, it was visible and He had the capacity to eat. When He appeared to His disciples He said, “A spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see I have” (Luke 24:39). So we will also have a recognizable, visible body capable of many normal physical activities including eating. So we see that even in the resurrection, God is not opposed to bodies. He Himself took on a body. Because of the fact that our bodies are still in a cursed body, we wait eagerly for the redemption of our body at the resurrection (Romans 8:23).

How is the body raised and what kind of body will we have? Paul writes that it is sown in corruption, dishonor, weakness – a natural (soulish) body (1 Corinthians 15:42-44). But it is raised in incorruption, glory and power – a spiritual body (1 Corinthians 15:42-44). Note the fact that even though it is raised a spiritual body, it is not a spirit body. It is like Christ's glorious body which was an actual physical body, although not subject to the curse that our current bodies have. Paul explains that just as we have born the image of the earthly, Adam, so we shall bear the image of the heavenly, the second Adam (1 Corinthians 15:49). In other words, we shall be changed from corruption to incorruption and from mortal to immortality (1 Corinthians 15:52,53). Death is swallowed up in victory! (1 Corinthians 15:54; see also Hebrews 2:14, 15).

The incarnation is not just a theological concept, it is a very real and important truth that will have a tremendously powerful impact for those who have trusted Christ.

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