“In the beginning…”

Often major ideas in a sermon have a way of crystallizing after I’ve preached it. That was the case for this one. (Listen here.) It occurred to me how the incarnation answers our need for transcendence and imminence. We are made to appreciate greatness and glory (That’s transcendence). Paul Tripp says we are made to be dazzled. We need our lives to be wrapped up in something bigger than ourselves. But we also need closeness, intimacy—imminence. We aren’t satisfied with the mere idea of love in the abstract. We want a particular person to love and to be loved by. That’s where the incarnation is so powerful. “God became flesh and dwelt among us.” In other words, we see transcendence up close and personal. The incarnation helps us see how God is both big and close. And we need both to make it through our lives.

Here’s a quote from one of my favorite theologians that has shaped my thinking on the incarnation.

“It is…John in his prolog who [explains the connection between Revelation and the Incarnation]. Not only was the Logos [=the Word] in the beginning with God and himself God, and not only were all things made by Him; but from the moment of creation, this Logos also communicated his life and light to creatures—For in Him was life, and the Life was the light of all people. Even after the fall, this revelation did not stop. On the contrary, the light of the Logos shone in the darkness and enlightened everyone coming into the world. He revealed Himself particularly in Israel, which he had chosen for his own inheritance and led and blessed as Angel of the covenant. He came continually to his own in theophany, prophecy, and miracle. In that manner the Son prepared the whole world, including Jews as well as Gentiles, for His coming in the flesh. The world and humanity, land and people, cradle and stable, Bethlehem and Nazareth, parents and relatives, nature and environment, society and civilization—these are all components in the fullness of time in which God sent His son into the flesh…For if God was able to reveal himself in the way Scripture testifies with respect both to the Gentile world and to Israel, then the possibility of the incarnation is inherently included in that revelation; and if the incarnation were not possible, then neither could the revelation be maintained. Revelation, after all, is based on the same idea as the incarnation: on the communicability of God, both in His being to the Son (generation) and outside His being to creatures (creation).” Hermam Bavinck Reformed Dogmatics Vol. 3


About mike

As a result of God's sovereign grace, Mike is--first and foremost--a Christian. He is the husband of a beautiful wife, father of five wonderful kids, and pastor of Greenbelt Baptist Church, in Maryland.
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2 Responses to “In the beginning…”

  1. Kern says:

    Something to think of in Transcendence… His Name… not the “Jehovah [Attribute]” ones, though those are mighty to think on… but Yahweh… I Am… if for nothing else but to realize He Is… not in the human way, either… We humans were… in the past, are (for but a second) and (should He allow) will yet be. We truly exist in only the split-second present, and never truly know if we are going to see the next second – let alone tomorrow. (Remember the rich man with his “Rest and take thy ease my soul…” and God’s rebuke “Thou Fool!”) Well, He IS, ACTIVELY, in the past, IS, ACTIVELY, in the present, IS, ACTIVELY, in the future – going before us as we are headed into situations, minding the times and people, and situations we have left, but he IS still there, actively in our past, bringing it all to a point where it WILL be a blessing to us, and a glory to HIM, and HE IS, ACTIVELY, in the present with us, our guide (should we choose to place each day before HIM and ask Him to bless the path we walk. We do not know, but HE sees all – past, present, and future, and is actively bringing them to a situation that we, trapped in time cannot percieve. Truly, His ways are not ours, but His ways are there to give us a future and a hope, and He is beckoning us on to join with Him in building His kingdom – person by person, heart by heart, soul by soul. For those we see are immortal – every one you meet. Immortally blessed, or immortally damned, and the treasure of eternity over which the demons and angels contest. So… Postion, power, here… will fade, and be folded up like a Monopoly Board, to be put away with the game when done… but each life you touch for HIM, for Eternity… will be a person whose company you can treasure, and whose purpose you can see unfold as they grow closer to Him… A fellowship of legends? Of Immortals? It’s right before your eyes. How’s that for inspiration? 🙂

  2. mike says:

    Thank you Kern. That reminds me of a quote by C.S. Lewis: “It is a serious thing to live in a society of possible gods and goddesses, to remember that the dullest most uninteresting person you talk to may one day be a creature which,if you say it now, you would be strongly tempted to worship, or else a horror and a corruption such as you now meet, if at all, only in a nightmare. All day long we are, in some degree helping each other to one or the other of these destinations. It is in the light of these overwhelming possibilites, it is with the awe and the circumspection proper to them, that we should conduct all of our dealings with one another, all friendships, all loves, all play, all politics. There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. nations, cultures, arts, civilizations – These are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub, and exploit – immortal horrors or everlasting splendors.”

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