the Baby in the Manger….GOD?
“The Christmas message rests on the
staggering fact the child in the manger was—God.”
—J. I. Packer, Knowing God (InterVarsity Press, 1993).
If you could be a little fly on the wall, in most churches spread across this great nation of ours, during the Advent Season, you might hear the Pastor speak words such as these: “Welcome to our church this morning! We are celebrating that Jesus humbled himself to be born a baby. Although Jesus was God, he took on the form of man, so that he could die for our sins, so that we might be saved.” If you heard this, you might not think anything about it, and just continue on your “merry” Christmas way, celebrating the season and the birth of the Christ-Child. But, I’d like you to take a moment to ponder what we are really celebrating at this time of year.
First, we go to the Gospels. There are four gospels in our Bibles, and only
two, Matthew and Luke, provide us any detail of the infamous ‘Nativity scene’
that is always portrayed in children’s Christmas programs. Listen to the actual
verses and what they are telling us: “But when he (Joseph) had considered
this, behold, an angel of the LORD appeared to him in a dream saying, Joseph,
son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife; for that which has
been conceived (gennao) in her is of
the Holy Spirit.” Matthew 1:20.
The Holy Spirit, which is the same thing as “The Spirit of God” in the Old
Testament, is the mind and energy behind the works and word of God. Simply
speaking, the Spirit is God’s power. This power caused Mary to miraculously
conceive in her womb, a baby. Conceive, or in Greek, gennao,
means to be begotten – come into existence. Jesus
was brought into existence by God through God’s Spirit. If Jesus
was brought into existence at the moment of conception, he was clearly
not existing prior to being ‘begotten.’ The Scriptures are very clear
on this that Jesus is the only begotten Son of God and clearly presents the
facts of exactly when he was begotten and how he was begotten and by whom he was
begotten. There is no mystery in this. God lays it all out for us, clearly,
simply, concisely in both Matthew and Luke.
Luke 1:35 gives us further detail on this matter: “And the angel answered and said to her, The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; and for that reason, the holy thing begotten shall be called the Son of God.” For that reason, or because of Jesus’ supernatural birth [by] the divine intervention of the Almighty God; created Jesus in the womb of Mary, and because of this, his title would be “Son of God.”
Just as God created man (Adam, the first man) in Genesis 1-2, God created
Jesus in the womb of a virgin, Mary, and Jesus would later also be called the
‘last Adam.’ (I Corinthians 15:45). Look at I Corinthians 15:20-23 and Romans
5:10-15 to explain further the importance of ‘the one man
Jesus Christ’ who was a type of Adam (uniquely created by God). Adam brought sin and death into the world, but Jesus, through his obedience to God to the point of death, brought grace and eternal life.
When we celebrate the birth of Jesus, we are not celebrating the falsehood that is so prevalent today: that God came down to earth in the form of a baby! This is not found in Scripture. Jesus humbled himself, yes! But, if you read the context of this ‘humbling’, found in Philippians 2 (which is where most people substantiate this claim), it is all about the fact that Jesus was obedient to God to the point of his dying on the cross, and because of this reason, God highly exalted Jesus and gave him every authority, power, dominion, and name possible to bestow upon him! Although Jesus was born to be the King of all nations, he didn’t behave pompously and arrogantly, demanding to be served. Instead, he behaved humbly and obeyed God in every possible way, costing him his life. Jesus was then rewarded with a resurrection from the dead and eternal life, just as we too, will be rewarded with a resurrection from the dead, and the gift of eternal life.
Numbers 23:19 says, “God is not a man;”
Hosea 11:9 says, “I am God and not man,” and
Job 33:12 says
“God is greater than man.”
Jesus didn’t pre-exist as God, to humble himself to be born as a baby in the manger. To teach and believe this, is to believe in something that is contrary to the Scriptures.
We are celebrating the fact that our Messiah, the Christ, the Anointed One, the King of a coming Kingdom was born, and that he is coming back! ... Our everyday lives should be all about this, living an alert, watchful eye for his return, so we will be ready!
Let us rephrase the quote from above to read as the following:
The "Christmas" message rests on the staggering fact: the child in the manger was the Lord Messiah, who would die for our sins, be raised from the dead by the power of God, and who was exalted by God to be above every other dominion, authority and power. It rests on the good news or the gospel, that this same Jesus will return and set up an earthly Kingdom that will be everlasting, and we will reign and rule with him forever and ever. Amen.
In Luke 1:32-33, the angels give us the tip off that it’s all about Jesus
being the Christ, the King of an everlasting Kingdom, who will be anointed by
the Spirit of God:
“He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the LORD God will give him the throne of his father David; and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; and his kingdom will have no end.”
What kingdom is this referring to? The modern-day ‘church’ as some suppose? Heaven? I think it’s made very clear in Daniel 7, that this is all about a futuristic kingdom – a kingdom in the ‘age to come’ that is yet to be established, and will have no end.
Daniel 7:14 says, “And to him (the Messiah) was given dominion, glory and a kingdom, that all the peoples, nations and men of every language might serve him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion which will not pass away; and his kingdom is one which will not be destroyed.” Verse 18 says, “But the holy ones of the Highest One will receive the kingdom and possess the kingdom forever, for all ages to come.” Verse 27 goes on to say, “Then the sovereignty, the dominion, and the greatness of all the kingdoms under the whole heaven will be given to the people of the saints of the Highest One; His kingdom will be an everlasting kingdom and all the dominions will serve and obey him.”
This certainly hasn’t happened yet. But when? At Jesus’ return, it all begins to unfold. I Corinthians 15:20-28 gives us a clear and simple time line of these future events. First, Christ will come back to the earth and the dead [in Christ] will be resurrected, then Jesus must rule and reign with his holy ones (that’s us, in our new immortal, imperishable bodies!), until he has put all his enemies under his feet. Then, he will deliver the kingdom to God and Father at the very end, when the earth will be restored, and then God will be all in all, and will dwell with mankind. (Revelation 21).
This kingdom we are looking for will be a time of justice, righteousness and peace. This king of the kingdom we are looking for will be coming back to the earth. This king is the Lord Messiah Jesus. As we celebrate this Advent season, we not only celebrate his birth (the first coming), but his second coming, when God’s word will be fulfilled and accomplished through His only begotten Son.
Ron Walters recently sent out an email devotional from crosswalk.com and he wrote what is so prevalently heard in churches today,
“It was little ol’ Bethlehem, but it was big enough. The omnipresent God had no problems fitting in. It was quite a contrast trading the throne room of heaven for a stable, angels for cattle, hallelujahs for a lullaby. Bethlehem had its share of visitors, but never one like this. The prophets had given the pieces of the puzzle, but at first glance they didn’t seem to fit. The Alpha and Omega was born. The Ancient of Days had the skin of a newborn. The same voice which spoke the creation into being had the familiar ring of baby-talk. A child was born of a virgin. Never before had The Eternal become so tiny, the Almighty become so helpless. He had out-muscled Pharaoh’s army, now he was held in Mary’s arms. The eyes that see the beginning to the end, could hardly open. The God who never slumbers was now fast asleep. Angels were dispatched to spread the word. First stop–a group of shepherds. It was just one sentence, only one verse, 19 small words, “For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord.”
“The Ancient of Days” did not have the skin of a newborn!!
In fact, Daniel 7:13 gives us a clear visualization of
the Son of Man
(Jesus, the Messiah) being presented to the Ancient of Days, and God giving Jesus dominion and glory and a kingdom in verse 14. Nothing so eloquently describes this relationship between God and His Christ and the hope of the Kingdom that will have no end in the age to come, in which we, too will possess (Daniel 7:18).
This Advent Season is NOT a celebration of the birth of a God-Man or an “Ancient of Days talking baby talk”;
but the celebration of the supernatural, miraculous, unique birth of Jesus by God’s power, who created the “last Adam” when He begat Jesus. Jesus was and still is a man, who has been given the title of “Son of God” just like Adam was given that title, in Luke 3:38, “... Adam, the Son of God.”
We, too, are sons (and daughters!). Based on Galatians 4:7, we are sons, and heirs to the promise made to Abraham, heirs of the world (Gal. 3:29; Romans 4:13).
God provided for us, through Jesus, a Savior for our sins, which gives us
entrance into the kingdom in the age to come, to inherit the
gift of eternal life. God has saved us, through the shedding of Jesus’
sacrificial blood (Jesus is called the “Lamb of God” in Scripture also).
Lord Messiah Jesus will return to the earth and establish his God and Father’s kingdom, without end, in which we will take part and reign with him and live for eternity.
It’s a beautiful story of Redemption. Restoration. And has a very happy ending, if we accept this good news, repent of our sins, and be baptized, then live an obedient life of faith in Jesus.
Let us celebrate the Advent of our King! It is indeed something to celebrate and look forward to with great anticipation! As John pens in Revelation 22:20, “Come, Lord Jesus!”
The above 2 posts were taken from:
Christmas is the time of year when Christians celebrate the birth of Christ. Never mind all the tradition and commercial baggage that the holiday has acquired over the years, or the fact that Jesus was probably not even born in December; it is still recognized as one of the holiest days on the Christian calendar. We talk about the Christmas “spirit” which is a spirit of peace and love, and we give gifts to one another in remembrance of the greatest gift ever given, the gift that God gave to the world – His Son. Now I’m all for peace and love and the giving of gifts… that’s a good thing; but at the same time, I’m concerned that the real meaning and impact of the Christmas story is lost in all the hype of the Christmas holiday.
It seems to me that religious tradition and retail business have joined forces to mask the real story of Christmas – the one the Bible actually teaches. When one carefully reads the accounts of Jesus' birth in the Scripture it becomes obvious that many liberties have been taken to embellish the story. Commercialism hasn’t embellished it, but religious tradition has certainly done so.
It is an interesting fact that, aside from Matthew and Luke and a few Old Testament prophecies, neither the birth of Christ nor any details of his birth are mentioned anywhere else in Scripture. The birth event is a given. In fact, there is no clear record of any Christian group celebrating the birth of Christ before around the 4th century CE. Interesting, to say the least. Of course his birth is an important fact of history, but the central tenet of the Christian faith is that God raised Jesus from the dead! The resurrection of Christ is the foundation of Christianity. Paul said,
“For I passed on to you as of first importance what I also received — that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures, and that he was buried, and that he was raised on the third day according to the scriptures ...
Now if Christ is being preached as raised from the dead ... And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is futile and your faith is empty ...
For if the dead are not raised, then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is useless; you are still in your sins. Furthermore, those who have fallen asleep in Christ have also perished. For if only in this life we have hope in Christ, we should be pitied more than anyone. But now Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since death came through a man,the resurrection of the dead also came through a man."
-- 1 Cor 15:3-21 (NET)
The 4th – 5th centuries were a turning point for Christianity. At that time the creeds were formulated, demanding belief in the deity of Christ as a requirement for salvation. Today, the Christian Church celebrates the Christmas story, telling about how Christ was born, but beneath the plain words of Scripture lies the teaching that his birth was not really a birth at all, but an “incarnation”. I question whether most ordinary Christians even understand what “incarnation” means! Literally, it is “enfleshment” – the taking on of human flesh. The whole idea of pre-existence comes into play here. Now, rather than a savior being “born” we have a being who always existed as God, entered the womb of a young girl and became a human, literally wrapping himself in human flesh. It's interesting that Paul did not include this in his list of things of "first importance."
Certainly, if the incarnation were a true Biblical fact, it would be of great importance!
I don’t mean to be crude in the use of this artwork, but when I finally got my head out of the sand I didn’t like what I saw! I realize that I had been misled. How foolish I felt, not to have discovered the simple truth before! I pray that somehow, God will use me, use this blog, to help others get their heads out of the sand as well.
I like what the the authors of “One God and One Lord” write in a footnote on page 369 of their book.
"The reader can decide for himself which of the following sounds more logical and scriptural:
a) God Himself became a man, coming down to earth from heaven to do a job. He is treated poorly while trying to do the job, and is killed. He then raises Himself from the dead and goes back to where He came from, declaring Himself victorious.
b) God created a human being, whom God prepared and commissioned to do a job. The man comes from a humble, earthly origin, is treated poorly and killed. Because he did such a good job, however, God raised him from the dead and promoted him to an exalted position in heaven."
The incarnation has led us away from the resurrection, in so far as vital Christian doctrine is concerned.
Even John Knox, one of the reformers, warned:
“the more fully the logic of pre-existence is allowed to work itself out in the story [of Jesus], the less important the [his] resurrection is bound to become.”
There is no better, no more beautiful, way to tell the story of Jesus’ birth than is given in the pages of holy Scripture. There is no need to embellish the truth as God gave it. I don't wish to stop celebrating Christmas, I simply think it should be understood accurately!
And when I hear from Christian leaders that the incarnation is of primary importance to the Christian faith, I cringe.
The central point of the Christian faith is NOT that God became a man to save man from his sin; but that God commissioned a man who died and was buried, whom God raised from the dead as the "firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep", and by whom we also might obtain immortality, through faith in him. (1 Cor 15:20-21)
This is the Christian hope! Jesus lived a sinless life and was obedient to death and God raised him from the dead, exalting him to the highest place of honor, making him both Lord and Christ. (Phil 2:8-11; Acts 2:36) Through his death, atonement for our sin has been made, and by faith, we will also live as he now lives.
He truly is, as James Moffatt puts it, our “divine hero”!
“For a child has been born to us, a son has been given to us; the royal dignity he wears, and this the title that he bears –
A wonder of a counselor, a divine hero, a father for all time, a peaceful prince!”
– Isaiah 9:6 (Moffatt)
The above post was taken from:
From eternity past the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit existed as a community of one, perfect in love, harmony, and joy. In the enternal counsels of this triune God the plan of salvation for the yet-to-be-created human race was decreed. The only question was who would go. Overwhelmed with self-sacrificial love, the Son volunteered to humble himself by uniting humanity to his divinity, veiling his deity by taking on human flesh. Two thousand years ago, this salvation plan was carried out by the second person of the Trinity. He entered the virgin womb of Mary and suddenly she became pregnant with God the Son. He was perfect God and perfect man, not half divine and half human like Hercules, but fully God and fully man in a totally unique way. This incredible event is called the incarnation—the moment when God became man for our salvation. In fact, the cross is not really the most important event for redemption, the incarnation is. For without the humbling act of God giving up his divine prerogatives to condescend to the lowly state of a first century Palestinian Jew, the cross would mean nothing. Thus, in the grand scheme of things, the incarnation is the premier event that brought God to man so that man could be reconciled with God.
Throughout all of human history, from the instant God promised to defeat the serpent through a descendant of Eve, God has been working to bring his plan into fruition. A millennium before Christ a Jewish king was promised that one of his descendants would rule over Israel forever. God promised King David that he [would] father this descendant who then [would be] both a son of David and a son of God. Generation after generation, Jewish women of Davidic ancestry hoped that they might be the one to give birth to the Messiah. Then, two thousand years ago, a Jewish teenager from a tiny village in northern Galilee was visited by the angel Gabriel. She was informed that she would have a son through a divine miracle. This child would be great; he would be called the son of the Most High; he would rule over Jacob on the throne of David forever. In the face of suffering a scandalous reputation, Mary, a model believer for all subsequent generations, said, “May it be done to me according to your word.” In fact, Joseph, Mary’s fiancé, nearly broke the engagement off when he found out that she was pregnant, that is, until an angel intervened to confirm what she had said. Thus, the Davidic King was born—the one who would be anointed to rule Israel, and through Israel to bless all of the nations; the one who would set right the whole series of wrongs that had begun with Adam; the one who would voluntarily give up his own righteous life on behalf of others who did not deserve it.
Finally, at long last, the Messiah, Jesus of Nazareth, was born.
Which story will you be thinking about this holiday season? Though most Christians have no difficulty in combining these two descriptions of Jesus’ birth, we would do well to recognize that the two have different origins. One derives its content from the theologically complex propositions of Christian philosophers which were developed many years after the New Testament had been completed. The other is taken directly from the Scriptures. If the former is correct it necessarily casts a long shadow upon the latter and it effectively eclipses the simplicity and elegance of the historical facts about Jesus. Whereas the first version extols the self-sacrificial act of God the Son who existed apart from and prior to humanity, the second focuses on how God carried out his plans within time by working within the human race.
In the first, the message is that humanity is a depraved and helpless species
in need of alien salvation.
The second conveys the idea that God is able to save mankind through a man, which thereby gives dignity and hope to all humans. In fact, from the point of view of the second account, Jesus is a new Adam—a new humanity—who succeeds where the former had failed. He gives the human race hope that, with God’s help, we can overcome sin and death.
God does not throw up his hands in frustration and say to himself,
“I guess I’ll just have to go down there and do it myself,” instead, God looks down and says “these people are made in my image, they are worth saving, and I have a plan to work through human frailty to save them all.” Thus, through the weakness of human flesh God brought about salvation in and through the quintessential man who willingly resisted the temptation to rebel and instead humbly obeyed his Father to the uttermost. Our Lord could have sinned, he could have fallen prey to the deceptiveness of the Serpent, he could have grasped for equality with God, he could have esteemed his own life too precious to lay down; he could have chosen to exert his royal authority to rule over the world as a co-ruler with the god of this age; he could have called legions of angels to protect him from torture and death at the hands of twisted men; he could have come off the cross in a staggering demonstration of his innocence; but he did not. This miracle man consistently and tirelessly walked the narrow path that his Father had set for him.
Hallelujah! Praise to God who loved so much that he gave his only begotten son. Praise to Jesus who loved so much that he obeyed his God to his last strained breath. It is a beautiful story, a story too easily lost when overlaid with mythology and too easily cheapened with an indestructible God in the guise of human flesh.
May God give us courage to share the Bible’s real story with others who have been duped into substituting the flashy counterfeit for what really happened.
The above post was taken from: