The Work of Christ - Past 2 - The Incarnation of the Son of God

The Work of Christ
by Arno Gaebelein

II. The Incarnation of the Son of God.

And now let us turn to the great truth and fact of the Incarnation of the Son of God. When the fullness of time had come, that is the appointed time, the Son of God appeared on earth in the form of man. The Word which was in the beginning, the Word that was with the Father, the Word that was God, the Word by whom all things were made, that Word was made flesh and dwelt on earth. He who subsisted in the form of God, emptied Himself and took upon Himself the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men.

The incarnation is a deep mystery, the depths of which human reason can never fathom. We must approach it in the spirit of deep reverence. Take off thy shoes from thy feet for the ground whereon thou standest is holy ground! In the first chapter in the Gospel of Luke, we have the record of the divine announcement of the incarnation as it was made to the virgin, who had found favor in the sight of God. As she sat in the house, perhaps engaged in holy meditation, the angel Gabriel appeared unto her with the message from the throne of God. Was there ever such a message given to Gabriel before? Great as the revelation was which he was commissioned to carry to praying Daniel, the communication to the Virgin Mary here is far greater.

The Incarnation Announced.

We read in Luke 1:35: "And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that Holy Thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God." Let us notice the two great statements given about His incarnation. "The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee." From the Gospel of Matthew we learn the full meaning of this statement. "That which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost." Therefore His human nature was produced in the virgin by the creative action of the Holy Spirit. Because His human nature was thus produced, it was a nature without sin; not only did He not sin, but He could not sin. He was sinless, absolutely holy, because He was conceived by the Holy Spirit.

The second statement is: "And the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee." This is not a repetition of the same truth as contained in the first statement. If this too would mean the Holy Spirit, we would have to conclude that the Holy Spirit is the Father of Him who became incarnate. We read at once after this second statement, "Therefore also that Holy Thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God." The power of the Highest does not mean the power of the Holy Spirit. It is none other than the Son of God Himself. The eternal Son of God, He who is God, overshadowed her and this overshadowing meant the union of Himself with the human nature created by the Holy Spirit in the Virgin Mary.

He is called "that Holy Thing." He is something entirely new, a Being which cannot be classified. And then we read again, "That Holy Thing shall be called the Son of God." It does not say "shall be the Son of God;" such He ever was. Incarnation did not make Him Son of God. He shall be called Son of God; God manifested in the flesh.

Much time could be spent in adding to these remarks, or in reviewing the different attempts which have been made to explain the great mystery. We might also enumerate all the evil teachings and theories which are the results of attempted explanations. But all this would be but waste of time. No human mind can fathom the depths of the incarnation, nor fully grasp the wonderful personality of the God-Man, the Lord Jesus Christ. Far better it is to abide by these simple declarations of the Word of God, than to enter into speculations, which can never solve this great mystery.

A certain American statesman was once asked, "Can you comprehend how Jesus Christ could be both God and Man?" The great thinker replied, "No, sir; I cannot. And I would be ashamed to acknowledge Him as my Saviour if I could, for then He would not be greater than myself."

This is very true indeed. With joyful and grateful hearts we believe the great revelation given to us in God's holy Word, that God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son and that the Son of God left Heaven's Glory and came to this earth. He emptied Himself and appeared in the form of the creature. This, however, does not mean what an evil theory, by the name of "Kenosis," teaches, that He emptied Himself of His Godhead. He emptied Himself of His outward Glory. The child which rested on the bosom of Mary is the One, who ever was in the bosom of the Father. Listen once more to the language of the 22 Psalm. "I was cast upon thee from the womb: Thou art my God from my mother's belly. Thou didst make me hope when I was upon my mother's breasts." What mere human child could have ever said this truthfully? Nor is this the language of a poet. The child born in Bethlehem alone could speak thus.

The Foundation of the Gospel.

The incarnation is the great foundation of the whole Gospel. No incarnation means no Gospel, no Hope and no God. The person who denies this truth has no right whatever to the name of Christian. At no time has the denial of this great foundation truth been so pronounced and wide-spread as in our times. Men believing themselves wise, in possession of greater knowledge than former generations, turn their backs upon revelation. The miracle, including the incarnation, is denied. And this denial is not from the side of outspoken infidels alone, but those who profess to be teachers of Christianity are the foremost leaders in it. We mention Reginald Campbell and his followers in the so-called "New Theology." And the hundreds of evangelical preachers, who wished this man Godspeed during his recent visit to America, who passed resolutions of thanks, after listening to his subtle infidelity, are, in the light of 2 John 10, partakers of his sin. And then there is that Anti-christian system, known by the name of Christian Science. In its so-called philosophical, in reality, satanic utterances, it opposes the revelation of God and denies that Jesus Christ is come into the flesh. That evil book, "Science and Health," to which we readily accord inspiration, not from above, but from below, teaches "The Virgin Mary conceived the idea of God and gave to her ideal the name of Jesus;" and again "Jesus was the offspring of Mary's self-communion with God."

It is a comfort to believers in these evil days to remember, that such a rejection of the doctrine of Christ, His Person and His work, is predicted in the Bible to take place immediately before the Lord comes. The end of the age is upon us. These denials will not decrease, but become more numerous.

The Purpose of the Incarnation.

And what was the purpose of the incarnation? By incarnation the invisible God was made known to man. The Lord Jesus Christ is the image of the invisible God. No man hath seen God at any time, the only Begotten, who is in the bosom of the Father, hath declared Him. As One with the Father, the Lord Jesus Christ could say, "he that hath seen Me hath seen the Father."

The attributes of God were made known by Him in incarnation. We behold the holiness of God in that holy life, which was lived on earth to glorify the Father. He manifested omniscience. He knew what was in men and knew their thoughts. He manifested the power of God in controlling the forces of nature, commanding the wind and the waves, turning water into wine. He had power over disease, over the demons and over death. He revealed the love and the compassion of God.

By incarnation the Son of God brought likewise the Word of God to man. "God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the Prophets, hath in these last days spoken unto us by His Son" (Hebrews 1:1,2). He confirmed the Law and the Prophets, therefore all criticism of the Old Testament attacks the authority and infallibility of the Son of God. He also revealed the will of God, made known the Father and the fact of eternal life, and the eternal and conscious punishment of the wicked. He predicted the great future events concerning Himself and His Kingdom, the end of the age and His visible Return.

The incarnation was necessary in anticipation of His work as the Priest of His people. He was to be after His death on the cross and after resurrection, the merciful and faithful High Priest. Such He is now. He took part of flesh and blood, we read in the second chapter of Hebrews, that He might be a merciful and faithful High Priest. He was tempted in all things as we are, with the exception of sin. He suffered in being tempted so that He might be touched with the feeling of our infirmities and succour them that are tempted. And all He was to be and is now, the Second Man, the last Adam, the head of the church, the head of the new creation, all and much else necessitated His incarnation.

What Incarnation Could Not Accomplish.

However, the great purpose of the incarnation of the Son of God was His work of redemption. For this great purpose He came into the world. He came that, after a life, which completely glorified the Father and upheld His holy law and vindicated God's rights as the lawgiver, He might accomplish the great work of atonement. John stated this great work the Son of God came to do in a brief sentence. "Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world." Sin, that accursed thing, had to be taken out of the way. Propitiation for sins had to be made. A sacrifice had to be brought which would glorify a holy God and satisfy, as well as exalt, His righteousness. Peace had to be made. The sins of many had to be paid and the full penalty of them to be borne.

Incarnation in itself, the marvelous and ever blessed humiliation of the Son of God by taking on the human form, His holy blessed life, His loving words, words of life and peace, yea, all He did in deeds of love and compassion could never accomplish this. Incarnation brought God to Man, but could never bring man back to a holy God. Incarnation could not make an end of sin, nor make it possible for a righteous God to show mercy to the fallen and the lost, in a righteous way. This great work of redemption could only be accomplished by His death on the cross. For this He had come. He came to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself. The Author and Prince of Life came that He might give His Life a ransom for many. The good Shepherd appeared to give His life for the sheep. By His death alone, the great work of redemption could be accomplished.