Category Archives: Incarnation

“The perfections of the Son of God” by Augustine of Hippo (A.D. 354-430)

“Do not separate the Son from the perfections of God, for those perfections of the Father are not to be mentioned in such a way as to be withdrawn from Him who said: ‘I and the Father are one,’ and of whom the Apostle says: ‘Who, though he was by nature God, did not consider it robbery to be equal to God.’

Now, robbery is the usurpation of another’s property even though there be an equality in nature. In view of this, how will the Son not be omnipotent, since through Him all things were made and since He is also the Power and Wisdom of God?

Moreover, in that form in which He is equal to the Father He is by nature invisible. In fact, the Word of God is invisible by nature because He was in the beginning and He was God.

In this same nature He is also completely immortal, that is, He remains immutable in every respect. For the human soul is also said to be immortal to a certain extent, but that is not genuine immortality in which there is such great change, making it possible to fail and to advance.

Thus, it is death for the human soul to be severed from the life of God through the ignorance which is in the soul; but it is life for it to run to the fountain of life, so that in the light of God it may see light. Immediately after this life you, too, through the grace of Christ, will be restored from certain death which you renounce.

But the Word of God, the only-begotten Son, always lives unchangeably with His Father. He neither decreases, because His abiding presence is not lessened; nor does He advance, because His perfection is not increased.

He Himself is the Creator of the visible and invisible worlds, because, as the Apostle says: ‘In him were created all things in the heavens and on the earth, things visible and things invisible, whether Thrones, or Dominations, or Principalities, or Powers. All things have been created through and unto him, … and in him all things hold together.’

However, since He ‘emptied himself,’ not losing the nature of God, but ‘taking the nature of a slave,’ He, the invisible, became visible in this form of a servant, because He was born of the Holy Spirit and of the Virgin Mary.

In this form of a servant, the Omnipotent One became weak, in that He suffered under Pontius Pilate.

In this form of a servant, the Immortal One died, in that He was crucified and was buried.

In this form of a servant, the King of ages rose on the third day.

In this form of a servant, the Creator of things visible and invisible ascended into heaven, whence He had never departed.

In this form of a servant, He who is the arm of the Father, and of whom the Prophet says: ‘And to whom is the arm of the Lord revealed?’ sits at the right of the Father.

In this form of a servant, He will come to judge the living and the dead, for in this form He wished to be a Companion of the dead inasmuch as He is the Life of the living.

Through Him the Holy Spirit was sent by the Father and by Himself, the Spirit of the Father and of the Son, sent by both, begotten by neither; the unity of both, equal to both.

This Trinity is one God, omnipotent, invisible, King of ages, Creator of things visible and invisible.

For we do not speak of three Lords, or of three Omnipotent Ones, or of three Creators or of three of whatever other perfections of God can be mentioned, because there are not three Gods but only one God.

Although in this Trinity, the Father is not the Son, nor is the Son the Father, nor is the Holy Spirit the Son or the Father, yet the Father belongs to the Son; the Son, to the Father; and the Holy Spirit, to both the Father and the Son.

Believe so that you may understand. For, unless you believe, you will not understand.

As a result of this faith, hope for grace by which all your sins will be forgiven. Only in this way and not by your own efforts will you be saved, for salvation is a gift of God.”

–Augustine of Hippo, “On the Presentation of the Creed,” Sermons on the Liturgical Seasons (ed. Hermigild Dressler; trans. Mary Sarah Muldowney; vol. 38; The Fathers of the Church; Washington, DC: The Catholic University of America Press, 1959), 38: 117–120.

2 Comments

Filed under Augustine, Christian Theology, Christology, Church Fathers, Glory of Christ, Incarnation, Jesus Christ, Puritanical, Quotable Quotes, The Gospel

“Christ is the subject of all the Scriptures” by Michael Reeves

“In revealing Himself, not only does the Father send His Son in the power of His Spirit; together the Father and the Son send the Spirit to make the Son known. The Son makes the Father known; the Spirit makes the Father known; the Spirit makes the Son known.

He does this first of all by breathing out the Scriptures (2 Tim. 3:16; 1 Pet. 1:11-12) so that in them, the ‘word of Christ,’ Christ may be known (Rom. 10:17; Col. 3:16).

Does this mean that we are, in fact, back to God just giving us a book, as in Islam? Far from it, for– as we shall see if you can bear the wait– God the Spirit not only inspires Scripture, He also comes to us. Indeed, He comes into us. There could be no greater intimacy than with this God.

What it does mean is that the point of all the Scriptures is to make Christ known. As the Son makes His Father known, so the Spirit-breathed Scriptures make the Son known.

Paul wrote to Timothy of how ‘from infancy, you have known the holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus’ (2 Tim. 3:15). He is referring to the Old Testament, of course, but the same could be said of the New.

Similarly, Jesus said to the Jews of His day: ‘You diligently study the Scriptures because you think that by them you possess eternal life. These are the Scriptures that testify about Me, yet you refuse to come to Me to have life… If you believed Moses, you would believe Me, for he wrote about Me’ (John 5:39-40, 46).

Clearly, Jesus believed that is quite possible to study the Scriptures diligently and entirely miss their point, which is to proclaim Him so that readers might come to Him for life.

It all dramatically affects why we open the Bible. We can open our Bibles for all sorts of odd reasons– as a religious duty, an attempt to earn God’s favor, or thinking that it serves as a moral self-help guide, a manual of handy tips for effective religious lives.

That idea is actually one main reason so many feel discouraged in their Bible-reading. Hoping to find quick lessons for how they should spend today, people find instead a genealogy or a list of various sacrifices.

And how could page after page of histories, descriptions of the temple, instructions to priests, affect how I rest, work and pray today?

But when you see that Christ is the subject of all the Scriptures, that He is the Word, the Lord, the Son who reveals His Father, the promised Hope, the true Temple, the true Sacrifice, the great High Priest, the ultimate King, then you can read, not so much asking, ‘What does this mean for me, right now?’ but ‘What do I learn here of Christ?’

Knowing that the Bible is about Him and not me means that, instead of reading the Bible obsessing about me, I can gaze on Him.

And as through the pages you get caught upon in the wonder of His story, you find your heart strangely pounding for Him in a way you never would have if you had treated the Bible as a book about you.”

–Michael Reeves, Delighting In The Trinity: An Introduction to the Christian Faith (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2012), 81-83.

Leave a comment

Filed under Bible, Biblical Theology, Christian Theology, Christology, Holy Spirit, Incarnation, Jesus Christ, Michael Reeves, Preaching, Puritanical, Quotable Quotes, Reading, The Gospel, Trinity, Worship

“Everything for us” by John Calvin

“Christ has been given us by the Father in such a way that His whole life is a mirror that is set before us. As, then, a mirror is bright, yet not for itself, but so that it may be useful and profitable to others, so Christ did not seek or receive anything for Himself, but everything for us. For what need, I ask, had He, who was equal with the Father, of a new exaltation?”

–John Calvin, Calvin’s New Testament Commentaries: Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, and Colossians, Volume 11, Trans. T.H.L. Parker (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1965), 250-251. Calvin is commenting on Philippians 2:9.

Leave a comment

Filed under Bible, Christian Theology, Christology, Incarnation, Jesus Christ, John Calvin, Puritanical, Quotable Quotes, The Gospel

“A Bridegroom who is beautiful wherever He is” by Augustine of Hippo (A.D. 354-430)

“God’s foolishness is wiser than human wisdom, and God’s weakness more powerful than human strength. Let us who believe, therefore, run to meet a Bridegroom who is beautiful wherever He is.

Beautiful as God, as the Word who is with God, He is beautiful in the Virgin’s womb, where He did not lose His Godhead but assumed our humanity.

Beautiful He is as a baby, as the Word unable to speak, because while He was still without speech, still a baby in arms and nourished at His mother’s breast, the heavens spoke for Him, a star guided the Magi, and He was adored in the manger as food for the humble.

He was beautiful in heaven, then, and beautiful on earth: beautiful in the womb, and beautiful in His parents’ arms.

He was beautiful in His miracles but just as beautiful under the scourges.

Beautiful as He invited us to life, but beautiful too in not shrinking from death.

Beautiful in laying down His life and beautiful in taking it up again.

Beautiful on the cross, beautiful in the tomb, and beautiful in heaven.

Listen to this song (i.e. Psalm 45) to further your understanding, and do not allow the weakness of His flesh to blind you to the splendor of His beauty.

He is lovely in all respects.”

–Augustine of Hippo, Exposition of Psalm 44, in Expositions of the Psalms, 33–50, ed. John E. Rotelle, trans. Maria Boulding (Hyde Park, NY: New City Press, 2000), 283.

Leave a comment

Filed under Advent, Augustine, Bible, Book of Psalms, Christian Theology, Incarnation, Jesus Christ, Preaching, Puritanical, Quotable Quotes, The Gospel

“Christ is the content of Christianity” by Herman Bavinck

“In Christianity, Christ occupies a very different place than Buddha, Zarathustra, and Muhammad do in their respective religions. Christ is not the teacher, not the founder, but the content of Christianity.”

–Herman Bavinck, Ed. John Bolt and trans. John Vriend, Reformed Dogmatics, Volume 3: Sin and Salvation in Christ (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2006), 3: 284.

1 Comment

Filed under Advent, Christian Theology, Doxology, Glory of Christ, Herman Bavinck, Incarnation, Jesus Christ, Puritanical, Quotable Quotes, The Gospel, Worship

“The incarnation is the central fact of the entire history of the world” by Herman Bavinck

“The doctrine of Christ is not the starting point, but it certainly is the central point of the whole system of dogmatics. All other dogmas either prepare for it or are inferred from it.

In it, as the heart of dogmatics, pulses the whole of the religious-ethical life of Christianity. It is ‘the mystery of godliness’ (1 Tim. 3:16).

From this mystery all Christology has to proceed. If, however, Christ is the incarnate Word, then the incarnation is the central fact of the entire history of the world; then, too, it must have been prepared from before the ages and have its effects throughout eternity.”

–Herman Bavinck, Ed. John Bolt and trans. John Vriend, Reformed Dogmatics, Volume 3: Sin and Salvation in Christ (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2006), 3: 274.

Leave a comment

Filed under Advent, Christian Theology, Doxology, Glory of Christ, Herman Bavinck, Incarnation, Jesus Christ, Puritanical, Quotable Quotes, The Gospel, Worship

“Let us adore Him for His love” by John Newton

“Blessed be God! Amidst all my changes I find the foundation stands sure. And I am seldom or never left to doubt either of the Lord’s love to me, or the reality of the desires He has given me towards Himself.

Though when I measure my love by the degree of its exercise, or the fruits it produceth, I have reason to sit down ashamed as the chief of sinners and the least of all saints. But in Him I have righteousness and peace, and in Him I must and will rejoice.

I would willingly fill up my sheet, but feel a straitness in my spirit, and know not what further to say.

O for a ray of Divine light to set me at liberty, that I might write a few lines worth reading, something that might warm my heart and comfort yours!

Then the subject must be Jesus. But of Him what can I say that you do not know? Well, though you know Him, you are glad to hear of Him again and again.

Come then, magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt His name together.

Let us adore Him for His love, that love which has a height, and depth, and length, and breadth, beyond the grasp of our poor conceptions;

a love that moved Him to empty Himself, to take on Him the form of a servant, and to be obedient unto death, even the death of the cross;

a love that pitied us in our lost estate, that found us when we sought Him not, that spoke peace to our souls in the day of our distress;

a love that bears with all our present weakness, mistakes, backslidings, and shortcomings;

a love that is always watchful, always ready to guide, to comfort, and to heal;

a love that will not be wearied, cannot be conquered, and is incapable of changes;

a love that will, in the end, prevail over all opposition, will perfect that which concerns us, and will not leave us till it has brought us perfect in holiness and happiness, to rejoice in His presence in glory.

The love of Christ: it is the wonder, the joy, the song of angels. And the sense of it shed abroad in our hearts makes life pleasant and death welcome.

Alas! What a heart have I that I love Him no better! But I hope He has given me a desire to make Him my all in all, and to account everything loss and dross that dares to stand in competition with Him.”

–John Newton, The Works of John Newton, Vol. 2, Ed. Richard Cecil (London: Hamilton, Adams & Co., 1824), 2: 179-181.

Leave a comment

Filed under Christian Theology, Glory of Christ, Incarnation, Jesus Christ, John Newton, Love of God, Puritanical, Quotable Quotes, The Gospel, Worship, Writing