As Christians worldwide celebrate Advent in preparation for the celebration of Jesus’ birth, consider the following – ancient – declaration of faith:
I believe in one God, the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible. And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God, begotten of the Father before all worlds; God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God; begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father, by whom all things were made. Who, for us men for our salvation, came down from heaven, and was incarnate by the Holy Spirit of the virgin Mary, and was made man; and was crucified also for us under Pontius Pilate; He suffered and was buried; and the third day He rose again, according to the Scriptures; and ascended into heaven, and sits on the right hand of the Father; and He shall come again, with glory, to judge the quick and the dead; whose kingdom shall have no end.
The Nicene Creed expresses in confessional form what the apostle John declared under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit when He wrote,
“And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.” – John 1:14
Christians believe Jesus “was incarnate by the Holy Spirit of the virgin Mary, and was made man.” Although the word does not appear plainly in Scripture, we employ the term incarnation to refer to the historical event whereby the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, came down from heaven and wrapped Himself in human flesh. We believe this to be so not because it is a tenet of our faith – albeit so. We believe this to be true because it actually happened. The incarnation is an historical event. The painstaking chronology of Luke’s gospel gives us a factual foundation on which to construct a viable, tenable, incarnational faith founded on an indisputable truth: at a particular point in time, at a particular place in history, the Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God, . . . . was made man; and was crucified also for us under Pontius Pilate; He suffered and was buried; and the third day He rose again, according to the Scriptures; and ascended into heaven, and sits on the right hand of the Father; and He shall come again, with glory, to judge the quick and the dead; whose kingdom shall have no end.
As the pages of the gospel unfold and the plan of God comes more and more into focus, we understand that Jesus wrapped Himself in our flesh so that we could be covered by His grace.
Some have argued that Christ’s deity required that He be born of a virgin. However, the more persuasive, more truthful argument, is for the virgin birth as the sign, not the basis, of Jesus’ Sonship. In other words, the Incarnation is the herald, not the cause, of God’s grace. And according to John, “we have seen His glory, glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.” It is this combination of grace and truth which makes the incarnation so potent a historical reality especially with respect to our salvation.
We are saved by grace – God’s unmerited favor – because all we, like sheep, have gone astray. The truth is all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. So in sending Jesus to be incarnate by the Holy Spirit of the virgin Mary and was made man, God did for us what neither the law of Moses nor our own effort could achieve: live sinless lives thereby satisfying fully all the righteous demands of the law as well as God’s requirement for moral perfection. Jesus lived the perfect life we could never live so that by trusting in His life, death and resurrection we will inherit everlasting life.
Just as Thanksgiving is prelude for Advent so, too, is Advent prelude to Lent. The babe born in the manger grew up to be the Savior crucified for us. His life brought us grace and truth. His death for us, for our salvation gave us life beyond this life.
You think about that.