But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. (Galatians 4:4-5)
Long ago, there ruled in Persia a wise and good king. He loved his people. He wanted to know how they lived. He wanted to know about their hardships. Often he dressed in the clothes of a working man or a beggar, and went to the homes of the poor. No one whom he visited thought that he was their ruler. One time he visited a very poor man who lived in a cellar. He ate the coarse food the poor man ate. He spoke cheerful, kind words to him. Then he left. Later he visited the poor man again and disclosed his identity by saying, “I am your king!” The king thought the man would surely ask for some gift or favor, but he didn’t. Instead he said, “You left your palace and your glory to visit me in this dark, dreary place. You ate the course food I ate. You brought gladness to my heart! To others you have given your rich gifts. To me you have given yourself!”
The incarnation refers to the manifestation of the Second Person of the Godhead in human flesh as the Promised Messiah, yet without diminishing His deity. The reality of God entered into the reality of our human existence. “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). The King of Glory has broken into our darkness to claim His Bride! Undiminished deity was united with sinless humanity. Through the agency of the virgin birth, Jesus Christ became fully human as well as fully divine.
The penalty of our sins was paid for by the only One fully and absolutely qualified to do so.
God’s sending of his Son ends the reign of the law and the coming of the kingdom of God. The glorious gospel has been proclaimed! The Messiah had come! Merry Christmas, and God Bless us, everyone!
Christianity is the only religion that abounds in song. Atheism is songless; agnosticism has nothing to sing about; the various forms of idolatry are not tuneful; but God’s people say, “O come, let us sing unto the Lord.” When Christ came, the angels greeted His birth with praise, and since then Christian song has gained in fulness and strength of voice with each passing century.
First John was written to warn and instruct the readers about false teaching (2:26; 3:7) that denied Jesus Christ had come in the flesh (4:2, 3). This teaching held that Christ only appeared to be human, so that there was no real incarnation and no divine Savior who was able to die as an atonement for sinners. Christ only seemed to die. There is much speculation about precisely who these false teachers were, but the letter does not offer much information about them. The false teaching of 1 John is generally known from early Christian history and is called “Docetism” (from the Gk. dokeō, “to seem” or “to appear”).
It started with a simple tweet on Twitter, which reminded me of one of those old gospel songs we sang and loved. The message mentioned the theological inaccuracy of the song in this way:
“When He was on the cross, I was on His mind,” so the song says. Not primarily you weren’t. Jesus redeemed us “to the praise of the glory of His grace” (Eph. 1:6). This is repeated in 1:12 and 1:14. When He was on the cross, the glory of God was on His mind.
So much of evangelicalism omits this most important aspect — salvation is not about us, but, through God’s gracious, sheer, unmerited favor, it includes us. The Five Solas of the Protestant Reformation are expressed this way:
- Sola Scriptura: The Bible is the sole written divine revelation and alone can bind the conscience of believers absolutely (Matt. 4:4; 2 Tim. 3:16).
- Sola Fide : Justification is by faith alone. The merit of Christ imputed to us by faith is the sole ground of our acceptance by God, by which our sins are remitted (Rom. 5:1; Gal 2:16).
- Solus Christus: Christ is the only mediator through Whose work we are redeemed (John 14:6; John 3:16).
- Sola Gratia: Our salvation rests solely on the work of God’s grace for us (Rom. 2:4; Eph. 2:8-10).
- Soli Deo Gloria: To God alone belongs the glory (Isa. 42:8; Col. 3:17).
The central event of history is the advent of eternal life in Jesus Christ. John is one of the chosen witnesses who saw, heard, and touched the Son of God, who had existed from the beginning and whose eternal fellowship with the Father is now extended to those who trust in the Son alone for salvation. In his first epistle, John seeks to reassure his readers that they are in Christ, and he provides them with a number of ways in which they can know that they are believers. The third chapter contrasts those who walk in darkness with those who walk in light. It begins with the love of God in adopting us into His family.