1996-12-24 - The Incarnation of Christ

Christmas Eve - 1996

Matt. 1:21 "And she shall bear a Son; and you shall call His name Jesus, for it is He who will save His people from their sins."

In the history of the Christian church there are few doctrines that have been the subject of more division than this very important doctrine. Early in the third century there was already the heresy of Sabelius, know as Sabellianism, or Modalism, or sometimes Modalistic Monarchianism. Sabelius taught that God is one nature and person who has three names: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. This view of the Trinity was considered heretical by the church, which taught that God is one and that the God-head consists in 3 persons. The teaching of the 4th century theologian Arius (256-336 AD) taught that Jesus was the highest created being, but that he did not share the same substance as God the Father. This teaching was declared heretical by the council of Nicaea in 325AD.

More recently were the ideas of Faustus Socinus (1539-1604). His views, not surprisingly have been called Socinianism. His was a rationalistic theology that denied the orthodox views of the person and work of Jesus Christ. In America this movement has been absorbed into Unitarianism. Unitarianism is the belief that God is one. It is different from Trinitarianism, which says tat God is one God in 3 persons. These views were solidified in 1961 with the formation of the Unitarian Universalist Association.

There is a common theme with all these Heretical teachings. They all want to strip Christ of His Deity. We must not let these teachings sway us. We need to uphold that Christ from His incarnation was fully God and fully man. The two persons joined together in one person, without confusion of properties or composition. We need to maintain that Christ is very God, and very man, which makes Him the only mediator between God and man. Without the Deity of Christ the sacrifice on the cross could not have been sufficient to save us. Unless Christ could transcend His humanity He could never have been a spotless sacrifice, original sin would have made His sacrifice unacceptable. There is a tone of sanctification in the words of Luke 1:32, "He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High". Christ is now exalted and sits in His proper place, as King of the Universe.

For those of you who celebrate Christmas, I hope you have a blessed time with family and friends. I realize that probably not all of you recognize Christmas as a day that Scripture tells us to observe. I think that the Regulative Principal, when applied broadly to life and not just to worship as the Scottish Presbyterians did, does lead to that conclusion and I respect anyone who holds to this view (Romans 14:22). I hope that my focus on the incarnation and the "Christmas" tradition has not offended you. An historical aside for any Methodists out there. In 1784, the organizing meeting that led to the formation of American Methodism was held as a Christmas Conference. John Wesley, ordained as an Anglican priest, recognized the ordinations of Thomas Coke and Francis Asbury to minister in America as independent ecclesiastical leaders. Methodism was born at Christmas.

Soli Deo Gloria,