Pastor Steve Ellison: Immanuel in the Flesh
One of the greatest of all mysteries is the eternal, omnipotent, and omnipresent God voluntarily subjecting Himself to the limitations of time, space, and the flesh. The Second Person of the Godhead, the agent and sustainer of creation, came to live in creation, as one of the creatures. How could we ever understand that?
This is certainly a truth to be appreciated rather than understood.
God promised in Genesis 3 that the seed of the woman would triumph over Satan. Isaiah 9:6-7 brought the promise into greater focus, “For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; And the government will rest on His shoulders; And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace. There will be no end to the increase of His government or of peace, On the throne of David and over his kingdom, To establish it and to uphold it with justice and righteousness From then on and forevermore.” (NASU)
The promised Messiah would be one of us, of our race, the human race, born like us. Chapters seven through 12 of Isaiah are often referred to as “The Book of Immanuel.” These marvelous Immanuel prophecies tell us about God who would be “with us.”
God spoke to Joseph in a dream before the birth of Jesus verifying that Isaiah 9:6 was indeed talking about Jesus of Nazareth. Matthew 1:22-23 records the dream, “Now all this took place to fulfill what was spoken by the Lord through the prophet: ‘Behold, the virgin shall be with child and shall bear a son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,’ which translated means, ‘God With Us’.” (NASU)
Christmas is a very significant celebration. It is important that we believe that Jesus is indeed God with us, come in the flesh. 1 Timothy 3:16 states, “By common confession, great is the mystery of godliness: He who was revealed in the flesh, Was vindicated in the Spirit, Seen by angels, Proclaimed among the nations, Believed on in the world, Taken up in glory.” (NASU)
John, in two of his epistles, gave a very sober warning indeed. 1 John 4:2-4, “By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God; and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God; this is the spirit of the antichrist, of which you have heard that it is coming, and now it is already in the world.” (NASU)
Likewise, 2 John 7-8, “For many deceivers have gone out into the world, those who do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh. This is the deceiver and the antichrist. Watch yourselves, that you do not lose what we have accomplished, but that you may receive a full reward.” (NASU)
If we are to be adopted into the family of God, destined for everlasting existence with God, then we must acknowledge that this Jesus of Nazareth is God clothed in flesh like a man. Once again, this is a truth to be loved and appreciated not explained. 1 Timothy 3:16 tells us that this mystery is affirmed by common confession of all Christians. We cannot understand it, but we know that it is true.
1 John 4:2-4 states that if we do not believe that God has come in the flesh then we are aligned with the antichrist. 2 John 7-8 tells us that we can lose part of our heavenly reward based on our unbelief about Jesus being “God with us” having come in the flesh. During this Christmas season, spend some time reflecting and meditating on this marvelous miracle of mystery that made salvation a possibility. Praise God from whom all blessings flow!