Re-post Rock-Solid Truth for the New Year

RockMy special verse for this holy season has been, “For in Christ, all the fullness of Deity lives in bodily form” (Col. 2:9) For me, the musical flow, the cadences of the King James Version, makes it all the more wonderful: “For in Christ dwelleth all the fullness of the godhead bodily.”

The fullness of Deity. The fullness of the Godhead. What can this mean but that everything Christ Jesus is, God is? And everything God is, Christ Jesus is? Jesus is not merely a vague reflection of God, a hint, a signpost. God’s fullness, though “veiled in flesh” is in him. And the wonder deepens when we say this fullness dwells “bodily.” He is God living for a season on this earth as man – the God/Man.

When one dips an empty glass container into the Pacific Ocean until every cubic inch is submerged and then draws it out, the container contains the fullness of the ocean. What is in the container is identical to what is in the ocean. No element is left out. In other words, the Apostle is attesting that all of God is fully present in Christ Jesus.

The New Testament repeatedly makes this claim. “[Christ] is the image of the invisible God” (Col. 1:15). He is the embodiment, the representation, the complete likeness to the God we cannot see with our human eyes. Writing of our Lord’s existence before all time, John says, “…the Word was with God, and the Word was God” (John 1:1). But that would be of little help to us if he did not add, “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us” (John 1:14). He came bodily.

The Nicene Creed (325 A.D.) attests him as “God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God…” But it also affirms that, “he was incarnate by the Holy Spirit of the virgin Mary, and was made man….”

The early church made deliberate effort to encapsulate this great wonder of incarnation in human language. Another creedal statement says that he was as much God as though he had never been man, and as much man as though he had never been God.

Jesus made such claims for himself. In answer to Philip’s perplexity he said, “He who has seen me has seen the Father,” and then asked, “Don’t you believe that I am in the Father and that the Father is in me?” (John 14:9,10).

When unbelieving Jews challenged him about his claims he did not back away. He announced, “I and the Father are one” (John 10:30). That means more than one in purpose; it means one in being. They share in the godhead — Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

It’s that word “bodily” that rings in my ears. The incarnation of God in Christ has forever been an unfathomable mystery to the church but at the same time an article of deep faith, a truth to be embraced, however incompletely understood. He took up human residence in our world.

His purpose in coming was clear: “God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them….” (2 Cor. 5:19). In Christ, the Son of the Father came to earth bodily; he ministered to human suffering and bondage bodily; he identified with the pain of our fallenness bodily; he yielded himself up to a barbaric instrument of torture bodily. And all of this was to pay our sin debt, overcome our rebellious hearts, and win us back to God.

And the cap sheaf of it all is that when he had completed his earthly mission he ascended back to the glory of the Father bodily (Acts 1:9). Think of what that promises for our resurrection!

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Photo credit: Ryan (via flickr.com)

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2 thoughts on “Re-post Rock-Solid Truth for the New Year

  1. For me too the musical cadences of the King James Bible are exquisiely beautiful.I think the translators of the King James have borrowed much of their musicality from two earlier Bibles.Saint Jerome’s Latin Vulgate seems to have inspired many cadences of King James’ translators.Take the opening of the Gospel of John .

    ‘’In principio erat Verbum et Verbum erat apud Deum et Deus erat Verbum’’

    has that same beautiful rhythm we encounter in the Authorized Version of 1611.

    “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God”

    Then the King James Version ,it seems to me,would have been impossible without the Tyndale Bible.Huge chunks seem to have been lifted wholesale from William Tyndale’s Bible ,the body of translations begun in the early 1500s.

    Protestant martyr William Tyndale , strangled to stop his Christian voice , then burned at the stake for translating the Bible into English and his trasnslations banned-,it’s no wonder those behind the King James Bibleconcealed their debt to Tyndale . They may have feared the authorities. Thanks mainly to Tyndale,the King James is a magnificent translation.

    I believe William Tyndale,even more than William Shakespeare ,is the father of English literature and of the modern English language.

    The Tyndale Bibles and the AV are beautifully written . The truths expressed in these beautiful words are even more beautiful..

    A hobbyhorse of mine is is the remarkable Protestant English translations of the Bible before the Authorized Version.I love the AV ,but love too it’s forebears, stasrting with the medieval Wycliffe. Their beautiful written style serves.the beauty that lies in the meaning ,the truth expressed.Best of all,we whose native tongue is English,with inufficient Latin, can understand scripture clearly now.

    “For in Christ dwelleth all the fullness of the godhead bodily.’’

    These wors are beautiful in both sound and meaning.God is fully physical in Jesus.What is God like ? How can we possibly know God ? Two thousand years ago these questions were answered.God is like Jesus.To know God ,we must know Jesus.

    ‘’Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me’’ John 14:6 AV 1615

    Christ ,God incarnate,with us,witnessed

    Today in our church ,Coventry St Michael’s cathedral,which you have visited,Pastor,we celebrate the Feast of the Baptism of our Lord .This feast used to be celebrated on the Feast of Epiphany but is now the first Sunday after Epihany ,at least in the Anglican and Lutheran churches.

    In the Church of England we can either celebrate Epiphany on 6 January proper ,or if we wish to keep it on a Sunday,between 2 & 8 January. If Epiphany is kept on 7 or 8 January,the feast of The Baptism of Christ is kept on the next Monday.It’s all rather complicated and moveable but I think the main thing is to keep it in our heart ,for Christ’s Baptism seems the point in the Bible when Jesus’ earthly mission began – the mission ,witnessed ,of God incarnate.

    Christ is invisible God made visible,by God’s grace.As you say Pastor,Christ is fully God. I love your analogy of the glass of water from the Pacific.It helps my understanding and I’m sure I first came across it in one of your books,in a slightly different form.

    From Christ’s Baptism,the start of His mission,people who witnessed Jesus realized they were witnessing God on earth ,starting with John the baptizer.So it is wonderful to celebrate today the Baptism of Christ.What a run of glorious feasts in the church year.Christmas,Circumcision,Epiphany and now Christ’s Baptism.

    On January 1st,the Feast of Christ’s Circumcision ,I was astonished that at Lord’s Supper only 3 communicants communicated in our Lord’s presence – the Cathedral dean who presided and distributed the fruit of the vine,the head verger who didtributed the bread and me the only simple congregant who received.Still, it was perfect .As Jesus said :

    ‘’ For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.” Matt 18:2 NIV

    Maybe a Feast of Circumcision seems strange to modern Christians.When I got home I read John Wesley’s sermon of January 1 1733 ‘ The Circumcision of The Heart’’What a perfect point by point explanation of the Methodist doctrines of Holiness and Christian perfection! .It clarifies these ideas for me.I think if circumcision is understood as of the heart,, as asserted in Old and New Testament (Deut 30:6 and Rom 2:29), more would keep the feast.

    Todays Baptism of Christ, Lord’s Supper, is much better attended ,partly as it’s a Sunday,partly because Baptism is more clearly grasped than circumcision.I don’t know whether the Free Methodist Church has the Baptism of Christ today.When I get home I’ll search through my compilation of major Wesley sermons to see if he preached about Christ’s Baptism in January.

    In many ways the Anglican church looks back to it’s origin out of the Roman Catholic Church and forward to the Wesleyan revival in the Methodist churches ,which sprang from Anglican Methodists like the Wesley brothers.The Anglican church year connects with the church years of both denominationsal groups.We are all one connected Church of Christ ,of course.

    The incarnation is the most wonderful subject for the first ‘Just Call Me Pastor’ of 2015.Christ is ,the image of invisible God and is God.. God made man and wo man in His image though we are not God.He did not make us God,but made us in His image. Christ though is fully human and fully God.I’m not sure but I’m pretty sure God did not make Christ.Christ IS fully God and has always existed.It’s too hard for this human mind to fully comprehend,work out.Maybe that’s what faith is for.A way for small human minds to comprehend,by God’s grace.

    Jesus the Christ is our Bible.He is the logos,the word made flesh.We read the Bible ,but we actually experience Christ,as at our new birth ,our rebirth when our new life starts.

    The Godhead ,the Trinity is the great beautiful mystery of faith.One substance,one being but three ways of being? Somehow 3 persons doesn’t seem the perfect translation. I can’t stop thinking about it. I love to think about the Trinity, just contemplate this mystery beyond human understanding.We are not asked to understand God .Jesus commands us to love God.We must know God through loving God,through loving Jesus our Redeemer,the Christ.

    I’ve heard methematicians say a mathematical equation can have great beauty.I think the equation that is the Trinity has the most equisite beauty of all equations..

    I think the best truths,the most beautiful truths are truths we can’t fully comprehend because our minds aren’t vast enough.These truths can only be understood by faith,maybe.We know they are true but don’t know how we know.I think faith must be a gift from God .We shouldn’t question a gift ,just accept it.

    And then thre’s e culmination of it all.The reason for the incarnation.As you say Pastor,the cap sheaf .I like that expression .The cap sheaf is end of death ! An end to imprisonment, the imprisonment of being chained to perpetual sin.Freedom!Is that the cap sheaf? Freedom from the perpetual cycle of sin and death.To step free ! Christ’s resurrection promises us .

    Thankyou very much for your ‘Just Call Me Pastor ‘ blog on the incarnation,Pastor Don.The more time I spend thinking about your piece ,the more I get out of it.Your blogs take me to new ,deeper ways of thinking about Christ’s teachings and about my life as a Christian.This week’s blog has required long ,hard ,deep thought ,from which I emerge with my mind sharpened and eager , my heart refreshed, and my faith glowing.

  2. Thinking and thinking about this weeks blog about the Incarnation ,perhaps the main thing I learned is to remember we are not asked to understand God .Jesus commands us to love God. We know God through loving God, As the song goes ‘To know Him is to love Him’.To love Him is to Know God.It comes back to Jesus’ first Commandment..Coming to God is possible by the Incarnation.Through Jesus we come to God. By loving God.

    “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind”

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