Thinking about the birth of Jesus Christ has gotten me zoned in on incarnation, as well as, reincarnation.
For some who believe that Jesus is the one and only Son of God (which I do as well), this word reincarnation causes them to bristle a bit.
Typically, ‘reincarnation’ is something we don’t consider as followers of Christ. We reserve that term for some other religions and to associate it with Christendom approaches blasphemy.
Webster dictionary describes incarnation as:
noun: in·car·na·tion \ in-(ˌ)kär-ˈnā-shən \
1a (1): the embodiment of a deity or spirit in some earthly form
(2) capitalized: the union of divinity with humanity in Jesus Christ
b: a concrete or actual form of a quality or concept; especially: a person showing a trait or typical character to a marked degree
- she is the incarnationof goodness
3: a particular physical form or state: version
- in another incarnationhe might be a first vice-president
- —Walter Teller
- TV and movie incarnationsof the story
Incarnation – The Christmas Story
It is after, what the entire story of Christmas is about.
Matthew 1:23 (CSB)
See, the virgin will become pregnant and give birth to a son, and they will name him Immanuel, which is translated “God is with us.
As you read the Gospels opening chapters they recount the most amazing event humanity has ever witnessed; the incarnation of God in the flesh!
Isaiah 9:6 (CSB)
For a child will be born for us, a son will be given to us, and the government will be on his shoulders. He will be named Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.
God in the flesh; God incarnate. Taking on form that we can relate to, touch, and see. This is what Christmas is all about; God being with us!
As great of an event as this is, why was it necessary for God to take on bodily form and live among us? After all, He is God! He is God the Son, creator of everything we see and comprehend. It would be totally in His power to simply command Grace upon us. What’s up with that?
That’s right, purely God, and purely having the ability to bestow Grace upon the world. However, He is God and therefore, he also is pure righteousness, purely just, and purely Holy.
Romans 6:23 (CSB)
For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Being purely just and righteous, there was no way, even though he possessed the ability to forgive us, he was unable to simply make it so because, in doing so, he would violate his own righteous and justice.
This is the same situation that would be the case if a judge sitting on the bench, knowing the evidence against the person before him, simply decided to release a mass murderer from what would normally be the appropriate judgement.
The news media would be coming unglued as they ran segment after segment about the judge that got it wrong. They would form panels and talk about what possibly could have prompted this judge to do this. And the judge would be without excuse, he would be and unjust judge.
God can’t perform in opposition to His Divine nature. He is Just. He is Righteous. He is Holy!
He also loves us with a love that is beyond our understanding. He loved us before we were formed.
So, to redeem us, allow us to engage in a relationship with Him, He became incarnated in the flesh.
I pick up on three reasons why incarnation was the means to that end.
1. Effectively, redemption would require reversing the action by which His creation fell from favor.
Romans 5:12 (CSB)
Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, in this way death spread to all people, because all sinned.
Just as Adam’s weakness to the flesh introduced sin into the world, God taking on flesh and blood; demonstrates the counter to Adam’s fall. The counter to all of our failings.
Hebrews 2:14-15 (CSB)
Now since the children have flesh and blood in common, Jesus also shared in these, so that through his death he might destroy the one holding the power of death — that is, the devil — and free those who were held in slavery all their lives by the fear of death.
We share the identity of our redeemer who we have flesh and blood in common with. Where by death is introduced by sin, God incarnate destroys sin and death
2. Taking on our form he was able to identify and endure temptation.
Hebrews 2:18 (CSB)
For since he himself has suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are tempted.
In doing so, he serves as our example.
3. The third and most critical reason for God incarnate is to provide once and for all the perfect sacrifice that would absolve all who would come to Him.
Hebrews 10:14 (CSB)
For by one offering he has perfected forever those who are sanctified.
Without taking on the form of man, without leading the perfectly sinless life he did, without surrendering that life; taking on the sins of the world, there would be no way to redeem His creation justly. Because, the wages of sin is death.
And He didn’t leave it at that. No, he vanquished sin and death and brought us new life in his resurrection three days later.
John 3:16 (CSB)
For God loved the world in this way: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.
Doing so, giving us a pathway to reincarnation; that is the new birth.
This birth is the gateway to life. Life for all that would place their trust in His Grace.
I saw that bristled look you had when I used the word reincarnation. But it is,
Upon Christs return to gather His Church to himself as His bride. Those who have been dead for years and years will rise to meet him in their new bodies.
1 Thessalonians 4:16 (CSB)
For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the archangel’s voice, and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first.
The corruptible will transformed into incorruptible. Those dead in Christ who’s bodies have decayed will be reincarnated in new bodies without corruption. Those living will be caught up there after to meet him in the clouds and they will be transformed as well.
All because God the Son choose to be incarnated into human form.
The second birth leads to life everlasting. It leads to eventually an incorruptible form that will share eternity with God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.
John 3:3 (CSB)
Jesus replied, “Truly I tell you, unless someone is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”
Being a person who has written code for computers many years, there is an expression that I attribute to this. You really don’t need to be a coder to follow this formulation as it works exactly as it reads. Jesus tells us that we have the opportunity for two births. We can also have the misfortune of having as many as two deaths. The expression goes like this.
If Births = 2 Then
Deaths <= 1
Deaths = 2
It’s that second death that Jesus came to eliminate in our formula and He does that by giving us a second birth.
Without the second birth you will suffer a second death; period!
Revelation 2:11 (CSB)
“Let anyone who has ears to hear listen to what the Spirit says to the churches. The one who conquers will never be harmed by the second death.
The second death is something that no one would wish for. The second death is eternal separation from God in a state of complete torment.
Revelation 20:14 (CSB)
Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire.
Revelation 21:7-8 (CSB)
The one who conquers will inherit these things, and I will be his God, and he will be my son. But the cowards, faithless, detestable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars — their share will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.”
But did you notice the alternative mentioned in the 7th verse of the 21st chapter? “I will be his God, and he will be my son”.
In accepting the ‘Second Life’ we avoid the ‘Second Death’ AND not only do we live for ever with God; God adopts us as sons and daughters in his family.
Now This is Living!
New life is core to Christmas. God incarnate; the birth of Jesus. The new Covenant between God and mankind that makes a way to enjoy ‘New Life’ in the second birth. And so much more than just living forever and ever; Living as sons and daughters of the King of Kings!