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The Glory of Emmanuel!
© 1998 by Charles Read
Everyone agrees that the Babe of Bethlehem was like none other to ever impact planet Earth. Beyond that, however, there is much disagreement.
Even in the time of Jesus' earthly ministry there were many opinions. When He asked His disciples, "Whom do men say that I am?" the answers ranged from Elijah, or one of the prophets, to a resurrected John the Baptist!
Though there were questions and confusion during Jesus' lifetime, there should be none today among Spirit-filled believers who have available the full canon of Scriptures.
Understanding and completeness of revelation came in the rushing mighty wind of that first Pentecostal outpouring, and today we can still thank God that "his truth endureth to all generations" (Ps. 100:5). For those who will search the Scriptures with an honest and hungry heart, shall be granted "the revelation of the mystery, which was kept secret since the world began" (Rom. 16:25). Please understand that a mystery is no longer a mystery when the revelation has come. The apostle said the revelation of this mystery "now is made manifest" (Rom. 16:26). How similar this sounds to the blunt wording in Paul's first epistle to Timothy: "And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh" (1 Tim 3:16).
The human mind cannot fully comprehend, nor scarcely accept, the awesomeness of this revelation. Therefore men have devised their own doctrines to explain Jesus Christ. Some say he was a great teacher or prophet. Some call Him the "Son of God," but may define this term far differently than the Bible. Some deny His divinity altogether. Few, however, acknowledge Him in accordance with the teaching of God's holy Word: that Jesus Christ is the Mighty God and Everlasting Father (Isa. 9:6).
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God was saying there would be enmity (mutual hatred) between the serpent and the woman. The Messiah was to be the "seed of the Woman." Indeed when Christ was conceived, it was not by an earthly father, but as the angel told Mary, "The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God" (Luke 1:35).
Satan would bruise the Messiah's heel, and of course Satan struck at Jesus repeatedly, especially in what seemed to be the finality of the cross. But it was in this very act that Jesus actually won the victory, bruising the serpent's head, and exclaiming, "It is finished!." (John 19:30).
What a thrill therefore to read Paul's assurance to the Romans, "And the God of peace shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly" (Rom. 16:20). Not only is it exciting to read of the victory Jesus is bringing about through His church, but note what Paul called Jesus in this verse - the God of Peace!
Here is where our minds get in the way.The revelation must come by the Holy Spirit! People ask "How could Jesus be God, but yet die on a cross? Does that mean God died?' Or they ask, "If Jesus was God, why did He have to pray?"We will attempt to answer some of these questions, but we emphasize again that the revelation must come as the Spirit of God opens one's understanding to the Word of God. "The natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned" (1 Cor. 2:14).
Since Genesis, the first book of the Bible, begins with the words, "In the beginning God..." let us turn immediately to John 1:1 and look at a companion Scripture: "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God."
Before the dawn of human history there was only God. One awesome, incomprehensible Spirit being...who determined to create a vast universe with particular attention upon a little blue and green planet.
The "Word" - the Logos of God - was the message, plan and purpose of God. Just as we reveal our innermost thoughts by means of our spoken and written words, God Himself had a Word. This Word was not something He would formulate after Adam fell. No, for God knew from the beginning that Adam would fall, Satan would gain dominion, and humanity would be enslaved by the sin that entered the world through one man's transgression.
Neither was this Word an afterthought, an alternate plan, devised when the Jews rejected Christ! No, my friend, for God knew that the Messiah would be rejected. Isaiah the prophet wrote 700 years before Jesus' birth: "He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed" (Isa. 53:3-5).
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But please note that not only was the Word with God from the beginning, but the Word was God.
Say it aloud, if need be: The Word was God! The Word was God!
No mere human could effect the holy purposes of the Almighty. The plan from the beginning could only be God Himself. Only God could be the salvation and redemption of mankind! OnlyGod could move upon the prophets of old with the spirit of prophecy to foretell, in part, the mystery of the ages. Only God, who is Love, would be willing to be scorned and rejected and crucified by His own creation to provide pardon and new life to those who would believe and receive His grace.
So we move from John 1:1, "The Word was God," to 1:14, "And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us." This is the glorious mystery that is still hidden from the multitudes. The Word, the foreordained Plan of God - was made manifest, when the Almighty infinite God clothed Himself in flesh, and walked in the form of a man. Yes, He could have come down as a fiery Angel wielding a flaming sword, conquering with all the heavenly weapons at His disposal. But instead He impregnated a virgin by His Spirit - not another "god," not another "person" in a multi-partnered deity, but His own Spirit, the same Spirit that at the beginning "moved upon the face of the waters."This holy child, the seed of the Woman, was to have a human nature inherited from His mother, yet without sin. This child was to be a union of man and God....Deity veiled within humanity....The Everlasting Father (Isa. 9:6) walking within the Son He had caused to be conceived supernaturally in the womb of Mary!
Not "two persons," not "two gods"...but the One True God of Eternity manifesting Himself in the flesh to reveal Himself and His nature to humanity - and to shed His own blood for the sins of the world. As Paul exhorted the Ephesian elders, "Feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood" (Acts 20:28).
Or as the apostle later wrote in his epistle to the Colossians, "And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled in thebody of his flesh through death" (Col. 1:21, 22).
How fittingly His name be known as "Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us" (Mat. 1:23)!
So many questions which attack our minds could be laid to rest if we would but see the Lord Jesus Christ as fully God and fully man!
Why did He pray? Because God did not come in the fullness of Deity to defeat Satan by sheer omnipotent force. God won back His creation legally, by paying a lawful requirement. "Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree" (Gal. 3:13).Back to Top Back One Page
Jesus prayed as a man, to the Father who was both in Him doing the works, but still the omnipresent Spirit who fills all of heaven and earth. God had to take on the form of man, and empty Himself of the Divine attributes by which He could have conquered Satan. He won the victory as a man who surrendered totally to that heavenly Father who empowered Him.
"For verily he took not on him the nature of angels; but he took on him the seed of Abraham" (Heb. 2:16). "Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross" (Ph. 2:6-8).
He was in the form of God, but He emptied Himself of Divine privilege and humbled Himself as a man. Not only did He thus become the sacrificial Lamb, but He became for our sakes, "the firstborn among many brethren" (Rom. 8:29). He then gave us His same weapons: prayer, the Word, sonship, the Holy Spirit - that by them we might overcome even as He overcame (Rev. 3:21)!
Christian friend, many will twist and distort the Word of God, and will confuse you with "the opposing ideas of what is falsely called knowledge" (1 Tim. 6:20, NIV).
But as you seek to know the God of the sacred Scriptures, the Spirit and the Word will continually lead you back to the lowly Nazarene, who tells you, "He that hath seen me hath seen the Father" (John 14:9)! Will you not acknowledge the Son of Mary, as Jude wrote, to be the "only wise God our Saviour" (1:24), and worshipfully proclaim Him, as did Thomas, "My Lord and my God"(John 20:28)?
The mystery has been revealed by the Word and the Spirit, even as we hear our Lord Jesus ascribe to Himself the covenantal name of Jehovah God, "Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I AM" (John 8:58).
"Whom do men say that I am?" Jesus asked His disciples. The question is for each of us as well. Who do YOU say He is?Back to Top Back One Page You may contact Charles Read or subscribe to his free newsletter The New Jerusalem Times at NEWTESTAMENT@JUNO.COM"
For a related article see: Behold Your God!
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Last modified: 08-05-2007
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