The Incarnation is the Deliberate Limitation of God. How so? – Christianity, which is the Ultimate Fulfillment and thus superseding reality of Judaism, agrees with the latter that “clouds and thick darkness” surround Him – that His thoughts are not ours – in John’s Gospel we read: “No one has ever seen God.” All of these facts [as testified to in Scripture] testify to the Reality that God is so, completely, infinitely BEYOND even our highest conceptions of Him. Any words we use, images that we employ to explain God – are going to fall short of the mark, and inevitably so. – What, then, is there to be done? For if relation to the Uncreated Creator is, to quote Tillich, the “ultimate concern” of man, how can the gap be bridged? The infinite difference between God [the Ultimate] and Man [the Immediate] is further agitated – yes, worsened – by man’s complete estrangement from all that is beautiful and good through the indwelling power of sin, irrevocably established in his soul. It is no longer an issue simply of relating finite to infinite – for some kind of relation was present between Adam and Yahweh, even though it can be supposed that even in that perfect, pre-sin union there were limitations because of God’s Absolute and Limitless Nature – no! The issue moved beyond that now, because man is alienated from God and by extension from man – he is trapped, imprisoned, cut off and isolated from everyone, especially the One –
So now, what can be done? Man’s conceptions and understandings of God are limited from the outset, apart from sin – but are further distorted and rendered useless because of lawlessness. Is there any possible way for man to understand the Almighty – even, perhaps [it might be too much to hope!] enter into a living, vital relationship with Him.
It is here, when all hope seems to fade, when chaos and despair sink in and overtake everything – here the Incarnation proves itself to be the only hope, the absolute hope, the Ultimate answer to EVERYTHING.
But how is the Incarnation “deliberate limitation”? Simply put: God, the Infinite, the Uncreated, the Absolute, conforms Himself to the image of Man. He reduces Himself, becomes a man, and thereby addresses the problem on both levels. First He reveals Himself to men on a level that Man can comprehend – He makes the image of the invisible God visible, speaks the words of God in terms that even the simplest, most “uneducated” individual can grasp [even though, of course, because these are the words of ALMIGHTY GOD, there are worlds of depth and richness in them, as the serious scholar or disciple will discover as he begins to study] – but more than that He destroys the power of indwelling sin in the lives of all who repose their confidence upon Him – those who believe. Thus God reduces Himself to Man’s level for a time, deliberately limits Himself for a season, and raises up Man and Creation from the depths of ontological blight, carrying them with Him in His healing hands as He ascends to Paradise.
Thus the Apostle Paul, proclaiming the truth joyfully under the influence of the Holy Spirit, can say – “We have the mind of Christ.” We cannot entirely understand God, nor will we ever be able – but through His Mercy, by sending His Son into the world, into space and time, He has opened the door for us to draw near and behold His Limitless Glory with unveiled faces.
The Rescuer doesn’t need to be Rescued
it seems that these days, everybody must rescue Jesus from somebody. the liberal theologians have to rescue Him from “dogmatic yet outdated theology” and “religious fundamentalism” - so they rape the Scriptures and reduce Him to a flowery, pansy pseudo-God whose only injunction is a weak and watery “love one another.” the staunch, take-America-back-for-God republicans have to rescue Him from the democrats – so they transform Him into one of their own, a white middle class man who lives in the suburbs and has no qualms whatsoever with material opulence. the historians have to rescue Him from the trappings of Christianity – so they make Him, at best, a charismatic Rabbi who established a consistent ethical system which has been metamorphosed [unfortunately, they say] into another religion – at worst, a legend or fabrication invented by the devious authors of the Gospels.
meanwhile, in the midst of all of this, “He who sits in the heavens - - - laughs.”
It is essential to practise the walk of the feet in the light of the vision.
~ Oswald Chambers
it seems that there are constantly two rivers which flow thru one’s life – one of joy, the other of sorrow. there seems to be so much in the world which is worthy of rejoicing over – the celebration of life itself, of love, the bonds of friendship, those moments in which the beauty and awe of Nature seem to abound and speak in the silence, &c. - but then, there is so much sorrow! so much suffering! the triumph of evil men, the horrors of addiction, injustice and discrimination, poverty, &.c. - and it seems that oftentimes this sorrow triumphs over the joy. what is one to do? turn to Christ: that is the only answer to be given. for on the one hand He was the man of sorrows - “acquainted with much grief” - weeping over the hardheartedness of Jerusalem, mourning at the graveside of His friend; going so far as to say: “blessed are those who mourn” - who see the needs and feel the burdens of their fellow man. and yet at the same time He is the ultimate, constant source of joy: for He, and He alone, has “overcome the world.”
Nietzsche Was Half-Right
“without hope and without God in the world.” outside of Christianity, the ideas of nihilism do indeed ring true. without a Redeemer – without any kind of spiritual foundation upon which he can stand – man is simply another cog in the endlessly churning machine, spiralling downward in the darkness, trampling his way through the crowds of tens of thousands towards the mouth of hell, towards oblivion. there is no true order, no true restraint – the government, the expectations of society, the fleeting notions of familial piety or nationalistic honor – cannot keep a man from resisting the impulses of his corrupted flesh. he is undone; he is ruined – and there is no peace, no order or sense to anything – until Christ breaks through the darkness, through the barriers, and shines upon him as he awakes.
faith is active surrender of the total person to the Person of Christ.
The Blessings of the Kingdom
i have decided, in addition to my other posts, to start putting up portions of my book The Blessings of the Kingdom, as i finish them. i hope to have a chapter or two written each week for the next few weeks. hopefully this will work.
here is the introduction.
thank you for reading.
From the outset of proclaiming the Eternal Standard of the Kingdom which He has come to establish, Jesus Christ turns men’s conceptions regarding righteousness upside down. As is often the case in the Gospels, we see Him here presenting something so revolutionary, so shockingly ‘new’ that it seems as if we must be misunderstanding Him – and so we have it, the vast amount of interpretations and exegesis dedicated to explaining the ‘true’ meaning of the Beatitudes, and thus effectually doing away with the power and force of what is proclaimed in these simple words.
Interestingly enough, when we look at both the Gospels of Matthew and Luke, we observe that the Sermon on the Mount, as recorded by both evangelists, is the first major teaching of Jesus. In both Gospels, before we reach this passage, we see Christ moving among the people, performing miracles, perhaps speaking for a short time here and there – but here He begins to teach in an expansive fashion for the first time. The fact that both authors include this as the first major teaching block of Jesus is clearly because they want these words of Christ, these proclamations to be carefully considered and regarded as one of the motifs of His teaching. Let us keep this in mind as we turn to the text and begin to examine it.
I see no legitimate objection to regarding Matthew and Luke’s account as being two records of the same event. Most people argue that, since in Matthew Jesus is teaching on a mountain, and in Luke on a plain, there is no way that this is one situation being told from two different perspectives. However, anyone who understands that the first century mindset was not concerned with meticulous precision in its presentation [contrary to our Western understanding of how facts should be disseminated] will understand that it is perfectly legitimate to see this as being one event. Is it not possible that the mountain upon which Christ taught was adjacent to a plain, and that at some point He descended further into the crowd as He taught?
The other objection, the one most often mentioned, is that the Beatitudes themselves in both accounts differ slightly from one another, but that these differences are significant enough to regard the records as being exclusive to each other rather than complimentary. Here, I am arguing the exact opposite – that Matthew and Luke are, indeed, referring to the same blessing with their written record of Jesus’ words. The differences can be accounted for easily – if we are humbly willing to acknowledge what Christ actually means with these blessings and woes which He pronounces.
Indeed, it is my contention that, for the most part, both authors [especially Matthew] have been severely misunderstood. Theologians and scholars of every background and conviction have been studying the Beatitudes for years, but it seems as if they have been unwilling to acknowledge what is being clearly spelled out in both Gospels. Even Luke, who is [arguably] clearer and more succinct than Matthew, or at least easier to understand for those unfamiliar with the Jewish mindset, has been misinterpreted, the meaning and intent of his record placed into an exegetical category where it does not belong.
I do not want to arrogantly presume that I am the only one who has ever discovered the meaning of the Beatitudes, that I am finally unlocking a door which has been inaccessible for the past two thousand years. I humbly acknowledge, in the first place, that any knowledge I have gained, any understanding or insight which I have received regarding the Beatitudes has come from God Himself, from the Holy Spirit within who teaches and instructs as we are willing and able to hear. In light of this, I wholeheartedly believe that anyone else can come to the same conclusions which I have – and will, providing he or she is humbly sincere enough to seek out the answers, no matter what consequences they may bring with them.
There have also been other disciples of Christ who have reached the same conclusions as I have. Perhaps they have not interpreted the Beatitudes in the same fashion, but they have rightly understood the vast importance which Christ places upon stewardship, mercifulness and one’s relation to the things of this world. In this sense, they have said the same thing I am saying here, though perhaps from a different angle. Whatever the case, I am indebted to those who have gone before me and seen the Truth clearly, and in turn explained it to others with a spirit of humility and honesty.
On a last note, I am making it my goal as the author not to approach these passages of the Word as a theologian or a scholar, but as a disciple. One of the greatest dangers in delving deep into the study of Scripture is that the actual process of study, of examining and reflecting and exegeting, can become the end instead of the means to the end, with the result that we deceive ourselves into thinking that we have done the will of God – simply because we have understood it. But this is not the case. Understanding, in and of itself, is far from enough. At the end of the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus clearly explains that the only one who has truly understood what He has said is the one who puts it into practice – who obeys in faith. Therefore, I admonish you as the reader, just as I admonish myself as the author, to humbly and prayerfully read what is being written here, and to approach the piercing Light of the Word with one intention only – to submit to it, in order to bring glory to the name of the Father through Christ in all things. In the end, it is not the theologians who comprehend, or the scholars who eloquently explain, who enter the Kingdom of Heaven – from first to last, it is the disciples of Christ, who take up their crosses and follow Him wherever He leads.
If Christ had left us to our own devices
We would have had our spines torn out through our mouths
If we had been abandoned to drown in our vices
We would have been damned to the fire by now
good intentions are not enough
in this dark hour, what we need most are men whose ways of thinking are entirely shaped by the Word of God. for convenience, and a desire to cling to the relative comfort and ease offered by the world, has poisoned the minds of even the best and well-intentioned of people; and so Christ and His demands for absolute loyalty have been shirked and are now forgotten, even considered to be foreign and alien in the churches. “surely Jesus does not want me to do that!” they reason, when told of the necessity of self-denial and the actual forsaking of all earthly ties. O, but He does! and if your thoughts were transformed through a renewal of the mind by the power of Scripture, then you would understand – even more, you would obey! there would be no desire to justify yourself, to excuse yourself, to get out from underneath the terrible responsibility of suffering for the Lord – for you would know that there is no other way, and any other way that claims to be Christianity is a sham religion. it may look beautiful, and it may sound lovely, but it is cheap and plastic and will not stand against the scrutiny of Almighty God.
5 But the Jews were jealous, and taking some wicked men of the rabble, they formed a mob, set the city in an uproar, and attacked the house of Jason, seeking to bring them out to the crowd. 6 And when they could not find them, they dragged Jason and some of the brothers before the city authorities, shouting, “These men who have turned the world upside down have come here also, 7 and Jason has received them, and they are all acting against the decrees of Caesar, saying that there is another king, Jesus.”