What is Incarnation?

Incarnation means to be made flesh. The root word ‘carn’ has the idea of flesh as in the
word carnal, as used in Romans 8:5-6 to show the difference between those who live
according to the flesh (carnal) and set the mind on the things of the flesh and those who
live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. Flesh and spirit are
put in contrast and differ in nature and character. God is Spirit (John 4:24) but not flesh,
until Jesus took on flesh then now God became, both flesh and spirit.

When God took on flesh, it didn’t mean he lost his Spirit nature, but he added to it the
human nature, which is flesh (Philippians 2:7-8). Now incarnation is God, who is Spirit
putting on human flesh in the person of Jesus Christ (John 1:14). This means that the
God of the Universe is now going to be born as a baby, the king of all ages is going to
grow and his ages counted. Pastor C.H. Spurgeon said, “Infinite and yet an infant.
Eternal and yet born of a woman. Almighty, and yet nursing at a woman’s breast.
Supporting a universe, yet needing to be carried in a mother’s arms.”

Arianism & The Nicene Creed

The word ‘incarnation’ was recorded in the council at Nicaea in 325 BC following the
Arian controversy. Arius was a theologian in the Roman empire in Ptolemais, Cyrenaica
(present-day Lybia). According to Arius, God could not have a human body. He believed
and taught that Jesus was a little higher than man and not of the same substance as
God. Arianism, the doctrine named after Arius, denies that the Son (Jesus) is of one
essence or substance with God; he is not co-substance with the Father and, therefore,
not like the Father. So Jesus is not equal to the Father in dignity; he is not co-eternal or
the real sphere of deity. Arianism denied the deity of Christ. Examples of Modern-day
Arianism are the Jehovah’s Witnesses and The Church of Jesus Christ of the latter
Saints.

At the council of Nicaea, Arius and his followers were called to substantiate their
teachings from scripture since his teaching was dividing the church. After deliberations,
the council held that Jesus is of the same substance as the Father; therefore, he is
equal to the father in every way. They wrote a creed (what they agreed that the Bible
teaches). They wrote that we believe… in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son
of God, begotten of the Father before all worlds, Light of Light, very God of very God,
begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father. The council at Nicaea
declared Arianism heretical and upheld that Christ was divine, was incarnate by the
Holy Ghost of the Virgin Mary, and was made man.

In Jesus, incarnation happened when the divine nature came to be in union with human
nature. The early church fathers described this union as the Hypostatic Union, which
means that the human nature of christ was never at odds with the divine nature. The
properties of these two natures, united in one person-Jesus, Christ, are in sync and
communication without conflict. For instance, Jesus prayed and asked the Father to
glorify him in his presence with the glory he had before the world began (John 17:5). At
the same time, Jesus claimed to be omnipresent (Matthew 28:20).

Incarnation in the Scriptures.

In the Old Testament, Christ appeared to people in different forms, yet he had not put
on flesh in all those forms. For instance, he appeared as Melchizedek to Abraham
(Genesis 14:18–20). We learn in Hebrews 7 that Melchizedek was without father or
mother or genealogy, having neither beginning of days nor the end of life, resembling
the Son of God. He continues to be a priest forever. The writer of Hebrew is referring to
the pre-existing Christ as Melchizedek.

Isaiah prophesied about the incarnation and said, “for unto us (humans) a child is born,
for unto us a son is given; and the government shall be on his shoulders, and his name
shall be called Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace
(Isaiah 9:6). Isaiah was saying in as much as he was human, a child, he was a Mighty
God. Further, Isaiah gives us the most remarkable name of Jesus, the name Emanuel
(Isaiah 7:14), which means God with us. How would we experience the tangibility of
God without him taking on flesh and being like us?

In the new testament, we see the prophecy of the incarnation fulfilled. The same Christ
who appeared and was prophesied in the old testament was made flesh in the fullness
of time (Galatians 4:4-7) born of a woman. John 1:1 personifies the Word that it was in
the beginning, and it was with God, and it was with God. God created all things by this
Word (John 1:3). It became flesh (John 1:14). When the Holy Spirit overshadowed the
virgin Mary, she became pregnant with a child to be called the Son of God (Luke 1:5).
The Holy Spirit who is God and Mary who is human came together not in intercourse as
some would falsely say but in the power of the Most High to bring about the God-man,
Jesus.

The writer of Hebrews affirms in Hebrews 2:14 that since, therefore, as humans, we
share in flesh and blood, he (Jesus Christ) likewise partook of the same things (flesh
and blood). Apostle John gives us a first-hand experience of Christ as a human, and he
said he and the other apostle heard him, saw him and touched him (1 John 1:1). They

experience him like you would a person next to you. Jesus was God, so he was Spirit
and was also the man.

How does incarnation Help my faith?

Firstly, the incarnation makes the Christian faith distinct from all other religions. God
wouldn’t take the human form if it were unimportant to our faith. The main benefit of the
incarnation of Christ is that he became the only mediator between man and God hence
securing our reconciliation with God and salvation from the wrath of God (Romans 5:9-
11). There is only one God and one mediator between man and God, the man Jesus
Christ (1 Timothy 2:5).

The mediatory work of christ couldn’t be perfect had he not taken the form of man since
that’s the only way he could experience the pain of suffering and the struggles of
temptations that men go through so that he can help them (Hebrews 2:18). Christ came
into the world and took on flesh to save sinners, and to display his perfect patience
through all life trials as an example to all who believe in him for eternal life (1 Timothy
1:15-17).

Secondly, Jesus took on flesh so that he could die and conquer and destroy the one
with the power of death, the devil. By doing so, he has delivered us from the fear of
death and lifelong slavery Hebrews 2:14-17. He had to be in the human flesh to die and
conquer death as we do. Had he wanted to do so for angels, he would not have put on
human flesh, but because Jesus wanted to deliver humans from the fear of death, he
put on flesh (Hebrews 2:16). Therefore, the incarnation of Christ is meant to relieve our
fears of death.

Thirdly, because of the incarnation of Christ, we are guaranteed glorification. For it was
fitting that Christ, the creator of all things, would perfect our salvation through his
suffering and bring many to glory (Hebrews 2:10). He did this by accepting to be made a
little lower than the angles so that he could suffer and die. By the grace of God, he
tastes death for everyone (Hebrews 2:9). So that you and I might not die because of our
sins but receive the gift of God, which is eternal life through Jesus, our lord.

Fourthly, the incarnation of Christ secures our redemption and adoption as sons of
God. Jesus had to be born under the law for him to pay the price that the law demanded
from us, which is death (Romans 6:23). In doing so, we are no longer the children of

wrath and disobedience (Ephesians 2:3), but now we receive adoption as sons of God
(Galatians 24:4-6).

Finally, the incarnation of Christ gives us an example of Holy living and, as such, living
in love with another. We are to have the mind of Christ, one who was humble even
when he was equal to God. He did not consider his equality with God anything to grasp
but humbled himself, even to the most humiliating death, the death on the cross. Such
is the mind we should have amongst ourselves, to be humble and selfless regardless of
our positions (Philippians 2:1-8). As a result, our faith in Jesus is strengthened and has
more meaning in understanding that God became man and dwelled amongst us for our
salvation.

Reference.

https://www.etymonline.com/word/incase
https://www.theopedia.com/arianism
https://www.ligonier.org/learn/articles/incarnation-athanasian-creed
https://www.ligonier.org/podcasts/simply-put/incarnation
https://www.crossway.org/articles/10-key-bible-verses-on-the-incarnation/

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