Incarnation

Dictionary.com

noun
1. an incarnate being or form.
2. a living being embodying a deity or spirit.
3. assumption of human form or nature
4. the Incarnation, (sometimes lowercase) Theology. the doctrine that the second person of the Trinity assumed human form in the person of Jesus Christ and is completely both God and man.
5. a person or thing regarded as embodying or exhibiting some quality, idea, or the like: The leading dancer is the incarnation of grace.
6. the act of incarnating.
7. state of being incarnated.


Etymonline.com

c. 1300, “embodiment of God in the person of Christ,” from Old French incarnacion “the Incarnation” (12c.), from Late Latin incarnationem (nominative incarnatio), “act of being made flesh” (used by Church writers especially in reference to God in Christ; source also of Spanish encarnacion, Italian incarnazione), noun of action from past participle stem of Late Latin incarnari “be made flesh,” from in- “in” (from PIE root *en “in”) + caro (genitive carnis) “flesh” (originally “a piece of flesh,” from PIE root *sker- (1) “to cut”). Glossed in Old English as inflæscnesinlichomung. As “person or thing that is the embodiment” (of some quality, deity, etc.) from 1742.


Discussion/Explanation

There are many myths of various beings taking a human form in history. In the case of Christianity, Jesus Christ was God incarnate in flesh even to be the point of being born into the world as any other human being.

Even to this day, the Incarnation of Jesus Christ still possesses mystery but there are many things that we do know.

  1. God became incarnate as Son of God and Son of Man in Jesus Christ. He is God and man at the same time. This is important as it allows him to fulfill the role of being the last Adam and pay the price for sin brought into the world by the first Adam (the Adam of Genesis).
  2. Despite being incarnate, Jesus is still part of the triune nature of God. God is multi-dimensional and is not bound by the same constraints as you are I. He is one.
    1. God the Father has no physical form and neither does the Holy Spirit.
      1. You will often see dove imagery for the Holy Spirit despite the Scriptures never describing the Holy Spirit to be a dove but was compared to a dove in Luke 3:22.
  3. The Son did not give up His deity to become man though he does seem to restrain it.
  4. The terms we use: Father, Son, Holy Spirit are very mortal terms used to describe this triune nature that is inherently beyond our full understanding (at least not in this lifetime and probably not even in the next after the end of all things).

There is much to be studied and discussed on this topic. But, suffice to say that the word “incarnation” in Christianity is a term brought up in reference to Christ’s being God as human.

A great work to read because of its historical significance to the doctrinal understanding of the incarnation of Christ would be On the Incarnation by Athanasius. The following link takes you to a pdf file of the work. (it’s free)

http://www.onthewing.org/user/Athanasius%20-%20On%20the%20Incarnation.pdf


I'm part of Post A Week 2016

Sacraments

Sacraments are a plural item in Christianity as it is a term for multiple activities. Let’s look first at some simple definitions to get started…


Dictionary.com

 1.  Ecclesiastical. a visible sign of an inward grace, especially one of the solemn Christian rites considered to have been instituted by Jesus Christ to symbolize or confer grace: the sacraments of the Protestant churches are baptism and the Lord’s Supper; the sacraments of the Roman Catholic and Greek Orthodox churches are baptism, confirmation, the Eucharist, matrimony, penance, holy orders, and extreme unction.

2. (often initial capital letter). Also called Holy Sacrament. the Eucharist or Lord’s Supper.

Also called Holy Sacrament. the Eucharist or Lord’s Supper
3. the consecrated elements of the Eucharist, especially the bread.
4. something regarded as possessing a sacred character or mysterious significance.
5. a sign, token, or symbol. a sign, token, or symbol.
6. an oath; solemn pledge. an oath; solemn pledge.

Etymonline.com

“outward and visible sign of inward and spiritual grace,” also “the eucharist,” c. 1200, from Old French sacrament “consecration; mystery” (12c., Modern French sacrement) and directly from Latin sacramentum “a consecrating” (also source of Spanish sacramento, German Sakrament, etc.), from sacrare “to consecrate” (see sacred); a Church Latin loan-translation of Greek mysterion (see mystery).

Meaning “a holy mystery” in English is from late 14c. The seven sacraments are baptism, penance, confirmation, holy orders, the Eucharist, matrimony, and anointing of the sick (extreme unction).


Discussion/Explanation

Obviously, there’s a broader context here besides just “certain activities”.

Historically, there have been seven sacraments as mentioned from both dictionary.com and etymonline.com. I think the dictionary.com definition #1 does a particularly nice job in this case as it not only shows what are the sacraments but also points out an important distinction between Protestants and the Roman Catholic/Greek Orthodox churches.

In Protestantism there is baptism and the Lord’s Supper. The Lord’s Supper goes by other names too – namely communion or the Eucharist. If you are not familiar with the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper, it’s practice is tied to Matthew 26:26-29 (as well as parallels in the other gospels). From this has come many practices observed but the common elements are the “bread and wine” – representing the body and the blood of Christ respectively.

Baptism has its variances as well but it still involves belief and water in each instance – whether the water be a sprinkling on the individual or by submersion & whether it’s the belief of the individual vs. the belief of the parents.

Penance, confirmation, holy orders, anointing of the sick (extreme unction) – I don’t intend to treat these here, perhaps in the future, but they are commonly practiced today in the Catholic church as well as others.

Matrimony or marriage is the one I personally find most interesting here. Why? Well, its because of how the Catholic church sees it as a sacrament but Protestantism overall does not. This will be the topic of a future post.

I will end it here. It should be clear what a sacrament is from these definitions as well as what practices are commonly considered sacraments in historic Christendom. As always, you’re welcome back next week where I move onto the next term in the list!


I'm part of Post A Week 2016

Change

God has a plan for you to change and it is centered on His son, Jesus Christ.

Our very faith is based upon what Christ did for us on the cross and it is the only reason we are able to stand before God the Father at all. Without Christ’s saving sacrifice, just one of our “least” sins would be enough to condemn us for eternity. This is why we are to keep our eyes on Christ and His example.

If we believe and follow Him, Christ’s action has saved us. It is then for us to constantly work to follow His example. Yes, we will mess up constantly. What we need to remember is that Christ’s saving work enables us to have hope and gives us the ability to turn from our sins.

We cannot save ourselves (Prov. 20:9). We must recognize our helplessness to meet God’s standard and repent of our arrogance and sin. In other words, we need to humble ourselves before God. This alone put Him at the center and brings Him glory which is a pattern that should follow as we move forward in faith. We constantly strive to be better and to do better as it ultimately gives glory to God as our striving ultimately points to Him.

We change by focusing on Him. He has given us the ability to change because of His saving work in us. We do not have the power to change without this saving work. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying it will be easy. The path before a follower of Christ is often described as a narrow one (there is really only one way to Him).

Remember! Having received saving faith in Christ, we have been reborn into God’s family (John 14:26, Gal. 3:26,…). We now have the ability to understand the things of God (John 14:26, 16:13-15; 1 Cor. 2:9-13). As such, we are granted the ability to live a new life as a new person. We no longer have to be bound by our past self (Rom. 6:4-22). We are empowered to change because Christ is now at the helm.

 

A few other scriptures to take a look into connected to this article:

John 1:12; I John 5:12; II Corinthians 5:17; 1 John 2:3-6