The Incarnation: Immense, Yet Simple
Paganism worships this immense universe as divine. But the Bible presents the overwhelming, sovereign being of God, as above and as maker of the heavens.
Written by Peter Jones | Thursday, December 22, 2016
The Gospel is a message of disarming simplicity. Unlike paganism, which is forever impersonal, the true God of such cosmic immensity is also the personal God of the divine Trinity who reaches down to reveal himself in the form of a man, born as a baby in a stable in Bethlehem.
Standing in the village of Bethlehem last spring, I looked up at the large hillside before me, trying to imagine the shepherds with their sheep, transfixed before a choir of angels singing Gloria in excelsis Deo, or something to that effect. What a stunningly palpable experience of God’s immensity that must have been!
Later this year, I was struck in a different way with the immensity of God, when I read that astrophysicists had discovered ten times more galaxies than those we thought made up the physical universe. Instead of two billion they now talk of two trillion! And if we go inward, not outward, we discover that one human cell contains information equivalent to about a hundred million pages of the Encyclopedia Britannica! This goes beyond anything modern science can explain. How much bigger than human science is the God of the Bible! As David explains it: “O LORD, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! You have set your glory above the heavens” (Ps. 8:1).
Paganism worships this immense universe as divine. But the Bible presents the overwhelming, sovereign being of God, as above and as maker of the heavens. This is the only truth that can conquer the essential message of paganism. Isis, the goddess of a thousand names, is still only the goddess of Oneism, the goddess of this world. Face to face with the God who is above the heavens (the God of Twoism), the vision and hope of paganism is utterly puny.
At the same time, the Gospel is a message of disarming simplicity. Unlike paganism, which is forever impersonal, the true God of such cosmic immensity is also the personal God of the divine Trinity who reaches down to reveal himself in the form of a man, born as a baby in a stable in Bethlehem opposite the hill I observed last spring. What amazing grace and kindness he shows us by revealing himself at a level that even I, a weak human being, can understand. I understand that human sin must be atoned for by a human sacrifice. I understand that only God can be morally pure. Thus I understand (though it is still a mystery) that only Jesus, true God and true man, can deal with my otherwise insoluble moral problem.
Thank you Lord for the incarnation, thank you for its beginning in the baby Jesus, whom we remember particularly at Christmas time. Without him we are morally and physically lost. With him, who is now the Risen Lord who reigns over all things, we will live forever.
Dr. Peter Jones is scholar in residence at Westminster Seminary California and associate pastor at New Life Presbyterian Church in Escondido, Calif. He is director of truthXchange, a communications center aimed at equipping the Christian community to recognize and effectively respond to the rise of paganism