Jesus Christ Incarnate
by Doyle D. Dewberry
And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory.
-1 Timothy 3:16
What is the greatest mystery? To this fledgling student it is the mystery of godliness! The apostle Paul also considers it so even as the Spirit of God moved him to say: Great is the mystery of godliness: He further tells us, God was manifest in the flesh, that is, He became incarnate. We are speaking here of Jesus, who is God, becoming man in the flesh. Then think of this! He came to this earth to redeem a people, and they are said to be in Him. You that are trusting in Him are in Him and that is where your salvation is sure. We that know Him know Him as the living Word, who is God, for we know the Word was with God, and the Word was God, and we are in Him. This He accomplished when He came to save us.
God's people are justified (that is "declared to be righteous") in Him, and they are completely sanctified, that is "set apart unto our God", we are in Him. We are not righteous of ourselves, nor have we set ourselves apart. We are declared to be both. We are righteous because of His righteousness in obedience to the law; we are sanctified, or set apart in God's sight, because He has made us so, and we are in Him through divine choice and faith. Before we could become like Him - He became like us. He who created all things stepped down into His creation when the Eternal Son of God became the Son of man. He who created the earthly lamb, for Jesus has created all things, became the Lamb of God who taketh away the sin of the world. He who created man became a man in order to save fallen man from their sins. He who created the first Adam, who plunged the world into ruin and death, came into the world as the Second Adam, the quickening Spirit, who gives life for His people who are dead in trespasses and sins. He who created all things in this world, came into this world to die because the determinate counsel of God the Father who decreed his death on a tree, one of the objects of His creative handiworks. Paul tells us, Cursed is everyone that hangeth on a tree (Gal 3:13), and he that is hanged is accursed of God (Deuteronomy 21:23).
As the first Adam fell by means of a tree, so the Second Adam redeemed us through the means of a tree, that is by the sacrifice of Himself on the cross. At the fall the flesh became an abomination to God, so Christ came in the flesh to abolish the enmity: Paul said, Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself one new man, making peace (Ephesians 2:15). He said of you who are His people: And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled in the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight (Colossians 1:21-22).
Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil; and deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage
In this message we seek to show what our Savior became in order to bring salvation to His people who are in Him by decree and faith. As God He had to become as man, and the scriptures give ample evidence of this great fact, by which the child of God is blessed with eternal life. Over and again we are told that which our Savior was made to be, that which was necessary for the salvation of His people. We will then consider three areas which set forth what our Savior was made to be in order to bring salvation to us.
THREE IMPORTANT AREAS, WHEREIN OUR LORD WAS MADE TO BE, IN ORDER TO ACCOMPLISH SALVATION FOR HIS PEOPLE:
I. WHAT HE WAS MADE TO BE PERTAINING TO HIS EARTHLY MINISTRY:
In the first chapter of John, verse 1, we are told of the Deity of the Lord Jesus Christ where he is said to be the Word. In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God (John 1:1). Our Lord is here called the Word because words are used to reveal truth. He is the one who reveals to us God the Father. He himself told Philip, He that hath seen me hath seen the Father (John 14:9). No man has seen the Father, but we are told: the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him (John 1:18). The Bible is the written word of God; the Lord Jesus Christ is the living Word of God. Many references in the written word set forth Jesus Christ as the Divine Son of God, yea very God. Paul tells us, He (that is Jesus) thought it not robbery to be equal with God (Phil 2:6).
(a). THE WORD WAS MADE FLESH: (JOHN 1:14)
And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth (John 1:14).
When Jesus was made flesh, He ceased not to be the Word of God. Paul when speaking of his brethren according to the flesh, the nation Israel, said this of them, and in doing so tells us Christ came from this nation concerning the flesh, and yet is God over all. Whose are the fathers, and of whom as concerning the flesh Christ came, who is over all, God blessed for ever. Amen (Romans 9:5).
He dwelt (that is, tabernacled) among us speaks of his temporal dwelling on earth. He came, He was born, He grew to adulthood, He died and was buried, He was raised from the dead, and ascended into heaven to be seated at the right hand of the Father on His throne. (Consider the tabernacle in the wilderness, a type of Christ, which was only temporal.) And He who dwelt among angels, dwelt among us, fallen, corrupt man. He who dwelt in heavenly mansions, dwelt as in a lowly tent. Such condescension speaks of our Lord's love for His people in humbling himself to dwell with them, and yea that for all eternity.
The word made is a word which basically means became, or came to be. It speaks of Him being the only begotten of the Father. We are said to be begotten but only in the sense we are in Christ, and have experienced the new birth. Our Lord was born without any taint of a corrupt nature which is what the flesh usually signifies in scripture as it relates to fallen man. But as to our Savior we must understand the next point which tells us of the purity of our Lord's human nature. This is certainly a necessary and important fact which has to do with our Lord to make Him an acceptable sacrifice for our sins, as He Himself, as the Lamb of God, must be without spot or blemish. He is impeccable, that is incapable of sin which He proved in His life.
(b). HE WAS MADE IN THE LIKENESS OF SINFUL FLESH (Romans 8:3).
For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh (Romans 8:3).
Paul tells us of our Lord becoming like man in Philippians 2:7: (Christ) made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men. And again it is said, A body hast Thou prepared me (Hebrews 10:5). God was in the birth of our Lord as we know the conception of Mary was of the Holy Ghost. When Jesus appeared before His disciples after His resurrection, and spoke to them, we are told:
They were terrified and affrighted, and supposed they had seen a spirit. And he said unto them, Why are ye troubled? and why do thoughts arise in your hearts? Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself: handle me, and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have (Luke 24:37-39).
It is essential for us to know that those who deny Christ's coming and being made flesh are warned of their seriousness error. They do considerable damage to His death and resurrection, and His kingship, if we deny his coming in the flesh. Consider these passages:
Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world. Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God: And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world (1 John 4:1-3).
Again notice the use of made in the following passages:
Wherefore in all things it behoved him to be made like unto His brethren (Hebrews 2:17).
And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him (Hebrews 5:9).
Being made so much better than the angels, as he hath by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they (Hebrews 1:4).
Thou madest Him a little lower that the angels (Hebrews 2:7-9).
Unto you therefore which believe he is precious: but unto them which be disobedient, the stone which the builders disallowed, the same is made the head of the corner (1 Peter 2:7).
(c). HE WAS MADE OF A WOMAN AND MADE UNDER THE LAW: (Galatians 4:4)
But when the fullness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law (Galatians 4:4)
What of the term made of a woman? Does it not tell us of the mode of our Lord's entry into this world? Christ was not created as some hereticals claim, he was born of woman. Is this not pin-pointing our Savior's authenticity since one of the first, if not the first prophecy, concerns the seed of the woman bruising the head of the serpent? In its fulfillment, our Lord defeated the devil by his death on the cross as the serpent was to bruise his heal (Genesis 3:15). Here we are told he was made of (lit. out from) a woman. One can certainly see the hand of the Lord in the unique birth of our Saviour. He had a mother but no human father. It was said that Joseph was only the supposed father.
Equally important is the second phrase, made under the law. And why is it so? He said, Think not that I have come to destroy the law, or the prophets, but to fulfill. For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled (Matt 5:17-18). And again, Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth (Romans 10:5). Our Lord's perfect life, that is His obedience to the law during His earthly walk, is imputed to those with faith; it is the basis for our justification. In Christ we are as one who kept the law perfectly.
(d). HE WAS MADE OF THE SEED OF DAVID ACCORDING TO THE FLESH: (Romans 1:3).
It is important that we recognize that our Lord Jesus, the Son of David, is said to be made of the seed of David according to the flesh. The covenant with David promised to his seed, is thus fulfilled by Christ according to the scriptures. It is not a future fulfillment, but a present one, for our Lord is seated on that throne in this dispensation. Peter told of it on Pentecost, and said the day was not only prophesied by Joel, but also by David. The words are by Christ:
Therefore did my heart rejoice, and my tongue was glad; moreover also my flesh shall rest in hope: because thou wilt not leave my soul in hell, neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption (Acts 2:27).
David said further: knowing that God had sworn with an oath (thus the covenant) to him, that of the fruit of his loins, according to the flesh, he would raise up Christ to sit on his throne; He seeing this before spake of the resurrection of Christ, that his soul was not left in hell, neither His flesh did see corruption (Acts 2:30).
What does it all mean? Unless we see Christ made flesh He could not be the heir to David's throne, and the covenant made is a fraud. He then ultimately could not be our King. Therefore Peter is faithful to the Word of God by acknowledging that Christ suffered in the flesh.
II. WHAT HE IS MADE PERTAINING TO HIS SALVATION MINISTRY: (1 Corinthians 1:30).
But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption (1 Corinthians 1:30).
The world wondered of the early disciples that they were ignorant (unknowing) and unlearned men (Acts 4:13). But they had Christ who was made unto them, and us, wisdom. You do not have to have a PH.D. to go to heaven - you just need Christ. He is our wisdom, and understanding, and learning.
We who had no righteousness, but were totally unrighteous, whose righteousness is as filthy rags have imputed righteousness in Christ for He is our righteousness. The imputed righteousness for His obedience to God's holy law places us in the standing of justified. It is not of ourselves but is of Him who is made unto us righteousness. Unholy people of God are completely sanctified, declared holy in Him. Both terms indicate we are set apart unto our God, and without holiness no man shall see the Lord, and our sanctification or holiness is in Him.
We who are servants of sin, we who were in the slave-market of sin, bound by our sinful nature, are set free in Christ. He has paid the ransom for our redemption with His own blood, and we are free of it, because He is made redemption for us. Oh, to be free from the consequences of sin! The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life only in the one who is made redemption for us.
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).
For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him (2 Corinthians 5:21).
By so much also hath Jesus become the surety of a better covenant (Hebrews 7:22 ASV).
He who was without sin became sin for us so that we who are without righteousness might be made the righteousness of God in Him. Here is the better covenant (Hebrews 10:16-20): (1) He will put the laws in our hearts, and write them in our minds. (2) Our sins will be remembered no more; and we have boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus. (3) We have access through Jesus through the veil of his flesh, even though He is God wherein no man could approach, but His flesh is as a veil to conceal His Deity, and we therefore do not die in His presence (v. 20).
The key word to all these passages is substitution. All that Christ did for His people was as a Substitute - he stood in their place. For we who had no wisdom, righteousness, holiness, or redemption, these He was made for us. For we who were cursed under law and works - He was made a curse for us. For we who were dead in trespasses and sins - He was made to be sin for us that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him. For we who were not included in the covenant - he was made a surety of a better covenant. Ah, you who are struggling to obtain a good conscience toward God because of sin - it is only attained through the divinely appointed Substitute. It is through Him only that we are justified - that is declared to be righteous through faith. We are holy only because He is holy and He is our sanctification, for without holiness no man shall see the Lord. It is not your own but His in whom you must trust.
III. WHAT HE WAS MADE PERTAINING TO HIS PRESENT MINISTRY: (Hebrews 6:20).
Whither the forerunner is for us entered, even Jesus, made an high priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec (Hebrews 6:20).
For such an high priest became us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and made higher than the heavens (Hebrews 7:26).
We have such an High Priest who is seated on the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens. It is said our High Priest can have compassion on the ignorant, and on them that are out of the way, for that he himself is compassed with infirmity (Hebrews 5:2). And best of all, we can go to Him in time of need:
For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need (that is, in the nick of time) (Hebrews 4:15-16).
We have no need of earthly priests since we have an heavenly, the Lord Jesus Christ. He accomplished in one offering only that which men who offer a continual sacrifice cannot do. He entered in the heavenly holy of holies once and offered His own blood for our redemption. Thus Jesus was made flesh; made in the likeness of sinful flesh but not sinful. He was made in the likeness of men; in the likeness yet without our sin nature. He was made like unto His brethren; without the slightest taint of sinful corruption as we. He who is very God was made these things that He might become the divinely desired sacrifice for the sins of His people. He was made higher than the heavens.
He was made our wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption by being made sin for us who knew no sin that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him. God was in Him reconciling the world unto Himself. Our sins were laid on Him and He suffered and died on that cross to atone for them, to be a propitiation which satisfied the Father. And with our sins laid upon Him, he imputes His righteousness unto us. That is the good news of the Gospel. God became a man that He might redeem sinful man. He was made our High Priest that we might go to Him and receive mercy, and help in the nick of time.
So also Christ glorified not himself to be made an high priest; but he that said unto him, Thou art my Son, to day have I begotten thee. As he saith also in another place, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec. Who in the days of His flesh, when he had offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears unto him that was able to save him from death, and was heard in that he feared; though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered; And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him (Hebrews 5:5-9).
Was Jesus made all these things for you? The free grace of God calls only for faith and that is freely given. Jesus said, If thou wouldest believe thou shouldest see the glory of God. The last words of the apostle Paul to Timothy was, Lay hold on eternal life.
God help you to do so. Salvation is only through the Lord Jesus Christ who became like us so that we might become like Him. You who know Him not, trust Him today. Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.
- Thy work alone, O Christ, can ease this weight of sin;
Thy blood alone, O Lamb of God, can give me peace within.
Thy love to me, O God, not mine, O Lord, to Thee,
Can rid me of this dark unrest, and set my spirit free.
Doyle Dewberry, formerly of Alameda, California,
is a retired Pastor and author of Sovereign Grace Baptist Proclaimer.