Friday, November 14, 2008

Freiday Devotional

The Salt of the Earth

Matthew 5:13

"You are the salt of the earth. But if salt loses its flavor, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled on by people." (NET)

This passage follows the Beatitudes, which describe the attitude a disciple of Christ is to have. The previous verses (vv. 10-12) are particularly concerned with persecution against the followers of Jesus Christ. This persecution is due to the fact that followers of Jesus are different from everyone around them. That is why Jesus calls us, His followers, the "salt of the earth." Why does He make this analogy? I'm not sure, but I think it has something to do with how salt is easily distinguished from other minerals and seasonings. It has a distinct taste. Therefore, as salt is distinguished by its flavor, followers of Christ should be distinguished by their attitude and actions. As salt enhances the flavor of food, Christians are to enhance the good in the world.

But, if Christians are no longer distinguished from the rest of world, what good are we? That is the point Jesus makes when He says, "if salt loses its flavor, how can it be made salty again?" This is obviously a contradiction, for salt cannot lose its saltiness. If it were possible, then it would no longer be salt. Thus, it would no longer be useful. This indictment against Jesus' followers is serious. For, if we lose our distinctiveness and usefulness, we are to be discarded. This is a challenge to true discipleship. "Tasteless salt lacks value, and so does a professed disciple who lacks genuine commitment" (Keener, 173). In other words, a disciple of Christ cannot be a nominal Christian.

Salt has many useful purposes. However, it can be hurtful as well if poured into a wound. Let us not be salt in the wound of a hurting person. Instead, let us give flavor to the world. Let us preserve morality and ethics. Let us be useful and flavorful to those around us. Let us share the good flavor of the Gospel with our co-workers, family members, neighbors, and friends.

I leave you with quote from Chrysostom (c. 347-407 A.D.): For by saying, "You are the salt of the earth," Jesus signifies that all human nature itself has "lost its taste," having become rotten through sin. For this reason, you see, he requires from his disciples those character traits that are most necessary and useful for the benefit of all. The Gospel of Matthew, Homily 15.6.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Freiday Devotional

Running a 10k called Life

Hebrews 12:1-2

Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

This passage applies well to the Christian life. But more particularly, I find it applies well to the 10k run that Amy and I will be participating in tomorrow morning. In the previous chapter, the author of Hebrews has discussed the many Old Testament figures that ran a good race of faith. Now, these Old Testament witnesses are cheering us along in our Christian life, just like the crowd will be cheering us runners on at the race.

Like any race or athletic event, there is some preparation required. This preparation gets us physically ready for the event so that we may play at our best. The author of Hebrews calls us to do the same in life when he says to "lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us." In other words, exercise your spiritual muscles. How do we do this? We accomplish this by reading the Word of God; attending church; having an accountability partner, etc. This is not easy, nor is any other exercise, but it is necessary to the well being of the Christian life. I admit that I have not exercised enough for the race tomorrow, so I will be sore and tired. But, I hope that my walk/run with Christ is not of the same caliber as my run tomorrow.

The author exhorts us to "run with endurance." This will be difficult tomorrow as I am huffing and puffing, but I will endure to the end. In the race of life, there will be hurdles, struggles, and side-aches, yet we are called to continue. We must not give up, for Christ never gave up. The author of Hebrews makes this apparent when he says "fix your eyes on Jesus."
By keeping our eyes on Jesus, we are less likely to be distracted by what's going on around us. And He will encourage us to the finish line.

Jesus finished His race with excellence. I will not be able to say that of the race tomorrow, nor of my life. But I will be rewarded with prizes tomorrow just for participating in the race. The prizes won't be anything like Jesus received: sitting at the "right hand of the throne of God." Our Christian race ends at the throne of God. It is there that we will meet our maker and worship Him forever. Our prize is eternal life for our faith in Christ.So, lets keep running.

How is your race going? Are you running/walking with endurance? Are you exercising by reading God's word; going to church; praying, etc? Or have you been lazy and sleeping in on Sundays, watching too much TV, etc? Have you taken your eyes off of Jesus and been distracted by other things/people in life? What do you need to do to get back into the race? How can others encourage you in your run/walk with Christ? Let those around you know what you need, otherwise they cannot help.

The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit, brothers and sisters. Amen.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Freiday Devotional

One Year of Marriage

As many of you know, Amy and I celebrated our one year anniversary last week. It is hard to believe it's been one year already. My fellow friends that have recently been married kept telling me how fast the first year goes by. Guess what, they were not lying. This first year of marriage just flew by like a rocket to the moon.

Another comment made by several of my friends was that they have come to realize just how selfish they were before (and during) being married. I did not think much of these comments, as I considered myself to be pretty selfless. I was always willing to help a friend. And I really did not exert my opinion on too many things and just went with the flow. However, this truth has made itself know through the first year of marriage. I have come to realize just how selfish I am. I do not always want to walk the dog, take out the trash, unload the dishwasher, etc., especially if I'm doing homework, playing video games, or watching a favorite TV show. I want new books, videos, cds, and any other techy-gadget. But I must ask myself during those times, is this an attitude of love? Am I truly loving Amy by having this selfish attitude?

I am reminded of Ephesians 5:25 where Paul states, "Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her...." We husbands are to love our wives, which seems like a "no-brainer," but as you and I well know that is not always the easiest thing to do. Yet, Paul exhorts us to love our wives. He does not give any conditions when it is alright to not love. In fact, he does just the opposite and calls husbands to follow in the likeness of Christ. Christ loves His church as exemplified by His sacrifice on the cross. He gave His life so that those of us who are part of His church may have forgiveness of sins and eternal life. Our love is not based on selfishness, but on selflessness. Christ put the church before Himself. As husbands, we are called to do the same for our wives. Our love should be a sacrificial love. That is my prayer every night, that I would love Amy as Christ loves His church.

This sacrificial love has not been easy to learn. It does not come naturally to me, or to anyone. Yet, that is what Christ has called us to. And for the wives that may be reading this, do not think for a moment that you are exempt from this. For just a few verses later Paul writes, "and the wife must respect her husband" (v. 33). Note again, that Paul does not leave any wiggle room. Wives are to respect their husband to the same extent that husbands are to love their wives. Funny how that all circles 'round. are you treating your wife/husband? What can you do differently to show your love/respect? What should you do differently to show your love/respect? What, if anything, has taken the place of the love/respect for your wife/husband? How can you fix that?

May God's peace and love be upon you.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Friday, August 1, 2008

Freiday Devotional

So You've had a Bad Day

Earlier today I was reminded of a song by the O.C. Supertones entitled "Jury Duty." The song describes one bad day in the life of the singer as he has to be up early for jury duty; gets stuck in traffic; his car stalls out; and he forgets his sister's birthday. Definitely not a good day for him. Well, my day was not as bad, but I could have done without some of it. My car did not stall out, but I did leave the garage-opener in the car, which was of course in the garage. So, I got to work late. While at work, I stamped the wrong date on the due-date-cards. So, I had to go through and stamp them all over again. And to top things off, my foot is swelling and itchy from an ant bite that I received yesterday. As I told my manager at work, "This is Friday! Things like this should happen on Mondays."

I'm sure we can all commiserate about certain days that we'd like to forget, or perhaps even call "do-over!" But, that's not possible and we must continue through with the day we have been handed. The great king of Israel, David, had his fair share of bad days, too. Many of which he expressed in a psalm, such as Psalm 13:

How long, O LORD? Will You forget me forever? How long will You hide Your face from me?
How long shall I take counsel in my soul, Having sorrow in my heart all the day? How long will my enemy be exalted over me?
Consider and answer me, O LORD my God; Enlighten my eyes, or I will sleep the sleep of death,
And my enemy will say, "I have overcome him," And my adversaries will rejoice when I am shaken.
But I have trusted in Your lovingkindness; My heart shall rejoice in Your salvation.
I will sing to the LORD, Because He has dealt bountifully with me.

As one can tell by the words of this Psalm, David was in much distress. He felt that God had forgotten him or was intentionally hiding from him. Because he was not hearing from God, he had to resort to looking inside himself, to his own reason. This, he felt was inadequate. He pleads with God to answer his cries or he will be depressed to the point of death. If that wasn't enough torture, David's enemies were taunting him. If God did not answer, David thought his enemies would be victorious over him. This victory would put David to shame, and in David's mind, God as well.

However bleek it looked for David, he managed to find comfort and solace in remembering God's loyal love. He remembered the past times when God had vindicated him from his enemies. He remembered the saving grace of God's hand. And because of this, he was able to sing praises to the Lord.

How do you handle the tough times in life? Do you moan and gripe to others? Or do you sing praises to the Lord? What troubling issues are you dealing with that you just need to lay before the throne of God? What good things has God done for you recently? What has He done for you in the past? What good things can you focus on during the bad day?

When we have troublesome days, we should focus on the good in life. For God is loving and gracious, and we often quickly forget this when things don't go our way. At those times it may seem like God is far off, but could it be that we are far off from God? Instead of shaking our fists at Him, maybe we should try reaching for Him. For as James 4:8 declares: "Draw near to God and He will draw near to you."

The refrain in the song "Jury Duty" goes on to say: "You know I haven’t had the best of days, but I want to stop and thank you anyway." And with that in mind, may we give thanks for each day that God blesses us with.

PS: In case you were wondering how I got to work today, my lovely and extremely gracious wife left work for a brief moment to come home and open the garage for me. I thank God for her!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Creative Liberty

How much creative liberty should be granted to Christian authors? Or more particularly to the genre of Christian fiction?

"The Shack" by William P. Young has been making the rounds among Christians for several months now. Depending on who you talk to, people either love it or hate it. Those that love it claim that the book helped strengthen their faith. Or it opened their eyes/mind to see God in a different way. Those that hate it see the heretical theology in the story. But should one hate a book because it is not necessarily theologically correct? After all, it is a fictional book. So, doesn't the author have the right to take liberty with his/her portrayal of God? Of the Church? Of the Atonement?

It is my opinion that Christian authors have creative liberty in so far as they do not meddle with the tenants of the Christian faith as prescribed by the Christian creeds (i.e. Nicene, Chalcedon, etc). Therefore, Young is free to write a murder mystery. However, he is not free to redifine the Trinity. Take liberty in the setting, plot, and characters, but leave the Christian tenants of faith alone. Once, one starts to meddle with the tenants, they leave the reader and themselves open to heresy. And Lord knows, we've got enough of that going around already.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Freiday Devotional

Passage: For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart. (Hebrews 4:12)

Exposition: This passage reminds me of a story that one of the Profs at DTS likes to tell to the new students in his Bible Study Methods course. It goes something like this: "I met a lady once who informed me that she had read through the Bible 30 times. I said, 'Great! But how many times has the Bible been through you?'"

Now, I don't know how many of us could say that we've read through the Bible 30 times, let alone once. But when was the last time you let the Bible, God's Word, speak to you? As the author of Hebrews points out, God's word is "living" and "active." This is not to say that the Bible is going to run a marathon or blow you a kiss. But it is saying, that God's Word has the power to change lives, and it is in the process of doing so. If we would all spend more time in God's Word, we would see our lives change, and the lives of those around us.

The author of Hebrews not only describes the Word of God as "living" and "active," but as a "two-edged sword." This sword is not only sharp, but sharper than any other sword. This metaphor conjures up images of God's judgment, and that is what the author is talking about. Many people view this passage as proclaiming judgment on unbelievers, however, given the context (vv. 11-15), this passage is talking to believers. So, Christians will be judged by God's word. This is not a judgment unto hell or heaven, but of spiritual rewards.

This judgment, as illustrated by the sword, pierces deep into the person. The "soul and spirit" and "joint and marrow" illustrate the depth and severity of God's judgment. His Word is able to judge the smallest difference between what is spiritual and what is natural. Beyond that, it is able to judge the "thoughts and intentions of the heart." Therefore, God knows every conscious or subconscious thought one has had, whether for good or evil. There is no bluffing with God; no secrets hid from Him.

Therefore, shouldn't we all spend a little more time with God? Perhaps reading through that He has given us? As stated earlier, God's Word has the power to change lives, so I ask, is it changing yours? If it's not, why not? What could you do differently?

Prayer: Our Heavenly Father, we thank You for Your word, which guides us and leads us into truth and righteousness. We thank You for the sacrifice of Christ, that we may have a restored relationship with You through Him. Now, we ask that You help us get into Your word, that we may know and love You all the more. May Your Holy Spirit teach us and instruct us in the ways of holy living. In Jesus' name and by the Spirit we prayer, Amen.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Freiday Devotional

Believing in the Unseen

I am currently reading through Richard Dawkins' book The God Delusion, in which he tries to assert, like many New Atheists, that God does not exist. I have not finished the book yet, but so far I do not find his claims all that convincing, in fact they are nothing new. It's kind of like getting a used car with a new paint job. The old stuff is still inside, barely working, but the outside looks great and flashy. In Dawkins' case, he repeats many of the old charges against religion, and Christianity in particular, that people of his caliber have done since the Enlightment of the Eighteenth Century.

At the outset, Dawkins stated: "If this book works as I intend, religious readers who open it will be atheists when they put it down." What sets Dawkins apart from previous atheists, is his vitriolic approach to religion. Take for example this opening line: "The God of the Old Testament is arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction: jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control-freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser;a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully." That sure is a mouthful, and a dirty one at that. It is a shame that that is all Dawkins sees when he sees the God the Bible. Notice, he does not mention any positives: loving, kind, generous, just, faithful, patient, peaceful, gentle, forgiving, righteous, holy, etc. Perhaps, if he would allow himself to see these attributes of God, he would be a believer, or at least sympathetic to theism in particular, and religion in general.

However, that is not the case as it rests today. So my question to you is, how strong is your faith? If someone like Dawkins, or just a co-worker, asked you why do you believe in an unseen (and presumably unknowable) God? What would you tell them? I, myself, being a seminary student, will often wrestle with my faith, and the knowability of God. If you commiserate with me on this issue, then may I suggest two passages of Scripture that I always fall back on when I feel overwhelmed by uncertainty.

The first passage is Romans 1:20, which states: "For since the creation of the world his invisible attributes– his eternal power and divine nature– have been clearly seen, because they are understood through what has been made. So people are without excuse." In this passage, Paul asserts that nature testifies to the existence and supremacy of God. Therefore, all one needs to do is take a close look at nature to see proof of God's existence. There are many scientists -- biologists, physicists, astronomers, etc -- that believe in God because they see his handiwork in what they study, namely creation. This should provide some consolation for the doubt we may experience as we traverse this world; knowing that people studying the created world can see the handiwork of God, and do not prop it up to evolution.

The second passage is from 1 Corinthians 15:3-6, where Paul says: "For I passed on to you as of first importance what I also received– that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures, and that he was buried, and that he was raised on the third day according to the scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. Then he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers and sisters at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep." I believe, like Paul, that Jesus was raised from the dead after being crucified and buried. The interesting thing in this passage, besides the resurrection of Christ, is that there were numerous witness to verify this account. If what the Apostles were preaching was untrue then there would have been more than enough witnesses to testify against them. But, that is not the case, as no one has been able to refute the resurrection of Christ no matter how hard they try. They still cannot produce a body.

Therefore, even though I may go through periods of doubt, it is reassuring to know that my faith rests, not on the presupposition of an atheist, but on the indisputable fact of the resurrection of Jesus Christ, as testified by numerous witnesses. So, may I encourage you, if you are going through a period(s) of doubt, read Romans and 1 Corinthians 15, and the Gospels. May you find the risen Christ there!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Are We Really Post-Modern?

In the most recent Christianity Today (July 2008), there is an article by William Lane Craig on the state of Christianity vs. the New Atheism. The article is more or less a rehashing of Christian philosophical proofs of the existence of God, but in truncated form. It is a good summary of the proofs, but nothing new is really stated or asserted. However, Craig does make one claim that I thought was interesting, and had never really considered until now.

His claim is that America, and the Western world in general, is more "post-Christian" than "post-Modern." He asserts that our culture is more ingrained in modernism than we care to think. He asserts that we are post-moderns in the sense of morals and ethics, but everything else is deeply modern, since we still require verification of any truth claim made. We are however, living in a post-Christian era as our culture becomes more and more secularized.

This seems to make sense. It just seems odd since there is a lot of literature out there that talks about the state of our post-Modern culture, and just assumes or takes for granted this notion of living in a post-Modern world.

I am still thinking this one through, but I was curious as to what you all thought about this? Are we only post-Modern in our morals and ethics? Or does post-Modernity stretch beyond that realm?

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Freiday Devotional

How Big is Your Christ?

Passage: Then I saw heaven opened and here came a white horse! The one riding it was called "Faithful" and "True," and with justice he judges and goes to war. His eyes are like a fiery flame and there are many diadem crowns on his head. He has a name written that no one knows except himself. He is dressed in clothing dipped in blood, and he is called the Word of God. The armies that are in heaven, dressed in white, clean, fine linen, were following him on white horses. From his mouth extends a sharp sword, so that with it he can strike the nations. He will rule them with an iron rod, and he stomps the winepress of the furious wrath of God, the All-Powerful. He has a name written on his clothing and on his thigh: "King of kings and Lord of lords." (Rev 19:11-16; NET)

Exposition: In the previous section (Rev 19:6-10), we get a picture of the wedding feast where the church is united with Christ. From the image of Jesus as the Bridegroom, we then move to an image of Christ as a warrior. John sees a vision of heaven opening up, and Christ riding on a white horse. As many of you may already know, in the ancient days, the horse was a symbol of power and war. Therefore, when Christ entered Jerusalem before his crucifixion, he road on a donkey for he was not bringing war at that time, but redemption. However, in this image, Christ is seen as the powerful judge as he rides to war against his enemies. "His eyes like a fiery flame" describe his ability to pierce through the sin of humanity and individuals. There is no escaping him. The crowns upon his head indicate his authority. Christ has been given all authority as judge and ruler.

It us unclear as to what the unknown name is referring to. It does not seem to indicate that we will never know what the name is. Instead, it could be that John was not privy to this name, but that we will find out at the Second Coming. His blood soaked clothing is quite disturbing, given the image of Jesus in the Gospels. In their portrayal, Jesus was not a warrior; quite the contrast compared to this last book of the New Testament. Jesus does not come alone, but is followed by an army. It does not appear that these soldiers are angelic beings, but probably human beings. Their dress is quite similar to that of the Lamb's bride in v. 8.

Jesus used the power of words during his life on earth. The image of the sword protruding from his mouth indicates his ability to slay with the power of his word. He will bring judgment upon his enemies by his word. What he speaks will not be comforting to those on the wrong side. Christ will not be moved by the cries and pleas. As the "iron rod" indicates, Jesus will stand firm in his duty and judgment. There will be no appeal, only sentence. The stomping of the winepress is an image from Isaiah 63, where God judges Edom by stomping on the people and having their blood splash on his robe (not the typical image of our all-loving God!).

This section ends by John reasserting the kingship of Jesus. He is King of Kings. There is none higher than him; none more powerful than him; and none more righteous than him. He is Lord!
As a side note: For those of you that are against tatoos, notice that Christ has a tatoo on his thigh. Hmmm...

With all that said, what is your perspective of Christ? Is Jesus just meek and mild to you? Or does he encompass more than that? Is he the redeemer and warrior? The Jews were expecting a warrior; the world got a redeemer. Christians got a redeemer; but are we expecting a warrior? Also, who's side are you on? Christ's? Or...?

Prayer: God:
Give us a deeper trust, that we may lose ourselves-to find ourselves in you, the ground of our rest, the spring of our being. Give us a deeper knowledge of yourself as Saviour, Master, Lord, and King. Give us deeper power in private prayer, more sweetness in your Word, a more steadfast grip on its truth. Give us deeper holiness in speech, thought, and action; and let us not seek moral virtue apart from you. We have no master but you, no law but your will, no delight but yourself, no wealth but that which you give, no good but that which you bless, no peace but that which you bestow. We are nothing apart from what you make us. We have nothing apart from what we receive from you. We can be nothing apart from your grace which adorns us. Quarry us deep, dear Lord, and then fill us to the point that we overflow with living water. (A Puritan Prayer).

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Freiday Devotional

Romans 7:18-20: I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do-- this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it. (Romans 7:18-20; NIV)

Exposition: As with nearly every passage of the Bible, there are differences of opinion when it comes to interpreting this passage. It lies within the context of Paul's discussion on the law; typically understood as the Mosaic Law. So questions have been raised what Paul is asserting. Is he claiming that this experience is something that only Jews experience under the law? Did Paul write this as a flashback concerning his pre-Christian years? Is it just a personal experience that Paul has after his conversion to Christianity? Or is it something that all Christians experience in their walk with Christ? For our purposes today, we will follow the line of thinking concerned with this last question.

It would be no surprise, as Christians, that we are able to commiserate with Paul about his experience with wanting to do good and not doing it. As he states, the problem arises from the lack of good that "lives in me." This assertion is known in the theological realm as "total depravity." It is the belief that, as humans, from birth we are utterly sinful creatures, hell-bent against our Creator. This theological belief was propounded by Augustine (335-430 A.D.) against Pelagius (354-ca. 420 A.D.), and picked up again in the 16th century by the Reformers, esp. Calvin & Luther.

This depravity keeps us from doing the good that we desire to do as Christians. That is why we are in desperate need of help from the Holy Spirit. It is by God's grace through the Spirit that we are able to do anything good. When Paul says, "I cannot carry it out," he proclaims that he is unable to do good by the power of his own strength. When we rely on our own strength, is when we do the evil we do not want to do.

(Remember the last time you were tempted? Did you try to confront that temptation on your own? How did you fair? Or did you say a prayer to God for His strength to see you through? I know the good that I am supposed to do when tempted. But if I meet that temptation head on, without seeking God's help, is when I lose the fight.)

Paul makes a slight dichotomy of himself in the last phrase. He asserts that it is not him, as a Christian, but the sin that still dwells in him that causes him to do evil. This dichotomy is slightly unusual for Paul, as he typically views the person as a single whole. However, for his purposes here, and for emphasis, he asserts this dichotomy to show the struggle that Christians still have after conversion and through their sanctification.

This passage may be of some comfort for us as we continue our walk with Christ, knowing that one of our greatest Christian leaders struggled just as we do today. However, let us not take too much comfort, for Paul and Christ do not want us to stay where we are, continuing in our sin. Instead, let us seek help from the Holy Spirit to enable us to do the good that we desire and are called to do.

Prayer: Our Father in Heaven, we give you thanks for helping us to do good by the power of Your Holy Spirit. Without His help, we would not be able to do the good that is required of us or that we desire to do. We are ever grateful for the grace bestowed upon us through our faith in Christ. For it is by this grace, that we are able to love our neighbors as ourselves. Help us, Father, in our efforts to do good. May you lessen the sin in our lives, and elevate the good, so that You may be honored and glorified. In Jesus name and by the Spirit we pray. Amen.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Freiday Devotional

John 1:14a: "And the Word became flesh..."

This is a familiar passage to most, if not all of us. However, have you ever really sat back and just thought about what that statement means? Did you realize that this statement, as simple as it is, is chalked-full of meaning?

Take, for example, the term "Word." What do you think of when you see that term? Do you think of Jesus Christ as the true God-man? Or are you like Arius (ca. A.D. 250-335), who thought that Jesus was a creature--the first created being of the universe? Be careful, for if you agree with Arius, you are treading into heresy. For Arius and his teachings were condemned at the Council of Nicea (A.D. 325). As John 1:1 asserts, the Word is divine. Therefore, it had no beginning; it always existed.

Now proceed to the following word, "became." What do you make of this term? Do you agree with Apollinarius, another heretic, that Jesus merely indwelt a human body (kind of like an astronaut in a space-suit)? Or perhaps, you follow in line the with Docetists, who believed Jesus only appeared to be human (another heresy!)? The term "became" denotes a change in the subject that it was not before. Therefore, Jesus, being fully God, changed into a human, which He was not before. He left what was truly His, to become truly like we are, except without sin.

And as for the word "flesh," what do you think of? Do you think that the divine Logos and human flesh retained their separate identities as the Nestorians (more heretics) believed? Or do you agree with Chalcedon that the flesh and divine were combined into one person, Jesus Christ? Flesh does not just denote the outer layer of skin, but here it gathers together all that a person is; it consists of the meatiness, soul, and reason of a person. Therefore, Jesus was truly human, as much as, you and I are.

By these three words, John was able to describe the incarnation succinctly. But the question still remains: What are you going to believe? Are you going to believe as the heretics? Or are you going to see Jesus for who he really is--the God-man?

Prayer: Holy Father, thank you for the incarnation of Your Son, Jesus Christ. For by becoming like we are, He was able to experience all that we experience as humans, yet He did not sin. Father, help us to be like Christ. Help us to be human, and to live as humans free from the bondage of sin. We thank you for the sacrifice of Jesus upon the cross, that we may have life eternally. Now, help us to live in that life, refreshed and renewed, and able to love You and neighbor more completely. In Jesus name, and by the Spirit, we pray. Amen.