God’s Utterance

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Jesus of Nazareth is God’s utterance. He is the Word of God because no more thorough, personal, and beautiful revelation of God is possible.

He who is the perfect statement and rhetoric of the Father, the revealer of divinity, shows up in the form of a servant and sufferer and overturns our notions of deity. The One who is to be worshiped, exalted, and obeyed comes to serve and to give and to lay down His life for others. He unveils the essential truth and unsurpassing glory of the divine nature—a God who pulsates with goodness and power and love and beauty. Jesus reveals a God whose blessedness lies in giving rather than receiving, whose essence is an overflowing, unstoppable tsunami of grace. “Jesus Christ is the mercy of God,” wrote Karl Barth, “he is the love of God, he is the open heart of God.”

The Lord of glory has made Himself know in His Son—and He turns out to more wonderful than we ever imagined.

-J.O. Schulz

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When God Became Visible

christ-1e-copyNo one has ever seen God until they see Jesus. Every other portrait of God — from whatever source — is subordinate to the revelation of God given to us in Jesus Christ. Jesus is the Word of God, the Logos of God, the Logic of God in the form of human flesh. Christians are to believe in the perfect, infallible, inerrant Word of God — and his name is Jesus. Jesus is the icon of the invisible God.

–Brian Zahnd,
The Faceless White Giant,
http://brianzahnd.com/2016/06/the-faceless-white-giant/

God explained

blank squareChrist 25 copy Jesus is the exegesis,
the exposition,
the explanation of God.
We cannot know God
outside of Christ.
There IS no God
outside of Jesus.
He’s God enfleshed.
      –Frank Viola

Infinitely Greater

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Not a code or an idea

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If the Word had become printer’s ink, it would have become a code. If the Word had become an idea, it would have been a philosophy. But the Word became flesh and therefore became a gospel—good news.

–E. Stanley Jones
The Way to Power and Poise

He is what God is like

Christ 38BLet us be rid of that horrid, sly idea that behind Jesus, the friend of sinners, there is some more sinister being, one thinner on compassion and grace. There cannot be! Jesus is the Word. He is one with is Father. He is the radiance, the glow, the glory of who his Father is.

–Michael Reeves
Rejoicing in Christ

The Great Divide

The most important verse in Scripture is “And the word became
flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth; we have beheld his glory, glory of the only Son from the Father . . .”

christ_rembrandt_1This verse—“The Word became flesh”—is the Great Divide. In all other religions it is Word became word—a philosophy, a moralism, a system, a technique, but for all time and all men everywhere, “the Word became flesh”—the Idea became Fact.

Then I got hold of this difference (between all world religions and Christianity) in all other religions it is the Word become word, but only in Jesus Christ, did the Word become flesh. Then (and only then) Everything fell into its place. I had the Key, and this Key fitted everything in East and West . . . Religions are man’s search for God. The gospel is God’s search for man. Therefore, there are many religions, but only one gospel.

–E. Stanley Jones

Painting: “Head of Christ”
Rembrandt van Rijn

Debunking the myths

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Men forsook God, and made carved images of men. Since therefore an image of man was falsely worshipped as God, God became truly Man, that the falsehood might be done away.

–Cyril of Jerusalem
(313—386)

Art: Rembrandt

Redefining God

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Christmas calls 
for a total revolution 
in our view of God.

–Glen Scrivener

On the ground spirituality

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By accepting Jesus as the final and definitive revelation of God, the Christian church makes it impossible for us to make up our own customized variations of the spiritual life and get away with it. Not that we don’t try. But we can’t get around him or away from him: Jesus is the incarnation of God, God among and with us. Jesus gathered God’s words spoken to and through God’s people and given to us in our scriptures and spoke them personally to us. Jesus performed God’s works of healing and compassion, forgiveness and salvation, love and sacrifice among us, men and women with personal names, with personal histories.

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Because Jesus was born in Bethlehem, grew up in Nazareth, gathered disciples in Galilee, ate meals in Bethany, went to a wedding in Cana, told stories in Jericho, prayed in Gethsemane, led a parade down the Mount of Olives, taught in the Jerusalem temple, was killed on the hill Golgotha, and three days later had supper with Cleopas and his friend in Emmaus, none of us are free to make up our private spiritualities; we know too much about his life, his spirituality. The story of Jesus gives us access to scores of these incidents and words, specific with places and times and names, all of them hanging together and inter-penetrating, forming a coherent revelation of who God is and how he acts and what he says.

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Jesus prevents us from thinking that life is a matter of ideas to ponder or concepts to discuss. Jesus saves us from wasting our lives in the pursuit of cheap thrills and trivializing diversions. Jesus enables us to take seriously who we are and where we are without being seduced by the intimidating lies and illusions that fill the air and trying to be someone else or somewhere else.

Jesus keeps our feet on the ground, attentive to children, in conversation with ordinary people, sharing meals with friends and strangers, listening to the wind, observing the wildflowers, touching the sick and wounded, praying simply and unself-consciously. Jesus insists that we deal with God right here and now, in the place we find ourselves and with the people we are with. Jesus is God here and now.

–Eugene H. Peterson
Why Spirituality Needs Jesus

 

Incomparable goodness

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“The Word became flesh” . . . His words and his deeds blended like the words and music of a song. He was so truthful that He was truth, so loving that He was love, so good that He was goodness, so morally beautiful that He was beauty, so living that He was life, so godlike that he was God.

–E. Stanley Jones

Getting a look at God

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One great advantage of the incarnation
(God in human form) is that
now we can see God.
Just look at Jesus.

–Larry Crabb

Why He came

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The Word of God, Jesus Christ,
out of his boundless love,
became what we are,
that he might make us what he is.

–Irenaeus  (ca. 125-202)

Published in: on 12/18/2012 at 7:37  Leave a Comment  
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The miraculous entry

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The Incarnation would be
equally a miracle however
Jesus entered the world.

–P. T. Forsyth (1848-1921)

God’s message to man

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Jesus is the Word of God.
He is not the best Word.
He is not the ultimate Word.
He is not the seal of series
of improving words.
He is the Word.

–Glen Scrivener

The Word is a Person

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The Word became flesh
not paper and leather.

–Don Keathley

When God got immersed in our mess

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“And the Word became flesh
and dwelt among us…”
(John 1:14)

The Incarnation means a card-carrying member of the Holy Trinity is now part of the human race. He bridged the uncrossable divide between Creator and creation, between Divinity and humanity. He became our blood relative, our next of kin.

A member of the Godhead has a body
of flesh and blood—He is one of us.

Literally.

Not for a few years, but forever.

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God and man are now inseparably connected. The Lord of the universe has become a part of our story.

And a part of our predicament. He has thrown in his lot with us.

He has joined our ranks
to such a degree that our dilemma
has become His dilemma.
Our misfortune has become His.

He got embroiled in our brokenness—more than any self-respecting God ever should have.

Immersed in our mess.

He was not about to abandon his fellow humans to their plight. He got involved. He shouldered our cause. We are no longer alone in our distress.

We have a Redeemer.

–Jurgen O. Schulz

The starting point

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Our starting point is Jesus. But someone objects and says, “The Gospel begins with God.” No, for until Jesus came, there were views about God and there was news about God, but no Good News. Apart from Jesus we know little about God, and what little we know is not Good News. The conception of the character of God apart from Jesus is questionable. In Jesus our question marks about God turn into exclamation points.

In the face of Jesus we know what God is like
and what we must be like if we are to be good.

If God is other than Jesus, He is not good; if He is like Jesus, He is good. This is an astounding thing to say, yet when I say it, I hear the Ages give an resounding Amen. And it reverberates through all things.

–E. Stanley Jones

Rethinking God

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Christmas calls for
a total revolution
in our view of God.

–Glen Scrivener

Jesus shows us God

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As Christians—as followers of the Lord Jesus—when we talk about God, we are talking about one who has entered into the very fabric of our world, who has come as close to us as we are to ourselves, a God who has become incarnate. When we talk about God, ultimately, we are always talking about Jesus. For the God of the gospel is the God who has come among us in Jesus of Nazareth. We believe in God because of Jesus.

Jesus is the one who showed us the face of God—
Jesus shows us the truth of God,
Jesus shows us the love of God.

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Jesus is God’s smile beaming at us out of the depths of eternity. Jesus is God’s love wrapping around us, seizing us and not letting us go. Jesus is God’s grace, reaching into the darkest and most shameful dimensions of our experience. Jesus is God’s healing, binding up the wounded.

Jesus is God’s goodness, in a world
full of chaos and disaster and catastrophe.

Jesus is God’s great strength for the weak. Jesus is water for the thirsty, and when you drink that water you will never thirst again. Jesus is bread for all those who are starved and hungry, famished for something good and something true. Jesus shows us God. He is not God’s explanation, he is not God’s argument, he is not God’s debate. He is God’s simple, great, loving act, showing us, Here I am, here you are.

In Jesus, God shows us God.
That I believe, is the whole secret
of the Christian faith.

–Ben Myers
(emphasis added)

We needed a revelation

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Job asks: “Who by searching can find out God?” The answer is plain in history: No one! For what we find in our upward search for God is not God, but the projection of our thoughts into the heavens and calling it God. It is the Word become word—and earthbound. We create God in the image of our imagination. And this is “no true image.” Apart from Jesus we know little or nothing about God, and what we know is wrong.

The Word must become flesh
or the Word is a vast question mark.

. . . God the Father could only be revealed by Revelation. No one could imagine or think that the God of the Universe would take a body and become man to redeem man. A love like that just doesn’t exist—not in the categories of philosophy. Here only seeing is believing. We would never have believed it unless we had seen it. The Word had to become flesh to become credible. Unless the eye had seen and the ear heard it would never have entered into the heart of man what God has prepared for him

–E. Stanley Jones

The starting point

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“In the beginning was the Word . . .
and the Word became flesh…”
(John 1:1,14)

The Gospel begins with Jesus, the Incarnate. If you don’t begin with Jesus, you don’t begin—you don’t begin with anything except roads with dead ends. We know little or nothing about God, and what we know is wrong, unless we begin with Jesus.

If you do not see God
in the face of Jesus,
you see something other
than God—and different.

–E. Stanley Jones
(emphasis added)

God made visible

Jesus was God letting people 
see the beauty of His face
and listen to the music of His voice,
and feel the irresistibly gentle
drawing power of His presence.

–S. D. Gordon
(1859-1936)

He came to show us God

Because of Jesus…I must adjust my instinctive notions about God. Perhaps that lay at the heart of his mission? Jesus reveals a God who comes in search of us, a God who makes room for our freedom even when it costs the Sons life, a God who is vulnerable. Above all, Jesus reveals a God who is love.

–Philip Yancey

The wild wonder of God’s love

What I believe is so magnificent, so glorious, that it is beyond finite comprehension. To believe that the universe was created by a purposeful, benign Creator is one thing.

To believe that this Creator
took on human vesture,
accepted death and mortality,
was tempted, betrayed, broken,
and all for love of us,
defies reason.

It is so wild that it terrifies some Christians who try to dogmatize their fear by lashing out at other Christians, because tidy Christianity with all answers given is easier than one which reaches out to the wild wonder of God’s love, a love we don’t even have to earn.

–Madeleine L’Engle

The quest is over

Man in his homesickness for his Heavenly Father has looked at nature to see the image of God. He views sunrises and sunsets and mountains and flowers and wonders if God is like that. But the storm rages, thunder rolls, flood arise, and the earthquakes shake; nature is cruel, and man’s faith in God’s being, like Nature is shaken with it all. No, God is not like that! The nature-worshipers are confused—and empty.

Then man looks on the works of his hands—on idols. He goes through austerities to wring out of the idol some favor or attention. For instance, in the hottest period with the thermometer 115 digrees in the shade devotees in India will measure their length on the ground for 50 miles to get to the temple to ring the bell, and thus get the attention of the idol. But the idol sits attentionless.

Then man looks to his books for some word from God. But the letters are letters, not life. He drinks of the words, but knows in his heart of hearts that this is not the Word.

Then he looks on the face of Jesus, and in one look he knows his quest is over. Jesus is “the Stamp of God’s very image.” The doubt now is not whether Jesus is like God, but rather is God like Jesus? If He is, then He is a good God and trustable.

If the best of men should try to think out what kind of God they would like to see in the universe, they could not imagine anything better than that He should be like Jesus. 

–E. Stanley Jones

Down-to-earth spirituality

Our God is a down-to-earth deity.

Literally.

The Word became flesh. The very stuff our bodies are made of. He became “human”—a term which derives from the root “humus,” meaning earth. This was the raw material our Creator used to make us. “The Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground…” (Gn. 2:7)

The staggering miracle of the Incarnation means that not only is man made of dust—but now God is too! Deity took on “humus.” This is the ultimate circuit blower! God didn’t just visit our race; he became a part of it!

“Theos” and “anthropos”
were organically joined.

A member of the Trinity now has skin color, eye color, hair color and fingerprints. He has immersed himself in the physical realities of human existence, and his favorite self-description became: “Son of Man.”

Martin Luther rightly stated, “The mystery of the humanity of Christ, that he sunk himself into our flesh, is beyond all human understanding.”

J. B. Phillips concludes that we need “to be shocked afresh by the audacious central Fact—that, as a sober matter of history, God became one of us.”

The foundational article of the Christian faith—”The Word became flesh”—is a bombshell for the Gnostic who affirms that the material world is illusory and evil. It also overturns the tables on Christians who subscribe to a world-denying spirituality.

The Incarnation forces us all to rethink our ideas
about nature and matter and the physical world.
It totally shipwrecks our dualistic separation
of “sacred” and “secular.”

This God become “humus” grew, breathed, walked, ate, drank, worked and wept. He enjoyed taking walks, working with wood, eating dried figs, basking in sunshine, cooking breakfast on the beach and laughing with friends. In the words of one writer, “Jesus . . . seemed as comfortable at a party as He was in the Temple.” The Creator, who at the beginning of time looked upon his creation and declared it to be good, now tasted, touched, smelled and felt its goodness.

“Time was when you could despise the body and love God, or despise God and love the body. One could be an ascetic or a hedonist.” says theologian Peter J. Leithart. “Then God got Himself a body . . . the incarnation made the ancient choice of ascetic or hedonist impossible. Since the incarnation the only choices are to love the body and God, or to despise both.”

It is often heard in wedding ceremonies that, by His presence in the wedding at Cana of Galilee, Christ blessed and sanctified marriage. However, a wedding was not the only place he showed up. He toiled at a carpenter’s bench, strolled through markets and meadows, went boating on a lake, enjoyed meals in friends homes and hiked up mountains. The unavoidable conclusion is this—Christ sanctified every sphere of human activity.

Jesus of Nazareth
is our most compelling evidence
that “spiritual” and “material”
cannot be separated,
that supernatural and natural
belong together.

In one of his poems, William Wordsworth speaks of “the light of common day,” to which G. K. Chesterton reacted angrily and in effect said, “Don’t you dare call it common—that’s blasphemous!” A similar rebuke was given to the apostle Peter, “What God has cleansed you must not call common.”

A Gnostic view of spirituality has led many to believe that only that which is explicitly “Christian” is truly glorifying to God. Taken to its logical conclusion, this would mean that true holiness requires one to wear Christian shoes, eat Christian food, sleep in a Christian bed, listen to Christian music, drive a Christian car and breathe Christian air. Obviously this is absolutely absurd! And such thinking is inconceivable for anyone who seriously believes in the Incarnation.

The fact that Holiness took on humanity forces us to reconstruct our understanding of “spiritual.”

No longer can we view the secular as unsacred. No field of human endeavor is out of bounds. “For everything belongs to you—be it Paul or Apollos or Peter, the world or life or death, things present or future—everything belongs to you; and you belong to Christ, and Christ belongs to God” (1 Cor. 3:22,23).

“Everything belongs to you” moves the goalposts of spirituality to the ends of the earth! It’s all encompassing. The only thing to avoid is that which contradicts who we are in Christ. The rest is ours!

We can honor our Creator, not only in prayer and worship, but also in farming, medicine, business, music, landscaping and computer programming. Through work we enrich one another and cultivate and care for the created world that God made, sustains and loves.

A musician serves God by composing great music, and not just by writing songs about Jesus. An architect honors his Maker by bringing beauty and excellence into his work, and not solely by designing cathedrals. Human activities do not require a Bible verse added on to make them valid.

When asked whether the world needs more Christian writers, C. S. Lewis replied, “No, we need more writers who are Christian.”

We can cook, paint, dance, write novels, compose music, fly kites and grow orchids to the glory of God. The duties and delights of daily human life are not obstacles, but opportunities for spirituality. In Christ the joys, pains, pleasures and struggles of earthly living are the very context of godly living and worship. We are not called to take flight into some spiritual stratosphere of mystical experience. We are called to live in a physical body in a physical world—to the glory of God.

“Christianity,” affirms Brian Zahnd,
“is a flesh and blood faith.”

It is perfectly fine to have a human body. As a matter of fact, God now possesses one Himself—and will do so forever.

The God of heaven is deeply involved in gritty activities such as creation, incarnation, redemption, resurrection and re-creation. Evidently matter matters. And when He writes the last chapter, it will not be about an eternal, ethereal, disembodied existence. It will be about new heavens and a new earth where we will live in perfected, human bodies in a physical, renewed world.

We are called to deny sin—not life.

Christian spirituality is not an other-worldly affair. It is about becoming truly human—like Jesus. It entails embracing the miracle of God’s real presence in our life and in our world. It involves celebrating sunsets, roses, coffee, family and all of God’s good gifts with gratitude and joy.

The reformer, John Calvin stated, “There is not
one blade of grass, there is no color in this world
that is not intended to make us rejoice.”

So slow down. Stop. Look. And, like Moses, take off your shoes because holy is all around us in the common stuff of everyday life. Spirituality is a down-to-earth matter.

If God truly became “humos”—how could it be otherwise?

–Jurgen Schulz

Deity before our eyes

He does not speak about grace, He brings it; He does not show us God by His words, He shows us God by His acts. He does not preach about Him, but He lives Him, He manifests Him. His gentleness, His compassion, His miracles, His wisdom, His patience, His tears, His promises; all these are the very Deity in action before our eyes; and instead of a mere verbal revelation, which is so imperfect and so worthless, grace and truth, the living realities, are flashed upon a darkened world in the face of Jesus Christ.

–Alexander McLaren

Seeing God’s face

If you are to see God face to face
You must see Him
In the face of Jesus Christ.
For Jesus is God approachable,
God available,
God simplified,
God lovable.
The Word has become Flesh.

–E. Stanley Jones

The humanity of God

No one could imagine or think that the God of the universe would take a body and become human to redeem humans. A love like that just doesn’t exist—not in the categories of philosophy. Here, only seeing is believing. We would never have believed it unless we had seen it. The Word had to become flesh to become credible. Unless the eye had seen and the ear heard, it would never have entered into our hearts what God has prepared for us.

–E. Stanley Jones

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