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The mention of the word incarnation to any Christian draws a lot of attention from them. It is a word that has a lot of significance as far as their faith is concerned. The word means the manifestation of a divine being in the flesh. It means representation of a being in a different form, in this case in a human form. In the Greek culture, stories are told of gods who manifested themselves in form of flesh. The stories were meant to give significance to a certain god, who had supernatural power to visit the people at given times. This would mean more reverence to the gods by their worshippers. Many other cultures gave such accounts through stories and myths. Up to date, there are beings that have been said to visit human beings, though divine. “Theology of incarnation tends towards a static, optimistic view.”
To a Christian, the whole aspect of incarnation means the personification of Jesus Christ, one of the divine beings in the holy trinity in form of human flesh. The Holy Bible describes this form of manifestation as the core foundation of the Christian faith. According the Bible, the book of John, Jesus Christ, the son of God became flesh: there took place a change from His divine nature. The son is also referred to as the Word, the creator of everything who by Him all things were made. This same word was manifested in the form of flesh and lived among the human nature. Celebration of the mystery of incarnation is done during the Christmas period. Christians all over the world celebrate the divine birth of God during this period.
Several explanations are given to depict the divine nature of the birth of an incarnate God. For one, the Bible explains the birth of Jesus Christ as being unique. He was born of a virgin, in Israel, something that the world has never experienced. The second divine happening was that for the first time in the world the birth was attended by numerous angels. Together with this, a certain special star gave direction to significant men in Israel on the location of His birth. These, among other unique happenings brought about a whole new meaning to Christianity. The importance of the incarnate God has been of great significance to the foundation of Christian faith.
The Bible gives several reasons why the Lord chose to reveal Himself in the form of flesh. These reasons are what give great significance to incarnation. Without considering the purposes of incarnation, then it becomes hard for anybody to understand the significance of it. One purpose, according to the Bible is that God became incarnate for the very reason of revealing who He was to mankind. In the book of Hebrews 1:1-3, it is recorded that the same God who revealed Himself to the fathers of Christian faith had chosen to do so through the Son, Jesus Christ. God wanted to reveal Himself as the creator of heaven and the earth, the one through whom all things were created. This meant that Christians would no longer relate to a God they did not know. Rather, they would get to experience Him as they did with His prophets.
The Bible also records that God wanted to redeem men from their fallen state. Man had been long separated from God due to his sin, as it is accounted in the book of Genesis (Genesis, 3). It is recorded that the first person created was unable to fulfill the commands of God, therefore it led to introduction of sin to human kind. This meant separation from God since the most Holy God would not accept man as one with him in his fallen state. This separation was sealed by coming of the Son, so that human beings would be one with God as it was from the beginning. The main purpose of incarnation therefore stands as the redemption of men from their sins. The union gained from the redemption of human beings from their sin gives the Christians a hope for life after death. Redemption and life after death are intertwined and this is only through the incarnate God.
Thirdly, the purpose of incarnation, as intended by God was that the human beings would fulfill their purposes. God created men and asked them to reign over the earth. It meant that the dominion of men on the earth would depict a whole communion with God divine. The manifestation of God’s purpose and works would therefore be fulfilled through men. This had been affected when men fell through the first created man. It made it hard for them to continue fulfilling their purposes as supposed. It meant that the fallen man would neither have a communion with God, nor would he be used by God to fulfill the divine purposes. The incarnate God, therefore, would enable men to get to their former state as in creation.
Further, the account of the first and the second Adam is given in the book of Romans. The first Adam had sinned and fallen. The second Adam, Jesus Christ, had to come and to do what the first one was unable to do. Further, in the book of Matthew, the Lord’s Prayer indicates that God desired for His kingdom to be manifested on the earth as it has been in heaven. Therefore, incarnation enables human kind to fulfill their mandate with ease, and to reign together with God on the earth. “Faith in the incarnation of God in Jesus Christ can admit to no third real; it believes in the finality of what has already occurred and knows that for this very reason…”
It is therefore the belief in the incarnate God that Christians get the benefits of incarnation. They believe that they will be redeemed from death, and that they will be one with God to enable them to fulfill the God given mandate in their life. They also get to understand who God is and relate with Him in a better way. In fact, the Bible reveals that the incarnate God relates to them as a man who has already gone through life and overcome. Incarnation, as a principle, reveals the in-depth relationship between God and humans. The principle behind the subject is that human nature and the divine God would have to be linked in one way, somehow. The link is therefore done through incarnation, where the sovereign God would take the form of a weak human.
The implication of incarnation to Christians is that they are weak, wanting and in desperate need of God’s intervention. It implies that only through such intervention a man is saved and is able to fulfill his purposes. Jesus Christ on His incarnate form suffered a lot in His bid to redeem human kind. The humiliation that He went through, despite the fact that He was God, indicates that man was in such a desperate situation that only such an act would save human kind. Christians therefore continue to depend on God, at least so that they would receive mercy and acceptance in the divine realm. The state in which man was in was irreversible, a state which can only be compared to a fatal disease, whose cure was only through incarnation. Thus, “…the doctrine of incarnation has been central to Christianity for most of its two thousand years…”
The other implication of incarnation is that God divine desired to save human kind and have relationship with them. The Bible in the book of John states a situation where God loved mankind to the extremes of incarnating His son. This was one way of demonstrating who He was and His desire to make humankind to have a strong relationship with Him. Incarnation was therefore the beginning of demonstration of God’s love and desire for human beings. Lastly, it implies that Christians cannot reject the salvation that has been offered so freely to them through the incarnate God. The book of Revelation declares that those who reject the incarnate God will face judgment and eternal condemnation at the end.
However, the doctrine of incarnation is a subject to criticism. Many scholars and religious groups reject the ability of God divine to reveal himself in a form of flesh. Some of the theologians give records and conflicting dates to question the ability of God to come in the form of flesh. While most of them agree to the fact that Christ indeed was born, they question the very possibility of Him being one with God. To some of them incarnation is merely myth, whose foundations are shaky. The ability of God to perform miracles is also questioned, and thus some believe that even the very birth of Christ cannot be believed.
Nevertheless, to Christians there is no other foundation laid better for their faith than in incarnation. Incarnation gives them a hope to hold on to their faith. Still, the whole doctrine is based centrally on incarnation. The Old Testament, for example, pointed to some future redemption through a king, a divine being, who would bring the order to the nations of the world even before incarnation. As such, the belief in an incarnated God has started not after the incarnation, but even before the birth of Jesus Christ. The nation of Israel held on to the doctrine of incarnation, though it has not fully conceptualized in their minds. Christianity brought in the full explanation of the Scripture and the importance of incarnation. Many similarities between the religions of the world and Christianity have been known to exist. Most of these religions agree to the fact that God is infinite and that He created the world. They also agree to His sovereignty and immovable power in the world. However, incarnation gives the unique factor that differentiates it from other religions. This gives them a conviction that their God is the only one that is true and infinite. Incarnation is therefore of great importance to Christianity.