Monday, December 23, 2013

Christ, So What? (Necessity of Christ)

The birth (Christmas) and the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ (Easter) are two central truths to the Christian faith and a Christian’s faith. The Jesus Christ of the Bible has a unique identity, which opposes the many versions of HIM propagated by other worldviews - liberal and postmodern Christianity included. One cannot help but fall in love with Christ when we truly understand HIM - HIS existence and function. Our love can be deeper and meaningful when we truly understand the reason for HIS being. In the contemporary spiritual climate, we ought to know the reason behind Christ’s existence so to reasonably answer questions such as, “Why Christ or “Why is Christ necessary.”   
Broadly, Christ is necessary for mankind’s salvation. It is only HIS one-time, perfect sacrifice that offers man forgiveness from his sins and presents him an eternal coexistence with God in heaven. This is salvation. Although Christ died for all men, it’s only man’s belief in Christ that can credit Christ’s work on the cross to man’s account. Unbelief in Christ is rejecting Christ. When Christ is rejected, HIS finished work on the cross is not credited to man’s account. Thus, man ought to believe in Christ to be saved.
Specifically, there are a few facts about Christ that are necessary. These are:

        1. Christ’s deity.

2. Christ’s Incarnation.
3. Christ’s virgin birth (Isaiah 7:14; Matthew 1:23; Luke 1:27, 34).
4. Christ’s sinless life (Hebrews 7: 26).
5. Christ’s death, resurrection and ascension.
Let us briefly dwell into these facts.

A. Christ’s Deity: Why Should Christ be God to Save Man?
            Many question the essential fact of Christ’s deity – that Christ is God. Although many refuse to believe in Christ’s deity, the Jews of Christ’s time always recognized Christ’s claim to divinity and accused Christ of blasphemy (Mark 2:7; John 10: 31-33).

Only an eternal God can save man through a one-time sacrifice that impacts the past, present and the future. The eternal God, who transcends space and time, saves people and their sins of the past, present and the future.

B. Christ’s Incarnation: Why Should Christ be Man to Save Man?
            Christ had to be man for this very reason, “Since, then, “the children” have a common physical nature as human beings, he also became a human being, so that by going through death as a man he might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil; and might also set free those who lived their whole lives a prey to the fear of death. It is plain that for this purpose he did not become an angel; he became a man, in actual fact a descendant of Abraham. It was imperative that he should be made like his brothers in nature, if he were to become a High Priest both compassionate and faithful in the things of God, and at the same time able to make atonement for the sins of the people. For by virtue of his own suffering under temptation he is able to help those who are exposed to temptation (Hebrews 2: 14-18, J.B. Phillips New Testament, Emphasis Mine).

C. Christ’s Virgin Birth: Why Should Christ be born of a Virgin to Save Man?
            Virgin birth of Christ is also a fulfilled prophecy – prophesied by prophet Isaiah and fulfilled in Christ.

The conservative Christians insist that this is an essential belief that guarantees the deity of Christ. The modernists, on the other hand, regard the virgin birth as unessential or untenable for they believe that Christ’s spiritual reality is far more significant than a matter of biology. To discard the virgin birth is to discard a biblical truth.
A fact to note is that Mary was a virgin at the time of Christ’s conception , and the Bible indicates that Joseph did not have sexual intercourse with Mary until after the birth of Christ (Matthew 1: 25).
Very simply, the virgin birth is true since the Bible teaches it. So those believing in the Bible cannot say that Christ was not born of a virgin. Virgin birth is significant for the following:
1. The virgin birth emphasizes God’s work or the activity of the Holy Spirit in man’s salvation – the Savior of mankind was introduced to the world by God. Man cannot be saved by his works; man can only be saved by the work of God.
2. The virgin birth affirms God’s grace. Christ was God’s gift to man, a gift that man least deserves.
3. The virgin birth emphasizes the uniqueness of Christ. Christ was an unusual man (truly God and truly man), a product of a miracle. The virgin birth is the means through which the deity and humanity were united.
4. The virgin birth emphasizes God’s sovereignty. If God can make a virgin to give birth to a child, then by the same token HE can offer a new birth to a believing sinner.

D. Christ’s Sinless Life: Why Should Christ Live a Sinless Life to Save Man?
            Christ’s sinlessness is consistent with HIS deity, virgin birth, and conception by the Holy Spirit. He was truly man yet without sin. If Christ had sinned, it would have posed many problems for faith in HIM. Incarnation is the fact that the second person of the blessed trinity, the Son of God, took upon human nature. In other words, incarnation is the addition of human nature to the existent divine nature. If Christ had sinned, it would have called HIS deity into question, for how can God sin?

            If God had to die for man’s sins, and die in the human body, it is only imperative that God maintain HIS purity by being sinless. If Christ had sinned, one could seriously question Christ’s divinity through the following thoughts:

1. Satan is the source of Sin (John 8: 44; 1 John 3: 5, 8). (Sin is the result of temptation.)

2. Satan causes temptation (Mark 1:13; Luke 4: 1).

3. God does not tempt man (James 1:13).

4. God cannot submit to Satan (Job 1: 12, 2: 6; James 1: 13b; Jude 6. Cf. Matthew 4: 1-11; James 4: 7).

5. If Christ had succumbed to temptation, then Christ submitted to Satan.

6. Since God cannot submit to Satan, Christ could not have been God if HE had sinned.

The fact that Christ remained sinless is a testimony to HIS divinity, for only God can save man.

E. Christ’s Death & Resurrection: Why Should Christ Die & Rise Again to Save Man?
            Christ had to die to pay the penalty for the sins of the world, for the soul that sins had to die (cf. Ezekiel 18:4; Romans 6: 23; 2 Corinthians 5: 21; 1 Peter 2: 24).

            If Christ had remained dead, then there is no victory over death. So Christ had to rise again, and HE did! Christ’s resurrection and ascension is consistent with HIS divinity and proves HIS claim to be God (cf. John 10: 31-33) as genuine.

The fact that Christ rose again is a testimony to our resurrection. All of mankind will rise again – the believers to heaven and eternal coexistence with God, and the unbelievers to hell and eternal godlessness.   

            It’s indeed beneficial and profitable to teach ourselves and our neighbors the facts of Christianity. But it is of a greater worth to know the reasons behind these facts.

The Lord made a fascinating distinction between the house built on the rock and a house built on a sand (Matthew 7: 24 - 27) to emphasize the value of acting on God’s Word. Proper knowledge leading to a proper practice is the recipe to glorifying God through victories over Satan and his temptations.  

So during this Christmas season may we truly know Christ and the reasons behind HIS existence so to love and serve HIM all through the days of our life. Amen.

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