The cross is the central work in John’s Gospel. There, the Son goes to the cross because “the Father loves me.” And there, glory and love meet. The man bruised and broken and bloodied is the glory of God on a cross stained red with love. All of this happened because “God so loved the world.” He loved us while we were yet sinners (Rom 5:8). Out of love, God sent his Son into the world to save it.
Why did the King of Glory become a baby? We can answer by saying “for his glory”! And we would be right to say so, but what does that even mean?
To start with, the word glory can sometimes describe doing good works. When a good deed is manifested in the world, we call it glorious. This is why all of God’s works are glorious, especially his creation of humans (Isa 42:7). The good works God does point back to the good Creator of all.
God also created humans for glory and honour. David says, God “crowned [humans] with glory and honor” (Ps 8:5). Paul even tells us to pursue glory and honour (Rom 2:7). While sin for a little while decrowned us of our glory, Jesus became human to bring “many sons to glory” (Heb 2:10, 14).
In summary, God created us for his glory, he crowned us with glory that we for a little while lost by sin, and Jesus restored that glory to us when he came into the world. Glory seems like a good answer for why Jesus was born, but I would say it is not a full answer.
A more complete answer includes the biblical truth that Jesus became a baby because he loves you. And this work of love is glorious.
The Bible tells us “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16). In the New Testament, to be sent means the same thing as “the Word became flesh and dwelt among us” (John 1:14).
John tells us that God the Son (or Word) became flesh and dwelt among us, that is, God sent the Son into the world because he “so loved the world.”
God is Love (1 John 4:8, 16), and God loved us “while we were still sinners” (Rom 5:8).
The Church Father Athanasius (c. AD 298–373) used the word philanthropy to describe why Jesus was born.
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By Zack Groff — 1 year ago
We are not to fast and pray for the sake of fasting and prayer. We are to fast and pray for the sake and attention of our heavenly Father. As Matthew 6:16-18 makes clear to us, fasting is a means of grace if and only if presented for the notice of your heavenly Father who graciously rewards His children. But this caveat must in no way minimize the mysterious and profound reality that fasting at once humbles us to the dust and serves as an elevating ordinance.
If we are being completely honest with ourselves, the spiritual discipline of fasting is far from “top-of-mind” in our thinking about the Christian life. Yet, it is one of three integral acts of devotion which Jesus highlights in Matthew 6 when instructing His disciples on the way of living in their heavenly Father’s heavenly Kingdom. If we are to take the Bible seriously as our wholly sufficient and inerrant rule for faith and practice, then we must believe and confess that fasting is a means of heavenly grace to us, that it is an elevating ordinance.
What is more, we must be doers of the Word, and not hearers only, lest we deceive ourselves (see James 1:22). In Matthew 6:16-18, Christ clearly assumes that His disciples will employ Spirit-driven fasting in their lives as they grow in grace and godliness to the glory of God. By extension, He expects us to be interested in and committed to fasting on suitable occasions, for we too are Christian believers and Christ-following disciples.
This prompts the question, what are those suitable occasions for fasting?
In answering this question, the second-generation Reformation preacher, pastor, and theologian William Perkins (1558-1602) has done the heavy lifting for us. In his exposition on the Sermon on the Mount (and particularly on Matthew 6:16-18), Perkins has helpfully identified seven occasions in Scripture when God’s people are either commanded to fast or otherwise fast with the clear approval of God. By both divine precept (God’s commandment) and by approved example (God’s commendation), we are told to fast on the following seven occasions:
When we fall into any grievous sin. The only stated or annually recurring fast recorded in Scripture is the day of fasting and prayer commanded in Leviticus 16:29. God commanded that His people fast each year in connection with the annual Day of Atonement when the High Priest made the principal offering for the sins of the people before entering the Holy of Holies to commune with God on behalf of the people. We no longer maintain this – or any – stated day of fasting, for Christ offered a sacrifice for sins once and for all (Heb. 10:10), thereby fulfilling that which the Day of Atonement (and the sacrificial system of the Old Covenant) anticipated. It would be at best ignorant or misguided and at worst profanely legalistic to maintain a stated fast on an annual basis. However, it remains appropriate and important to call for days of fasting and prayer when we become aware or convicted of our sins. We see this modeled for us in 1 Samuel 7:6 when the Israelite prophet and judge Samuel calls for a fast to humble the people for their stubborn idolatry. It is no accident that immediately following this action, Samuel’s leadership is summarized in commendable terms in 1 Samuel 7:15-17.
When those among us fall into sin. Not only is it appropriate for us to fast and pray for ourselves when we mourn over our sins, but it is appropriate for us to fast and pray for others as their sins come to light. In 1 Corinthians 5:2, Paul alerts the Church in Corinth to a missed opportunity and failure on their part in this regard. When the heinous sin of a member of their church came to light, they grew arrogant rather than mournful. Whether this arrogance manifested itself as gossip, slander, tolerance, or self-righteous condemnation, it was foolish of them not to mourn over the man’s sin and seek God’s help. Thus, we infer that in the place of hard-heartedness when confronted with someone else’s sin, we ought to consider religious fasting, by which we adopt the posture of mournful lament, righteous indignation, and urgent prayer for repentance.
When God’s judgment is upon us. When we feel the weight of troubles crashing down upon us in this sin-wrecked world, then is a time fit for fasting.
By Peter J. Gentry — 8 months ago
Written by Peter J. Gentry |
Thursday, July 13, 2023
Conway is right that to describe the woman as a helper does not indicate inferiority. She has strengths that match the man’s weaknesses, and vice versa. They will have to work as a team, but this does not rule out the possibility of the man having a primary responsibility or servant leadership in the relationship. We are getting a one-sided picture from Conway, even if the woman pays a higher price than the man in the task of being fruitful and multiplying.
Chapter two of Discovering Biblical Equality is on “Gender in Creation and Fall” and is authored by Mary L. Conway. Much of her exegesis and interpretation represents a fair treatment of the text. Nonetheless, she summarises the teaching of Genesis 1–3 as follows:
In Genesis, before the fall, there was mutuality, equality, and harmony between men and women. Incorrect understanding and false teaching were influences contributing to the sin of Adam and Eve, although deliberate disobedience was certainly a major factor. The fall destroyed the mutuality and harmony between men and women, resulting in millennia of male domination in both the church and in marriage. In Christ, that consequence is undone, and the mutuality and harmony of marriage is potentially restored . . . if the church allows it (52).
So, neither male nor female has a leadership role in relation to the other sex or a responsibility that differs from that of the other sex in marriage. In the following essay, we shall consider features of Genesis 1–3 that suggest differences in leadership roles and responsibilities, although the term “domination,” in a negative or patriarchal sense, need not be invoked in any way.
We shall evaluate in particular Conway’s treatment of ’adam, the image of God, helper, the enticement by the serpent, and the consequences of human rebellion.
As Conway observes, the Hebrew term ’adam must be interpreted properly. She is correct to explain that “the Hebrew lexis ’adam is most often a nongendered/collective term for a specific human or humanity in general, male and/or female, unless its meaning is restricted by context” (36). In Genesis 1–5, this term shifts in usage from referring to humanity in general, to referring to the primal or archetypal man to use as a proper noun, i.e., Adam. Normally when this term has no article, it is used as a name. She does not refer to the definitive study by Hess that details this usage, which would have been helpful. In 3:17 she follows a note in the apparatus of BHS to articulate the noun, although absolutely no witnesses support this in the entire textual tradition.
The Image of God
Anyone attending to the text in Genesis 1:26-27 ought to affirm as Conway does, as well as all complementarians, that both male and female are made as the divine image and neither is inferior to the other — both are equal in being (ontology) and worth before God.
To explain “being made in the image of God,” Conway appeals to Middleton’s work as definitive proof that the implications of being created in Yahweh’s image are functional: “the imago dei refers to human rule, that is, the exercise of power on God’s behalf in creation” (38). She rightly rejects the claim that being male and female defines the image of God. She could have strengthened her position by reference to our work in Kingdom through Covenant. Two clauses at the end of Genesis 1:27 are marked by discourse grammar signals as comments or explanatory footnotes that prepare the reader for the commands in v. 28. Also note the chiastic structure:
God created mankind in his imageaccording to his likeness:A in the image of God he created himB male and female he created them======B’ be fruitful and increase in numberand fill the earthA’ and subdue itand rule over the fish/birds/animals
Binary sexuality, i.e., duality of gender, is the basis for being fruitful, while the divine image is correlated with the command to rule as God’s viceroy. These observations from the discourse grammar of the narrative are crucial. They are decisive in showing that the divine image is not to be explained by or located in terms of duality of gender in humanity.
Nonetheless, significant further light has been cast on the image of God since the work of Richard Middleton was published. A merely functional interpretation is inadequate; we must view humanity in holistic terms as the divine image. The image describes not only function, but also human ontology and structure. In particular, it describes a covenant relationship between God and humanity on the one hand and humanity and creation on the other. The former portrays humanity as obedient sons and daughters while the latter depicts humanity in terms of servant kingship or leadership. Understanding the divine image as entailing a covenant relationship means that this applies not only to the human-God relationship, but also to the relationships in the human family. Not only in the Bible, but all across the ancient Near East, familial relationships were considered covenantal. This is why family language is used in international treaties (where the partners are called “father” and “son”). I have also shown from Genesis 2 that the image of God assigns the role of priest to humanity and that Adam must give leadership in this role.
The image of God means that humanity is not only connected to God but must reflect him. Later revelation of the economic doctrine of the Trinity shows equality among the persons of the Godhead but also different roles in the economy of salvation. Why shouldn’t we expect this in the human family as well?
With regard to “naming” in Genesis 1–3 Conway asserts: “that the man (ha’adam) names the woman, as he previously did the animals, however, is also not a sign of the man’s superiority or dominance. Naming in the Old Testament is an act of discerning a trait or function or ability that already exists in the person being named, not a sign of authority over that person” (48). Her examples from Genesis 16:13 and Judges 8:31 are not particularly persuasive. She does not account well for the context of Genesis 1–3. In Genesis 1, God names entities and structures created on Days 1–3 while Adam names entities filling the structures created on Days 4–6.
By Harry J. Monroe Jr. — 1 year ago
Written by Harry J. Monroe, Jr. |
Thursday, February 16, 2023
Over the last 50 years, the evangelical churches have largely taken one of two reactive approaches to the secularization of American society. One has involved a “seeker sensitive” mentality that emphasized the use of marketing techniques to present a vision of church that would be palatable to the felt needs of our unchurched neighbors. While for decades those promoting these church growth techniques claimed that only the methods, not the message, changed, almost anyone surveying the course of this history can see that they modified the message itself in significant ways, too often creating the result of a “Christless Christianity.” The other evangelical approach was a more politically oriented one making a strange case for “taking back America.”
Christian media outlets are awash with the news that Jesus will have a Super Bowl ad this year. The ad furthers a campaign designed to let America know that Jesus “gets us.” In order to get across that message, its designers created a modified version of qualities emphasizing those aspects of Jesus’ life that most of our secular neighbors would find agreeable. He was a migrant who suffered poverty and other forms of privation while also enduring racism. That he bore such griefs means that he empathizes with all of us who carry similar loads. Thus, he gets us. There is no mention of allegedly controversial notions that he was the Son of God or died bearing the punishment of people’s sins.
Reports indicate that those bankrolling this cause have committed $1 billion over 3 years. When people whom I would on many things agree with have shown their sincerity by giving so benevolently of their treasure, one can have no pleasure in disagreeing with them, but here goes:
It won’t work. And, if it does work, it will be a bad thing.
Promoters of the campaign, particularly as it regards placement of an ad during America’s seminal religious event (the Super Bowl), embrace hope in the presentation of a likable Jesus to a culture that is sprinting away from organized religious belief. It would seem relevant that in the New Testament the apostles faced a similarly hostile crowd and presented Christ’s claims in an entirely different fashion. Peter announced in the temple precinct in Jerusalem that God raised the One whom they had crucified. Paul told the Corinthian Christians that their leaders had “crucified the Lord of glory,” and the author of Hebrews, addressing a crisis resulting from a generation of Christians looking to abandon the faith, asserted that God had spoken by the Son, who had created, sustains, and been appointed the heir of all things. Thus, the biblical preachers and writers responded to unbelief by boldly proclaiming the claims of the one being rejected.
Modern evangelicals are riding down a well worn historic path of soft selling a Socinian Savior who can supposedly be believed in by modern Americans.