Sunday, December 13, 2015

The Other Incarnation

“Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me.” John 5:39

         Did you know that the word “incarnate” has another meaning besides the one we are most familiar with: a person who embodies in flesh a deity as in the Incarnation of God the Son in human flesh as Jesus Christ.” But there is at least one other meaning: “to put (an idea or another abstract concept) into concrete form.”

         I know this because I recently was reminded of a great old hymn of the Church, entitled, “O Word of God Incarnate,” written by William W. How. It had been so long since I heard that I had forgotten that is wasn’t about Jesus Christ, who we know from John one is the Incarnation of the Word of God. When I read the song again, I saw that it was not about Him, though, which made me curious about the other meaning:  

         O Word of God incarnate, O wisdom from on high,
         O Truth unchanged, unchanging, O Light of our dark sky:
         We praise You for the radiance the from the hallowed page,
         A Lantern to our footsteps, shines on from age to age.

         The Church from You, our Savior, received the Gift divine,
         And still that Light is lifted over all the earth to shine.
         It is the sacred Vessel where gems of truth are stored;
         It is the heaven drawn Picture of Christ, the Living Word.

         The Word of God is “settled in heaven” and it “liveth and abideth forever.” But it was an “abstract concept,” as far as we were concerned, until God gave it to us in “concrete form.” Jesus called it “the scriptures,” something written down. And lest we think this incarnation is of less importance than His, Jesus told us words of this incarnation hold the message of eternal life, and they speak of Him.

History would have told us that Jesus died, but Paul told us He died for our sins; that’s New Testament doctrine, “according to the scriptures” (1 Cor. 15:3). Without the Scriptures, we would never know that the birth of Jesus Christ was the Incarnation of God. Indeed, those who refuse to accept the Bible, as it is in truth, the Word of God, would argue that it wasn’t. In his book, Taking God At His Word, Kevin DeYoung speaking of the importance of the written Word, says: “All this matters because it means the authority of God’s word resides in the written text–the words, the sentences, the paragraphs–of Scripture, not merely in our existential experience of the truth in our hearts. Some people don’t like written text and propositions because they imply a stable, fixed meaning, and people don’t want truth to be fixed.”

         This year, as we celebrate the Incarnation of the living Word of God in human form, Jesus Christ, let’s not forget to celebrate the other incarnation, the one that gave us the living Words of God, the Holy Scriptures. Believe it, handle it, open it daily, cherish it, consume it, and follow its percepts, knowing it is God’s final word and our only Authority.

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