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Christ’s union with us in the incarnation is the foundation for our union with him, both now and in the eternal future. It is a pledge of our sonship, as Calvin wrote, for “our common nature with Christ is the pledge of our fellowship with the Son of God; and clothed with our flesh he vanquished death and sin together that the victory and triumph might be ours. He offered as a sacrifice the flesh he received from us, that he might wipe out our guilt by his act of expiation and appease the Father’s righteous wrath.”
-Robert Letham, Union with Christ: In Scripture, History, and Theology (Phillisburg NJ: P&R, 2011) 41, quoting John Calvin, Institutes, 2.12.3
HT: Glen Scrivener
“Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel” (which means, God with us). (Matthew 1:23)
The first thing which we ought to consider in this name is the divine majesty of Christ, so as to yield to him the reverence which is due to the only and eternal God. But we must not, at the same time, forget the fruit which God intended that we should collect and receive from this name. For whenever we contemplate the one person of Christ as God-man, we ought to hold it for certain that, if we are united to Christ by faith, we possess God.
~John Calvin, Commentary on a Harmony of the Evangelists
From the squalor of a borrowed stable,
By the spirit and a virgin’s faith;
To the anguish and the shame of scandal
Came the Saviour of the human race!
But the skies were filled, with the praise of heav’n,
Shepherds listen as the angels tell
Of the Gift of God, come down to man
At the dawning of Immanuel
King of heaven now the Friend of sinners,
Humble servant in the Father’s hands,
Filled with power and the Holy Spirit,
Filled with mercy for the broken man
Yes he walked my road, and He felt my pain,
Joys and sorrows that I know so well;
Yet His righteous steps, give me hope again –
I will follow my Immanuel!
Through the kisses of a friend’s betrayal,
He was lifted on a cruel cross;
He was punished for a world’s transgressions,
He was suffering to save the lost
He fights for breath, He fights for me
Loosing sinners from the claims of hell;
And with a shout, our souls are free –
Death defeated by Immanuel!
Now He’s standing in the place of honour,
Crowned with glory on the highest throne,
Interceding for His own beloved
Till His Father calls us to bring them home!
Then the skies will part, as the trumpet sounds
Hope of heaven or the fear of hell;
But the Bride will run, to her Lover’s arms,
Giving glory to Immanuel!
“What God did when He sent His Son into the world is an absolute guarantee that He will do everything He has promised to do.”
A tender shoot has started
up from a root of grace,
as ancient seers imparted
from Jesse’s holy race;
It blooms without a blight,
blooms in the cold bleak winter
turning our darkness into light.
This shoot, Isaiah taught us,
from Jesse’s root should spring;
the Vrigin Mary brought us
the branch of which we sing:
our God of endless might
gave her this child to save us,
thus turning darkness into light.
~Otto Goldschmidt (1829-1907)
O come, all ye faithful, joyful and triumphant,
O come ye, O come ye, to Bethlehem.
Come and behold Him, born the King of angels;
O come, let us adore Him,
O come, let us adore Him,
O come, let us adore Him,
Christ the Lord.
True God of true God, Light from Light Eternal,
Lo, He shuns not the Virgin’s womb;
Son of the Father, begotten, not created;
Sing, choirs of angels, sing in exultation;
O sing, all ye citizens of heaven above!
Glory to God, all glory in the highest;
See how the shepherds, summoned to His cradle,
Leaving their flocks, draw nigh to gaze;
We too will thither bend our joyful footsteps;
Child, for us sinners poor and in the manger,
We would embrace Thee, with love and awe;
Who would not love Thee, loving us so dearly?
Yea, Lord, we greet Thee, born this happy morning;
Jesus, to Thee be all glory given;
Word of the Father, now in flesh appearing.
~Words: John F. Wade, circa 1743. Verses 1-3 & 6 translated from Latin to English by Frederick Oakeley, 1841; verses 4 & 5 translated by William T. Brooke (1848-1917).
The trumpet child will blow his horn
Will blast the sky till it’s reborn
With Gabriel’s power and Satchmo’s grace
He will surprise the human race
The trumpet he will use to blow
Is being fashioned out of fire
The mouthpiece is a glowing coal
The bell a burst of wild desire
The trumpet child will riff on love
Thelonious notes from up above
He’ll improvise a kingdom come
Accompanied by a different drum
The trumpet child will banquet here
Until the lost are truly found
A thousand days, a thousand years
Nobody knows for sure how long
The rich forget about their gold
The meek and mild are strangely bold
A lion lies beside a lamb
And licks a murderer’s outstretched hand
The trumpet child will lift a glass
His bride now leaning in at last
His final aim to fill with joy
The earth that man all but destroyed
~Linford Detweiler“The Trumpet Child”from the album The Trumpet Child by Over the Rhine.
Taken from Sinclair B. Ferguson, The Holy Spirit, p. 41-43.
5 reasons why the virgin conception-birth is important:
- The action of the Holy Spirit (coupled with the absence of conception ‘by the will of man’, J. 1:13) points to the sovereign newness of the work God is accomplishing,
- While Mary is involved in the virgin conception she is completely passive in it, because it is the direct result of the mysterious action of the Holy Spirit. Here, as Barth underlined, over against the place given to Mary by the Roman Catholic theology, the active contribution of humanity in providing salvation is nullified.
- The human nature which was assumed by the Son of God was created ex nihilo, but was inherited through Mary. It is our human nature, ‘addicted to so many wretchedness’, as Calvin vividly puts it. Subject to the pains and temptations of this life, his human natured needed to be acted upon by the Holy Spirit in order to be sanctified.
- Only by the work of the Spirit could the divine person of the Logos assume genuine human nature, come ‘in the likeness of sinful man’ (Rom 8:3), and yet remain ‘holy, harmless, undefiled’ (Heb. 7:26, AV), ‘the holy one’ (Lk. 1:35).
- The revelation of the virgin conception by the Spirit forbids any adoptionist Christology.
- There is no room for the notion that the man Jesus of Nazareth becomes the Son of God by adoption….The modern addiction to a Christology exclusively ‘from below’ is a truncated pneumatology as well as a deformed Christology.
- The conception of Jesus by the Spirit underlines both his identification with our frailty (he assumes our nature at its smallest and weakest) and his essential distinctiveness, not in relation to the reality of his humanity but in relation to his liability to guilt.
- The work of the Spirit preserves both the reality of his union with us in genuine human nature, and his freedom from the guilt and curse of Adam’s fall (Rom 5:12-21).
- The conception of Jesus by the Holy Spirit is the mode by which the Father’s sending of the Son is effected. As such, it underlines the principle that, in the work of redemption which Christ spearheads, each person of the Trinity is engaged.