************ Catechism Sermon on Lord's Day 14 ************
By: Rev. Adrian Dieleman
This sermon was preached on August 13, 2017
Lord's Day 14
"Faith in the Incarnate Son"
Jonathan Michael Jones, Isaac Nickolas Leyendekker, Hannah Faith Weaver. Three beautiful, precious, wonderful babies. We rejoice in their birth. We rejoice in their baptism. We rejoice they are part of the covenant. We rejoice the promise of salvation in Christ includes them as well as their parents.
Similarly, we rejoice in the birth of another baby some 2000 years ago. Again, a beautiful, precious, wonderful baby. But unlike the babies today sound doctrine says He did not need the promise of salvation. He did not need the promise of salvation because He is Emmanuel, God with us, God with us in the flesh. He did not need the promise of salvation because He is the eternal Son of God. He did not need the promise of salvation; instead, sound doctrine says He is the promise of salvation.
In his letter to Timothy, Paul warns us of a time when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths. That time is now upon us probably like no other time in history.
Men will not put up with sound doctrine. Paul is not talking about society in general -- though this is certainly true for society in general. I read in the newspaper last week about a Rastafarian church whose entire theology and sacraments involves marijuana -- man's itching ears. We all know about weird new age beliefs -- man's itching ears. People claim to channel with spirits past and future -- man's itching ears.
Men will not put up with sound doctrine. Paul is talking about the church. In the church, says Paul, men will not put up with sound doctrine. Their itching ears don't want to hear about sin and repentance; instead, they want to hear about acceptance and tolerance and the gospel of health and wealth. Their itching ears don't want to hear about male headship; instead, they want to hear about women's rights. Their itching ears don't want to hear that the only way to God is through the sacrifice of Jesus; instead, they want to hear there are other ways and other paths to God. Their itching ears don't want to hear that marriage is between one man and one woman; instead, they want to hear that marriage and gender is fluid. Their itching ears don't want to hear that Jesus is the head and owner of the church and that He runs His church through elders; instead, they want to hear the church belongs to those who give the most money.
Men will not put up with sound doctrine. What is sound doctrine? Sound doctrine is reliable doctrine, true doctrine, dependable doctrine because it is doctrine based upon the Bible.
In Trinity United Reformed Church we preach and proclaim and teach sound doctrine. And we do so without apology.
We are looking at the Catechism again. The Catechism is sound doctrine because it is a summary of what the Bible teaches. So what does sound doctrine teach us today? Or, to put it another way, what does saving faith believe? Quoting from the Apostles' Creed, the Catechism tells us sound doctrine believes Jesus was conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of the virgin Mary. At the center of sound doctrine is the belief that the eternal Son of God took to Himself a truly human nature.
At stake here is our salvation: our Mediator and Deliverer must be truly human. He must be one with us. He must be one of us. And, if He was not fully and completely human, He could not pay for our sin and make us right with God. Only in Jesus Who took on our flesh and blood can we have the assurance our sins are forgiven. Only in Jesus Who in the greatest act of love died for us and atoned for us.
So, sound doctrine declares belief in Jesus Who was conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of the virgin Mary. We celebrate the conception and birth of Jesus even as we celebrate the conception and birth of the three babies who were baptized this morning.
I A Mysterious Conception and Birth
A Sound doctrine declares that the eternal Son of God took to Himself a truly human nature. He took to Himself. His act as part of the triune Godhead. His decision as part of the triune Godhead. Jesus was born, not by the will of man, but by His own will. He was not created. He was born. Of His own free will He assumed our flesh and blood. He did this Himself. He caused His flesh and blood to develop from the virgin Mary. Jesus was active in His own conception and birth. That is the mystery of the incarnation. The eternal Son of God took from the flesh and blood of Mary and caused Himself to be born from her. Compare this to the three babies we baptized this morning. None of them had any say in their conception and birth.
B The eternal Son of God took to Himself a truly human nature. Medical science tells us about the joining of the seed and the egg in a woman's womb. And then the cells split, and split again, and keep on splitting. A cell appears that forms a leg, another that forms an arm, another that forms the brain, another that forms the heart. Evolution wants us to believe this just happens. But we know better. Nothing this complex simply happens. The conception and birth of the three babies needs the directing and controlling hand of God. But now think about the conception and birth of Jesus. His mother was a virgin. There was no joining of seed and egg. Instead, there was the operation of the Spirit. The Spirit worked in Mary's womb. The Spirit worked in Mary's womb so what was in her began to split and divide and formed the man we know as Jesus.
C The eternal Son of God took to Himself a truly human nature. Jesus could not be born at any place and at any time and from any race. He must be born in the fullness of time from the line of Seth, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Judah, David, Mary. He ordained His own mother. He chose His own mother. And not only did He choose His own mother, but He also prepared her. He sent His angel to her and to Joseph and told them He was to be born of her. The eternal Son of God did this; the three babies did not and could not.
D The eternal Son of God took to Himself a truly human nature. It was real flesh and blood. His human nature was real. How real? His body was subject to all the weaknesses and frailties and diseases and sicknesses that our bodies are subject to. He was subject to temptation, even as we are. He was like us in every way except for sin. If He were not crucified He would have died an old man at the age of seventy or eighty or maybe even ninety years; whatever age it would be, He would have died. But that could not be; that must not be. He must not die as an old man. He must die as the Lamb of God.
E The eternal Son of God took to Himself a truly human nature. Because of the conception of the Spirit, Jesus was missing something that is found in all our children and grandchildren. Jesus was missing original sin. Jesus was missing the guilt of Adam. We look at the three babies we baptized: Jonathan Michael Jones, Isaac Nickolas Leyendekker, Hannah Faith Weaver. They look so sweet and innocent. But they aren't. They are born sinners. They are born with the guilt of Adam. They are born with a sinful nature. Right now, already, they need the Savior. Right now, already, they need the blood of the Lamb. Right now, already, they need to be washed. Right now, already, we symbolize their washing in the sacrament of baptism. Jesus is the only baby ever born Who truly was sweet and innocent. That's what sound doctrine confesses.
The eternal Son of God took to Himself a truly human nature. Jesus was missing something that everyone of us has. Jesus was missing original sin. And, He had no actual sin. The time is coming when actual sin will be seen in the lives of the three children we baptized this morning. All too quick their favorite word becomes "NO." Pick up your toys. "NO." Don't throw your food on the floor. "NO." Listen to mama. "NO." And then fighting with and pestering siblings.
Jesus had none of this. Jesus couldn't have any of this. Jesus must not have any of this. The Lamb of God must be a Lamb without blemish. The Lamb of God Who takes away the sin of the world must be a Lamb without sin. Imagine a child who never says "NO." Imagine a child who does not fight and pester siblings. I can't even begin to imagine this.
Back in Lord's Day 5, sound doctrine told us that our Mediator and Deliverer must be truly righteous. He must be or I cannot be saved. With His innocence and perfect holiness He removes from God's sight my sin -- my sin since I was conceived.
II An Unusual Union
A The eternal Son of God took to Himself a truly human nature. It should be clear by now that this was a must unusual union. A one time union. A union we will never see again.
Some ancient and modern religions believe that man can become God. That man can elevate himself. There are also ancient myths of Greek and Roman gods who come down to earth and procreate with humans. Sound doctrine does not believe such nonsense. Sound doctrine declares the eternal Son of God took to Himself a truly human nature.
B The eternal Son of God took to Himself a truly human nature. This does not mean that God changed into man, either partly or completely. God cannot change. Neither the essence nor the nature of God is changed into the essence or nature of man. The eternal Son of God did not change into man when He came in the flesh. Nor did His essence change back into God at the resurrection. This is how many understand the incarnation but this is not what sound doctrine believes. The eternal Son of God remains the eternal Son of God, one with the Father and one with the Holy Spirit. He remains God even in the incarnation. He did not assume a human person; He assumed a human nature. The Son of God took upon Himself, in addition to His divine nature, a human nature. He assumed a complete human nature. To that human nature belongs both body and soul. Jesus assumed a complete human nature. In this way Jesus is like the three children we baptized. They were conceived and born with body and soul. Likewise, Jesus was conceived and born with body and soul.
The eternal Son of God took to Himself a truly human nature. So His is two natures. Jesus dwells, loves, wills, and desires in His divine nature. And, Jesus dwells, loves, wills, and desires in His human nature.
C The eternal Son of God took to Himself a truly human nature. This means we cannot accept the view of the JWs who believe the divine nature mingles with the human nature so Jesus is the God-man, a third kind of being. The divine does not become human and the human does not become divine. The finite does not become infinite, and the infinite does not become finite. The human and divine natures did not unite and become one. There is no mixture of the natures. He is one person with a divine nature and a human nature.
The eternal Son of God took to Himself a truly human nature. What we have is a union, a blessed union, an unusual union, the only union of its kind, between the human and the divine.
The eternal Son of God took to Himself a truly human nature. He became one of us and one with us. He suffered and died in that human nature. He rose from the dead in that human nature. He ascended to heaven in that human nature. He sits at God's right hand in that human nature.
The result is a glorious hope. If you believe in Him, you have the hope of eternal glory. Someday your body will be like His glorious body. Someday you will be without indwelling sin. Someday there will be no more tears or death or mourning or crying or pain.
If you believe in Him, you have every reason to rejoice in His conception and birth. Because yours is a blessed hope.
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