In this Christmas season as we celebrate the birth of Christ we may pause to reflect on the doctrine of the incarnation. The incarnation is the Bible's teaching that God became man. God took on a literal flesh and blood body in the person of His Son Jesus Christ. Christ is one in essence with the Father and is therefore divine. The incarnation came about in fulfillment of several Old Testament prophecies. One of the more prominent of these prophecies is recorded in Isaiah 9:6. "For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called . . . The mighty God . . . The Prince of Peace."
In the early centuries of the church, certain followers of Greek philosophies had no place for the concept of the incarnation. Much of ancient Greek thought regarded the physical world as inherently evil. They scoffed at the idea of God taking on human flesh and becoming a man in order to redeem mankind. God's ways, however, are not in conformity with the ancient Greeks or any other pagan society. God says "For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways" (Isaiah 55:9 NASB). Such Greek philosophical resistance is but one of many evidences against the unbeliever's false claim that Christianity borrowed aspects of ancient philosophy in order to be accepted. Christianity did not compromise sacred doctrine to be accepted but steadfastly maintained the doctrine of the incarnation and the other Christian doctrines against all philosophical opposition.
One champion of the incarnation was Irenaeus of Gaul (115-202 AD). Irenaeus was born in Smyrna in Asia Minor and studied under the renowned champion of the faith, Polycarp, bishop of Smyrna. The churches of Asia Minor (modern day Turkey) were evangelizing Gaul (modern day France) and Irenaeus was sent there as a missionary. In 177 AD, Pothinus, the first bishop of Lyons, was killed under the persecution of Marcus Aurelius. Irenaeus succeeded him as bishop during this hazardous time.
Irenaeus served with distinction in evangelism, pastoral work and writing. He is said to have converted almost the entire population of Lyons. He also sent missionaries to other parts of pagan Europe.
His greatest written work is Against All Heresies in which he defended the incarnation against the Gnostics who denied it. He also defended other fundamental doctrines of the Christian faith such as the crucifixion of Christ wherein Christ willingly took upon Himself the punishment due us for our sins so that we can receive forgiveness. Irenaeus defended the resurrection of Christ and he explained the unity of the Old and New Testaments. The Christian faith Is the fulfillment of the main prophetic content of Judaism.
Every human religion, including the ancient Gnostics, have their sacred writings. The Bible, with its hundreds of prophecies and their fulfillments, is unique. The Bible is a kind of gold standard and has the ring of truth as no other book. The Bible is inspired by God and the multitudes of prophecies and their fulfillments are like God's signature on His holy book.
The Bible is scientifically accurate! Find the evidence at www.icr.org.
Steps to salvation:
Jesus said "Ye must be born again." (John 3:7)
- Believe that God created you and loves you and sent the Messiah (Messiah is Hebrew for Christ) to redeem you.
- Believe that Jesus the Messiah came in fulfillment of over 300 Bible prophecies to die for you to take upon Himself the penalty for your sins. (Isaiah 53:5-6, John 6:29, Romans 4:5, First Peter 3:18)
- Turn from sin and call on the name of Jesus to receive forgiveness. (Romans 10:13)
- Receive Jesus as Savior and experience the new birth. (John 1:12, Acts 2:38)
- Follow Him as Lord. (John 14:21)
"Whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved" (Romans 10:13)
To receive the salvation that Jesus purchased for us at the terrible cost of His suffering and death on our behalf I invite you to pray this simple prayer:
"Dear heavenly Father, I thank you for sending Jesus, the promised Messiah, to die for my sins. I admit that I am a sinner and I ask for your forgiveness on the basis of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. I ask you to fill me with your Holy Spirit to empower me to serve you under the Lordship of Jesus Christ, Amen."
If you prayed that prayer in the humble sincerity of your heart then you have received everlasting life, which includes power to live right in this life and entrance into heaven in the afterlife!
Bill Nugent, Overcomer Ministries of West Harrison, New York, USA
(C) 2010 William P. Nugent, permission granted to email or republish if credit given
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DEFENDING THE FAITH|
Bill Nugent currently writes a series of articles called "Defending the Faith" which, as the title suggests, defend the Christian faith from the many attacks leveled against it in our postmodern world.
The articles deal with such topics as evolution, UFOs, cults, modern/postmodern philosophy, liberal theology and popular culture. At the end of each article is an invitation to receive Christ as Savior and Lord. These articles are sent out over the Internet to several opt-in email lists. People who receive these articles are encouraged to resend them to their own lists and in this way reach their own unsaved relatives and friends with the Gospel.
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