Rejoice! Christ Jesus Has Come! The Purpose of the Incarnation, Part 2

December 17, 2013 | by Pastor Jim Harrison

It is a trustworthy statement, deserving full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, among whom I am foremost of all.  1 Tim. 1:15

Who can you trust? 

According to an AP-GfK poll conducted just last month, only one-third of Americans say that people can be trusted.   Considering what Scripture reveals concerning the nature of fallen humanity, we ought not be surprised at such a finding.  I’m sure that if the subjects of that survey were asked a different question, such as whether or not they think that people are basically good or basically evil, many of them would answer, “basically good”.  And yet, there is an innate understanding which seeps into the mind and heart of even the unbeliever.  There is something wrong with man.  He is not to be trusted.

And so I ask again, “Who can you trust?” 

Well, the people of God know that we can trust Him, and we can trust what He reveals to us.  We can trust His word.  That conviction is a kind of baseline for God’s people.  And when we come to a verse like 1 Tim. 1:15, even that bedrock confidence soars, for the trustworthy word of God explicitly says that the next statement which one is about to read is itself a trustworthy statement!  What we have, then, is trustworthiness multiplied.

What is this most trustworthy of statements?  Simply this:  Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.

There is a purpose statement if I have ever read one.  And it is a trustworthy one, at that.

How easily this statement is understood.

First, we are told that this trustworthy statement is focused upon a person.  Secondly, we are told that this person did something, and thirdly, we are told that this person did what He did in order to accomplish something.

Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.

Christ, the messiah, the anointed one of Israel.  It is this one who was promised.  It was this one whom God’s people anticipated and for whom they looked.  Those who believed God know that man could not be trusted.  But they also knew that God has promised to send One who would be man, but more than man, and who therefore could be trusted.

Not only was He Christ, but He was also Jesus.  It was not coincidence that He was named Jesus.  Indeed, it was the very command of God that it should be so.  The angel of the Lord came to Joseph and instructed Him concerning what the child’s name should be.   It has been understood from the very creation, when Adam was placed in the garden, that the act of naming denotes authority and belonging.  Adam named Eve because she belonged to him, and no one else.  People name pets, and have the authority to do so because their pets belong to them.  Parents name their children, because the children are theirs, and no one else’s.  And yet, there in Matt. 1:21 we find that Joseph does not have the right or authority to name this child.  God does.  This child does not belong to Joseph.  He is not Joseph’s son, He is God’s Son.

Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.

What did Christ Jesus do?  He came into the world.  What a strange and unusual thing to say!  He did not “come into being”.  He “came into the world”.  That is, He traveled.  He was somewhere else, and He came into the world.  And if He came into the world, then the “somewhere else” that he had been, must have been someplace other than this world.  Paul explains this in Phil. 2 when he describes Christ as having “emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men.”

What all of this means is that there was a time when Jesus, before He was named Jesus, existed in a place other than this world, and in a state other than bodily humanity.  It is for this reason that Paul describes the incarnation of Christ as a “humbling” of Himself.  In order for Christ to have humbled Himself, the state in which He existed prior to His incarnation must have been an exalted state, indeed.

And so, Christ Jesus humbled Himself by leaving His place in glory, and coming into the world being made in the likeness of men.  Why?  Well, that’s the last part of the statement.

Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.

Why this humbling?  Why this incarnation?  Because there are sinners who need to be saved, and Christ Jesus came into the world to save them.  There is the purpose of the incarnation.  In eternity past, the Triune Godhead determined to save sinners, and that is the purpose for which Christ came into the world.  He did not come to attempt something.  He did not come to make something possible.  He came to do something.  And He accomplished, and is accomplishing, that purpose.

This One who came into the world also lived a perfect life, obeying completely the law of God.  This one who lived a perfect life also went to the cross and died as a perfect sacrifice.  And this One who went to the cross and died also rose again in that very same body.  And in coming into the world, and living a perfect life, and dying a sacrificial death, and rising in a glorious body, He accomplished the purpose for which He came.  He accomplished all that was necessary to save sinners. 

Here is the glory of Christmas.  Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.  Hallelujah!  Christ the Savior is born!

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