The Incarnation: Why did Jesus come into the world?

I have said that the universe was created so that Jesus could be born into in. Was it hard for God to create the universe? One may think so, and say that the greatest work of God was that he created. But I say that while Jesus was on earth, if he had sneezed in the wrong way he would have destroyed and recreated the universe several times over.

When we say that Mohammed Ali was a great boxer, we don't point to his fight with Joe Schmoe as the proof of this statement, we point to his match with Joe Frazier. We do so because that fight not only had great boxing in it, but because it was so difficult for Mohammed Ali. Because Ali was pushed to his limits before his victory.

What, then, was hard for God? What achievement of his could we point to and say, "this is the full measure of his strength"? About what has he said, "wow, this is going to be tough. I almost wish I didn't have to do it", or "Let this cup pass from me"? How hard was it for Jesus to go to the cross?

So was it hard for God to create the universe? Physically, no. It was trivial. Insofar as "creation of the universe" only means setting up the laws of physics and making the electrons and quarks ex nihilo and setting those things to whizz around, I think it was easy for God. But what if, in creating the universe, he had to invest himself into its fleshly creatures, incarnate himself as one of them, sunder his own being to take on their weaknesses, and forsake his only son to save sinners? How difficult was that for God?

That is what I mean when I say that God is mighty to save. It means that God did something that's not only impossible for us (after all - many things, which are not really that remarkable, are impossible for us), but also difficult for him. That God, because of his great love for us, had to exert all of his omnipotence in order to save sinners like us. Therefore, because he invested all of his being into our salvation, we can point to that salvation and truly say, "To God be the glory", and "we are the righteousness of God".

For God so loved the world, that Christ - who is God Incarnate and Creator of the universe - came into the world he created, and gave for us everything he had, to save us sinners. That is the central message of Christianity. We call it the Gospel: Christ saves sinners.

You may next want to read:
For Christmas: the Incarnation
Jesus is like these things in his incarnate nature:
Another post, from the table of contents

Jesus is like these things in his incarnate nature:

Jesus is like units, such as meters (m), kilograms (kg), or seconds (s). Units connect numbers with physical things, like Jesus connects the spiritual and the physical world.

Jesus is like a good experiment. Experiments are the bridge between theory, math, and philosophy on one side, and engineering and real life applications on the other side.

Jesus is like a baby elephant. A large elephant can be groped at by blind men and never be comprehended because of its large size. But if that elephant had a baby - something begotten to be of the same elephant nature yet small enough to be felt by the blind - then they could get a good idea of the large elephant.

Jesus is like the universe. Any created thing tells us something about God, so if we look at all created things (the universe) we have a good picture of what God is like. But Jesus is the perfect image of the invisible God, in whom all fullness of the Deity dwells in bodily form.

Jesus is like nothing else. Seriously, I wrote this and the previous posts because I think I understand some things, but what am I to say about the Incarnation? I think (I'm not sure) I know enough to say that I know nearly nothing compared to the infinite mystery that is the Incarnation. I feel like a child who imagines that he "knows math" because he knows that two plus two is four. But I'm still going to keep writing those things that I do know: "The secret things belong to God, but the revealed things belong to us and our descendants forever".

You may next want to read:
For Christmas: the Incarnation
The Incarnation: Why did Jesus come into the world?
Another post, from the table of contents

For Christmas: the Incarnation

Have you ever seen a number? For example, the number one?

Many people will answer, "Of course! Everyone has seen '1'. It's one of the first things that you learn, as a baby!" But '1' is not the number one - it is a character that represents that abstract concept of the number one. Different cultures at different times have used different characters for it, but the concept is not the character.

You may have seen one apple, one car, or one galaxy, but none of those things are actually the number one. You have never seen the number one, nor sensed it by any of your other faculties. What, then, is the number one? And what would it be like, if the abstract concept itself was somehow actually in front of you? Would you be able to touch it, or interact with it in any other way? What would happen to you if you did? For that matter, what would happen to the universe? You just touched - actually, physically interacted with - an abstract concept which underlies mathematics and therefore the whole universe. What happens? Would it be really possible? In fact, what kind of universe would this need to be, in order for any of the above to be allowed to happen?

God is a spirit. He exists beyond our universe. He is further back from us than even mathematical objects like numbers. As far as we flesh-bags are concerned, he is invisible, unknowable, and inaccessible. He is indistinguishable from an Lovecraftian eldritch abomination. His thoughts are not our thoughts and his ways are a mystery to us. He is utterly separate from us.

But in a supreme miracle that explains all other miracles, that very God - the one that is holy and therefore alien and separate from us - came down and chose to become one of these flesh bags called homo sapiens. That is what Jesus Christ is.

Now you may think this is impossible. You may say, "You can't touch things like spirits or numbers. Abstract concepts cannot directly interact with physical things. The infinite God cannot fit into a finite man". To be sure, this isn't something that just happens. But what if God wanted to make it happen, despite it being "impossible"? What would he need to do? Maybe he'd need to re-write the rules of physic and mathematics and even logic? Would he need to edit the whole universe?

Perhaps even create the whole universe?

The universe is the way it is because it was created to allow God to come into it as Christ. The universe has the laws and the parameters that it does precisely for the purpose of the Incarnation. I had wondered in the past what it meant that Christ created the world (John 1:3Col.1:15-20) - isn't the creation of the world something usually associated with God the Father? Yet the Bible clearly states that the world was made by, for, and through Jesus Christ.

What does it mean that Christ created the world? It means that he was incarnated into the world. Otherwise, what has God (who is a spirit) to do with the world (which is physical)? To physically create the world, God - the One Father of All - breathed into the world his Secret Fire, the Imperishable Flame, the One that belongs only with God. He did so to "let these things be" - so that his plans and intentions would become physical reality through his Word.

The form of that Flame is none other than Christ come into the world. Merry Christmas to you all - for on that day the universe was (ontologically, not temporally) created.

You may next want to read:
The Incarnation: Why did Jesus come into the world?
Christian predictions on the future of science (part 2)
Another post, from the table of contents

How is God related to all other fields of study?

**The following is an outline of a Bible study I lead for a group of college students.**

(Ask to the whole group) Does anyone know what the Shema is? It begins: "Hear, O Israel, the LORD our God, the LORD is one. (Deut. 6.4)"
(Have the students ask one another in small groups) What is your major, and how did you choose it?

Ask what everyone's major is, and plot it on a chalkboard, along an axis labeled "Foundational" to "Comprehensive". The plot should look roughly like this, or this, or perhaps like this if your group somehow consists mostly of physics grad students. Typically, it would contain the following items in the following order:

On to things like economics, business, art, history, etc.

Where is God on this graph? Where is God in academia? Or more generally, Where is God in the sum of all human disciplines?

He is exactly where he says he is.

(Ask someone to read Rev. 22:13) "I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end."

All disciplines are based on something more fundamental. Chemistry is based on physics, which is in turn based on mathematics, for example. If we trace this back, and ask "what is the most fundamental subject?", we probably come to philosophy, by human reckoning. After all, it's not a coincidence that you nearly always get to philosophy by clicking on the trail of first links in Wikipedia articles. But what lies behind philosophy? All true philosophy is based on God. Thus, God is the "alpha", the beginning of all things.

When we move in the other direction - when we move towards more comprehensive subjects which cover more complex things, we probably arrive at something like big history as the most comprehensive subject, by human reckoning. But what lies beyond history? All that happens in history is for the glory of God, and the acts of God encompass the entirety of all that happens in the universe. Thus, God is the "omega", the end of all things.

Now, some of you may be thinking, "Well, that's great, but I study something in the middle. Are we saying that God isn't in anything in between the two extremes?"

God IS found in the middle, because a fundamental truth will be found in everything else that's built on it. 
Let's take mathematics as an example of a relatively "foundational" discipline, which everyone is at least a little familiar with.

(Draw an exponential curve) Do you guys recognize this? It is a mathematical function, with the formula e^(kx). But it comes up everywhere, not just in math. It governs: (perhaps have the students brainstorm to come up with something like the following list) 
Radioactive decay in physics
Reaction rates in chemistry
Population growth in biology
Compound interest in finance
Moore's law in computer science
And many, many other things.

God is like that, except he's even more foundational than math. So God, being the foundation on which everything else is built, comes up in all the disciplines.

On the other end of the spectrum, let's take history as an example of a relatively "comprehensive" discipline. A "comprehensive" discipline will include all the discipline that it's built on. Even if we take a relatively narrow historical topic, such as the history of World War II, we find that it encompasses all the "smaller" disciplines. In the history of WWII, we find: (again, consider having the students brainstorm up examples like these)
Physics, in the development of weaponry such as the V-2 rockets, the radar, or the atomic bomb.
Psychology, in the study of the state of mind of soldiers, especially in examples of people like kamikaze pilots or the participants of Omaha beach landing.
Economics, in the relative industrial output of the United States which gave it an insurmountable long-term advantage in the war, and its relation to the Great Depression beforehand.
Ethics, in the debate over the appropriateness of the atomic bombings, or in the horrible war atrocities that were committed.
And many other subjects.

God is like history - except he's even more comprehensive. So the knowledge of God, being the biggest, most comprehensive thing, includes all the other disciplines.

Thus, God is the one which all truths - all the subjects of human study - are based on, and the one which all truths are about. He can therefore be found in any field of study.
This is why the Bible says that the following about God: (Look these up with the group)
"In him we live and move and have our being" (Acts 17:28)
"[There is] one God and Father of all, who is over all, and through all, and in all" (Eph. 4:5-6)
"[Christ is] the fullness of [God] who fills everything in every way" (Eph. 1:22-23)
"He is before all things, and in him all things hold together" (Col. 1:16-17)

And that is what (to me, in this context) is meant by "the LORD is one". There isn't a separate god of the sun, a god of nature, a god of mathematics, a god of morality, a god of logic, a god of beauty, a god of art, and a hundred other subjects we can name. There is one God who is above all and in all and through all. What is our response to this? The verses of the Shema go on to describe it (read on with the group). "Hear, O Israel, the LORD our God, the LORD is one. You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and all your soul and all your mind and all your strength". We are to love God with the entirety of our being, because God the one God over everything. And you are to love the Lord your God in your studies as a part of loving him with our whole being.

So, no matter what your field of study is, it is based on God, and it is about God. It says something about God, and God says something about it. Your job, as a Christian who is in your particular field, is to find out what these "something"s are so that you may love God more perfectly.

That, then, is the understanding with which you should approach your studies.

How do professors and students in your major view the world in approaching their field of study?
What leads others in your field to pursue that field? What are their goals in studying your discipline?
How do you view the world, and what goals you have in studying your discipline?
Work out the practical examples of how you see God in your major. What does your field of study reveal about God? What does God say about your field of study?

You may next want to read:
How physics fits within Christianity (part 1)
How physics fits within Christianity (part 2)
Another post, from the table of contents

"Proving" God's existence

Any god who needs to submit himself to an external system of proof to validate his existence is of little interest to me. The God I worship is the very source of all such systems of proof, whether they be logical, mathematical, scientific, archaeological, or historical. How will these systems prove that my God exists, when they cannot even prove that they themselves are true? When they owe even their own existence to the existence of God?

Very well, then. The existence of God cannot be proven. Not because his existence is tenuous or uncertain, but because there is no system beyond God with which God can be judged to exist. Does that mean that all the efforts of Christendom, from Biblical times to the 21st century, directed at finding the proofs of God are futile?

Certainly not. They show us that God, taken together with the world that he created, is self-consistent. And self-consistency is the highest level of verification which can be expected from the truth of the highest order. Furthermore, beyond demonstrating the consistency of Christianity, they are also useful for assaulting the inconsistent paradigms which raise themselves up against God.

I intend to show that God, as revealed in Jesus Christ, is the one axiom that generates all other truths in the world. That he is the perfect explanation for all that exists in the universe. That is how you "prove" a postulate. Postulates are unproven by definition - you may say that they are "taken on faith" - but if a result of a postulate agrees with a fact that we observe in the world, then those two things taken together are self-consistent. I then repeat this process for every fact in the world.

For my God is the one Father of all, who is above all, and in all, and through all. All of creation was made by him and for him, and therefore all things can be found in him, as he can be found in all things.

You may next want to read:
Science as evidence for Christianity (Summary and Conclusion)
The word "If" does not apply to God
Another post, from the table of contents