Essentials of Wesleyan Theology - Lesson 8

Person and Work of Christ

The church councils that met in the 4th century focused on clarifying the deity and humanity of Jesus, resulting in the statement that Jesus is both divine and human and has one nature. Part of the mystery of the incarnation is how we perceive space and time. The message of the incarnation is that God identifies with the human lot and understands us from the inside out. (Ppt 4)

Steve Seamands
Essentials of Wesleyan Theology
Lesson 8
Watching Now
Person and Work of Christ

I. Introduction to Christology

A. Definitions and Key Terms

B. Importance of Studying Christology

II. The Person of Christ

A. The Preexistence of Christ

B. The Incarnation

1. The Virgin Birth

2. Hypostatic Union

III. The Work of Christ

A. Christ's Life and Ministry

B. The Atonement

1. Theories of Atonement

2. Wesleyan Perspectives on Atonement

C. Christ's Resurrection and Ascension

IV. The Second Coming of Christ

A. Different Views on the Second Coming

B. Wesleyan Eschatology

  • By studying the Essentials of Wesleyan theology, you learn about its historical roots, key principles, and the importance of grace, holiness, and Christian perfection in this theological perspective.
  • Through this lesson, you gain a thorough understanding of Wesleyan theology, its tasks, key theological perspectives, and distinctives, providing you with a solid foundation for further exploration of the Wesleyan tradition.
  • In this lesson, you gain insight into Wesleyan theology's goal of pursuing holiness through sanctification, understanding the three stages and the practical implications for discipleship, spiritual growth, and the church's role.
  • In this lesson, you explore the doctrine of God in Wesleyan theology, learning about His attributes, the Trinity, and His relationship with creation.
  • Through this lesson, you gain a deep understanding of the Trinity from a Wesleyan perspective, exploring its scriptural basis, historical development, and practical implications for Christian living.
  • This lesson deepens your understanding of the Trinity from a Wesleyan perspective, emphasizing its historical development, implications for Christian faith, and the significance of love and relationship within the Godhead.
  • Gain insight into Wesleyan theology's Doctrine of Creation, its biblical basis, and the practical implications it has on understanding God's sovereignty, human responsibility, and stewardship of creation.
  • Through this lesson, you gain insights into Wesleyan theology's understanding of Christ's person and work, exploring key concepts like the Incarnation, Atonement, and Second Coming.
  • In this lesson, you gain insight into the incarnation of Jesus Christ, its dual nature, and its implications in revealing God's nature, redemption, atonement, and modeling holiness.
  • In this lesson, you gain a comprehensive understanding of the Cross of Christ in Wesleyan theology, exploring atonement theories, the scope and application of atonement, and its impact on the believer's life.
  • By studying the Cross of Christ Part 2, you gain insights into the theological concepts of the cross and the unique features of Wesleyan theology, ultimately learning how to apply these principles in your daily Christian life.
  • By examining the significance of the resurrection in Wesleyan theology, you gain insight into its foundational role in Christian faith, its connection to justification and sanctification, and its far-reaching theological implications for believers.

In this class on the Essentials of Wesleyan Theology, you explore the historical background and development of Methodism, its key doctrines, and the unique approach to Scripture that John Wesley promoted. You gain a deeper understanding of prevenient grace, justification, assurance, sanctification, and the concept of Christian perfection. Furthermore, you learn about Wesley's quadrilateral of authority, his emphasis on holiness, and the impact of Wesleyan theology on social reform, evangelism, and contemporary Christian thought and practice.

Dr. Steve Seamands
Essentials of Wesleyan Theology
Person and Work of Christ
Lesson Transcript

[00:00:22] I was reading the the 71st Psalm and studying the 71st Psalm a while back. And this song is generally considered one of the Psalms of help. In the Psalter as songwriters and comment and scholars kind of categorized the songs. You know, you've got different kinds of songs. You get words like this, Oh God, do not be far from me. Oh, God may case to help me let my accusers be put to shame and concerned. Let those who seek to hurt me be covered with scorn and disgrace. It's a psalm of a man, somebody who's crying out to God, who feels hemmed in, pressured by his enemies and so forth. And he cries out as as you see in verse 12, Don't be far from me. Make haste to help me. This is a song of help. But interestingly enough, in this particular Psalm, there's a lot of emphasis on praise. A lot of emphasis on praise. Now there are songs of praise, right? The last five psalms in the Psalter are all just you got a kind of a crescendo of praise in those last five Psalms. And there are other songs that the scholars would say, Well, that's a sum of price, but this is actually some of help. And you see, for example, in verse 14, but I will hope continually and I will praise you yet more and more. And then he goes on my mouth will tell of your righteous acts, of your deeds of salvation. All day long I will come praising the mighty deeds of the Lord God. I will praise your righteousness. Yours alone. If you study this Psalm, you'll find that there's actually a couple of references to old age. This guy talks about gray hairs. So we get the impression that we're talking about an older person here and someone that has learned that in the midst of trouble and in the midst of situations in our lives where we would naturally tend to want to call out to God for help.

[00:02:28] That's our natural human response. Help, Lord. I'm feeling overwhelmed and hemmed in. But this the summer seems to have learned. That there's power in praise, that in the midst of problems, yes, we cry out to God for help. But in the midst of problems, we also kind of learn to turn away from the problem and we give praise. And thanks to God, I will come praising the mighty deeds of the Lord God. I will praise your righteousness, yours alone. I wonder if you've learned this in your Christian journey, the power of praise, particularly in the midst of problems and difficulties. Because this this person seems to have learned that James Luther May's, who for my money has written on what the best commentary on the songs. If you were going to if you can say, Well, give me one commentary on the Psalms, I'd say, Get John James Luther May's commentary. It's an interpretation series of commentaries. This guy is a wonderful was a wonderful scholar who taught a seminar on the Psalms for 30 years. And out of that work produced what I think is just a wonderful, helpful commentary. A lot of commentaries have a lot of interesting information in them, but they aren't that helpful. Have you discovered have you figured that out? Well, I think he's written a helpful commentary. So he says more than most prayers for help. This one is focused on praise. The psalmist described his life as occupied with praise and looks to a future whose days are full of praise. So why is there power in? Praise. Y has their power and praise. You know, I've been around long enough to remember a little book by Merlin Crothers. You're nodding your head down and maybe from prison to praise.

[00:04:28] You remember. This was back in the 1970s and kind of in the height of the Charismatic Movement. He wrote a book called From Prison to Praise, and maybe a book even called Power and Praise. Frankly, back in those days. I was a little leery of that. You know, it's almost like praise was turning into a room service, but. That you just pushed, you know, any time you wanted to get something from God. There were other people. It seemed to me that praise was kind of a form of not facing reality. You know, just kind of going around sort of a little Christian Jack in the box and popping out all the time saying, Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, praise the Lord. So I was a little. Turned off and sort of skeptical about all that. But I think as I've lived life, I've begun to understand. I think what he was trying to get at. And in the summer some I think you see a man who faces reality head on is living in the midst of problems and difficulties and yet finds himself. Turning to price. So why why is there power in price? Well, one of the things that I think the scripture teaches and that I've learned is that praise has a way of enthrone in God. In the situation. You may be familiar with this verse in this 22nd Psalm. The Lord inhabits the praises of Israel. And actually the Hebrew word their your job can be also translated. The Lord dwells in is enthroned upon. I don't know what your particular translation says there. It's translated in different ways. The Lord inhabits. The praises of Israel. Dwells upon the praises of Israel. There's an interesting Japanese contemporary translation. I love it.

[00:06:40] That puts that verse this way. When God's people praise him, he brings a big chair and sits there. Our God inhabits prays. Praise and thrones God in a situation. Why does it do that, though? Well, let me just before I go there, here's a statement from Jack Hayford I like that sort of makes the same point about praise and throwing in God. He says. Praise lays a foundation for God's ruling power to descend upon for his thrones, rule and intent to dwell in the middle of our model. Praise makes a place for God's rule is thrown to rest and thereby begins to overrule. The furious hell is working around us. Yeah. So have you ever felt like that that you were in the middle of a muddle? And prays lays the foundation for God to come. And to send their. But why does praise Enthrone God? Let me just share one thing this morning, and maybe tomorrow morning we'll come back and I'll share another reason why I think Praise in Thrones God and therefore in a sense, release is God's presence in that situation. If you stop and think about it, praise is is a form of surrender. Or relinquishment. What's our normal sort of default? Human reaction. When we're in the middle of a muddle, when bad things seem to be happening to us, when we're confused, when we're overwhelmed, when we're frustrated, we you know, we cry out to God and we say, why, Lord, why is this happening to me? We say, Lord, why don't you take this away? Get this out of my life. Change this. Sometimes we. We get angry at God. Sometimes we question God. We, you know. We complain, we grumble. I don't know about you, but those are my sort of default reactions.

[00:09:05] But when you praise, what do you have to do? When you praise God, isn't there a sense in which you you say, Lord, I don't really like this. I wish this wasn't so. But that's okay. You don't have to explain. I'm trusting you. I'm declaring that you're still God, that you're still in charge. That you're still in control. I have to, in a sense, surrender. You know. My desire to understand. My tendency to want to be bitter. Or complain. Or be resentful about the situation. Or even to kind of measure the situation purely in a human way. I have I have to give those things up. I have to give them up. And I just say, That's okay, Lord. I'm going to acknowledge you as God. And declare that your God, that you're the Lord, regardless of this model that I'm in and all the stuff that seems to be saying just the opposite around me. You see, it's a it's a form of surrender, isn't it? A form of relinquishment. Now, I'm not saying it's resignation. In my mind, there's a difference between relinquishment and resignation. A kind of a fatalism of just saying, Well, this is terrible and, you know, a kind of a passive resignation. Now, there may need some to be some things done to change the situation. Do you understand? There may need to be steps taken. To try to fix this and try to make it's not a resignation, but it is a surrendering of the situation to God to say you're in control. It's interesting, in Hebrews, there's that verse that talks about a sacrifice of praise. Speaking of the 1970s, there was another little. Praise chorus that we use to sing. We bring the sacrifice of praise into the house of the Lord.

[00:11:29] And when you sacrifice, don't you give something up? In praise. You give up something, You give up your right to be in control. You give up your right to understand, to be better, to be rent resentful. Praise is in a sense, refusing to shake an accusing finger at God. And to say, Why me? Why this? It's to say, okay, Lord, I'm acknowledging you as God in the midst of this. And I think that's one of the reasons why there's power in it. You see, it's our desire to be independent by being in control that makes us unavailable to God. And praise moves us out of that place. Well, I was reading a sermon a number of years ago on Praise in a magazine that was written by a Presbyterian pastor named Richard Beyer. I remember that. And he told an interesting story about that kind of illustrates this. He he was leading a morning Bible study group in his local church. At one particular meeting, there was a woman in her in her late thirties who had been in that group for quite a while. She got there about 15 minutes late. They had already begun. He was teaching the lesson. Well, about 10 minutes after she'd gotten there, all of a sudden she just came unglued and started sobbing. Well, he stopped teaching and said to her, What is it? Is there something we can pray with you about? She said, Well, you know, you all know me. You all know my husband and I. We've been doing everything. We know how to try to conceive children. For the last dozen years or so. She said, I just came from the doctor. He told me that humanly possible. This is not going to ever happen.

[00:13:28] Richard Bar said that this woman and her husband had actually adopted a couple of kids. They really wanted to have children, but there was still a lot of disappointment and pain in her heart and disappointment and resentment and hurt. About this whole thing. So, you know, he's hearing her share her heart and more speaks to him. As to what he needs to say to her. And it's one of those things that, you know, God, if you're not in this, I'm in trouble. Words that he seems to be getting. Not what we would teach you to say to someone in a pastoral care and counseling class, probably. But finally, you know, he he resisted for a while. But finally, you know, he said to her something like this, you know how much we love you and and how sorry we are. About all this. But he said, I'm just wondering. Even in the midst of this. Could you pray and give praise? And thanks to God. And he said, No, I'm not asking you to praise God for it. Because we don't want to make God the. Author of. Evil and suffering. But I'm wondering if can you praise God in it? Can you praise God in it? Well, he said from the look on her face. That. Seemed to be an absolutely ludicrous thing. To suggest. Yet. He said she was strangely silent after that. He went home that day, kind of kicking himself, thinking, you know, I should probably shouldn't have said that to her. I didn't hear the Lord. Right. I must I must, you know. You know how you do sometimes. But they came back the next week and. Oh, they were. Having their Bible study all of a sudden in the middle of it, she just suddenly just blurts out, I think I'm ready now.

[00:15:47] Well, everybody in that circle in that group knew exactly what that meant. So he just stopped what he was doing and went over and they gathered around her and he said, All right, well, you you pray and. And you give praise in the midst of this. And she began to pray. And. Give praise and thanks. And Richard Bar said the healing was much more sudden and dramatic than he had anticipated. He said, and I'm quoting him now, as if a stopper had been pulled out of a bottle. A dozen years of resentment and disappointment. And frustration seemed to just came flooding out of that woman. Well, it may not be. That dramatic. In most situations. But I don't know about you. But I found that. When I move from resisting to surrendering. You know, I'm resisting the situation. I'm mad. I'm frustrated at. Just take this away and get me out of this. To Lord. Okay. Whether you do or not, I'm going to love you and praise you anyway. But something seems to shift in me. Although the situation may not change. I'm changed to be able to live in that situation with joy. And Grace. So I think that's probably one of the reasons why. The Lord inhabits praise. And I just want us to pray together and. Well, let's pray. No, Lord, we do come before you this morning. Rejoicing. In the stay that you have made. And making a choice today to be glad and it. We thank you for who you are, for your grace, toward us. For your affection toward us. And Lord, we want to bring you anything in our life right now that is kind of like a. A burr under our skin. Something that's irritating, an irritant.

[00:18:44] And anything lower that we have. Qatar resisted and. Resented. Yes, Lord. It may be a very frustrating, difficult thing, but, Lord, search our hearts. Maybe there's some particular person. That you've put in our life that. We would wish weren't. In our life. Some of that just drives us crazy. Whatever, Lord, we just come today to say. In the midst of that, like the psalmist. Yet. I will praise you more and more. We want to give you praise. We want to declare that you're still Lord. Now that you're lord of that arena and that situation. And we choose Lord not to resist, but to surrender. To embrace. You know, to offer that to you is something that you can use for our redemption. And the redemption of others. Something that you can use to manifest your glory. Your presence. So Lord be enthroned upon. Rule in that situation. Well, I have one more point to make about the significance of the incarnation. We've said. The incarnation means that God has identified. Completely with a human lot. He's in it with us. Eyeball to eyeball, heart to heart. He's not aloof. He's the he's not the unmoved mover as a he's the fellow sufferer who understands. He has a manual god with us. One of the things that I've noticed when you talk to typical seminar students about. The message of Christmas and the message of the incarnation and the little essay that you had to write. Why all this fuss about Christmas? That a lot of students immediately want to rush to. Jesus came to save us from our sins. And that's not a bad thing to get to. Obviously we think of the words of the angel to marry. You shall call his name Jesus.

[00:21:32] For his. You'll save his people from their sins. That's a part. We've talked about redemption here. And it's, you know, at its finest that he it's not only about this identification, but it's about this redemption that he's bringing. But what I would say is I think we need to slow down here a little bit. And focus on this theme of identification with a human life. But we talked about last night. If you're following the churches at all and even loosely. What's coming after Christmas. Well, know you're going to move into the season of Lent, and even if you don't formally call it that, you're going to begin to think about his death leading up to Good Friday and Easter, aren't you? So but sometimes we're so quick to want to get to that, save his people from their sins that we don't, I think are nicely and rightfully stressed. That theme of identification. They're all important. But I think one that we might press a little harder on. But the third theme that I want that I think is the So what of the incarnation is that the incarnation means that God has revealed. Both what he is like and what we are meant to be. It's it's a it's a fullness of revelation here. Isn't that it's going on. No one has ever seen God. Says John in his Prolog just a few verses after the word was made flesh and dwelt among us. The only son who is in the bosom of the father, he has made him known. Something's happened here to make known the heart of the father. No one has ever seen God. He has seen me. Jesus says later on, you remember to fill up. Has seen the father.

[00:23:29] So this revelation. That comes to us in the Incarnation. Now, we believe that there's a revelation that's been being been going on as Christians in the Old Testament. God's revealing himself to a people. In fact, he's getting them ready, isn't he? So that when this revelation comes, they'll have a context to put it in. So it's really important, but there's a final and a fullness of revelation in the person of Jesus Christ. Here in the Incarnation. So much so that for us Christians, the proper question is not really to ask what is God like? Which is the question we tend to want to ask. What is God like? But actually, the proper question to ask is, is God Christ like? Is God Christ like. That's the burden, isn't it? That's the message that God is Christlike. That God is Christ like. That's where we take our stand. Not getting, in a sense, into some big general discussion about what God's like. It puts us into the category of, you know, general spirituality and all that. We want to go to the mat. We want to argue that he's that God is Christlike. As Peterson, I think puts it so well in that in his translation of John 114, I already quoted some of it last night. The word became flesh and blood and moved into our neighborhood. Into the neighborhood, but not as what he says. We say that we should that should be we saw the glory. With our own eyes. The one of a kind glory. Like father, like son. I love that phrase. Like father. Like son. Generous inside and out. True. From start to finish, we say like father, like son here. He who has seen me, has seen the father.

[00:25:50] This fullness of revelation. That comes in the person of Jesus Christ. This is a part of the good news, the message of Christ of Christmas. A lot of folks have various ideas about who God is and what he's like. But here's where we put our claim right here. As as Clement said, through Christ coming, we see as in a mirror, a spotless and excellent and loving face of God. This is good news. We don't ever have to wonder. What God is like. Or any time that question gets raised. I think this has practical pastoral implications. I mean. Because people do have concepts of God and a lot of them are pretty screwy. And sometimes people express their wonderment about, well, I'm not really sure what how God feels toward me or what you know, how God is. And here's the place where we take them back, don't you think, to who Jesus is. And well, just look at Jesus. What does that tell you? And that has a way, don't you think, of of taking something that can be very sort of ethereal and abstract and making it very concrete. And able for people to get a hold of. Narrows the discussion down. As I say, it has pastoral implications. I quoted something last night from Tom Torrence, the Scottish theologian, and one of his writings. He talks about how he had two experiences in his life. In quite different settings, and yet they both seem to be the people that were asking him a question. We're asking him this the same question Will God really turn out to be like Jesus? He was a British. A military chaplain in World War Two. And he was holding an 18 year old soldier in his arms who was dying.

[00:28:14] And basically what that soldier wanted to know in that moment is, can I be sure? Well, that really turned out to be like Jesus. Like I've. Been taught. Like I've been led to believe. Like I wanted to believe. And then Torrent said years later he was pastoring a church in Scotland. He was in the home of an elderly, saintly woman. Who also was near the point of death. And she, in effect. Wanted to know the same thing. You know, I've served him all these years. I've walked with him. But can I, you know. Well, God really turn out to be like Jesus. And Torrence makes the point. He says, God is indeed really like Jesus. And there is no unknown God behind the back of Jesus for us to fear. To say the Lord Jesus is to see the very face of God. And that is good news. That is good news, isn't it? There's been this revelation at its fullest that's been given here in the face of Jesus Christ. And we stake our claim on that. We rest our case on this as Christians. It's also not only a revelation of what God is like, but in the end Jesus Christ, in the face of Jesus Christ. Don't we also get a revelation of what humanity is supposed to look like, what we're supposed to be? So Brunner says the meaning of the divine creation of humanity, the fact that humanity is made in the image of God, is only fully disclosed in this divine act of the Incarnation. As I said before, we're image bearers were created in God's image. But what what does that mean? What is it supposed to look like? Christ, who is the image of God? Says Paul and Second Corinthians.

[00:30:37] He is the image of the invisible God. Colossians 115. That phrase image, the Greek word there, you know, is icon. He's the icon. I've got the image of the invisible God. He images. What? Genesis one. What is it? 25 and 26 says. Created in God's image. Well, don't we see that image finally reflected? Lived out the way it's supposed to be here. That's part of that. Redemption thing that we talked about last night, and Torrence talked about how he throughout his whole life, he's living it out. He's he's the second Adam who's doing it right. He images what God is supposed to be. And, you know, of course, you and I are to be renewed in the knowledge in the image of its creator. That's that's this new self in Christ. We're putting off the old self and putting on the new self. That's what we're supposed to be conformed to. According to Romans 829, predestined to be conformed to the image of his son. So in Jesus Christ, not only do we get this wonderful revelation of what God is like, but what human beings are supposed to look like. Vernon Grant says that God's goal for his people is conformity to the model of personhood that Jesus lived out. Well, think about our culture. And I guess most human cultures, they may not be asking questions. About what is God like? At least you won't hear that much talk about that on the talk shows because we've tend to want it to privatize that, haven't we? It's okay for you to believe what you believe, but just don't bring it into the public arena. Those are the rules. But everyone's asking the question. In effect, what are human beings supposed to be? What are they supposed to look like? How? You know? So what's what's the American.

[00:32:47] Ideal. What does our culture say? You know? What are we supposed to do to be fulfilled? How does the culture answer that? Every person on the planet wants to know the answer to one question. Why am I here? Why am I here? Okay. What's the American sort of cultural answer to that question? Cultural differences, Individuality and wealth. Yeah. Kind of find out. Who you're supposed to be and be all that you can be kind of. But you put yourself at the center in a sense of the. So it is, isn't it? It and it and it can lead to a to a narcissism that. It's often in our culture books have been written about that. But yeah, if you find yourself in a sense by focusing on yourself and you know, that may not be the way an Asian culture would answer the question or an African culture. Their answer would probably be more communal, wouldn't it? Should find yourself. And your family and your community and whatnot. But but it's very it's very self-centered here. Well, so what does Jesus so what's Jesus model of personhood? What? How would you contrast it? Giving to others, being a servant. Christ was the true servant. You find yourself by losing yourself, and you find yourself by really asking the question, What's the will of God? Right and living. You know, the first part of the Lord's Prayer that kingdom come asking by saying praying that kingdom come, thy will be done on Earth as it is in heaven. And and, you know, your your life is caught up in. God's will. That's a different answer, isn't it? To the end to that question? Or think about the question of what? What is it that makes a person free? And we think of freedom as freedom from constraint, freedom from having anyone to be able to tell you anything of what you have versus this this freedom.

[00:35:09] To lay your life down for the sake of another freedom to live in. You know, I guess what I'm trying to say here is don't I think I think Jesus actually has better answers. To these basic human questions. By the way, maybe the reason why Rick Warren's Purpose Driven Life was such a. A big phenomenon, what, three or four years ago, maybe longer than that, but was because he was saying to people, you know, it's not about you. And laying out, trying to answer that basic those basic kinds of questions. But what we're saying is that that in in Jesus Christ, we have this perfect revelation of God. And what we also have this revelation of what it means to be fully human. And maybe the way to start in our culture is actually with this. Because this is where people are, obviously. This is where they're itching. Even though maybe that's not the main question. This is the good news that we do have an answer for. For and I want to go on to suggest that the significance of the incarnation is the revelation that comes to us. Here we were talking about a fullness of revelation, of God and of humanity, but in a way that's perfectly suitable for us. You were kind of last night at one point, Rob, talking about the Trinity and this this relational. Thing about God and I forget what exactly. But you were. You remember what I'm talking about? I'm talking about. You were just stressing the. Yeah. God comes to us in relationship, and that and relationship is at the heart of things. And what I'm saying, what I want to say here is that the. The revelation comes in a personal form. How does it come? You know, just gonna write it up.

[00:37:20] In the clouds. Or as in Islam. Revelations in a book. Isn't it in a sense it Muslims look on the Koran the same way we look on the incarnate cry on on the on the second person, the Trinity and Incarnate Christ. They look upon the Koran that same way. But it's you see it. But the nature of that medium is different. And what we're saying here is the revelation comes in a personal form. And unlike the Old Testament, where you have an Old Testament, scholars have picked up on this and pointed it out. You have revelation that comes through deeds. Such as Gods Mighty acts at the Red Sea. He opens the waters of the Red Sea and the people march through and revelation comes through deeds. Revelation also comes through words. The words of the prophets, the teaching, the law, you know. So you have words, Indeed. But what happens is, in Jesus word and deed come together. Word and deed come together, don't they? So if we talk about demonstration. Demonstration of power and a word sermon. Kind of like an ax three after they've healed the blind man and they say, Well, here's what's happened. And they start talking about Jesus, you know. And the need for that. I think John Weber and the Vineyard movement. Has stressed that. Not enough just to talk about all this. But after we've preached that, let's let's ask God to come show up and do what we've preached about. You know, let's just not talk about the food that's on the menu. Let's let people eat some of the let's let people order and eat some. But you see in the person of Jesus Christ how those things come together. Robert Oppenheimer. Who was a scientist who was actually involved in the Manhattan Project.

[00:39:43] And then he made a I think, a profound statement when he said the best way to export an idea is to wrap it up in a person. Personification of ideas. Just like Soul world. Yeah, that's because we are persons who long for the personal. We long to see this. We see the reality embodied, don't we, in a in a person. You know, there was a man sent from God. His name was John. And what people need is to see God with skin on, as someone has put it. And what we see here in this form of revelation is not revelation as word just or as deed. But the two are just sort of coming together and in perfect harmony and oneness. It's not just the nature, the revelation, but it's the way it comes. That's the miracle of the incarnation and the wonder of the Incarnation. Again, in this little book, the word became flesh. Stanley Jones says an exact statement of ethical moralism leaves us cold and unmoved. Only as principles are embodied in a person do they become power. And we would never have known what the principles meant had we not seen them illustrated in the person. It's interesting. He wrote that in around 1960 in that little devotional book. But his very first book as a young missionary in India, written in 1925. Called the Christ of the Indian Road. He's already talking about this. You know, and emphasizing this. Let me read what he writes. A little bit of just making the same point. Jesus did not discourse on the sacredness of motherhood. He's suckled as a baby at his mother's breast. And that scene has forever consecrated motherhood. He did not discourse on the dignity of labor. He worked at a carpenters bench and his hands were hit, were hard with a wall of making yolks and plows.

[00:42:12] And this forever makes the toil of the hands honorable. He did not teach in a didactic way about the worth of children. He put his hands upon them and blessed them in setting one in their midst, tersely said of such as the Kingdom of God. He did not paint in glowing colors the beauties of friendship and the need for human sympathy. He wept at the grave of a friend. He did not argue the worth of womanhood and the necessity of giving women equal rights. He treated them with infinite respect, gave to them his most sublime teaching. And when he rose from the dead, he appeared first to a woman. He did not teach in that schoolroom manner the necessity of humility. He girded himself instead with a towel and kneel down and washed his disciples feet. See? Now, there tends to be an emphasis today on the need for demonstration, which I think is a good a really good emphasis, as opposed to simply a verbalization. I've heard it quoted so often now that I'm kind of getting. Tired of it. That statement is often attributed to France of Saint Francis of Assisi. Quote it for me. Then it's something. Yeah. You just guessing. Okay. Wherever you go, preach the gospel whenever necessary, use when necessary, use words. You know, there's a strong emphasis on the need to kind of. Show this. Not just tell it. Certainly both. It's a both. And though it's. It really is. And I think I grew up in an a culture that was still more modern. Well, it wasn't post-modern yet as opposed to modern. And I think one of the shifts has as partly occurred over that issue right there, I notice the students today, you don't have to convince them of this.

[00:44:20] They they just understand, for example, there needs to be a personal demonstration. Caring for the poor and being involved in social ministries and those kinds of things. Man, when I was a student, evangelical Christians were fighting about whether, you know, the gospel is personal or social. You don't have to you don't have to fight that battle. With 20 somethings today. They understand that, you know, But sometimes you can go so strong on the demonstration side that you downplay the need for verbalization. It's word and deed, isn't it, that do need to come together. If you don't tell them what this means, they'll misinterpret. What it means. And so there's a need to hold those two together. But we see those things coming together here in the Incarnation. Well, we want to shift over and begin thinking now, focusing our attention on on the work of Christ, and particularly the cross of Christ. It's interesting when we we get to the cross of Christ, the center of his work, Gabriel Thacher says that our understanding of the work of Christ is our Christian faith in microcosm. What we have to say about this teaching is the key to how we read the whole Christian story. Well, I guess it's no accident, is it? That that's our logo? That's our symbol. That wherever you go around the around the world, it's the cross. And so that that really is the center of it. Brunner likewise says that the person who understands the cross a right understands the Bible. Understands. Jesus Christ. James Denny, who wrote a wonderful book called The Death of Christ in the late 19th century, says The cross is Christianity and Breathe in. It is wrapped up every truth of the Christian religion. Your understanding of God, for example, is played out.

[00:46:25] Don't you think, in your understanding of the cross. Your understanding of God's love and God's holiness, for example, that we talked about last month is reflected here in the cross. And so that's what I think he means when he says that the cross is Christianity in brief and that other truths are wrapped up in it. And yet it's interesting that unlike the person of Christ, where you have this clear kind of consensus among Eastern Orthodox, among Roman Catholic, among Protestant, going back to Charles Sadan, where there's been this consensual agreement on the meaning of the person of Christ, You don't have that when it comes, in a sense, to the work of Christ or to the death of Christ. You don't have a common consensus view in terms of what the significance of that is. It's obviously very important, The Apostles Creed said Suffer says suffered under Pontius Pilot was crucified, dead and was buried. And yet, other than stating the fact, you might say there's no attempt to interpret that. So why is it that even though this is the most important thing you might say. There's less consensus here than there is on the person of Christ. Well, I think the reason for that is that the New Testament itself. Seems to interpret and present the cross, not simply in terms of one way of thinking about it, one meaning, but it uses a lot of different metaphors and images to kind of get at the meaning of the death of Christ. Why did he die? What was the significance of his death? One biblical scholar has actually said what you have here is a cascade of images, a cascade of images. And if you begin to think of all the biblical metaphors related to the work of Christ, we'll walk through these in just a minute.

[00:48:23] But what you find is that the New Testament writers draw metaphors and images from the Old Testament. Which for them really was the immediate background. They were Jews. They had been rooted and grounded in the Old Testament. But they also draw images and metaphors that spoke profoundly and deeply into the Greco-Roman context that they were evangelizing and preaching in. And so you see them using both of these contexts to help people understand the meaning of the death of Christ, the meaning of the work of Christ. For example, there are words and images and metaphors that sort of take you to the Old Testament sacrificial system as played out in the in the context of the temple. And words such as understanding his death as sacrifice or using that word blood. The blood of Jesus Christ. Cleanses us from all sin. Words like purification, cleansing, and even the word atonement itself. These are all words drawn from that pool of images. Think, for example, of some of these the scriptures. John one 2029 Behold the LAMB of God who takes away the sin of the world. Now, when John the Baptist makes a statement like that, you see how he's using. Images and metaphors. That any Jew would understand and relate to. Hebrews 928 says Christ was sacrificed. Wants to take away the sins of many people. And here again, the whole book of Hebrews puts you in that Old Testament sacrificial context, doesn't it? A whole lot. First, John one nine, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us. So cleansing. And finally, first, John 410 God sent his son as a. Atoning sacrifice the Greek word there is hell Austrian. The King James translates it as perpetuation for our sins.

[00:50:40] The NUA, the RSV says expiation. That leads you into a big debate over whether it has to do with averting wrath or annulling guilt. Most of the newer translations just choose to translate that as atoning sacrifice. Just like the blood is sprinkled by the priest to atone for sin in the Old Testament. Similar. Similar. So you have temple imageries and metaphors, and then you have words and metaphors drawn from. You might say the legal system. The law court. Words like judgment. Punishment justification. God presented him as a sacrifice of atonement. Paul says in Romans chapter three. That's kind of going back to the temple metaphor. But then he turns around and says in that he did this to demonstrate his justice. So as to be just. And the justifier who justifies the man who has faith in Jesus. Other references there as well. That kind of puts you in that legal context. Of course, the Protestant reformers were really drawn to that kind of language, weren't they? The language of justification by faith, the transference of a person from being guilty to not guilty. And you'll read more about that in the last chunk of material in Odin where he walks you through the order of salvation and justification is a key point in that marketplace. Language and metaphors. So you have words like debt. And purchase and. Payment and redemption. Think of, for example, x 2028 be shepherds of the Church of God, which he bought with his own blood. This is commercial language, isn't it? Buying things. Galatians 313 He Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us. And first, Peter 118 and 19 talks about how that we were redeemed not with silver and gold.

[00:52:56] But with the precious blood. Christ. That word redemption, that idea of buying things something back. That's a marketplace metaphor. It's interesting. A missionary translator was over in West Africa. Trying to put the New Testament in the language of the Bambara, people that live in in West Africa. And, you know, missionary translators have a problem because sometimes there is no word in a language for the word you're trying to translate from Greek into their language. So what do you do? You know, what do you do? How do you translate that? Well, if you took a course in linguistics, particularly in relationship to. Missionary work. If you're going to be a work love translator, you'd learn all about this sort of thing when you're you'd have to. But they have this concept of dynamic equivalence. So you're using something to try to convey the same meaning, although you don't have an exact word to do it. Anyway, this missionary translator's trying to convey the meaning of this word redemption to an old African because they don't have a word exactly for that in their language. So he was trying to say, well, here's what. Here's what it means. He's trying to convey this idea of buying back. Something. And finally, the light just goes on and the old African looks at him and he says, Oh, well, that's easy. When you translate that word redemption. Christ redeemed us. Just just say Christ took our heads out. What do you mean by that? Well, that was what the missionary wanted to know. Christ took our heads, Al. What do you mean, took our heads? That didn't seem to make sense. But the Africans said, Oh, he said, you know, years ago when the slave traders would come through here.

[00:55:04] They captured someone when they caught them, they would put an iron collar. Around their neck. We put them in chains and then they would chain them one to another and then they would drive them to the sea. But sometimes a wealthy. Chief or a relative of someone who who had been captured would go and they would barter with the traitor. For ivory and gold and precious stones and things like that. And they'd settle on a price. And the person would get bought back. And when they'd settled on a price, the slave trader would say to his assistant, Go and go take his head out. You know, unlock that collar. And so when you come to those places, say, Christ took our heads out, and the missionary translator said, By Jove, I think you've got it. Because he communicated the message powerfully and truly. Christ has taken our heads. That's the meaning, isn't it? We've been brought back. Not with things like silver and gold. But with his precious blood. So you have marketplace. Language. But then you also have images and metaphors to describe what Jesus does and that the reflect, you might say, the world of teaching pedagogy versus like Mark chapter one. People are amazed at his teaching because he taught them as one who had authority. And then this business of exemplifying we we've quoted that verse already, John 118 this morning. No one has ever seen God. The only son who's in the bosom of a father has has made him known. Has made him known. And first, Peter 221 talks about how we should he's left us an example that we should follow in his steps. So another important kind of way of thinking about the work of Christ. And then you have images and metaphors that are, you might say, military.

[00:57:26] Metaphors drawn from the field of of of battle and war. Words like captivity. And liberation and ransom and victory. Colossians 215 and having disarmed the principalities and powers, he made a public spectacle of them triumphing over them. By the cross. Picture of a Roman general kind of riding into town with the the enemy general that he's beaten, you know, in chains behind him, this business of the triumph of Christ and so forth. The man Christ Jesus. First Timothy two six, who gave himself as a ransom for us all. A ransom, a prisoner exchange kind of idea. Hebrews 214 and 15 speaks about that. By his death, he might destroy him. Who holds the power of death? That is the devil. Revelation five five Weep Not for the lion of the Tribe of Judah has conquered The whole Book of Revelation is a book that set. In this conflict metaphor between good and evil and, you know. You have that kind of language to describe what was accomplished. Then you have a. Images and language that just connote the idea of presence. Words. And of course, John, the gospel writers full of this kind of language, Disney and him was life. And his life was the life of men. We beheld his glory. John 812 I'm the light of the World. Anyway. The point being here is that sometimes it's just simply. The presence. Of God that that makes the diff the difference. And he brings God's presence. Lastly, we get images and metaphors drawn just from the world of human relationships. So words like reconciliation. Paul makes a big deal about that. In Second Corinthians chapter five, he talks about a ministry of reconciliation. He says that God was in Christ reconciling the world. To himself, not counting mentions against them.

[00:59:56] And in evasions, too, he speaks about Christ being our peace. Who has made the two one Jew and Gentile and destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility. So there's that kind of dimension here. Colossians chapter two or chapter one. And you, who once were estranged and hostile and mind. Doing evil deeds. He has now reconciled in the body of flesh by his death. So it's interesting how you've got all these different images and metaphors. Did you know there is such a thing as a seven string guitar? Well, I don't play the guitar, but those that students that did said, yeah, there's a seven string guitar. And so I'm saying there's seven strings on your guitar here. These different images and metaphors. One of the things I would say is when we speak about the work of Christ. I teach about the death of Christ in the work and the work of Christ. His life, death and resurrection is all part of this. We shouldn't just play on play it on one string, should we? No, there's a richness here. And the New Testament itself doesn't just say it one way. It wants to talk about this truth. This reality is so big. You can't just you can't just put it in one word or one way of thinking. Well, that may be true. And yet it does seem like at different times and in different cultural settings, you might say there's a metaphor or an image that seems to speak more powerfully or, you know. Grip people. So you might not say it the same way. And if you were an evangelist. Trying to communicate the gospel. You kind of have to pick. You can't preach. Maybe you can't preach them all in one sermon, can you? You've got to say, well, here's what Jesus did.

[01:02:06] And you've got to frame that in a particular way. It has been interesting over the 2000 years of church history. Several of these have kind of emerged. As sort of dominant motifs. And I think they've tended to emerge primarily because they spoke maybe deeply to the needs of a culture. They scratched where people were itching and they were used a lot, particularly in the propagation of the gospel and evangelizing. You know, it's kind of interesting, even Time magazine after Mel Gibson's film. Ask the question why that Jesus have to die? And raised the question. The reasons behind his sacrifice are debated in new. Throughout the history of the church, there's been particularly three major motifs or ways of describing the significance of the death of Christ that have been lifted up. These are generally referred to as theories of the atonement. Now think you've got a chart in ODE and you read a long chapter on the Death of Christ where he actually charts this out and actually has a fourth one as well in there. But these gentlemen, these are the three, the three ones that are lifted up. First of all, proclaiming the cross as a great victory that was won over Satan and the powers of evil known as the classic. Theory of the Atonement or sometimes the Christmas Victory Victor theory. And that was the dominant theme among the early church fathers. And that's not to say for a moment that they didn't emphasize in a sense, if you read their writings as they're doing biblical text work, as they work through parts of the New Testament, they they they speak about these others. But the dominant theme. Among the early church fathers. So for the first thousand years of church history, the major way that the church understood the cross was in terms of a victory of God over the forces of evil.

[01:04:23] Here's a quote from brother R.A.. That kind of reflects this view. Well, for Adam had become the devil's possession. And the devil held him under his power by having wrongly practiced deceit upon him. And by the offer of immortality made him subject to death. But by promising that that they should be as gods, which did not lie in his power, he worked death in them. This was the for the first thousand years, the prominent way that the church spoke and taught about the meaning of the cross. If you were to go to Africa today. And he read the chapter in Tenet's book on Christ as healer in Christ, his ancestor. And he talked some about that. But this is the way most African preachers would talk about what Jesus, who Jesus, what Jesus has done and what he has accomplished.