THE PURPOSE OF INCARNATION [THE SALVATION OF THE MANY]: BIBLICAL AND APOLOGETICAL DEFENSE OF THE INCARNATION OF CHRIST
by Vijay Chandra
The Bible teaches that the reason that the Son came into the world was to save sinners (1Timothy 1:15). The salvation of souls was the reason the Father sent the Son into the world (John 3:16, 17). The giving of the only Son clearly embraces both incarnation AND vicarious death; it is the entire mission of the Son that is in view. Paul writes, “This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief” (1 Timothy 1:15).
If a man had never sinned there would have been no reason for the Son to assume a human nature. The coming of Christ is always proposed in Scripture as a mission of salvation or as something connected to man’s deliverance. In the proto-evangel of Genesis 3:15 immediately after the fall, a promise is made to send a Savior who will crush the head of the serpent. Jesus’ mission of salvation is prominent in the birth narratives (Matthew 1:21, 25, Luke 1:31, 54, 67-70, John 1:12, 29, 36). It is the central message in our Lord’s first teaching in the synagogue (Luke 4:16-21); His one stated purpose in coming to earth (Matthew 9:13, 20:28)—to give His life a ransom for many. By typology, it is presented in the Old Testament as the very foundation of redemption [the word means ‘to buy back with a price’ (Genesis 4:4, Exodus 12:13, Leviticus 16:6-28)]. The prophets teach that the only path to salvation and victory for God’s people is the Messiah’s sacrificial death (Isaiah 53:1-12, Daniel 9:24, 25, 26). The epistles present Christ’s redemptive work as the foundation and axis of everything in the believer’s deliverance (Romans 3:21-28, 4:22, 23, 24, 25; 5:1, 2, Hebrews 2:14, 1 Timothy 1:15).
Although Jesus’ role as King and prophet is also emphasized in the Scriptures (Acts 3:22, Psalm 2:6, Luke 1:33), these aspects of His mediatorial work cannot be separated from His priestly work—His vicarious atonement. Christ does establish a kingdom as the God-man. He is the exalted king. The mediatorial kingdom, however, is a kingdom of grace. He directly governs His people by His Spirit and law-word. This governance, however, flows from His redemptive work. He was exalted at the resurrection as a reward for His redemptive obedience (Matthew 18:18 ff., Romans 1:4, Revelation 5:2-10). The Great Commission, the sending of His Holy Spirit and the spread of the gospel into all the world could only take place after the Savior’s suffering, death and resurrection. As a king, Jesus defends His people against the world, the flesh, and the devil. He rules the nations with a rod of iron (Revelation 2:27) for the sake of the church and the people (Ephesians 1:22).
The Mediator is also the prophet. Truth and Knowledge of the Father come directly from Him (John 1:17-18, 6:63, 7:17, 8:12, 14, 19, Hebrews 1:2). In Him, “are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” (Colossians 2:3). However, saving truth and a true knowledge of God cannot be separated from His redemptive work.
Because of man’s fall into sin, men are dead
- Spiritually dead (Ephesians 2:1, 2, 3, 4, 5), including Muslims, Hindus, etc.
- Men cannot repent of their sin (Jeremiah 13:23, 2 Peter 2:13, 14, 22).
- Cannot please God (Rom.8:6-8), do not seek Jehovah (Psalm 14:2, 3) and are under the power of Satan (2 Corinthians 4:3, 4, 2 Timothy 2:26), men dwell in darkness (John 1:45, 3:19-29) and are spiritually deaf and blind (Isaiah 6:9, 10) and are totally unable to understand or receive spiritual truth (John 3:3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 6:44, 45, 47). Christ’s redemptive work achieved the foundation or ground of salvation and its application to the sinner. That is why faith and repentance are gifts from God (John 3:3-8, 6:44,45, Ephesians 2:8, Philippians 1:29, 2 Peter 1:2). It is only because of our Lord’s life, death, and resurrection that men can have their eyes and ears opened by the Holy Spirit and can be enabled to embrace the person and the work of Christ. The Mediator came into the world to free us (Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, Sikh’s Atheists, etc.) from the guilt and penalty of sin, to place us in His own family and to present us spotless before God (Ephesians 5:27). Men have only one hope and that is Christ Jesus.
Why was incarnation necessary for God to save people (His people who believed). There are some reasons.
- For God to justify sinners–i.e., save a vast multitude of men guilty of breaking the moral law who are therefore under curse, a sentence of eternal death (the whole world is under the death sentence), the penalty of their sins must be paid in full and a perfect righteousness imputed to their account. God cannot simply overlook sin and forgive it in an arbitrary manner because of His own nature and character – God is righteous (Genesis 18:25, Exodus 23:7, 34:7, Deuteronomy 32:4, Psalm 89:14, Zephaniah 3:5, Romans 9:14, 1 John 1:5). God is holy (Exodus 15:11, Leviticus 11:44, Isaiah 6:3. God hates sin (Psalm 5:4, 5, 6), condemns all sinners to death and hell (Genesis 2:17, Deuteronomy 27:36, Ezekiel 18:20, Romans 1:18, 32, 6:23, James 1:15, Revelation 20:14, 15) and cannot have fellowship with anyone guilty of sin (Hebrews 1:13; Psalm 5:4, 5, Isaiah 59:1, 2). Therefore Paul says (Romans 3:23, 24, 25, 26) that it was necessary that Christ should be offered as an atoning sacrifice for sin in order that God might be just while justifying the sinner. In other words, God had to forgive sinners in a manner that maintained His own justice. God’s infinite holiness, justice or righteousness of necessity demands the infliction of punishment on the sinner himself or on an appropriate substitute— Jesus.
- In order for this substitute to eliminate the guilt and penalty of sin and provide a perfect righteousness for a vast multitude of people, he must be both fully God and fully man. Jesus had to be a man because it was man who as guilty of sin and deserving of punishment. The penalty for sin was death and the suffering of the body and soul. The Son had to assume a true human nature, without sin, yet liable to the infirmity and sufferings after the fall in order to suffer and die as a man (John 12:27, Acts 3:18, Hebrews 2:14, 9:22). The Bible teaches that the blood of bulls and goats cannot atone for sin (Hindus offer animals as a sacrifice to atone for their sins, they offer chickens, goats, etc.). The offering of clean animals, ‘without spot’ (Numbers 19:2, 28:3, 9, 29:17, 26 etc.) and ‘without blemish’ (Exodus 12:5, 29:1), Leviticus 1:3) typified the moral perfection of Jesus Christ. Christians are redeemed with the precious blood of Christ as a lamb without blemish and without spot (1 Peter 1:19, Hebrews 7:25, 26, 27, 9:14). Further, as Christ is a Mediator between God and man he ought to be between both and, like Jacob’s ladder, join heaven and earth by a participation of the nature of both. There is only one Mediator—it is only the Son of God who can reconcile men to God—not Mohammed, none of the thousands of Hindu gods or goddesses or any kind of rituals or good works. These self-righteous efforts will not reconcile men to God but only Christ Jesus the Son of God.
The Messiah also had to be God. A mere man could not render a sacrifice of infinite value from God, that could atone for millions of people from every tribe, nation, and tongue (Revelation 5:9). A mere man could not have withstood the assaults of Satan, the constant temptations and the immense suffering and agony that Jesus endured. A mere man could not intercede or mediate between God and man. Who, but the Lord of glory, the God-man could endure the unmitigated wrath of God that millions deserved in a space of a few hours? Who but God’s only begotten Son could now intercede simultaneously for millions of believers twenty-four hours a day (Colossians 1:19, 20). There is no other name under the heaven by which men can be saved (Acts 4:12). Animals, prophets, gurus and mighty angels cannot save. ONLY JESUS CHRIST, WHO IS BOTH GOD AND MAN IN ONE PERSON, MEETS ALL THE EXIGENCIES ARISING OUT OF GOD’S NATURE AND MEN’S PREDICAMENT.
We must look to Christ of the Bible alone if we are to be saved from sin. We must believe that He is both God and man in one person (Isaiah 9:6). He is a child born in time as man, but also a Son who is the Father of eternity. The offspring of David according to the flesh, but Jehovah our righteousness according to the Spirit (Jeremiah 23:6), a son to be born of a virgin, but whose name would be Emmanuel (Isaiah 7:14). The Angel of the Covenant sent by God for the work of salvation, but the same one, the Lord who comes into the temple (Malachi 3:1).
Trust Him and you will have eternal life.