THE BIBLICAL MESSAGE OF CHRIST
For many, Christmas evokes pleasant memories of family and friends, of the exchanging of gifts, and of fellowship and thanksgiving enjoyed over a good meal. But for us as believers, it has a deeper, more transformative meaning. Yes, Christ is the reason for the season, but the true meaning of Christmas is the miracle of incarnation. Believers all over the world are celebrating the miracle of the manifestation of God in human flesh during Christmas. Just think of it! It is positively staggering! As we read in scripture
And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory. (I Tim 3:16, emphasis added)
Walk down the cobblestone streets of Bethlehem until you reach a starlit stable. Walk through its doors, and you will come face to face with the miracle of Christmas. You will find a virgin mother holding in her arms a babe wrapped in swaddling clothes. He is 100 percent God and 100 percent man. Though just a child, He is destined to die on a mission of mercy, and to reconcile a sin sick and perishing world to its Creator.
It was this little babe who stood on nothing and said, “Let there be light. (Gen 1:3)” It was this little babe who knelt down in the garden, took a handful of dirt, breathed the breath of life into it, and man became a living soul (Gen 2:7). It was this little babe who set a rainbow in the heavens and made a covenant with faithful Noah (Gen 9:13). It was this little babe who promised Abraham, “In thee shall all the nations of the earth be blessed. (Gen 28:14)” And it was this little babe who with a strong hand subdued Pharaoh and led the nation of Israel out of Egypt and into the promised land (Deut 4:37).
This is one of the most exciting truths in the Word of God, the mystery of the incarnation of the Christ. It is the genius of the Godhead. It is what scripture says many prophets and kings desired to see, but did not (Luke 10:24). It is the hidden wisdom of God wrapped up in a mystery, which none of the princes of this world knew, that God ordained before the world unto our glory (I Cor 2:7-8). It is the power of God and the wisdom of God (I Cor 1:24).
The word incarnation literally means embodiment (PERSON-ification) in flesh. It is the material MAN-ifestation of an entity or force whose original nature is immaterial. Christ required a body to manifest, and God chose human flesh for Him to be manifested in. As we read in Hebrews, “Wherefore when he cometh into the world, he saith, Sacrifice and offering thou wouldest not, but a body hast thou prepared me: (Heb 10:5, emphasis added)”
This truth is one of the most securely established and attested to of all truths in scripture. In fact, the bible goes so far as to identify any spirit that does not confess this particular truth as the spirit of the antichrist! We read in I John,
And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world. (I John 4:3)
The man Christ Jesus was and is the full and complete expression of the Godhead in bodily form. As one modern translation reads, “For the full content of divine nature lives in Christ, in his humanity… (Col 2:9, Today’s English Version)” He was and is the last, most comprehensive, most articulate, and most perfect revelation of the Godhead to planet earth. There is no part of the Godhead that was not fully disclosed in Christ. Asked by Philip for a vision of the Father, Jesus replies, “…he that hath seen me hath seen the Father… (John 14:9)”
Great, great, great indeed is the mystery of godliness! The invisible God who could not be seen, the God who could only show Moses His hinder parts, the God who warned the Israelites not break through to gaze upon Him, lest they perish, the God who was enclosed within a tent and enshrouded behind a thick veil, is now out in the open for all to see! Fully revealed and fully exposed! Mystery of mysteries! Wonder of wonders! Glory of glories!
And here’s the best part—you and I have been made a part of this mystery! By the miracle of the new birth, He has taken up residence inside each one of us. This is why scripture calls Jesus the firstborn of many brethren (Rom 8:29). Yes, He is the fullness of the Godhead bodily, but He is also the Christ in us, the hope of glory (Col 1:27)! In light of this marvelous truth, the Church can be called the ongoing incarnation of Christ.
It was always God’s prophetic intention that man would carry the fullness of God to this earthly realm of the five senses. More fundamental than the fact that God created man for dominion is the fact that God created man with housing ability: the ability for a spirit to inhabit his life. The drawback is that Satan has temporarily thwarted God’s intention for man’s housing ability by possessing that space for his own insidious expression in the earth. Satan is a squatter on God’s property. He is trespassing.
Through the process of redemption, God solves this problem and again engages man in a whole new dynamic level of intimacy, and man’s potential for divine habitation is realized. God desires to dwell in man and make His home in the heart of man. This is a new thing, never seen before. As scripture says, “Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him. (I Cor 2:9)” Now that man has been redeemed, and God’s intended purpose is a distinct possibility, man is invited to press into the realm that the incarnate Christ walked in, the Spirit without measure (John 3:34).
There is a manifestation of the revelation of God shining forth from those that rend their flesh and acknowledge this truth. This is why we read in Paul’s second letter to the Corinthians,
For we which live are alway delivered unto death for Jesus’ sake, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal flesh. (II Cor 4:11)
I believe the time for a manifestation in flesh of the fullness of the Godhead bodily in a corporate body is now. The Church of the Second Day never had what is now available and accessible to the Third Day Church. The passionate prayer of Paul recorded in Ephesians 3:19, that we might be filled with all the fullness of God, is now becoming a tangible manifestation in our day. Paul was the signpost of the third day believer.
This corporate manifestation is vital, because when we speak forth His name as children of God, we call forth and summon all the fullness of the Godhead bodily to exert and bring to bear the full force of His power upon any specific situation we encounter. In this sense, calling upon the name of the Lord is like pulling the trigger of a loaded gun. The gun is loaded, but it’s the trigger that releases what’s inside. Like Jesus, the fullness dwells in us bodily, but if we don’t pull the trigger of the name and make prophetic declarations, we are powerless, though we are holding a loaded gun. It’s time to pull the trigger and use the name!
This truth spells doom for the devil. When we realize that we are the ongoing incarnation of Christ, it’s payback time! When we realize that God is still manifesting Himself through human flesh, we’ll drag the devil to the woodshed and knock the snot out of him. This truth marks the end of Satanic harassment in the Church. I hope you understand we’re on shouting territory now!
Jesus was the first and preeminent flesh and blood temple to house the glory of God. Now we have received the same calling. We read in John 20:21, “Peace be unto you: as my Father hath sent me, even so send I you.” Can we respond confidently, as Christ did, “Lo, I come, in the volume of the book it is written of me, I delight to do thy will, O my God… (Psa 40:7-8)?” Who will press toward the high calling of Christ? Who will passionately endeavor to be an ongoing incarnation of the glory of God in fullness and without measure?
I pray that the Lord may bless and enlighten each of us this Christmas season, and that He may cause us to press ever deeper into the high calling He has called us to. God bless all of you!
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Bishop Anthony D’Onofrio is a dynamic preacher and teacher with a unique and powerful gift for delivering and imparting the Word of God.