Soli Deo Gloria: For the Glory of God Alone
Posted: Thursday, February 9, 2012 9:22 pm
The Messenger, February 9, 2012
By RICHARD SMITH
Special to The Messenger
It seems to me that we’ve reached a point in our society where words once reserved to describe very special and extraordinary things and events are now bantered about for just about any situation, thing or activity that someone feels emotional about for the moment. One word I hear over and over again used by young folks and adults alike is the word “awesome.”
Sometimes I think I will scream if I hear it again. I suppose the reason is because the root word “awe” is defined as “an overwhelming feeling of reverence, admiration, fear, etc., produced by that which is grand, sublime, extremely powerful or the like.”
For that reason, I pretty much confine the use of “awesome” to the things of God.
Today we continue our discussion of the Heidelberg Catechism with Lord’s Day 14, Questions 35 & 36.
Question 35: What does it mean that he (Jesus) “was conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary”? Answer: That the eternal Son of God, who is and remains true and eternal God, took to Himself, through the working of the Holy Spirit, from the flesh and blood of the virgin Mary, a truly human nature so that He might become David’s true descendant, like His brothers in every way except for sin.
This means that the hypostatical union of the two natures, the divine and the human, was formed by the same Holy Spirit, in the womb of the Virgin, immediately and at the very moment of his conception. There were two distinct natures but one person.
Miraculously, Christ was conceived in the womb of the Virgin, by the immediate action, or operation of the Holy Spirit, without the seed and substance of man. His human nature was formed from his mother alone, contrary to the order of things which God has established in nature. “The power of the Highest shall overshadow thee.” (Luke 1:35).
The Holy Spirit miraculously sanctified that which was conceived and produced in the womb of the Virgin. Original sin did not attach itself to that which was formed in this union, despite Mary’s humanity. This conception did not become the Word, the Son of God, to assume a nature polluted with sin because: (A) He must be a pure sacrifice, because it was necessary for Him to make satisfaction for sin. (B) He must also, by His purity, sanctify others. (C) We must know that whatever the Son says is truth: “That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.” (John 3:6). Flesh (man in his natural, fallen state) is sinful and not sanctified and is incapable of truth apart from the perfect, sinless Son.
Question 36: How does the holy conception and birth of Christ benefit you? Answer: He is our mediator, and with His innocence and perfect holiness, He removes from God’s sight my sin — mine since I was conceived.
Two benefits result from the holy conception and birth of Christ: (1) The confirmation of our faith that HE IS the mediator; (2) The consolation that we are justified before God through Him. He could not be the mediator between God and man unless He Himself were man, perfectly righteous and united with the Word. So it was necessary that the mediator be, by nature, true God and man, in order to preserve the salvation purchased for us. “For it was indeed fitting that we should have such a high priest, holy, innocent, unstained, separated from sinners and exalted above the heavens.” (Hebrews 7:26)
This natural Son of God was made true man in a miraculous manner. He is one Christ, having two natures, the divine and human, joined together by a personal union and sanctified by the Holy Spirit from his mother’s womb.
Furthermore, He is truly both 100 percent God and 100 percent man, and yet one Christ, sanctified from His mother’s womb, so that He might redeem and sanctify me, which He could not do unless sanctification and union were affected in Him. Because of this, I have, through sovereign grace, been given the right of adoption to sonship of the Father. “But to all who did receive Him, who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.” (John 1:12-13)
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Editor’s note: Richard Smith lives in Union City and is a member of Grace Presbyterian Church in Troy.