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The Person and Work of Christ

THE PERSON AND WORK OF CHRIST:
(The Person) Pre-Incarnate

I.  Introduction:

 Tonight we are beginning our series on the doctrine of Christ.  I want to break this series into two parts: the person of Christ and the work of Christ.  We want to examine what the Bible teaches us about who Christ was and is.  We want to know what the Bible says about the One that we rightly call our Savior.  I am going to break this into three categories: the pre-incarnate Christ (which we will be looking at tonight), the incarnate Christ, and the resurrected (or post-incarnate) Christ.  This will allow us to really meditate on the glory of the incarnation as we prepare for the Advent season.  After spending a few weeks on this we will shift to looking at the work of Christ.  Specifically we will examine what Christ did (and is doing) in taking on flesh, coming to earth, and dying on the cross.  Hopefully we will be humbled and amazed by the glorious person and work of our Savior.  Tonight we are considering the Pre-Incarnate Christ.  As we did with our doctrine of God study, I want to begin with the Baptist Faith and Message, move to the Scriptures, and conclude with some implications from the passages.

II.  The Baptist Faith and Message

 The Baptist Faith and Message begins its statement about Christ with these words: “Christ is the eternal Son of God.”  From there it moves to a discussion of the incarnation of Christ, which we will examine next week.  Yet, there is a lot packed into these seven words.  It affirms that we believe that Christ is eternal.  In other words, there was never a time when Christ was not.  He has always been and will always be.  It also affirms our belief in the deity of Christ, for He is the Son of God.  We will examine Christ’s deity in detail next week.

III.  Passages:

 A.  John 1:1-3  We looked at this passage during our advent services last year and stated that it teaches us that before Christ came into the world, He was eternally with the Father.  He was in the beginning with the Father.  Likewise, all that has been made has been made through Him.  Thus, Christ was actively involved in the creation of the world.

 B.  John 3:31  John the Baptist teaches his disciples that one of the reasons that Christ must increase and he must decrease is because Christ is from above.  Thus, before He came to the earth, He was enthroned with the Father in heaven.  Other passages in John teach that the Father sent Christ to the world (5:23, 10:36), affirming as well that Christ was with the Father before He came to earth.

 C.  John 8:57-59  Jesus is here speaking with the Jews who have accused Him of having a demon (see 8:48).  Jesus tells them that He does not have a demon but has words that will give a man eternal life.  The Jews are astounded at this because even Abraham died.  Jesus responds by telling them that Abraham rejoiced that he would see the day of Christ.  You can almost hear their mocking tone when they say: You are not yet fifty years old, and have you seen Abraham?  Jesus’ answer to this question is astounding.  He says: Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am.  At this, they pick up stones to kill Him.  Why did they want to kill Him?  Because they knew what Jesus was claiming when He said ‘before Abraham was, I am.’  This phrase ‘I am’ was the name that God gave to Moses at the burning bush (see Exodus 3).  It referred to the fact that God always is, has always been, and will always be.  He is eternal.  Jesus is here claiming the same about Himself.  Indeed, a daring claim unless it is true (which of course it is).

 D.  Colossians 1:16-17  Paul tells us clearly that Christ was the agent of creation.  With John he affirms that Christ was actively involved in the creation of all things.  Therefore, he is before all things. 

 E.  Hebrews 1:2, 1:10-12 (v. 8)  The writer to the Hebrews tells us again that Christ was the agent of creation.  He was not part of the creation, but all things were made through Him and for Him.  Later in the chapter, he applies Psalm 102, a psalm of creation, to Christ and speaks of His eternal existence.

 F.  Revelation 22:13  Jesus tells us through John that He is the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.  Thus, Jesus did not come into existence when He took on flesh.  No, He has always existed.  He never came into existence because He has always been.

 G.  I should say a word about Jesus in the Old Testament.  Many believe that the theophanies (appearances of God) in the Old Testament are actually appearances of Christ.  Although this is possible, it is hard to argue definitively from the text that it is actually Christ who is appearing.  An example of this is the fourth figure in the fiery furnace whose appearance according to King Nebuchadnezzar was like a son of the gods (Daniel 3:25).  Again, this and others could be possible references to Christ, but it hard to be certain.

IV.  Implications:

 A.  Jesus was with the Father in Heaven before He came to earth.  The passages above clearly teach that Jesus existed eternally with the Father before He came to earth.  The incarnation was not His beginning, but His taking on of humanity, which we will look at more next week.

 B.  Jesus was the agent of creation.  Over and over again the New Testament authors affirm that the world was made through Christ.  Of course, creation could be referred to as a work of Christ, but I mention it here to show that Christ is the Creator, the very agent of creation.

V.  Conclusion:

 Before Christ came to earth, He had dwelled in eternity with the Father.  As we will consider next week, the truth about Christ’s person before the incarnation only stands to make the incarnation that more incredible and glorious.  The eternal Son, the agent of creation, took on flesh and became a man to glorify the Father by redeeming a people through His death on a cross.  How could we respond with anything other than worship?  All praise to the Creator who took on flesh to redeem the creation.  All praise to Christ our Savior!!  Amen.

~ William Marshall ~

Last Updated ( Monday, 20 October 2008 )

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