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October 26, 2020 7:00 pm
Dr. Brent Cook of the BJU Bible faculty continues a doctrinal series entitled, “What Is Man?” from John 14:5-9
Welcome to The Daily Platform from Bob Jones University in Greenville, South Carolina.
Continuing the study series about the doctrine of man. Today's message will be preached by Bible faculty member Dr. Brent Cook and the title of his message is cultivating the life of the mind, let's go to John in chapter 14 the early church spent some five centuries. Exploring defining and applying the doctrine of the incarnation of God in the person of Jesus of Nazareth was most astonishing is not how much time they gave to the doctrine, but how little time the modern church gives to that great doctrine as part of our series on anthropology. The president has asked that I speak on the topic cultivating the life of the mind is a vast topic. My modest ambition is merely to advance the idea of the centrality of the incarnation to our thinking this is a topic that I spoke on last year when I spoke on the value of the Christian liberal arts education and I hope merely to advance that idea this morning in 1941 the atheist philosopher Ludwig for bark published a classic text on secular humanism entitled, the essence of Christianity, and he claimed that human belief in God that results from projecting ideal human attributes onto a greater being called God he did not of course believe in God. He argued that we take anthropological concepts like human love and human strength and human justice would project them out to infinity predicate in them on God for bark put it rather succinctly. The secret to theology is anthropology course for bark is wrong but is only wrong because he failed to see how the incarnation rendered his statement true.
We know God by knowing Jesus. And we know Jesus, principally through his incarnation, and today I want us to examine three passages that illustrate this truth and I want to show how this great doctrine can really cultivate our minds here as students at BJ you you are in John chapter 14 in this passage Jesus is involved in a conversation with two of his disciples with Thomas and with Philip and they desperately want to know God the father and so Jesus has just told them that he is going back to the father to prepare a place for them and notice now verse five, saith unto him, Lord, we know not without goest and how can we know the way Jesus answers in verse six I and the way the truth and the life no man, with under the father but by me and our tendency is to stop right here in the do Jesus almost exclusively as an intermediary between God and man, and he is that.
But Jesus is very different than the kind of prophetic intermediaries that we see in the Old Testament like Ezekiel or Jeremiah is a these men received the word of God and transmitted to the people of Israel but look at what Jesus says in verse seven if you had known me, you should have known my father also here is something the prophets never claimed if you know me you know God the father.
Jesus was not speaking merely for God. He was speaking as God. It was as if God the father was speaking through the human body of Jesus because Jesus is God, that God the father came to Galilee in a human body. What would he do what we preach, what kind of miracles we perform know the answer to everyone's questions is the same, look at Jesus in the Old Testament God speaks from heaven constantly but had ever noticed that when you common in the Gospels's voice become suddenly silent that Jesus's baptism. There is a voice from heaven that says this is my beloved son in whom I am well pleased in the voice go silent and we follow Jesus through Galilee and we observe his miracles and listen to his preaching and Jesus will say the most extraordinary things. He will say things like you have always heard that he will quote the Old Testament given by inspiration of God, and then he will glibly proceed to say but I say unto you, as if everything he just said is just as important as anything God said in the Old Testament after following Jesus through Galilee. We, at long last to the Mount of Transfiguration and Peter there wants to build a tabernacle one for Jesus, one for Moses and one for Elijah and all the sudden the voice returns. This is my beloved son in whom I am well pleased exactly what the boy said back at Christ. Baptism within adds these words here ye him and I go silent while you started to get the point. If you have been correctly observing the life of Jesus, you would have seen the father every step along the way that Jesus is not done with Thomas look at the end of verse seven Jesus says, and from henceforth you know him and have seen him. This is extraordinary because nothing changes.
God the father does not suddenly reveal himself when Jesus says from now on you know him and have seen him. He's talking about himself, know Jesus is to know the father. Well, apparently the disciples still are not getting it.
So at this point Philip enters the conversation look at verse eight Philip saith unto him, Lord, show us the father and it suffice with us. Jesus just show us God the father and will be happy, says Philip and notice Jesus's response.
It's a rebuke verse nine Jesus saith unto him, have I been so long time with you and yes I not known me, Philip P that have seen me hath seen the father and how sayest thou then, show us the father Thomas and Philip had the same problem that Feuerbach had they did not understand that the secret to theology is anthropology.
To know God. You've got to know Jesus of Nazareth. What Jesus is doing is introducing his disciples to a revolutionary new way of thinking new way of thinking about the relationship between God and man and want to show you know a second passage in which this becomes very clear to this going out to Mark chapter 2 mark in the second chapter we will see just how clear this becomes what you turn.
Let me tell you the story of a famous book was published in 1962 was published by an American physicist and philosopher named Thomas Kuhn. The book is titled the structure of scientific revolutions and Kuhn argues in the book that our understanding of the world does not always develop through the gradual accumulation of new information.
Rather, he says. Science often develops is one model or one paradigm, as he calls it is replaced by a whole new model or new paradigm for interpreting the data. For example, Ptolemy argued that the earth was the center of our solar system and he argued that all the celestial bodies circled around our earth. That was his model, but in time the Ptolemaic model began to have cracks in it to develop numerous explanatory deficiencies in the whole model begins to implode and then comes Copernicus in the 16th century, and Copernicus comes along with the new model based on a very simple idea. The earth moves and that changed everything well. Kuhn calls this shift from one explanatory model to another model a paradigm shift and that term is caught on in the world of business and coaching in education and leadership in science.
While the term paradigm shift may be new. The idea long predates Thomas Kuhn is actually found right here in Mark chapter 2 in March for two beginning in verse one and continuing through chapter 3 in verse six, Mark is going to record for us. Five distinct narratives in which Jesus of Nazareth is going to confront an entrenched form of Judaism that is hostile to a very simple truth. God became man and they are hostile to this idea. What were to find here in Mark, is that Jesus is deliberately acting in ways and saying certain things that are designed to upset the old paradigm.
He is deliberately exposing cracks in Judaism in the first narrative there some for friends or bring a paralyzed man to Jesus and they will let him down to the roof to be healed.
And Jesus looks at him and does not heal him immediately. Instead he looks at him and he says your sands are forgiven and the Jews are scandalized who can forgive sins but God only they say that's a very good question why here's a new idea you're looking at God and the second narrative Jesus called Levi, a tax collector because him to abandon his despising the tax booth at the follow him. And then Jesus proceeds to eat with sinners in the self-righteous Pharisees again are scandalized by his behavior will here's a new idea God came sinners, not for the self-righteous and the third narrative. The followers of Jesus are not observing certain fast as prescribed by the Jewish law and if they're going to neglect these fast. How can they prepare to meet God will. Here's a new idea, the bridegroom is here. There's no need to fast in the fourth narrative, the disciples were plucking heads of grain and eating them on the Sabbath, and there is almost nothing that offends the zealous observers of the Old Testament law like Sabbath violations will here's a new idea.
The Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath.
That's when Jesus claims this very ordinary looking Galilean man. He is Lord of the Sabbath. In other words, Sabbath worship is really about him in the fifth narrative, Jesus will violate Jewish religious scruples again by healing a man with a withered hand and the Pharisees and the Herodian's conspired together to murder him. They cannot accept this new idea that God has come in the person of Jesus of Nazareth. So when these five narratives. We have a revolutionary idea God walks among us in a human body and they are hostile to it and now embedded right at the heart of these five narratives in verse 22. You'll see why I say that Kuhn's idea is not new. Verse 22 reads and no man put new wine into old bottles or old wineskins. Else the new wind of verse. The bottles and the wine is spilled, and the bottles will be marred, but new wine must be put into new bottles when the first century animal skins for use as containers for new wine but over time those wineskins would shrivel up and begin to crack and you pour new wine to them and they explode when this context, Mark is doing is presenting to us a revolutionary new idea God has common human body and that does not fit the Jewish paradigm. It explodes the old paradigm and I want you to go to first John in chapter 1 verse John chapter 1 and I want to show you the idea of the incarnation and the third passage and just notice how this epistle begins. It begins with a magnificent testimony to the incarnation. John writes that which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with her eyes, which we have looked upon in our hands have handled the word of life. John is describing the word Jesus has been detectable with three of our most important senses we have heard him. We have seen him we had touched him word has a real human body.
Now in verse two. John is going to reiterate that we actually saw the living incarnate God verse two for the life was manifested, and we have seen it, and bear witness and show unto you that eternal life which was with the father and was manifested unto us. We actually saw it in verse three, John emphasized that the person that we saw the person that we heard is the means by which we have fellowship with God. It's the means to that incarnation.
There we are united with God and with Christ. Verse three that which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us and truly our fellowship is with the father and with his son Jesus Christ. So he begins with the statement of the incarnation and now go to chapter 4 and verse one.
Chapter 4 in verse one and notice just how serious John is about the incarnation. John writes beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God, because many false prophets are gone out into the world. Hereby know ye the Spirit of God. Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh in a body is of God, and every spirit that confesses not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God. And this says John is that spirit of antichrist.
For John the very center of orthodoxy is the incarnation you confess that Jesus Christ is truly come in the flesh, you are God. You deny the incarnation your antichrist friends. If we don't get the incarnation correct, we will never understand God, the creator and if you don't get the incarnation correct, you will never understand man created in the image of God, the incarnation, rest on two great truths in the virginal conception, God became what he made in order to redeem what he made in the bodily resurrection of Christ from the grave. Jesus, God kept his incarnation permanently so that he could be permanently united with the creation that he loves two mistakes are often made by Christians are number one view in the virgin birth is little more than a prerequisite for Christ suffering and number two. Viewing the resurrection is a kind of undoing of the incarnation.
That hardly occurs to us to think of Jesus as permanent everlasting joy for human life.
Jesus is the most infinitely joyful human being anywhere in the universe today. The incarnation was so important to the early church. They spent some five centuries through a whole series of church councils trying to get stated with precision, why is it so important to them. The fact is that nearly every heretical challenge to the faith is a departure from the incarnation, the Gnostics denied the full humanity of Christ and had impoverished view of God's creation. The Aryans denied the full deity of Jesus Christ and did not understand God's Trinity the civilians denied the distinctions between the members of the Trinity and viewed Christ is really a kind of temporary apparition of the father, not a completely distinct human person. The Nestorians could not fully embrace the virginal conception of Christ and taught that Christ was kind of two persons, not one Neapolitan Aryans denied the complete humanity of Christ mind and the motto for the test deny the distinct divine and human natures in Christ.
It's no wonder that John says that any departure from the incarnation is the spirit of antichrist.
That's why it's so important to the early church listen to what the authors of the great Chalcedon Creed said in the year 451. We then following the holy fathers all with one consent teach people to confess wine in the same son, our Lord Jesus Christ the same perfect in Godhead and also perfect in manhood, truly God and truly man of a reasonable soul and body consubstantial with the father acquitted the Godhead in consubstantial with us according to the manhood.
Now again, why is it so important to them to the early church, the incarnation was the very epicenter of all human learning because in Jesus we understand the creator and in Jesus we understand the creation Gregory Vanessa the great patristic champion of orthodoxy was quite emphatic. Listen to what he says the law Goss has spoken in creation in the life and teachings of Jesus the law Goss made sense out of the madness of the world and the power of evil, the law Goss held forth the promise that there could be a system in a connection between the disparate elements of the universe as it was experienced in the law. Goss has not snatched humanity out of the goodness of the created order, but is transform the created order into a fit setting for a transformed humanity, and numerous other theologians have made very similar observations in the opening pages of a great 16th-century work by John Calvin, the institutes of the Christian religion. He presents us with a rather stunning observation.
He claimed that there are two kinds of knowledge that are available to us humans. There is first of all knowledge of God and there is secondly knowledge of ourselves to put more broadly. There is knowledge of the creator and there is knowledge of the creation and Calvin says if you want to know God, you have to know yourself as his creation. And if you want to know yourself. You have to know God is your creator and where can you go and study them both and the answer is Jesus of Nazareth. Contemporary theologians John Clark and Marcus Johnson of said the modern church is not sufficiently see and savor the astounding mystery.
The supreme mystery, the very heart of our Christian confession, God the son, without ceasing to be fully God has become fully human. The incarnation of God, therefore, is the supreme mystery at the center of our Christian confession and no less. At the center of all reality, will. Are you interested in cultivating the life of your mind to know your creator and to know the creature and what you need is an incarnational paradigm. What you need to do is let the God man Jesus of Nazareth be the center of your thinking and frankly I don't know a better place to go to develop that kind of thinking the Bob Jones University for all of you take a Bible and liberal arts core. What do you think we are trying to do with that core I know of no greater justification for cultivating the mind through science and the incarnation of God. The physicist had been searching for a very long time for so-called theory of everything. An attempt to unite the four forces in the solve the riddles of quantum field theory and general relativity. What is it that holds the universe together. What is it that keeps the billions of stars spinning around in endless galaxies and endless billions of electrons spinning around their nuclei know the answer given in the book of Hebrews is the incarnate son. He upholds all things by the word of his power, he upholds every atom in your body. He upholds every star in the galaxy as above, by his word has it ever occurred to you that the words in the Bible that you are reading right now are breathed out by the voice of God and so too are the atoms that compose the page you are holding the breath of God. I know of no greater justification for cultivate in the Mayan through the humanities than the permanent joyful human life of Jesus. The story of human civilization is a story that God entered and when he resurrected from the grave.
He claimed to have authority over at all. The study of the great literary text of the world is the study of human emotion and the triumphs of human joys and the complexities of human relationships and God and Jesus is human as I said last semester study are music, beauty, and human creativity because the first thing your Bible tells you about your incarnate Savior is that he is a creator and if he redeems you to be like him, and he redeems you to create John Williamson Nevin, the great 19th century American theologian proclaimed the incarnation is the key that unlocks the sense of all God's revelations. It is the key that unlocks the sense of all God's works and brings to light the true meaning of the universe. The incarnation forms. Thus, the greatest central fact of the world by friends you let the incarnation began to cultivate the life of your mind, you will find that a lifetime is insufficient to comprehend the incarnation. Let's pray the father we are so thankful that your son has come that he has died that he is resurrected again and that he is going to redeem his loss creation and I pray Lord that we would truly cultivate our minds as we think about you through him. As we come to understand the creation through his work. We pray for Christ sake, and then you could listing the sermon preached by Bob Jones University Bible faculty member Dr. Brent Cook this is part of the study series about the doctrine of man listen again tomorrow as we continue the series here on The Daily Platform