THE REAL MEANING OF THE INCARNATION
Martin Luther spoke of ‘The Great Exchange’ in which Jesus Christ takes our life and gives us all that is His life to be our life. The beauty of this exchange is that we advance from notional sonship to being sons and daughters in spirit and in truth.
This exchange is much more than His righteousness as ours. This is His relationship with the trinity as ours, His relationship with the earth as ours and His relationship with each other as ours. It is His individuality as ours and His living in community (with the trinity) as ours. We have scant success in doing things because we should or because we want to – like being our real selves or flourishing in community. But we are fruitful in these things when Christ is our life and He becomes us in individuality and community. Thomas Torrance writes,
“In making himself one with us he both took what is ours and imparted to us what is his. In his great compassion he did not reject union with our nature, fallen though it was as the result of sin, but gathered it up in himself in order to purify it and quicken it in his own sinless life-giving life.” (1)
CHRIST AS YOU
With Christ as our life – which means Jesus actively as us – we express His life just as the bread and the wine of the Lord’s Table become our spirit, soul and body. This is what it means to be one with Christ, of the Body of Christ and in fellowship with the trinity and each other. Incarnation and is the source healing, wholeness and holiness. This is the meaning of ‘I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me. “I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness comes through the Law, then Christ died needlessly’ Gal 2.20, 21.
There’s a reason why we are urged to adopt sound doctrine and not just any doctrine. It’s possible to be technically part of the Body of Christ while rendering Christ’s life for us dormant. Life in the Spirit is Jesus as us. Never Moses’ law as us. One makes us more than ourselves. The other makes us less than sons and daughters.
(1) Torrance, Thomas F.. The Trinitarian Faith: The Evangelical Theology of the Ancient Catholic Church (T&T Clark Cornerstones) (p. 162). Bloomsbury Publishing. Kindle Edition.