December 2002 New Horizons

The Beginning of the End

Download PDFDownload ePubArchive

The Purpose of the Coming of the Son of God

The well-known narrative of the evangelist Luke relates the birth of Christ as a special event that took place here on earth. It tells of a young mother, a modest and unsophisticated woman. During the night, in the presence of her supportive husband, she laid her newborn child in a manger. Lowly shepherds left their flocks in the fields of Bethlehem in order to visit the child. Certainly, the birth of Christ is a story that belongs to this earth. Yet, it belongs to heaven too, for it reveals heavenly, miraculous occurrences: the appearance of the angel announcing the birth of the Savior of mankind, the manifestation of the glory of the Lord, and the singing of the heavenly choir. Moreover, the child in the center of the narrative is of supernatural origin. He left his heavenly home and came to this earth. Full of love and grace, God came to this world in the person of his Son. God the Son remained what he was, divine, and he became what he was not, human. In other words, God became man. The incarnation of ... Read more

The Beginning of the End

From the Bible's point of view, the end has already arrived. There is a sense in which we are living with and in the end, whether we like it or not. To understand the end that will be, we must understand the end that already is . We turn, therefore, to the theme of Jesus' preaching—the kingdom of God. We turn, in fact, to "the beginning of the end." Jesus was a prophet of the end: "The time is fulfilled," he preached, "and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent, and believe in the gospel" (Mark 1:15). According to Mark, this simple message was "the gospel of God" (Mark 1:14). Jesus announced the coming of the kingdom of God. For Jesus and his hearers, God's kingdom is not a place but an activity. It is God's rule. Although it was "at hand" in one way, there were also three senses in which this rule or kingdom was already a reality in Jesus' life. The Existing Reality of God's Kingdom First, there was God's general sovereignty. As Creator of this universe, he is its sustainer and ruler; he ... Read more

Jesus and His Mother

The Bible believes in a divine Savior, and a divine Savior can be expected to come in a remarkable way. It is a presupposition of New Testament thought which needs no argument, nor many references. The only accounts we have in the New Testament of the virgin conception of Jesus appear in the gospels of Matthew and Luke. Luke was a medical doctor (Col. 4:14), and in the course of his careful research (Luke 1:1-4) he probably obtained details from Mary herself (Luke 1:26-38). Matthew wrote for Jewish people, and it is no surprise that he cites the 730-year-old prediction of the prophet Isaiah as being fulfilled by Jesus' birth to a virgin (Matt. 1:22-23). After all, the Hebrew Old Testament had been translated into Greek by Jewish scholars about 200 b.c., and they had regarded the Hebrew word almah in Isaiah 7:14 as requiring translation by the Greek word meaning "virgin" ( parthenos ), even though almah is not the normal word for "virgin." This is a good argument against some scholars who insist ... Read more

The Virgin Birth

When we talk about the virgin birth of the Lord Jesus Christ, we begin by pointing out that there was nothing supernatural in the emergence of Jesus from the womb of Mary—what we usually refer to as the "birth" of a baby. The whole process of embryonic and fetal development was again normal. We are told that when Mary's "full time" had come, she gave birth. But let us pause for a moment when we say that it was a "normal conception." Consider your conception and mine, and how Christ's was just like ours. Dr. James Le Fanu reports: The single-celled embryo, at the moment of the fusion of egg and sperm, brings together two sets of genetic information from mother and father—in the form of the DNA code which, when spelt out letter by letter, would fill twenty-four volumes of the Encyclopedia Britannica . These twenty-four volumes are packed into the nucleus of the cell, which is one-5,000th of a millimeter in diameter, which cell has the ability to replicate itself within a few hours and divide ... Read more

Athanasius, the Son of God, and Salvation

Readers of New Horizons may be familiar with Henry Coray's Against the World: The Odyssey of Athanasius (1992). This is a brief, popular (albeit fictionalized) biography of the champion of Nicene orthodoxy. An inveterate defender of the Nicene Creed (A.D. 325), Athanasius has been revered by the church catholic for his unswerving insistence on the deity of the Son of God. This insistence was not without cost. Five times Athanasius was banished from his church. He had to flee for his life, being protected or secreted by his friends. At several points in his career, it seemed as if he alone stood for orthodoxy—hence the phrase Athanasius contra mundum (Athanasius against the world). Rewriting Church History Modern church historians of the fourth-century Christological controversies are revising the traditional portrait of Athanasius by labeling him, among other epithets, a "liar," a "gangster," and a "violent political manipulator." Revisionists, like the poor, are ever with us. Unlike the ... Read more

Rock of Offence: What Do Muslims Think of Jesus?

Name above all names. The Way, the Truth, the Life. King of kings and Lord of lords. These traditional, biblical phrases express the depth of Christian devotion to Jesus. In the Qur'an, too, there are many references and allusions to Jesus the Messiah. He holds a place of honor, and public abuse or ridicule of Jesus is offensive to Muslims. A look through the Qur'an reveals that Muhammad affirmed the stories of the annunciation of Jesus to Mary and his virgin birth. He is presented as a sign to mankind, a prophet who affirms the Law of Moses, a worker of healing miracles who received the Holy Spirit for God-appointed tasks. But Christians assert far more. Jesus is Christ the Lord, the only-begotten Son of God, the Savior of all who put their trust in him, to be worshiped and adored. These things Muslims strongly deny. For the Muslim, Jesus of Nazareth is certainly not the Son of God, and the notion of a Trinity is utterly rejected. The idea that God could have a son is offensive because, for ... Read more

Seeking His Face

The final word in the Bible about human fulfillment is found in Revelation 22:4, where the bliss of eternity is described in the simple phrase "They shall see God's face." That means we will be in relationship with God in a personal way; we will be in his presence, speaking with him face-to-face. This is the culmination of the human story that began in Genesis 1 in the Garden of Eden. God's purpose in creating man was that it would culminate in full fellowship in heaven when we will see God face-to-face (Rev. 21, 22). Since this fellowship with God is the ultimate objective in God giving us life, it should be our objective. We should seek God's face now. In Psalm 27:8 we read "Seek his face," and our response is "Your face, Lord, I will seek." This command is also our greatest privilege. There is no higher honor than that we should be invited, indeed commanded, to seek the face of God; to seek his presence and fellowship while we wait for the coming of Christ, when that friendship and fellowship will be ... Read more