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New Horizons

December, 2002: The Beginning of the End

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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 the Son of God is the greatest mystery of the Christian religion. No human mind can fully fathom it. The purpose of the Incarnation is another precious and amazing wonder. "Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners" (1 Tim. 1:15). 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). 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). 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 billions of times, eventually producing a fully formed human being.
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). 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. 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 deepened and completed because we shall see him as he is. It has been God's purpose that his people should seek his face, for those who seek him will find him. Read more

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