I have been pondering the Incarnation, musing upon Luke 1-2 & John 1, and revisiting the little book On The Incarnation by Athanasius. On page 56, point 43, Athanasius says this:
A fruitful meditation for your Saturday, as you prepare your heart for corporate worship tomorrow! Why did Jesus come? Is “mere man” nobler than what our humanist agnostics believe? Did Jesus come to heal and teach; or is it as some say, that He came ‘only’ to heal?
In the last 25 years of my life, I have seen many fooled by “cheap grace” and revivalism’s emphasis on “just get saved.” These past ten years especially, some have realized the cheap grace for what it is and thrown in the towel all together. What a dishonor is done to the Gospel when we preach only part, teach only part, emphasize only a “three part gospel.”
We need to share the whole story of Redemption, all that the Scriptures teach us about life in Christ.
I offer here a few Scripture passages for you to meditate on, as you seek to understand what the early church believed. Do not be like those who distance themselves from historical Christianity and try to reinvent it for today. If we are abiding in His Word (John 8, John 14-17) He will lead us into understanding, discerning what creeds and traditions and teachings to cling to, and which to let go of.
Did you notice that Athanasius references “the way,” saying Jesus came “to heal and to teach the way”? Paul himself was led by the Spirit to say that Jesus appeared to bring salvation and to instruct (Titus 2:11-3:7). Let us ponder all this without dichotomizing; without compartmentalizing. Jesus is not an either/or; we cannot have the healing but not the teaching and vice versa.
What then is “the way”?
Pour yourself a cup of tea or coffee, get comfy on your patio, your couch, your favorite reading nook; journal these (and others, this is not an exhaustive list), pray through these, let Him lead you know, and to grow in grace and knowledge!
To him the doorkeeper opens, and the sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he puts forth all his own, he goes ahead of them, and the sheep follow him because they know his voice. A stranger they simply will not follow, but will flee from him, because they do not know the voice of strangers.” This figure of speech Jesus spoke to them, but they did not understand what those things were which He had been saying to them. So Jesus said to them again, “Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. All who came before Me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not hear them. I am the door; if anyone enters through Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.John 10:3-10
I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life; no one comes to the Father but by Me.John 14:6
And we know that the Son of God has come, and has given us understanding so that we may know Him who is true; and we are in Him who is true, in His Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God and eternal life. Little children, guard yourselves from idols.1 John 5:20-21
Now Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest, and asked for letters from him to the synagogues at Damascus, so that if he found any belonging to the Way, both men and women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem.Acts 9:1-2 (before Paul’s conversion)
And he [Paul] entered the synagogue and continued speaking out boldly for three months, reasoning and persuading them about the kingdom of God. But when some were becoming hardened and disobedient, speaking evil of the Way before the people, he withdrew from them and took away the disciples, reasoning daily in the school of Tyrannus.Acts 19:8-9 (after Paul’s conversion)
About that time there occurred no small disturbance concerning the Way. For a man named Demetrius, a silversmith, who made silver shrines of Artemis, was bringing no little business to the craftsmen; these he gathered together with the workmen of similar trades, and said, “Men, you know that our prosperity depends upon this business. You see and hear that not only in Ephesus, but in almost all of Asia, this Paul has persuaded and turned away a considerable number of people, saying that gods made with hands are no gods at all. Not only is there danger that this trade of ours fall into disrepute, but also that the temple of the great goddess Artemis be regarded as worthless and that she whom all of Asia and the world worship will even be dethroned from her magnificence.”Acts 19:23-27
I am a Jew, born in Tarsus of Cilicia, but brought up in this city, educated under Gamaliel, strictly according to the law of our fathers, being zealous for God just as you all are today. I persecuted this Way to the death, binding and putting both men and women into prisons,Acts 22:3-4 (Paul speaking of his conversion experience)
How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked,Psalm 1
Nor stand in the path of sinners,
Nor sit in the seat of scoffers!
But his delight is in the law of the Lord,
And in His law he meditates day and night.
He will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water,
Which yields its fruit in its season
And its leaf does not wither;
And in whatever he does, he prospers.The wicked are not so,
But they are like chaff which the wind drives away.
Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment,
Nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous.
For the Lord knows the way of the righteous,
But the way of the wicked will perish.
If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit. Galatians 5:25