Coptic Orthodox Diocese of the Southern United States

The Need for the Incarnation

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The birth of our Lord Jesus Christ has become a turning point in the history of mankind; making it feasible to classify incidents into pre and post Nativity. It has also marked the birth of humanity; for in the Nativity was the Incarnation, and in the Incarnation was Salvation and through Salvation we received adoption becoming heirs to the Kingdom.

The Imminence and the Indispensability of Salvation
The Incarnation basically means that God became man; taking a body from the Virgin Mary by the Holy Spirit. "Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel" (Isaiah 7:14). The most important reason for the Incarnation was to resolve the redemption issue bringing man back to his first rank of which he had fallen off because of sin. God had created Adam and placed him in the garden of Eden commanding him to not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, warning him that the day he would disobey, he would die "but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die" (Genesis 2:17). Through his wickedness, Satan enticed Eve to eat from the forbidden fruit. In doing so, Adam and Eve disobeyed God and broke the law. Consequently Adam had to die and perish in order to satisfy and fulfill Gods justice; otherwise God would breach his own claim of justice and credibility.

However, Adams death would have caused a number of ramifications, and would have been:

  1. Against Gods Mercy. Adam was the victim of Satans enticing and tempting.
  2. Against Gods Dignity. God created man in His own image and made him ruler over all his creatures. How then would Gods image be torn up so easily?
  3. Against Gods Wisdom. God created man with wisdom to enjoy His love, blessings and sonship. How dare Satan deprive man of these free gifts? St. Athanasuis contemplates on this saying; "it was better for man if he was not created than to be created to face this fate."
  4. Against Gods Power. God had not created man to desert him and leave him without protection against Satan; for the power is Gods and not the devils; "Thine is the power" (the Lords Prayer).

Thus, it is only through the unity of the Divinity with the Humanity that all the specifications required from a redeemer would get to be fulfilled. These specifications are:

Divinity: Through His divinity and infinite righteousness, the redeemer would pay off the punishment for our infinite sin.

Humanity: Through His humanity, the redeemer would represent man who had sinned and had been sentenced to die in order to pay the price which is death itself. "And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifested in the flesh" (1 Timothy 3:16).

Redemption Resided in the Incarnation
Because man sinned against the infinite God; his sin was limitless demanding limitless punishment which could not be atoned for through mans limited capacity for repentance. Mans nature had become corrupted by sin; and so required a limitless atonement. Who is limitless except God Himself? God Himself had to take upon Himself the redeeming and atoning act in order to rescue man from this eternal death.

Terms of Redemption
Gods justice demands that the redeemer be:

  1. Pure, Holy, and without Sin. Man has certainly fallen short of these qualities because "they have all turned aside; they have together become unprofitable; There is none who does good, no, not one" (Romans 3:12).
  2. Omnipotent. It requires someone stronger than the enemy to defeat him. Only God is stronger than Satan, the accuser and manipulator. He is the only one who could pay off mans debts and remove his unlimited sin. No one is omnipotent but God.
  3. Of Human Nature. The verdict was decreed against man. Therefore neither an animal nor an angel was eligible to revert it. The former is not human and the latter is a spirit.
  4. Willing to die for Man. For God to fulfill His ultimate justice He would not impose atonement. It has to be a voluntary, unconditional love act. Thus the imminence of the Incarnation becomes evident. It is impossible for man to be redeemed from his fallen nature except by God Himself. Through His Incarnation, He becomes representative of man, mortal like him and through his Godhead He remains omnipotent and sinless.

The Blessings of the Incarnation

  1. Adoption. "But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons" (Galatians 4:4,5).
  2. Partakers of the divine nature. "those who were once enlightened, and have tasted the heavenly gift, and have become partakers of the Holy Spirit" (Hebrews 6:4).
  3. Blessed in Him. Our new man has become renewed in the Creators image "since you have put off the old man with his deeds" (Colossians 3:9) and our human nature has become blessed in him after He has given our nature the spirit of power and victory. "But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you" (Acts 1:8).
  4. God's proximity to us. God became close to man "That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, concerning the Word of life" (1 John 1:1).
  5. Establishment of Peace on Earth. "And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men!" (Luke 2:13,14).

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