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John316Marshall.com » Missions & Money

Why God Didn’t Become An Angel

Posted in Missions & Money

Why God Didn’t Become An Angel
Prepared by Dr. John E. Marshall

From the Bible: Philippians 2:5-7a; Genesis 1:26; Hebrews 1:14; 2:14-15

Phil. 2:5-7a Holman Make your own attitude that of Christ Jesus, who,
existing in the form of God, did not consider equality with God as
something to be used for His own advantage. Instead He emptied
Himself by assuming the form of a slave, taking on the likeness of men.

The staggering truth of Christmas is, God became a man, “assuming the form of a slave.” We could forcefully argue, when God chose to take on a nature other than His own, angels would have been much more prestigious, and thus the most likely candidates.
There were Old Testament precedents for this. God had used their nature, appearing on several occasions as an angel temporarily. The angel of the Lord was a recurring manifestation of the Second Person of the Trinity before Bethlehem.
Angels had other advantages. They outshine us. Humans obviously cannot match the angels’ grandeur. Their beauty is stunning compared to our dull countenance. Fire outshines flesh.
Angels outmaneuver us. They flit through space at warp speed, while we clumsily lumber from spot to spot.
Angels outclass us. The unfallen ones never sinned. Our response to God is an ongoing embarrassment. It would be easy to say God is too holy, and flesh too vile, for the two ever to merge.
Thus the question, when God decided to permanently take on a nature other than His own, why did He choose to become human? The question is made even more poignant by the fact many object to worshiping as God any fellow human, including Jesus. “God became a man” is a stumbling block to a majority of people.
At first glance, it does seem Jesus might have been better off to avoid human nature. Angels would have been thrilled to have Him in their ranks. Silver sandals, radiant robes, and glittering garments would have been offered Him in abundance. Gabriel would have gladly offered his wings, Michael his crown and sword.
Yet Jesus, God of very God, bypassed the nature of angels, and became a person, one of us. On the centennial of Robert Stephenson’s birth, a large parade was held at Newcastle. Many banners honored the distinguished engineer. The favorite sign was carried by a group of peasants from the small village where Stephenson was born. Their little banner bore the words, “He was one of us.”
If a parade marched to honor Jesus, angels could outshine, outmaneuver, and outclass us, but we could carry the banner, “He was one of us.” The brainteaser is, “Why a human?” Genesis 1:26 gives us a clue. “God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness. They will rule the fish of the sea, the birds of the sky, the animals, all the earth, and the creatures that crawl on the earth.”
Jesus became one of us partly because we have a trait never given to angels. They win the beauty and splendor contests, but we win a more valuable prize.
Angels outdo us, but do not outrank us in authority. God created people, not angels, to reign. Humans were made to rule. God gave dominion to nothing else, including angels, who can only serve. “Are they not all ministering spirits sent out to serve those who are going to inherit salvation?” (Hebrews 1:14).
Since angels can only serve, God could never permanently take on Himself their nature. God must ever have the opportunity to rule. Angels never were meant for sovereignty, thus God cannot permanently assume their nature.
Since people, not angels, were meant for dominion, God would find it easier to become a person than an angel. It is thus logical to believe God, in coming to Earth, would do so as a man. “God in flesh” is not as farfetched as many think.

What does this insightful truth mean for us? If Jesus became human because it provided Him the right to rule over the creation, then our response must be to yield to His sovereignty. We should submit and obey, for Jesus is King.
In Hebrews 2:14-15 we see a second reason why Jesus had to forego the radiant nature of angels. “Since the children have flesh and blood in common, He also shared in these, so that through death He might destroy the one holding the power of death—that is, the Devil—and free those who were held in slavery all their lives by the fear of death.”
Jesus could not rule in an angelic nature; He also could not die in it. Jesus took our body to pay the penalty for our sin. Substitution for guilty sinners sentenced to die could be accomplished only by the death of an innocent victim. Thus, God had to find a way to die.
The Divine Nature cannot die, angels cannot die, but humans can. Thus, Jesus had to become a man. It was the only nature in which He could not only rule, but also die, and His death was essential to destroy the power of the Devil.
He took our nature that He might take our death. There was no other way to display the defanging of death than by Jesus going into it, and then returning from it. His resurrection was essential to prove death’s power had been broken.
Satan is destroyed, not in the sense of being annihilated, but in the sense of having been crippled by Jesus. This was no small feat. Never underestimate the power of Satan. Our text says he holds the power of death. He originated it and brought it into our world. There would have been no death had there been no Devil. Jesus, in His death, destroyed the Devil by neutralizing his power.
Jesus came to free us from the slavish fear of death. We dread its mystery, the nagging fear of meeting God. We dread death’s loneliness; we have to leave one at a time. We dread its devastation. Death rips out a body’s inhabitant, flings it into another world, and leaves, in the place of a living soul, a lifeless corpse.
Satan desires everlasting gloom for us. He wants to be our tempter and tormentor. He wants people to share his woe. He wants companions in anguish.
To avoid thinking of death, we drown our thoughts in pleasure, work, and sin, as if ignoring it makes it go away. Emperor Sigismund, dying, commanded his servants not to name death in his hearing.
Roche Foucault, an atheist, suggested we deal with death by not thinking about it, “Let’s avert our eyes and fix them on some other object.” The ostrich mentality! “Stick your head in the sand; maybe death will go away.” It doesn’t go away. Its haunting sensations always remain.
Its omnipresent inevitability quails the courage of the most gallant. Death is the dragon’s yell which “affrights the echoes till they dare not reply” (Spurgeon).
By nature, people slavishly fear death, but do not have to retain this mental bondage. For God’s children, death has been rendered powerless.
Victory over the fear of death is available to every believer. Only unbelief can cause one to remain in slavish fear to death. Have faith, at Christmas we celebrate the fact a Hero came to us and dealt death a deathblow.
For believers, Death is no longer a king of terrors. It looks ominous, but is dying. Physical death was not abolished, we still die, but it has lost its sting.
Believer, be not afraid of dying. We should dread death no more than we dread sleep. Do not fear its mystery, God who waits on the other side is our Friend. Do not fear its loneliness, at the last we will sense Another at our side. Do not fear its devastation, death is the end of sin and suffering.
Death is so powerless that it will not even get to keep our lifeless corpses. Earth shall swallow our bodies, but someday they will burst forth as Jonah from the whale’s belly, or better yet, as Jesus from the tomb. The ground will yield its prey, and even the worm shall give back the flesh whereon it fed.
Our victory in Jesus is total and absolute. He broke death’s bonds, and wants to share His resurrection with us. He endured our death, and invites us to enjoy His life.
Death has lost its sting because God bypassed the nature of angels and became one of us. As the God-man, Jesus lived to reign, and died to deliver.


Giving Begins With Ouch

Posted in Missions & Money

Giving Begins With Ouch
Prepared by Dr. John E. Marshall

From the Bible: I Chronicles 21:24, Psalm 24:1, Acts 17:25, Psalm 50:10-12

David wanted to build an altar on the threshing floor of Ornan the Jebusite. Our text tells us what David said when Ornan offered to donate the land free of charge.

I Chronicles 21:24 (Holman) King David answered Ornan, (No, I insist on paying the full price, for I will not take for the Lord what belongs to you or offer burnt offerings that cost me nothing.”

David refused to accept the land without paying for it. He knew the value of a gift is measured by the sacrifice accompanying it.

We not only need to give our offerings. We must also feel them. In giving, sacrifice is the beginning virtue, self-denial the first step. Giving begins with ouch.

Until self is denied, little is given. If today’s offering does not hurt us, we will have given only a tip, not a gift.

We generously give only when we consciously do without something we want. The best offering is one which smarts. Pure donations contain an owie.

We all need to examine our giving. Have we recently consciously given up something we wanted in order to give a pure gift of love to Jesus? Too often it’s all about us.

Believers who give regularly often slip into the trap of giving pedantically. Love’s luster can easily dull on our offerings.

The money we give can become just money, not a passionate gift of love. Our gifts, to be generous, have to carry with them a part of our own selves.

Giving self validates the offering. Until we yield our very selves, giving is tough, like pushing a heavy stone up a steep incline. If our heart is not in the giving, it is hard work, every step is a burden.

But once we give our whole selves to the Lord, all other giving becomes easy. Once we give the whole, we can give the parts gladly, and more easily acknowledge all we have already belongs to the Lord. “If a man feels that he does not own himself, much less will he feel that his goods are his own” (Maclaren).

One of the most freeing and relaxing teachings of Scripture is that God owns everything. “The earth and everything in it, the world and its inhabitants, belong to the Lord” (Psalm 24:1).

Realizing nothing belongs to us makes it easier to give to God. It helps break our emotional attachment and addiction to stuff. We are not owners. We are merely stewards, temporary trustees.

Since God owns everything anyway, there is a way in which we can rightly say we never give Him anything. In I Chronicles 29, David and the people gave profusely for work on the Lord’s house (the same thing we are trying to do through Financially Free). They rejoiced, but did not brag or feel smug.

The people had given, but David blessed God, saying He owns “everything in the heavens and on earth” (v. 11). “Riches and honor come from You” (v. 12). “God, we give You thanks” (v. 13). “Who am I and who are my people that we should be able to offer as generously as this? For everything comes from You, and we have given You only what comes from Your own hand” (v. 14).

God is not “served by human hands, as though He needed anything, since He Himself gives everyone life and breath and all things” (AC 17:25). “Every animal of the forest is Mine, the cattle on a thousand hills. I know every bird of the mountains, and the creatures of the field are Mine. If I were hungry, I would not tell you; for the world and everything in it is Mine” (Psalm 50:10-12).

Giving is our way of acknowledging all we have belongs to God, and has already been placed on the altar. God asked Abraham to offer his son, Isaac, but was actually wanting to know if He had all that was within Abraham. Isaac’s body was on the altar, but the real question was, is Abraham’s heart also on there?

We outwardly give a part to represent we have inwardly given all. To be real, our offering has to be an outward expression of an inner reality.

Symbolism is useless if divorced from the reality it claims to represent. My wedding ring is a visible token, a statement in gold of my devotion and faithfulness to Ruth, but if not matched by an inner, 100% giving of myself to her in love, the ring is a mockery.

Woodrow Kroll tells a precious story from the 1800s. C. T. Studd, a world champion cricket player, became a Christian. Soon thereafter his dad died. C. T. inherited about $150,000, a huge fortune in those days. Studd had already surrendered his life to full-time career mission service in Africa. He feared the money would always be a temptation to leave the Lord’s work and return home. C. T. had crossed a line. He had given himself, and wanted to never look back.

He gave $25,000 to missionary Hudson Taylor’s work in China, $25,000 to William Booth, founder of the Salvation Army, and $25,000 to D. L. Moody. The rest he gave to other ministries until he had $17,000 left. He gave this to his bride on their wedding day, but she refused to accept it. Her response was, “The rich young ruler was asked to give all.” With that, they gave everything to the Lord’s work, and then, penniless, left as missionaries.

God does not need our gifts. He wants our love. Our loving God desires loving echoes. Let every offering be a love-gift, a statement of passion for Him.

God wants us more than he wants anything from us. “If God doesn’t have the hand, He doesn’t want the gift that is in the hand” (McGee).

If you have not yet given yourself totally to God, when you go home today, lean back in a recliner and place your wallet on your heart as a picture of where your treasure really is. Then pray till God gives an absolute brokenness which brings a flood of tears, a heart of repentance, and a joy in giving.