Monday, April 15, 2019

Book Review: Why Christ Came

Why Christ Came: 31 Meditations on the Incarnation. Joel R. Beeke & William Boekestein. 2013. Reformation Heritage. 108 pages. [Source: Bought]

From the introduction: “Why” is a marvelous teacher because it helps us identify the meaning of the events we observe. Rudyard Kipling called the interrogative “why” one of the “six honest serving men” who taught him all he knew.

In this devotional, Joel Beeke shares thirty-one answers to the question WHY DID CHRIST COME?! If you are stumped to come up with an answer to this all-important, ever-relevant question then I encourage you to read this bible-saturated devotional for yourself.

There are, of course, more than thirty-one answers or reasons to the question. In the introduction, he notes: "The number of reasons for which Christ came into the world may ultimately surpass the number of people He came to save." Now that's food for thought.

At the center of every devotional, every reason, there is Scripture. Each devotional ultimately points readers to Jesus Christ and directs them to praise and worship.

My first review of Why Christ Came shared a small handful of reasons. I won't repeat any of those quotes here. Instead, I'll share different reasons:

To Bring Light to a Dark World (#3)

  • In Christ’s suffering, particularly in the crucifixion, the darkest blot was painted on the brightest canvas. Christ came as the brightness of God’s glory, in true and complete innocence, to reveal the abominable character of sin (Heb. 1:3; cf. Ezek. 8:3–4).
  • We can’t make sense of our lives until “God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ” (2 Cor. 4:6). As the pillar of fire who led His people through the wilderness (Ex. 13:21; 14:20), the Lord Jesus Christ has called out of darkness and into His marvelous light a “chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people,” to show forth His praises (1 Peter 2:9). Calvin says, “If the whole wisdom of the world were collected into one mass, not a single ray of the true light would be found in that vast heap; but, on the contrary, it will be found a confused chaos; for it belongs to Christ alone to deliver us from darkness.”

To Be Made Like His People (#4)

  • In Christ’s incarnation, God teaches us that we cannot solve our problems on our own. We cannot attain perfection and peace by our own strength. But in Christ, God has done it for us. In the words of church father Irenaeus of Lyon, “When He became incarnate, and was made man, He commenced afresh the long line of human beings, and furnished us, in a brief, comprehensive manner, with salvation; so that what we had lost in Adam—namely, to be according to the image and likeness of God—that we might recover in Christ Jesus.” Christ came to be like us so that His death would accomplish healing for us. Apart from a true incarnation, there is no true atonement.
  • Our salvation does not depend on our performance but on Christ’s. In His human obedience, we have a grand demonstration that Christ will never fail us. Christ did not come to earth simply to be our moral teacher. If that were His only mission, He could have come as He did in former times, as the Angel of the LORD, without our flesh and blood to encumber Him. Instead, He had to become like us so that He could raise us up to be like Him.
  • By faith, when we think of Christ, we should see ourselves in Him. As we glimpse at the manger of His birth we can say, “This is my brother, my flesh and blood.” As He grows and matures and continues to do the will of God, we can say, “This is my brother, my flesh and blood.” As He goes to the cross and bleeds and dies, we can say, “This is my brother, my flesh and blood.” When we see Christ seated at the right hand of God the Father Almighty, we can say, “This is my brother, my flesh and blood.” And when we see Christ return on clouds of glory to take us home to be with Him we will say, “This is my brother, my flesh and blood.” Because of the incarnation, believers can say of Christ what Adam said of Eve—“This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh”—and what the apostle Paul says to the Ephesians: “We are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones” (5:30).

To Give Eternal Life (#7)

  • Believers must not just think or talk about Jesus; they must feast on Him. How do we feast on Him? 
  • First, we develop an appetite for Christ by committing our hearts to Him, knowing that only He can satisfy our deepest longings. We learn to say of Christ, “Thou art my God; early will I seek thee: my soul thirsteth for thee, my flesh longeth for thee in a dry and thirsty land, where no water is…. My soul shall be satisfied as with marrow and fatness; and my mouth shall praise thee with joyful lips” (Ps. 63:1, 5).
  • Second, we meditate upon Him. We must recollect and reflect on all that we learn of Christ. We reflect on His names, His states, His works, and His words. Then we apply every “bite” of His person and work to our lives.
  • Third, we delight in Him. God gave us food not only to strengthen us physically but also to cheer us. Christ is not just the food we need; He is also the food that we desire and our portion forever (Ps. 73:25–26). We cry out with the psalmist, “O taste and see that the LORD is good: blessed is the man that trusteth in him” (Ps. 34:8).
  • Finally, we feed upon Him regularly. Our bodies must be fed daily to maintain our health and strength. When God rained down manna in the wilderness, His people had to gather it daily (Ex. 16:4–5). Some of us have little spiritual vitality because we fail to feed on Christ day by day. Over time, we become spiritually anorexic. We should realize that every part of Scripture speaks of Christ (John 5:39). Thus, every time we read a passage of God’s Word, we should ask how it bears witness to Him. We make Christ our favorite daily food.

To Die (#17)

  • Jesus was born to die. It is hard for us to grasp that truth, for we were created to live, not to die. Death is an intruder and a great enemy to life. Yet we may also find it comforting that Jesus came to die. Hebrews 9:27 says, “It is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment.” We each have an appointed time to die. So did Jesus. He came to earth to die so that He, “for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour…by the grace of God should taste death for every man” (Heb. 2:9). As the familiar Christmas hymn points out: “Mild He lays His glory by / Born that man no more may die.”
  • Jesus knows that His death will bring glory to God by satisfying justice, repelling the curse against sin, defeating the devil, and securing a people zealous to praise His Father. So Jesus presses on. Christ was born with a death sentence already hanging over him at the manger. That thought should bring us some gravity as we reflect on our Lord’s advent. But it should also help us see the utter resolve of Christ to redeem His people.

This little book is a treasure. I love, love, love it!

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

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