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Athanasius, On the Incarnation of the Word
Athanasius utters his theological views about the incarnation of Word of God as Christ Jesus. He is addressing Jews, gentiles and the whole world, in this talk. Athanasius develops his talk from what John says in the ‘Gospel according to John’ that “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.” (John 1:1-3). Word of God is completely divine and it is the Word of God that made the whole universe evolve. Word of God manifested in human form as Christ Jesus and represented the love and goodness of father in the world, gifting precious salvation that human beings never deserved. Each and every evolution and all renewal that is happening in the world were brought by the same Word of God that made everything evolve from nothing, long centuries back. Creation as well as salvation is from the same root ‘the Word of God’. Father almighty has assigned the duty of dispensing salvation to the world to nobody else but to his Word (Christ Jesus) who is responsible for the creation of the world. The author rules out the opinion that the universe is self originated. He argues that there is a mastermind behind all these wonderful creations and nothing will appear in this beautiful fashion unless or otherwise some one plans it in his mind. Athanasius called Lord, ‘the designer and maker of everything’ and brushed off the concept of spontaneous generation. Other theories that explained creation like the ‘The Epicurean theory’, Plato’s argument and the ‘Theory of Gnostics’ were all completely disproved by Athanasius.
Athanasius says that God is the fountainhead of all goodness and it is impossible for him to me merciless towards something for which he is the father and possessor. He made everything out of nothing through his powerful most word which is our savior and Lord Jesus Christ. Mankind had a special seat in his heart from the very beginning and greatly enjoyed the privilege of his mercy and love. He honored man, which is another creation that evolved from the power of the Word of God, and presented a special grace and molded him in his own image. This was a manifestation of the mind and power of God in human beings (even though in a limited degree) which will come to its fulfillment in the resurrection of human body during the rapture in the mid-air. He kept them in the Eden Garden so that they could enjoy the grace and keep the beauty of the original innocence just protecting them from a single prohibition. If they had abided in the grace of God they could enjoy the splendor of Eden Garden in the assurance of the immortality offered by God. Since they discarded the beauty of innocence and the precious inheritance, they became liable to death and corruption.
God not only created man but also bestowed life through his breath by the power and might of his word. Man, however, bid death and corruption by being disobedient to God and obeying the counsel of devil, the destroyer. He ignored his eternal inheritance and went after corruption and wickedness. Man transgressed all the commandments and his corruption passed all limits. They invented new Gods for them (worshipped idols of stone and tree) and absolutely defiled their own soul. As St. Paul says, they “worshipping the creature rather than the Creator.” He devised new kinds of sins moving from bad to worse and never ever remembered the commandments f God. Murder and rapine ruled the world; thefts, adulteries and other corruptions conquered man. All kinds of iniquities and sins grew wild and shook the very basic of justice existed in the world. Cities fought with cities, nations had fights among each other. Various other fighting factions arose disturbing the peace and law of the world. Scripture says, “Their women changed the natural use into that which is against nature; and the men also, leaving the natural use of the woman, flamed out in lust towards each other, perpetrating shameless acts with their own sex, and receiving in their own persons the due recompense of their pervertedness.”
God wanted to reestablish the fellowship between man and God and planned to step down from heaven to earth in human form with the most beautiful gift that he can offer to mankind, the salvation. God wanted to deliver man from the law of death and desired to establish incorruption in him. The law of death which was prevailing upon man as a result of transgression also could not be taken back so that man could escape. It was unbearable for God to ignore something which was evolved as a result of the Word of God. The everlasting love and mercy of God invited the sinful man back to the presence of God. Bringing out man from corruption by bringing a simple repentance in him will not help him come out of the law of death which God cannot annul easily because of its origin from the Word of God. A simple repentance cannot reestablish the lost glory, divine beauty and the wonderful inheritance that man once possessed. The Word of God (Jesus Christ) had to redeem man from corruptibility and sin and also had to preserve the stability of the will of the God, and above all, he had to be ambassador of the heaven in earth for carrying out the plans of God. The Word of God (Christ Jesus) was the most incorruptible and incorporeal being that entered the earth in a new way stepping down from his position in heaven and expressing his love and responsibility concerning mankind which was once evolved as a result of him. He could have revealed himself in a form that establish his divine majesty and power, but took the form of a man, preparing his human body as a temple for God to dwell. It was heartbreaking for him the scene of corruption and death reigning over something for which he is the artificer. He, taking the body of a human being surrendered it to death, showing the complete submission to the will of God and obeying the rule of death (which was also evolved through the Word of God) like all other men. He revealed his sheer love for mankind by submitting to death, (thereby abolishing the rule of death and destroying the corruption) and uplifting the status of man to incorruptibility through the power of his resurrection. Both the birth and death of savior was not in a usual way. He originated from Holy Spirit choosing virginity as his mother so that no man can ever doubt his incorruptibility and divinity. He offered his body as a sacrifice and God and chose a crucified death for him since he is liable neither to sin, nor to sickness or any other form of affliction. Cross revealed his heavenly mission and true death, his body being the witness before whole world, heaven and hell. His death on the cross was very reasonable and was an open proclamation to the whole world about the free salvation offered at the cross. The physical form of Word of God being dead in the cross for the sake of humanity, rose up on the third day impassible and incorruptible as a pledge and token of the victory over sin, corruption and mortality. He displayed his body alive displaying his incorruptibility, immortality and revealed his mind to his disciples. The Word of God demonstrated his perfect love over his masterpiece (human beings) by offering his precious life as a sacrifice for them.
The crucified Word of God was visible to the whole world, both Jews and gentiles. Jews were given proper revelation about the birth and death of Christ Jesus (the Word of God) through their scriptures. His marvelous birth and wonderful offering at the cross was not concealed for Jews. “There shall arise a star from Jacob and a man from Israel, and he shall break in pieces the rulers of Moab.” (Numbers 24: 17) Scripture very well foretells his death at the cross and says. “A man that is afflicted and knows how to bear weakness, for His face is turned away. He was dishonoured and not considered, ‘He bears our sins and suffers for ‘our sakes. And we for our part thought Him distressed and afflicted and ill-used; but it was for our sins that He was wounded and for our lawlessness that He was made weak. Chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His bruising we are healed.” (Isaiah 53: 3-5). Scriptures spoke about the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ (the Word of God) right from the book of Genesis, throughout the Old Testament. No other prophet or any other personality in the Old Testament ever claimed that they are the Word of God or never displayed any heavenly property of the son of God. In spite of having various crystal clear prophesies and other proofs about the birth, death, resurrection, and the purpose and nature of life of son of God, Israel did not believe in Christ Jesus (the Word of God). Considering the case of the unbelief of the gentiles, they also refused to believe the son of God who came to earth for their sake too. Rather they opted to offer their worship and reverence to their own hand-built idols. They felt the concept of manifestation of Word of God into flesh very incredible. It is unknown why they refused to disbelieve the power of God in word (Christ Jesus) if they really love to believe the truth. If the Word of God exists in this universe and exists everywhere, why should people disbelief the concept that Word of God coming in human form that is far better accessible than any other form.
Athanasius concludes his talk by mentioning about the significance of the belief in Christ. The significance of the theological uttering of his study was very much evident in the 4th Century which was the period of the true establishment of Christianity throughout the world. The period was a time of great tribulation too. Athanasius concludes his study by telling that Son of Man (the Word of God) came to earth with a beautiful gift of salvation with complete protection from judgment. The arrival, death and resurrection of Christ Jesus broke all the strands of sin, and corruptibility and made Satan surrender before God with all his powers and weapons. Everyone who believes in Christ Jesus (Word of God) will be given eternal life and the incorruptible heaven on the second coming of the Lord Jesus Christ. Faith in Jesus Christ (Word of God) is the very basic and ultimate condition of salvation in the New Testament. Jesus during his ministry in the earth proclaimed that whoever believes in him will not perish but will have eternal life. Christ promised that he would come again for his chosen ones very soon. He himself says, “I say unto you, hereafter ye shall see the Son of Man seated on the right hand of power, coming on the clouds of heaven in the glory of the Father.” (Matt. 26: 64)
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