Miracle One, Miracle Two
The baby in Mary’s womb was completely human. And the Divine Spirit in Him, united with His human spirit, was completely divine. The unseen Creator finally was able to perfectly express Himself through a visible human being — the Son of God. This was miracle one…
As Isaiah said before: “Unless the LORD of Sabaoth had left us a seed, we would have become like Sodom, and we would have been made like Gomorrah.” (Romans 9:29)
The greatest miracle in human history was the incarnation. God came to earth and dwelt in human flesh. The second greatest, you could say, is that we today would believe in Him.
When Adam fell, something happened that we can barely understand. Something deep in human nature changed. Did Adam’s sin somehow affect his genetic pattern, turning on or off a “switch,” as scientists call it, in his DNA? Maybe so. All we know is that every person born of Adam’s seed has inherited a tendency toward sin. No matter how much good a person chooses to do he will at some point fail. Out of his deep self-concern, he will do things against his conscience[fn]The conscience is not, as some psychologists claim, standards imposed on the individual by society. It is not even the ideals that a person sets for himself. It is the vice-regent of God, the part of the human soul that rules human thought and behavior for the Creator. The conscience acts as the moral judge of our thoughts and actions, letting us know whether we are conforming to natural law — the instinctive knowledge of good and evil.[/fn] and hurtful to others. And just as God warned Adam in the garden, death is the inevitable result.
Human beings were not created to be selfish, though. We were created in the image of God. Nothing in our original makeup was inclined toward sin. But once the first man sinned, that image of God in us was marred. For thousands of years people who wanted to do right said in their hearts, “Oh, if only Adam hadn’t fallen!” For thousands of years, God longed to rescue such people.
He was waiting for just the right time. He had a plan. He had somehow preserved the essence of unfallen man — a seed. How did He do it? We don’t know. But when the right time came, He found someone willing to do His will — an Israelite virgin named Miriam (or Mary, as she is often called). His Spirit came upon her, and His power overshadowed her, and the miracle happened. The genetic pattern, or seed, that God had preserved was placed in the ovum in Miriam’s womb. The chromosomes were completed[fn]Every cell in the human body has 46 chromosomes (23 pairs) which determine the makeup of that person’s body. An unfertilized egg cell, or ovum, has only 23 single chromosomes. It needs the other 23, normally supplied by the male sperm cell, to begin growth of a new human being. The Holy Spirit supplied the 23 chromosomes of unfallen humanity, and the Savior of the world was conceived.[/fn] and an unfallen human being was conceived. And at that very moment divine nature — the One that John’s gospel calls the Word — came to dwell in human flesh.
And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth. (John 1:14)
This new man was not some weird half-god, half-man like the perverted stories in Greek mythology. The baby in Miriam’s womb was completely human. And the Divine Spirit in Him, united with His human spirit, was completely divine. The unseen Creator finally was able to perfectly express Himself through a visible human being — the Son of God. It was just as He said to Pontius Pilate at His trial:
For this cause I was born, and for this cause I have come into the world, that I should bear witness to the truth. (John 18:37)
The man Yahshua of Nazareth (commonly called Jesus) was born: he began as a tiny embryo, developed in the womb, and was delivered one night in a stable. The Word of God, who had always existed, came into the world. And the Word incarnate in the man Yahshua, as one united person, bore witness to the truth about what God was really like.[fn]It is important to understand that Jesus “came in the flesh” (1 John 4:2; Hebrews 4:15; 5:7-9). Like any other nursing babe or young child, He was limited in His understanding of who He was. It was only as He grew in wisdom and stature that He gained revelation of His identity and His purpose. His understanding grew slowly and steadily until His baptism. Then, when He heard those words from on high, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased” He was finally able to embark upon His mission of salvation with unshakable certainty (Matthew 3:16-17). This is the same certainty He promised to His disciples after He rose from the dead (Acts 1:8).[/fn]
For thirty years or so He lived quietly among other human beings in a small village. Strangely, they didn’t see God in Him. Maybe they weren’t looking for the right things. Maybe they wanted to see something great and powerful. Maybe they wanted to hear something awesome. But just as the prophet Isaiah foretold, He didn’t have a stately or attractive appearance. He wasn’t successful or influential. He was a man of pain and sorrow, familiar with weakness and grief. He hurt over the suffering and the injustice He saw everywhere. Compassion ran deep in Him.
He didn’t express sadness and depression, though. He expressed love — a love so perfect that He gave His life as a ransom for us. He bore the penalty for sin that we deserved, just as Isaiah prophesied about Him. And Isaiah also said why He did it:
When you make His soul an offering for sin, He shall see His seed. He shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in his hand. (Isaiah 53:10)
What the Savior of mankind was looking for when He bore our sins on the cross was His seed. Isaiah’s prophecy was not talking about descendants from our Master’s physical seed. It was, however, speaking of a “new humanity” — those who would be cleansed by His sacrifice so that the Holy Spirit could dwell in them. By the Spirit’s work, they would be conformed to their Savior’s image. They would resemble Him by doing what He did.
This is a very important point. He told the Jewish leaders who wanted to kill Him that if they were Abraham’s seed, they would do the deeds of Abraham.[fn]John 8:39[/fn] In the same way the “seed” of the Savior would be found doing His deeds. “As I have loved you,” He said in John 13:34-35, “so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
Those first disciples did love each other. The evidence is recorded in the book of Acts. They placed no priority higher than devotion to their Savior’s commands and care for one another.[fn]Acts 2:42-47; 4:32-35[/fn] God’s purpose prospered in their hands as they spread that life of love from one town to another. But something happened to the early Church, something which can be summed up in two words and explained in a few more. They fell.
The story of the Church in Ephesus is typical of them all. In the book of Revelation, John described their condition. They had done many good deeds, had labored hard and endured much. They were not tolerating wicked people in their midst, and they had exposed false apostles. But they had forgotten the most important thing. It was the very thing Paul had emphasized in his letter to the Ephesians a generation before — to love the Savior with an undying, incorruptible love.[fn]Ephesians 6:24; Paul even warned the Corinthians that those who ceased to love their Savior would be cut off and under a curse (1 Corinthians 16:22; John 14:15; John 13:34-35).[/fn]
I hold this against you: You have forsaken your first love. Remember the height from which you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first. If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place. (Revelation 2:4-5)
They had fallen, but if they acted quickly, they could still repent. They could return to doing the deeds of love the disciples had done at first.[fn]Acts 2:42-47; 4:32-35[/fn] Sad to say, they did not, as even a casual glance at Church history shows. They left love behind them and moved on to other things, like arguing over doctrine. When the deeds of love were gone, their light no longer shone before men. They were not the light of the world.[fn]Matthew 5:14-16[/fn] Instead the consciences of most were dirty[fn]Which is what “stained garments” in Revelations 3:4 signifies.[/fn] and The Holy Spirit was grieved within them.[fn]Revelation 3:19-20[/fn] So the expressions of His love and oneness[fn]John 13:35 and 17:23[/fn] died off in every place.[fn]1 Peter 2:12; 1 Timothy 2:8; 1 Corinthians 1:2; and Malachi 1:11[/fn] One by one, the lampstands were taken away. They were cut off and God no longer acknowledged them. Most didn’t even notice. Life went on.
Since they were no longer devoted to love, those who joined them did so for other reasons. The spiritual “seed” was not passed on. New “converts” did not receive the Divine Spirit of love. After a while, as the thousands of sincere ones who had been sealed with the Holy Spirit died off, there were hardly any left who actually had the Holy Spirit living inside them. When the last one died, the Holy Spirit had nowhere to live on the earth. He returned to where He came from.
And so we have had almost 2000 years of fallen religion. The spiritual “seed” being passed on from generation to generation was not the same pure, unfallen “seed” that brought about the first Church. It wasn’t the same seed because they weren’t doing the same deeds.[fn] John 8:39[/fn] Does that seem like a harsh and unfair statement? Does Church history actually show the abundant fruit of being led by the Spirit? And didn’t the Son of God tell us that we would know a tree by its fruit?
Consider the doctrinal quarrels of the second and third centuries, the politically forced “unity” of the fourth century, and the resulting persecution of dissenters in all the centuries to follow? What about the unrestrained butchering, rape, and robbery of the Crusades and the inhuman tortures of the Inquisition? What about the gross immoralities and political intrigues of the popes and bishops prior to the Reformation era? What about the religious wars that resulted from the Reformation? What about the continued persecution of dissenters by both Catholicism and Protestantism, until modern secular states took away their power to do so? What about the multiplied quarrels and denominational splits that have happened in the last few centuries, once politically enforced “unity” was removed? Aren’t these things just the deeds of the flesh described by Galatians 5:19-20? Can those who do such things inherit the kingdom of God?
Some admit that Christian leaders have fallen into sin down through the years. But on the whole, they say, the rank-and-file believers have always sincerely followed Jesus, just like today.[fn]Ephesians 6:24[/fn] There are two problems with this kind of thinking, though. One is that, according to the Son of God, a student is not above his teacher.[fn]Luke 6:40[/fn] Instead, everyone, when fully trained, will be just like his teacher. If the leaders and teachers were corrupt, you know that their congregations were corrupt as well. This is what the Word of God Himself said.
The second problem is assuming that Christians today are, on the whole, true disciples who are being a light to the world. But that’s not the way it is, according to Barna Research, a Christian polling organization. Not only are “born-again” Christians not devoted to loving as our Master loved, they are not even morally superior to their non-Christian neighbors.[fn]Really, though, what else can lonely individuals do? They nearly always sink to the lowest common denominator of the evil society they live in. That is why at Pentecost, Peter called people out of the “wicked and perverse generation.” He brought them into a place of fellowship: the “Community of the Redeemed.” As Acts 2:40-46 describes, those who were saved lived an entirely new life. They were completely focused on what the apostles taught. They shared everything with one another, right down to every meal they ate. They became a new, set-apart nation, as Peter later called them in 1 Peter 2:9-10. Together they were the city on a hill and light to the world that the Master talked about in Matthew 5:14. Not one of them could have been that city on his own. As Isaiah 49:6 points out, they could only be that light together, as a holy, set-apart nation. Such a holy nation is the only place where the set-apart, Holy Spirit can dwell.[/fn] One Barna Project Director admitted, “We have found that in a lot of ways Christians are not living different lives than non-Christians, when we look at their behavior.[fn]Otherwise known as deeds (John 8:39; 13:34-35).[/fn] It’s hard for Christians to understand because it seems contrary to what people think would happen.”[fn]“Born-Again Christians No More Immune to Divorce Than Others, Says Author,” — CNSNews.com report, January 21, 2002.[/fn] (See also "If the Foundations are Destroyed, What can the Righteous Do?".)
So we face the apparent reality that the Holy Spirit, the pure spiritual “seed” of the early Church, has not been on the earth for nearly 2000 years. This is hard to understand. As the Barna Project Director said, it seems contrary to what people think would happen. But if there was no pure human seed on earth after the fall of man, why should there be a pure spiritual “seed” on the earth after the fall of the Church? And if God waited 4000 years for the right time to redeem humanity, why wouldn’t He wait 2000 years for the right time to restore the Church?
When the right time came for redemption, He needed someone to work through. He found one person, Miriam, who was completely surrendered to His will. She said, “I am the Lord’s servant, and I am willing to accept whatever He wants.”[fn]Luke 1:38 (New Living Translation)[/fn] For this reason, He was free to bring about the great miracle of the incarnation.
We live now in a very crucial time. Now, more than ever, there is a need for the Holy Spirit, the pure “seed” of the early Church, to dwell in human beings who are set apart for His purpose. The world needs to see the same deeds of love that the first disciples were devoted to. The light of the world must be restored, because the world is getting darker.[fn]Luke 1:79[/fn] Forces are at work to bring together all the governments of the world, just as it says in Revelation 17:12-13. Other forces are bringing together all the fallen religions, as in Revelation 18:2, 14:8, and 17:5. And government and religion are also being brought together, as in Revelation 17:1-2,18 and 18:3,9.
We believe that the miracle of restoration is happening. At just the right time, our Father found a man who was ready and willing to surrender completely to Him and do His will — a man who said in his heart, “All I want to do is love.” He entrusted that man with His Holy Spirit — the pure spiritual seed that had been preserved for just that time. That man went out and found others who were willing to do God’s will. When he told them what was in his heart about following the Son of God and loving like He loved, they knew that what he was talking about was from God.[fn]John 7:17[/fn]
When they received that message of love and entrusted themselves completely to the Savior, they received that same Spirit. Soon they found themselves living in a Community, just as the first disciples had in Acts, because His love had been poured out into their hearts.[fn]Romans 5:5[/fn] They didn’t plan on living that way. All they wanted to do was just love one another. But when they started loving, they started sharing, and Community was the result. Community is always the result of loving as He loved.[fn]John 13:34-35[/fn] It is the place of refuge for those who hate their life in this world and want to serve Jesus Christ where He is.[fn]John 12:25-26[/fn]
Thirty years later, loving as our Master loved is still all we want to do. We wish that everyone could share this life of love with us. Given all the division and confusion and corruption and compromise in Christian history, the life we are experiencing is a miracle. It still hardly seems possible that our Father would once again entrust us human beings with the pure life of His Holy Spirit. It must be the greatest miracle in history — or, at least, the second greatest.