Grace for the New Year

John Newton wrote “Amazing Grace” for a New Year’s service at his church:

[GOD’S PAST GRACE]
Amazing grace! (how sweet the sound)
That sav’d a wretch like me!
I once was lost, but now am found,
Was blind, but now I see.

‘Twas grace that taught my heart to fear,
And grace my fears reliev’d;
How precious did that grace appear
The hour I first believ’d!

[GOD’S PRESENT GRACE]
Through many dangers, toils, and snares,
I have already come;
‘Tis grace has brought me safe thus far,
And grace will lead me home.

[GOD’S FUTURE GRACE]
The Lord has promis’d good to me,

His word my hope secures:
He will my shield and portion be,
As long as life endures.

Yes, when this flesh and heart shall fail,
And mortal life shall cease,
I shall possess, within the veil,
A life of joy and peace.

The earth shall soon dissolve like snow,
The sun forbear to shine;
But God, who call’d me here below,
Will be forever mine.

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Emmanuel! (29)

Though in our sin we are rebels deserving only the censure and judgment of God, in our human state apart from sin, that human experience into which Jesus entered, we are the glory of the entire creation. We are made like Him, as like Him as any creature could be made; and we are made for Him, for fellowship with Him to all eternity. The real marvel of incarnation is not that God should become man, but that He should do so for us men and for our salvation. At the end of the day, it is not chiefly a marvel of the mind, but a marvel of the heart.

—Nigel M. de S. Cameron, Complete in Christ, 28

Emmanuel! (28)

Break forth, O beauteous heav’nly light,
and usher in the morning;
O shepherds, shrink not with affright,
but hear the angel’s warning.
This Child, now weak in infancy,
our confidence and joy shall be;
the pow’r of Satan breaking,
our peace eternal making.

Break forth, O beauteous heav’nly light,
to herald our salvation;
He stoops to earth—the God of might,
our hope and expectation.
He comes in human flesh to dwell,
our God with us, Immanuel;
the night of darkness ending,
our fallen race befriending.

—Johann von Rist (1641), translated by John Troutbec

Emmanuel! (27)

“And the Word became flesh. . . . [Jesus said] My flesh is true food, and My blood is true drink. He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in Him.” John 1:14; 6:55-56)

The Eternal Son took on human nature, but more than that, took on flesh, dilapidated human nature, so that He could restore it. He entered fully into the world of sin and death so that He could bring life and righteousness. Light entered the darkness so that darkness could be turned to light.

And now Jesus tells us that this flesh that He took on has become food, food that gives life, food that binds Him to us and us to Him. The bread on this table is not another incarnation of Jesus. It would be a sin, and a grievous one, if we were to bow down and worship this bread in the way the wise men bowed down to worship the infant Jesus. But through this bread we do feed on Jesus, the living and life-giving Incarnate Son of God.

Jesus is the bread that came down from heaven: He who eats and drinks of Jesus has eternal life, and Jesus will raise you up on the last day.

—Peter Leithart (blogpost)

Emmanuel! (18)

Leader: Let us now proclaim our faith with the saints of the ages:

All: We profess that God fulfilled the promise
that He had made to the early fathers
by the mouth of His holy prophets
when He sent his only and eternal Son into the world
at the time set by Him.
The Son took the “form of a servant”
and was made in the “likeness of man,”
truly assuming a real human nature,
with all its weaknesses, except for sin;
being conceived in the womb of the blessed virgin Mary
by the power of the Holy Spirit,
without male participation.
And He not only assumed human nature
as far as the body is concerned
but also a real human soul,
in order that He might be a real human being.
For since the soul had been lost as well as the body,
He had to assume them both to save them both together.
In this way He is truly our Immanuel—
that is: “God with us.”

Belgic Confession (1561), Article 18

Emmanuel! (17)

“For He who sanctifies and those who are sanctified all have one source. That is why He is not ashamed to call them brethren, saying,

‘I will tell of your name to My brethren;
in the midst of the congregation I will sing Your praise.'”  (Hebrews 2:11-12)

The writer uses some of the boldest incarnational language in the New Testament in order to define the identity of Jesus as the Son of the Father, but at the same time maintains a radical emphasis on His humanity. His reason for demonstrating the latter is to establish the right of Jesus to be the high priest or mediator of the New Covenant.  The role of the priest was to act on behalf of the people in relation to the holy presence of God. In order to represent the people, the priest had to be both one of the people and chosen by God to fulfil this role.  Jesus qualified on both grounds, as our brother (2.11) and as God’s Son (5.5).

Christopher Cocksworth, “The Cross, Our Worship and Our Living,” Atonement Today, 116