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Baptist Beliefs: Why did Jesus come?

Some have a wrong understanding of why Jesus came. Some suggest He came to provide human beings with a great example of how to live. While Jesus is a perfect example, He did not need to be preexistent, nor God, to accomplish this. Jesus did provide a wonderful example for all people on how to live and care for others, but neither Jesus, nor the Scriptures, presents this as the reason He came. Others suggest Jesus came to bring justice to the world now. For them, Jesus came to be a great political liberator. There is much in the Scriptures that denounces wrong and injustice, and we certainly must do the same. But that is not why He came. Jesus has promised to establish His kingdom, and He is, but He said it was not of this world (John 18:36), and it will not be consummated until His second coming.

God teaches us who He is and what He is like when Jesus comes to Earth. If God is not both holy and loving, Jesus does not come. Baptists and others in the Historic Christian Church have answered this important question by explaining truths from several doctrines. The very nature of God reveals an answer. Jesus came because God is holy, and a perfect sacrifice (I Peter 1:16-19) is necessary to reconcile unto Himself an unholy people. Jesus came because God loves people, despite their sin. (John 3:16; Rom. 5:8) Jesus came because only He can save people from their sin, and all people have sinned. (Rom. 3:10, 23) When Jesus observed the repentance of Zacchaeus, He said that “. . . the Son of Man has come to seek and save the lost.” (Luke 19:10) Jesus came because of God’s holy love and the need of a fallen humanity for salvation. The advent of Christ is the wonderful, incomparable moment in God’s great story when He came to save that which was lost and could not save itself, to restore His precious creation which had fallen. God’s love and His mercy are nearly beyond our comprehension in the powerful incarnation of Christ. No one could do what Christ came to do. Baptists believe and confess that there is salvation in no one else but Jesus Christ. (BF&M Article IV) That is why He came.

The matchless humility of Jesus in his coming is crucial for understanding who God is and what He is like. The prologue of John begins with the often quoted truth that the Word Who became flesh was none other than the eternal Son of God. (John 1:1-14) He was born on Earth Jesus of Nazareth, and He was (and is) the Messiah, Savior and Lord. He was conceived by the Holy Spirit, the “virginal conception.” (Luke 1:34-35; Matt. 1:18)  He was born in a humble place, but that setting pales at the truth that God, the Son, was born a baby in that manger. God took upon Himself humanity to accomplish His mission. His humble coming was predicted long before He came.  (Luke 24:44; Isa. 7:13-15; Micah 5:2) He came to be a perfect substitute and sacrifice for our sin. If we capture anything about the incarnation of Jesus, we must recognize that this nearly incomprehensible act of God tells us what the true and living God is like. Southern Baptist theologian James Leo Garrett, Jr. has affirmed that, “The incarnation is not a marginal or peripheral Christian teaching that is negotiable with its insistent modern rejectors. It belongs rather to the very center of the historic and essential Christian affirmations.” That is how and why He came.

The Bible reveals to us the great reason why Jesus Christ came to be born in Bethlehem some 2,000 years ago. He came to save sinners, who cannot save themselves.

We must both live obediently and give sacrificially because we understand why Jesus came. Understanding why Jesus came should compel  us to global mission. We hold that true beliefs influence true obedience, and there simply cannot be true obedience if we are not fulfilling God’s great mission and commission. That is why we as Southern Baptists give throughout each year to the Cooperative Program. It is that important! At this time of year, we give to the Lottie Moon Christmas offering completely dedicated to funding international missions. Because we understand why He came, we give, send and go! Because we understand, we tell others about Jesus and invite them to turn from their sin and believe in Him.

 

Mark McClellan

Author: Mark McClellan

Mark McClellan is the Dean of the Hershel H. Hobbs College of Theology and Ministry and professor of theology and missions at OBU.

View more articles by Mark McClellan.

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  • pam knight

    God in the man is indispensible for man to function as God created man to function Col 1:27 Gal 2:20

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