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The Purpose of Christ’s Birth

December 21, 2012


“For this I was born, and for this I have come into the world, to bear witness to the truth.” The connection between this and what we have said till now is that the Christ who came into the world to bear witness to the truth is God, and no one can more reliably present the truth than God. For God is the author of all truth and wills to make it known reliably.

If there were two deities—two gods—equally powerful and opposed to each other in conflict for the rule of the world, neither of these deities could be counted on to reveal truth. If their goals were to rule the world and they were threatened by each other, we might well expect that they would use deceit to gain an advantage. And so truth would not be a priority. Not so with the God and Father of our Lord, Jesus Christ. He is the one and only God, and there is none besides him. He is threatened by no one. Even Satan, his archenemy, is completely subordinate with his bounds fixed. Therefore, God has no fault, no weakness, no finitude that he ever needs to hide by deceit. God is so sovereign, so perfect and glorious that the truth will always redound to his honor. Therefore, God is committed to revealing the truth reliably because he wills to be known and glorified for who he really is.

And how better to reveal the truth about God that we might glorify and love him, than to send the Son, the very image and reflection of God, into the world? One time Thomas said to Jesus,

“Lord, we don’t know where you are going. How can we know the way?” Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but by me. If you had known me you would have known my Father; henceforth you know him and have seen him.” And Philip said to him, “Lord, show us the Father, and we shall be satisfied.” Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you so long and yet you do not know me, Philip? He who has seen me has seen the Father.”

Jesus is the truth because he is the image of the true God. He is the way to the Father because as 1 John 2:23 says, “No one who denies the Son has the Father. He who confesses the Son has the Father also.” You can’t have the Father if you reject the Son. If our heart does not go out in love to Jesus, then we cannot say that we know God. And that would mean that there is no life within us. Because Jesus says in John 17:3, “This is eternal life, that they know thee, the only true God and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.”

So there are two wonderful things implied in the statement, “I have come into the world to bear witness to the truth.” One is that in revealing God, the origin of all truth, Jesus glorified his Father. This is exactly what he says in his prayer in John 17:4, “I glorified thee on earth, having accomplished the work thou gavest me to do.” The work God gave him to do was to testify to the truth, and in doing that God was shown to be very glorious; sovereign in his freedom, marvelous in his power, and beautiful in his moral perfections, especially his mercy to us sinners.

The other wonderful thing implied in Christ’s coming to testify to the truth is eternal life. If, as Jesus said in John 17:3, “This is eternal life, to know thee, the only true God,” then the purpose of Jesus to bear witness to the truth of God must mean that his purpose is to give eternal life. Which is what John 3:17 says: “God sent the Son into the world not to condemn the world, but that the world through him might be saved.”

So, the purpose of Christ’s coming into the world is to testify to the truth of God, so that man might glorify God for who he is and might thereby come to have eternal life.

John Piper

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