When we think of God, we often think of Him as a transcendent being, far above and beyond this world. This would be the case whether we were mystics, Deists, or philosophers. Or, we might think of Him as a being who dwells within us. Or as a being who is both transcendent and indwelling.
Certainly, Christianity teaches both the transcendence and the immanence of God. But this, while true, is not enough, and what Christianity teaches about God goes further: God is incarnate.
Jesus Christ is God in the flesh, God made tangible, God as a human being, God revealing Himself to us in the only way we can truly understand, God for us.
In one of his most striking passages, Luther warns about trying to contemplate God as an abstraction or in His glory apart from Christ. If we try to think of God apart from Christ, Luther writes, He will be “intolerable.” Rather, particularly when we think of our salvation, “We must look at no other God than this incarnate and human God.”
Read what Luther says about this after the jump.
From Martin Luther, Lectures on Galatians: Chapters 1-4, trans. Jaroslav Pelikan (Luther’s Works Vol. 26; St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1963 ), 29:
True Christian theology . . . does not present God to us in His majesty, as Moses and other teachings do, but Christ born of the Virgin as our Mediator and High Priest. Therefore when we are embattled against the Law, sin, and death in the presence of God, nothing is more dangerous than to stray into heaven with our idle speculations, there to investigate God in His incomprehensible power, wisdom, and majesty, to ask how He created the world and how He governs it. . . .For as in His own nature God is immense, incomprehensible, and infinite, so to man’s nature He is intolerable. . . . .
Therefore when you consider the doctrine of justification and wonder how or where or in what condition to find a God who justifies or accepts sinners, then you must know that there is no other God than this Man Jesus Christ. Take hold of Him; cling to Him with all your heart, and spurn all speculation about the Divine Majesty; for whoever investigates the majesty of God will be consumed by His glory. . . .
We must look at no other God than this incarnate and human God.
Martin Luther, Lectures on Galatians: Chapters 1-4, trans. Jaroslav Pelikan (Luther’s Works Vol. 26; St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1963 ), 29