Foundation for Reformed Theology


At Christmas we hear again the great good news that God has come to be "with us" in the birth of his son, Jesus Christ.

This was prophesied in Isaiah 7:14, "Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel" (which name means, "God is with us").

Consider what Reformed theologian Karl Barth has to say about "God with us."
Karl Barth on Immanuel

"God with us" means God with the man for whom salvation is intended and ordained as such, as the one who is created, preserved and over-ruled by God as man. It is not as though the expectation belonged to his created being. It is not as though he had any kind of claim to it. God cannot be forced to give us a part in His divine being. The matter might have ended quite well with that general grace of being--which even in itself is great enough.

But where God is not bound and man has no claim, even more compelling is the will and plan and promise of God. It goes beyond, or rather it precedes His will and work as Creator. Therefore it has to be distinguished from it, as something prior, which precedes it.

The ordaining of salvation for man and of man for salvation is the original and basic will of God, the ground and purpose of His will as Creator. It is not that He first wills and works the being of the world and man, and then ordains it to salvation.

But God creates, preserves and then over-rules man for this prior end and with this prior purpose, that there may be a being distinct from Himself ordained for salvation, for perfect being, for participation in His own being, because as the One who loves in freedom He has determined to exercise redemptive grace--and that there may be an object of this His redemptive grace, a partner to receive it.

Karl Barth, Church Dogmatics, edited by G. W. Bromiley and T. F. Torrance, IV/1 (Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 1956), pp. 9-10, emphasis added.
Dr. James C. Goodloe IV So let us rejoice again at Christmas that our salvation in Jesus Christ is in fulfillment of "the original and basic will of God"!

Grace and Peace,

Dr. James C. Goodloe IV,
Executive Director
Foundation for Reformed Theology
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