george hancock stefanAbout three decades ago, I tried to read a book but could not move beyond the second page. I read the first page about 5 times and as I turned the page, I came to conclusion that I had not the foggiest idea of what the author was writing about. I can tell you where I was and how warm was on that spring day. While I think of myself as a sufficiently educated person to understand most of the things that I read, I had to conclude that there will be things in life that I will not understand.

I am writing this because as a Christian and as a Pastor, I am often asked if I understand the Incarnation. I can give you a pretty succinct outline I can tell you that the incarnation plan was not forced on the Holy Trinity because of the sin of Adam and Eve. I can tell you that God was not surprised by their sin when he promised that out of the sin of the woman there will come one who will defeat the seed of the serpent, the Devil. I can tell you all the prophecies that have been uttered until the conception. I can tell you that in the fullness of time, Christ was born of a woman. I can tell you those sections of the scripture that show the divinity of Jesus Christ and those sections which demonstrate his humanity. I can take you to the ecumenical councils that have debated and concluded that Jesus Christ, the Son of God and the Son of Man is fully human and fully divine.

However, when it comes to the how of the incarnation, I am as awed as the virgin Mary when she said to the angel, “How can this be?” How can the Triune God, One God in three Persons, mysteriously reduce self to enter the reproductive system of a woman so that his humanity will be fully human? How can the glorious, holy God whose holiness is an incessant fire, indwell a human person without destroying that person in the process?

I am left with a confession that I do not understand the ways of God. The prophet Isaiah has intoned that His ways are higher than our ways and His thoughts are higher than my thoughts and His actions are beyond my ability to comprehend. As on that sunny spring afternoon when I had to confess to myself that I had no idea what the book was trying to convey, I have had situations in my life in which I had to confess that I had no inkling of what God was doing.

As I was struggling with this idea, I came up with an answer for my dilemma. Like the psalmists I come to God not because I always understand God, but because God has been faithful to His word and trustworthy in His promises. When the Israelites were praying for God to deliver them, they had historical events in which God has delivered them. When I come to God it is not because I understand God always, but because in the things that I understand about God, I find God to be consistent and logical in the things that He does.


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Moreover, in addition to our ability to reason, God has given the Holy Spirit to those who come to Him by faith. As the Holy Spirit has overshadowed Mary so that the Infant that was born was called the Son of the Most Holy God, so the Holy Spirit lifts us to the level where we can understand the things of God. He who comes to Him must believe that He exists and that he rewards those who diligently seek after Him (Hebrews 11:6).

When I reflect on the Incarnation, together with millions who celebrated this marvelous event in the past, I proclaim, “Great is the mystery of our God!”

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Rev. Dr. George Hancock-Stefan

George Hancock-Stefan

Pastor George Hancock-Stefan completed 30 years as the pastor of the great congregation at Central Baptist Church in Atlantic Highlands in 2020. Those 30 years have been a blessed time for him, his wife...