Mon, Dec 25, 2017

Christmas 2017 "I'm Fine!" Matthew 1:18-25

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MATTHEW 1:18-25

            It is hard to believe that another year has gone by and here we are once again celebrating the birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Now I think most of us understand that the meaning of Christmas has changed and not for the better, over the years.

            And the reason it has changed is that we have lost our focus of what we are celebrating, the birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ as I have said. People don’t see themselves as sinners separated from God, they believe that they are fine!

            When Julie and I were on vacation in Texas in October we stayed in a hotel a couple of nights before heading to Deer Lake Cabins, the ranch we were staying at. And on the morning we were to go to the ranch I packed our bags and went out to put them in the car.

            As I opened the side door of the hotel and went out I saw this woman lying in the bushes! She was flat on her back and did not look too good. I quickly went over to her and asked her if she was okay. And without hesitation she said, “I’m fine!”

            I said to her, “Mam, you are lying in the bushes on your back and you can’t get up!” And she said, “I’m fine!”

            Now I don’t care how many times a person can say that, if you are lying on your back in the bushes and unable to get up, you are not fine!

            So, long story short, I called the paramedics and they took her away, even though she did not want to go. I guess she was just going to lay there because, as she told me and the paramedics, “I’m fine!”

            And that truly is man today, they feel that they are fine, that there is nothing wrong and they are a mess!

            But that is not how it started out, not at all! In the beginning, when God created the heavens and the earth, created them out of nothing, and it was good!

            So, God created the earth and separated the waters from the land. He created all the trees, grass, that were able to reproduce after their own kind, And God saw that it was good. Genesis 1:12.

            He created the sun, the moon, the stars and all the planets that are out there, And God saw that it was good. Genesis 1:17.

            Then God created the sea creatures after their kind as well as the birds of the air. The seas and the skies were filled with life, And God saw that it was good. Genesis 1:21.

            And then God created life on the land, the beasts of the earth, the cattle, And God saw that it was good. Genesis 1:25.

            Then we are told, Then God said, ‘Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.’ So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. Then God blessed them, and God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth.’ And God said, ‘See, I have given you every herb that yields seed which is on the face of all the earth, and every tree whose fruit yields seed; to you it shall be for food. Also, to every beast of the earth, to every bird of the air, and to everything that creeps on the earth, in which there is life, I have given every green herb for food’; and it was so. Then God saw everything that He had made, and indeed it was very good. So the evening and the morning were the sixth day. Genesis 1:26-31.

            When God was done with His creation it was very good. Adam and Eve were there in the Garden and there was no death, no violence, just peace and harmony with all life. The animals as well as man were vegetarians.

            Now, as you read that you may be wondering, “If that is true, and it is, then what in the world happened? I don’t see any peace and harmony today. What happened?”

            God gave Adam and Eve a choice. In Genesis 2:16-17 we are told, And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, ‘Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.’

            Here we see God tell Adam that all this is for him to eat, all that is in the Garden, except for that one tree. You see, Adam had a free will, he had a choice to make, but if he disobeyed the Lord, God warned him of the consequences, . . . for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die. Genesis 2:17. 

            This verse can be literally translated, Dying, thou shalt die! Here is what I believe the Lord is saying. The moment Adam disobeyed God, his spirit died and now his body appetites controlled him. He lost that fellowship with God that he once had because sin separates us from God.

            But, there was also another aspect to keep in mind. You see, the moment he sinned the death process started in Adam or the second law of thermodynamics. This law speaks of things wearing down, moving from order to disorder. 

            Prior to Adam’s sin he could live forever, but now, he would eventually go back to the dust of the earth from which he came from. Also, his sin would infect the whole human race that was to come and all of life on the planet, even the planet itself!

            Paul makes that point in Romans 5:12 when he wrote, Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned.

            Now think about this for a minute. Adam and Eve could partake of every tree in the Garden except for one. One command God gave to them, . . . but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.’

            And we see what happened. The serpent was very cunning, and he got Eve to doubt God’s Word, Has God indeed said, ‘You shall not eat of every tree of the garden?’ Genesis 3:1.

            And Eve begins to dialogue with the serpent, not a good thing to do. And Eve adds to the Word of God. You can’t eat from this tree and you can’t touch it or you will die! The Lord never said anything about touching it. Adding to and taking away from God’s Word, not a good thing to do.

            And the serpent said to Eve, You will not surly die. Genesis 3:4. In other words, there are no consequences to your actions, you are free to do whatever you want! There are always consequences to our actions, sometimes for the good and sometimes not!

            And then the serpent tells Eve, . . . ‘You will not surely die. For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.’ Genesis 3:4-5.

            In other words, God is trying to ruin your fun. He is keeping something good from you! So, the serpent got Eve to doubt God’s Word, to doubt the consequences to her actions and that she is missing out on something good!

            Satan still uses that today and how many fall prey to it and have to deal with the consequences of their actions. God knows what He is talking about, we need to listen!

            So, Eve partook of the fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil and so did her husband Adam. And Eve was deceived but Adam knew what he was doing and thus, sin entered this world through Adam!

            Now we have a problem, sin has separated man from God. They had enjoyed intimate fellowship in the Garden before but now that Adam sinned, that fellowship was broken!

            And we see that Adam was aware of his sin, everything was naked and open before the Lord, including Adam, and they hid themselves. They also tried to cover themselves with fig leaves.

            This is man’s attempt to appease God. Man working his way into a relationship with God. It is what religion is based upon. Do this and don’t do that and if you do this or don’t do that you then have to do this!

            And in the end, the keeping of the law will never save you because you have already broken it. Think about it. God gave to Adam and Eve just one law, don’t eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil and how did they do? They blew it.

            Now there are some 613 laws in the Bible. If Adam and Eve could not keep just one why do we think we can keep 613? We can’t and if you think you can that is pride and you are in sin!

            Then what can be done? The Lord gives us some insight here in Genesis 3:15 where He says, And I will put enmity Between you and the woman, And between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, And you shall bruise His heel.

            In this verse I see a hint of the coming Messiah, the seed of the woman.

            You see, it is the man that has the seed and thus, I see here the virgin birth.

            Also, Satan will bruise the heel of the Messiah, not a mortal wound. Yes, Jesus was crucified but He rose the third day from the grave conquering death! 

            It is as Paul said in Galatians chapter 3, Now to Abraham and his Seed were the promises made. He does not say, ‘And to seeds,’ as of many, but as of one, ‘And to your Seed,’ . . . What purpose then does the law serve? It was added because of transgressions, till the Seed should come to whom the promise was made; and it was appointed through angels by the hand of a mediator. Galatians 3:16, 19.

            And this seed is the Messiah, Jesus, who will bring a mortal wound upon Satan; and Satan will ultimately be cast into the Lake of Fire for eternity!

            Now what about Adam and Eve as they stood there in their designer fig leave clothes? Notice what God thinks about their work efforts, Also for Adam and his wife the LORD God made tunics of skin, and clothed them. Genesis 3:21.

            Did you see that? God did not even acknowledge man’s attempt of salvation through his own works.

            Instead, God killed an animal, I believe it was a lamb, and made them lambskin clothes to wear. Thus, every time they saw this, every time they moved, it reminded them that there had to be the death of the innocent to cover the sins of the guilty! You see, without the shedding of blood there is no remission of sin!

            Now I think we just read over these things and we don’t think much of it. But keep in mind that there was no death prior to sin entering this world. And the first thing they see is God slay a lamb or animal and make them clothes to wear!

            That must have shocked them, but they did see the cost of sin!

            The title of this message, now that we are well into it, is this, “I’m fine!” And that is the reality of man today, they don’t see their need for a Savior. Let me show you what I mean with this article. I thought that this was an interesting article, but it kind of shock me as well. And then I stepped back and saw the reality of what they were saying. And it is a recent article, from August 16, 2017 and in it we are told,

            Most Americans understand they are guilty of sin, according to a new survey by LifeWay Research.

            Scott McConnell, executive director at LifeWay, says he was inspired to conduct the survey after seeing a group of religious people preaching and calling people sinners on the street outside a Nashville Predators hockey game. 

            This led McConnell to question how many people really think of themselves as sinners. 

            Overall two-thirds of Americans (67%) believe they are sinners, but five percent say they are OK with it. 

            The survey showed the following: one third of Americans say they are sinners and are working on being less sinful; a quarter say they are sinners, but rely on Jesus to overcome their sin; and one in ten Americans say sin does not exist or that they are not guilty of sin; while fifteen percent prefer not to say if they are sinners at all. 



            Isn’t that interesting, 67% of Americans see themselves as sinners. That is a higher number than I thought. The problem then is not how Americans see themselves but what they are doing about it.

            We are told that 33% of Americans feel bad about their sin and are working to be better. There is a huge problem with that, they are working to be better.

            Now some of you may be thinking, “Hey, at least they are trying. God has to accept that, right?” Wrong!

            Let me put it like this. You get pulled over for speeding, going 30 miles over the speed limit. As the officer comes up to your car to give you a ticket you tell him, “Hey officer, I am doing my best. Last time I was going 50 miles over the speed limit, so you can see I am trying. No ticket, right?” Again, wrong!

            And here is the problem. We are born into this world in sin, the sin of Adam has been passed onto us. Not only that but we have plenty of our own sin in our lives. If you doubt that then do a little self-check.

            Have you ever lied? Of course you have and if you say you haven’t you are a liar!

            Have you ever stolen anything? Of course you have and thus, you are a thief!

            And we can go on, but I think you can see that everyone of us is guilty before God because we are sinners.

            And thus, all the work we do, all the good we do is meaningless before God because we are already guilty before Him. In fact, the only righteousness that God will accept is the righteousness of Christ, and, as you can see, we fall far short of that!

            So, we see that 33% of Americans are trying hard to be good, to work their way into heaven but the Bible says without the shedding of blood there is no remission of sins!

            There are also the 10% that don’t believe sin exists or they are not guilty of it. In other words, “I’m fine!”

            What standard are you using to judge if you are a sinner or not? That is an important question. You see, I can’t go into a courtroom, guilty of robbing a store and tell the judge, “Your honor, at least I didn’t kill anyone, I have to get some credit for that, right?” Wrong.

            You see, you broke the law, you are guilty and thus, you will suffer the consequences whether you agree with it or not!

            And there are the 15% who prefer not to say that they are sinners, not sure why but they must want to look better than they are. They are sinners before God, not because I said so, but God did!

            We are told in Isaiah 59:1-2, Behold, the Lord’s hand is not shortened, That it cannot save; Nor His ear heavy, That it cannot hear. But your iniquities have separated you from your God; And your sins have hidden His face from you, So that He will not hear.

            That is the problem and the solution is Jesus. Keep in mind that 25% of Americans believe that they are sinners and it is Jesus who saves them, saves us from our sins!

            That is why we are here this morning, celebrating the birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Not to give presents, but to receive the most precious gift that has ever been given, eternal life that is found in Jesus and His shed blood!

            You see, God had to become flesh so He could pay the penalty for man’s sin! That is what we are celebrating here this morning, the Incarnation.

            The problem for many is that they don’t know the reason why we celebrate the birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!

            Let’s look at what the Scriptures have to say about His birth as we read in Matthew 1:18-23, where we are told,

            Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows: After His mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Spirit. Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not wanting to make her a public example, was minded to put her away secretly. But while he thought about these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, ‘Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take to you Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.’ So all this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying: ‘Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,’ which is translated, ‘God with us.’

            These are the events leading up to the birth of Christ and they are important as we will see.

            Now this man named Joseph, we don’t know a lot about him except that he was a good man.

            Joseph and Mary were betrothed to each other or legally married, but they did not consummate the marriage yet.

            And then Joseph gets the news that must have just crushed his heart. Mary was pregnant, and he knows that he is not the father, they had not had sexual relations yet.

            And yet, Joseph loved Mary and he is trying to find a way to divorce her without making things worse for her.

            Mary was in trouble because, according to the Law, she could have been put to death for committing this sin, stoned to death!

            Today we read this and we don’t think much of it because we probably have known at least one person who was pregnant out of wedlock. But, back then, for the Jews, it was a serious situation and Joseph wants to protect Mary even though he is devastated by what she has done.

            In fact, when it says that Joseph was minded to put her away secretly the idea here is that of breaking this engagement by divorce. And Joseph wanted to do this as secretly as possible as not to hurt Mary, as I have said. But, of course people would find out.

            Imagine all that is going through the mind of Joseph, who loved Mary very much. And I love what the Lord does next.

            As Joseph is ponding all that is going on in his life, the heartbreak he feels, this heaviness upon his heart and what he had to do, the Lord sends an angel to confirm what Mary has told Joseph, that she was found with child of the Holy Spirit.

            Again, we may read that and not think too much of that, but Joseph could not comprehend what she was saying. It was just too much, and he just didn’t believe her story!

            And I love what the Lord does here. As we read and as I have said, He sends an angle of the Lord to speak to him.

            This is not “The angel of the Lord,” it is not Jesus but most likely the angel Gabriel, the messenger angel you might say.

            And this angel confirms to Joseph that what Mary told him was the truth, and obviously he needed to hear these words. And not only did God tell Joseph that, but He also directed him to go through with the marriage!

            Not only that but this angel gives to Joseph the name that they should call Him, JESUS! This was a very popular name but now it is not just a name, it is a reality of what that name means!

            You see, Jesus is the Greek word from the Hebrew word Joshua, which means YAHWEH IS OUR SALVATION or YAHWEH HAS BECOME OUR SALVATION.

            It is just as Peter proclaimed in Acts 4:12, Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.

            People may wonder why Jesus came, why the Incarnation. And they can come up with all kinds of ideas and they miss the point.

            You see, Jesus did not come to save this planet! He did not come to make us happy! He did not come to make us rich, make us wealthy. Why did Jesus come? He came to save us from our sins and then the power of sin in our lives and then, one day from the presence of sin!

            And if you don’t get it just look at his name, Joshua, YAHWEH IS OUR SALVATION or YAHWEH HAS BECOME OUR SALVATION. That is why He came!

            And what I want you to notice is what Matthew says in verse 22 of Matthew chapter 1, that phrase, that it might be fulfilled.

            Why is that important? Because that is Matthew’s intention, to show us that Jesus is the fulfillment of what the Old Testament prophets spoke of regarding the Messiah! This is not some new idea or some afterthought. This is what was spoken of in Genesis chapter 3 and it continues on through the Old Testament and fulfilled in the New Testament.  

            The seed of the woman that would one day crush the head of the serpent or the Devil!

            And to show how Jesus is the fulfilment of what the Old Testament prophets spoke of he quotes from Isaiah 7:14, that a virgin shall be with child.

            The Hebrew word for virgin is ALMAH, which means a young, unmarried woman of sexual maturity. Now in those days she would have been considered a virgin, not so today.

            If Isaiah used the Hebrew word BETHULAH, this word is sometimes used in the Old Testament of a married woman who is not a virgin. So, the word that Isaiah used is correct, the problem comes when people want to deny the virgin birth!

            And when you think about it, if this is not speaking of a virgin, what kind of sign would it be? It would not be a sign at all for many young women are pregnant but there has only been one, Mary, who had the seed of God implanted in her womb that was a virgin! That is a sign!

            But, because that word ALMAH can be used of a young, unmarried woman, some like to argue against the virgin birth of Christ because of the Hebrew word Isaiah used.

            But, when the Septuagint translation came out in around 250 B. C., that is the Hebrew Scriptures translated into Greek, they translated the Hebrew word ALMAH into the Greek word PARTHENOS, which means virgin.

            Not only that, but when we get to the New Testament, the Holy Spirit once again makes things very clear. What we read here in Matthew 1:23, a quote of Isaiah 7:14, He uses once again the Greek word PARTHENOS, which means virgin. I think that is very clear unless you don’t want to believe!

            Spurgeon said of this passage in Isaiah 7:14 of the virgin birth, that it is “One of the most difficult in all the Word of God. It may be so; I certainly did not think it was until I saw what the commentators had to say about it, and I rose up from reading them perfectly confused.” God is clear, it is man who is confused and confuses others!

            Notice once again what we are told in verse 23 of Matthew chapter 1. ‘Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,’ which is translated, ‘God with us.’

            His name is Jesus, which means “Yahweh is salvation,” but the reality of what was before them was Immanuel or “God with us!”

            Jesus is never called Emmanuel in the Scriptures, it is not His name, but it is a descriptive title of what His earthly ministry was all about - GOD WITH US!

            Now there are some who still try to deny the deity of Jesus Christ, they try and tell us that He is not Almighty God but “a god.” Foolishness!

            Notice what it says, EMMANUEL - GOD WITH US! It does not say, A god with us!” And what Isaiah spoke some 700 years earlier, had now come to pass! Mary is pregnant with Jesus and will give birth to the Messiah, the Savior of the world!

            Now let me also say this. The mission of Jesus was not to be born in a manger. He is not a little child who remained a child and needed to be cared for by His father and mother. He was born into humanity, the Incarnation so that He may die for the sins of the world. That is His mission, that is what He came to do and thus, when we celebrate His birth we look to the cross!

            Listen to what we are told in Hebrews 10:5-10, Therefore, when He came into the world, He said: ‘Sacrifice and offering You did not desire, But a body You have prepared for Me. In burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin You had no pleasure. Then I said, “Behold, I have come - In the volume of the book it is written of Me - To do Your will, O God.”’ Previously saying, ‘Sacrifice and offering, burnt offerings, and offerings for sin You did not desire, nor had pleasure in them’ (which are offered according to the law), then He said, ‘Behold, I have come to do Your will, O God.’ He takes away the first that He may establish the second. By that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.

            First of all, and this is important, the blood of bulls and goats could never TAKE AWAY our sins, so what are we to do?

            Listen again to what Paul said, Therefore, when He came into the world . . . Hebrews 10:5. In other words, when God stepped into this world, when He became flesh and blood and dwelt among us He paid in full the penalty for our sins and thus, our sins are cast as far as the east is from the west to be remembered no more! That is what our Lord has done because we could never pay the debt for our sins!

            Then Paul quotes out of Psalm 40:6-8. Now as you read Psalm 40 you will clearly see that this is not an exact quotation, why? Because Paul is quoting out of the Septuagint version, which was an ancient Greek translation of the Old Testament and it was the most commonly used Bible in the first century.

            The point is still the same, the message does not change. Now as you read this it says that God the Father has no pleasure with these sacrifices that were made.

            If that is true, then why in the world did He command the children of Israel to offer them in the first place?

            First of all they pictured how horriable sin was and that there needed to be the shedding of blood for the remission of sin. But it could never take away your sin as I have said.

Also, they were a picture, a shadow of what was to come and in a sense, kind of a promissory note. Let me explain it like this. We are told,

            The one-dollar bill in your pocket would be a worthless piece of paper if not for the government in Washington D.C. putting its weight behind it, guaranteeing its value. Suppose, however, you opened your great-grandmother’s trunk and found stacks of thousand-dollar bills. Upon closer inspection, you see upon them the image of Jefferson Davis. Now, although an antique dealer might buy them from you, the bills wouldn’t be worth nearly their original value because the Confederate government no longer exists.

            The same is true of the sacrificial system. At one time, it had some weight because it represented the blood of the coming sacrificial Lamb of God. But once the new government, the New Testament, the New Covenant took effect, the sacrifices of the Old Covenant became confederate money - as worthless as any sacrifice you’re presently making to try to earn God’s blessing or to get Him to listen to you.

            God has pleasure in only one Sacrifice. And once you see this, once it really sinks into your heart, you are free because you are in a position to receive blessing from the Father based solely upon His provision.

- Jon Courson, Jon Courson’s Application Commentary, New Testament, p. 1489


            Exactly! What the Old Covenant could not do because it was weak the New Covenant has done because it is established by God! You can’t go back to the Old Covenant with the animal sacrifices because they have been done away with because the perfect sacrifice has come, Jesus has come and has taken away our sin!

            The Old Covenant has been taken away Paul says, so that the New Covenant can be established in Christ!

            Now God has given to us the Lamb of God who has come to take away the sins of the world, Jesus is that Lamb!

            Remember what John the Baptist said of Jesus, . . . ‘Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!’ John 1:29.

            And Peter tells us in I Peter 3:18, For Christ also suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive by the Spirit.

            You see, without the shedding of blood there is no remission of sins! You can’t work your way into heaven because Jesus has completed the work on the cross of Calvary!

            And people even today mock His finished work by trying to offer for themselves some kind of sacrifice to God. But Jesus said, It is finished! You see, the work was completed, and He sat down at the right hand of the Father having paid in full the penalty for our sins! God became flesh and He dwelt among us to save us from our sin!

            Also, Paul wrote, Then I said, ‘Behold, I have come – In the volume of the book it is written of Me – To do Your will, O God.’ Hebrews 10:7. You see, when you read the Old Testament Scriptures, from Genesis to Malachi they are speaking of Jesus.

            We see types, shadows, pictures of Him and the work He came to do. Thus, the coming of the Messiah should have been no surprise to the Jewish people.

            In fact, as they read the Scriptures they came to the conclusion that there would be two Messiahs. One of them would be a suffering servant or Messiah ben Joseph and the other a reigning King or Messiah ben David. What they missed is that there would not be two Messiah’s but One Messiah who was to come twice.

            The first time as the Lamb of God to take away the sins of the world, the suffering servant. And He is coming again as the Lion from the tribe of Judah to rule and reign as King from the throne of David!

            Stephen picks up on that in the New Testament. In Acts chapter 7 Stephen gives his testimony, his defense before the Sanhedrin and he makes several interesting points.

            First of all, Stephen spoke of how they missed Joseph as the deliverer the first time and it was not until his brothers saw him again did they recognize him as their deliverer. 

            Once again Stephen shows them how the Hebrews rejected Moses the first time he came to them, they did not see him as a deliverer until he came again! 

            Thus, just as they missed Joseph and Moses as being deliverer’s, so too they have missed Jesus the first time He came as the Deliverer, and it won’t be until He comes again that the Jews will recognize Him as the Messiah, their Deliverer. 

            You see, they looked to their fathers as shining examples of godly men and yet they persecuted the prophets of God and how they are no different than their fathers. The reality is they have made an even greater mistake than their fathers by rejecting Jesus Christ!

            Who are you looking to? What church, what denomination, what person are you looking to? You need to be looking to Jesus because He alone can save you from your sins!

            This was the will of the Father, the work that Jesus came to do. Yes, the Incarnation was important because God became man. Fully God and fully man in the Incarnation and the work was before Him, Calvary!

            Make no mistake about it, Jesus came to do the Father’s will, the Scriptures are clear on that.

            In John 4:34 we are told, Jesus said to them, ‘My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me, and to finish His work.’

            Also, in John 6:38 Jesus said, For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me.

            And, like I have said, what we also see here in Hebrews is that the Old Covenant was replaced by the New Covenant and in that our sins are paid in full, paid completely as He has sanctified us or set us apart by the shedding of His blood!

            Think of these covenants as wills. When a new will is written it supersedes the old will. You don’t take part of the old will and mix it in with the new will. The old will has passed off the scene and now what matters is the new will.

            That is what we see here with the Old Covenant, it has passed off the scene and been replaced by the New Covenant. Not two Covenants or part of one and part of another. The new replaces the old!

            Now that word sanctified or made holy in verse 10 of Hebrews 10 is the Greek word, HEGIASMENOI and it speaks of an accomplished fact, not a progressive sanctification in a practical sense where God is still working in us.

            But in a positional sense that as God looks at us He sees us as perfect, He sees the finished product! That is what Paul is saying here. Positionally in Christ we are seen as perfect now!

            As I begin to close this morning, listen to what one writer had to say about the Christmas story or the birth of Christ. He wrote,

            Here’s a side to the Christmas story that isn’t often told: those soft little hands, fashioned by the Holy Spirit in Mary’s womb, were made so that nails might be driven through them. Those baby feet, pink and unable to walk, would one day walk up a dusty hill to be nailed to a cross. That sweet infant’s head with sparkling eyes and eager mouth was formed so that someday men might force a crown of thorns onto it. That tender body, warm and soft, wrapped in swaddling clothes, would one day be ripped open by a spear.

            Jesus was born to die.
            Don’t think I’m trying to put a damper on your Christmas spirit. Far from it – for Jesus’ death, though devised and carried out by men with evil intentions, was in no sense a tragedy. In fact, it represents the greatest victory over evil anyone has ever accomplished. . . .

- John MacArthur Jr., God with Us – The Miracle of Christmas, pp. 117-118


            Jesus came to save man from his sin and to do that God had to become flesh and then go to the cross of Calvary and die for our sins. He died a substitutionary death for us.

            Just like in the Garden of Eden when Adam sinned, an innocent animal had to die, his blood shed, for the sin of Adam. And now, Jesus has done that for us. The animal sacrifices could never take away your sins, but the shed blood of Christ takes them away. In fact, our sins are cast as far as the east is from the west to be remembered no more! (Psalm 103:12, Isaiah 43:25)

            If you are here today or listening on the radio or the Internet and you have repented of your sins and asked Jesus to be Lord and Savior of your life, praise God! What a wonderful gift you have received by faith into your life.

            Don’t let this Christmas go by without thanking and praising God for all that He has done for you. Without Christ there really is nothing to celebrate. I am not negating how thankful I am for family and friends, but the greatest gift is Jesus and apart from that celebration, everything else is temporary!

            We see this heart of thankfulness in the life of Jesus. Remember when His friend Lazarus died, and He was at the tomb and we are told,

            They took away the stone. Then Jesus looked up and said, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me. I knew that you always hear me, but I said this for the benefit of the people standing here, that they may believe that you sent me.” – John 11:41

            I find it interesting that Jesus was thanking the Father for hearing him before he even called Lazarus forth from the tomb. That is a great picture of the faith which comes from an intimate relationship. He knew the Father heard him before he asked and he was thankful.

            I find a great truth here regarding thankfulness. How often are we thinking, “If God does this thing I will be so thankful”? What we are really saying is, “OK God, I’ll trust you when the answer comes.” We would like to trust him, and we want to trust him, but we really aren’t sure if he will come through so we reserve thankfulness until we see the evidence of his blessing.

            It is true that Jesus had a unique relationship with the Father, but it is just that relationship which we should be seeking. Oh, I know that we will never have quite the same intimacy with the Father, but we can certainly grow closer than most of us seem to be.

            It is when we have a close, intimate relationship with God that our faith becomes strong enough to call things that are not as if they are (Romans 4:17). We develop that kind of faith and relationship through regularly spending blocks of time with Him, both seeking him and worshipping him.

            I have found that the more time I spend with Him the more grace, or favor, I sense being released into my life. Also, when I have intimacy with the Father faith grows and I can hear his voice more clearly. It is in those times that it is easy to give thanks to the Father.

            I would encourage you to take the time and make the effort to develop an intimate relationship with the Father. We should take advantage of the access afforded us by faith in Jesus.



            Here’s the thing. You are saved and yes, it may be difficult right now, things may not be easy, but you are being prepared for glory! Praise God, thank Him for this indescribable gift of love, of salvation that He has extended to you, He has extended to me!

            If you are here today or listening on the radio or the Internet and you have not repented of your sins and asked Jesus to be Lord and Savior of your life, what a wonderful Christmas this can be if you do!

            You see, For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. John 3:16-18.

            Jesus is there extending His grace to you and all you must do is receive it into your life. But you do have a choice to make. Sin separated man from God and Jesus came to restore that fellowship and not just restore it, but it is an eternal relationship we have with Him.

            What you need to do is simple. Ask Jesus to forgive you of your sins and to be Lord and Savior of your life.

            Don’t be like the woman in our opening story this morning who I found lying on the ground, lying in the bushes and unable to get up and saying, “I’m fine!” She wasn’t, and you are not fine apart from Christ!

            The Lamb of God has come into this world to take away our sins, won’t you come to Him!

            If you have done that, please see me afterward so that I can get you some information to help you to grow in your relationship with Jesus.

            I will close with this, and I promise, I will close.

            A popular play and movie this time of year, one I always enjoy watching is A Christmas Carol. There is one scene that has always fascinated me. The Ghost of Christmas Past has just paid a very discomforting visit to Ebenezer Scrooge.

            Clearly the old miser is shaken by the entire ordeal. But when he awakens from his sleep does he take the message to heart. No, he simply dismisses it by saying: Bah, humbug, it wasn’t real.
            “Just a bit of last nights undigested beef,” he says to himself, “There is more gravy about you than the grave.” A vision to be taken to heart or simple indigestion. You tell me.

- Brett Blair, Sermon Illustrations, 1999


            Don’t miss what we are celebrating here, not only the Incarnation, God becoming flesh and dwelling among us – our Emmanuel. But also, Jesus came to save us from our sins. Now you have heard it and it is up to you to do something about it. Don’t ignore it but embrace it because, apart from Christ, you are not fine!

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