Saturday, December 6, 2008

Celebrating the Glory of the Incarnation

What manner of love is this?

“Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son,
and they shall call His name Immanuel,”
which is translated, “God with us.”
Matthew 1:23

What manner of love is this that a Holy God should come from Heaven in the likeness of men? How marvelous is the love of God for us! The Incarnation of Christ is a most extraordinary and amazing affair; it is wonderful indeed that the eternal Son of God should become man1…Divinity became humanity. God, in the person of Jesus Christ, came from the eternity of heaven, across the infinite gulf between God and the creation, and became flesh.2

The Ancient of days has become an infant3…
His goings forth are from old, from everlasting…
He Who sits upon the heavenly Throne, now lies in a manger.

Loved ones we do not celebrate the fact that 2,000 years ago a mere holy man, a great moral and wise teacher was born. No…we celebrate the fact that God Himself, the Creator of the universe, became man.

It is one of the greatest events to occur in the history of the universe and it is without parallel.4 The Incarnation of the Son of God unites earth to heaven. 4

Incarnation is a term for the coming of God the Son into the world as a human being. God's greatest revelation of Himself to man is in Jesus Christ.4 The Bible affirms Jesus Christ is fully God and fully man, that He was born at a specific time and place in history, and that He died and was resurrected at a specific time and place in history.6 During His incarnation, Jesus was the glory and image of God in human form, yet He was without sin.
The only part of Christmas which is impossible to grasp is the reason why Almighty God should have loved us in this way.2
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. John 3:15-17

God sent His Son into the world that He would redeem those who believe in His name. The voice of God sounds over the universe, “This is My Beloved Son in whom I am well pleased, Hear Him!” The maker of heaven and earth appeared out of love to redeem us. 2

And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.
Matthew 1:21

Over that manger in Bethlehem…on the night of our dear Savior’s birth…hung the shadow of the cross. The salvation of souls was the reason the Father sent the Son into the world.5 Bound inseparably together are the Savior's birth and His death.

"Surely Jesus was identified with us. Everything He did was for us; He acted in our stead. He took our guilt. He gave us His righteousness. In all that Jesus did on earth, He acted for us because by His incarnation He identified Himself with the human race. In His death and resurrection He identified Himself with the redeemed human race. The present state of the human race before God is probationary. The world is on trial. The voice of God sounds over the earth, “Behold I set before you the way of life and the way of death. Choose you this day.” There is a strange conspiracy of silence in the world today—even in religious circles—about man’s responsibility for sin, the reality of judgment and about an outraged God and the necessity for a crucified Savior." – a compilation of excerpts from The Radical Cross by A.W. Tozer
"The whole meaning of the Incarnation is the Cross. The Incarnation was for the purpose of redemption. God became incarnate for the purpose of putting away sin; not for the purpose of self-realization." – My Utmost for His Highest by Oswald Chambers

What manner of love is this that God should give us His only Son…the Son whom He adores? What manner of love is this that our sins should be freely forgiven? It is a love that surpasses all understanding and it is a love never to be forgotten. Let us never forget what God has done for those who believe. At this time of year when the world is celebrating “Happy Holidays” let us be sure to remember exactly what it is that we are supposed to be celebrating...the glorious Incarnation of our Holy God. Now that is something to celebrate!

Beloved if you have trusted in Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior then may God be praised that He has brought you to the saving knowledge of His Son. Let us then be sure to give Him thanks and praise for His indescribable gift of grace and let us then purpose in our hearts to be sure to tell others of the free gift of salvation God has given us through His Son.

If you have never considered your need for a Savior then we ask you to consider the following…

In the words of Charles Spurgeon:

Therefore, the Lord Jesus did not come into the world expecting to find goodness and righteousness, but to bestow them upon those who do not have them.

This is a miracle reserved for the Lord alone. God, the infinitely just Sovereign, knows that there is not a just man on earth who does good and does not sin. Therefore, in the infinite sovereignty of His divine nature and in the splendor of His ineffable love, He undertakes the task not so much of justifying the just as of justifying the ungodly.

If we had never broken the laws of God, we would not have needed justification, for we would have been just in ourselves. He who has always done the things that he should have done, and has never done anything that he should not have done, is justified by the law. However, I am quite sure that you are not one of that sort. You are too honest to pretend to be without sin, and therefore you need to be justified.

If we have sinned against God, it is God’s power to forgive, for the sin is against Himself. That is why David said in Psalm 51:4 “Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight,” for then God, against whom the offense was committed, could put the offense away.

With no other reason for it but His own infinite goodness, He has prepared a glorious way by which He can make scarlet sins “as white as snow”. He can remove our transgressions for us “as far as the east is from the west”. He says, “Their sins and iniquities will I remember no more”.

Why did He suffer if not to take the penalty away from us? If God Himself bows before His own law, what more can be done? God will spare the sinner because He did not spare His Son. God is gracious; therefore, sinful men are forgiven, converted, purified, and saved. It is not because of anything in them or that can ever be in them that they are saved. It is because of the boundless love, goodness, pity, compassion, mercy, and grace of God.

“Oh,” said the devil to Martin Luther, “you are a sinner.” “Yes,” said Luther, “Christ died to save sinners.” Faith is believing that Christ is what He is said to be and that He will do what He has promised to do.

Now when God declares that there is salvation in Christ Jesus, I must either believe Him at once or call Him a liar.

He died for men, not as believers, but as sinners. If you believe that Christ died for the ungodly, your faith will save you, and you may go in peace. If you will trust your soul to Jesus, who died for the ungodly, even though you cannot believe all things or move mountains or do any other wonderful works, yet you will be saved. It is not great faith but true faith that saves. Salvation lies not in the faith but in the Christ in whom faith trusts.

You have either to believe in Jesus or die. There is no hope for you but in Him.

If you have been brought up in the brightest of Christian light and yet have rejected it, there is still hope. If you have sinned against conscience and against the Holy Spirit and against the love of Jesus, there is still room for repentance. Though you may be as hard as unbelieving Israel of old, softening may yet come to you, since Jesus is exalted and clothed with boundless power.

- a compilation of excerpts from All of Grace by Charles Spurgeon

The Gospel…
Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, He was buried, and He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures 1 Cor 15:3-4

So what is the main point of what we are saying? We need a Savior! Loved ones, the Gospel is the good news of salvation for sinners. Jesus said “I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance.”. We will not enter into Heaven with our sins. Jesus said, “Therefore I said to you that you will die in your sins; for if you do not believe that I am He, you will die in your sins.” Our sins make us enemies of God. The result of our sin is death...spiritual death, physical death and eternal death separated from God forever.

We are not perfect and we must be perfect to stand before a Holy God for He is Holy, Holy, Holy. We do not measure up to God’s standard…only Jesus has lived a perfect life; we however have missed the mark…we have sinned against Him. You see if man had never sinned and made himself an enemy of God there would have been no reason for the Son to come in the likeness of men and there would be no reason for God Himself to die for us.

Jesus Christ’s perfection is God’s measuring stick. At the time of our death we will be judged on the basis of His righteousness, not ours. The Bible says, “And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment.” Jesus will be our the Bible says, “For the Father judges no one, but has committed all judgment to the Son.” Do we want to stand before Jesus Christ on that day, still in our sins, with the burden of our sins on our back and have our Lord say to us “I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!”? Or do we want to stand before Him perfect in God’s sight, clothed in His righteousness, having laid the burden of our sins at the foot of His cross?
We will only see the weight of our sin when we look into the perfect righteousness of His laws as contained in the Bible.

Beloved we have sinned against Him…we must have an atonement. Atonement means the reconciliation of the guilty to God by a divine sacrifice. Jesus was our divine sacrifice. God requires a sinless blood sacrifice to atone for sin. Jesus was our sinless substitutionary atonement. In His death, Jesus substituted Himself for sinners and paid the requirement of the punishment for sin which is death. As a result of Jesus’ atonement, our sin is transferred from us to Him, and God then grants us forgiveness. Jesus’ substitutionary atonement is the basis for our salvation.

He takes away our sins…

God transfers the righteousness of Christ to those who trust in Him…those who have saving faith. We do not become righteous because of our inherent goodness; God sees us as righteous because of our identification by faith with His Son.

If you have not trusted in the forgiveness found in the sinless life, sacrificial death and resurrection of Jesus Christ then we have to ask you…where is your atonement for the forgiveness of your sins? There is no other way. You must have a sinless blood sacrifice. God’s grace in the forgiveness of sins through the atonement of His Son is the only sacrifice He will accept. It is a free gift. We can not earn it and we can not work for it…but we must believe it.

Have you believed in the Son of God?

From R.C. Sproul… “The great misconception in our day is this: that God isn’t concerned to protect His own integrity. He’s a kind of wishy-washy deity, who just waves a wand of forgiveness over everybody. No. For God to forgive you is a very costly matter. It cost the sacrifice of His own Son. So valuable was that sacrifice that God pronounced it valuable by raising Him from the dead – so that Christ died for us and He was raised for our justification.”

While we reflect on the birth and death of Christ beloved, let us always remember, Jesus did not only die for our sins, He rose again! His resurrection is proof that the Son of God has power over sin and death. If Jesus Christ has not been raised our faith is in vain and we are still in our sins. His resurrection is proof that Jesus Christ is coming again and that He will judge the world in righteousness.

Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent, because He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained. He has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead. Acts 17:30-31

Salvation is offered freely to all who repent of their sins and believe and trust [have faith] in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. When you come to saving faith you have seen your need for a Savior and you understand that you are a sinner worthy of death and cannot earn God’s forgiveness in any way. You abandon all self-righteousness and self-confidence in your own works and deeds and cast yourself completely on Him for mercy and forgiveness. You put your trust in Jesus Christ as your only hope for eternal life with God. It means that you have come to know that salvation is completely of God and not of you in any way, and it is to the glory of God alone.

When we die we do not cease to exist. Our souls live on forever…for eternity. We were created in the image of God and we have an eternal soul. The God who created you loves you and has made a way for you to be reconciled to Him…hear Him…today!

When you have come to the end of yourself, then you will believe God…

When you have come to that end, you can speak to Him in prayer something like this…

Father, I acknowledge my transgressions, and my sin is always before me. Against You, You only, have I sinned and done evil in Your sight. I know that my sins have separated me from You. I have come to see the great love that You have for me and I am truly sorry and repent for my sins and I ask for the forgiveness that is found in the Cross of Jesus Christ. I believe that Jesus died for my sins, was resurrected from the dead and is alive with You now at Your right hand. I wish to turn from my past sinful life and turn to You. I seek to submit to Jesus Christ as Lord, Savior and my only hope. Father, give me Your Holy Spirit so that I may know the truth and seek to do Your will. In Jesus’ Holy Name I pray. Amen.

For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified. For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes. 1 Corinthians 2:2; Romans 1:16

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