Christmas, The Virgin Birth of Jesus


We have many details in the Bible about the blessed event of Jesus’ birth, many, hundreds of years old. And the details matter. For you see, if we can’t believe the record of Jesus humble birth given in Scripture the whole idea of Christianity falls like a house of cards.

One detail that stands out among the rest is that he was born of a virgin. His mother conceived, carried and delivered a baby and had never had sexual relations with a man. The Holy Spirit of God fertilized an egg in this chosen girl, Mary, and she delivered the Son of God.

He was and is “The Son of God” in the most literal sense it can be stated. He had no human father. As we would say it in today’s vernacular “His birth father was God”. It is this miraculous conception that makes Jesus unique among all humans. Why is it important?

When Adam made the willing choice to disobey God, his rebellion not only put him at odds with God but the whole human race. The final judgment for sin is death. Adams transgression ushered in both physical and spiritual death and every decedent of Adam bears the curse of sin.

“Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned…” (Romans 5:12)

Jesus, with no human father, broke the curse of sin and now the good news follows the above passage saying:

“For as by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous.” (Romans 5:19)

Jesus is referred to as the “new Adam”, the representative of those who would be born again, freed from the curse of sin (death) because of his perfect obedience.

Had Jesus had a human father he would have been no more than his peers growing up in Nazareth, and in spite of his best efforts he would have transgressed God’s law, on purpose, as we all do. But, he did not have a human father, his father is God and he alone is sinless, always obedient to God’s demands, and became the perfect, spotless, unblemished, sacrificial lamb who would give himself as payment for the sins of the world.

It is this unique man, Christ Jesus our Lord who alone could say “I am the Resurrection and the Life”. The babe of Bethlehem is now the one who sits at the right hand of the Father, his work done. Sin, death, hell, and the grave are defeated by the once for all time, once for all people offering, of Jesus. His blood is sufficient to make the most wicked pure and to stay the wrath of God against sin.

As we celebrate the birth of Jesus. Let us never forget he was born to die. Without his death, burial, and resurrection his birth would be meaningless. But God in his providential wisdom made all the pieces fit. Prophecy fulfilled, God’s demand for perfect righteousness fully met, the fury of his wrath against sin fully executed, all culminating in the redemptive work of the babe of Bethlehem.

It is because of this God-man, Jesus Christ our Lord who is called “God with us”, we can confidently proclaim to every listening ear “Merry Christmas” a Saviour was born!

May the joy born of faith in the Christ fill your hearts and overflow into the lives of those you love in these days of family gatherings and celebration of God’s love gift to humanity.

Royce

The Jesus deficit…


jesus-savesI recently visited some unnamed blogs by church of Christ preachers who had their “tag cloud” visible. (A tag cloud is the group of key words used to point readers to a post) These are men whose church is so and so “church of Christ” so you would think that “Christ” would be the most often used key word on their blogs. Nope, “church of Christ”, “baptism”, and even “a cappella” were ahead of “Christ” and “Jesus”. What does this prove? Perhaps not much but it does deserve some thought.

Jesus promised that if He is lifted up He would draw all men to Himself. (John 12:32) Paul and the other Apostles preached Christ, the gospel of grace (Acts 20:24) and He was the center of the message and mission they served.

Are our churches of Christ known for their devotion to Christ? Do we put Him first? Is He and His story the center of our message? I’ll let you decide. I do know this for sure. Not one person will be in heaven because they were right about how to do communion or because they sung a cappella. There will be no saving grace extended to one person because they despised the Baptists.

There is one mediator between man and God, His name is Jesus. (1 Timothy 2:5) Jesus declared “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life and no one comes to the Father except through me”. (John 14:6) Since these things are true why don’t we preach Christ? Why isn’t He the focus of every ministry? Why isn’t He the most talked about on our “Christian” blogs? Why do we talk far more about the “church of Christ” than the Christ of the church? Why?

I think it is because many don’t really believe He is the only way to God. They think he is a part of the way but not the way. Or, some my believe that the sum total of believing the right doctrine, having communion each Sunday, singing a cappella, being in the right church, and believing the historic stories about Jesus combined with living a good life puts one in good standing with God. What Jesus told one of the most religeous men in his day is still true, you must be born again.

 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.”

Unless you have this right nothing else matters. Please brothers and sisters, lets put Christ in his rightful place at the center of our living, our giving, our missions, our worship, and our dying. Let us become known for making a fuss about Jesus Christ and loving people as He did. Unless we are loving the unlovable as they are where they are seeking nothing in return we are not doing what Christ wants us to do. There is no greater task, no higher honor, no more noble endeavor than to make Christ and His work for sinners known.

In Him,
Royce

Jesus – The WAY


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It was in response to a question from the disciple who earned the name “Doubting Thomas” that Jesus gave the amazing teaching about Himself recorded in John 14. After Jesus was raised from the dead it was this same Thomas who had to see and feel the scars on Jesus’ body before he would finally believe. (John 20:24-27)

If among those in Jesus’ inner circle were still some who were doubtful and unsure about Jesus right up until his death it should come as no surprise that today there are also doubters. Jesus discourse with Thomas, coupled with his conversation with Nicodemus makes clear Jesus is the Way, the only Way to God, heaven, eternal life, and eternity with God and his people.

“Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. And you know the way to where I am going.” Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?” Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.  If you had known me, you would have known my Father also.”
(John 14:1-7)

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil.” (John 3:16-19)

Jesus is not “a” Way; He is “the” Way.

Our culture says that all sincere religious people are on paths that lead to the same destination, God. Sincerity is only valid when it is based on truth in the context of religious expression and belief. The central truth of the Bible makes Christianity exclusive and intolerant. Exclusive in that only those who put their trust in Jesus are not condemned and intolerant because only the unique Son of God is indeed the way to God and eternal life. Christians are tolerant of people and their ideas but must insist that Jesus is the only Way. (Acts 4:12)

Jesus is the Way for all people of all ages.

Every person who will finally escape the wrath of God and live in eternity with God will do so on the basis of Jesus’ worth and work. Every Old Testament saint who will be in heaven will be there because Jesus took the penalty of his sins and fully met God’s standard of righteousness on his behalf. Jesus said of the Scriptures;

 “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.”
(Luke 24:44)

“You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me.”
(John 5:39)

The priesthood, the sacrificial system, the offerings, the written code, the tabernacle, the veiled entrance to the Holy of Holies, etc. all were types and shadows of He who was to come and once for all time and once for all people fix the problems of sin and death.

I want to be clear. No person has ever been accepted by God, set right with Him, by what he or she did or did not do. Just as none of those who lived before Christ’s death and resurrection were justified by the law, so it is today that no person will be in heaven because he was in the right church, believed the right doctrine, worshipped in the right way, or did various good deeds. (Romans 3:20, Galatians 2:16, 3:11)

Every other way leads to death and punishment.

What must a person do to miss heaven and eternal life? Nothing! Just continue on a rebellious path, trusting in his own goodness, relying on his religion. Jesus was very pointed when He said to Nicodemus in the passage quoted above “but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.” (John 3:18) Every person who has not surrendered his or her will and put their trust in Jesus is already condemned, they are not waiting to be judged guilty, and they are now guilty and condemned and are objects of God’s awful wrath against sin.

You can be wrong about some doctrine. And we can have disagreements about styles and methods of worship and ministry, but all of us must be right about Jesus. There is no substitute and no supplement for what Christ has already accomplished for sinners. I beg every reader, put your whole trust and confidence in Jesus Christ and you will be safe. He is the only Way!

For Jesus,
Royce

The body of our Lord


“A body you have prepared for me”

In God’s scheme of redemption the Law was never sufficient to deal with man’s most basic flaw, sin. The Law and the sacrificial system were not able to make a sinner whole. The sacrifice of bulls and goats and the law that required them were but a shadow of the only sacrifice that would take the sins of man away, the body of Jesus.

It was a real human body. Jesus, like us in every way, except for sin, got thirsty, hungry, tired, sleepy, and the pain he experienced was just as real as when you feel it. When he was hit with the hands of his captors, beaten with sticks, a thorny crown pushed into his flesh, and finally the nails and the spear… All of these horrors were experienced in a human body.

And, in his spirit, like us he experienced anguish, sorrow, and shame. When  blood thirsty men spit on him and mocked him he hurt just as you might in similar circumstances. When finally he died as a common criminal and was taken to the tomb, it was a body that was laid in the tomb.

He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree

What religion could never do, what the law and the sacrifices were impetent to accomplish, he did by the once for all time offering of his body, once for all men. He walked the dusty roads, worked as a carpenter, preached, healed, ate with his friends, and spent hours at a time on his knees, in a real human body.

He did not sin, not once, not ever. And, he always perfectly obeyed. Thus, he alone could become the perfect sacrifice. A human sacrifice in a body that would experience the very wrath of God against sin and know the sorrow of the Father turning away from him because of sin. It was your sin he bore, and mine. The wages of sin is death and the only innocent one died in my place and in your place so that together with him we might live.

Now because he sacrificed his body God can declare a sinner like you “right” and adopt you his own dear child, and never compromise his holiness or his justice. His demand for perfect obedience to his law has been fully met and his fierce anger against sin fully executed upon this body, the body of Jesus.

He appeared to five hundred brothers at one time

Just as he said, after three days he came out of the tomb very much alive, in a body. It was a different body, but it was his body. It was a glorified body fully operational on earth or in heaven. He walked with his friends, he suddenly appeared in a room, and ate meals with them. When one of them, Thomas, just was not sure, he showed him the scars in his hand and his side and he touched his body. It was a real, material body, different than ours, but not for ever!

The followers of Jesus were beaten and thrown into jail for telling others that Jesus was alive again! The fact of the once dead now eternally alive body of  Jesus is the victory for every man who faces death, who wants the power of sin defeated in his life. He is not here, He is risen! Satan, death, hell, and the grave could not stop the body of Jesus infused with the Holy Spirit of God.

This same Jesus you saw ascend into heaven will come again in the same way

As witness stood looking into the clouds open mouthed they were told by heavenly messengers the story was not over. He will come back, in his body. And, when he does he will sound the signal and every man and woman who died in faith will be raised from the dead and have a body like his glorious body, made for heaven and earth but without any hint of the curse of sin. No imperfections, no missing limbs, no aging, no need to be satisfied because by the body of Jesus man has been fully redeemed.

When one day the redeemed stand in their glorified bodies in righteousness, as pure as he is pure, God will be glorified and praised and forever he will be worshiped and adored. We, once wicked sinners, will be the trophies of his amazing grace!

This is my body given for you

As Jesus ate with his friends he took some bread and said “This is my body given for you” and when he had given thanks each of them ate. He said “Do this in remembrance of me”. He wanted them to remember that he sacrificed a real body for them. Paul said “as often as you do this you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes”, and he will come.

Anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment on himself

It is obvious that God takes remembering the body Jesus, his death for our sins, very, very serious. Paul warned the Corinthian believers of how dangerous it is to take the Lord’s Supper flippantly. He said some were weak and ill, and some had even died because they had not thought about and appreciated the body of Jesus. These are pretty strong words. It is a good idea to remember this warning when next the bread is passed to you.

I hope we have a renewed apprciation for the great sacrifice that was made for us when Jesus was excecuted in your place and mine that we could live forever. By grace are you saved.

His peace,
Royce