The Birth Of Christ – His First Advent (Gal. 4:4-5)

By | Jan 14, 2018
The Apostle Paul tells us in my text that, “when the fullness of time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of woman, made under the law, to redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons.” The birth of Christ was the most significant event in all the history of man. It was the fulfillment of the promise that God gave to Adam and Eve that “the seed of the woman would come and bruise the head of the serpent.” The words, “when the fullness of time was come,” reveals that in the eternities past, the triune God sat in counsel concerning all humankind. A divine purpose and plan was laid out before the foundation of the world and these words disclose the unfolding of that plan.
Christianity is the only religion that places its credibility in the fulfillment of prophecies made thousands of years previous to their fulfillment. The promise of the “seed of the woman,” was made four thousand years before its fulfillment. Jacob, prior to his death prophesied that “the scepter shall not depart from Judah…until Shiloh (Jesus) come.” Seven hundred years before the His birth in Bethlehem, Isaiah made a declaration as though it had just happened when he wrote these words; “For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.” Simeon was told that he would not see death until he had seen the Christ-child. At the end of eight days, following His birth, the parents brought the child Jesus into the temple according to the custom of the law, we read: “then (Simeon) took him up in his arms, and blessed God, and said, ‘Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word: for mine eyes have seen thy salvation.”
When the fullness of time came, eternity’s clock struck and the angel announced to the shepherds the birth of the Son of God. As the heavenly host bowed low in the balcony of heaven and their anthem filled the sky, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.” The salvation and hope of the human race hinged on that announcement. The mystery of the Incarnation was “the Word was made Flesh and dwelt among us.” The Eternal and Infinite becomes an Infant. “He made Himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men:…He humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.” What condescension! He, who was the Ancient of days, the maker of heaven and earth, the creator and sustainer of all things, has stooped to the place of a servant in order to be our Savior. To create the world was great but to re-make (redeem) man was greater. Matthew Henry said, “When God made man out of the dust of the ground all He needed to do was to breathe, but to redeem fallen man He had to bleed.” He was made man in order that he could be “made sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him.”
He came “to redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons.” When Abraham journeyed to Moriah to offer his son, Isaac, back to God, Isaac asked, “where is the lamb?” Abraham replied, “God will provide Himself a lamb.” While on the altar with Isaac under an upraised knife, God spoke to Abraham, “lay not thy hand upon the lad.” God provided a ram in Isaac’s stead. That ram was the type of Christ, for Jesus took our place on Calvary. The incarnation was on purpose for the crucifixion. The cradle would have no meaning without the cross. “Thou shalt call His name Jesus: for he shall save his people from their sins.” “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” Let us gladly seek His face, receive His name and partake of His nature. While there was no room for him in the inn, let us not refuse Him entrance into our hearts and lives. Let all humanity open their hearts and make room for His presence and receive Him with joy and gladness.
When we appropriate by faith the salvation that He provided for us in His first advent, we then can look for and love His appearance in His second advent. Let us, once again, be reminded that the first advent was promised and prophesied thousands of years before He finally appeared. He came not as some supposed in pomp and ceremony but as a lowly babe, born in a barn and laid in a feeding trough. The purpose of His coming was, “to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself.” After thirty three years He was offered up on a cruel cross as “the Lamb of God” to take away the sins of all who would receive Him as their Savior. The writer now reminds us of the promise of another appearance, “to those who look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation.”
Remember that eternity’s clock keeps perfect time and as Peter said, “the Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some men count slackness……one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.” The hope of the church in all ages has been the imminent coming of Christ. As Simeon and Anna looked with great anticipation for His first coming, let us with great anticipation look for His second coming. This Christmas, while we sing and herald the good news of His birth in Bethlehem, let us look forward with great faith and expectation to the coming bridegroom.

Glory Follows Suffering (I Peter 5:10-11)

By | Dec 15, 2017
This Epistle could be summarized as a treatise on the subject of suffering. At least 15 times the word ‘suffer’ or its derivative is recorded in these 5 short chapters. It presents the suffering of Christ and the suffering of the Christian. The benediction of this Epistle is very comprehensive. It reminds us that God has not promised exemption from suffering for the Christian but He has provided for their enablement amidst adversity for He is the God of all grace. He reminds us that suffering is necessary to make the Christian “perfect, stablish, strengthen and settle you.”
The DYNAMIC of Suffering: Paul S. Rees said that “suffering is difficult to understand in the context of the Christian faith. Suffering is never God’s will if by His will we mean His pleasure but it is frequently His will if by His will we mean His permission.”
The Apostle reminds us in the opening chapter that “He which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation (living)”. This call to holiness is essential for spiritual steadfastness as it frees us from a state of double-mindedness. Being now single-minded having “sanctified the Lord God in our hearts” (3:15), it is then that we not only recognize His sovereignty but also His sanctity and we honor what we recognize by living a life pleasing to Him. We live knowing that the Holy One is Sovereign and the Sovereign One is Holy. This act of “sanctifying the Lord God in our hearts” involves only a moment of time. This becomes the basis for our establishment but suffering is a process and involves the on- going matter of time. Times of suffering is necessary to “make you perfect, stablish strengthen, settle you” (5:10).
This perfection is not speaking of being made perfect in love, that was done instantaneously by the baptism with fire, when the Holy Spirit cleanses the heart from all that is contrary to love. This suffering is necessary for the perfecting of our character following sanctification. Joseph H. Smith, Methodist expositor wrote: “For a ‘WHILE’ we are kept busy binding our all upon the altar of consecration, and holding our own in the faith for cleansing and the abiding presence of the comforter. Construction now is well-nigh at a standstill until we know, like Nehemiah, how to work with a trowel and war with a sword at the same time. But now ‘after a WHILE,’ when the foundation is established and ever girded, we “can build up ourselves on our most holy faith.”
Paul tells us that “all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution” (II Tim. 3:12). Suffering is not only consistent with a holy life it is beneficial because it is said that as “Christ learned obedience through the things He suffered,” so we can learn no other way. When going through the furnace of affliction we must guard against becoming bitter or resentful. We must remember that He is the Refiner’s Fire and He knows when all the dross is removed and when best to withdraw the crucibles of life. Suffering is the chisel and mallet that the Holy Spirit uses to conform us to His image.
We must not become discouraged following our being saved and sanctified when we encounter tremendous trials and suffering. If we will be faithful they will be stepping-stones to stability and they become gateways to perfection. Satan comes as the “accuser of the brethren” not to the sinner. The unbeliever knows nothing of this kind of suffering. He will attack our faith, assault our conscience with incriminations, and try to dull our spiritual sensitivities. He will even use carnal men in his attacks even though many will not even be aware they are being used of the devil (like Job’s comforters). The spiritual nature of the believer has sensibilities that are deeper and more acute than their physical being. The pangs of the soul are much greater than the pains of the body.
The DURATION of Suffering: “after that you have suffered A WHILE”:
“God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that you are able” (I Cor. 10:13). Every long, dark tunnel has a light at the end. To the Apostle Paul the call to holiness was no more clear than was the call to suffer. He wrote to the church of Philippi: “For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for His sake” (Phil. 1:29). Peter states equally the same thing when in 3:15 we are called to “sanctify the Lord God in your hearts” and then in 2:21 “for even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow His steps.” Paul puts suffering in its proper context in relation to time when he said, “Our light affliction, which is but FOR A MOMENT.” It is the God of all grace, by the ministry and enablement of the Holy Spirit that makes our sufferings seem “but for a moment.”
The DIVIDENDS of Suffering: “The God of all grace hath called us unto His Eternal GLORY  by Christ Jesus, after that ye suffer a while…” There is a relationship between our suffering here and our eternal glory hereafter. The Apostle Paul writes similarly the same thing in Rom. 8:17, “If so be that we suffer with Him, that we may be also glorified together.” Jesus was always conscience that the only way back to glory was by the path of suffering. Following His resurrection He appeared to the two on the road to Emmaus. Having witnessed the crucifixion in Jerusalem they were grieved and discouraged when Jesus drew near, and went with them. They did not immediately recognize that it was the risen Christ until Jesus began to refresh their memory. He asked the question, “Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into His glory?” He was revealing to them that the tragedy of His suffering which they had witnessed had now been transformed into the place of glory and grace. The cross of suffering and humiliation became the instrument of the glory of His exaltation. His prophetic statement of (John 12: 23, 28) was now fulfilled, “the hour is come, that the Son of man should be glorified….Father, glorify thy name. Then came there a voice from heaven, saying, I have both glorified it, and will glorify it again.”
Here we see that there had to be death before there could be life.  It’s an enigma indeed, death before life—suffering before glory. Paul knew that following his death by way of a headsman’s axe he would receive a crown of righteousness. He said, “for our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory” (II Cor. 4:17). We cannot separate the cross from the crown or suffering from the throne. In this benediction Peter unites our ephemeral suffering with eternal glory. Let us heed the admonition that Peter gives in chapter 4:1-2, “Forasmuch then as Christ has suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves likewise with the same mind: for he that has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin; That he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh to the lusts of men, but to the will of God.”
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