Elect Exiles

Understanding election and Peter’s audience for the letter of 1 Peter.

“The verbal adjective ‘elect’ is passive, marking the readers as the objects of the electing action of God, who is the unnamed agent. They were chosen by God to be His own in order that they might be partakers of the heavenly inheritance being reserved for them (1:4). United by faith with Christ, the ‘corner stone, elect, precious’ (2:6, ASV), they constituted ‘an elect race’ (2:9). As God’s elect people, they formed a group separate and distinct form the world and subject to its hatred and persecution. In themselves they were just ordinary people, not superior to their unsaved neighbors; but the initiative of God made them what they are.”

D. Edmund Hiebert, 1 Peter, page 47.

The Christian and the Government, part 1

This is the first of two sermons I preached from Romans 13:1-7. The audio differs from the manuscript at some points in application and delivery but not in content. I also want to point you to Jonathan Leeman’s book, The Nations Rage. I found it a great help in sorting out God’s will for the Christian and the government….

It is possible that someone has advised you not to discuss religion or politics in polite company. Now, as Christians, we are called to be polite. We are a people who bless and do not curse. We are a people who refuse to repay evil with evil. Instead, we seek to overcome evil with good. There is no room for meanness or nastiness in a Christian’s conversation. So, of all people we should be polite as we seek the greatest good. We should also be a people who seek to understand and obey all of God’s Word. This means that as polite Christians we are going to look at Romans 13:1-7 and talk about religion and government. We will see that God has a role in government, government has a role in our lives, and we have a role to play in government.

Now, I’ve been saving the following quote from Roger Deeds for over a year. Roger Deeds is the sheriff of Hood County and he said the following in connection with the 2016 crime report. Looking back at 2016 Sheriff Deeds said, “I’m glad to see burglaries down from last year and no murders at all. As for the violent crimes such as assaults, we do our best to make people behave, but we can’t be everywhere.”

What’s the role of the Sheriff’s Department? What are they trying their best to do? They are trying their very best to make people behave and behave is defined as don’t steal from one another, don’t kill one another, don’t assault one another, and don’t abuse one another. The role of the government is to ensure the safety of it’s citizens and punish those who do what is dangerous. When a government upholds justice it’s citizens are free to work and worship.

I will tell you upfront that this is going to be a two-part sermon. Keep those notes and bring them back with you next week. The plan is simple. We are going to work through Romans 13:1-7 and seek to understand what God is saying about himself, government, and citizens. Next week we will finish up our study then talk about different scenarios such as paying taxes and how to respond to an evil government.

Let’s begin. Romans 13:1-7

I. Toward a Christian appreciation for authority

We live in uncertain times (just like every person who has ever lived). Some of us have put too much hope and trust in the government so I’m going to try and move you to a more God-centered understanding of government. You may be in the camp of putting too much stock in government if the first identifier you use for yourself is Republican, Democrat, Conservative, or Liberal. You may be in danger of making Uncle Sam your messiah. Others of us don’t put enough hope or trust in government. I’m going to try to move you to a more God-centered understanding of government. You may be in this camp if the first identifier you use for your self is Revolutionary, Rebel, or Anarchist. You may be in danger of making your autonomy your messiah.

Romans 13:1 addresses the anarchist first, “Let every person be subject to the governing authorities.” To put it simply,

  • We are called to submit
    1. The citizen submits to the government
    2. The church member submits to the church and its elders (Eph 5:21; Matt 18:15-20; Heb 13:17)
    3. The elder submits to the other elders (Acts 20:28; 1 Tim 4:16)
    4. The prophet submits to the prophets (1 Cor 14:32)
    5. Servants submit to their masters (1 Peter 2:18)
    6. Children submit to parents (Eph 6:1; Col 3:20)
    7. Wives submit to husbands (Eph 5:22)
    8. Husbands submit to Christ (1 Cor 11:3)
    9. The Son submits to the Father (John 5:30)

Submission is not inherently evil but a part of order; there is a whole lot of submission going on. Where did it come from? Sin and the fall did not introduce authority. God, who made us to bear his image, created with authority built in. Authority, dominion, and rule are built into creation as a reflection of the image of God.  So, we might not like it, but we should not be surprised to hear Romans 13:1, “Let every person, let every soul, be subject to the governing authorities.” And Romans 13:1 is not alone.

Titus 3:1, “Remind them to be submissive to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good work.”

1 Peter 2:13-14, “Be subject for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor as supreme, or to governors as sent by him to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good.” Submission is no unusual command.

One of the hardest things to do when reading Romans 13:1-7 is to think like a Christian first and like an American second. Remember, Romans wasn’t written first to Americans. The Letter to the Romans was written to a group of Christians in Rome who had little to no rights. Nero was emperor and, for the time being, he was nice Nero. Nasty Nero is coming, widespread persecution is coming, but for the time being persecution was at the local level. Paul experienced local level persecution when there were riots and beatings and escape plans. Think biblically, Paul is writing these things knowing that it was the Roman government that crucified Jesus. Paul is writing these things with aching scars on his back given by the whip of Roman magistrates. Paul isn’t writing in the wake of a supreme court decision upholding religious freedom.

Think about this verse from a different angle. Romans 13:1 applies in North Korea as much as in North Dakota. Romans 13:1 applies in China as much as in Cleburne. Come back next week when we sort out the differences. Today we need to bring all governments together under God. It’s not one nation under God, it’s all nations under God.

Verse one tells us not only to submit but we are also told why we should submit. “Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God.” Why do we submit?

  • We submit because of God

This is the place in the sermon where we make taffy with our practical understanding of God’s sovereignty and providence. We try to comfort ourselves by saying God is responsible for just governments; he is behind that. But God is not responsible for unjust governments; he is not behind that. But this is not the case. There are no governing authorities except from God and those that exist have been instituted by God. God is just as responsible for Barak Obama as he is for Donald Trump. God is just as responsible for Abraham Kuyper as he is for Adolph Hitler. If you look at one president and say “God did that” but look at another president and say, “But God didn’t do that” you are wrong. God is in control of all authority.

Let’s do a little biblical survey

Daniel has the most pronounced statements about God’s sovereignty over the rulers on earth. Daniel was written while God’s people are in exile, ruled by an idolatrous king. When God’s people are at one of the lowest points, under one of the worst pagan rulers, we read this, “God changes times and seasons; he removes kings and sets up kings” (Dan 2:21). “The Most High rules the kingdom of men and gives it to whom he will and sets over it the lowliest of men.” That truth is repeated three times (Daniel 4:17, 25, 32). Look at King David; God did that. Look at King Nebuchadnezzar; God did that.

Psalm 2 asks, “Why do the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain? The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the Lord and against his Anointed, saying, ‘Let us burst their bonds apart and cast away their cords from us.’ He who sits in the heavens laughs; the Lord holds them in derision. Then he will speak to them in his wrath, and terrify them in his fury saying, ‘As for me, I have set my King on Zion, my holy hill.’”

The nations and kings and rulers try to do away with God and go their own way. Governments try to use their God-given authority for their own ends, but God holds them accountable. Africa rages against God. America rages against God. And God rules over the raging nations. Let us be mature in our understanding. God doesn’t always rule the way we want him to rule and he doesn’t terrify evil rulers as quickly as we want him to terrify them, but part of God being God is that he does what he wants, not what we want. God is the authority over all authority.

Think about Jesus’ trial and how he responds to Pilate the Roman authority. After beating Jesus, Pilate says, “Do you not know that I have authority to release you and authority to crucify you?” Listen to Jesus’ response, “You would have no authority over me at all unless it had been given you from above.” Where did Pilate’s authority come from? Jesus and Romans 13:1 tell us Pilate’s authority, all governing authority, is from God.

So, whether you are in China or Cleburne, North Korea or North Dakota, look past those governing authorities to the King of kings and Lord of lords (Rev 17:14; 19:16). God rules all rulers.

We submit to governing authority because it is God who has ordained authority. Let’s get back into Romans 13:2, “Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment.” The government will punish you for not submitting. God will punish you for not submitting. Now, some of us do not like what we see in God’s Word. It makes your skin crawl. It makes you fume. It makes you want to vomit or weep or scream or fight. But stay with me. This is no endorsement of Pharaoh’s law to kill all the Hebrew boys or Nebuchadnezzar’s law to worship the idol. Used correctly, Romans 13:1-7 does not endorse evil or endorse the abuse of citizens. This is not an unconditional call to submit and be overcome by evil. I’m asking you to stay with me.

Let’s recap. Authority is not bad in its self. The use of authority determines if it is good or evil. God has ordained authority. Our default is to submit unless the command of man causes us to disobey a command of God. To resist authority is to resist what God has appointed and therefore incur judgment. Throughout history rulers have tried to use these verses to defend submission to evil or unjust commands. But notice,

  • God’s intention is good authority

Look with me at Romans 13:3, “For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad.” It is a dangerous oversimplification, but I’m going to summarize the purpose of government authority. Governments should exist to establish justice so that all citizens can be safe and the gospel advance. 1 Timothy 2:1-6 directs us to pray for kings and all who are in high positions. We pray for those in authority knowing that God desires all people to be saved and come to a knowledge of the truth. What is the connection between government and people being saved? We pray for those with governing authority, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. We pray for stable governments whose upholding of the good provides smooth paths for the gospel to run on. We want governments to secure safety and enforce justice so that the gospel can advance more rapidly.

It’s sounds simple, but it is important. Roger Deeds working so that you are safe from being killed or abused helps advance the gospel. It is a great blessing that we can sleep at night and invite neighbors over to share a meal without having to post an armed guard. Many Christians, right now, do not have the blessing we enjoy. For the advance of the gospel, we want those with murderous plans to fear the government and not murder. We want those with plans to steal to fear the government and not steal. We want parents who would beat their children to fear the government and not abuse their children. We want husbands to fear the government and wives to fear the government and thereby be encouraged to love one another and not abuse one another. God’s intention is for government to establish order and punish evil such that people who want to do harm are fearful. We should all have a healthy fear of good authority.

Take the highway patrol for example. If you make a habit of speeding, driving at a speed deemed dangerous, and you pass a highway patrol, you should fear. That’s a good thing. Government should cause those who do evil to fear. But what precisely should those who engage in bad conduct fear? Verse 4, government does not bear the sword in vain. God has ordained government to punish the evil doer. And God has ordained government to punish the evil doer in such a way that the punishment rightly reflects the evil and danger of the crime.

Again, I will admit, there has been much evil committed by those in authority. And, we must strive to overcome evil with good. We must listen to victims and seek to punish those who would abuse authority; especially when that abuse is committed by those with authority. But the misuse of authority does not make all authority inherently evil. What we must understand is that all authority is inherently dangerous. Authority is like that really sharp knife in your kitchen drawer. That knife does a lot of good when used properly. But that sharp knife can do a lot of evil when used improperly. Christians must be about the proper use of authority. So, what should the government do?

Instead of supporting evil practices, government should commend what is good. Romans 13:3 asks the question, “Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval.”

Connect this with Romans 12:17, “Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable/good in the sight of all.” Do your neighbors know you as a person who seeks the good of the neighborhood or do you have a reputation for looking out only for yourself? Do you have a reputation for loving, serving, and caring for others, or do you have a reputation for looking out only for your family? Do you use your strength, your wealth, and your influence to achieve good or to get more for yourself? The police in Granbury, the judges in Hood county, what do they know you for? Are they more likely to commend your good or punish your evil?

Titus 2:7 calls us as Christians to be models; to be models of good works. Titus 2:14 reminds us that Jesus gave himself to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people who are zealous for good works. Titus 3:8 insists that those who believe in God should be careful to devote themselves to good works. Regardless of the good or evil going on in government, we are to be a people passionate about doing good.

What About Cremation?

For the majority of its existence, the church has been adamantly opposed to the practice of cremation. While rarely commanding burial or condemning cremation on theological grounds, the people of God throughout biblical history, have consistently practiced internment. The Bible describes, but does not prescribe, the practice of internment against cremation (Gen 25:10; Deut 34:6; Amos 2:1; John 19:42; Acts 8:2).

Julian the Apostate, a pagan Roman emperor who lived in the early fourth century chronicled how Christians, “filled the whole world with tombs and sepulchers.”[1] One of the marks of early Christianity was the rejection of cremation. In the same article, Kathryn Wehr recounts Tertullian’s opposition to cremation, she raises concerns that the 21st century practice of scattering ashes reveals an exclusive focus on the soul, and she encourages Christians to allow resurrection to take center stage as the focus of hope about the future.[2] Similarly, David Jones asserts, “This unfavorable view of cremation found in the Church Fathers was echoed by the majority of Christian thinkers who followed.”[3] Jones warns against the practice of cremation based on the implications of the image of God in man. Genesis 9:6 prescribes capital punishment for murder because murder is an attack on the image of God. Possessing life in physical bodies is part of what it means to possess the image of God. The human body, therefore, must be treated with dignity. Historically, cremation has been understood as an affront to the dignity of the human body. Additionally, 1 Corinthians 15 and 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 engender hope in grief precisely because these particular bodies will be raised.

With caution, noting that there is nothing inherently evil or immoral about accelerated decay caused by cremation, historical theology, and the consistent biblical practice of internment, encourage Christians to practice burial with explicit hope in the resurrection of the dead at the return of Christ. If cremation is practiced, the remains should not be scattered but interned with future hope.

[1]Emperor Julian the Apostate quoted by Kathryn Wehr in “Notes and Comments: The Orthodox Bioethics of Cremation,” St Vladimirs Theological Quarterly 55, no. 4 (2011): 502.

[2]ibid., 503-507.

[3]David W. Jones, “To Bury or Burn? Toward an Ethic of Cremation,” Journal of Evangelical Theological Society 53, no. 2 (June 2010): 338.

Weep and Rejoice with Your Neighbors

neighbor good

Concerning the command to weep with those who weep, and rejoice with those who rejoice (Romans 12:15), Cranfield writes:

The Christian is to take his stand beside his fellow-man (whoever he may be), to have time and room for him in those experiences in which he is most truly himself, in his real human joy and his real human sorrow, and to strive to be both with him and for him, altogether and without reserve, yet without compromising with his evil or sharing, or even pretending to share, the presuppositions of this age which is passing away, even as God Himself is in Christ both ‘with us’ (Mt 1:23) and ‘for us’ (Rom 8:31) all. Commentary on Romans, vol 2, page 642

R.C. Sproul on Abortion

I believe that the greatest ethical issue today is that of abortion. In recent years many have come to see terrorism as more concerning than abortion. I am baffled by that, because more people were killed on September 10 in the womb of U.S. women than were killed on 9/11 in New York City. More babies were slaughtered on September 12 than adults were killed on 9/11. If we had a camera on the womb so that CNN could show us graphic videos of what actually happens in the slaughter of unborn children, abortion would be quickly abolished, but the reality of it is covered up. If there is one thing I know about God, it is that he hates abortion. The German ethicist Helmut Thielicke indicated something unusual in his massive mid-twentieth-century work on Christian ethics. The work appeared before Roe v. Wade; that is, before Western civilization had embraced abortion on demand. In his book Thielicke wrote that abortion has always been considered a monolithic evil in Christian thought among both liberals and conservatives. That is clear from the very first century, in the Didache, which called abortion “murder.” Abortion is an unspeakable evil that God abhors, one that the American church tolerates and winks at. That troubles me deeply, and I do not understand it.

Sproul, R. C.. Romans (St. Andrew’s Expositional Commentary) (pp. 422-423). Crossway. Kindle Edition.


A Christian is a person who feels the wrath of God for sin and calls out to Jesus for salvation from God’s wrath.

A Christian is a person who wants to be with God and trusts Jesus alone to get there.

A Christian is a person who believes the good news of Christ’s righteous life, atoning death, victorious resurrection, and soon return.

Are you a Christian?

Jesus is Fully Man for Us

Text: John 1:14                                                           12/24/2017

Main Point: God became man to reconcile God and man.

Who is Jesus and what is Christmas all about?

God becoming a man, the celebration of Christmas, is all about God’s great rescue plan. God wants to save, restore, and redeem people. In order to do that, in order to reconcile God and man, God must become a man.

Now let’s do some meddling for a minute. Some of us don’t like to hear, “You can’t do it.” “You can’t do it,” becomes a personal challenge that must be defeated. “Oh, I’m about to show you that I can do it.” Christmas morning is all about the fact that you can’t do it. One of the most faith-filled biblical things you can say when you roll out of bed tomorrow morning is, “I can’t do it.” You can’t face the kids and their greed. You can’t face the kids and their disappointment. You can’t face your crazy family members. Friend, our problems with one another are symptoms of our problems with God.

A broken relationship with God will lead to broken relationships with others. Separated from God, we don’t have what it takes to do life. We need help. We need Jesus.

Who is Jesus? He is fully God and fully man. Why do we need Jesus? We need a perfect man to come and do for us what we cannot do for ourselves. We need perfect righteousness credited to our accounts. We need an atoning sacrifice to pay the sin-debt we rack up. We need a ransom, a savior, a messiah, a deliverer, and redeemer. We need Jesus.

Read Galatians 4:4-7

I. The Bible tells us God became a man to redeem us

We are going to trace that argument. God became a man. God became a man for us. Then we’ll get really pointed; the Son of God is sinless man for us. God became a man to restore man to God.

  • The Son of God became a man
    1. John 1:14, “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.” God became a man. The Word, who is God, became flesh.
    2. John 8:40, Jesus said, “You are determined to kill me, a man who has told you the truth I heard from God.” Jesus, who understood himself to be God (we talked about that last week), he also understood himself to be a man.
    3. Acts 2:22, Peter preaches, “Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with mighty works and wonders and signs that God did through him in your midst…you crucified him.” Peter, who confessed the deity of Jesus in Matthew 16, witnesses the resurrection then preached the humanity of Jesus in Acts 2.
    4. 1 Timothy 3:16, “He was manifested in the flesh” This means God, who already existed, became visible. He appeared in the flesh.
    5. The apostle John said the disciples heard, saw, and touched Jesus (1 John 1:1). That means Jesus has a body.
    6. In the early church, believing or confessing that Jesus has come in the flesh was a test of one’s orthodoxy (1 John 4:2). “By this you know that Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God.” Confessing the incarnation of the Son of God is still a test of biblical Christianity.
    7. Hebrews 10:5, “When Christ came into the world, he said, ‘Sacrifices and offerings you have not desired, but a body you have prepared for me.’” The preexisting Son of God became a man.
    8. Throughout Scripture we see Jesus being born, growing, eating, sleeping, getting tired and dying precisely because he is a man with a physical body.

Why does this matter? Fundamentally, it matters that God the Son became a man because that is exactly what God’s Word teaches. We submit to the authority of Scripture. We believe the Word and we want to think biblically about Jesus. This is the making of a biblical worldview. We try to understand and engage our world according to the truth of Scripture. So, we test every idea against God’s Word. Does what we believe match what Scripture teaches? Knowing that God became human also matters because we humans need a savior. God wants us to know that Jesus possesses everything it takes to be human for our salvation. God became a man to reconcile God and man.

  • The Son of God became a man for us
  1. Galatians 4:4, “But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeemed those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons.”
    1. We used to be sons of God but that privilege and inheritance was lost in the Garden of Eden. Jesus came to restore us to our place in the family of God. Jesus is the perfect man who makes us perfect sons and daughters.
  2. 1 Timothy 2:5, “There is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.”
    1. The man Christ Jesus is the only means of getting back to God. He’s the only thing sufficient to make that happen.
  3. Hebrews 2:14-15, “Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself like wise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil.” The things that make us human are the things Jesus took on. And there is a purpose for Jesus taking on flesh and blood…
  4. Hebrews 9:14, “how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify our consciences from dead works to serve the living God.”

The Son of God became the Son of Man. He took on the body and soul of a man. Jesus became fully man for us.

Why does this matter? Why does God want us to believe Jesus became truly man for us? Well, there is a lot of junk in our pasts. We are guilty and therefore separated from God. We have guilty consciences and need a redeemer. We humans are under the condemnation of the law. We need a human redeemer to fulfill the law’s requirements.

Think with me. This is worth hours of thought. Jesus took on himself and did for us all the law requires. He took our punishment the law requires, and Jesus fulfills the commandments of the law. All that the law requires for sin and for righteousness is accomplished for us in Jesus. We need a fully God and perfect human mediator. We need a human death conqueror. We need a human law obey-er. Church, be in awe and wonder, God the Son became a man for us. Let’s get even more pointed in our study

  • The Son of God is sinless man for us

Judas confessed that Jesus is innocent, Pilate’s wife confessed that Jesus is a righteous man, and the thief on the cross confessed that Jesus has done nothing wrong (Mt 27:4, 19; Lk 23:41). Listen in

  1. Hebrews 4:15, “Jesus was tempted in every way as we are, yet without sin.”
  2. Hebrews 7:26, “It was indeed fitting that we should have such a high priest, holy, innocent, unstained, separated from sinners, and exalted above the heavens.”
  3. 1 Peter 2:22, “He committed no sin, neither was their deceit found in his mouth.”
  4. 2 Corinthians 5:21, “For our sake, God made him who knew no sin, to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”
  5. 1 John 3:5, “You know that he appeared to take away sins, and in him there is no sin.” (John 8:29, 46; 15:10)
  6. Why does this matter? Why does God want you to believe Jesus became a sinless man for us? Remember our problem? You can’t do it. Psalm 49:7, no man can ransom another. We are sinful, and we are small, therefore we are insufficient. You cannot save yourself. Your parenting and choice of schools cannot save your child. Jesus, only Jesus. Jesus is the sinless and sufficient sacrifice for your sins. Jesus, God become man, is righteous for you and took the penalty of sin for you. For our sake, the Father put our sin on the Son and put the righteousness of the Son on us. Jesus became human so that humans can become righteous. Do you believe this? Through Jesus, the perfect God-man, we are reconciled to God. Praise God for Christmas. We can be saved.

II. Objections to the humanity of God the Son

Unlike last Sunday, today I’m going to spend less time on objections. If any of these touch a nerve and you want more, then let me know and we’ll talk it out or I’ll connect you with someone with whom you can talk it out.

  • God cannot become a man

This objection simply states, God cannot change. So, part of what it means to be God is to be perfect and you cannot change perfect. So, if God becomes a man that implies a change which implies some deficiency. Therefore, God cannot become a man. God cannot change. He’s perfect and unchangeable.

The response is that the incarnation, God becoming a man, does not in any way imply a change in the nature of God. God doesn’t change in his knowledge or nature when the Son of God takes on flesh. Jesus is not less than God. Jesus is fully God, without change, in the flesh. The nature of God, what it means to be God, does not change when the Son of God becomes a man.

  • It only looked like God became a man

This old error is called Docetism- Jesus is fully God but he only appears to have taken on flesh. God really did not become a man; it only seems like he did. This is really the product of the idea that God can’t change or become a man, so we have to have some other explanation for Jesus. But look back at the testimony of Scripture for your answer to this one. God was really a man. Others claim

  • God became only partially man

This old error is called Apollinarianism- Jesus did not take on all of what it means to be human. He had a physical body and a divine soul. Jesus only took on flesh (John 1:14). This makes Jesus only partially man.

The problem with a fully God but partially human Jesus is redemption only applies to those human parts Jesus possesses. Biblical Christianity says Jesus possesses a human body and soul. Therefore, all of who we are and not part of what we are is redeemed. We need a fully human Jesus, body and soul, to redeem fully all of who we are.

That’s a sampling of objections and answers. Mainly I want you to see that Christianity can and has stood up to deep and difficult objections for nearly 2,000 years. There are good answers to your tough questions. Ok, now we are in a place to draw some good soul satisfying conclusions. Let’s talk about

III. Why the humanity of Jesus matters

  • Since Jesus became a man, the atoning death of Jesus can be applied to us

How do you know that God will forgive you and reconcile with you if you repent and believe in Jesus Christ? I know God will save me through Jesus Christ because I am a human and Jesus became a human to save humans. God became a man to reconcile God and man. Jesus did not become an angel to save fallen angels. Jesus became a human to save fallen humans. Are you a fallen human? Do you feel your weakness, sickness, and sinfulness? Take heart. Jesus has come for you. Repent and trust his work in your place so that you can be with him and enjoy the benefits of his place. Jesus will save you.

  • Since Jesus became a man, Jesus can truly sympathize and intercede for us

Hebrews 4:15 tells us that Jesus can sympathize with our weaknesses because he has, in every respect, been tempted as we are yet he did not sin. Jesus knows what it feels like and Jesus is able to help. You are never “the only one.” To say, “I’m the only one and no one knows what it feels like,” is a lie and an attack on the full humanity of Jesus. We go to God in prayer knowing he experienced the same struggle We go to God in prayer asking for the way of escape that Jesus found. Because Jesus became a man and was tempted in every respect like we are, there is help and you are never alone. Pray. Take advantage of all the help of Jesus.

  • Since Jesus became human, Jesus shows us what it truly means to be human

There is so much here for us to see and enjoy. For the sake of time I want to quickly give you three points to ponder. First, what it means to be human is sinlessness not sinfulness. Adam and Eve were created without sin. Jesus was and is without sin. If we trust Jesus, our day is coming. It’s going to get better. Second, having a spouse and children is not what it means to be human. Humans get married and have children but marriage and children are not required to be human. Was Jesus less than human because he didn’t have a spouse or children? No! Jesus is fully human without a spouse or children. Lastly, read the Gospels looking to Jesus as a life worthy of imitation. The gospels show us a man in the full. Strive, by his grace, to become more like Jesus in 2018. Let’s keep moving

  • Since Jesus became a man, Jesus models prayerful dependence on the Father

Depending on the Father is a good thing. Taking your cues from your heavenly Father is a good thing. Jesus only said what he heard his Father saying and Jesus did only what he saw his Father doing. Jesus did nothing on his own. Everything Jesus did, he did as a response to and in relationship with his heavenly Father. Jesus lacked nothing, and he lived a life of glad and fruitful dependence on God.

We lack everything and must live our lives in glad and fruitful dependence on God the Son. Jesus is the vine and we are the branches. Apart from him we can do nothing and as we depend on Jesus we will bear much fruit. Making disciples, doing good work, a team-work marriage, powerful parenting, and a joyous Christmas are all the product of depending on Jesus. Let’s get really practical. Let’s talk about

IV. Ways you can give and receive Jesus this Christmas

  • Expect your lost friends and family to act like lost

If it hasn’t happened already, people are going to say and do things that hurt, embarrass, and frustrate you. Our friends and family don’t need a good talking to, your famous dish, or the perfect present. Our friends and family need Jesus. I want to encourage you to see the offense that will happen as an opportunity for the gospel. Pray, search your Bible, talk to your church, and graciously confront, with the gospel of grace that offers a better way. Expect to be offended and determine today to bring gospel reconciliation. It is an opportunity to bring Christ into the darkness. If you want to know more about that, let’s talk.

  • Expect your Christian friends and family to need your help.

You are not the only person who will be hurt, embarrassed, or frustrated. Your brothers and sisters who make up this church need your help. Your children will need your help. Your spouse, your parent, and your sibling will need your help. Make room and make time for gospel conversations. Expect God to bring out brokenness. It is an opportunity to bring gospel healing to their needs. If you want to know more about that, let’s talk. Lastly,

  • Expect to need the help of your friends and family

One thing the incarnation teaches us is we can’t do it. We need help, so God sent the God-man Jesus Christ. One thing the church teaches us is we can’t do it. We need help, so God puts us in a family and gives us brothers and sisters. Walk out of this gathering and walk into Christmas firmly convinced that you do not have what it takes to do the next thing. Walk out of this gathering and walk into Christmas firmly convinced that with Christ and His church you have everything you need. Reach out to God; pray for help. Reach out to God; search his Word for wisdom. Reach out to the church; get the guidance, encouragement, and correction you need. Then go and tell the good news that Jesus Christ has come.

Go, Tell it on the Mountain!