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Come to Christ

December 26, 2012

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When a person turns to Christ empty—that they may be filled; sick—that they may be healed; hungry—that they may be satisfied; thirsty—that they may be refreshed; needy—that they may be enriched; dying—that they may have life; lost—that they may be saved; guilty—that they may be pardoned; sin-defiled—that they may be cleansed; confessing that Christ alone can supply their need—then they come to Christ. This, and nothing more than this, is coming to Christ.

J.C. Ryle

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Come and Worship

December 25, 2012

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“It may well be that the unknowable name stands for the ultimate mystery of Jesus Christ. His love we can experience; His salvation we can appropriate; His help we can claim; but there remains in Him the divine mystery of the Incarnation, which is beyond our understanding, and before which we can only worship and adore.”

William Barclay

A Christmas Reflection by Francis A. Schaeffer

December 24, 2012

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“What Difference Has Looking Made?”

Doctrinal clarity matters a great deal; but Luke does not allow his Gospel to end merely with a proper emphasis on the necessity of the great doctrinal truths, and our study should not end there either. Before his ascension Jesus told the disciples “that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all the nations, beginning at Jerusalem” (Luke 24:47). Orthodox doctrine must be proclaimed.

When the shepherds had seen the baby Jesus, “they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child” (Luke 2:17). Just as the shepherds’ proclamation was spontaneous, carrying out Jesus’ final instructions should be natural to us. If we really believe the truth of the gospel, we should voluntarily declare it. The spontaneity of telling part of the Christmas story.

Yet it is intriguing that the telling is not the final emphasis. The next to the last verse of the Gospel of Luke tells us that the disciples “worshiped him” (Luke 24:52). The doctrinal reality and the telling of it are never allowed to stand alone; in tremendous balance with it exists worship, personal relationship.

The same thing was true in Bethlehem, in this case with the wise men and the baby Jesus, for “they fell down, and worshiped him” (Matt. 2:11). They did not only bring frankincense and myrrh; they really worshiped.

But even worship is not the end of the matter. After Christ’s resurrection and ascension the disciples “returned to Jerusalem with great joy” (Luke 24:52). Joy is part of this, too. Certainly the shepherds were glad. the angel had said to them, “Fear not; for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, who is Christ the Lord” (Luke 2:10, 11).

This does not mean a stupid kind of happiness or a sick smile, nor does it mean there are no tears or that things in this world are not as bad as God says they are. This joy is connected with the reality of our knowledge of who Jesus is, our relationship with Him and our worship of Him.

Imagine you are a shepherd on the hillside, and when the heavenly host appears you are not to be afraid; you are to have joy.

It is the same with all the teaching of the Gospel which flows from the event when the shepherds saw and heard the angels, when they ran down the hill and looked upon Jesus. And at the end of Luke’s gospel, while not despising the doctrine or the telling of it, the central thing is worshiping the Lord–not coldly, but with joy. It is tremendous that the closing of the gospel of Luke fits so perfectly with the second chapter: “I bring you good tidings of great joy.” “And they worshiped him…with great joy.”

Francis A. Schaeffer

The In-Fleshing of the Eternal Son of God

December 23, 2012

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What Is the Incarnation?

The incarnation refers literally to the in-fleshing of the eternal Son of God—Jesus becoming a human being. The doctrine of the incarnation says that the eternal second person of the Trinity took on humanity in the person of Jesus of Nazareth. A helpful way to remember the key aspects of the incarnation is John 1:14: “The Word became flesh.”

The Word…

The Word refers to the eternal Son of God who was “in the beginning with God” and who himself is God (John 1:1). From eternity past until he took on humanity, the Son of God existed in perfect love, joy, and harmony in the fellowship of the Trinity. Like the Father and the Spirit, he was spirit and had no material substance. But at the incarnation the eternal Word entered into creation as a human being. He became a first-century Jew.

…became…

Became does not mean that he ceased to be God. In becoming man, he did not forsake his divine nature.It means that he became a man by taking on human nature in addition to his divine nature. It is essential to the incarnation—and very helpful throughout all theology—to recognize that divinity and humanity are not mutually exclusive. The Son of God didn’t have to pick between being God and being man. He could be both at the same time. The eternal Word became a man.

…flesh.

Flesh isn’t merely a reference to the human body but the entirety of what makes up a human being—body, mind, emotions, and will. Hebrews 2:17 and 4:15 teach that to save human beings Jesus had to be made like us “in every respect” except our sin. In the incarnation, everything proper to humanity was united to the Son of God. The Son of God didn’t only become like man; he actually became a true man.

The Word Became Flesh

So the eternal Son of God, without ceasing to be God, took on a fully human nature. This is the incarnation.

And what a magnificent doctrine and fuel for worship this is! Jesus didn’t just become man because he could. He became a man “for us and for our salvation” (in the words of Athanasius). The Word became flesh to save us from our sin and to free us to marvel at and enjoy the unique union of divinity and humanity in his one spectacular person.

The incarnation is not only the way in which Jesus became Immanuel—God with us—but it’s an eternal testimony that he and his Father are unswervingly for us.

John Piper

Christ Is All and In All

December 22, 2012

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“Anything, even if it be the blessed production of the Eternal Spirit of God, which takes the place of Christ, which shuts out Christ from the soul, is dangerous. In the great work of salvation, Christ must be everything or nothing; from Him solely, from Him entirely, from Him exclusively, must pardon and justification be drawn. Whatever, then, rises between the soul and Christ- whatever would tend to satisfy the soul in His absence- whatever would take His place in the affections, must be surrendered. Is it as the plucking out of a right eye? It must be yielded. Is it as the cutting off of a right hand? Let it go. Christ in his Godhead, Christ in his humanity, Christ in his great and finished work, Christ in his mediatorial fullness, must be all in all to the believer.”

Octavious Winslow

The Purpose of Christ’s Birth

December 21, 2012

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“For this I was born, and for this I have come into the world, to bear witness to the truth.” The connection between this and what we have said till now is that the Christ who came into the world to bear witness to the truth is God, and no one can more reliably present the truth than God. For God is the author of all truth and wills to make it known reliably.

If there were two deities—two gods—equally powerful and opposed to each other in conflict for the rule of the world, neither of these deities could be counted on to reveal truth. If their goals were to rule the world and they were threatened by each other, we might well expect that they would use deceit to gain an advantage. And so truth would not be a priority. Not so with the God and Father of our Lord, Jesus Christ. He is the one and only God, and there is none besides him. He is threatened by no one. Even Satan, his archenemy, is completely subordinate with his bounds fixed. Therefore, God has no fault, no weakness, no finitude that he ever needs to hide by deceit. God is so sovereign, so perfect and glorious that the truth will always redound to his honor. Therefore, God is committed to revealing the truth reliably because he wills to be known and glorified for who he really is.

And how better to reveal the truth about God that we might glorify and love him, than to send the Son, the very image and reflection of God, into the world? One time Thomas said to Jesus,

“Lord, we don’t know where you are going. How can we know the way?” Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but by me. If you had known me you would have known my Father; henceforth you know him and have seen him.” And Philip said to him, “Lord, show us the Father, and we shall be satisfied.” Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you so long and yet you do not know me, Philip? He who has seen me has seen the Father.”

Jesus is the truth because he is the image of the true God. He is the way to the Father because as 1 John 2:23 says, “No one who denies the Son has the Father. He who confesses the Son has the Father also.” You can’t have the Father if you reject the Son. If our heart does not go out in love to Jesus, then we cannot say that we know God. And that would mean that there is no life within us. Because Jesus says in John 17:3, “This is eternal life, that they know thee, the only true God and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.”

So there are two wonderful things implied in the statement, “I have come into the world to bear witness to the truth.” One is that in revealing God, the origin of all truth, Jesus glorified his Father. This is exactly what he says in his prayer in John 17:4, “I glorified thee on earth, having accomplished the work thou gavest me to do.” The work God gave him to do was to testify to the truth, and in doing that God was shown to be very glorious; sovereign in his freedom, marvelous in his power, and beautiful in his moral perfections, especially his mercy to us sinners.

The other wonderful thing implied in Christ’s coming to testify to the truth is eternal life. If, as Jesus said in John 17:3, “This is eternal life, to know thee, the only true God,” then the purpose of Jesus to bear witness to the truth of God must mean that his purpose is to give eternal life. Which is what John 3:17 says: “God sent the Son into the world not to condemn the world, but that the world through him might be saved.”

So, the purpose of Christ’s coming into the world is to testify to the truth of God, so that man might glorify God for who he is and might thereby come to have eternal life.

John Piper

The Freedom of Self Forgetfulness

December 20, 2012

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“The thing we would remember from meeting a truly gospel-humble person is how much they seemed to be totally interested in us. Because the essence of gospel-humility is not thinking more of myself or thinking less of myself, it is thinking of myself less. Gospel-humility is not needing to think about myself. Not needing to connect things with myself. It is an end to thoughts such as ‘I’m in this room with these people, does that makes me look good? Do I want to be here?’ True gospel-humility means I stop connecting every experience, every conversation, with myself. In fact, I stop thinking about myself. The freedom of self forgetfulness.”

Tim Keller

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