It is said that Sir Isaac Newton wanted to make some studies of the sun, involving looking directly towards it. He took all the precautions that he could think of and went off to his work. After a couple of hours, he jotted down his notes and went to bed. A few hours later when he awoke he found a permanent impression of the sun in his eyes.
I wish I could say that when I get up in the morning everything I see is superimposed with an image of God’s Son. I wish that when I look at you I could see Christ. I wish that when we are tempted to sin, we would always see the Lord standing by, shaking His head. I wish that our thoughts, our deeds, our conversations, our joys and our sorrows were all blended with the realization of the presence of the Saviour. Alas, this isn’t true in me, and I must assume that probably isn’t true in you either.
This morning I have a very simple topical message. It is elemental – the kind of sermon with which I grew bored after I had been saved for a few years and after I went to Bible college. If this was the only kind of message preached in this place, I wouldn’t blame you for being unhappy with me. But on the other hand, it is messages like this that all Christians need to hear from time to time. It is messages like this which help us to think about the Saviour and to see Christ. As Christians we need to wake up in the morning and see the Lord as we look at our breakfast cereal. When we look at the little baby, we need to be reminded of the miraculous birth of our Lord. When we are tempted to sin, we need to remember that we are new creatures in Christ Jesus and that although He was tempted like as we are, yet He never once transgressed the will of the Father. And then when that moment comes that we find that we have once again sinned against the grace of God, we need to recall the sacrifice that the Lord Jesus made for that sin. I don’t need to be cast into despair and gloom – shame perhaps – but not depression over another sin, because Jesus died to save me and there is no doubt that by the grace of God I shall come to the glorious conclusion of the Lord’s promised salvation. It is predestinated.
So if you are looking for some new and deep theology to tickle your imagination and your creativity, come back tonight and you might be satisfied. But this morning, let’s look with the eyes of child – a child of God – at the Lord Jesus Christ.
We start with Jesus’ VIRGIN BIRTH – Luke 1:26-35.
The angel Gabriel came to a teenage girl, Mary of Nazareth, to tell her that she would be having a baby. She and Joseph were told that the child’s name should be “Jesus,” which we learn is because “He shall save His people from their sins.” She was told that this baby would be the Son of God, and that He would sit upon the throne of her great, great grandfather David. Mary immediately understood that the angel was talking about the Messiah. But she didn’t understand how this could be – since she wasn’t yet married. As betrothed, the wedding had already been arranged, but was yet sometime off in the future. “And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.” Gabriel also made a visit to Mary’s fiance and comforted him by saying: “Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost.”
One of the many important points in the birth of Christ is the fact that He did not begin his life as we all did. Despite the fact that the angel said to Mary, “thou shalt conceive in thy womb,” the Son of God didn’t begin at that point. You and I did begin at the point of conception. We were not little spirits floating around Heaven awaiting a body to be prepared for us. When we were conceived – our lives began. It was not at birth but at our conception making deliberate abortion nothing short of murder. But unlike us, Christ, the Second Person of the God-head has always existed; He has always been “the Son of God.” His life took on a new dimension in the womb of Mary, and yet another when He was born, but that baby, in a sense, had several thousand years earlier created the universe, and before that there was, for lack of a better word, a covenant was made between God the Father and Himself to become incarnate for the purpose of saving a few of us wretched sinners. Christ came into the world through a human mother because of sin and for sin.
It is loudly denied by those who hate the God of the Bible, but the Bible of God declares that Jesus was Virgin Born – He was born of a woman who had never intimately known a man. So Jesus had no human father, despite what a lot of modernistic preachers and theologians say. Jesus was born of a woman who had never known a man, despite what science might have to say. Jesus was virgin born no matter what the multitude of corrupt bibles have to say. This miraculous birth had been prophesied in the Old Testament and it was declared a fact in the New. Isaiah 7:14 – “Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.” Matthew 1:18 – “Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost. Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not willing to make her a publick example, was minded to put her away privily. But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost. And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins. Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us. Then Joseph being raised from sleep did as the angel of the Lord had bidden him, and took unto him his wife: And knew her not till she had brought forth her firstborn son: and he called his name JESUS.”
I know that in churches across this community there are preachers who deny the Lord Jesus’ miraculous conception, but there are destructive effects in these Satanic lies. For example, if Christ was not virgin born, then His birth would have been stained with illegitimacy. If He had not been virgin born then He would have been tainted with the sin of His forefather Adam. If He was not virgin born then He could not be the unique Son of God and certainly not divine. If He was not virgin born then as a sinner He could have had no authority to forgive the sins of others. If He was not virgin born He would have been a sinner and disqualified from becoming the sacrifice that our sins required. And if He was not virgin born the preaching of the cross would be a bloody, brutal, barbarian waste of time.
Oh, but He was born of a woman who had never known a man, and who was a virgin at the time of His birth. He was conceived in some miraculous way by the Holy Spirit. He was born and died the infinite Son of God which He is still. This means that the sacrifice of His death is more than sufficient to meet the needs of sinners like us. Christ Jesus still has the authority and power to redeem us from our sins and direct every step of our lives.
So Jesus Christ was virgin born and He lived a thoroughly VIRTUOUS LIFE.
When the Jews sought to kill the One whose words, deeds and life so condemned them, they brought Him to the Roman governor to get him to carry out their dirty deed. But Pilate was no fool and wasn’t going to be easily drawn into their nefarious plot, so he interrogated Jesus. There were oral questions, and there was an inquisitorial scourging. I’m sure that Pilate talked to his counselors and the Jewish informants and collaborators in his cabinet. And Pilate’s conclusion was that he found no fault in Christ. Pre-Jewish Abraham had faults and we know that David, Peter, Paul and even Mary had their sins and faults. “All have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” “There is not a just man upon the earth that doeth good and sinneth not.” Furthermore, “the soul that sinneth it shall die” – Ezekiel 18:4. “The wages of sin is death.” But not one person, not one single soul could prove any sin or fault in the Saviour – because He had none. God the Father ordained that Christ “be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him.” “He was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.”
How is it possible that anyone in this world can grow up into adulthood, then be faced with all the temptations of adulthood and not at any point ever sin? “Man is born unto trouble, as the sparks fly upward.” Not only are we confronted by trouble, but we are trouble, because our hearts are filled with it. There is no more succinct and crystal clear declaration of the condition of humanity than Romans 3: “As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one. Their throat is an open sepulchre; with their tongues they have used deceit; the poison of asps is under their lips: Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness: Their feet are swift to shed blood: Destruction and misery are in their ways: And the way of peace have they not known: There is no fear of God before their eyes.” That isn’t a general statement of mankind, leaving the door open for a few exceptions. That is a Heaven directed explanation of how God sees all men every where.
But Christ “did no sin, neither was guile found in His mouth.” Jesus was no mere man, who had overcome His temptations. He was the virgin born “Emmanuel” – “God with us.” And “God tempteth no man, neither is He tempted with evil.” I am absolutely convinced that Jesus was impeccable – that He was incapable of committing sin. The doctrine of the virgin birth is inextricably united to the doctrine of Jesus’ absolute sinlessness. If one falls so does the other, and therefore if either fall, then we will all fall into Hell.
Following in the footsteps of Jesus’ virgin birth and His virtuous life, is His VICARIOUS DEATH.
The word “vicarious” means “in the place of” – or simply – “as a substitute.” Mature Christians know that Christ Jesus took their place on the cross, suffering everything for them. This is one of the major planks in our theology, based upon hundreds of scriptures. This is so important and so huge that the word “plank” seems weak. The vicarious death of Christ for the sinner is an absolute essential girder which holds up our salvation from sin.
There are about two dozen scriptures which speak about Christ “dying for sinners.” Six scriptures speak about Him “bearing our sins.” Eight talking about His “suffering for our sin.” Two actually say that He “became sin for us.” A dozen passages say that Christ “removed our sins.” Sixteen others link justification, redemption and reconciliation to Jesus’ crucifixion and blood.
And these scriptures come from both the Old and New Testaments. Isaiah 53 – “Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all. And he made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death; because he had done no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth. Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in his hand. He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities. Therefore will I divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he hath poured out his soul unto death: and he was numbered with the transgressors; and he bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.” “Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree” “For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit.” “For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed.” “For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” “For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.” “Who gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us from this present evil world, according to the will of God and our Father: Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree.” “Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation.” “The blood of Jesus Christ cleanseth us from all sin.”
Jesus’ death was unlike any other; it was just as miraculous and unique as was His conception and birth. History says that 30,000 Jews died on Roman crosses, but we probably couldn’t name more than three. The bulk of the scriptures either declare or imply that Jesus died to specifically accomplish salvation, not just to make it available. His was the death of a vicar, a substitute for each one of his chosen people. And that tells me that it is impossible for any of us to deliver ourselves from our sins and guilt. It had to be Christ to save us, or it could never be done. Even the very effort on our part to substitute ourselves for the true Substitute is sin.
An important fourth thing about Christ which should be burned into us was His VICTORIOUS resurrection.
I wish that when you to wake up tomorrow morning you do so remembering that Jesus lives. We serve a risen Saviour, and He’s as much in the world today as he was 2,000 years ago. Those three days and three nights when Jesus was in the tomb were nothing but a minor morning fog. What took place between the Father and the Son during that time will forever be shrouded in mystery. Perhaps it was extremely important to our salvation, perhaps it was nothing more than a period of rest. But what is essential to us is that today we have a living, reigning high priest, making intercession for us. And what makes this truly interesting is that this high priest, was at one point also the sacrifice.
Look unto Jesus and let this brilliance burn into your eyes and your soul.
Finally, we remember the Lord’s promise to VISIBLY AND LITERALLY RETURN TO EARTH.
As the infinite God, there is no doubt about the Lord’s presence with us here today. This is one reason why we should see Him in everything and everywhere. We believe in the omnipresence of God, which includes the Lord Jesus.
But just as we see in the Old Testament promises and statements about the Messiah’s coming Kingdom, we find the New Testament filled with promises about Christ’s literal return to establish that Kingdom. For example, Jesus told the High Priest that he would “see the Lord coming in the clouds of Heaven with the Holy angels.” And in Acts 1, there were angels who told the disciples, “Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven.”
My friends, the Lord has not left one segment of our redemption to chance or failure. He planned and began salvation in eternity before you were born and before Adam was created. The Lord made sure that those people who were the ancestors of the Messiah were all miraculously spared and protected from the hatred of Christ’s enemies. And then when the “fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons.” Christ didn’t come to make salvation possible, He came to actually save His people from their sins. And now, today, Christ is seated at the right hand of God the Father, acting as our High Priest, interceding for us, because He knows our every weakness. But someday, very soon, He will come again, according to His promise to take us unto Him, so that we will be able to be with Him for eternity.
If these things were burned into our eyes, burned into our hearts, and burned into our faith,
these things alone would make us fervent and fruitful children of God.
This message was not meant to be a fluffy, feel-good message filled with useless chatter. This is what Bible Christianity is all about. This is elemental Christianity – Christianity 101. Let this mind be in you, which was also in the Lord Jesus Christ. We should be “looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God” until he is burned into our thoughts and souls.
But it could be that you are ashamed to look toward Christ because of your sin. If that is the case and you are a child of God, go back to the place where your Christian life began. Confess your sin to the Lord, repent of it and leave it. “If we confess sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” But if you are not sure that you really are the kind of Christian that we find in the Bible, then you need to go to the cross – right now, while there is still opportunity. Repent of your sin, and believe on the Lord and that what He did on Calvary was specifically for you. “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved.”
These things which I have briefly described this morning mean absolutely nothing, if they are not accomplishing their perfect work in your heart.