Sunday, December 24, 2017

Sermon Dec. 24, 2017 Christmas Eve

Title: The Father’s Love, Begotten in his Son Jesus … for you!
Text: 1 John 4:7-16
Readings - Isaiah 7:10-14, 1 John 4:7-16, Matthew 1:18-25 (ESV)

9 In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. 10 In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.

Of the Father’s love begotten, Ere the worlds began to be,
He is Alpha and Omega, He the source, the ending He,
Of the things that are, that have been, And that future years shall see,
Evermore and evermore!

The Father’s love is made known to us – you and me - in the sending of his son Jesus the promised incarnate son of God from eternity past the Alpha and Omega the first and the last.

In the beginning when God spoke all things came to be. In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the word was God. God’s Christ – begotten of the father – born of a Virgin for you!

O that birth forever blessed, When the virgin, full of grace,
By the Holy Ghost conceiving, Bore the Saviour of our race;
And the Babe, the world’s Redeemer, First revealed His sacred face,
evermore and evermore!

We hear this Good News in the words of our gospel tonight.

“Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21 She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”

The fall into sin brought death. All are born in death and live a life of death. You and I apart from Jesus and faith created by the Holy Spirit - have no hope. But that is the Good News of a savior who saves, redeems and calls from death to life. It is Good news tonight; it is good News tomorrow; it is good News because it is redemption, restoration and resurrection from death to life eternal.

This is He Whom seers in old time Chanted of with one accord;
Whom the voices of the prophets Promised in their faithful word;
Now He shines, the long expected, Let creation praise its Lord,
Evermore and evermore!

In the past God spoke through the prophets of old as the writer to the Hebrews says but in these last days he has spoken through his Son.

14 Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel. (God with us)

God’s word made flesh, Jesus Christ, was spoken of, was prophesized and foretold, that the plan of redemption would come in God’s time and in God’s way. But who is this Jesus … and more importantly … as Jesus asked his disciples … who do you say that I am?

Your answer to this question determines quite literally life and death. 

This humble child that now lies in a manger is truly the King of Kings and Lord of Lords whether he is your King and your Lord depends on faith in him, this Jesus who created the heavens and the Earth, lived, suffered, died, and rose again from the dead for you … to bring peace to this broken world.

O ye heights of heaven adore Him; Angel hosts, His praises sing;
Powers, dominions, bow before Him, and extol our God and King!
Let no tongue on earth be silent, Every voice in concert sing,
Evermore and evermore!

Dear friends we speak of heaven, of angels singing, and of all bowing before the King, no silent throng but mighty voices. It is impossible to imagine the perfection of heaven but we can get a glimpse … in this child in the manger – the Jesus. The Perfection of God’s only begotten son sent down from Heaven and wrapped in swaddling clothes … would grow into the man Christ Jesus.

That God would become man shows the value of his life for you and your life in him.

Since the incarnation when God, born of a virgin, became man - no longer is God separate from you on a mountain, or speaking to a prophet for you. Now in his flesh he has come to unite his death, with your death, and his life, with your life, so that in him we are made righteous by the power of the Holy Spirit by faith.

John’s epistle confirms this when he writes:

13 By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit. 14 And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. 15 Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God.

God remains hidden. He reveals himself by his Spirit through the word. If you wish to know him don’t look into the heavens as the angles told the disciples as they looked up as he ascended before them.

11b …This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.” Acts 1:11b

The ascension is not the end.

Christ, to Thee with God the Father, And, O Holy Ghost, to Thee,
Hymn and chant with high thanksgiving, And unwearied praises be:
Honor, glory, and dominion, And eternal victory,
Evermore and evermore!

The eternal victory is found in Christ’s glorious return to judge the living and the dead. Death is no escape. All will be judged. Some will depart to be with the Lord and others cast into … a hell of their own choosing.

The good news though is that the Lord is on his throne and he still calls those who have ears to hear. Listen, come, and drink the living water for the river of life that is Jesus.

As my Professor Peter Scare wrote on his timeline on facebook:

Cain lives in every heart and each of us must die. Who then can raise the brother slain? Christ alone is Able.

He is Able in the real sense and in the figurative sense. Unjustly killed Christ overcomes sin, death, and the devil for you. He is able to raise you up by the power of the simple things … water and word, bread and wine … for you and he continues through his church to make disciples.

Let the little children come to me he calls and as a little child born in a manger he came to be the savior of the world. And as the God/man in death he fulfilled all righteousness for you so that you too might be righteous.

As our epistle reading ends:

17 By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment,

Have no fear for in Christ you are forgiven and he has a place of everlasting comfort for you that awaits all who believe and trust in Christ.

Because as [Jesus] is so also are we in this world. 18 There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.

But you are perfect in him … evermore and evermore!

In the name of the Father, and of the Son + and of the Holy Spirit!

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