Here is a link to my most recent audio sermon entitled…Christmas: It’s All About Jesus. It is an expository message from John 1:14 “And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we beheld his glory, glory as of the only-begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.” Also, I’ve developed a new website for our church. If you are interested in seeing it please follow this link…http://www.gvfonline.org/. Soli Deo Gloria
Below is the basic transcript from the sermon:
Christmas: It’s All About Jesus
Good Morning…I’m Rand one of the Pastor’s here at Grace Valley Fellowship let me pray and we’ll get right to work…. Well this morning I would like to draw your attention to the first chapter of the gospel of John for our first message of the Christmas Sermon series which we’ve called Grace Came down.
We all know that there are different perceptions regarding the Christmas season in our culture. I was thinking about the different ways that people perceive Christmas.
The children often see Christmas as lights and trees and cookies and Santa, and Rudolph, and the polar express, and the muppets Christmas Carol, sort of a mystical magical time full of fun and presents.
And the Youth, the students look at Christmas as a time to be with friends and go to parties, to be on break from class, to get newer cooler clothes, to upgrade from a game cube to and Xbox or PS2 to a PS3 or a Wii- To get an Iphone instead of that lame phone that is free with the wireless package.
In most cases, the youth are more into what they’ll get and how those things that they’ll get will turn the heads of the opposite sex and maybe give them a little more respect among friends – Now I’m not comin down on this- it’s a season of life, I was there, I wanted to somehow convince the girls that I was cool.right..believe me it took a lot of convincing. I was there. I wanted to go on dates, have the right clothes, and at the time I wished I had a bigger tuck that when I pulled on campus every morning people knew I was there.
But I just could not ask my dad for monster truck or a lift package for Christmas, I think I was happy to get some armorall and a steering wheel cover for my light blue Buick Sky Hawk- not to knock it because it was actually a pretty cool car.
And for the adults, I think we do tend overall to enjoy giving more than the youth but we still like to get stuff. Who here would n’t love to get a few Starbucks gift cards put in their mailbox- I know I would and my office is just downstairs to left. We adults see Christmas as a time with family and friends, a time of overcharged credit cards…shopping malls, online discounts, spending money we didn’t budget for and if we did budget for it we still never have enough to give the way we really want to.
For some of you, you’re trying to imagine whether the relatives your buying gifts for have gained weight or lost weight so that you can give them an appropriate size they should be given without insulting them.
This is just the tip of the iceberg of perspectives, and stresses, and difficulties , and fun times that I’m sure all of us have to one degree or another.
But please for even just a short time this morning , stop with everything else, focus you mind and heart, and be attentive to what most of us all know is the reason for the Christmas season, our first love, Jesus, who is, was and ever shall be our grace came down. It’s all about Jesus…and during this series we will be uncovering with greater depth what Christ followers throughout the ages have called this coming down, the Incarnation.
We’ll be looking at some passages of Scripture that deal more specifically with the incarnation miracle. Today we’ll be looking at one of the most well known passages but before we get there…This past week Kaylee told me that Brendan approached her and said “Mommy what is a miracle?” and before she had time to reply, Brendan said, “isn’t a miracle something God can do and we can’t.” She told me that story and thought WOW…I’ve got a little theologian on my hands here. That was a very profound way to define a miracle- something God can do and we can’t
The incarnation is hands down the greatest, most profound miracle that has ever taken place at any time. It is a miracle that surpasses even the Resurrection. You see the Reserrection doesn’t seem so outlandish. Some one dies and if there is a God it is not so difficult to get that He could breath new life into what was dead because He is the source of life.
But The problem with the Incarnation, the idea that God came down and took on human flesh, that Jesus of Nazareth is that God-man seems at first glance contrary more difficult and unbelievers of all stripes who thinks Christianity is bunk mock those of us who claim that it is true truth that Jesus is God in the flesh.
I would challenge you this morning to consider the teaching of Christ through the Scriptures about who He really is and come to him through faith. I’m not asking you to throw your mind out the window like so many within the contemporary church have done tending to the miraculous into the realm of blind, unquestioning, and really irrational faith. I would challenge you to realize that faith in Christ does not mean putting your mind aside and accepting things as true which are contrary to Logic. Inded Jesus is the Logic and the the notion of faith as a blind adherence to ridiculousness is not biblical faith.
However, this morning I’m not giving an apologetics lecture on the defense of miracles but I’m preaching Christ from the word and you may find that God is grabbing hold of your heart strings and leading you to repentance from your sin toward faith in His Son without having any intellectual justification. That’s what happened to me, I heard about Jesus Christ and God changed my hard heart to believe in and follow Him. It was not until many years after the fact of my souls regeneration and reconciliation with God that I came to know that my faith was intellectually justifiable- based on fact.
So for many of you this morning, the idea that an eternal, infinite, unlimited, perfect, unchanging Being like our God actually in reality became a human being within time, finite, limited, imperfect, and changing. The concept at first glance seems impossible. But I will affirm this morning that it is not a logical impossibility.
In asserting the truthfulness of the incarnation I will not be attempting to explain the “how” of the incarnation this morning- the exact and mechanical way in which God took on Human flesh. If you want to dive into the nuts and bolts there are some deep thinking out there that can help you wrestle through some of the issues and problems that arise when contemplating One person having two Nature’s one divine and the other human. The same issues and problems would arise if we were to contemplate the “How” of other miracles such as God creating the world, ex nihilo, out of nothing.
But, even with difficult issues arising, I can still know with intellectual certainty “that” God caused the beginning of the created order…”that” God became a man- but not “how.”
So let’s take a look at what the apostle John writes concerning Jesus. He writes,
14And (R)the Word (S)became flesh, and (T)dwelt among us, and (U)we beheld His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of (V)grace and (W)truth
1. It’s all about Jesus because- Jesus is the Word of God
John writes about his friend Jesus that He is the Word who became flesh- listen up for even these words about the Word can convert the soul
In the time we have, I can’t even begin to dive into the depth of theology and philosophy and history surrounding what John calls here the Word or the Logos in greek. To be brief the Logos is the eternal reason, or wisdom, or mind of God. It is the logic of God, the rationality, It is God’s Word or Explanation and in more personal terms, the logos, is the eternally pre-existent Christ- the second person of our Triune God.
In the first verse of this chapter John writes that
1(A)In the beginning was (B)the Word, and the Word was (C)with God, and (D)the Word was God. And that apart from Him nothing came into existence
This is similar to the passage in Collossians we looked at a few weeks ago where the apostle Paul also describing Jesus writes that He is the image of the invisible God, the Preeminent one over all creation. The creator Himself.
You see we’re talking about the creator God, the holy one of Isreal, The Alpha and Omega, the Self-existent One, Yahweh….who John is emphatically declaring is the true identity of Jesus of Nazareth.
We often here unbelievers mock Christians for believing in God as a crutch. But have you looked at the world around us- filled with all sorts of evils- disease, and war, orphans, and molesters, and bullies, and despair, and depression, and guilt, and divorce, and violence, and pride and greed, and death in many other shapes and forms.
The question is not whether we need a crutch or not, it is painfully obvious that we do. But the question is whether God is real or not- A question that must be answered independently of our so-called need if we want to avoid faulty thinking. It’s one thing to to have need for a god who isn’t there and then invent Him, verses God actually being real and we need Him. And if He is real and He is good which something we can know to be true from objective evidence apart from our subjective opinions and even so-called need, then I say let him be our crutch.
And I’d also say that the burden of proof is not on us to bear because if you deny God then you must explain away evil as just the way things are with no real value attached to it. Without God there is no such thing as evil because all things just happen according to chance and nature, mere matter in motion. Without God, there is no moral difference between Hilter and Mother Theresa (who to say whose better or worse), without God there’s no qualitative difference be a human and any other biological species we’d all just be molecules in motion who in the end simply die. Without God, there is no such thing as ultimate right or wrong, purpose or meaning, truth or love because in the end all there would be in a universe without God is dying matter.
In fact, the Russian novelists Dostoyevsky writes, without God “all things are permitted.” Thus without God- Men like Hitler were simply excercising natural selection, survival of the fittest, evolutionary strength, and if he’d won the war then his might according to the worldview that does not admit God, would have made him right.
But in truth, The word, the logos, the reason, the logic, the good news of God, the pre-existent Christ, the Messiah, the King of Glory, The eternal Son of God became flesh proving that God was not only there, but that He is good and cares for His creation.
This is the Christmas story. This is the reason for the season, and the essence of it is captured in the words of that famous Christmas song “Hark the Herald Angels Sing” saying Veiled in flesh the Godhead see, Hail the Incarnate Deity”. Pleased as man with men to dwell; Jesus our emmauel.
This is the great Christian claim that the little baby born in Bethlehem is not only one hundred percent man, but also one hundred percent God, Jesus is the eternal Word become flesh!
2. It’s all about Jesus because He is the tabernacle of God
John continues and says that the Word dwelt among us. Pitched His tent or tabernacle among us
It was into this condition of human weakness and frailty that the Lord literally tabernacled among us. Charles Spurgeon, The great prince of preachers, remarked that in the Jewish Church its greatest glory was that God tabernacled in its midst: not the tent of Moses, not the various pavilions of the princes of the twelve tribes, but the humble tabernacle in which God dwelt, was the boast of Israel. They had the king himself in the midst of them, a present God in their midst. The tabernacle was a tent to which men went when they would commune with God, and it was the spot to which God came manifestly when he would commune with man. Here they met each other through the slaughter of the bullock and the lamb, and there was reconciliation between them. But Now, Christ’s human flesh was God’s tabernacle, and it is in Christ that God meets with man, and in Christ that man hath dealings with God. And we, having been washed in the precious blood of Christ, have access with boldness unto God, even the Father through Christ, who is our tabernacle and the tabernacle of God among men.
And the apostle writes We beheld His glory- We gazed on His glory
Who are these we that John is speaking of? They are the apostles and all the disciples who believed that Jesus was indeed the Christ. It was not the multitudes for in the three preceeding verses we read that Jesus was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. 11He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. 12Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God- 13children born not of natural descent,[c] nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.
It was and remains to be God’s chosen people who gaze upon His majesty and recognize him for who He is. Jesus said, I know who I have chosen. My sheep know my voice. And “you have not chosen me but I have chosen you.
One Christian author writes…Not many wise men have seen any glory in Christ; they find glory in philosophy; they can see glory in nature, but not in him who is nobler than God’s creation, inasmuch as he is the only perfect one among the sons of men. They say they see something of glory in providence, and yet fail to perceive anything wonderful in grace. Not many wise men are called. Oh! let us be astonished at the sovereignty of God, let us be filled with gratitude at his compassion; let us pray that if ever we know something of the glory we may know more of it day by day, and may set it forth among the sons of men, that they too may by-and-by perceive his glory
And this leads us to our third observation.
3. It’s all about Jesus because Jesus is the Only-begotten of God.
What is this glory? John writes that is the glory as of the only-begotten from the Father.
The term John uses is monogenes, only-begotten, and is similar in meaning to the term, firstborn, we saw Paul use in Col 1 a few weeks ago. which we found meant, not “first created”, but “preminent one” over all creation.
Can you imagine what the apostles and other disciples must have gone through in their emotions in their souls as gazed upon the life of Jesus and came to realize that He was the manifestation the exact representation of the glory of the Most High God? The man walking, and speaking, and sleeping, and living among them was the Shekinah glory, the anticipated Redeemer, The Meshiach, the eternally and only-begotten Son who who is Himself Yahweh wrapped in bones, and blood, sweat, and tears, and flesh.
What would it have been liked to watch the him command the wind and the waves. What would it have be like to watch Him heal a paralyzed man by speaking a few words. Or to watch a kid give him his sack lunch and see Christ feed the hungry multitudes with it. Or to have experienced the great depths of compassion and mercy in his eyes
What would it have been like to here him say to the prostitute- your sins are forgiven, and to me an aspiring Pharisee whose whole life was filled with worldly success- starting varsity Quarterback for one of the largest high schools in the state, All-state Shortstop recruited by two of the top baseball schools in the country, Academic scholarship to three universities, and with it an ugly pride and a mindset of earning every bit my success including my salvation- to hear Jesus say…Rand, it’s all of grace, you don’t need to work anymore to please me, you don’t need to earn my love, I’ve adopted you and I will never let you go. You are nothing without me and I accept you. Like Paul, I can declare In view of the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ my lord, I count all my worldy success as failure apart from Christ.
Or to here him say… I am the bread of life, the Resurrection, the Good Shepherd, the Door, I am the light of the World, I am the lion of Judah, the way, the truth, the life? Come unto me and I will give you rest
What would it have been like had Jesus walked through the hospital on the night in which Kaylee and I weren’t sure what was going on with my son Brendan’s leg…wondering if his condition could be leukemia or something worse than the PErthes disease he was diagnosed with. What if I could have simply cried out to Jesus down the hall saying” Lord, I know your busy and I know there are others who are worse off than us, but Lord please come spend some time with us.”
But what are we talking about? He was with us… and this desire to see physically, though normal is yet carnal especially if it becomes a prerequisite to trusting God. Is it not better to walk by faith than by sight? To know that we can behold Christ’s glory without the supposed empirical verification of touch and see that the world needs?
Even if we had sight, it would do us little good, for not even his disciples, even though he was in their midst fully understood what Christ had said to them until the Spirit came down at Pentecost. And plus there were many who did see his miracles and did not see anything glorious in them- they wanted to kill him. Jesus said “Blessed are they who have not seen and yet have believed.”
And so we too gaze this morning on the “glory” of the only-begotten Son, not with our physical eyes, but with the eyes of the heart (Ephesians 1:18).
4. It’s all about Jesus because Jesus is the Salvation of God
In the gospel of Matthew, Joseph is told in a dream that his wife Mary will bring forth a Son conceived of the Holy Spirit, and that Joseph should name the boy “Jesus, because He will save His people from their sins”
The New Testament the name “Jesus” which is a german translation of the greek “ihsous” which is a translation of the Hebrew name “Joshua” means literally “God is salvation”. So the angel’s message to Joseph was “You shall call His name ‘God is salvation,’ for He will save His people from their sins.”
John is saying the same thing about Jesus in a little different way. He writes the Jesus is full of grace and truth
Listen up for just a couple more minutes as we close. Ladies and gentlemen, We must be awestruck not only at the incomprehensible, mind blowing glory of the person of Jesus, the only-begotten God, but we must revel at the motive for his incarnation. Jesus was full of grace and truth. His motive was the most pure love never devoid of truth and we have never beheld a love like our Saviour’s.
It was not a stagnant, lazy, self-serving love but one of dynamic action for others. God did not set the world in motion and leave it alone. He stepped down from His throne and came to us in our time of need. The bible proclaims that the wages of sin is death and that there are none who are righteous throughout the whole world, not even one.
You say why doesn’t God just remove evil and wipe the slate clean? I say where would he stop wiping, where would he draw the line when even our hearts and our thoughts are evil. He would have to destroy all of us. But in our helplessness, “While we were yet sinners Christ or Grace came down and died for us”.
This is grace come down- God’s love in action- His unmerited Favor , His undeserved blessing which He freely bestowed on us through Christ. An unconditional love to ill desserving creatures, to reckless children, to rebellious men and women, who could never repay his love. To those who crucified the innocent one, and spurgeon says we have seen this love sparkling like a jewel in a black setting, lying in the heart of the pool, injured, poverty-stricken, houseless, comfortless Man of Nazareth. “There is a glory here in this love that is never to be found elsewhere.”
Lord you came down, lived a sinless life, died a gruesome death, and rose gloriously from the grave to save us your chosen people from our sins, to breath new life into our perishing, dieing, corrupted, and depraved souls, to give eternal life to us who once were nothing but dead men and women walking around with our selves and not you on the throne, worshipping the creature rather than the creator with no hope in the world-
You were full of grace and truth satisfying your justice and holiness by your sacrifice, your grace came down and dwelt among us and through Your person and work we are your adopted sons and daughters, sovereignly chosen, justified, sanctified, and glorified, unconditionally loved, despite our junk.
Because the sovereign Lord came to us in our time of need and dwelt among us- indeed has dwelt within us, so we could behold His glory- May we not live our lives in a contradiction to what he has done. May we go to others in our sphere of influence in their time of need and dwell among them and incarnate into their lives.
May we who are the temple of the Living God, the visible body of Christ in the world, the dwelling place of the shekinah glory, the children of God born from above by His spirit…may we live our lives to be used as instruments of Grace by the Father of Lights to draw others to Himself. Not to please Him so that He will love you more. Your works, your religion, your morality, your actions do not cause God to love you more. You can’t do anymore, it’s all of Grace. In Christ, God already loves you. God already loves you. God already loves you. Your actions don’t earn anything in truth their like filthy rags to God- They are simply our love response to God’s amazing grace freely given to us who believe apart from any works that we can do.
May we continually gaze at and seek to model His sacrificial life with everything we are and to glorify Him alone with our lives. This Christmas season as we go out into a crooked and perverse, and nonetheless hurting world may we sacrifice our desires and our time and our talents and our resources to preach the gospel with words and deeds, and to put others before ourselves, to be the church, the body, visible manifestation of God to our family, friends, co-workers, neighbors, and especially our enemies. Because its all about Jesus.