It’s great to have all of you with us today. And I really am thankful to God that we can be together and have this time with each other. Merry Christmas. That time of year. We’re seeing great videos by our up and coming stars that will be on the big screen soon.
That was great. We got the presents going on and the shopping going on and the Christmas carols and all sorts of things going on. So it’s just a great time of year. Last week, we talked about how Deity drew near to us. Deity draws nigh.
Marcus talked about the baby in the manger. We’re going to hit that a little more today just from a slightly different angle. And I hope it will be helpful to you now. One thing I got to say about today’s message, and I was talking to my daughter and my wife, and we said, okay, this can be a little bit heavy, a little bit on the grainier side. And I’ll just remind you some of, you know, that I had various nicknames in high school.
I was called Ed. I was called Mr. Ed after the horse. Some of you are old enough to know about that. I was called all sorts of names, but one of the names that I got in high school was professor. Bubba how dare you?
But in one sense, I sort of fulfilled that because for a couple of years, I actually taught students at Valencia College.
I did do some college teaching. And so today I may put on a little bit of a professorial hat, if you will, and get into some things and give you some homework to do at the end. But I think it would be really helpful to you. I think it’s really important for us to be reminded. There are certain things we need to be reminded of.
And I think the Christmas story is one of them. And I’ll tell you a lot more about why I think that’s very important. So let’s pray together, and then we’ll dive right in. Thank you. Thank you God for this time.
Thank you for the opportunity to be together. Thank you for your word. Thank you for the truth of your word. Thank you for the clarity of it and how it directs us and helps us to know what your will is for our life. So bless us as we get into it today.
I pray that this time we bring honor, praise and glory to your name. In Jesus name I pray Amen. All right. You go ahead and turn your bibles to Galatians chapter four, and we’re going to read verses four and five in just a moment. Now, before we do that, I want to go over just a couple of things with you about the Bible itself, and this is the free part of the sermon. Okay, just kind of get your appetite going a little bit.
When you look at the Bible, the way that you can really, really grasp the meaning of Scripture is that you remember that from start to finish, from Genesis to Revelation. The book is all about Jesus. Okay? It’s very important for you to understand that as we go through and let me just show you a couple of reasons why. First of all, in the Old Testament, what do you have right after the fall, right after Adam and Eve blow it and they mess up and they get kicked out of the garden.
God starts to predict the coming of Jesus. So you have Jesus predicted. Then you fast forward through the rest of the Old Testament. You get to the New Testament, to the Gospels, to Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, and what you have. Jesus is now being revealed.
You see John, the Kingdom of heaven is at hand and Jesus comes on. Kingdom of heaven is at hand. And all this he is revealed during the gospel pages. Get through the gospel. You get to the Book of Acts.
What is that? It’s the history of the Church. And what do you have? Jesus is now being proclaimed to all those people. And so folks all over the place are responding to the message they come to Jesus.
Then you get to the letters. Some call it the Epistles, but you get to the letters. And what do you see? You see Paul saying things like, imitate me as I imitate Christ or join with others in imitating my example. So you see, Jesus is really being explained.
People are being helped to understand how it all comes together. And then finally you get to the Book of Revelation. About a month ago, I did a lesson on the second coming of Jesus. Jesus is expected. And so the whole of the Bible, from the start to from Genesis to revelation.
It’s all about Jesus. And if you can remember that, that helps. In one sense, if I was sort of like a two act play and you know how if you get through the first act and you don’t see the second act, then what happens? What happens to this person, what happened in this situation and how did it end? And you can have all of these questions.
You kind of need both acts to really appreciate it. Or similarly, if you get to act two and you never saw act one, then you’re nuisance to everybody there because you ask them, well, who is this person? How does this person fit in with the whole thing? You really need to pull both the Old and New Testament together to really grasp what’s going on. But if you’re not familiar with the Bible and this is no put down of anybody because most of us here weren’t familiar with the Bible, most of us didn’t read on our own.
And that kind of thing. Maybe when you got to a point where you’re thinking about your life is, then you started to read. But if you’re not that familiar with the Scriptures, the Bible can be incredibly confusing. I mean, if you randomly put your hand in the table of contents and you hit on Ezekiel like we just studied and you start reading that you don’t know what’s going on, you could be totally lost. And even for those who are familiar with the Bible, we have to make sure we keep in the backstory like, okay, how does this fit with this other stuff that you see in the Scriptures?
And so we made sure we did that. But here’s the thing. The Bible really is not a mystery. We can think it’s a mystery. But the Bible really is not a mystery.
There is a story that goes from the beginning to the very end. And we’re going to see where the babe in the manger fits in with all of that. It could be summarized really with a couple of sentences. Let me give you this. God from all eternity determined that he would redeem that means to purchase, to buy back, to take to himself a people who would be his very own. The entire Bible from start to finish is the unfolding of God’s plan of redemption.
That’s what the Bible is all about. In Ephesians chapter One, Paul talks about how God was doing everything in accordance with the Council of His will. The Bible is not haphazard. There is a story that God is reading. God is orchestrating everything according to an eternal plan.
We need to understand that in another version says he’s working out everything in conformity with the purpose of His will. So God is the one behind the scenes doing all the stuff that’s going on. And in one sense, and this is the reason why I wanted to talk about this at the outset. We kind of messed Christmas up in the sense that we only really talk about it this time of the year.
Oh, my goodness. I mean, we sing incredible songs. I’m getting teared up listening to O Holy night, but we only sing one time a year. Or Hark, and this is kind of funny. I thought about it.
I was at heart, you know, but it’s hark the herald angels sing. And I thought, Gosh, all these years I’ve been singing it. I never really thought about what’s going on. But you got the Angels that are sounding out this message of redemption and Jesus is coming and all of that. But we’re seeing these great songs.
Come all ye faithful. Silent Night, Holy Night. God rest you merry gentlemen. We mess up Christmas in the sense that we only talk about it this time of year. Now, I’m not telling the singers anything to do.
You guys do an incredible job. But maybe we ought to sing Silent Night in March sometimes.
Or God rest you merry gentlemen, Maybe you ought to do that in August sometimes. Just so we remember the big picture of this whole thing. Here’s the problem when we don’t dictate for the world what the Christmas story is all about, and the world dictates to us what it’s all about. And what is it all about in most cases? Oh, you get some people who are cynical.
I don’t see what this Christmas thing has to do with me. I don’t see any impact that it has on my life. Why should it be a big deal? So what if a guy died 2000 years ago? What does that have to do with me?
Christmas is just for grandmothers and little kids and that kind of thing. And so we start to think about it just in terms of what we see. And what we see is Christmas is largely just an appeal for money, buying gifts, going to the mall. You even see those little people outside Walmart in publix with the little bells ringing, and they want you to come and put money in a little kettle that they have right there. And then you feel guilty because they smile that you’re so nice that you just feel like, okay, I got to give this person something.
Look at how nice this person is to me. I got to give them some money. And maybe you’re giving them the leftovers of money that you’ve now overspent on Christmas that you really can’t afford to give. But even in religious circles, it’s the same thing. I listen to a lot of religious speakers, and there are different ideas that I may glean from somebody else.
And just like everybody I talk I listen to right now said the same thing. We’re at the end of our year, and we really need you to give so that we can make our budget and go over the top and do well. Now we don’t do a push like that. You didn’t hear that from Marcus today. Okay?
You didn’t make this push. Year end, We got to make it. But now, if you want to give us $10 million to take us over the top, we will let you. I mean, we will not argue with you one iota.
All right. But the biggest thing for me when it comes to our giving and just so you know the Church that you’re a part of, is consistency. That’s really the thing that I like to see us all decide for 2022 that I’m going to consistently give to God. But that’s a different sermon for a different time.
But Christmas is really not an appeal. But Christmas is an announcement. And here’s the announcement from Luke chapter Ten, the Marcus referred to. Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people today in the town of David a savior has been born to you.
He is Messiah the Lord. Christmas is incredible news. Christmas is great news. It’s all about the Messiah coming to Earth.
And we’re going to build this up in a few minutes, because we’re going to look at Galatians four. Now, I want us to read this together because this kind of gives us a real snapshot of what Christmas is all about. Galatians four, verse four says, but when the set time has fully come, God sent his son, born of a woman born under the law to redeem those under the law that we might receive adoption to sonship. Okay, now here’s what we’re putting on the professor hat. I want you to dig into this, and I hope you’ll spend some time even over Christmas going over this.
But because this isn’t as complicated as it may sound, but we’re going to get four different aspects of this. It talks about how when the time has fully come. And so point number one is, when did Jesus come? When was the occasion of his coming? What the Bible says is when the time has fully come.
So, okay, what does that mean? It was at the time that God determined. It was at the time that God had determined in his eternal haphazardly. It wasn’t arbitrary.
His coming. He didn’t arrive too early. He didn’t arrive too late. He arrived just on time. Now, keep in mind, God is orchestrating his will behind the scenes with this whole thing.
Another passage you can look at when you have time. Romans five, verse six. It says, you see at just the right time God did some things. Now, I know for a lot of us today, we think, well, gosh, wouldn’t a time like now be better?
The world is so much smaller because of social media. I mean, I could be in Paris today and still be in Orlando. I could be around the world. I could be connected with somebody. Wouldn’t now be a better time?
And maybe you could make a great case for this being a good time. Yet the Bible says that this was the time that God chose. And here’s some of the reasons the big picture reasons. You have to study these out, there was Roman peace. It was called Pax Romana. It was a time of peace in Rome, Rome had conquered everything they had tried out. It was a time of peace. The word can spell a lot more effectively when there’s peace than when there’s turmoil. And that’s true in any respect, whether it’s in the world or in your home, us married people.
Communication is a lot better when there’s a time of peace. There was also a great road system. They had incredible engineers. They had people like Reggie Price and Dave Pool and a lot of these other engineer people are out there. But they had great engineers.
They had a great road systems. So communication was a lot easier for that reason. They already had an established language with the Koine Greek, and that was like the language, and it was easy for people to communicate. And lastly, people were sort of tired of Greek and Roman mythology. They were ready for something new.
So you have a lot of good reasons why this is a good time for one of the big ones that we can easily miss is what Paul says in Galatians three. And we’re going to look at that right now. Galatians three, verse 23. And I’ll read this for you, but dig into it a little bit before the coming of this faith. This faith meaning faith in Jesus following Jesus Christ as our Lord.
Before the coming of this faith, we were held in custody under the law, locked up until the faith that was to come would be revealed. So the law was our Guardian until Christ came, that we might be justified by faith. Now that this faith has come, we are no longer under a Guardian. So what is he talking about here?
He is basically saying the time has fully come. But God through the law also made this a good time. The law has done its work to prepare people for the coming of Jesus. And we’ll say more about this in just a moment. So keep in mind the law and it was a good time for all those other reasons, but the law also got people ready. So question number one, is the timing. Why is this a good time? Because God decided this was a perfect time for it to happen.
Now. Second question is, who was it? Who did God send? Well, we know God sent his son. Let’s talk about that for a minute.
But very important, God didn’t send an idea. He didn’t send a concept. He didn’t send a Phantom. He didn’t send any of that kind of stuff. He didn’t send a ghost.
And there were some people who really believed that Jesus did not come in the flesh. They really didn’t believe that Jesus was physically on this Earth. God didn’t send any of that. He sent his son. And I want you to appreciate the gravity of God sending Jesus because to do so, you have to understand a little bit something about the Trinity.
Okay, the Trinity, God, the Father God the Son God the Holy Spirit, co equal co eternal at some point pre-time before time, before the Incarnation, the Trinity got together and made a decision that one of them would come to the Earth to save men and women. And that decision was for Jesus to come to the Earth. And Jesus tells God the Father, look, I’m going to do what you want me to do when you decide the time is right, I will go to the Earth, and I will save men from their sins.
I will make Salvation possible for them. And the Father’s response to the song was to uphold him and to reward him.
That decision was made long before anything was created. God decided a long time ago that he would send his son. It’s very important to understand the timing was right and God sent his son. That was point number two.
And point number three is, how did God go about this? How did He come. What was God’s way of making this thing come together? Well, in Galatians 34, he says he was born of a woman and born under the law. Notice what it says here.
But when the set time had fully come god sent his son born of a woman born under the law. Now, again, he’s not a Phantom. He’s not a ghost. He’s a real person.
He was born a human being. He had the same anatomy that we had. He had the same physiology. He had the same central nervous system. So he felt pain, just like we feel pain.
His mother contributed those required chromosomes to him than any other mother contributes to their baby. We have several of you who are contributing your chromosomes now as that baby is kind of growing in your womb. And we look forward to that. And I want you to think for a second who would invented religion like this?
Think about it who would’ve invented religion with all of these complexities to it. And in a way, the very fact that it’s so complex makes it so believable that God did it. God said, I’m going to do this in a way that will blow your mind. And that’s what he did. And so how did he come?
He came born of a woman. He was fully human. But it also says he was born under the law. Now let me just give you a short meaning of that. If you’re born in France, whose laws do you have to follow?
France law is France. If you’re born in Russia or if you’re born in India, if you’re born in the United States. Yeah. So when he says he’s born of the law, Jesus came during the time of the Old Testament law, so he had to abide by those rules just like anybody else who was alive during that time. But the amazing thing about Jesus is that he keeps those Commandments perfectly.
He never once said, despite all of those laws, there are laws about infectious diseases. There are laws about how you treat your neighbor. There are laws about all of the sacrifices. They’re all all sorts of laws. And that’s why Paul in Galatians, he’s so upset with them because they’re trying to put circumcision on people.
And he said, Well, look, if you’re going to bring back circumcision, you got to do the whole thing. All 613 laws. You got to do all of it. All right? But Jesus perfectly fulfilled that.
And here’s why that’s so important. Because he did. You and I can approach God. You and I couldn’t fulfill law. Guys we don’t even have to look at all of the law.
You can just look at Exodus 20 with the Ten Commandments. Don’t covet your neighbor’s goods. Guilty. Don’t lie. Done.
Okay? I may as well find something else to read. Guys, we can’t even get past the Ten Commandments for crying out loud. Yet Jesus perfectly fulfilled it. And because he did, you and I can have a relationship with God.
So here’s the thing. When you see the baby in a manger and I love little kids, I couldn’t help but think about the Deerings little one. What’s his name? Cooper. Cooper is so funny.
If mom says something firm to him, his little head goes down like this. It’s like he’s done something wrong and he feels bad and all. I think God help all of us adults to be cut to the heart like little Cooper. He shows us what humility looks like. I thoroughly love babies.
I enjoy when we had them, but I’m grateful they’re yours. I see that God gives us those little people when we’re young because, oh, my goodness, keeping up with them can be a challenge, but I digress. But when you look at the baby in a manger see beyond the coochee coo and the kissable cheeks. You got to see that the God of the universe has accomplished his purpose by sending that child. Now the next section. I’m just going to read for you because this is part of, I hope, will be good homework for you over the holiday.
But in Galatians chapter three, I’m going to read verses 15 to 22. Just follow along. We’re going to make a couple of remarks about that before we get ready to take Communion. Three, verse 15 brothers and sisters. Let me take an example from everyday life, just as no one can set aside or add to a human Covenant that has been duly established so it is in this case. The promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed. Scripture does not say and to seeds meaning many people, but and to your seeds, meaning one person who is Christ. What I mean is this. The law, introduced 430 years later, does not set aside the Covenant previously established by God, and thus do away with the promise. For if the inheritance depends on the law, then it no longer depends on the promise, but God in His Grace gave it to Abraham through a promise.
Why, then was the law given at all? It was added because of transgressions until the seed to whom the promise referred had come. The law was given to Angels and entrusted to a mediator. A mediator, however, implies more than one party. But God is one.
Is the law therefore opposed to the promises of God? Absolutely not. For if the law had been given that could impart life, then righteousness would certainly have come by the law. But Scripture has locked up everything under the control of sin, so that what was promised being given through faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe. Now, I told you it was going to be deep.
All right? Even Peter says some of the things Paul writes are kind of challenging. But let me just summarize what’s going on. Paul is reminding these guys that God made a promise to Abraham. He said, through your seeds, all the nations on Earth will be blessed.
No conditions, no law to follow, no strings attached, totally free, no merit to establish this, no conditions to fulfill at all. He just gave him that promise. But 430 years later, God gave this law to Moses. And so Paul, he’s caught up in this conflict. What do I do with this?
On the one hand, you say it’s a promise. On the other hand, you say it’s law. And he even asked the question, what do we do with this? And in verse 17, I love the way he puts it here in blue there it says, what I mean is this the law introduced 430 years later, does not set aside the present truth is established by God, and thus do away with the promise.
He says, it doesn’t do away with the promise. So why do we have law? What is the point, God you’re causing us to struggle a little bit. The kind of question he’s asking is okay is it law or is it promise?
I got to obey all of this stuff. And if I obey, it just right then when I get before God at the pearly gates let’s see how that works for me. And we know it won’t work out very well. Or is it according to a promise just like Jesus came and he accomplished Salvation isn’t about just relying on the promise. Let’s look at verse 18 and 19, and we’re going to see why this is so critical.
With the baby in a manger, it says, for if the inheritance depends on the law, then it no longer gives us a promise. But God in his grace gave it to Abraham a promise. Why then was the law given at all? Paul said, I don’t get it, God.
If it’s not according to law, if it really is according to the promise, then why don’t we have law anyway? Well, the next verse tells us why it says it was added because of transgressions and to the seed to whom the promise referred had come. Bottom line is this guys, we think we’re pretty good in general. I remember before I really started pursuing a relationship with God. I was a good guy.
I was a nice guy. I didn’t cuss, I didn’t smoke, I didn’t do drugs. I was not sexually active. I was in the National Honor Society. I was in the Spanish National Honor Society.
I can speak a little bit of God’s language, espanol. I mean, I had it all going on. I was on the basketball team. I was on the track team. I had won an award that said I was very likely to succeed in all of this good stuff. I thought I was pretty good.
And yet when you look at the law, when you look at the word of God. You see where you really stand and you realize that ain’t all that right? Yeah. I may not have a lot of the external sins that others may have that are pretty visible, my little more internal, the jealousy, the hatred and all of that kind of thing. The envy and the pride.
I have wicked anger at one point. I mean, just bad anger. I know you say Eddie is so cool and collected, but that’s why I had a bad temper because the people who are laid back, they’re just stuffing it and stuffing it and stuffing it and stuffing it until finally Mount Vesuvius and they go crazy. I would have classic fits of rage with people. I did.
I have friends. Like, what’s up with you? What’s going on? You see, a lot of us can feel okay about ourselves. And if you’re one of those and I know most of you probably have studied about when you don’t look at it this way, and that’s fine.
But maybe somebody here feels like, hey, I’m not that bad of a person. Well, we need to read to you the law a little bit. We can just start with the King Commandments, like I said, and you busted even at that point. Thou should have no other gods before me. You put yourself before God, so we don’t have to go any further.
There are people that need the word of God preach to them.
Let me just say before we close out, basically, there could be three or maybe four different kinds of people here.
You could be one of those people that feel like you’re okay, where you need somebody to read you the law so you can see where you stand with God. Or maybe you want those persons who you’ve had the law read and you’re trying to follow all the rules. You’re trying to do everything just right. And you’re filled with guilt every single time you show up at Church. I mean, sometimes we as preachers.
We can preach people into despair rather than into the hope of Jesus. So you may be in that boat and you need to lighten up. You need to understand that God’s Grace is abundant when you take Communion this should be a time of great joy knowing that God has taken you. But hopefully the both of us are in the third category where we know we’re sinners.
We understand where we are. And that’s why when we study the Bible with people, it’s very critical that we don’t skip over the law of peace. We need to help them and see their sins. Sometimes when I sat with people about study, they’re busy trying to help me see what a great person they are. Dude, you don’t have to try to pretend with me.
I know. I’m scum. I’ve been scum. I know what that’s all about. And you need to see how you look before God.
So don’t fight it. Don’t fight it. Let God show you. But then there’s a fourth category that may apply more to us. And what I mean by that is we’re the people who studied the Bible.
We know what it says. We know what sin is. We know how we should be living. And maybe we started out real strong Bible talks about drifting and leaving your first love. That’s the category that worries me the most for us.
We know all this stuff, and we can get to a point where I know it and it doesn’t bother you anymore. It needs to bother me. It really needs to bother you. So let’s wrap this up. Where was this?
When did Jesus come? At just the right time. Who came? It was Jesus. It wasn’t a ghost.
It wasn’t an apparition. It wasn’t anything like that. It was Jesus himself. How did God bring it about? He was born of a woman and born under the law, and he perfectly fulfilled the law.
And lastly, why did you guys do all of this? It was to redeem us. It was to redeem us and adopt us. That’s the good news. That is the good news.
I don’t know what that does for you. That just makes me feel real good is that I needed adoption. I needed somebody to come along and make me a part of God’s family. And so, guys, when we get ready right now to take Communion, I pray that you really have a lot of gratitude in your heart. God is saving that baby in a manger.
I hope you never look at him quite the same, that you realize that God was accomplishing something incredible and be very grateful as you take Communion because you have been adopted into the Kingdom of God. And I’m just going to hit last slide here. Matthew 26. Jesus says, watch and pray so you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.
We went away a second time to pray to my father. If it is not possible this stuff to be taken away unless I drink it. May your will be done. That doesn’t mean that Jesus reluctantly went to the cross. Right?
Okay. The Bible says, Jesus says, I delight to do your will. He was fired up to do the will of God. But in that moment of agony, I think he realized, maybe in his humanity, that this is going to be really tough. It’s going to be really hard.
He felt pain, folks, just like we do. It was tough.