August 20, 2017
Matthew 1:18a, 20-23; Genesis 3:15, Isaiah 7:15, Romans 5:18-19, Matthew 28:18-20, Romans 8:34
Today, we continue in our series called “Who.” Who is God and why is it important as we live in the 21st century. To find out who God is, we aren’t looking at our feelings, or what we want, but we are looking at the Bible; God’s Word.
Again, we said it last week, but it’s worth repeating. The Bible is God’s Word, and there are two key things about it.
1) It’s inspired. That means God-breathed. God guided and directed the authors to say what they did.
2) It’s inerrant. Meaning there are no errors in the bible. So we look at the Bible because it’s the only reliable source that we have.
The Bible describes God as 3-in-1. We call it the Trinity, or the Triune God. He is one, and yet 3 persons. He is 3 yet 1. It’s something that our minds cannot comprehend, and yet we believe it because it’s what God’s Word says. Today, we are looking at the 2nd person in the Trinity known as the Son; Jesus. We are going to see who he is and why it’s important to confess him in the 21st century.
Because nothing happens by chance.
Have you ever said, “What are the chances?” Maybe you said it as you look at your spouse. What are the chances that you two ended up together? Or maybe it’s where you are at in life: what are the chances that you ended up here or where you are at in your career. What were the chances that you’re sitting here at Peace this morning, or listening to this podcast? What are the chances? As you look back on your life, you can see God’s hand in everything.
I wonder if that’s what Joseph thought as Mary told him the news. What were the chances that she’d cheat on him? She claimed she was pregnant and yet was still a virgin. God miraculously made her pregnant. What were the chances? But what Joseph soon realized was that nothing happens by chance.
18 This is how the birth of Jesus the Messiah came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be pregnant through the Holy Spirit.
Matthew 1:18a, 20-23.
The angel told Joseph, “Look, this isn’t by chance. This isn’t an accident. Mary didn’t cheat on you. God was in control of this. Jesus coming into this world wasn’t by chance, but this moment was foretold way back in Genesis 3. Adam and Eve fell into sin, and God said to the serpent, “I will put enmity between you and the woman and between your offspring and hers. He will crush your head and you will strike his heel.”
15 And I will put enmity
between you and the woman,
and between your offspring and hers;
he will crush your head,
and you will strike his heel.”
That’s a prophecy of a Savior coming! Throughout the whole Old Testament, God continued to let the people know that he was guided history to bring this Savior into the world. In Micah he said, “But you, Bethlehem Ephratha, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times.” That was said 700 years before Jesus was born. God let them know the exact little town where Jesus would be born. Around the same time God said this in Isaiah 7, “Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: the virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.”
14 Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.
Nothing happens by chance. God guided and directed history to bring Jesus into the world as a man born of a woman, and yet was also true God. God himself was born a human, he grew up and said, “All these Old Testament prophecies, they are all about me. This wasn’t by chance. I guided history so that I’d be here at this time to save everyone from their sins.” That right there is an important reason to confess him. He wasn’t just some guy or great teacher born. God controlled all history so that he’d be born at that exact moment.
Because he is the Savior of the world. He died to pay everyone’s debt for sin.
Do you remember some of the people from the video/ They said things like, “He’s a cool guy.” “He was a magician.” “He was a rock star.” “He was a good guy, and had a good message.” Here’s the problem with that. The claims Jesus makes about himself, and the claims the bible makes about him, are so incredible that he can’t just be a good guy. CS Lewis, who lived in the early 1900’s, said you can only have 3 reactions to him. 1) he’s a liar. He’s not actually who he claims to be, but he got a lot of people to believe his lie. Normally we don’t call people like that “cool” or “a rock star” or a “good guy with a good message.” 2) He’s a lunatic. He’s crazy. He claims to be God and claims to save people from their sins. He’s crazy. Again, we generally don’t label people like that as a “cool guy.” 3) You believe that is who he says he is, which is the Savior of the world. And that’s exactly who he is. And this is extremely important because look at Romans 5:18-19.
18 Consequently, just as one trespass resulted in condemnation for all people, so also one righteous act resulted in justification and life for all people. 19 For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous.
See, we may not agree with what everyone said on that video, but we all have something in common with them. We are all sinners. Romans 5 makes that clear. When Adam and Eve sinned in the garden, all people were made sinners. Since then, sin has been passed down from generation to generation like a disease. You can’t escape it. Have you turned on the news lately? Been on twitter or Facebook? The hatred is unbearable. Yet, hatred has been around for thousands of years and will continue to be. Why? Because of sin.
But sin doesn’t just show itself in hatred. Have you ever texted something you immediately regret? Maybe it was talking behind someone’s back and you hope and pray it doesn’t get back to the person you’re talking about. Have you ever said something hurtful in the heat of the moment and you wish you could take it back? Have you ever turned to power, sex, and or money to fill the restlessness in your heart? Have you ever made bad decisions on a Friday night and woke up the next morning paying for it? Have you ever lied and deceived somebody?
Sin is everywhere. And look at what Romans 5 says about the consequences. Condemnation. A holy and perfect God cannot be with sin, and so what’s the result for you and me and every sinner of all time? Hell. The absence of God. That’s our verdict.
Raise your hand if you’ve ever read The Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens? It’s a book that take place during the French Revolution. Honestly, it’s a hard read. But in the book there are two men Sydney and Charles who aren’t related, but look strikingly similar. Charles ends up getting arrested and sentenced to death by the court for his part in the revolution. The night before he dies, Sydney sneaks into his cell, knocks him out, and takes his place. The book ends with Charles, his wife, and his daughter escaping France to safety. Meanwhile, Sydney is led to the guillotine and put to death for Charles’ offenses.
That is similar to what Jesus did for us. Look again at Romans 5. Our verdict was condemnation. We sat on death row, but then through the righteous act of Jesus, we were justified. What was that righteous act? He changed places with us. He became the condemned and we got to go free. We were became justified. And notice what Romans says. We don’t just go free, we become righteous. When Charles left that cell, his record became completely clean. He wasn’t guilty of any wrong doing. The same is true for you. When Jesus took your place, you became righteous. In God’s eyes, you aren’t guilty of any wrong doing. You are righteous because of Jesus and what he did on the cross. There isn’t a single charge against you.
Now here’s why it is important to confess that: because apart from faith people don’t receive this record. They don’t receive forgiveness, life, and salvation. Jesus died for all people, but when people don’t have faith in Jesus it’s like they say to him, “Thanks for wanting to take my place, but I’m good on death row. I’ll pay my punishment myself.”
That’s what makes the video so sad right? Do you remember towards the end what the lady said? She said about Jesus, “He didn’t die for my sins. He’s not going to save me.” She’s wrong, and she’s right. Jesus did die for all her sins. All of her sins have been paid for. But she’s right that she’s not going to be saved. Why? Because she refuses to believe in Jesus as her Savior. She refuses to let him take her place.
He is the Savior to the world, and it’s important to confess him because.
He has entrusted us with his mission.
18 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
Notice what Jesus says and what he doesn’t say. He doesn’t say, “Go and create faith in others.” No. He says go and make disciples by baptizing and teaching. You and I can’t create faith. Only God can. All God asks us to do is tell others about Jesus. Teach them about his love and forgiveness. Teach your children about him. Educate your family and friends. Communicate his love to your neighbors. All you can do is tell them about Jesus. The rest is up to God.
Growing up, I went to a Lutheran high school, but I had a friend who went to the public high school in town. Her family was Catholic but as she got older she stopped going. So throughout high school and college she asked me all kinds of biblical questions. But as we got to college, and she got more involved in her veterinarian classes, her questions were no longer curious questions. They were meant to discredit me, and try to make me feel dumb. She’s an intelligent woman and Christianity just didn’t make sense. Science does. So I’d sit there, answer her questions, and take her jabs. But I always tried to end by telling her about Jesus’ love and forgiveness. Well, over the years I we lost touch. But then about a year and a half ago, she randomly messaged me on Facebook. She wanted to let me know that she was joining a Christian church. She wanted to thank me for all the talks we had and for my patience. She now believes in Jesus as her Savior.
Did I do anything to create that faith? No. God did! I simply told her the message of Jesus. That’s the mission he has given us: to tell others about him. Everything else is left up to him.
Because he is still hard at work.
34 Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us.
Why is it important to confess Jesus today? Well, let me ask you this. Did you sin this week? I know I did. Did you lose your patience? Have thoughts that you’re ashamed of? In a moment of frustration, did you let bad language fly out of your mouth or take the Lord’s name in vain? Did you waste time at work?
Well, Jesus is sitting at the right of God interceding for you. And he’s not sitting there saying, “Hey God, please give them another chance.” No. He’s sitting there saying, “God, you cannot charge that sin against them because I’ve paid the price of that sin. I took on the punishment for it. I went to the cross to pay the price for that sin, and I rose victoriously from the grave to prove I overcame it. No one can bring a charge against them because I paid their price.” And that’s what God’s Word says. Romans 8:34- Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies.
Then what does our loving Savior do? He doesn’t just do all this behind the scenes and leaves us guessing. Jesus comes to you in his Word and assures you that your sins are forgiven. He assures you that you are in a right standing with God. He comforts you as he reminds you that heaven is yours. He gives you peace knowing that death is not your end, it’s just your beginning. Because then eternity with him begins.
There is nothing you can do to make Jesus love you more. Nor is there anything you can do to make Jesus love you less. The same is true for every single person in the world. Jesus loved the whole world so much that he paid for everyone’s sins that they may escape this world of sin, and live forever in the perfection of heaven. This is why we confess Jesus in the 21st century. May he be with you and give you the words to say this week as you confess his life, death, and resurrection to a sick and hurting world.