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The Most 'Inexpressible' Gift

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Dear friends, on this Sunday with it being December 25, that means it is also Christmas Day!  Often Christmas Day is the day of giving and opening presents, at least for many people. Even as this message is aired, some of you may be unwrapping presents received. But hopefully your priority today is going to church to worship God, especially since it is also Sunday, indeed, the last Sunday of the year 2016.  In this Banner of Truth radio message, respectfully speaking, I invite you to unwrap with me the most inexpressible gift ever, thinking now of God giving His Son as Saviour of sinners with Jesus’ birth here on earth.  It is Paul who says in 2 Corinthians 9:15 in reference to Jesus Christ, “Thanks be to God for his unspeakable gift.” By ‘unspeakable’ gift is meant God’s inexpressible, unbelievable, immeasurable gift. This is what God Triune gave surely with the giving of His Son come to be Saviour of sinners.

 Looking at another passage by the same inspired apostle Paul, Galatians 4:4-7, let us unwrap the inexpressible gift and stand in awe and endless appreciation and glad reception of God’s gift to us in Jesus Christ.  Let me read to you here Galatians 4:4-7. There Paul says, But 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.And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father. Wherefore thou art no more a servant, but a son; and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ.

Thinking now then of Jesus born in Bethlehem, that Christ Child also called Wonderful in Isaiah 9:6, let us look at each of the seven details in Galatians 4:4-7 told about Him, and briefly unfold and unwrap them, one by one.  Why is Jesus so special and there be every reason to rejoice in His birth and endless worth? Why did the shepherds and wise men fall down and worship Him when He was born as a baby in Bethlehem?

Notice, for one, He came in the fullness of time. “When the fullness of time was come” Jesus was born.  The fullness of time refers to the exact best moment in all of history that God determined for Jesus’ birth.  Still today all of history revolves around the fact of Jesus coming to this world.  We divide history to the year B.C., before Christ, and the time after His coming, A.D. referring to the Latin phrase, anno domini, meaning in English, in the year of our Lord. It took some centuries before this dating system for world history was established. But notice, whether people realize it or not, it still today makes Jesus’ birth to be the central heart of all world history. By God’s providence it was Jesus’ exact due date, the day He was born in Bethlehem. And amazingly we still pay attention to it today all over the world, in many cases without even realizing it.

Wise people before Christ’s birth looked forward so much to His coming, and wise people since Jesus’ birth keep looking back to His coming when born as the promised Messiah in Bethlehem. While we may never know how and why it was exactly the fullness of time or the perfect time when Jesus was born, yet we can tell of many details saying it was a most fitting time. Through the Roman Empire rule there was general world peace and an infrastructure that allowed for the swift passage of the gospel cause with Jesus’ birth and ministry.  Death by crucifixion too was a common Roman practice for criminals which was the death Jesus came to die in the place of sinners like us. Jesus’ crucifixion as Saviour of sinners most pointedly and clearly shows Him made a curse for us that He might bring true and everlasting blessings of God upon His people. Oh, for sure, Jesus came not just at any time, but the exact best time, the fullness of time, God Triune had planned from eternity.

 But let us go on for the text reads,But when the fullness of time was come, God sent forth His Son.” Here is another fact to stop at, to unwrap as it were. Jesus is a baby born who is most special for He was sent of God the Father, and He came as only begotten beloved Son of God. With Jesus’ birth, in other words, we celebrate God’s infinite love in giving His Son to serve as Savior of sinners in this fallen world. At Christmas time we consider the greatest love gift ever given. God willingly giving His dear Son to serve as Saviour regardless of what it all would mean for His Son. Christmas is about John 3:16! That verse which says, as you may know, “God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son that whosoever believeth in him should not perish but have everlasting life.” 

Jesus’ birth is about the incarnation; God coming down in the flesh, our Emmanuel, God with us!  All other religions with their idol gods don’t have a god like the most just and merciful, gracious, loving God of the Christian faith.  The Christian God of the Bible teaches us God is Triune God, one God in Three Persons, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. And this one only Triune God so cared for this fallen world under the just divine curse and condemnation of God on account of sin when Adam and Eve rebelled against God as told in Genesis 3.  But even that day of their rebellion the Triune God promised a divine remedy, one that would mean the giving up of God’s own Son come to this earth to seek and to save sinners.  The Bible teaches too that Jesus, God’s only begotten Son, from eternity willingly would give Himself for this task, giving His life a ransom for many through His saving work on sinner’s behalf. There is hope and help for sinners in all the world when you think of Jesus’ birth and why He came. God sent forth His Son to serve as almighty gracious blessed Saviour of sinners!  So also the angel told the shepherds as we read in Luke 2, “Fear not: for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour who is Christ the Lord.”

Yes, for notice next, continuing to unwrap Him in faith, God sent forth His Son, made of a woman. Oh, this detail, is very rich too for it tells us Jesus, though God’s own Son, now also became truly human, made of a woman, like us in all things, sin excepted. This is the miracle of Jesus’ birth, conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of the virgin Mary. This again is the greatest wonder in all the world! How Jesus in His one person is both totally God in every way, and yet also truly man in every way!  This is part of the heart and power of the gospel message. That Jesus as Son of God and Son man in one Person as human being like us in all things sin excepted, came to live here on earth, living from His very conception on the perfect sinless life for sinners like us and to do so all the way to His last breath and through death and burial even. So Jesus would take the full punishment for sin on sinner’s behalf in a maximum complete way, yes, as has been stated by others, from womb to tomb. Oh, what a dear inexpressible gift is Christ the Saviour, born in Bethlehem 2000 years ago now.

Jesus is that Seed of the woman God promised to Adam and Eve the day man fell into sin in Genesis 3:15. This is proven also with His genealogy recorded in Matthew 1 and Luke 3. Hebrews 2:16-17 confirms this too, informing us about Jesus the Saviour, “For verily he took not on him the nature of angels; but he took on him the seed of Abraham. Wherefore in all things it behooved him to be made like unto his brethren, that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people.”  Being sent as God’s Son, being made of a woman, makes Jesus the perfectly qualified and equipped person to serve as Saviour of sinners. 

And notice this next detail, Jesus came exactly for this purpose, for, says Paul further, Jesus was made of a woman, made under the law. What does that mean, made under the law?  The law here refers to all God’s Ten Commandments and all God’s precepts and will as to how the Lord would have us live. Being under the law refers to how we can be acceptable in God’s sight only in the way of absolutely perfect righteousness and obedience to God. The law has to do with all God’s perfect and just requirements upon us in our lives as His creatures created in His image.  Jesus was made under the law, that is, He Who was Himself God the Lawgiver now was born as a human being under the law. This means Jesus willingly subjected Himself to all the regulations and penalties of God’s law.  He placed Himself under the rules and standards and justice He Himself had set. He placed Himself under the law of salvation by works that He might perfectly live that life God requires from us, to the last detail even.  And what was the reason for Jesus being made under the Law?  Was it just that He might be a great example to us? Did Jesus come just for this, namely, to serve only as, a great example, a model man to follow?

No, it wasn’t. For see this next wonder of Christ as we further, respectfully so to speak, unwrap God’s unspeakable gift with God giving Christ the Saviour to us. We read in the text of Galatians 4:4-7 “But when the fullness of time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, to redeem them that were under the law…”  Do you hear this, dear friends?  To redeem means to deliver, to save, to buy freedom for sinners like us. Jesus came to accomplish whatever was necessary to save sinners like us who are under the law, that is, to make a way for us out from under the condemning power of God’s just demands.   When we have broken the law just once even, we have become lawbreakers, and no lawbreaker in any way can stand before God and live!  So we read also in Psalm 130:3, “If thou, LORD, shouldest mark iniquities, O, Lord, who shall stand?” Are we not guilty in fact of disobeying God’s commandments in countless ways in our thoughts, words, and deeds? “There is none righteous, no not one” says Paul in Romans 3:10, asserting also in vs.23 of that same chapter, “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” Do you know and confess this about yourself? Hardly will the inexpressible gift of Christ be most precious to you if you won’t confess how great and hopeless and condemnable a sinner you are on your own. But if you and I know something of that, then Christ is the Saviour we need, the only Saviour of sinners, and the one to look to and call upon.

For now behold the wonder of Jesus and His birth! What does the text say in Galatians 4? Jesus Christ came as Himself under the law to redeem them that were under the law! He came to serve as the almighty, gracious, God-sent and God-approved Savior, in other words, to pay all the punishment for sin that we deserve, and at the same time to live the perfect sinless life on behalf of His people. While living the absolutely sinless life in every detail while here on earth, yet Jesus suffered as the Just for the unjust, and the Bible’s message is, with His finished work on sinners’ behalf, sinners like you and me may find salvation rich and free when calling on Him for His mercy and grace. This is the glory and wonder and joy of Jesus’ birth so long ago now when He came as a baby in Bethlehem. He came to redeem them that were under the law. He came to save sinners, and by His life and with the shedding of His blood to purchase perfect and eternal redemption for sinners like us. 

Oh, what Jesus all would suffer in His life here on earth in bearing the just punishment for sin due to sinners like us, you and me, simply cannot be fathomed by us. But something of the sufferings and sorrows He would have to endure can already be seen at His birth.  Just think, for example, of His lowly birth circumstances. Behold Jesus, literally the King of kings and Lord of lords, Creator of the whole universe, the Royal Son of David, and yet when born into this world, there was no room for Him in the inn, and His first crib was a feeding trough for animals, in some barn or cave in Bethlehem. Soon after His birth Jesus also escaped to Egypt from jealous King Herod who wanted to kill this newborn King Jesus, fearing any rival to his own rule.

This all was just the beginnings of His sufferings on sinner’s behalf, as Jesus, as the Just for the unjust, would accomplish redemption rich and free.  Jesus’ sufferings in soul and body as Sinbearer and Saviour of sinners steadily increased all His time here on earth and culminated with His death, even His death on the cross of Calvary.  But it is so important we see this not as failure or tragedy, but rather as Jesus fulfilling exactly what He came for!  Christ came to redeem them that were under the law, and this now is the gospel as stated in 1 John 1:7, “The blood of Jesus Christ his [God’s] Son cleanseth us from all sin” and “with him is plenteous redemption” we are told in Psalm 130:7.  

Is this not most precious gospel tidings, yes, to you and for you as well this Christmas morning? Even today, this last Sunday of 2016, the Lord offers Himself as Redeemer Saviour for all who come to Him, calling for His mercy and grace!  Does that include you now too? Jesus came to to save His people from their sins. He came to be their Saviour!  Oh, come to Him, one and all, even as you hear now again the earnest gospel call! Will you take heed, each and all, for truly in the words of 2 Corinthians 5:20 we speak “…as ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God” in and through the Saviour God has given, His own beloved Son, Jesus Christ the Lord. No one needs to remain under the guilt and bondage of sin, for with Jesus and Him crucified there is redemption, abundant and almighty gracious deliverance and escape from condemnation, even for as many as repent of sin and believe in Jesus Christ. “For” says Paul in Romans 6:23, “the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ the Lord.” Do you hear it?  What a gospel is the good news of the Bible for all who will listen and take it to heart!  The LORD delights in mercy. How endlessly grateful God’s people may be and are for Jesus come to redeem them that were under the law. 

Yes, what reasons to be so very thankful for Jesus coming to this earth, as a baby in Bethlehem, for unwrapping this wonder more, listen to what else Paul says. It is just so grand and glorious! Jesus came to redeem them that were under the law, hear what the apostle says further, “that we might receive the adoption of sons.” The Christmas gospel tidings are that all who reject and despise Jesus, the Saviour of sinners, will remain in their sins and perish forever. But all who trust and follow Jesus as only Saviour and Redeemer, to them will be given not only the blessing of being saved from their sins, but of being adopted into the family of God.  So we read also John saying about Jesus, “He came unto his own, and his own received him not. But as many as received him [from Jew and Gentile], to them gave he power [that is, the authority and right] to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name, which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.” [John 1:11-13]

This is another wonder of Jesus’ birth!  Jesus, born in Bethlehem, was and is the Son of God by nature, but He willingly took the form of a servant.  Why?  So that we who are by nature servants of sin might be redeemed through His life and shed blood and, by grace alone through faith alone, in Christ alone, be given to become sons and daughters of God by adoption for real and forever.  Think of this.  As God’s adopted children when believing on Christ, all who trust and follow Jesus may call on God the Father as “our Father Who art in heaven”. Indeed, God’s people, as many as repent of sin and believe in Christ as only Saviour and Lord, may run to God the Father in all the daily needs and cares for body and soul, for this life and the life to come, calling out once and again and again, “Abba, Father”! So Paul says also in Galatians 4:6, “And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying Abba, Father.” By the Holy Spirit though the gospel tidings of Christ Jesus, the Lord brings sinners like us to faith and repentance and into union and communion with Christ and God His Father. That is the blessed gospel truth!

So in John 15: 9 Jesus tells His disciples, even as He was about to give His life on the cross to save sinners like us, “As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you: continue ye in my love.” And in John 14:21 Jesus said earlier that same evening, “He that hath my commandments, and keeps them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him.” In 1 John 3:1&2 the apostle John writes along the same lines these amazing words to all who look to Christ and trust and follow His word, “Behold what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not. Beloved, now are we the sons of God and it does not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him as he is.” 

Do you hear and see how great this all is, dear friends?  Oh, unwrapping the Christ-child in all His glories and His worth as Saviour of sinners, you and I can’t begin to tell of the unsearchable riches of God towards us in and through Him.  Notice what Paul says yet too in Galatians 4:7. He mentions there one more detail, by itself also impossible fully to comprehend. Namely, how that in and through Christ as our Saviour and Lord, you and I are no longer servants to sin and Satan, but sons and daughters of God, and, says Paul,  “if a son [if a daughter], then an heir of God through Christ.”  When believing in Jesus Christ, trusting and following Him as only Saviour and Lord, Paul says similarly in Romans 8:17, we become then “heirs of God, and joint heirs with Christ.”  This means, all that belongs to Christ then becomes ours as well, by God’s grace and mercy and goodwill for us for Jesus’ sake alone.  To be saved by Jesus means to be delivered from the greatest misery and bondage and most terrible judgment deserved. And instead to be granted freely and fully the greatest blessing of being reconciled to God and be His dear adopted children and heirs together with Christ forever in the eternal world hereafter. Indeed, as Peter declares in 1 Peter 1:4-5, “To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you, who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.”

Does this unwrapping, so to speak, of the inexpressible gift of God, as revealed in the coming of Jesus Christ when born in Bethlehem come to seek and to save sinners, move and stir you in faith and adoration of the Christ Child? You might also say these verses give us seven wonders of Jesus’ birth celebrating His endless worth! When you believe and receive this gift above all gifts, you never are the same again.  With Christ Jesus as our Saviour and Lord, you and I have almighty and everlasting hope and help in all our life and we may spread gospel hope and help to others as God gives us opportunity for that in the brief life here and now before a never ending eternity to come.  O come all ye faithful, let us adore Him, yes, let us adore Him!  The truth be told, never are God’s people done in unwrapping God’s inexpressible gift and discovering the marvels of grace and love and goodness and justice and hope and peace and joy found in Christ and all His worth! Are you this Sunday unwrapping in faith God’s inexpressible gift and rejoicing in Him as God-sent Saviour of sinners, yes, also for you?  How important this is for only and always in this way alone can you and I have a blessed Christmas and Happy New Year.

 

I want to mention yet dear friends, starting January 1, 2017, the Banner of Truth radio ministry of the Free Reformed Churches will have another minister taking over from me.  God has helped me to serve in this role for fifteen and half years and now Rev. Jack Schoeman from Abbotsford, British Columbia, is taking on this role. You will hear the word faithfully and warmly and passionately preached from week to week also by him, God helping him. The aim has been in all the messages from myself ever to point to Jesus, who is the way, the truth, and the life, and to call one and all to repent of sin, and believe in Jesus Christ, God’s inexpressible gift, the one and only Savior of sinners. “This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptation,” declares Paul in 1 Timothy 1:15, “that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.” It has also been the aim to encourage and strengthen believers in the faith.  Even so, the LORD in His grace and mercy and by His Spirit and Word bless you one and all, both now and forevermore. In Jesus’ Name, Amen. 

 Hans Overduin, Radio Pastor

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